Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Takashi Sato is on the Global Frequency whether he likes it or not. Osaka, Japan: A hospital, secretly experimenting in stem cell research, psychotropic anesthesia and bioreactors, as well as a great deal of other side projects, has been locked down. The officers sent in to investigate died begging and screaming. It is now up to Takashi, who has a gift for maintaining his sanity, to clean up this cathedral of wounds and human insides. If he's successful then maybe, just maybe, he can take himself off the Global Frequency once and for all.
I am now convinced that Warren Ellis works much better in longer forms (i.e. at least six issues) than he does in short, three-issue bursts. While Global Frequency has been hit or miss over the past nine issues, when it is on the mark, it is REALLY on the mark. Number Nine is my personal favorite so far.
Not only is the story simply and directly told, it involves at least three moments where I literally had to pause just to take in the severity of the situation. The character of Takashi Sato is very realistically portrayed as someone whose speciality is, as he puts it, "Infiltration. And never quite managing to go insane." This is a character that would fit in well alongside the cast of Planetary, if they could guilt him into working with them. Combine this with references to two very extreme, and worth tracking down, cult Japanese films (Battle Royale and Suicide Circle) and a willingness to present some of the most grotesque and unrelenting scenarios I've seen in mainstream comics in years, and this issue is hands-down a winner.
And that's not even taking the artwork of Lee Bermejo (with perfect coloring by David Baron) into account. Heavily shaded photo-realism, innovative page layout, and a very disturbing actualization of Ellis' twisted imaginings, make for, I think, the best issue of the series so far. I am not familiar with Bermejo's work, but this makes me want to find more.
Excellent work from start to finish this time around. Definitely worth the effort. I don't know how all of these stories will play when collected into trade format, and at this point I don't care. This may be the only series I'm currently reading that demands immediate attention. A trade down the line will just be icing on the cake.
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