Warren Ellis’ cult hit STRANGE KILLINGS is back with “combat magician” William Gravel’s most gut-wrenching mission yet! Deployed to a steaming Philippine island, Gravel’s assignment is to assassinate an investigative reporter about to expose a chemical weapon lab sanctioned by the British government. But double-crosses and political intrigue have marked Gravel for murder by his S.A.S.? comrades as he realizes that he has been led into a trap by a vengeance-seeking superior. And it only gets worse. There’re zombies: Scores of flesh-ripping, reanimated corpses seeking to shred and devour everyone and everything in their path. If Gravel is able to uncover the shocking truth hidden within the jungle on this island of the dead, can even his otherworldly powers help him escape from a madman, and army of the undead and four squads of heavily armed S.A.S soldiers out for his blood?
Generally, I like Warren Ellis sort of okay. As far as white dudes doing comics go, he’s not one of the very worst. For example, he’s not Mark Millar or Frank Miller. At least, that’s what I thought.
Let’s summarize this in one page. Well, two pages.
Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. A woman of color–of the Philippines, to be specific–is commanded to strip by Edgeworth, a white man, in exchange for 500 pesos (a Southeast Asian woman–why, she’ll do anything for a little bit of cash). She is then thrown to zombies, who proceed to rape her and turn her into one of them. In her zombie state, she fucks a male zombie mindlessly and then proceeds to kill him.
In a different scene, the same zombies beset and attempt to rape a white woman. No worries though, Gravel–our titular “hero” and white man (of course! British as well, I believe)–is there to rescue her, the blonde white woman. Most of the zombies appear to be corpses of men of color as well, so we get quite the package: undead men of color want to rape a white woman, is then defeated and killed by a white man.
Is anyone getting uncomfortable? Is Warren Ellis just deep down one more racist, sexist stain in the swirling excrement ocean that is the comics industry? Probably: Transmet wasn’t exactly awesome about those things either.
It’s not even as if there is anything to recommend about the Gravel comics. It’s mindless tat of the lowest order, devoid of any merit whatsoever. Gravel is a Gary Stu who is never wrong about anything and who always wins, so much so that after this–
–we very quickly see him well and healthy again, the arm restored with nary a scratch to show, because he’s an AMAZING “combat magician” who’s more powerful and more awesome than anyone. The storyline is fairly incoherent, such that I suspect the only reason these got published is because it’s Warren Ellis and everyone likes big names, right? A lot of women die in these comics, by the way. One of them Gravel personally killed, but her ghost shows up to cry at him because he’s Harry Dresden I guess and sometimes Ellis is basically Jim Butcher. Keeping in mind that the woman in question was, in life, a powerful sorceress. They kiss. She says it’s nice to see him again. The thing anyone would say to their murderer, naturally.
There’s some vague pretension that Gravel is for “social justice”–in the class sense that is, with him wanting to dismantle the aristocracy–but it’s, well, incoherent cockrot. I never really pursued these comics anywhere; I happened on the zombie issue and called it quits. Haven’t had enough yet?
So yeah, I’m done with Warren Ellis. Quite apart from everything else, this is just juvenile.