Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Ignition City

Ignition City by Warren Ellis is a cool, retro style "future of the past" graphic novel where humans have pretty much given up on space travel because they didn't like dealing with the dangerous aliens.

The heroine of Ignition City is Mary Raven, a fiery, feisty redhead who can kick some serious butt. (I'm starting to think maybe Ellis has a thing for tough, sexy redheads...) Mary Raven has space travel in her blood. Her father, Rock Raven was one of the first men in space, and is a legend of the bygone space travel glory days. Lately though, he's just been stuck on a forgotten hunk of man-made land called Ignition City, with a bunch of other grounded space travelers.

When Mary learns of her father's death, she decides to travel to Ignition City to find out how he died, and who did it. The denizens of Ignition City are unwelcoming, to say the least. Yet, with some help from the locals she eventually tracks down his few remaining belongings, which include a sweet raygun and his journal.

Some of the people on Ignition City want Mary dead because of what's in the journal, including Lightning Bowman, a space traveling legend turned gun runner. However, dying isn't part of Mary's plans, but exposing one of the biggest secrets of Ignition City is.

If you are familiar with the works of Warren Ellis, then Ignition City should feel like a comfortable pair of shoes. It showcases Ellis' skill at writing damn good mysteries, and cool science fiction stories. The characters and the dialog also follow a Warren Ellis trend I've noticed of ranging from a bit over the top, to completely over the moon crazy. Add in a dash of extreme violence, and a helping of potty humor and you have the Warren Ellis blend of comics mayhem. In the case of Ignition City, Ellis seemed to focus more on his stronger suits as a writer and story teller, (the mystery and sci-fi stuff), which made this an enjoyable read.

The illustrations by Gianluca Pagliarani were hit or miss for me. The faces of the characters looked pretty bad mostly all of the time, and the female characters seemed to be drawn in an over-sexualized way that wasn't necessary for the setting or the story. Maybe it was just me, but there seemed to be a lot of round booties in tight pants staring at me on nearly every page. On the other hand, Pagliarani did a great job of bringing Ignition City to life with his art. The downed spacecrafts, the rusted out vehicles, the mud, dirt and detritus all made the setting quite wonderful. On occasion, he would draw some wide-lens shots that showed more of the scenery, and in those moments his artwork was quite nice to look at.

Though it felt a bit rushed, the ending was quite satisfying, and actually left me hoping for more. I'm not sure if Ellis has plans for more work in the Ignition City setting, but the door is certainly left open for it. All in all, a solid, satisfying read.

Grade: B

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