A fine customer recently requested a trade paperback (thanks Sheady!) which got me thinking about recommendations I’ve been considering for you.  So, for this instalment I’m going to focus on some of Warren Ellis’ comic industry works.  Ellis has played prolifically in not only the big three’s (DC, Marvel, Image) sandboxes but has also created many of his own original characters.  While is work can be quite dark, he is very well known for his command of science fiction and fact, sometimes mixing in a good dose of pulp spy and sci-fi influence.   He is as at home structuring one-shot issues and mini-series as he is at crafting larger bodies of work such as Transmetroplitan and the hard hitting Gravel (aka Stranger Kiss/Killings) series.

Some of his most recognisable works were done under the Wildstorm imprint, first when it sat under the Image banner and later when Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC.  Here’s just a small selection of some of these, as well as some lesser known (but equally good) titles:

Stormwatch – An early Image super-hero team book, by the time Ellis came on board, the title had matured under the guidance of many notable writers.  However, in a manner not too dissimilar to Alan Moore, he was able to inject a depth that elevated Stormwatch to another level.   With more darker and gripping stories, Ellis even worked in a credible crossover with Dark Horse’s Aliens license ultimately allowing him to reset the team to his requirements and set up new comic titles – The Authority and The Monarchy.

For your Bookshelf: Stormwatch TPBs Vol. 3 and 4

Planetary  – An instant Ellis classic, this highly acclaimed series, while original, blends the best elements of The X-Files/Fringe and Indiana Jones.  Planetary is a group that seeks answers to many of the world’s greatest mysteries and is financed by a mysterious figure known only as The Fourth Man.  Many pop culture characters make an appearance in the book, alongside ancient artefacts and monsters.  Set in the ‘Wildstorm Universe’, Ellis gets to overlap and inter-play with other Wildstorm properties he has had a hand in.

For your Bookshelf:  Planetary TPBs Vol 1 to 3 available now.  Vol. 4 will release in March 2010.  Deluxe editions are available as well.

Ocean: This six issue miniseries demonstrates Ellis’ ability to tell a more traditional science fiction story.  Set in the ‘near’ future, the story deals with our discovery of a pre-human race and their artefacts, lying in suspended animation on the moon of Europa.  The story deals with the connection this race has with human origins and how the discovery will affect our very future.   Already optioned for a screenplay, Hollywood has yet again acknowledged the rich vein of storytelling the comic industry has to offer and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of Ellis storylines on the silver screen in the not to distance future.

For your Bookshelf: Ocean TPB

Anna Mercury –  Ellis is no stranger to writing futuristic settings with a heavy techno focus, his critically acclaimed Vertigo works in Transmetropolitan springing to mind.  However, Anna Mercury mixes the technocentric world of New Ataraxia with the flare of the 1950s pulp sci-fi and spy story telling.  Mercury, who could hold more than a candle to the athletic prowess of Lara Croft, battles political no-gooders from the spires of the city to its dark corners,  and similar to Batman, is believed by some to be a urban myth.  What is the connection between our world and New Ataraxia? – only Anna can reveal this secret.   Ellis, having yet again caught lighting in a bottle, has already started the second series which is available now.

 For your Bookshelf: Anna Mercury TPB or HC Vol.1 – The Cutter, Transmetropolitan TPBS Vols. 0 (yes zero) to 10

Ministry of Space: An interesting story of what if Britain had a Ministry of Space and led the space race in the formative years of the 20th century.  If you ever liked Dan ‘I say, take that Mekon!’ Dare, this is for you.  This tpb edition has some ‘special features’ that sound like they’ll be worth a read.  You might also want to check out Ellis’ current alternative-history mini-series called Ignition City which is up to issue #5.  The plot is WWII was interrupted by a Martian invasion (a theme also explored in Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar – Balance series) which leads to a very retro-future straight out of the pulp stories of yesteryear – if you think of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, that will give you a flavour for it.    Issues #1 to 5 may still available and will no doubt be collected at a later date.

For your Bookshelf: Ministry of Space TPB

Global Frequencies: A 12 part series of standalone stories about a group of 1001 operatives of a covert intel operation that protects the citizens of earth from secret government projects.  Each operative has a special phone that allows them to communicate on a secure frequency to the central control.  The final episode helps tie it all together.   A property ripe for taking to the visual medium, it spawned a pilot episode but due to a leak, the series got canned before it began. 

For your Bookshelf: Global Frequency TPBs – Detonation Radio and Planet Ablaze.

This wiki entry provides a signpost to many of Ellis’ comic works.  If you’ve enjoyed any of Ellis’ work in the past and this selection has flagged something that escaped your attention, and is worthy of adorning your bookshelf of fine comic literature, drop me an email and we’ll sort that out for you quick smart!