Due to the first issue of The Wild Storm coming out last week, Comixology is having a huge Warren Ellis sale that ends on 2/20/17. I already own physical copies of everything, but I decided to buy an online copy of one of my favorite of series by Ellis: Global Frequency.
Global Frequency was Warren Ellis’s experiment in making “episodic” comics. Each comic stood alone, with it’s own plot and it’s own characters, each drawn by a different artist. There was no over-arching story — although there were certainly themes, often themes that Ellis himself included in his other stories.
The basic plot was this: a mysterious woman named Miranda Zero operates a global intelligence organization called the Global Frequency. There are a 1,000 operatives on the Global Frequency, each with different specialties. Each mission requires one or more GF agents to use their special skills to stop, say, a miniature wormhole from dropping a nuclear device into the city or a rogue cyborg from escaping a secret facility. Each issue was about a different mission and had different characters, although there were two recurring characters that appear in every issue: Miranda Zero and Aleph, the woman who connects all the operatives to each other.
Each issue is great in its own way, but my favorite issue is probably issue #3, “Invasive,” drawn by the late, great Steve Dillon.
It begins with Operative 884, Lana Kennedy, getting the call from Aleph saying that she’s been activated. “Oh Jesus,” is all she can say.
You see, Lana once wrote a paper on “memetic attacks” and now apparently there’s been one.
The center of the pattern was traced back to someone working for Seti@home and they speculate that he received an alien transmission that rewrote his mind. As Lana explains it, “A meme is an idea that acts like virus. A virus is a life form. Alien life forms do not have to be little grey boys who like looking up butts.”
The group is immediately attacked by a group of infected people whose eyes are bleeding, but they manage to navigate their way to where the invasive event started.
Things go from bad to worse as they realize the people outside are trying to set up a radio transmitter and transmit the alien meme to more people. Lana, on the other hand, has started bleeding from the eyes.
And here’s where things could turn nasty. If, say, Mark Miller was writing this book, I would expect the military to carpet bomb the city before the transmitter was set up or for a bunch of people to die in gruesome and terrible ways. But while Warren Ellis can certainly write bleak, he also knows when to write hopeful.
Or when to say, what the hell, let’s use the power of love to stop an alien invasion.
That’s why this is my favorite issue. Because it could have been bleak and depressing and shown just how incapable we are to defend ourselves against an extraterrestrial attack. But it didn’t. Instead, it ended like this: