Fell #1 by Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith (Image)
After the term ‘widescreen action’ was coined for The Authority issues illustrated by Bryan Hitch and made obvious the connection between comics and cinema, Warren Ellis is now making the connection between comics and television in Fell. In this first issue, he tells a complete story, introducing a new setting, character and atmosphere (brilliantly realised by Ben Templesmith) in only 16 pages.
The title refers to Detective Richard Fell, who has moved ‘from over the bridge’ to Snowtown, a strange and crazy place, which only has three and a half detectives to cover the entire precinct. In a densely packed story, he moves into his new place, meets his new boss, meets a nice but crazy girl who owns a bar, discovers some of the weirdness of Snowtown and solves a homicide in the next-door apartment.
In my journey home from work, I can usually read two, maybe three comics, depending on the tube connections and service level. Fell #1 took the whole journey. That’s impressive. Ellis packs the book with information and great touches, such as the Snowtown tag or Moon St. Precinct (‘Welcome to the Moon, detective.’) or the dialogue of an embittered secretary, dumped by her husband for the dog. And let’s not forget the contribution of Ben Templesmith. His art helps create the sense of this peculiar new city, from the Polaroid images of locations to the individuality and personality of each character. It has a wonderfully grimy quality that lets you know everything you need to know and tells the story perfectly.
I’ve read complaints about this being a typical Ellis cynical character which I feel are lazy and without merit. This is an expression of the fears, frustration and anger of a man who sees the world around him and wants it to be a better place but knows that it is a difficult journey. If you’ve ever seen the strangeness on his former site, www.diepunyhumans.com and his official site, Warren sees the world through a unique perspective but, deep down under the bluster, is someone who believes in the possibility of a better world. Spider Jerusalem was a mouth piece to rail against the greed, corruption and downright nastiness of such things as corporation, politicians, organised religion and the innate odiousness of the dark side of the human race. A lot of Warren’s other work shows he wants something more for humanity, which might be one of the reasons I keep coming back to his work; the sheer humanity of it. I hope he gets the chance to keep on producing new work to express himself, and Fell is another piece to add to his immensely enjoyable output.
Detective Fell and Snowtown are fascinating characters – Fell is smart, both cerebrally and street-wise – and I can’t wait for the next episode. Because, as I stated above, this feels very much like a television series. The lead character has the job-related plot of solving the murder and the personal-related plot of moving to a new place, all coming together by the end of the programme. If Global Frequency didn’t persuade people to get Warren to create his own television show, then this should convince them to do it, and turn Fell into a series now.