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Headscratchers: Transmetropolitan
  • WHY DOES CHANNON HAVE BARCODES INSTEAD OF NIPPLES!? I could assume that it's commonplace in Warren Ellis' sick sick future, but a) we never see another nippleless woman, b) Channon doesn't seem to be the kind that gets modifications and c) it's really really creepy.
    • She doesn't. Much later, during the superstorm, she flashes a cab and seems to have perfectly normal human anatomy. The barcodes must have just been some kind of skin covering, maybe to do with a weird future fetish?
      • They're called pasties, and they currently exist. (though good luck finding barcode ones... she is rather intellectual and may have drawn barcodes on pair of "nude" pasties, though, as a kind of Stripper-cum-Journalist version of "Negative, I am a meat popsicle")
    • I assumed that it had to do with her being a stripper. Scan guns for strippers don't seem unusual in Transmetro.
  • The Revivals suffer future shock leading to mental burnout, and are dumped in hostels. Meanwhile, other poeple volunteer to have their memories locked off to live as past cultures in the Reservations. Why not at least offer to send the Revivals to the Reservations?
    • That'd be logical and as such, The City doesn't see it...but as I think about it, don't you need extensive medical testing to be a Reservationist? I'm sure burnt out mental cases are not their first priority.
    • It would seem problematic creating a Reservation of a post-19th century society; after all, how do you maintain the illusion that the reservation is the real world when nobody ever travels? Then again, there are some references made to a "Republican" reservation, which one supposes imitates 20th century life.
      • I always got the feeling that the Republican reservation was invented for Transmet's media, i.e. not part of the actual reservation system.
      • Republican reservation or not, there's the Berlin Wall reservation. They have translator microbes of some description, so even if that is the only 20th century reservation, at least they'd fit in a little bit.
      • Contemporary people from The City live in the other other Reservations, from the Stone Age to Berlin Wall one: they don't remember the City, and the same would apply to the Revivals. (Though when I think of it, the Revival story might be an allegory for society's treatment of the elderly.)
    • Have we been reading the same comic ? The answer to that question is pretty damn obvious : because nobody in the City gives a flying fuck about the Revivals, or anyone else for that matter. They aren't entertaining, they don't get people high, they hardly ever perform 5 buck blowjobs, so why even acknowledge their existence ? If the people of the City can't be arsed to do anything about people of the present living in that poor ghetto where a Third World disease is making a comeback (or even know it exists), you can be sure they're not going to bother about people from the past.
  • Spider's final confrontation with the Big Bad ends with his self-proclaimed evil speech being broadcast to curious crowds outside. The Big Bad was defeated by forgetting to neutralize audio broadcasts, which he had done so many times before.
    • This was referenced in the story itself. The Smiler had become increasingly unstable, and Spider's recent actions, along with his own twisted logic lead him to believe that Spider wanted to kill him, like he wanted to kill Spider. As a result he was perfectly prepared against a physical assault, but had completely forgotten the most obvious possibility. Just remember, the Smiler is crazy, and by the end of the story he's not very clever, either.
      • In other words, Ellis gave The Smiler an Idiot Ball? >_<
      • Sure. People do stupid things sometimes. I once did something REALLY stupid, even though I'm usually smart enough to avoid that kind of stuff. A lot of the JBM entries are just people asking "Why did (character) do something stupid? He's a smart guy, so that should mean he never ever makes any mistakes, right?" People do occasionally forget things they usually remember, and sometimes act in a manner more unintelligent than you'd expect of them That's what people are like.
    • This is Spider actually being cunning and setting the Smiler up for the mistake. At the start of the story, he's "just" an amazing and active Journalist who uses tricks and (relatively) minor violence to get his stories. He tricks the Smiler in his first interview with the gas stuff, but by the second interview the Smiler is on to him and neutralises everything. But towards the end of the series, Spider begins acting more and more unhinged. He begins openly brandishing and using actual firearms rather than his bowel disrupter, he begins brutally beating people rather than just casually slapping them around, and has started becoming less of a journalist and more of an open rebel. By the time of their final meeting, the Smiler is treating him less like a clever journalist and more like an armed insurgent. He's so obsessed with making sure he's unarmed (all of those checkpoints and scans he has to go through, checking for weapons) that he completely forgets about the original trick he used, which is exactly what Spider was counting on.
  • I know, Rule of Funny, but secuity concerns go out the window (sometimes literally) for a joke. When Spider has literally been shot at by the police.
  • Not quite sure I understood the whole 'Storm slams into The City' thing. And relatedly, cliffhangers of 'Oh, he's hurt...' and then next week 'But not badly' annoy me.
    • The Smiler "convinced" the police in the Print District to call off with the Blue Flu. Then he hired the sniper to kill a bunch of people in the same district so that it would be evacuated, something made difficult by the complete lack of support services in the area. Then he had people break into the major news companies and wipe out the evidence that Spider had been gathering about him; for good measure, he wiped out all the information so that no one would question why it was just him or just that company. The storm showing up was implied to be either a happy coincidence or the Smiler fucking with the weather control systems. It doesn't really matter either way.
  • Is Spider able to turn OFF those huge-ass tvs that he's always watching?
    • He's seen turning them on when he gets up in the morning. I suppose he doesn't turn them off in case he misses something.
    • Maybe it helps to keep him in the right mood for journalism.
  • Somehow it feels improbable that child prostitution would be a major problem in a world where realistic androids, extreme body-modification, implied sophisticated virtual reality, not to mention the Squicky braindead bodies used legally as food supply and sex toys belong to everyday life. Those who wouldn't be satisfied with such alternatives would be likely to be cold-blooded child-rapists rather than creeps who pay children for sexual services. Ofcourse I understand that the story is meant to reflect a real-world issue, but it still doesn't quite fit into the world around it.
    • A lot of the higher-grade technology we see is either expensive (there's a very deep class divide in the Transmetropolitan universe), dangerous, or not yet guaranteed. Besides, the possibility may exist that they want real children, but simply convince themselves that prostituting themselves means that the children are more inclined to go along with it. The spectrum of human sexuality as it is now is staggering; one can only imagine how it will change once VR and artificial humans enter into it.
      • I'm reminded, squickly, of Star Trek and the replicators. Lots of things can be reproduced on the fake, but this just makes the really real that much more valuable.
    • It's less a demand thing than a supply thing. In the story the kids are out there selling themselves because they're screwed up people, plain and simple, and if some sniffly, knobble-kneed shorty comes up to a pedophile and says "Business?" they're probably not going to say "Sorry, no, there's a sex shop just down the block." Also, how old do you think the adult prostitutes were when they started? If it's anything like in real life, probably when they were kids. I'm a hustler myself and most of my friends in the industry, even the ones who are like nineteen and twenty now, started when they were around thirteen, give or take a couple years.
    • I think the answer is really a lot simpler than all that. Remember, sex is as much a psychological thing as physical. Sure, one could fulfill any sexual fantasy or fetish (including pedophilia) with sexbots or clones or whatever, but knowing that it's not the "real thing" would dull the experience. You can see something like this is real life with the way "hand made" is used as a selling point. Even when two things are superficially indistinguishable, people tend to place extra value on the "real thing."
      • But the child prostitutes in the story are a far cry from a pedophile fantasy; they're unattractive, pimply, and incredibly cynical. One mentions throwing up during intercourse. You would think that you could match a fantasy like that better with artificial means.
      • Oh, my! Such nice people we have here! Reading Transmet! Still, pedophilia is literally A Special Kind Of Evil. The most powerful sexual experiences are complex and interactive, otherwise the invention of vibrators(and later battery-operated vaginas) would have rendered the human race extinct(there goes the holodeck argument). Rape is not about sexual completion, but pain and domination. By definition, you can't rape the willing, and there are entirely legitimate markets for S & M and so on. There is always the (slight) possibility that an adult victim is Too Kinky to Torture. A child is incapable of giving informed consent, so by definition sexual exploitation of a child is rape. It is the rape experience turned Up to Eleven. It's literally For the Evulz. Read some Andrew Vachss. As long as there are human monsters in the world, there will be a market for kiddy porn. And the only solution is simple - haul the chicken hawk out and shoot h/ir in the head.
  • It's always bugged me that they have a time viewer in this setting (seen in one of the shorts), but it never occurs to anyone to use it to look at recent-past events like backtracking Vita's assassin...
    • Possibly it's blurred on recent past events due to some unknown scientific principle. Or else the scientists who designed it, backed up by the corporate and political forces deliberately suppress such possibility with misinformation about such principle, because so much of what they do would be seriously threatened by the possibility of someone looking into their recent pasts.
    • How is it that, with a time-viewer available, no one had yet managed to re-discover what year it was? Granted that most of the teeming masses don't really care, but it's difficult to believe that no one cares; not the news media, not the government, not the Far Sight one?
  • I know this is a well discussed one, but ... how did Mary take a photo of the killer of Vita Severn when she got her camera after Vita Severn's murder, and the killer disassembled himself immediately after the murder?
    • I haven't read Transmet in a while, but was it one of those issues where he just wanders around narrating? Maybe it took place before Vita's murder and it just never says.
    • There's nothing in the issue to explicitly say it takes place after Vita's murder, no, but that might just be luck. The smart money says Ellis had no idea how the murder was going to be solved when he wrote it.
    • She took a picture of Alan Schact (the Smiler's man), a Secret Service agent, and Vita's killer. The picture was of the assassin's recruitment off the streets. As for her receiving the camera after the murder, many of the side stories take place out of sequence; so that could have happened much earlier.
    • Unfortunately, no- during that one-off Mary specifically asks Spider whether his assistants know that he's investigating Vita's murder. It's a legitimate plot hole.
  • Why has Xiang, Channon's boyfriend, changed so much between the first two issues? Unless I'm thinking of two different guys, it looks like he ditched his surgically implanted biomechanical gear for melanin and thirty pounds of muscle. I get that The City lets people change their bodies like we change our hairstyles, but there was no reference to him having any such alterations done.
    • What did you just see, Lisa? Obviously he has had such alterations done since, you know, his new look is right in front of your eyes.
      • Just seems odd that it wouldn't come up in conversation.
      • That bit is there, in my view, to drive home the point that alterations are done readily enough that they don't warrant comment. Altering your body in Transmet is akin to changing your clothes in the modern world.
      • What? Go back, and look again at his first appearance. He has got 'washboard ab's,' it's just that his posture is so bad, that it's really hard to notice.
  • Spider is prettier than either of the Filthy Assistants. I sincerely believe this to be true. He has angular-yet-classically-handsome features, nice muscles, and looks about twenty-five. And he's a master of Puppy-Dog Eyes. As far as I can tell, his personality and habits are the only reason he'd be considered unattractive, although to be fair they're a pretty good reason to not want to hit that. The list of other characters with faces people other than their mothers could love is quite short, so it's pretty obvious Generic Cuteness is not in effect, so I don't see why Spider's looks are such an Informed Deformity. Not that I mind looking at him or anything...
    • I'm most attracted to Yelena personally, but you're right about Spider not being terribly ugly. And he was clearly good-looking enough that people in-universe wanted porn of him. I think it's the way he acts that really puts people off. He slouches, yells, curses, chain-smokes, is always either high or coming down and he has a veritable cornucopia of bad habits.
    • Maybe the post-superficiality mentioned in that brainy talk show is more widespread than we think, and Spider is considered a gross motherfriender because he's conventionally attractive. (Extraordinarily bad personal hygiene notwithstanding.) As for the porn, it featured a bad Spider impersonator porn star rather than the real deal as far as I remember.
    • Spider does have the body of a 25-year-old tennis pro, but he's supposed to be older than that. Notice how his jawline is softer than you would expect someone with those abs. In certain panels he appears to have a double-chin. He's nearing middle-age, but his lack of body fat makes him look younger.
  • Spider and Yelena's dad look way too much alike. It's a little creepy, considering the whole Spider/Yelena thing. Maybe it's just because they're about the same height, build, and age, are both totally bald, and both wear glasses, but Yelena's dad honest-to-God looks like he's Spider's nerdy, easygoing older brother.
  • Why weren't Spider's eyebrows fried off? I mean, all right, he'd look stupid without eyebrows, but it seems that he was permanently, aggressively manscaped by the shower frying off his hair. See here, and note the fact he previously had hair on his arms and legs but it's now gone. It's amazing that his eyebrows survived.
    • Maybe he had tattoos of eyebrows underneath his eyebrows?
      • Or the makers of the shower-thingy didn't want to be on the receiving end of a nice huge lawsuit, and programmed the whatsit to stay the hell away from the face.
      • That would have left his beard, or some of it, anyway, and likely a lot of his hair. What to others look like eyebrows always looked like just a really heavy eyebrow shadow to me.
  • If Spider's editor isn't really Yelena's uncle, why does she call him Uncle Mitch? Is he just a close family friend, then? It's a bit odd that Royce wasn't just like, "Her dad and I go way back," if that is the actual truth.
    • You're forgetting that the whole point of making Spider believe Yelena was Royce's niece was to make Spider not do "all the horrible stuff that made Channon fuck off to a nunnery". Yelena is just keeping up appearances.
      • Though she calls him Uncle Mitch at least once long after revealing that he's not her uncle.
      • Probably a close family friend.
  • How exactly do stark economical divisions continue to exist, when you have technology on the level of the foglets, who can turn air into flowers, apparently with negligible energy expenditure. To put it in other words, they have replicator technology, so why hasn't the economy gone the Star Trek way?
    • But they don't have replicator technology. They can't create matter from energy. They can rearrange matter in any number of ways, but without raw materials to work with, there's not much to do. Pulling together carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from the air to form cellulose, and shape that cellulose into a flower might not be very difficult, but gathering up enough iron to make a car in the same way is probably a fair bit dicier.
      • To quote a well known children's book, "Everyone poops." Cars could seriously be made from shit in a "Nanotech matter transmutation devices are readily available" world. I think it's more a matter of just no one caring, and the fact that the Mob produces the makers.
    • It's also addressed in several stories that a Maker is not a cheap thing to run. Its mentioned in passing that the "base blocks" of so-called neutral matter (that can be turned into anything with ease) are incredibly pricy, and middle class families have to resort to feeding the machines with garbage, to the point of scavenging off the street in one instance. The limitations and price of Maker technology would also explain why shops and corporations other than those relating to Makers still exist in the world of Transmet.
      • It wasn't just one instance, Spider references it when he moves into his first Word apartment, that the presence of trash means a poor neighbourhood, because if it were middle class it'd all be scavenged.
  • How is Spider not arrested during the series? Seriously, even in the twisted future, some of the things he does have to be illegal, and everyone in a position of power hates him. It seems like it shouldn't be hard to find a reason.
    • He's more trouble then it's worth. He has entire socities looking out to protect HIM. Plus, he makes people a boatload of money and companies want to protect the golden goose.
    • In one of the earliest issues, before the book moved to Vertigo from the Helix imprint, it's mentioned that Spider's "journalist insurance" comes with a certain degree of protection from the legal consequences of his actions.
    • When he calls the cops after being attacked in his apartment, they clearly make it known that they hate him, but in today's world Journalists can stalk the children of famous individuals, and get away Scott free. It is also implied by a scene with a K-9 unit that Jerusalem has such a sick imagination that no-one likes to even touch him in fear of what he might think up. Add that to his incredible popularity, and no-one will touch him out of fear of getting ripped apart by a mob of angry fans.
    • Or he's not arrested for the same reason other journalists who violate the law for a story aren't arrested: as a rule, no prosecutor will touch a case that even smells like "getting revenge", because of reasonable doubt. It's also worth noting that Spider may not be arrested, but he gets curbstomped by the police quite often.

  • Assuming the City does not represent the world at large how does it stay a float or have any importance? The implication I've gotten is the entire bureaucracy is hopelessly corrupt, just about every vice is allowed, and the majority of the population is implied to either be constantly high, looking for the next fix, or in some other way an unproductive member of society. Does it just rely heavily on a minority to keep things running?
    • Being high does not preclude one from being a productive member of society, I am pretty much perma-stoned and still manage to hold down a job, run a D&D campaign, exercise regularly and take care of a wife and child.
      • Are you the same person as the pimp above?
      • Up until the wife and kid part I though he was my friend who hates this site and was confused...
  • This leans more towards the old IJBM days, but... why is every onscreen sex act heterosexual? Even when a pair of floating nanite clouds have sex in their own way, they're referred to with male and female gender pronouns.
    • Creator preference is an easy answer. Trying to not get smacked down by censors harder than necessary is another. At the moment, it's one of the (sad or happy, depending on personal preference) facts of life that heterosexual encounters are considered more acceptable to depict than others, and there's enough sex of various kinds to make an old sailor blush in that comic as it is. As for the clouds, they have presumably kept their gender identities after changing bodies.
    • I'm just at issue 12, but, for now, I've seen more male/male kisses in the background rather than male/female. Of course, it isn't on par with onscreen sex, but it must count for something.
    • Given that future American culture is depicted as perverted, depraved and insane, showing homosexual activity would make it seem as though homosexuality was being used as part of that characterization, as if the authors were saying, "Everything is so perverted now, there's even gay people!" It's a Catch 22.

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