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Comic Book / Apparat Singles Group

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The cover to Frank Ironwine.
This is what I think adventure comics would look like today if you blanked out the last sixty years of superhero comics. Yes, there would still be elements of great strangeness, because that's what the pulps traded on. There would be sf and high adventure and weird thrillers and occult journeys. But they would be of their time. The term "adventure" itself would have a dozen different definitions.

One day, Warren Ellis up and decided to create an imaginary line of comics and write four single issues of each four imaginary comics, each from a different pulp genre.

  • Angel Stomp Future (December, 2004), Genre: Science Fiction
  • Frank Ironwine (November, 2004), Genre: Detective Drama
    • Frank Ironwine likes to celebrate solving a case by getting massively drunk and passing out in a dumpster for three days. His car would probably be improved by setting it on fire. He also knows about motivations and methods and murders...
  • Quit City (December, 2004), Genre: Aviator Adventure
    • "Here I am: the girl who pulled off her own wings." Emma Pierson has just quit Aeropiratika, a group of air heroes, to go back where a lifetime of unfinished business awaits.
  • Simon Spector (December, 2004), Genre: Pulp Vigilantes
    • In his New York skyscraper, Simon Spector helps people with special training and drugs that make him "super-sane." But can he stop his nemesis and at what cost?

Ellis also uses Apparat as an imprint for other one-shot comics, such as Crécy, Aetheric Mechanics, and Frankenstein's Womb.

Tropes demonstrated by the Apparat Singles Group stories:

  • Ace Pilot: Emma Pierson was one of these and a member of a group of Ace Pilots called Aeropiratika, until she quit.
  • The Alleged Car: Frank Ironwine's car is a complete and total mess. His partner says that setting it on fire would improve it.
  • Alliterative Name: Angel Antimony.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Frank Ironwine.
  • Defective Detective: Frank Ironwine celebrates solving cases by getting massively drunk and passing out in dumpsters.
  • Fantastic Drug: Simon Spector takes one to make him "super-sane" and thus able to solve crimes faster.
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  • 100% Heroism Rating: Emma Pierson was the pride of her hometown, with old friends and relatives following her heroic exploits. They were all disappointed when she quit her career.
  • Forensic Drama: Averted in Frank Ironwine. Ellis intended the character to be his reply to the over-reliance on forensic evidence in then-recent mystery fiction. Ironwine solves crime cases by focusing on the motivations, emotions, and social interactions of the people involved in them. According to him, "minds and feelings [are] the way into crimes" and "It's not about blood chemistry and DNA and analyzing farts. It's about people. And history. Every damn time."
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Simon Spector is described by his creator as "stinking rich" and his adventures are a relief from boredom.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Doctor Angel Antimony sees her world as being beyond redemption and seeks to destroy it.
  • Parental Abandonment: The future depicted in Angel Stomp Future includes trash cans intended for unwanted children. They are labeled "Retroactive Abortion Devices". The fate of those discarded there is not detailed.
  • Perp Sweating: Averted in Frank Ironwine. While training a junior partner, Ironwine points out that scaring a suspect during the interrogation is redundant. Anybody walking into an interrogation room is already scared or terrified, regardless of what they are saying or how their handle themselves. The interrogator's job is to take their fear away and have them see confession as a relief - getting things off their chest.
  • Retired Badass: Emma Pierson is one of the most famous pilots and heroes of her world. She chose to retire and return to civilian life. Her story details her problems adapting to it.
  • Super Serum: Simon Spector is a genius, but uses a special drug to further enhance his cognitive skills.


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