Desolation Jones is the title character of a 2005 comic book by Warren Ellis. Michael Jones is a former MI6 agent who was driven to drink by the stresses of the job. Useless as an agent, he was entered into the 'Desolation Test', an experimental procedure of which he is the only survivor. Among many interesting hinted at effects, he claims the test destroyed his ability to feel emotion. But that was a long time ago.
Now he lives in Los Angeles, a safezone and prison for former members of the intelligence community with nowhere else to go. He takes up jobs here and there to satisfy what's left of his shattered conscience, prevailing by ruthlessness and a reckless disregard for death despite having only a meager grasp of deduction.
He is helped and hindered by an unusual group of outcasts, fellow failed experiments, Assassins, and bleary scions of the porn industry. Yet Jones is not to be outdone, a begoggled, drugged-up, scarred, sun-fearing albino Anti-Hero to do Elric proud.
His swathe-cutting draws comparisons to other Ellis protagonists, namely Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan and Elijah Snow from Planetary, and also has a mysterious, unpleasant past like the latter, or like Fell. He and Elijah also seem to share a hairdresser.
The book's art often changes, depending on the tenor of the scene, from paintings to the usual inked fare to two-tone and B&W hatched sketches. Jones' psychedelic relapses create some particularly interesting story breaks.
Another Ellis signature: a film is in Development Hell.
- The Alcoholic: Jones, before the Desolation Test.
- And I Must Scream: The Desolation Test involves paralyzing the subject and keeping them fully awake and conscious for an entire year.
- Art Shift: Though maintaining a similar style, the art often changes from scene to scene, featuring paintings, black-and-white inked work, two-tone chiaroscuro, sketches, and inks colored in the standard way.
- Awesome by Analysis: One of the major changes to Jones caused by the Desolation Test is a heightened state of awareness. The comic even labels things Jones has noticed with a Psych-style highlight effect.
- Badass Boast:Okay. Here's the thing. Pain doesn't bother me. Let me show you.
[Rolls up his sleeve, revealing a biohazard tattoo]
This means I was tortured for a year. This means I experienced death for a full year, twenty-four hours a day. You know what you learn from that? Death is easy. Death is ordinary. It is not special. Your life is not special. And, as part of the ex-intelligence community that the authorities keep trapped in Los Angeles, I am legally invisible.
I am incapable of caring whether anyone in this room lives or dies.
I'm not trying to scare you, I'm not trying to be the big man. I'm just saying: don't touch me again.
- Badass Longcoat: Jones' coat is as badass as it is orange.
- Boom, Headshot!: Poor Robina.
- The Butler Did It: Jones is inordinately amused by the fact that the butler is a suspect. Nobody else gets it.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: After the Desolation Test and his former lifestyle, his liver can't take it, though it doesn't stop him from getting his kicks in other ways.
- City of Spies: LA, where ex-agents are allowed to live, but not to leave.
- Combat Pragmatist: Jones, who specializes in Groin Kicks, fishhooking, and Eye-Gouging.
- Cool Shades: Jones has a pair of goggles to protect his unpigmented eyes from the harsh LA sun.
- Demolitions Expert: Robina Arthur.Robina: Finding the pressure points of a location and busting them with focused explosives. We called it kung fu bombmaking. Giving a town the Death Touch. Once you know how to acupuncture a small town to death with explosives, I guess they don't let you walk off.
- Eye Scream: a technique Jones favors against heavies.
- Feel No Pain: It's implied he feels it, but doesn't much care.
- Forced to Watch: Part of the Desolation Test.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Averted - Jones needs them because of his sensitivity to strong light.
- Groin Attack: The centerpiece of Jones' fight scenes, and you're lucky if he doesn't follow it up with a broken lightbulb, also to the groin.
- Mind Rape: We eventually learn about the Desolation Test; it isn't pretty.
- Neck Snap: Jones, bleeding out and delirious, mentions having to do this once - to a young girl. He ended up botching it, so it took a very long time.
- Pet the Dog: One of the few people Jones treats with any degree of affection is Emily - a former CIA agent accidentally inflicted with hormones that constantly trigger revulsion, fear and hatred in people around her. Jones himself is immune thanks to the Desolation Test.
- Pheromones: Emily Crowe underwent an experiment to augment her pheromone production, but it backfired and she now triggers fear and revulsion in everyone she meets.
- Playing with Syringes: Jones' transformation by agency scientists.
- Setting Update: Not that strictly, but the basic plot is a Broad Strokes adaptation of The Big Sleep with Col. Nigh being a pretty clear Expy of Sternwood.
- Sociopathic Hero: Jones.
- Special Person, Normal Name: Michael Jones.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Part of the Desolation Test. For a year.
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Ellis used to write for the Hellblazer series, and thus made Jones a little bit like John Constantine. Note that Ellis himself has already made a Constantine expy in the form of Spider Jerusalem long time ago.
- Trauma Button: Being hooked up to an IV triggers Jones and sends him screaming and crawling across the room.
- Villain Protagonist: It skews that way, especially as the first arc ends.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Yet we still like him.