Monk's Reviews > Fell, Volume 1: Feral City

Fell, Volume 1 by Warren Ellis
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Mar 21, 08

bookshelves: graphicnovel, required_reading
Read in January, 2007

Detective Richard Fell is a cop who cares. Which gets him into a lot of trouble, and clashes with his occasionally unorthodox methods of law enforcement. Exiled to a precinct in Snowtown that is little short of hell on Earth, Fell is trying to make a name for himself after some shady event in his past made it impossible for him to work as a detective across the bridge in the good part of town.

Fell isn't big on due process, but Snowtown gives him a lot of latitude in doing things his own way. He 'negotiates' with suicide bombers, rogue gunmen, drug-addled murderers and frequently enters residences and businesses without search warrants. But, he gets the job done. Part of the allure of the series is Fell's inherent want to help people, combined with his frequently brutal pragmatism. Fell is a one man crusade to turn things around in Snowtown, a place that everyone writes off as irredeemable by the world.

And, as usual, the world of Snowtown draws you in. It is a savage place, filled with the worst kinds of people. It is referred to as a 'feral city'. Human life is cheap and an average of forty bodies a year can be retrieved in Snowtown Harbor, floating out to sea in anonymity. Wild dog attacks are frequent and violent crime is everywhere. 'Ain't no Jesus in Snowtown, detective,' is said of the place by a detective on the force, giving the place a bleak and inhospitable feel.

The most incredible part is that the stories are reminiscent of the Law and Order series in a dark mirror, and on a shorter timeline. The events that take place in the strip are loosely based on real world events (one of them even happened right here, near where I live - makes you scared to sleep at night) . Snowtown is a place where all of the real nightmares of our society come alive and haunt our dreams.

That I read this strip for enjoyment terrifies me some days. But this is really good stuff.

There are other reasons to read it as well. Ben Templesmith's signature slop-style is in good form. He's always been one to be liberal with the brush, to make things out of focus, distorted, and to great effect. It lends well to the series and counterpoints Warren Ellis' signature writing style.

The supporting cast is great as well, from Detective Fell's bartender/girlfriend, Mayko (who runs a bar named 'Idiot's'), the perpetually doom-infused Lt. Beard right down to the STPD Homicide secretary whose husband left her for a dog ('I can do things to men poodles can only dream of!').

If you are looking for something different from spandex-and-powers or high powered manga, or even just from the 'run-of-the-mill-shock' comics, this is one for the books. I advise it to everyone 18 or older. Go out and buy it. Now.
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