J.G. Keely's Reviews > Blackgas

Blackgas by Warren Ellis
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's review
Jan 14, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: horror, comics, reviewed
Read in January, 2011

It had always been my experience that you can't go wrong with Warren Ellis, so it's a shame to have been proven wrong. While some of this book's basic ideas are interesting, the treatment is sadly lacking. The characters are simplistic and grating, the dialogue awkward, and the plotting unfocused. You can see Ellis trying to express some interesting characters, but his treatment lacks subtlety, leaving us with uncharicteristically ham-fisted interpersonal conflicts interposed with transparent exposition.

The zombie genre is often bare-bones and fast-paced, and perhaps in trying to adapt to this style, Ellis lost his funny, cranky cynicism. In fact, almost none of his crankiness remains, though there is a certain cynicism in the utter bleakness of the series. Ellis is at his most unsentimental here, which may be why his characters feel so expendible.

There's lots of sex and gore and morally outrageous turns, but without good characters or a good story to pin it on, it falls rather flat. Fiumara is certainly a deft hand when it comes to shotgun head splatter and dangling viscera, which was why I was surprised to see how ugly, plain, and poorly-constructed his normal humans were. When your zombies are prettier than your heroes, you have a problem.

Normally, you can judge an artist by how good his hands are, since hands are so complex and difficult to draw, but Fiumara's are fine, it's mainly the faces and bodies that he mangles. The backgrounds are likewise impressive, though why you would skimp on the faces of the main characters, the things the reader will be seeing more often than anything else, I can't begin to guess.

This whole thing was a mess from stem to stern and I'm finding myself hopig it isn't a sign that Ellis has passed his prime. I know some authors, even once-remarkable talents, can fall utterly flat later in their careers, and I hope that Ellis' best years are ahead of him, not behind him.

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08/20/2016 marked as: read

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Andrew I wish I had read some reviews before I picked this one up. Ellis is usually a for sure thing though.

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