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Global Frequency Vol. 1: Planet Ablaze

Global Frequency Vol. 1: Planet Ablaze - Warren Ellis, Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry, Garry Leach, David Lloyd, Jon J. Muth, Liam Sharp, Roy A. Martinez Review for Volumes 1 and 2

What do you get when you cross the superhero genre with the X-Files? Global Frequency. There were some parts of this that felt so cheesy that they virtually melted on top of your nachos as you were reading, but overall the episodic nature of the story-telling and the "case-work" engaged in by Miranda Zero's team of agents were compelling and interesting. With 1001 agents, the cast of characters never gets boring and Ellis manages a remarkable degree of character development in just a few short pages. Relying on the constant appearances of Zero as administrator and Aleph (the GF dispatcher) to orient the reader in vastly different situations with new casts of characters, Ellis is able to experiment with his storytelling in brilliant ways. Sure, it's a bit "freak-of-the-week," but so were the X-Files and there are about the same proportionality of gems and coal. In the end, most of it shines.

GF is a rescue organization that is called in during special circumstances: bioterrorism, paranormal and fringe science experiments gone wrong, and high-tech satellites run amok. The series runs pretty much like a television show would. Problem is introduced, team is recruited, problem is solved somehow. I think one of the disappointing aspects of the series is that while there were some profound sacrifices made by team members, you don't feel it because of the constantly changing cast of characters and there are no real "team" failures that put the organization as a whole in jeopardy (although there are two plot-lines that portray nemesis organizations attempting to infiltrate or destroy GF that were probably the least interesting to me in the lot). The best stories were ones dealing with the misapplication of new technology and the consequences of rapidly evolving and cheap technologies can pose a danger to us all. These stories were gritty, realistic and beg larger questions that are interesting to ponder even after you set the book down.

I was a bit surprised at the abruptness of the ending. Each of the issues was pretty much self-contained, but I expected the last few to build a bit of an arc that would give some overall resolution to the series that would enable you to walk away from it with some definitiveness, but nothing really developed. The stories stay episodic till the end and you're left with the impression that GF will continue on its merry way. Not a bad thing, but I would have liked a little more complexity.