You know who pisses me off? Warren Ellis, that’s who. The thing is, the guy clearly has talent, and when he’s writing something good, it can be excellent. But for some reason, he has this inexplicable attraction to the sleazy, to the unpleasant, to the nasty and dirty and grimy and feces-smeared. And even then, he still writes well enough that sometimes stuff shines through the muck, so I can’t just ignore him completely.

Take Ellis’ Fell: Feral City , for instance. It’s about a cop who works in a run-down, but not entirely mundane, city — full of crime and magic and secret rituals and monsters and drugs and squalor. There’s depth to the character and the setting, and moments of quiet grace that stand out from amidst a catalog of the most awful filth imaginable. It’s deeply unpleasant in a lot of ways, but unquestionably a very good work and worth reading, which is the best you can hope for from Ellis a lot of the time.

Then there’s bad Ellis, as in Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters , a book set in the Marvel Universe, featuring a team of superheroes who are all supervillains, and who are horrible and reprehensible and combine to make a distasteful and unpleasant book with little redeeming merit. It’s basically a generic superhero book with a ladle of soul-killing sauce poured generously over the top. I can’t recommend it to anyone.

If Ellis could get over his fixation on unpleasant sleaze and filth, he could be great. As it is, he’s at best a cautious recommendation, and at worst a strong avoid.


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