Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Darkmatters Review: Crooked Little Vein
Crooked Little Vein
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Here’s something a bit special for those who can handle their fiction extreme – meet Michael McGill, a burned-out private detective and self-styled sh*t magnet who is just about to get a virtual cattle prod to the crotch, in the form of an impossible assignment delivered directly from the president's heroin-addict chief of staff. It seems the Constitution of the United States has some skeletons in its closet: the Founding Fathers doubted that the document would be able to stave off human nature indefinitely, so they devised a backup Constitution to deploy at the first sign of crisis. In the government's eyes, that time is now, as America is overgrown with perverts who spend more time surfing the Web for fetish porn than they do reading a newspaper. They want to use this "Secret Constitution" to drive the country back to a time when civility, God, and mom's homemade apple pie were all that mattered.
The only problem is, no one can seem to find it . . .
So who better to track it down than a private dick who's so down-and-out that he's coming up the other side, a shamus whose only skill is stumbling into every depraved situation imaginable? His partner in crime is sexy college student side-kick, Trix, who is writing a thesis on sexual fetishes (and she does a lot of field work for her project).
With no lead to speak of, and no knowledge of the underground world in which the Constitution has traveled, McGill embarks on a cross-country odyssey of America's darkest, dankest underbelly. Along the way, his white-bread sensibilities are treated to a smorgasbord of depravity that runs the gamut of human imagination. The filth mounts; it is clear that this isn't the kind of life, liberty, or happiness that Thomas Jefferson thought Americans would enjoy in the twenty-first century.
But what McGill learns as he closes in on the real Constitution is that freedom takes many forms, the most important of which may be the fight against the "good old days." Like Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley before him, Warren Ellis deftly exposes the hypocrisy of the "moral majority" by giving us a glimpse at the monstrous outcome that their overzealous policies would achieve.
Graphic Novelist Warren Ellis blows a hole in the seedy underbelly of Middle America in Crooked Little Vein. His debut novel is a drama / thriller / comedy so irreverent yet touches a core vein of humanity and holds up a dark tinged mirror to our base instincts. There are scenes here that you’ll never forget – my favourite being where Mike gets an entire planeload of passengers to beat the crap out of a boring guy next to him by handing him his lighter and yelling that he saw him trying to light a bomb in his shoe!
There are some cool extra materials in the book too - notes by the author including cooking tips… Even a soundtrack listing that inspired the project.
Hat's off to Ellis -I hope he writes another, or maybe would like to do some Darkmatters based graphic novel pages?
“The kids, only one of whom sounded hopelessly stoned, explained that their signal didn’t reach more than a couple of miles, and only that if the wind was behind it and you were standing downhill with your arms out and a wire coat-hanger stuck on top of your head.
The unstoned one was pretty smart. In between the music – which apparently was all by local unsigned bands, and some of it wasn’t bad – he talked about what they were doing and why. By playing local indie music, they were both supporting his community and broadcasting donated content that didn’t require a royalty payment. They weren’t, they insisted, pirates. They were even observing band adjacency, he said – this one, the guy who hadn’t smoked a field of weed, was obviously the Head Geek – broadcasting on 94.2, clear space between two “lite”/soft rock channels. And that was the point, he figured – most of Columbus’ dial was all eaten up by soft rock, country and Christian radio. All the major monolithic radio entities ran stations in Colombus, but they all broadcast exactly the same kind of material. They all had a Christian station, they all had anaesthetic adult easy-listening rock stations playing the kinds of records we used to lift out of our parents’ collections and use as ashtrays when I was a kid.
It suddenly occurred to me: I didn’t remember the last time I went to a gig. Couldn’t remember the last time I heard live music. Or went to a club to hear a DJ.
They played something by another local group, that had the real thump and clang of live music. The drummer started up on the toms, and collapsed into a glorious mess that sounded like he'd kicked the drumkit down a flight of stairs. The bass walked in and made the back of the car rattle. The lead guitarist went screaming down the strings and I laughed out loud, it sounded so good. And then there was a f**kload of static, ten seconds of silence, and a fight. Someone had entered their makeshift recording studio, and one of the kids, probably the smart one, had put the microphone back on.
"We are the FCC," a loud voice proclaimed. "Take off your clothes and put these orange jumpsuits on."
"The f**k?" said Herb Boy.
"Pirate radio operations have been reclassified as Broadcast Terrorism. You're going to be wearing dogs in your asses at Abu Ghraib for the next five years, you dirty bast*rds."
"This is community radio!"
"If we wanted communities, we'd make Clear Channel pay us to run them. Put on the hoods too. No more devil music for you, radio bin Laden."
Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 – Twisted genius that drives you over the cliff of normality with nitro turbo boosts of subversiveness)
"If a Crooked Little Vein film is being considered - I'd vote Emily Browning for Trix"