Thursday, March 5, 2009


by Ted McKeever

I was first exposed to Ted McKeever's work with Metropol, a book that started coming out just when I hit the age where I wanted more complex and original comics. I was hooked from the beginning of that story, but aside from two issues I stumbled across once, I'd never read McKeever's first published series, Transit. I was very excited when I heard that Image was printing the Ted McKeever Library, starting with Transit, a series that originally was never finished. I was even more excited when I learned that the final sixth issue would be done now, and included in the book.

When you open this up, it is quickly apparent that this is McKeever when he was just starting up. The first issue looks rather like Keith Giffen trying to do South Park. It's awkward and cartoony, but has flashes of what McKeever is capable of. By the fifth issue, McKeever's style has matured a lot, and the art looks much better. The final chapter, drawn some 20 years after the beginning, show that he has continued to grow as an artist, and those pages are beautiful.

The story is confusing, to say the least, but also compelling. It seems to be about a graphitti artist named Spud who witnesses a politically-motivated and damaging murder, and is swept up in municipal corruption and a rigged election. I say seems to be, because whole chapters go by without Spud being in them, and he never really develops much as a character. Instead, he's the window through which we peer to allow the story to begin.

The book has a number of strange supporting characters, who are seen again in other McKeever titles. There are some fascinating story elements, like the alternative city that has sprung up in the subway system, and the way in which chance leads to the biggest plot devices - check out the subway crash in issue five.

I think the coolest thing about this graphic novel is the way in which McKeever ends it - setting the stage for Metropol. This book is incredibly well-designed, with a nice thick hardcover. Even though I have the other books collected in the McKeever Library in single issues, I think it is definitely worth buying them all in this format again, which is not something I often do.

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