I think all of Warren Ellis’ crop of new series have launched at this point. I’ve picked up the first issues of Fell, Desolation Jones, and Jack Cross.

Ellis is one of a few writers whose name will get me to at least look at a new book. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. His superhero stuff doesn’t appeal much to me, with the exception of Planetary, which is on my must-read list on those rare occasions that a new issue comes out. (Others include Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, and Joe Straczynski. Heck, Joss actually managed to get me to pick up an X-Men book!)

Desolation Jones tells the story of an British ex-secret agent living in exile in Los Angeles. In fact, there’s an entire community of ex-spooks living in L.A., an open prison that the city’s normal residents don’t even know about. Jones underwent an experiment, the “desolation test,” that left him both enhanced and destroyed. Many of the people he knows underwent similar experiments. There’s a man who only needs to eat four times a year—but ends up chewing through entire herds of cattle when he does. A woman whose pheromones trigger fear and revulsion, and literally has to beg Jones to spend an hour with her just to stave off the loneliness. Despite the background, the book is more hard-boiled detective than thriller. And the characters are well-drawn, both literally and figuratively. Issue #1 had me interested enough to check out issue #2 (despite some of the less savory aspects of the story). Issue #2 had me hooked.

Jack Cross is pretty much a straight-forward thriller, with an ex-agent brought back into action, a conspiracy within government agencies, etc. I’m just barely curious enough to look at #2, but it’ll have to be really interesting to get me to keep going.

Fell just came out last week, and breaks from the other books in several ways. First, it’s designed to have a complete story in each issue. Second, it’s designed to be cheap. By telling a highly-compressed story in 16 pages, with text pages filling in the rest, it keeps the cost down below the magic $2 mark (if just barely). As for the actual content—it’s another detective story, this time about a quirky police officer with an excellent intuition, Richard Fell, who ends up in a hellhole city called Snowtown. As promised, there’s a complete story, but there are also hints of something larger. Eveyone Fell meets is disturbed in one way or another. And the book is so full of story, I didn’t even notice it was 2/3 the length of a typical comic. Definitely good enough to check out the next issue!

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