Nov 7, 2017

Warren Ellis Comics That Don’t Need Movies: Simon Spector

Some comics don’t need an adaptation to a more popular medium. Most things don’t. Very rarely are comics only a treatment in line art, a pitch in sequential boxes with word balloons. But, they can take influence from television, from cinema.

Warren Ellis Comics That Don’t Need to Be Adapted to Screen
Simon Spector
Ellis, Burrows
Travis Hedge Coke

The Apparat Singles Collection was the best opening night of a television season you’ll never see. Ellis did four single issue stories, each a different genre, different world and tone. One of them, Simon Spector, is so classic, had enough punching and heart, that it could have run for a season or two on whatever they’re calling the Nashville Network these days. But, it didn’t have to. Simon Spector did two seasons’ of work, of characterization and drama and ass-kicking, in its two dozen pages.

In the mode of the mad bastard heroes of the 1930s pulps, Doc Savage, the Spider, the Shadow, Simon Spector is the guy who is smarter, faster, richer, braver, and far nuttier than you or I could ever be. They talk about Batman as the superhero you, the kid, could grow up to be, or feel that you could grow up to be, because Batman is, very seriously, a truncated version of the energy in Doc, in the Shadow.

Simon Spector, like all these guys, like superheroes and proto-superheroes, saves people. Fixes problems. And, he does this by engaging a superhuman ability. He takes a special little pill - which he made himself - and it speeds up his brain and body so he can be better than even himself. And, with each dose, he loses a few weeks off his life expectancy. Simon Spector, kills himself, in increments, so he can help people. He lives in a world of betrayal and guilt, of broken bones and skyhook bug outs, so that he can help people and it will kill him.

A TV show would have to glamorize this, to keep it going. A movie, or movie series would have to keep sweeping the dust under the rug, to reset the casualties and fudge the approaching death date. A comic, those twenty pages, they don’t have to. We don’t need a coat of paint and some spinning gewgaws taped on. There’s just this guy, Simon Spector, and this thing, which is his lifestyle. We’re in. We’re out. He’s in, and he’s never going to come out. And, that’s the beauty.

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