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Global Frequency is a short Graphic Novel series by Warren Ellis, drawn by several different artists. It's built around a single idea: if The World Is Always Doomed, then why Hold Out For A Hero? What's stopping us from saving ourselves? Answer: not a damn thing.
Our main character is Miranda Zero. She's got a Mysterious, Dark and Troubled Past she's not at all proud of. She knows that modern politics have built a Crapsack World and decided to do something about it.
That something is the Global Frequency. Miranda has found and signed on 1001 unique talents from around the world, ranging from athletes to scientists and from cops to hackers. They're called on when the world needs saving, connected to Miranda's home base through a computer genius girl nicknamed "Aleph" who guides them through the mission. The story is fast-paced, with minimum backstory, and Miranda and Aleph are the series' only recurring characters.
They Fight Crime, Help The Helpless and Save the World with New Media. It's like a wiki. With guns. Some chapters focus on technology, others on politics, and still others on the supernatural. And Anyone Can Die.
Malfunctioning Lost Superweapon? They can track him, identify the tech, locate and interrogate the designer and Shoot the Dog if necessary. While The Men in Black are still getting dressed. Runaway Psycho Prototype? They can be on the scene with geeks, Badasses and even an inside informant while The Government is still arguing whether or not to just Nuke'Em. Alien Invasion via The Virus? Terrorists Without a Cause? The Plague? The talent is out there to make it go away. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things with the right technology and a fair chance. Agent, You Are On The Global Frequency.
A pilot episode was produced and completed and the show was scheduled to premiere in the Spring of 2005 on the WB television network. The series was executive produced and had a pilot written by John Rogers (The Core, Catwoman, Transformers, Leverage), with many high-profile names attached on the production staff, including J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), Diego Gutierrez (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ben Edlund (Angel, The Tick), and David Slack (Teen Titans). Nelson McCormick (Alias) directed the series pilot. Everything about the pilot rocked every bit as hard as the graphic novel.
It never made it to the air, sadly. The long and short of it was the initial pilot made it onto torrent networks and the sheer speed at which the geeks of the world acquired it pissed off the network, so they refused to pick it up. In a sense, it died because it really was too good; the sheer brilliance of the pilot prompted too many people to tell the network that they'd seen it and loved it, despite it not being released yet.
In 2009, The CW ordered another pilot, to be written by Pushing Daisies and Tales from the Crypt veteran Scott Nimerfro. Unfortunately, nothing actually happened, and according to an interview with Ellis in late 2010, the project had once again stalled.
This comic presents examples of:
- And This Is For: Grushko's last words to the body of Detonation's main antagonist.
- Anyone Can Die: Because aside from Miranda Zero and Aleph, there are no recurring main characters; each issue revolves around a different agent / team.
- Artificial Limbs/Cybernetics Eat Your Soul/Cyborg: Explored in the exposition-laden Big Wheel. Awesome part; even partially enhanced subjects can tear people apart like wet cardboard. Impractical part in 3, 2, 1...
Member 436: I have to be careful with it. Bioelectric enhancements are cranky. It's not a case of just sticking an artificial arm on. The surrounding bones and fibers have to be hardened and supported, or else the new arm will rip clean off your shoulder the first time you flex. You'll need tensile support across your back, or your spine will snap the first time you lift something heavy. You need new skin; human skin isn't tough enough to handle the subcutaneous tension of superhuman strength. You'll take a chip in your brain to handle the specific dataload from the artificial nerve system controlling the arm. There's more, but you're getting the idea, right?
Member 436: Try to imagine. You're a multiple amputee who's been flayed alive. You can't feel your own heartbeat. You can't feel yourself breathe. You can feel metal rubbing against your muscles and organs. And you don't recognize the man in the mirror.
- Apocalypse How: The military's 'die-back' method in Harpoon is a Class 1.
- The Atoner: It's implied several times that Miranda Zero was involved in very bad things in her past and has set up Global Frequency to atone by making the world a better place. Several of the agents with darker pasts and skill sets (usually involving murder and assassination) also appear to have a bit of this going on.
- Badass Normals: Every single person in the field teams. Let's give a special mention to Aleph, who apparently keeps track of the entire Internet 24/7 and organizes, cross-references and prioritizes basically everything that happens in the world to make sure the Frequency's efforts are directed at the right problems. A quantum computer could maybe approach her capacity for parallel processing.
- Badass Bookworm: Aleph. Yep, she kicks ass in a gunfight too.
- Body Horror: An early issue features a man who has been engineered into a killing machine. Literally. His body is half gone. He has live orgasms when he kills people.
- The ninth issue deals with surgeons building flesh altars out of people. Who are still alive.
- Borrowed Biometric Bypass
- Brains and Bondage: The top MIT physicist and expert in wormholes and exotic matter is wearing a gimp mask when he's interrupted by the call of duty.
- Break Them by Talking
- Brown Note: The alien memetic virus that takes over people's minds.
- Charles Atlas Superpower:
- Crazy Prepared: The basic purpose of the Frequency.
- Crossover: Perhaps unofficially with Leverage. As Word of God mentions Eliot taking off screen jobs for Ms. Zero.
- Death From Above:
- Determinator: Lau
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Frenchman on Wellfare. The Frenchman was just told to stop Wellfare, it didn't matter how. Eventually, The Frenchman rips off Wellfare's arm and shoves it down his throat to kill him, all for stealing his girlfriend's book on biofeedback.
- Electric Instant Gratification: The cyborg from above would receive orgasms when he killed people.
- Everything Is Online: Aleph plays it straight to some degree, but it's subverted by the cult intending to blow up building in Sydney - as they're all geeks, they put their demands on their website and no-one has seen them, except for Aleph digging for trouble.
- Feel No Pain: Wellfare and the Frenchman, thanks to biofeedback.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Harpoon unites the series' biggest badasses into one team, including Grushko and Alice April.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: The Frenchman finished off Lionel Welfare by ripping off his arm and shoving it down his throat. They were both supposed to be Badass Normals.
- Hacker Cave: Aleph's den, from where she runs the Global Frequency.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?: In the unaired pilot, after the female lead reels off a very lengthy list of her academic qualifications, all acquired at a very young age (she's no older than thirty), the male lead makes a joke about how she mustn't have found much time for a life in the process. She gets surprisingly touchy and insists at length that she did, ending with the unconvincing and unsolicited information that she "had boyfriends". The clear implication is that she's still a virgin.
- Heroes Unlimited:
- Heroic Sacrifice: Member 436 in "Big Wheel".
- And Dan in "Harpoon".
Dan: All this stuff left over from the last century that some bastards thought we didn’t have the right to know about. Bert? You remember the crap we took from NASA just for wanting to go to space? Like they owned the gate to the world? Screw them all. We’ll do what we like. We’ll save our own lives and grow our own wings.
- Tau in "Detonation".
- Hypocritical Humor: One episode brings in Alan Crowe who claims to be a magician -- as in, a real one. He asserts that magic is "a psychological discipline." One of the other characters makes a sneering comment. Alan, amused, points out she's a parapsychologist, and as such can't exactly claim to be part of the rational orthodoxy herself. She's less amused by this.
- Even worse when you consider that Alan is correct - real-world magic is all about exploiting psychological "loopholes" in human perception to appear to do the impossible, and is a legitimate field, both as entertainment and research. Parapsychology, on the other hand, is (at least so far) only a pseudoscience with no proof or evidence supporting it.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Wellfare's mentioned as eating the fingers and an ear of an operative he killed, though "he couldn't keep the fingers down".
- Kill Sat:
- Le Parkour: One issue entirely focused around a Parkour run.
- Mad Doctor: The surgeons in issue 9.
- Master of Your Domain: the biofeedback techniques used by Welfare and The Frenchman to beat the pulp out of each other. The Frenchman turns out to be better at it.
- Mission Control: Aleph.
- Mysterious Employer: Miranda Zero.
- Mysterious Past: Most people on the Frequency to some degree, but Miranda Zero especially.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: A mutual one between the Frenchman and Wellfare that lasts pretty much an entire issue.
- Noodle Incident: In the unaired pilot, something happened involving the U.S Secretary of Defense in Tacumseh, Ohio that he does not want anyone to know about. Miranda Zero, of course, knows what it was.
- Mr. Grushko also seems to have a few of these in his past. Witnesses are still traumatized. In one case, Grushko's descriptions give one a hint of the flavour of the noodles, as it were.
- Miranda Zero herself has a rather dark and shady past filled with these.
- Psychic Powers: Janos Voydan in #1 of the comic was a psychic "apport" who had his powers boosted by Soviet Superscience.
- Psycho for Hire: Wellfare.
- Red Right Hand: Used as a symbol by the terrorists in issue 7.
- Soviet Superscience: Way out in Siberia, a nuclear warhead is ready to drop though a wormhole and land in San Francisco if a sleeper agent opens that hole with his brain. After years in his head, the mechanism is starting to corrode. This may not end well.
- Super Soldier: The cyborg from "The Big Wheel". Not a success.
- Tears of Blood: People under the influence of the alien memetic virus display this.
- Telecom Tree: The Global Frequency, a network of people specialising in all sorts of things that could, and do, Save the World - or at least millions of lives.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Takashi Sato.
- The Power of Love: The alien memetic virus that overwrites people is defeated when the symbology expert manages to encode her love for her partner (another woman) in its language.
- The Worm Guy: In a sense, a whole network of them, though they all get the proper respect for their expertise.
- Torture Technician: Appears to be Mr. Grushko's speciality.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The biofeedback technology that The Frenchman and Wellfare are said to use is based on very real technology with similar applications. (That is, increasing strength and blocking out pain, not ripping off people's arms)
- This is more or less the point of most of the series, really: scary but largely plausible science.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Aleph's job.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
- You Shall Not Pass: Issue #7, "Detonation": "You're not leaving this room." Delivered twice to the same bad guy. Once posthumously.