To the extent Warren Ellis has a style, I think I have it figured out: single-issue stories featuring largely hypothetical science, usually with a pretty incisive critique of the military-industrial complex, an investigation into a bit of history that everyone ignores, or both. Usually something explodes.
We can see this in Secret Avengers; in Planetary; in the greatest triumph of the comic book industry, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.; and in his criminally-overlooked Global Frequency, published from 2002 to 2004 by the dearly-departed Wildstorm. Global Frequency might be the ultimate distillation of everything Ellis has done—its DNA is spread out over every project he’s done before or since.
[tw-divider]You Are On The Global Frequency[/tw-divider]
Briefly: the Global Frequency is an international paramilitary rescue organization that specializes in resolving extraordinary crises, intervening when “the litter of the way we live” threatens civilization. It’s composed of 1,001 anonymous members all over the world, all experts in any given field (from astronomy to free running), who can be called up at a moment’s notice to save the world. Sometimes it’s a rogue government cyborg driven insane by what he’s become; sometimes it’s a memetic alien virus trying to convert humanity into a hive consciousness.
Usually something explodes.
Every issue is a complete story, with no connection to the previous issue except for two characters (living communications hub Aleph and the enigmatic founder of Global Frequency, Miranda Zero). It’s delightfully episodic, with a different adventure, tone, style, and thrilling resolution with every installment. And that’s why we need a Global Frequency TV show.
[tw-divider]The Litter of the Way We Produce Television Shows[/tw-divider]
Now, data we collect from all of our visitors suggests that people who read Nerds On Earth are, on the whole, smarter, more attractive, and possess a greater standing long jump than the average internet dweller. As such, readers are no doubt aware that we actually had a Global Frequency show: in 2005, a pilot episode was produced for the WB, who eventually passed. I’m not legally allowed to tell you that the entire pilot is available online, nor am I allowed to encourage you to watch it.
So we almost had a show, but almost, horseshoes, hand grenades, etc. Every few years, it seems like somebody tries to get it off the ground: the CW was reportedly working on it in ’09, and Fox commissioned a script in 2014. Like Y: The Last Man or Confederacy of Dunces, this is one of those projects that seems destined to remain vaporware for all time, always within the grasp of television glory but never able to get the exposure it deserves.
This is a shame, obviously; we always hear about how we’re living in “the golden age of television,” and I, for one, am thrilled that the ascendancy of the medium has overlapped with a massive spike in interest in comic book properties. Between Marvel’s Netflix properties (and all the potential growth there), the Flash/Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow/Supergirl universe on the CW (not to mention Vertigo’s iZombie on the same channel), or a little show called The Walking Dead, there has never been a better time to adapt a comic book property to the small screen.
So the market is clearly there–the failure to get a Global Frequency show off the ground can only be attributed to…I don’t know, warlocks?
[tw-divider]Here’s Where I Speculate Wildly[/tw-divider]
Picture, if you will, our hypothetical Global Frequency television show. We start with a cold open–a crime in progress, an experiment gone wrong, a spaceship tumbling towards the atmosphere. Something has Gone Wrong, and nobody else has the capability or will to handle it. We cut to Aleph at Global Frequency headquarters, monitoring the situation.
- Miranda Zero is on the line, or maybe she’s over Aleph’s shoulder–she nods. The call goes out. Somebody is on the Global Frequency.
- A new character every week: one episode it’s a soldier, one episode it’s a scientist, one episode it’s a convenience store owner who happens to be really good at playing the saxophone.
- The agents have to figure out a way to stop the rampaging serial killer, contain the mutated virus, or rescue the astronauts.
- You could have a tense bottle episode one week as the Global Frequency fights to rescue miners from a cave-in.
- The next week could be a lighthearted breather episode that follows agents trying to make sure a Valentine’s Day gift makes it to a husband or wife.
And that’s just off the top of my head! Imagine what a professional could do!
I’ll stop the self-indulgence now, but I hope my point’s been made–this is a project with extraordinary potential, and the fact that it doesn’t exist is proof, as far as I’m concerned, that we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.