On my right shoulder I have a tattoo of the Global Frequency logo.
That, only in black rather than red. There’s a reason I have that on my shoulder rather than any X-Men- or Batgirl-based tattoo. Namely that I believe in the Global Frequency.
Global Frequency is a comic by Warren Ellis. The twelve-issue series was published by Wildstorm during 2002 and 2003. The property was made into a television pilot during 2004 but was canceled by The WB before airing. Something about The Frequency got people’s attention. Made them sit up and listen. And I think that what caught people more than anything else was hope.
The premise of Global Frequency is simple. The world is a messy, dangerous place. People who feel they are above any law, beyond any limit or retribution, have created problems beyond the power of normal governments and agencies to handle. Yet ordinary people, collected, have the ability to remediate the horrors of unchecked, unregulated science and weaponry. There are 1001 people on the Global Frequency, people living their lives every day, people who have a unique skill or knowledge or ability. Together they are smarter and more capable than anyone is alone. Together the Global Frequency saves the world.
In GF Miranda Zero and her agents fight a bioresearch lab gone wrong, they take down a bioweapon gone insane, they stop an alien plague. They fight a millenialist terrorist group with hostages. But please note — when I say the Global Frequency “fights” terrorists, few of those on the GF are fighters. Most of the people on the Frequency are subject matter experts. They are scientists, ambassadors, specialists in a field. They are sociologists, magicians, pranksters and thieves. They are, across the board, geeks, freaks, and the obsessed. The subject matter experts give information to the field agent via cell phones with video cameras. It’s the geeks who Know Cool Things who know how to save the world.
The Frequency is volunteer. The people on it are in a position to do good and get to decide whether they will, when the time comes, step forward. I was rewatching season two of The West Wing last night and realized that I love parts of that show for the same reasons I love Global Frequency — because when a greater good calls the best and brightest forward, they choose to serve.
I’m not certain when Warren Ellis wrote the scripts for GF. Published in 2002, I expect it was written in 2001. I expect part of it was written over the world-changing events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on the United States on that day certainly formed my personal psychological backdrop for reading the comics as they were published. In 2002 in the United States, the call to step forward and serve humanity was a montage of tear-streaked images. It was the endless parade of memorials outside of New York City’s fire stations. It was the recordings of air traffic controllers landing every plane in the country at once. And it was the cell phone transcripts of ordinary people who decided to crash their plane in a field rather than allow further death to occur. Against that backdrop, Global Frequency sounded a solemn, stirring note. A refrain that we ordinary few can save lives — though at great cost.
In 2008 the call to serve has changed. But it’s still there and the message of Warren Ellis’s series still carries meaning. The members of the Frequency take it upon themselves to fix the problems created by the thoughtless, selfish, shortsightedness of those who use power to harm. Governments the world over have changed hands since 2002 because the people have made their voices heard. Changing the world for the better is not only possible, it is necessary, and those changes are brought about by the passion, will, and thought of you and I.
Go on, read Global Frequency. And then try to tell me that you don’t want to change the world.
Email: sigrid @ fantasticfangirls.org