“Back to Life”
Writers: Warren Ellis
Pencils: Ken Lashley
Inks: Tom Wegrzyn
Colours: Joe Rosas
Letters: Jon Babcock
Editors Suzanne Gaffney & Bob Harras
Original publication date: February 1995
This is a no-smoking podcast but Pete Wisdom’s coming in hot whether we like it or not. That’s right—it’s time for the debut of the asshole/heartthrob/irritating author surrogate (opinions vary!) mound of teen angst who walks like a man and loves a torn trench coat but loves smoking even more. We talk about that plus Warren Ellis and accountability and a Genosha metaphor or two with writer, activist, and podcaster Elana Levin!
Note: since we recorded this episode, SoManyofUs.com has released an update on discussions with Ellis. You can read their statement here.
“I think that people who are seeking to do political communications and movement-building work need to understand storytelling.” -Elana
On author surrogates:
“People complain that Pete Wisdom is an author surrogate, but the thing is—that’s a term that exists because that’s what authors do.” -Mav
On the debut of Wisdom:
“Pete Wisdom is a little bit John Constantine, a little bit James Bond, and a lot 90s.” -Mav
On intelligence agencies, real and fake:
“I appreciate, in this comic, how even when one arm of the security state is dismantled, a new one with a slightly different name spring up to take its place, and is up to the same exact bullshit. That’s consistent with the world.” -Elana
On the appeal of new blood:
“We’ve been complaining for so long about Excalibur being in limbo. The arrival of Pete Wisdom is an injection of energy, and I appreciate him on that level.” -Anna
On accountability and agency:
“We’re essentially having a weekly conversation about the politics of desire, and whose gaze counts. Is our enjoyment of this text discounted because of the later actions of the writer? Are we allowed to enjoy it for our own reasons?” -Anna
On Genosha as metaphor:
“I don’t think the Genosha metaphor is inherently bad… but Pete Wisdom, the author surrogate, does ‘both sides’ the economic issues in this comic.” -Elana
Want more Elana Levin?
Since 2012 Elana Levin (@Elana_Brooklyn) has hosted Graphic Policy Radio, a podcast at the intersection of nerd culture and social change. They cover comics and comics adjacent media through a queer leftist lens with a focus on fan-activism and bringing movement organizers into pop culture conversations. Elana also cohosts Deep Space Dive, a Star Trek deep space Nine podcast with Shakespearologist Doctor Sarah Daniel Rasher. Together with expert guests they analyze the themes of Star trek’s most political show.
Elana’s critical work extends to music, ranging from dad rock to goth. They’ve worked in the labor movement, New York politics and in community organizing. And they currently run New Media Mentors, a program teaching digital strategy to nonprofit organizations.