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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

 


Wanted #1
By Mark Millar and JG Jones
Published by Image Comics

While Watchmen is generally seen as hugely influential on superhero comics since the mid-1980s, not many creators have paid homage to that landmark series by attempting a similar story; my guess would be that Watchmen was so critically and commercially successful that writers and artists who were inspired by its style and substance may have been intimidated by the idea of creating a new work that would inevitably be compared to its inspiration. It will come as little surprise to readers of Mark Millar's Authority and The Ultimates that he is not easily intimidated.

In a world where comics creators often go out of their way to shock readers, Millar has made a name for himself by giving us believable characters who act in appallingly realistic, wildly entertaining ways. In Wanted Millar and artist JG Jones explore the inner world of a super-villain as he learns his trade. Wesley Gibson is inducted into "The Fraternity" after his (previously unknown) father is murdered. Turns out dear old Dad was a master villain named The Killer, and Wesley -- lost in a bad relationship and kind of pathetic overall -- is tracked down and told he can inherit his father's vast fortune if he takes up his legacy.

In the manner of Alan Moore in Watchmen or Kurt Busiek in Astro City, Millar creates a new, dangerous world out of whole cloth. References to a greater community of super beings and a convincing look at the ones onscreen serve to deliver a genuine sense that this is an established universe we are exploring, while organically-introduced details about Wesley and his life deliver a sympathetic character by which we can explore.

As a creator-owned project, this is the next logical step for Millar after books like The Authority and The Ultimates -- a harrowing exploration of power and perversion that shocks and entertains, with no editorial restrictions or corporate fuckery likely to interfere with Millar's story. As you might expect after the exquisite visuals he delivered on Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy, artist JG Jones gives us a summer blockbuster-type level of action and detail that make the book visually addictive and totally in the spirit of The Authority and The Ultimates in the best way possible. Jones is really underrated, in my opinion, and is a top superhero action artist every bit as compelling and exciting as peers like Bryan Hitch and Frank Quitely.

Mark Millar has a lot of books coming out in the weeks ahead, and I'll leave it to you to decide which ones you want to pick up and which you think is his best. For me Wanted is a step up from his already excellent work on The Ultimates and promises to be the most talked-about super-book in the months to come. Grade: 4.5/5

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