Monday, June 30, 2008


This review of WANTED(the movie) got me curious enough to actually read the comic. I only knew the basics and even with just the basics I could see the difference between the Fox and Angelina fricking skinny ass Jolie.

I'm beginning to think, however, that I'd have enjoyed the comic more before my therapist and former roommate spent the last four years teaching me and nurturing in me an empathy for my fellow man.

I'm also struck by a couple of other things. For one, apparently Millar doesn't have the balls to say the N-word even though that's what he wants to imply all over the first two issues with 'African American Boss'.

I'm also having issues with the term lesbian being used as a swear word and negative and the phrase 'faggoty fear'. I feel like saying:

Dear Mark Millar,

Gay men have to face the possibility of beatdowns for most of their lives, from their parents to random jackoffs on the street. They're the last men in the world allowing a fear of being punched in the face to rule their lives. If you know they're gay? They're some of the bravest men you'll ever meet, you lazy, racist, homophobic, pasty fear filled white boy.

But maybe I should finish reading the whole thing first and see if there's some layered meaning that's, woosh, flying over my head. I mean a white guy in the comic industry back in 2003/2004 could have been doing a commentary on psychosis and how the corporate lock-step life involves a level of de-individualizing of self that can lead to a break from reality and wanton violence.

His work on The Authority could also have been a challenging dialogue on rape, masculinity, an imbalance of power, how it leads to conquest/domination and the definition of evil. What do I know?

If I don't follow up with another post, however, then know that Mark Millar has joined Bendis in the pile of 'Crock of Shit' I reserve to those seriously lacking imagination and substituting it with generic, fear filled, masturbation material.


  1. I don't know that it will keep Millar of your list, but if you want to feel that you at least get what he was going for with Wanted, you should finish the series, right to the last page--mind you that may be more of an effort than is worth the effort for you.

  2. I read Wanted in the store one day because I was curious about what the movie might be like.

    If you've only gotten to profanity, racism, and gay-bashing just put the book down now. It get's worse.




    The movie, however, was fantastic. Pretty much a complete rewrite of that garbage. You know how a lot of people complain that movies aren't like the book? I've heard nothing but compliments on this one being that way.

  3. Onion:

    Do you prefer to the movie because of the shift of moral focus? The trailers make it clear that the Fraternity has become a 'Wetworks For Freedom' kind of deal.

    Or do you think the movie is a story inspired by some of the concepts of the comic, but it has better storytelling?

    Eric Grant:

    I am attempting to read it through to the end because I am curious. I finished 'The Watchmen' for the same reason. Do note I'm not at all elevating Millar to Alan Moore status.

    It just feels like in comicdom there are some books where if you have the chance you should read them. Sort of like how English Majors should read Pride & Prejudice etc...

  4. I have read to the end and Millar still has issues with what makes a man, a person, an individual and a society.


    Comicdom needs new classics. Or I need to say 'screw the classics' when things seem idiotic and just put the book down.

  5. "Comicdom needs new classics. Or I need to say 'screw the classics' when things seem idiotic and just put the book down."

    That's been my take on classic lit from middle school onward. You'll never convince me that 'Chocolate War' and 'The Invisible Man' (non-scfi version) were worth the time I wasted on them.

    The moral shift only seems heavy because of how the comic slams its message in your face. The movie manages to dodge the good/evil thing. Instead they just go with fate (letting someone else decide your life) vs taking control of your own destiny. The shift makes the protagonist feel like a much stronger character by the end of the movie than the book.

    Maybe it's just me, though. The comic left a bad taste in my mouth. I just couldn't get behind the thought that the kid who got pushed into the assassin role was supposed to be free because instead of being the oppressed he became the oppressor.

    Every time I think about the comic the first thing that pops into my mind is the part where he's raping celebrities. The explanation in that scene, that he could get away with doing whatever he pleased because someone else had already done the leg work-that he suddenly found himself in a system that favored his kind, got me to thinking about how that sort of thing works in real life.

    I'm probably not articulating this very well. It's as though he went from being poor, white trash to rich, white trash- and somehow that was supposed to be a celebration of freedom? He starts the story as a whinny white guy blaming all his troubles on people who have less privileges than he does by just being born white. Suddenly, exotic woman shows up to affirm that, no, he really is better than these people, so his bigotry id justified.

    And, wow, I think I should stop before I start ranting.

  6. Onion:

    Rant away. You're not foaming at the mouth, you're just trying to get how you feel about a work of art out.

    It moved you. Granted, not in the way the author may have intended and I know I'll personally notify him of that fact should I get the chance to pour boiling water in his lap.

    The whole concept of 'Once I was a sucker, working for a wage, too scared to take a hold of myself and face my fears - just like you suckers. But then someone put a gun in my hand and now I am KING baby' seems completely screwed to me.

    Poor little white boy can't stand up for himself and is so focused on not being ordinary he's eating sesame encrusted salmon sandwiches - that's how caught up he is on appearances and other people's perceptions of him. And at the end of it, all that's changed is the people whose perceptions he thinks matters - and the majority of them are dead and those that aren't ARE oppressors and callus sons of bitches who're glorifying and happy that they sucked hope out of the world.

    Huh, I wonder if anyone ever gave George Dubya this book for Christmas?

  7. So you won't compare Millar to Moore, but you will compare him to Jane Austen?

    Okay then. ;)

    I generally enjoy Millar's stuff (haven't read Civil War), but I always assume that he is undercutting the apparent message of the given story, from the Authority to Wanted, through the Ultimates (although less so with the Ultimates) and Kick Ass.

    What I got from Wanted (comic) was him addressing the audience and saying "this (Wesley before meeting the Fox) is why you feel sorry for your current life, and this (Wesley with superpowers) is your best imagined fantasy life, and therefore dear fanboy, you are a loathsome asshole.

    When I read his non-MU stuff, I look for him to take the stuffing out the notion that adults would dream of superheroes. I don't think he's always a skilled enough a writer to make this fully work, I don't recommend his stuff to others that often, and although I like that he pushes that ambivalent nature of his stories, I also totally get why it would legitimately turn other readers off.

    Which is why changing Wanted so that it is no longer about super_villains_ seems like a bad idea to me.

  8. Eric Grant:

    So you won't compare Millar to Moore, but you will compare him to Jane Austen?

    I have flipped past pages and some chapters of Austen or all together avoided her unless taken with doses of Bollywood or a small Terrier dressed in clothes - with some BBC exceptions.

    I've read every page of Moore and then turned it upside down and read it again in case I missed something.

    I'm not sure if I'm supposed to take away the message that the asshole fanboy lives a life where black women abuse and use him, and black and brown men spit upon him and generally he lives his life 1 foot step away from a beat down involving crushed ribs and internal bleeding.

    However, that's the message I got. That Wesley's fate was worse than people poorer than he, who have to deal with institutional racism, or gender inequality or who are so unfortunate as to be queer. They all have it better than Wesley the Whiner.

    Obviously it may be that I'm not the white, male, asshole fanboy that Millar was aiming the story at.

    Having read the story I can see where lawsuit conscious, post Columbine Hollywood would avoid a movie wherein the bad guys kill, rape, plunder and win. The only other way to make it work would be if Wesley was recruited into a secret society of Heroes; spin how that happens as you will. I've got two ideas in my head already.

    But the end point of the movie would probably be Wesley if not winning out against all the bad guys, being in a position of power to change things from the inside without them even realizing.

    That is a tale of a dark hero that might have been spun as 'Gritty Gotham' blah blah blah. As it is, when I saw the first trailer I didn't associate it with the comic book until two days later when I realized that Angelina Jolie was in the trailer with a gun and talking about being an assassin and then the name of the movie hit me and BAM.

    Whatever the origins of WANTED, the movie, it doesn't come across the least bit like a 'comic book movie' now. It seems to live in the universe of The Transporter and possibly Lucky Number Slevin.

  9. Ending for "Wanted" = Trite and stupid. Millar = Giant Fucking Hack

  10. Though if you're still interested in super-villain centric morally ambigious comics, I do have three I'd recomend if you haven't read them.

    Brubaker's Sleeper series from Wildstorm

    Van Lente's The Silencers from Moonstone


    Joe Casey's Nixon's Pals from Image

  11. Lurker:

    I found The Silencers on WOWIO and absolutely adored it. That was some well done crime noir superhero story telling. I really want to buy it (but digitally - comics take up a lot of room)

    So far I've started and not finished Bite Club. I like the world building, I could give a rat's ass for the characters.

    I'll look into Nixon's Pals - that sounds interesting. I'm not familiar with the WildStorm universe. Actually I see the world Wildstorm and I think 80's metal hair and superheroes in too tight spandex with extra eyeshadow supposedly knocking someone the fuck out but really playing air guitar.

  12. In all honesty I have tried on several occasions to read Wanted and every time I have to stop. Frankly simply on the merits of structure I feel it's a huge sloppy mess. Frankly I think that Millar has a huge problem with superhero's. Which is fine but I'm not really too deeply deconstructionist. I like the idea of a modern mythology that inspires and enchants. So dumping meanness on the heads of the long underwear set just doesn't do much for me.

    To be fair I think that Millar may have been trying to make a comment about the way we are all cut off from personal authority and autonomy by yielding to the authority of the system. But his choices of race, gender, and sexuality work to obscure rather than reveal his point.

    Ultimately I really find him vastly over rated for the most part.

    Having said that I think Wanted is proof that sometimes a healthy lack of reverance for the source material allows the adaptation to be better than the original.

  13. Toriach:

    A modern mythology that inspires and enchants

    I love that phrase. I personally have called Superheroes and Superhero Comics our modern day myths and legends of inspiration. But I wouldn't call WANTED (the comics) that at all.

    All I can say is that I didn't get any commentary on personal authority and autonomy. I saw a story that said that if you're raised by a single mother you'll become 'a pussy' and that the way you become a real man is to get a gun in your hands and kill things. Along the way you need to show those 'African Americans' - read N-word - and 'Cholos' who the fuck is boss and stop letting the white man (as a true man) become an endangered speices.

    The only truth I saw was the part where the bad guys had made reality gritty and without hope and colour. Having looked outside today and heard the various news while feeling the summer temperatures rise and watching people cuss about gas prices, I can agree the bad guys have won and are running things.

    I happen to believe, however, that things can change. Or at the very least some of us will get to die laughing as the earth chucks us off into space the way a dog shakes and sheds dead fleas. (Thank you George Carlin)

    But here's someone else who's managed to see some brief upsides at what they think it might have been trying to say. And let me just add it's good you didn't finish the book. Because the very last page punches you in the throat, holds you down and then lets go a big, fat, wet, smelly one - in your face; it's WANTED's parting gift to fans and readers.

  14. Right, when it came out, I thought wow, this is a new thing. Supervillains won, and this amoral monster is the closest thing to a hero that exists. I found it entertaining and nothing more, nothing less. But upon re-reading it after the film was released, I have to say it reads as a very well written 13 year old giving voice to all his frustrations. It is undeniably entertaining. But purposely empty, hollow and cold. If you've ever read any Grant Morrison, it seems like the flip side of everything that he's ever written.