Thursday, June 26, 2008


“I am John Wayne in True Grit. I am Charles Bronson in Death Wish. I am Clint Eastwood in all five Dirty Harry flicks and all the best spaghetti westerns. I am Jean-Claude van Damme. I am Sly Stallone. I am Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and Chuck Norris in the Way of the Dragon. I am Lee Marvin. I am Sean Connery. I am Arnold Goddam Schwarzenegger…and you my friend, are fucked.”

Wesley Gibson is a loser. Every day Wesley goes to his dead-end job, taking shit from his boss and hiding out in his cubicle. His best friend is sleeping with his girlfriend, he’s a hyproconriac, and views himself as the most insignifigant man on the face of the planet. However, all that is about to change.

Wesley’s father, a man he has never met, is killed and Wesley is tapped by his father’s friends to continue in his stead. You see Wesley’s father was a super villain known as The Killer, and Wesley, unbeknownst to him, has inherited his father’s gifts for killing. Wesley is recruited by the Fraternity, a group of super villains who now rule the world from behind the scenes after eliminating the last of the super-heroes back in 1986. Through magic, science, and mind control they have remade the world to forget about heroes and give themselves ultimate power.

Mark Millar‘s dark tale isn’t for everyone. It’s shocking, rude, and with an in-your-face attitude that many may find hard to enjoy. That’s too bad, because it’s filled with a dark joy, humor, and action that is so good it’s almost addictive.

Through Millar’s tale, and art by J.G. Jones, we travel through Wesley’s transformation from office grunt to the most dangerous man on the face of the planet. In many ways it runs like a super-hero origin, except there are no super-heroes here. It would have been an easy cop-out to have Wesley become the world’s greatest hero, but (thankfully) that’s not the tale Millar sets out to tell. Wesley becomes more dangerous, more disturbed, and more violent as the book continues. It is impossible to argue that the world is better off having this new version of Wesley, and very easy to see the exact opposite is true.

Over the course of the series there are twist and turns, sex, death, a power struggle between the heads of the Fraternity which erupts into civil war between super villains, and some of the most casual conversations about rape, murder, torture, and all types of crime you are ever likely to read in a comic.

The mini-series has been packaged with the Wanted: Dossier, character designs, deleted scenes, a cover gallery, and introduction from Brian K. Vaughan, in both a trade paperback and hardcover “Assassin’s Edition” version. I’d recommend the handsome hardcover for ten dollars more, complete with an inside cover centerfold of the character of the Fox (designed off Halle Berry).

There’s much here to enjoy, and Millar has packed the book with allusions, some obvious and some subtle, to many other comic characters and works. These include basing many of the series’ characters off of DC and Marvel heroes and villains, the chosen date of the super-villains triumph - 1986, the burning of a Marvel comic during Wesley’s initiation, and (perhaps my favorite) the deaths of once great heroes who now believe they are only actors in a cheesy TV show in what is obviously an homage to Adam West and Burt Ward.

Because of it’s dark and flippant tone to itself, to its own subject matter, and to comic readers themselves, the series doesn’t have quite the fan following you’d expect for a comic this good. Many object to the “moral” of the tale and the ending, but in my opinion it’s the only place Millar left the protaganist (you can’t call Wesley a hero) to go. Is it a bit mean-spirited? Is it a bit on-the-nose? Is it more than a little true? Yes, and it’s damn funny, too. In style, storytelling, and kick ass adventure, Wanted gives you both barrels.

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