Monday, 1 June 2015


Mark Millar, J.G. Jones & Paul Mounts Wanted (2004)
Possibly weirdly, I didn't even realise this had been made into a massive box-office destroying Dorito sales vehicle starring Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and a massive box-office destroying Dorito sales vehicle starring Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which some people seem to think was decent; and I'm surprised at how much pleasure is to be had from not knowing something.

Anyway, films I'll probably never watch aside, Wanted is another of those big screen - because I'd rather eat my own shit than describe something as epic - revisionist superhero tales which turns up every couple of years; except it sort of isn't because this one's about superpowered bad guys who have managed to eliminate the caped forces of justice from their version of reality - acknowledged here as just one of many - and now rule the world from behind the scenes as an elite cabal. It also has the psychology of an Eminem album - what with the blue collar desperation, violence, father issues, self-loathing and so on - which I imagine is probably deliberate given that the main character so closely resembles the lad.

Obviously this isn't going to be for everyone, not least considering the stomach churning shock and horror splattered liberally all around because that's what Mark Millar does. He's shot himself in the foot a few times, justifying at least some of the accusations made by his detractors, not least being misogyny and homophobia; but when he gets the balance right, deftly scoring the weight of the sick bucket against reasons for which you might need one in the first place, it's some pretty fine stuff. It's relentlessly both gruesome and funny, much like the Shit-Head character who is more or less the Thing formed from the collected faeces of the 666 most evil beings ever to walk the earth... There's a little Hitler in there, a touch of Ed Gein, half a pound of Jeffrey Dahmer... He can make his body diarrhea soft, bloody constipation hard, or any consistency in-between.

My theory is that Mark Millar is more or less the Whitehouse of comics, referring here to the power electronics band rather than the bespectacled publiciser of controversial 1970s television shows. It's horrible not for the sake of sales or gratuitous shock, but because if you buy into slaughter as a form of entertainment, then you probably need a good kicking - delivered here by means of the sort of detail which wouldn't have made it into, for example, a 1980s Punisher comic; and I feel my theory is vindicated by the last two pages of the book, harking back to the gleeful conclusion of Millar's earlier Insiders, as featured in Crisis comic way back whenever, inverting the stereotypically redemptive cliché towards which the narrative appeared to be heading, and which would have been essentially dishonest.

He doesn't always get away with it, but Wanted is fucking brilliant; and you're supposed to feel uncomfortable.

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