Sunday, December 14, 2003

Wanted #1 - A Review

Written by: Mark Millar
Penciled by: J.G. Jones
Inked by: J. G. Jones
Colored by: Paul Mounts
Lettered by: Robin Sephar, Dennis Heisler and Mark Roslan
Editor: Jim McLauchlin
Publisher: Top Cow Comics


“Starman” Matt Morrison: Yeah?

Daron the Dark Overlord: Greetings minion!

Starman: Can this wait? I’m in the middle of fixing dinner…

Overlord: Nay, it cannot wait! Matters of great import await thee!

Starman: Will you can the “Thor” speak? You’re going to make my stromboli fall.

Overlord: Ah, but even the finest Italian good shall taste ill compared to the treat that is ready for you to sink your teeth into it…

Starman: Okay, this had better be about a comic review because otherwise, I’m going to have to ask for a credit card number…

Overlord: No! I want you to review the new Wanted book.

Starman: *long pause* I already reviewed it.

Overlord: What?

Starman: I got a preview copy at Wizard World. I reviews it in “Looking to the Stars” two weeks ago.

Overlord: Yes, but I want a proper review.

Starman: Proper review? Fine, it was REALLY mediocre.

Overlord: Look, I know you're still bitter about the Ultimates review last week and that Millar’s writing puts you on edge....

Starman: That wasn't me... that was Jesse Baker.

Overlord: Are you sure? It sounded like you.... blah blah blah... Millar sucks... blah blah blah.... who the hell is this man they call Hawkeye… blah blah blah… can’t stick to his own continuity…

Starman: I don’t care. I already wrote the review... I'm just going to link to the old one, okay?

Overlord: You can't do that!

Starman: Why not?

Overlord: Because it's lazy! It's hackish. You don't want people calling you a no talent hack who craps out reviews on a quota, do you?

Starman: People already say that.

Overlord: No they don't!

Starman: YOU say that!

Overlord: Yes, but its funny when I say it.

Starman: *long pause* Okay. I won’t link to it, but I will just reprint the text of the original review. Okay?

Overlord: Fine. And you will also review Ultimate X-Men #40 this week.

Starman: Fine! Long as I don’t have to do a retro review of that Youngblood book he just wrote. *shudders*

“Sex. Money. Super-Powers. Costume.”

(Now that we have your attention, please buy our book!)

The above quoted text does come directly from the cover of Wanted #1. Perhaps one of the most anticipated #1 titles of recent memories, this book boasts a dream team of Ultimates writer Mark Millar and Wonder Woman: The Hikketeia artist J. G. Jones.

The action centers on Wesley Gibson; a twenty-something Eminem look-alike, trapped in a dead-end job with a horrible “African-American” boss. (This fact is mentioned no less than three times and yet has no real barring on the story.) His girlfriend cheats on him constantly, his best friend is one of the cheatees and he has developed a case of hypochondria so severe his free time is entirely devoted towards researching whatever diseases he might be getting. All this changes after Wes is kidnapped by a gun-toting maniac, informed that the father who abandoned him is a super-villain and that he is now expected to fill the void that his recently assassinated daddy dearest has left.

There is much to admire in this book. Unfortunately, upon closer examination I find that everything admirable has been borrowed from something else. The general tone of the book, like much everything else Millar has written in the last year, is a faint attempt to recapture the magic of the final issues of The Authority with more curse-words and violence thrown in to replace the missing ingenuity and creative ideas. Wesley is, as a character, totally unsympathetic and in serious need of a kick in the ass to take some direction in his life instead of sitting around and moaning about it; a bit like Clerks, but without the humor. The appearance and modus operandi of Wes’s father “The Killer”, seems to have been lifted almost entirely from Alan Moore’s “Comedian”. And the whole idea of an organized super-villain syndicate working under the collective nose of society has been done to death and done better in Ed Brubaker’s “Sleeper” and Geoff Johns’ “The Flash”.

Thankfully, what this book lacks in originality and interest in the story department is almost made up for by the artist. Jones has a highly-detailed style, reminiscent of Bryan Hitch but much cleaner and less cluttered. I enjoyed his work on Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy and his work here is easily the equal of all his past works I;ve seen.

Sadly, the best thing about this book besides some pretty pictures is the preview of a new superhero comedy book on the last few pages called “Common Grounds”, about the donut shop where some of the heroes and villains break between gigs. While this kind of thing is quickly becoming overdone (Formerly Known as the Justice League, Capes, Heroes Anonymous and PS238 come to mind off the top of my head), this book looks promisingly amusing and the art by Dan Jurgens is suitably cartoonish.

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