Tag Archives: Batman

Review: “Wanted” by Mark Millar & J.G. Jones

Title: Wanted
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: J.G. Jones & Dick Giordano (Flashback sequences in issue #6)
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Image Comics, 2007

Every once in a while you run across a book like Wanted. Well written, excellent art, genius premise, a smart story and interesting characters….and a stated goal of offending every sensibility you have. In that, Wanted certainly succeeds. Am I recommending you go read it? That depends on who you are and how easy you are to offend. This one’s not for everyone. It’s been billed “Watchmen for super-villains,” if that tells you anything.

Wesley Gibson is the ultimate loser. His girlfriend is cheating on him with his supposed-best friend, he has a dead-end job with a boss who chews him out regularly, he’s a hypochondriac, and to top it all off he seems to be a clone of Eminem. But all that changes when a woman named Fox upends his life. It seems that Wesley’s father was the Killer, one of a cabal of super-villains who have secretly run the world since 1986. Now the Killer is dead, and Wesley stands to inherit not only his worldly possessions but also his place in The Fraternity. Before you know it, Wesley is a whole new person with a whole new set of…well, maybe not friends. Associates might be a better word. Tensions are rising within the Fraternity. After years of peacefully keeping the world subjugated, certain members are getting tired of living behind the scenes. Civil War seems eminent, and there’s no better time to be the Killer….

Imagine suddenly having the ability to do whatever you wanted, with absolutely no consequences. Blow away a restaurant full of people? Police have no suspects. Make your “friend” who’s cheating with your girlfriend disappear? Doesn’t even make the news. Whatever your fancy, it will be covered up. How? Because the super-villains are ruling the world. Do you remember the Heroes? No, of course you don’t. They’ve been relegated to cheesy TV shows and comic books. They never really existed. Or at least, that’s the story now. Turns out that in 1986 all the super-villains – ALL of them – teamed up and took down the mighty Heroes, rewriting reality so that they never even existed. A certain pair of caped crusaders now think they just played those characters on TV, and the world’s greatest hero spends his days in a wheelchair staring out the window at a world that has forgotten him, wondering just what he’s trying to remember. The gang’s all here, given a gritty update and with their names changed to protect the author from lawsuits. Some of them are recognizable, others less so. Remember Bizarro? The failed clone of Superman that turns everything opposite? He’s been translated into [REDACTED]*, a “Down’s Syndrome copy of the world’s greatest hero.” Clayface? Try [REDACTED]*, a creature made up from the feces of the world’s six-hundred and sixty-six most evil beings that have somehow become sentient. There’s more in the same vein. Fox is clearly Catwoman stuck in Halle Berry’s body. (No, I have no idea whether that’s a coincidence. The comic was released first, but I don’t know how far back the casting for Catwoman was announced.) Mister Rictus is a darker take on the Joker, a former priest who died for a few moments only to find that there’s nothing waiting on the other side. Now? Now he does whatever he wants, eats what(or who)ever he wants, fornicates with whatever he wants. Currently? He wants to take America from his old rival Professor Solomon Seltzer….

The content here is over the top offensive. There’s the obvious profanity, sexual content and gore, but there’s also adapting DC’s Bizarro to have Down’s Syndrome (and then making fun of him), or putting not-Superman in a wheelchair….just like the guy that used to play him in the movies. At the same time, the premise is genius. The characters are all incredibly well executed. The plot is a purposeful inversion of Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” theme. This is an incredible piece of work….except for how offensive it is. So, should you read it? I’ll let you decide.

CONTENT: R-rated profanity throughout. Explicit sexual content, including references to rape and bestiality. Strong, gory violence. Not for children!

*I keep this blog PG, even when the works I’m reviewing definitely aren’t. Redacted names contain profanity.

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Review: “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid & Alex Ross

They called him the Man of Tomorrow, but for Superman tomorrow has come and gone. For all his physical superpowers, the most inspiring thing about the Man of Steel has always been his unflinching sense of right and wrong. No matter what, Superman will not kill or sanction the use of deadly force. Unfortunately, the world has moved on from these “quaint” and “outdated” ideals. Faced with a world that condoned the actions of “heroes” he considers to be murderers, Superman retired. Most of his compatriots followed suit, leaving the world to the protection of the next generation. The next generation has, however, grown out of control. Battles between so-called “heroes” rage through the streets, and collateral damage is of little concern. The humans once regarded the superhumans as gods, looked to them as saviors, but that trust has evaporated long ago. Now superhumans are mistrusted, even hated. And when a misguided battle gets out of hand with catastrophic consequences, pulling Superman and his old comrades out of retirement, events are set in motion that just may end the world as we know it….

With Kingdom Come (*****)Mark Waid writes an epic what-if tale here that asks a number of the most nagging questions that linger about a world of superheroes. Where is the line between hero and villain? Would the world be a better place if there were no superhumans? And most troubling to a man who has done nothing with his powers but try and make the Earth safe, is it possible that in saving them so often Superman has prevented mankind from reaching their full potential? Woven throughout the tale is a running commentary from the book of Revelation as The Spectre and a disenchanted preacher bear witness to the coming apocalypse. Paired with Mark Waid’s stellar writing is a visual feast painted by the inimitable Alex Ross. Ross’s style lends itself especially well to painting the DC Universe, as unlike his work on Marvels he doesn’t have as much Spandex to deal with and can focus on his strengths. I can honestly say that this is one of the most visually stunning works I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Content: Appropriate for most readers, I think. Power Girl makes a brief appearance, but on the whole the costumes are pretty PG. Some violence, maybe mild language. Nothing too bad.

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