Wanted #1

Written by Mark Millar
Art by J.G. Jones
32 pages, color
Published by Top Cow/Image Comics

I think it’s safe to say that Mark Millar started making his big break into American comics when he started seeing how many reader’s buttons he could push. That’s not to say it was his beginning, of course, but the writer of books like Swamp Thing and Superman Adventures just didn’t make a splash the way The Authority and The Ultimates did. Now Millar’s releasing four new books through a variety of publishers, and the first of them has hit the stands. With all the hype surrounding them, the question now becomes—are they any good?

Wesley Gibson is a big loser. His girlfriend is sleeping with his best friend. His boss walks all over him at work. He thinks he might have chronic fatigue syndrome. What he doesn’t know is that his father is the supervillain known as the Killer, and as of a couple of days ago, dead. Now he’s heir to the massive amounts of wealth and power that the Killer amassed, and all Wesley has to do to collect… is to become the new Killer.

Saying that Wanted is over the top is a pretty accurate description. Millar’s writing here is deliberately pushing everything well beyond their normal boundaries, showing extreme levels in everything connected with Wanted. Why have a sniper on the next rooftop when they can be two entire cities away? Why have someone shoot out a security camera or wound an innocent bystander when they can kill everyone in the entire cafe? It’s a distraction that Millar uses in his writing, letting readers focus on the gloss instead of the actual heart of the story. When you strip away the shock treatments of Wanted, you’re left with a nobody who is given an opportunity and wonders if it’s worth it. This is by no means a bad thing; it’s a very classic story idea, and where it goes from here will determine in the end of Wanted is a good mini-series. But it’s disguising that this issue is little more than set-up, and doing so in a way to keep the reader entertained. It’s better than focusing on the peculiarities of Millar’s narration, certainly. (How both Wesley and others refer to his boss as his “African-American Boss”, for instance, which is a little odd and possibly troublesome, for instance. Is Millar showing a lack of faith in the art on Wanted, trying to make a point about possible racism of his characters, or just a strange quirk of his writing?) So not bad, but not that much there, either.

J.G. Jones’s pencils and inks in Wanted are undeniably strong from start to finish. From the terrified look on Wesley’s face to the in-your-face combination of sex and violence that exudes from Fox, every character is drawn perfectly, to where you could almost read the comic based entirely on the art and ignore the dialogue all together. Jones’s characters look as sleek and appealing as ever; there’s not a rough edge in his art to be seen. I do have to question the matching of Jones’s art with Paul Mounts’s colors, though. There’s something about Mounts’s color choices which makes a lot of Jones’s art seem to almost bleed together instead of looking distinct, and the color shades in general look far too washed out and dull. There really is such a thing as too much brown, or yellow.

I’m perhaps a little too optimistic about where Wanted is going. The glitz and glamour surrounding the book is amusing, but it’s a book that so far doesn’t seem to hold up well to scrutiny. Does it have the potential to get better? Absolutely. Do I think the creators involved could pull it off? Yes. Do I think they will? …Well, I hope so. Wanted isn’t going to work well with a “look before you buy” test because this is something that’s not going to instantly jump out at you if the second issue turns out to also be more sparkle than substance, but I’m willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt and find out the hard way. Hey, if I’m coming back for more, that certainly says something.

Comments are closed.