Τρίτη, 24 Ιουλίου 2012

What I think about Stuff- Wanted

Wanted Or Revenge Porn at its finest

Mark Millar and I share a strange relationship. On one hand, I absolutely love his raw, unbridled id, as it rampages across his comic book prose.

Jack Kirby ain’t got shit on him.

On the other hand, his plots and character development stretch the fuck out of what us pop culture enthusiasts refer to as comic book logic 

Also known as the ‘Because fuck you, that’s why’ effect.

His work is angry, raw, violent as fuck (most of the time) and seems to hover between honest naiveté and gritty realism, never quite settling between those two extremes. For most comic book critics, this is a bad thing. For me, it’s a gamble. I’ve found that Millar’s strange little imbalance works wonders with most of his work

Not all of it, though.

One thing you can tell about Mr. Millar, however, is this:

He’s an angry, angry Scottsman.

The personification of comic book rage.

And you can see that in his work, too (in my case, it was during his authority run). He’s pissed off at the way the world works, mad at the shitty little tropes that govern our pop culture and he’s mad as fuck at the unseen bastards, the powers that be behind the powers that be (another staple in his work).
That’s not to say he isn’t having his fun with them, however.

Comic Book Iconoclasty 101

Wanted is his singular angriest, ballsiest, contra-establishmenest work. Why? Well mostly because it deals with conspiracy theory, horrible people, the secret powers of the world and of course, good ol’ ultraviolence. What it is, it’s a masterfully super condensed mix of everything Mark Millar.

The next best thing after swallowing him whole, actually.

Is that a bad thing? No. But to be perfectly honest, after reading Wanted, his other works don’t seem as good. In fact, even his Authority run (which I absolutely loved, but then again I love the Authority so goddamn much in general) seemed somehow toned down and diluted compared to Wanted. Why? 

Because Wanted is Mark Millar unplugged. It’s so goddamn raw and powerful, you immediately get sucked into it and find yourself rooting for every horrible son of a bitch you see in its pages. But that’s not only an effect of its powerful writing and presentation, is it? 

Of course it’s not. Wanna know why you liked it, you sick fuck?

Thank you, No-Nonsense Asian Kid.

Because Wanted is the ultimate revenge fantasy of every comic book nerd, every scifi geek, each and every single member of its target audience. It’s the dark, terrible fuel that makes our shriveled hearts beat.

What I’m trying to say is that each and every single one of us that have read this comic book always wanted to shoot, maim and run over every single asshole and bully we ever met. Wanted gives us just that.

Look into your heart, you know it to be true!

Oh sure, we outgrew our elaborate revenge fantasies about how we would like to strap each of them in a chair and kill their parents in front of their eyes, leaving them to live with it, or our more elaborate schemes where we slowly picked apart at their insignificant little lives until they were left broken and ruined, shells of the men (and/or women) that used to mock us. Sure we got over our fantasies of burning them alive, or vigorously training in some ancient Shaolin Monastery and learning the secrets of killing men with a brush of your finger tips.

But we never quite got over the sweet metallic taste they left in our mouths at the mere thought of them, did we now?

To be fair though, seeing the jock end up living in a trailer park out of his own stupidity was as good a result as any.

Now, a lot of people might respond with: ‘these thoughts never crossed my mind’ and ‘you’re a deeply disturbed person’ to these people I will respond thusly:

You’re all a bunch of dirty goddamn liars. But in case you decide to stick to your lying ways, then here’s my take on the matter: Be proud you were creative and intelligent enough to think of enacting in your fantasies and use them go through the hell we call puberty, instead of actually oh, I don’t know…enacting them.

Revenge fantasies are an absolutely natural thing. They happen to everybody and everyone has them. And Wanted is based around that. It’s an elaborate revenge fantasy with all of its horrible implications involved. And I’m proud that Mark Millar was there to present it so eloquently on paper.

And now, on to the actual review:

There’s this guy, see. He’s called Wesley Gibson. Wesley is a pathetic, insecure little man. He’s the personification of what I call the Underdog Syndrome, the kind of person you just wanna take advantage of, because you sure as hell know he isn’t going to fight back. Hell, you could even get away with doing his girlfriend. Pretty much everyone else in the block has done it, so far.

Enjoy your diseases. 

He’s been beat down his entire life and things aren’t going to be getting any better any time soon, not unless something drastic happens.

Like, for example, a crazy bitch with a hot body shooting a bunch of people then telling you you’re the son of a supervillain, whose powers you inherited via his superpowered DNA.

Also, fifty million dollars.

And, let’s not forget, a place in the supervillain brotherhood that has rewritten reality to its advantage, that secretly rules everything and watches over everyone everywhere and allows you to do whatever the fuck you want, whenever the hell you want to do it.

Wesley’s life takes a turn into the horrible that’s so sharp, it ends up bringing him on top of everything. He’s a supervillain in a world without any heroes left and he’s having the time of his life. He hardens himself by turning into a kind of creature that makes Alex from the Clockwork Orange look like a choir boy.

There was me, that is Wesley, and my droogs, that is the Professor and the Vixen, and we sat in the our secret base under New York trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. I was initiated that night, dressed in my pretty little suit. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

Wesley (now the Killer) is living the dream. He’s angry, he’s trained how to hurt the people that made him angry, he’s rich and he’s unstoppable. His life is on the up and up. But then again, he’s not alone in the supervillain world, is he?

No sir, apparently a secret council of five of the world’s greatest supervillains have split the world and…

You know what? I’m not gonna give you a summary. What I am going to give you instead, is one of the most awesome alternate renditions of the Joker I’ve seen to this day:

Motherfucker gives me nightmares.

He’s the equivalent of Wanted’s Joker, the shade of a once pious man who discovered that his inhibitions and morality were for naught and turned himself into a monster (and subsequently, a world leader). He’s the horrible asshole, the murderous bastard that will nearly ruin everything for everybody and only Wesley can stop him.

The plot isn’t really that important to be honest. There’s treachery, there’s a coup, there’s shocking origin stories

A couple of them outrageously funny ones, at that.

But the most important part is the metaplot. What metaplot? Oh, just the how and why everything’s turned to shit and everything’s run by supervillains. The great big war of the superhumans, where the worst among them decided to have a final punch out against mankind’s last heroes and took the world for their own. How they rewrote reality so they would always come out on top and nobody could ever do anything about it but live under their yoke for the rest of their miserable lives.

But the worst part (aside from the fact that Wanted takes place in a dystopian future run by an invisible dictatorship was this:

Broke my goddamn heart, it did.

That’s Reed Richards, rewritten as a helpless old man. To be perfectly honest, I never liked the guy (hell, he ranks little above Lois Lane in my indifference scale), but to see him like this…I mean, I know Alan Moore’s written a couple of stuff that made me shed manly tears, but this panel fucking destroyed me.

EDITED: According to a point presented to me by Critias of rpg.net, the crippled superhero presented above is not Reed Richards, but Superman, as Christopher Reeve. I had originally made this mistaken conclusion because I thought the Professor was a reference more to Dr. Doom than Lex Luthor. Either way, this scene is still pretty goddamn heartbreaking.

But, a review’s a review and as always, let’s try and list the best and worst parts of Wanted, before proceeding to an elaborate metaphor that likens it to a dish, shall we?

·         Wanted is Revenge Porn at its finest:


I said it before, I’ll say it again: Wanted is a revenge fantasy brought to life via sequential art. It’s about a man turning into a brutal superhuman machine that lacks morality and is rich as fuck. He’s the avatar of everything every angry man ever wanted to be. And for that, it grabs you by the balls and shoves your face down its pages so you can drink from its foul tasting ink.

·         You find yourself sympathizing with most of the assholes:

My indifference field is malfunctioning! Nooo!

Wanted deals with horrible people. Wesley is an egotistical, inhuman prick and you only root for him because you project your pent-up hate toward him but that’s it. The rest of the gang (like Vixen, the professor, etc) are equally horrible (if worse) examples of mankind, but each and every one of them has a single redeeming quality.

For example, the Dollmaster is a caring dad. The Professor masks his aversion toward unnecessary violence by fighting Mister Rictus’ need for blood and destruction. The Vixen…has a nice ass, but that’s about it.

What I’m trying to say is that Millar took care of his side characters and did the most he could with them. And that makes everything so much more interesting and gets you much more invested when shits ends up hitting the fan.

·         It sets up a superhuman mythos that it presents and resolves in the space of a few pages:

Well at some point it apparently runs out of metaplot and focuses on the fucking, but I’m not one to complain.

Wanted presents a superhero backstory of the world that used to be, by juxtaposing it with parallel earths, hinting at a better world and referencing (directly or indirectly) the general comic book culture, allowing you to get a pretty clear idea of how everything used to be.

It’s immersive in that Warren Ellis-y sort of way, where you just get a couple of hints that drive you crazy and make you want more. In fact, I think I’d love to read more about the world that once was, according to Wanted.

And now, for the bad parts:

·         Wanted’s plot isn’t all that interesting:

Oh no, I totally didn’t see this one coming!

Wanted is a comic book about characters and the cruelties they enact upon each other and everybody else. That’s it. There is a plot (about supervillain politics and a war) but it’s honestly just a device to keep the damn thing going.

What I’m trying to say is that Wanted’s fight scenes and politics only work because its characters work, nothing less, nothing more.

·         What the fuck is up with Wesley?

This is Wesley Gibson two pages ago.

This is Wesley Gibson two pages later, same issue.

He starts off as a neurotic bastard, turns into an amoral superkiller, then retreats back to his original wimpy state, then is a superkiller, then back into a wimp, then a superkiller.

What. The. Shit.

Remember how I said Mark Millar glides between naivete and grim realism? Wesley’s character development is the quintessential example of his weakness. He tries to make him work and presents a man breaking down under the pressure of ruling the world, but this doesn’t fit in here.

You can’t run a revenge fantasy on realism. It just doesn’t work that way. What is does instead is make your protagonist seem like a neurotic little shit (well more so than he already is) and hurt the narrative.

·         The Ending:

This could just as well have been a blank page with the words FUCK YOU printed on it with 50-point fonts.

I get the joke. I get how he stays in character. I get that this is the supervillain talking, not Mark Millar (unless Mark Millar is indeed one of the secret masters of the planet). But dude, seriously. Nothing? You couldn’t even show us Wesley rising to power? Not even how he’s going to be running things? How about how the supervillains decided to fill in the vacant seats of power after their little wart? What happened to the little boy who parents Rictus killed? 

What happened in the end? Because if this is just another ‘fuck you, the status quo wins’ story, then Wanted lost an otherwise great opportunity and wrapped up way too soon.

So this is my opinion on Wanted. Is it good? It’s fucking awesome. Should you buy it? You bet your sweet ass you should! What kind of food would it be, if it was a food?

I guess it would be a knuckle sandwich,

Made from real, honest to God knuckles

With a side of fires that would be set in such a way as in to spell fuck you. Also, you’d have to eat sitting next to paraplegic Reed Richards, his accusing eyes tormenting you for the rest of your life.

They made a movie out of Wanted, so I guess I should talk about it.

It’s retarded, wasted the shit out of the comic book’s potential and it’s not worth the DVDs it was printed on.

Also, buy my book. It’s called Stone Cold Countenance and it only costs a dollar. You can find it here: http://www.bibliocracy.com/e-books/fiction/stone-cold-countenance#.UAEXaZGmH5A

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