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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Word Balloon: Wanted

Hey all,

This month's edition of the Word Balloon is dedicated to the comic book series, Wanted, published by Image from Top Cow Studios by writer Mark Millar and series artist J.G. Jones. Wanted is the story of an office drone loser, Wesley Gibson. He hates his life and himself. He lives in a "shitty" apartment with his girlfriend, who is sleeping with his best friend. Wesley knows that this is happening, but he is to much of a "pussy" to do anything about it.

When Wesley is approached by a character named Fox, he learns of the truth of his life. His father was the world greatest super powered assassin, The Killer, and he was killed. Wesley now inherits his father's powers, enhanced speed and reflexes, as well as his deadly skills with all weapons. After embarking on a journey of training with Fox, in which Wesley is desensitized to violence and turned into a take no shit stone cold killer, he leaves his old life behind, breaking up with his girlfriend and killing his best friend to join The Fraternity, a league of Assassins.

The Fraternity have killed all the world super powers and run things from behind the scenes. Having used their extensive powers, including time travel, mind control, science and magic, the populous knows nothing of super heroes or the Fraternity's power. The Fraternity has divided its leading councils into continents, and Wesley becomes the right hand of North America's council leader. When Australia's council head, Mr. Rictus, decides that he wants more, he sparks a war between the villains.

After Wesley's boss is killed, and he and Fox are targeted for death, Wesley heads to council headquarters to take on Rictus and the assassins under his control. Ultimately, the book ends with a great twist, and one final confrontation that Wesley may not have the ability to overcome.

Wanted is a dark book, it's not about the good guys winning or the bad guys losing, its about what happens to one man when suddenly he can do anything he wants without consequence. Wesley is a villain, and though you root for his victory, you find yourself cheering a guy who kills indiscriminately, a man who has lost his moral compass. Yet underlying, there is still a small part of the man he use to be there, and the books final confrontation brings those feelings to the front. I've read that Wanted is a super villain version of Watchmen, and while I wouldn't say that, it IS an interesting look at what would happen to a person who has no culpability.

I particularly enjoyed the homages to many of Marvel and DC's great villains through the book, blending the dark and deranged with the funny and absurd very well. Characters like Mr. Rictus (a combination of The Red Skull from Capt. America and the Joker) or Fox (basically Catwoman with a gun) as well as the darkly funny, Fuckwit (a Bizarro version of their Superman hero) Shithead (a walking pile of feces modeled after Batman villain Clayface, or Johnny Two-Dicks ( based off Batman villain Two-Face but who's other personality is in his penis). Even the heroes who they have dealt with, the Batman and Robin heroes think they have been actors in a cheesy TV series or that the Wonder Woman character thinks she is an actress all have a homage to an earlier incarnation of their own characters.

I liked Wanted because its a darkly violent adult book that pulls no punches. You see super hero comics from the other side of the veil, the villains and a peak into their motivations, something we don't see enough of in comics. Often the villains are the most interesting characters, but who get the least amount of development. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fan of action adventure. Check it out, Mark Millar and J.G. Jones Wanted, from Image Comics and Top Cow Studios. The entire six issue run, plus the behind the scenes source book is available in both soft cover and hardback trade paperbacks. With the release of the movie adaptation (who's review I will post tomorrow) the book should be available at most book dealers. Thanks for reading!

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