Wesley Gibson is a regular guy who gets thrust into the hidden world of organized crime. When I say organized crime I don’t mean Sopranos, instead imagine Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, Joker and Loki teamed up and decided to run the world secretly. Setting it up so that they were the puppeteers with the world on their string, a little like the Matrix except instead of robots we have super villains. There is more to this, but why ruin the surprise, instead all you need know is that Wesley Gibson gets recruited to take up his father’s (aka The Killer) mantle after he dies.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: JG Jones
Publisher: Top Cow
Age: Older Teens (Language, Violence)
Wesley lives the mundane life of the “working man.” He has a dead-end job, cheating girlfriend, bitchy boss. While buying his usual “sesame-crusted salmon over sourdough with mustard greens and wasabi mayonnaise” sandwich his life changes. He gets introduced to Fox who gives him a choice, take on his father’s legacy or remain a regular joe. Needless to say from that moment on the bullets start flying, with blood and profanity following each shot.
We get introduced to the world of supervillains, where Wesley is to take his fathers place as The Killer. The supervillains created the Fraternity, a supervillain conspiracy that took over the world, dividing it up amongst themselves. The Killer worked for Professor Solomon Seltzer, who was lucky enough to get America (both North and South) which leaves some of the other villains in a bad mood. Wesley is introduced to this world where he subsequently learns he can do anything he wants, no matter how vile it is the fraternity will clean up after him. While enjoying his new found power trouble starts brewing in the Fraternity, as some of the villains find themselves restless because they miss getting their hands dirty.
Mark Millar’s script is fast paced and full of pop culture references, this being one of his specialties. Just like his Ultimates work for Marvel, it’s fun to start placing actors in each role, as we can easily see who JG Jones based some of the characters on. The characters themselves are all analogues for the many villains we know and love and seeing them unleash as we never would in a Marvel or DC book is really fun. One example being someone like Clayface whose analogue in Wanted is Shit-Head, a sentient being comprised of the feces of 666 of the worlds despicable people. As over the top as it sounds it’s really just taking some of the crazy comic stuff to the extreme, and it works in the context of the book.
Those familiar with JG Jones’ work may not recognize it right away, his pencils are not as tight as some of his later work, and it’s missing the painted quality that we see in a lot of his covers today. Nonetheless it works really well, as he manages to reign in all the insanity of this new world that Mark Millar has created. The cinematic approach to the storytelling works wonders for the story and has become a trademark in much of Millar’s work as he only chooses artist that can work in that style. Jones really manages to capture the wickedness of each character (both literally and figuratively), with solid designs and a great eye for angles some characters really jump off the page. I can’t think of many other artist I’d rather of seen on the book, even after seeing the likes of Frank Quitely, Ashley Wood and Jae Lee (to name a few) do some character pieces for the profiles in the back of the book.
There’s some nice extra material in the back, including various artist interpretations of the characters (as mentioned above), character designs, variant covers and page breakdowns. Personally I would’ve liked to see a bit more on the creative process, between Jones and Millar to see how they came up with the ideas and designs for some of the characters. Normally I’m not one for extras at the back of comics, but I went through every page in the back more than once.
It’s hard to decide whether this book is just an adolescent power trip or a well made commentary on both society and the comic medium. Regardless of where you stand though, it can’t be denied that this is an entertaining read and in it’s own way has probably influenced some comics since it came out. While he did some previous work for the big two, this book was Millar’s big step into the indy scene and probably set the tone for his work that we see today. Not to dismiss his more recent work such as Kick Ass, Nemesis or Superior, but I would easily say this is the strongest of the bunch, which is saying a lot considering how well his other stuff sells.