Wanted: A More Wretched Hive Of Scum and Villainy

Posted: 8 August, 2012 in Bookish, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shuffle says: “Psychological Recovery… Six Months” Hans Zimmer Sherlock Holmes

I recently finished Wanted which was brilliant and like most things I like a ballsy as fuck (yes that’s a technical term. Industry lingo and whathaveyou) graphic novel.  Millar keeps up a good pace, spending very little time with the whole training montage schtick, which I very much appreciate. So we get right on to the good shit.

The most important thing Millar does with this books is explore supervillans. There’s still ‘good guys’ or rather I should say protagonists with whom you can sympathize which makes it all the more brilliant when you see just how evil the ‘good guy’s are. In this regard, nothing else I can think of comes close.

We love to root for the bad guy, but we also limit their evil. The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Vampires; these guys are just bad enough to make them sexy, but when you get down to it they are (relative to circumstance) not all that bad. The MC gives back to the community. The mob is ultimately a family friendly business. The psychopath only kills bad people. The Vampire doesn’t feed on humans. The Rebel Alliance, The Crew of Serenity. The list goes on.

Weaksauce ALL. (due respect to some fantastic works that I just listed)

The fact is, they aren’t bad guys. They’re antiheroes and within the diegesis of their respective media, laws and morality are clearly understood as separate entities and they always end up on the side of ‘Good’.

Wanted pulls all the stops. The Fraternity identifies themselves ans supervillians and the mean it in every sense of the word. The main characters steal rape and murder at will without hesitates and are still your protagonists. Though it’s not just a gratuitous romp of sex and violence. Wanted pursues a real exploration about villainy.

My favorite scene revolves around this central theme. The main character, Gibson, has recently began his career as a supervillain [I would like to note at this point that the word ‘superhero’ is accepted by my spell check while ‘supervillain’ is not]. After a heist he returns home to his fuckbuddy Fox after blowing off some steam. By blowing off steam he means stopping at a police precinct and killing every cop inside. Save one. A female that he briefly considers raping before breaking down in tears and running home. He tells Fox, “This supervillain stuff is starting to feel forced”. He didn’t want to kill the cops, wasn’t even looking at them as he blew them all away. Something must be wrong with me, he thinks.

Fox tells him that every supervillain goes through this phase at some point. What’s important to realize is that being a supervillain isn’t about violence. It’s about doing what you want to do. And some days that means raping your favorite A-list celebrity and sometimes that means sitting at home all day and just watching TV.

This argument by Millar is simply wonderful. The whole book he keeps comparing being a bad guy to being a man, juxtaposing Gibson’s old life of getting shit on by his boss, working a dead-end job in a cubical, being constantly cheated on by his girlfriend, his best friend treating him like shit, with a Nietzschen Ubermench version of himself doing whatever the fuck he wants.

The other thing Millar does really well here is addressing the collective understanding of superhero’s (without setting himself up to be sued). Fox is a jewel thief who wears ‘fox’ ears (that’s Catwoman for all of you who never read a comic book). We witness the execution of “the detective” with whom she used to be fuck buddies and his “boy sidekick” (Batman and Robin, but honestly if you didn’t pick up on that one, this blog might not be up your alley). The Professor secretly keeps as his prize possession a red cape that once belonged to the greatest of them all (Superman. Oh did I mentions here be spoilers), That man is now confined to a wheelchair and bear a striking resemblance to Christopher Reeves.

It is a world without superheros. A world where the bad guys won.

They never say their names, but they don’t have to. Your psyche instantly connects you with who they are and you can’t help but feel a sense of loss somewhere deep in your guts.

The end then becomes a liberation and all because Mark Millar was not afraid to delve.


Post Script: Since writing this post, I’ve discovered there’s a movie vaguely inspired by this work. I only got in bits and pieces, but from the looks of it, has about fuck all to do with the comic. The one tiny thing it does have going for it, is about 9 seconds of Angelina Jolie naked.


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