Wanted - Professor, Wesley Gibson, FoxWith Angelina Jolie in the female lead, you’ve probably already noticed that Mark Millar’s Wanted has worked its way onto the silver screen, though from the promotional material you may have missed the fact that the comic version is essentially a superhero piece. I should disclose, however, that I haven’t seen the film or even read any reviews as I write this. Call me old-school but I really like to consume the original before moving on to its derivatives, as I’m well and truly entrenched in the concept that the original is almost always the best.

It could be argued that Millar had his eye on a movie deal from the off – Jolie’s character (Fox) is basically illustrated by Jones as a cross between Halle Berry in Catwoman and Jada Pinkett Smith in The Matrix Reloaded. Meanwhile, Wesley Gibson, the male lead played by James McAvoy in the movie, is clearly based on Eminem in the book.

There are two main thrusts to the plot. The first is that Gibson is a bit of a dweeb, stuck in an office job he hates and cheated on by his girlfriend. However, it turns out that he’s also the illegitimate son of a super-villain assassin called The Killer. When The Killer is murdered, his space in a secret cabal of super-villains is passed down to his son. Gibson doesn’t know what’s hit him but is soon finding out that he’s inherited his father’s skill with firearms and is being trained for life as a super-assassin.

Wanted - Wesley GibsonWhich brings us on to the other main element of the plot. This is the concept that, at some point in the recent past, all the world’s superheroes were destroyed by a vast army of super-villains, working together for the first time to conquer their enemies. When the job is done the villains erase all trace of the heroes from the history and memories of the world and go deep underground, making sure to leave friends in high places capable enough to cover up any further activities the criminals might wish to apply themselves to.

Millar’s script is hard-hitting and uncompromising. He’s considered as something of a master of this superhero-with-a-twist sort of story and it’s plain to see why. The backdrop feels solid and authentic, while his superhero clichés are well massaged in to the book, leaving a cool and enjoyable romp. Jones’s art fits the high-action bill too as he follows Millar’s lead, cranking up the action as the book progresses.

It’s more intelligent, morally ambiguous and significantly more violent and sweary than your average superhero comic, making it a decent read for those who like to sample the best of the genre, but don’t feel they have to stick with the established main-stream characters. Catch it now, before you see the movie, if you can.

Other books by Mark Millar:
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