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Wanted #4-5
posted February 22, 2005

Creators: Mark Millar, JG Jones, Paul Mounts
Publishing Info: Top Cow/Image, $2.99, 32 pages.
Ordering Info:

imagePicking up two chapters of one of these made-for-trades mini-series is probably a really bad idea, but the quarter bin doesn't take requests. Wanted is one of I think a trio of creator-owned projects whose main mover is the popular mainstream comic book writer Mark Millar. The "Millarworld" series are very high-concept, as much movie pitches with some art thrown in as they are actual comics. In fact, main characters in Wanted are drawn by J.G. Jones to look like Eminem, Halle Berry, and Tommy Lee Jones. This isn't exactly a comic book novelty -- you'll recall Fred MacMurray and Captain Marvel -- but here it proves much more distracting in that it casts a "buy-me-up" spell over the entire project. Reading Wanted feels like walking in on a singer focusing all her attention on a record executive in the front row. It may be the first comic I've ever read where the primary way it seems to express itself is imagined as a movie. Maybe this is the way young people read everything now, but the enterprise can be sort of distasteful if you don't. I half expected a studio courier to show up and take the issues back when I was done.

imageAs for the comics, Wanted looks like a kind of serious-superhero saga of the Watchmen variety, or at least the surface elements of that kind of work, this time told from the view of the bad guys rather than the good and and the tries-to-be-good. It seems that Eminem has broken out of his shell by embracing a hand-me-down role as a super-killer. In the issues here he basically runs around shooting people, while the next series of victims are pumped up to look tough and establish their relationship to a larger, world-beating scheme, but only so that it feels slightly more impressive when they too are shot to death by Slim Shady a little later on.

Various supporting characters in these two issues carry names like Fuckwit, Shithead and Sucker, which screams "second rate superheroes" more than it results in any hilarity. Artist J.G. Jones provides a few stylish page designs and does more with the character concepts than anyone would dare hope given their limited and obvious nature, but the action scenes are pretty much a big zero. Eminem doesn't represent anything other than a guy who kills people, or rather, the pose of a character who looks cool killing people. As he has nothing in the way of a cohesive point of view, making his fight scenes play out in such abstract fashion simply sends you into the details and whether or not they're believable. It's kind of like an all-action revue; the "dancing" really needs to be outstanding here. Instead, the action scenes are turds. A call out by Eminem to Halle Berry to have a gun dropped into his hands due to a distracting phone wouldn't have worked if Eminem were having that stand-off with the Bush Twins let alone hired super-toughs. He's reduced to a costume and set of powers; running through the basics should at the very least be interesting. Instead, Eminem just floats around and inexplicably kills people without effort, the John Woo version of a Barnaby Jones shoot-out. It's really boring despite, and later because of, the body count.

Mostly, though, I just read page after page of weird putdowns and nasty jokemaking and over the top gore and I had to wonder who the hell finds this kind of thing interesting. Then I realized it probably doesn't matter as long as the movie gets made. I kept wanting Marshall Law to show up and choke Marshall Mathers to death with some barbed wire; sadly, even that reaction isn't fresh or new.