PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Comics

Wanted #1 (Of 6)

Ryan Paul

This is the kind of wish fulfillment that orphans dream about.

Wanted #1 (of 6)

Publisher: Top Cow
Contributors: J.G. Jones (Artist)
Price: $2.99
Writer: Mark Millar
Item Type: Comic
Length: 32
Publication Date: 2003-12
Amazon

Wish Fulfillment

As long as one of us is wearing this pin... we can do whatever we want.
� The Fox, Wanted #1

When David Fincher's adaptation of Fight Club hit screens in 1999, it tapped into a fierce well of emotion, and the buzz around Chuck Palahniuk's underground novel went mainstream. It succeeded so brilliantly because so many people identified with the disaffected, violently chaotic characters. These were middle-class white males, once without question the dominant species on the planet, now finding their place at the top of the food chain threatened on all sides. They were stuck in dead-end jobs, abandoned by their fathers, their dreams were dashed, and their masculinity broken under the weight of consumer comfort. They didn't matter.

Mark Millar creates a super-powered fight club in his new series Wanted, with a young man named Wesley Gibson taking the place of Edward Norton's everyman "Jack". Wesley's life is a textbook example of mediocrity. Every day he hunches down in a lifeless cubicle, hoping to avoid the taunts of his overbearing boss. His girlfriend parades around her numerous infidelities in front of him, daring him to react. He desperately clings to anything that hints at individuality, but the only thing that distinguishes him from anyone else is his unusual taste in sandwiches (served to him, in a cute touch, by a man named "Jared"). He doesn't matter.

But there is something within him that he doesn't yet know about, just as "Jack" never knew about the vicious Tyler Durden growing in his own mind. His world collapses when a young woman named the Fox brings him to a place he never knew existed. In a matter of moments, his entire reality is rearranged. He finds out his father, absent all his life, was the top assassin in the world, and part of an elite group of costumed supervillains who control all the crime in the world. On top of that, Wesley has just inherited a multi-million dollar fortune and his father's old job, a job which has been bred into Wesley's very DNA.

This is the kind of wish fulfillment that orphans dream about. Suddenly, Wesley matters. Like the characters in Fight Club, he finally belongs, finally has an outlet for his dissatisfaction and rage. Every nerdy, picked on comics fanboy has at one time or another secretly dreamed of having heat vision, or getting hold of Green Lantern's ring to wreak havoc on the bullies. It's the kind of power fantasy we all indulge in once in a while to let off some steam.

But the difference between Fight Club and Wanted is that the former ultimately exposed such negative emotion, and the social terrorism that followed, as nothing more than the petty tantrums of an immature mind. The triumph of "Jack" is that he finally deals with his own pain, and finally accepts the consequences of his own life and actions.

Wanted has been called a "Watchmen for supervillains" by some. But while Alan Moore's seminal masterpiece of the superhero genre deconstructed the characters to show that, hey, these guys are pretty messed up, and no better than anyone else, Millar's work revels in the childlike glee of this fantasy world. The story exults in its own outrageousness, in its wanton destruction of social mores. Every time we read about Wesley's boss, Millar is sure to mention that she is African-American. As if the fact that Wesley works for a woman isn't bad enough, her race makes it even more intolerable. You can almost hear what he really wants to call her. It's ironic then that his first encounter with his new comrades is through the sexy, deadly, and very Halle Berry-esque Fox, an African-American woman with a penchant for two-fisted handgun killing rampages.

Millar's first issue is undoubtedly entertaining, pushing the boundaries of good taste with the same kind of ultra-violence and social brutality that made Fight Club so popular, and has made Millar one of the current crop of "rock star" comic writers. But the question remains of whether his series is more than just an adolescent power trip. It doesn't look like it so far, but I've been wrong about Millar before: I disregarded his first issue of Superman: Red Son as nothing more than fanboy wanking, but the series wound up as an intelligent commentary on the conflict between freedom and stability.

What becomes of Wanted depends on the answer to one question. There's a point early on when Wesley's boss asks him if he's looking up "www.small-white-dicks again". The issue ends with Wesley holding a revolver with his new mentor telling him that it is "the answer to all your problems." The question is whether or not Wesley really does have a small, white dick, and if he thinks he needs the gun to make up for it.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.