By Squares 0 Comments
A few days ago I sat down and decided I wanted to write something about Mark Millar, so I started doing some research on the man and his work. Millar is a well-respected member of the comic community and a prolific writer. His work includes Kick-ass, Wanted, Civil War, The Ultimates, The authority, and Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Trouble, to name a few (there's a full list on his Wikipedia page, it's quite extensive). He's been in the industry since the late 80s (he started when he was still in high school) and has since then become well known both for his skill and his...views. I'm sure some of you have heard about Millar's statement that (superhero) comics are not for women (link). Sadly, Millar is somewhat notorious for such loaded statements, many of which can be downright offensive. Now, Millar (by and large) seems like an intelligent person, so perhaps it's just an issue of poor phrasing on his part- you can't blame a guy for being ineloquent. But as a woman, I feel somewhat obligated to take some sort of stance on his statements. Fortunately, I won't be doing that here. This entry will not be about his unfortunate ability to make a fool of himself in public, nor will it be about feminism (because I'm nowhere near qualified to write about it). Nope, this entry is about Millar's writing. Out of the titles I listed, I have read all but Ultimate Fantastic Four (Kickass 2 nonwithstanding). Some titles are ones I read a long time ago (such as Civil War and Wanted) and therefore am not too clear on some of the details.Still, I'll go over each title separately, discussing my opinions on each.
I did not enjoy Kick-ass. At all. And I could go in-depth about it, because I read the comic today (in the middle of writing this, actually), but I'll be somewhat brief. I thought it was a self-indulgent, faux-edgy, pointlessly violent...thing. The main character was an utter creep, but hell, so was pretty much everyone else in the damn comic, so I'd almost give him a pass. There were these sad little pop-culture references shoved, largely poor timing, into the story- the amount of times they talked about Myspace alone was pathetic. The character that even came close to being reasonably well-written in the story was Katie, the main character's 'love interest', and even she turned out to be unrealistically horrible in the end. At least the comic was better than the movie.
Oh god, Wanted. I hated this comic. While I'm well aware it's critically acclaimed and popular as hell and such, I don't know why. It's an awful, infantile, semi-masturbatory, overly (and pointlessly) violent saga of...I think it's supposed to be a journey of self-awareness and reinvention or something. Yet another story where I hated pretty much every character in the damn comic. What really irritates me is the fact that I read this at my local library. Yes, my city's library carries something as horrible as Wanted, but not, say, From Hell, or Crisis on Infinite Earths. Disgusting...
It was okay. I know so many people who hated it (actually, I know someone who swore off comics entirely because of it), but I found it largely unobjectionable. That being said, I don't feel there was anything special about it. If Civil War were a food, I'd equate it to cheerios- a generic, somewhat tasteless thing that nobody really has any problems with but nobody really particularly loves.
I found The Ultimates kind of interesting, if not just because of the concept. It's something of a re-imagining of an Avengers-like team run by a largely corrupt government that seems to be full of assholes. The series is undeniably enjoyable, by and large, but it's not exactly a masterpiece.
In conclusion, I don't think that I like Mark Millar. He definitely has a well-developed skill for narration, a decent sense of timing (when he's not trying to be 'hip'), and I suppose he's reasonably creative. I genuinely think he does have a certain amount of talent in his chosen field...but it's really, really hard to see that sometimes.
Maybe Mark Millar is just an asshole- that might explain his seeming tendency to create awful comics like Wanted. Or maybe he's an utter genius that's crafted this public persona in order to sell comics to a relatively untapped audience- that small group of (presumably) male readers who want offensive comics, possibly for the shock value. Maybe he has some sort of master plan in play, and all his semi-offensive public statements are a necessary part of it. Maybe...but I really doubt it.