Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics, Features, Marvel Comics | Tags: John Romita JR, Mark Millar, Superman, Wolverine
Continuing our spotlight on Mark Millar’s work the CA team take a look at his takes on Superman and Wolverine. You can find part one of this feature here.
SUPERMAN – RED SON
Every now and again, comics publishers use a technique to try and inject some originality into their comics by telling stories they normal never could and pose the question “What if?”. Millar’s Red Son does just this, imagining what would happen if Superman’s arrival on earth was only a few hours different, landing in Russia instead of the USA. This isn’t just some filler story that can be written off as lazy writing, instead this is one of the best Superman stories ever told. Millar skilfully weaves the characters and continuity we are used to with an alternate real world history, providing something truly unique.
Instead of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” Kal-L’s new roots teach him to be “the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact”. The comic covers many interesting points as Superman battles not only his arch nemesis Lex Luthor, but also the strain of leading the country and trying to make a difference. There’s plenty of familiar faces, but probably not quite as you remember them, and the book ends on a fantastic twist to the normal telling of the Superman tale. This is a great one for Superman and DC fans.
WOLVERINE – ENEMY OF THE STATE
Being not only Scottish, but from Lanarkshire I am certainly not immune to the effect Mark Millar has had on comics and popular culture. In fact, I actually quite like some of his stuff. Introduced to him through his run on my beloved Swampy (which I covered previously) I used him as an initial test of those difficult to navigate Marvel Waters, by way of a borrowed copy of The Ultimates. It was not an entirely unsatisfying voyage and so I have been sporadically reading more and more Marvel.
For my first non Hugh Jackman encounter with the ever charming Wolverine, I again decided to look to Millar and his Enemy of The State vol. 2 trade which I had seen so many fans clutching in signing queues. Thinking I was on to a winner here as I also enjoyed John Romita Jnr’s art on Kick Ass I’m afraid to say my overall impression of the book was one of marginal disappointment, though not with the entire product.
The book begins beautifully with an 18 month previous prologue detailing the ascension of Tomi Shishido to the dizzy heights of ultimate ninja cult leader extraordinaire and setting the story up with a villain who is not to be taken lightly. His introduction is one of my favourite parts of the book where strong story telling works brilliantly with JRJR’s strong and detailed panels. The colouring is also immense within this portion of the trade but unfortunately this excellent beginning is not capitalised upon.
However, its not long before the book breaks down into something akin to ‘superhero story by numbers’ as we move from huge battle to epic battle and back to huge battle. I found my attention starting to wander due to this. JRJRs figurative work also seems to become less character specific as the book goes on with more characters taking on a chunky square shape originally reserved solely for Logan.
If you can suffer/ enjoy the above then Millar’s story will see Wolverine get some semblance of reality back after his brainwashing which set him against his usual allies and then go on to kick a whole lot of arse. The best part of the trade comes in the form of a ‘What If’ story set in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. It is incredibly well written and affords a lot more atmosphere than Millar usually employs. Very beautiful it is too.
Overall, this book is not a shining example of Millar’s storytelling. His characterisation however, is stronger than I first thought as the trade served to get me interested in the character enough to the extent that I am now buying single issues of both Wolverine and Daken: Dark Wolverine.
Come back for our third and final post on our spotlight on feature very soon, where we look at Millar’s recent creator owned work.
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