Super Crooks: The Heist – Mark Millar

Super CrooksLike Nemesis this is a self-contained story reminiscent of Millar’s 2000AD roots. There isn’t the originality of Wanted or the scope of The Authority but that doesn’t detract from what is an incredibly entertaining read.

It is very well put together. There isn’t a great deal of characterisation or growth but it really captures the spirit of the heist movie genre. And gives it a super powered spin.

The art is great. It is bold and confident where it needs to be and brings a big screen feeling to the work.

Thumbs Up!

Red Razors – Mark Millar

red razorsThe beauty of the Judge Dredd universe is that it is large and mature enough to feature tales that don’t concern Dredd at all. This book features a criminal turned Sov Judge named Razors in two long stories and a one shot prequel.

While there are some interesting gags, 90’s references, and sci-fi ideas it is largely Robocop crossed with Tom and Jerry. There will always be things that make you smile but this story is largely for entertainment rather than the quality drama that the Dredd-verse can muster.

The art is classic 2000AD fare and whilst the artists change between issues the style remains the consistent. This is from the colour era of Dredd and contains no black and white panels.

It’s more filler than anything else but there are some quality ideas and some unusual parodies so maybe give it a look.

Thumbs Up!

Kick Ass 2 – Mark Millar

Kick Ass 2This is a good continuation of the story and the themes of the previous issues. With a returning villain and a clear plan the stakes are definitely raised here.

Romita’s art is excellent. Children, animals, and graphic violence are all handled with style. A strong colourist capable of great lighting effects and a confident panel structure make this a visual feast.

Millar puts out his social soapbox but there is less of him pimping his own products so the delivery of his moral message is smoother than it has been previously. The seven issue length also makes a big difference allowing room for the story to breathe and the emotional beats time to resonate.

Thumbs Up!

Kick Ass 2 Prelude: Hit Girl – Mark Millar

Kicks Ass - Hit GirlThe title for this book is odd and it makes you think this is some spin of done for cynical dollars whereas it is a proper chapter in the story arc. Granted it is a short chapter without the ambitious achievements of the first book but it definitely delivers the same heart and humour you demand.

Romita’s art is perfect. His style fits extremely well for a title that is chiefly about children yet expresses ultraviolence with equal ease.

This is a series that is primarilly Millar’s personal “disgruntled of Scotland’” letters to the Times about the state of the world. This includes disposable culture, criminality and a large helping of comic books. Whilst not quite breaking the fourth wall the constant comic book references remind you that you are reading fiction yet assure you that the author really is speaking your language.

A Thumbs Up!

Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority – Mark Millar

Jenny SparksIt’s an origin story. A series of five one-shots that details how Jenny meets the individuals who would become the starting line-up of The Authority.

If you were getting attached to Mark Millar’s run and want more then this will have to do. Rather than a scathing political commentary this is played for laughs. We dip into Jenny’s 100 year past for a series of pulp adventures dating back to 1913. Most of those mysterious questions you had about where everyone came from – the kind that are better left unanswered – are explained.

The art is great with John McCrea doing a fine job picking up the baton and Ian Hannin working hard to live up to the fabulous colours of David Baron. Nothing innovative and not particularly ‘widescreen’ but all the characters you love are definitely there in the flesh.

This is a book that doesn’t need to exist but if you don’t want to let Millar or Sparks go just yet then this should bring you some chuckles. It’s got Hitler in it, what’s not to like.

Thumbs Up!

The Absolute Authority Volume Two – Mark Millar

Absolute Authority 02Once again The Authority benefits from the premier treatment. The increased size and most importantly the high gloss paper make all the difference to the art. You can see just how cinematic comics can become.
The slipcase and specially commissioned dust jacket add a luxurious edge to this product. The hardcover in burgundy and gold is just as practical as it is beautiful opening fully to lay flat.

The internal treatment is just as lush with additional pages inserted between issues along with text free covers. The only extra is a brief pinup with some unusual names contributing.

This collects all twelve issues of the Millar run but there is no sign of the Annual or Special that chronologically occurred during this period. It is also missing the “Transfer of Power” issues that were interleaved with final “Brave New World” which marked Millar’s exit.

Not all it could have been but a Thumbs Up!

The Authority Volume Four: Transfer of Power – Mark Millar & Tom Peyer

A04This book sees Mark Millar’s exit from The Authority. This is a shame as he was just beginning to have fun and tell some interesting stories. In this tale he installs a fake, puppet Authority and rather than killing off the originals the Powers That Be condemn them to their own personal hells. These two vehicles show that Millar has a great understanding of these characters and it is a shame he never continued. But always leave them wanting more right?

We also have Tom Peyer writing a story solely with the fake Authority that is interleaved with the Millar tale, alternating on an almost issue by issue basis. He also does a great job of getting what the message of The Authority is and it would have been nice to see what he could have done with the real team.

The art is good despite the artist changing every five minutes. Quietly is there briefly before being replaced by Arthur Adams and then Gary Erskine, making a return from the original line-up. Dustin Nguyen manages to stay for the whole of the Peyer story and thank goodness we have David Baron’s excellent colours to tie it all together.

Looking behind the curtain The Authority was clearly a troubled series. On the surface however a lot of talented and creative people were working very hard to hold it all together.

Thumbs Up!

The Authority Volume Three: Earth Inferno – Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Joe Casey & Paul Jenkins

A03This volume contains the middle Millar stories plus three mini stories from various specials.

The Millar story isn’t bad and you see him twisting and bending the characters to express the more home-grown political message he is wanting to. He has fun with his new toys and spins an interesting yarn. Casey delivers a run of the mill action romp with some old Stormwatch references. Jenkins turns in a mature and touching story whose title, Isolation, says it all. This is the star of the show.

Ellis has clearly said goodbye to The Authority by this point. He basically has Hawksmoor recap the previous stories while doing parkour. While this is a definite let down story wise it is actually quite a poetic and elegant delivery.

There are plenty of artists at work here. Even the main story changes penciller and inker halfway through in a noticeable but not disastrous way. All the minor stories are beautifully rendered, obeying the previous conventions. The Ellis story does have a very different visual style with the words and pictures kept very separate and this compliments the internal narration very well. Weston’s two issue stand-in for Quietly makes the biggest impression and his pin sharp detail seems to be the closest to the original Hitch vision and the most suited for the ‘widescreen’ format.

Thumbs Up!

The Authority Volume Two: Under New Management – Warren Ellis & Mark Millar

A02This is an odd volume as it has the last story from Warren Ellis and the first one by Mark Millar.

The Ellis story is a rather unusual take on the god is a Spaceman idea. He also builds to a climax for the team and certain characters superbly. You definitely get a sense of the curtain coming down. Not for good but for a planned intermission.

Then the entire creative team changes and Mark Millar discovers the project he was born for. Without any kind of restraining baggage normally present with superheroes he explodes in quite an accomplished and humorous state-of-the-world-address. There is plenty of violence and vulgarity, and no shortage of subjects to include in his tirade – including comics – but he takes to the concept of The Authority like a duck to water.

The art also changes. We say goodbye to the crisp clean lines of Hitch and hello to the looser style of Frank Quietly. You quickly accept him and it is a smooth transition. His habit of hiding interesting details in the background convinces you this isn’t just another paid gig for him.

One of the only people to bridge the two books is the letterer. The familiar captions and conventions established under the Ellis vision remain and bond these two stories together. The colouring is still bold and gorgeous even on the crappy newsprint paper Wildstorm insists on using. The covers are reproduced in a gallery at the end.

It seemed an odd choice to put the switch between two creators in one book but it actually works and serves to show you that The Authority is in great hands.

Thumbs Up!

Nemesis – Mark Millar

NemesisA criminal mastermind and brilliant cop go head to head in an ultraviolent spectacular.

What an exciting little book. It is like the comic equivalent of a music video. It looks pretty for a short space of time and will leave you humming after the music stops. There is no message, no deep thought, no real character development even. But it is bloody entertaining. Your higher brain shuts down and everything but your eyeballs and page turning fingers goes to sleep as those two parts go into overdrive. It is completely over the top in terms of violence, colour, black humour and twist upon twist.

The art is fabulous with most panels being page wide and plenty of full page panels too. Whilst there is lots of dialogue it never descends into repetitive talking heads. This has such a wonderfully visual feel and is tingling with action. The fact the villain looks like Batman but in a pure white costume is a really inspired choice.

A broad grin and a Thumbs Up!