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Book 21

  1. Meredith, Martin — The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (736 pages)
  2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o — Wizard of the Crow (766 pages)
  3. Coetzee, J.M. — Life & Times of Michael K (182 pages)
  4. Saint-Exupery, Antoine de — The Little Prince (101 pages)
  5. Brunner, John — Stand on Zanzibar (661 pages)
  6. Dahl, Roald — Fantastic Mr Fox (79 pages)
  7. Walker, Barbara — TEENY-TINY and the Witch-Woman (29 pages)
  8. Shakespeare, William — A Midsummer Night's Dream (23 pages)
  9. Powers, Richard — The Time of Our Singing (631 pages)
  10. McEwan, Ian — In Between the Sheets (134 pages)
  11. Ishiguro, Kazuo — A Pale View of Hills (182 pages)
  12. Niven, Larry — Ringworld (284 pages)
  13. Anderson, Poul — Tau Zero (184 pages)
  14. Eisenberg, Bryan & Jeffrey, with Lisa T. Davis — Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results (273 pages)
  15. Andrews, Stephen E. and Nick Rennison — 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels (205 pages)
  16. Andrews, Stephen E. and Nick Rennison — 100 Must-Read Fantasy Novels (197 pages)
  17. Niles, Steve and Ben Templesmith — 30 Days of Night (103 pages)
  18. Terkel, Studs — And They All Sang: Great Musicians Talk about Their Music (321 pages)
  19. Andrews, Stephen E. and Duncan Bowis — 100 Must-Read Books for Men (200 pages)
  20. Dahl, Roald — The Witches (202 pages)
  21. Millar, Mark and J.G. Jones and Paul Mounts — Wanted (192 pages)

Page count: 5582.

A co-worker carried this in to work one day and I recognised the cover, thinking to myself, "I don't remember what that is but it's on my Amazon Wishlist." So I checked the list, found what it was, and asked to borrow it from my co-worker. (And now she is attempting to convert me into a Mark Millar junkie.)

I found Wanted refreshingly shocking, just what I wanted. Like Watchmen, it is an alternative take on the superhero genre. Unlike Watchmen, it seems (at first, at least) to be lacking a moral center. The super villains glory in the fact that they can commit all sorts of atrocities without consequence because they long ago defeated the superheroes. But as the story unfolds and the central drama comes into focus, I began to suspect there was morality at work, in a subtle and gruesomely twisted way. Maybe a different moral code, but a sort of morality nonetheless. That made the characters and the story so much more compelling.

Millar's narrative unfolds at a brisk pace that doesn't leave much time for catching one's breath. And he holds no punches, covers no blemishes. The action is bloody and graphic and intense; the people, racist, sexist, and despicable. And human, every one of them. (Well, except maybe for the aliens from other dimensions or the creature made from the shit of the six hundred and sixty-six most evil people in history, but you get the idea.)

Jones' artwork is at once unflinchingly bold and in your face and also surprisingly nuanced. He does an amazing job of capturing just the right mood in each frame and of visually driving the narrative. Jones and Millar have a great collaboration, a synergism which elevates the final product.

I watched the movie just now, and it's also great. But it's completely different. Gone is the idea of supervillains and superheroes, or almost any other supernatural element. The main characters belong instead to a thousand-year-old fraternity of elite assassins. There's no Shit-Head, no Imp, no Sucker; Mister Rictus is just a corpse, the latest victim of the fraternity; Seltzer has become Sloan, less über-intellect than pseudo-mystical megalomaniac. And there is a very definite moral framework which becomes crucial to the central drama. I can only assume that Millar and Jones were on board with all of this, as they are listed as co-producers on the film. They must have felt since the two mediums are markedly different it's okay to make the stories different, too. And I'm okay with that because both were pulled off to dazzling effect.

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