Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Mark Millar

11 December 2011 by Nicholas in Comics

Mark Millar is a writer of American comics but comes from Scotland. Initially entering comics as a co writer of Grant Morrison, he had a run on Superman Adventures (an all ages Superman comic drawn and written in the style of a cartoon) before replacing Warren Ellis on The Authority.

Now, The Authority was one of my favourite comics. The first 12 issues stand up as some of the best superhero comics ever produced. Mark Millar’s run was apparently subject to quite a lot of censorship and had the problem of losing Frank Quietly (the artist) early on and delays and different artists. It also had a great moment where a group of corporation heads are discussing their deity creation and the fact they own the likeness.

But it also features a plot that Millar keeps returning to: super heroes exist in the real world, we start to see the effects their presence would have and, before we can see how this would really change things or the dramatic effects of this, super villains turn up and they have to fight them.

I’ve seen it in the Authority (where I quite liked it), in Wanted, Kick Ass, Nemesis, Superior, War Heroes (which is seemingly abandoned, unfinished) . . .

And it really isn’t good enough. When Millar is teamed with the right artist he more or less gets away with it. But recently his work has started to feel incredibly similar and the stories much too slight. And the single best element in Superior (a cosmonaut talking monkey) is stolen wholesale from Grant Morrison’s The Filth.

Which brings me back to the Authority. The rumour is that Millar was too ill to write the book and Morrison helped him out. Including writing the deity scene mentioned above. As good a self publicist as Millar is, as much as I have enjoyed some of his work (The Ultimates is really just an excuse for Bryan Hitch to draw some absolutely massive fight scenes, but Hitch draws the best fight scenes in the business), I can’t really go on buying it and getting the same story issue after issue, year after year.

I really do feel he has turned into a one trick pony and, as much as I sometimes like the superficial elements of his work, he really isn’t challenging himself or entertaining me.