Mark Millar is insidious. As I discussed last time, Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis are, I think, pretty up front about hating superheroes, and I feel a kind of comfortable disgust and morbid fascination reading their books about superheroes. Mark Millar can give rise to that disgust, to be sure, but in mainstream books he’s more subtle about it. He plays it straight for the most part, but amid the crazy, wide-screen action he sometimes injects moments that are repulsive and betray his own hatred for superheroes (“You think this letter on my head stands for France?”), and, in turn, should make the reader reconsider how he feels about them. Even if I disagree and even sometimes hate his take, I appreciate that fact that he’s a little bit more cunning about how he handles it. And I appreciate the weird, even creepy, moments he injects along with that. This panel has stuck with me from when I first read The Ultimates vol. 1 issue 6. Tony Stark, his index finger resting on his temple, staring creepily at the reader, explaining the reason for his superheroism: he’s an alcoholic trillionare with a terminal brain tumor. Maybe it’s Mark Millar’s doing, or maybe it’s Brian Hitch’s, but Tony here looks a little like Robert Downey, Jr.; he looks a lot like a pedophile. And he’s the best damn version of Iron Man or Tony Stark I’ve ever seen.
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