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Creator / Mark Millar

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Mark Millar MBE (born 24 December 1969) is a prominent Scottish writer of comic books. Millar has written for many a character, particularly those within the Marvel Universe, as well his own creations in the form of Wanted, Kick-Ass and so forth.

Millar's writing style is known for pretty much taking the concept of Darker and Edgier and letting it off the leash. His stories involving popular superheroes are sometimes cynical, forcing heroes to deal with darker moral themes than usual. On the other hand, some of Millar's earlier super-hero work (on Superman Adventures) and even some of his more recent projects like 1985 are more optimistic in tone. He also runs his own little slice of the internet known as MillarWorld, a comic news/forum where he's more than happy to dole out his opinion on whatever, and has been involved with charity work for children with disabilities.

Similar to other comic book writers and artists known for dark and gritty subject matter, he's got significant detractors, with plenty of critics calling him out for overselling the sociopathy and elaborate deaths of his characters to make a quick buck, and a tendency to gleefully mock his audience for eating it up. He's got a Misaimed Fandom as well, fans who find layered meanings in characters Millar says are meant to be interpreted as comically insane. All that aside, he is generally praised for advancing (or outright shoving) the medium into depths it normally wouldn't venture.

That said, his comics sell very, very well, despite their divisive reception.

Not to be confused with Frank Miller, Mark Miller or Miles Millar.

Selected bibliography:


A set of several independent comics written by Millar. He's confirmed they are all connected, though exactly how some of them are related to the others has not been revealed yet.

See also Millarworld, Anthology Comic series with stories based on Millarworld series by various creators.

Marvel Universe

DC Universe

Fleetway Comics


Mark Millar's works contain examples of:

  • Based on a Great Big Lie: As a child, Millar assumed that superhero comics were based on true stories. When wondering what happened to the heroes, his brother told him that they were all wiped out in a war with every supervillain teamed up. This lie inspired Millar to write Wanted and Old Man Logan.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: When his characters aren't morally reprehensible there are others who, while decent, are just as flawed but not as monstrous. Trying to find a genuinely good character in his works is a rarity.
    • Well, there is Huck himself, who’s a pretty decent guy.
    • And Superman, in Millar's Superman Adventures comics.
  • Canon Welding:
    • This article suggests that all of his later Marvel works (1985, Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass, and Old Man Logan) is all interconnected. (Three of those are automatically canon to each other anyway, of course, but Kick Ass is more of a surprise.)
    • Even earlier he established connections between three comics published by different companies — Wanted, Chosen and The Unfunnies. The reason why at the end of the Chosen media doesn't report Antichrist's miracles is that they're controlled by supervillains from Wanted. And Troy Hicks from Unfunnies helped Satan rape Antichrist. Never published Run! was supposed to be set in that world too.
    • Kick-Ass 3 ends with several references that imply Superior, Nemesis, The Secret Service and MPH take place in the same universe.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Zauriel was created by him and Grant Morrison as a stand-in for Hawkman, who had been retconned so badly that he was unusable. Morrison made it a point to lampshade this so readers would get the point, too. The first time he sees Zauriel, Aquaman momentarily mistakes him for Hawkman. Later on, Superman invites him to join, saying, "there's always room in the Justice League for, well... a big guy with wings like you."
    • Wanted. Originally it was a Legion of Doom Reboot and got shut down. So he made it Darker and Edgier and changed the names. It's really obvious who most of the characters are supposed to be.
    • The Authority faced off against Ersatzes of classic Marvel heroes in his inaugural arc. The Americans were obviously Avengers pastiches with named ones being the Commander (Captain America), Tank Man (Iron Man), Hornet (Wasp) and Titan (Giant Man) while the rest were clearly based on Thor, Hulk, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and the Vision. Later, they took down unnamed Ersatz teams resembling the X-Men, The Inhumans, Fantastic Four (with additional Silver Surfer, Galactus, Watcher and H.E.R.B.I.E. knock-offs, all of which are most famously associated with the FF) and the Howling Commandos while other Wildstorm heroes fought Ersatzes of Spider-Man, The Punisher, Daredevil, Elektra, Doctor Strange, Namor and others. The story's Big Bad, Jacob Krigstein, was an evil ersatz Jack Kirby.
    • Big Daddy from Kick-Ass, is one of The Punisher, minus the skull. And tragic backstory, it turns out.
    • Duke McQueen from Star Light is clearly an older Flash Gordon after retirement from space adventures.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: A lot of his edgier works like Wanted and The Unfunnies has characters swear like sailors. Ironically, Millar never curses himself in real life, being a Catholic.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting;
  • The Conspiracy: A frequent feature in his works is the idea that either a cadre of Corrupt Corporate Executive types is just offscreen, enriching and entertaining themselves by creating a Crapsack World for the rest of us and secretly controlling world governments, the military-industrial complex is in bed with them or just doing War for Fun and Profit, or that the Generic Doomsday Villain works for or leads some form of Hollywood Satanism group...complete with real Demon Lords and Archdevils. Sometimes, the Hollywood Satanism folks are the Corrupt Corporate Executives.
  • Crapsack World: The setting of Wanted plays with this: the villains who finally beat the heroes changed reality to make it a Crapsack World... in other words, ours.
    • And even worse, Wanted shares the world with two other comics - Chosen and The Unfunnies. So it means that the president of the United States is an Anti Christ and Satan is very real and actively trying to bring the Apocalypse and that people can enter the worlds they wrote by switching places with their characters, exposing completely innocent beings to general crappiness of their world.
    • However, according to him, all of his works not for DC or Marvel coexist, which means somewhere out there is a genuinely kind and humble man named Huck who also has super strength and the ability to locate anything. Superior also shows that there are truly virtuous people still left in his world. It's not much, but this world is not entirely at the mercy of scum like the Fraternity, Nemesis, and Troy Hicks.
  • Deconstruction:
    • He also had fun subverting street-level heroes in an issue of The Ultimates. Batman clone Nighthawk tries to stop a gang of teenagers, only to break his ankle during his Dynamic Entrance and end up beaten to a bloody pulp.

      In the same issue it even deconstructs the concept of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits by showing how badly a group of people (The Defenders), inexperienced at superheroing, with the exception of one, performs during their first outing as superheroes.
    • Old Man Logan essentially shows the realistic outcome of what a Legion of Doom team could accomplish were it not for Status Quo Is God. Once they ditch the goofy gimmicks and campy schemes, they realize that by sheer numbers they completely outnumber the world's heroes, and make short work of The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men.
    • Kick-Ass:
      • A teenager with no powers or special training decides to become a superhero. Especially when Kick-Ass fights crime for the first time he ends up getting stabbed by one of the thugs.
      • Then subverted by... most of the comic after that point. To start with, getting stabbed and hit by a car gave him just enough, very specific nerve damage to stop feeling almost any pain.
      • Unlike other Tykebomb-turned-superheroes in other media, Mindy is clearly damaged by her upbringing as Hit-Girl, escalating into disturbing hallucinations of her Father still giving her orders and advice.
      • Dave's pretending to be gay in order to get close to the girl he likes works out improbably well for him in the film once he reveals that he's actually straight. Here, though, she is extremely pissed off to have been lied to and manipulated by what she thought was her Gay Best Friend, has her boyfriend beat the crap out of Dave in retaliation, and then later taunts him with pictures of the two of them having sex.
    • The second issue of Superior has a kid testing out the superpowers of his favorite Superman Expy. He attempts to use his "super-breath" to put out a house fire, only to demolish the house and spread the fire over a much larger area.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In Superman: Red Son, Lex Luthor breaks off his engagement and relationship to Lois Lane in order to devote his entire life to beating Superman because....The deformed clone of Superman beat him in Chess! This is particularly hilarious because earlier he had explicitly stated "I have no doubts that [Superman] and I would get along if we had been born in the same country."
    • In Wanted, Wesley Gibson gains the resources to do whatever he wanted. As an example, he deals with the frustration of a neighbor being too cheery with...a bullet to the face. BLAM.
    • Kick-Ass:
      • In Volume One, Kick-Ass leads with violence, in the face of non-violence. In particular, during his first foray into vigilantism, he brutally ambushes some young graffiti artists. Although he loses the battle, there's no indication that what he did was immoral. And this would lead to Unreliable Narrator - it's the perpetrator that's narrating the story. And the narrator is a supremely bored high schooler.
      • What Red Mist does to destroy Dave in Volume Two. Unmasks him, murders Katie's parents and rapes her, kills his dad, and bombs his funeral.
      • Mother Russia supposedly killed the other bodyguards of the Russian Prime Minister when they accused her at cheating at cards.
    • In Super Crooks, the Bastard is considered the most terrifying super-villain on Earth with a story told of one guy making the mistake of trying to rip him off. Another villain might kill the guy. Another might go a step further and kill his family. The Bastard methodically tracks down and murders every single person this guy has ever been close to. Family, lovers, his drug dealer, his banker, right down to second grade classmates. Then he kills the guy.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Like Garth Ennis, despite his cynical approach to writing superheroes, even he has nothing but respect for Superman. In fact, Man of Steel, in his words, "traumatized" him with its gritty and brooding portrayal of the Big Blue, to the point where he wrote an idealistic comic, Huck in response.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids:
    • The toy maker in Wanted had his wife and daughters fooled he was a regular and even Sickeningly Sweet and fastidiously proper toymaker and not a supervillain. Interestingly, he enjoyed the services of hookers in other dimensions.
    • Subverted in Kick-Ass by Damon MacCready, a.k.a. Big Daddy, who despite looking like Ned Flanders, raises his little girl to be a ruthlessly efficient vigilante in order to exact revenge on John Genovese (not really revenge, he was just bored with his life and wanted his daughter to have an interesting life).
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: With some exceptions, Millar's villains barely get any characterization further than "they're the bad guy And That's Terrible."
  • I Just Want to Be Badass:
    • In Kick-Ass, two characters become superheroes: the title character because he wants to help people... and in a straighter version of this trope, Big Daddy because he was frustrated with his marriage and thought his life was boring. He even creates a fake Back Story to enhance his new identity.
    • This is the basic idea of Wanted, both the original comic and the movie adaptation. The protagonist is a loser guy who becomes a badass when he finds out he has a badass gene inherited from a father he never knew. The comic book (but not the movie) also attempts to deconstruct this trope by scolding the reader for identifying with the main character, who's essentially a violent sociopath.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • In The Ultimates Issue 4, Nick Fury is asked who he would expect to play him in a movie featuring the Ultimates. His response is; "Why, Mister Samuel L. Jackson, of course. That's not even open for debate."
    • He did this to death when he was writing Ultimate X-Men. Every time a plot device didn't make sense (the U.S. Army sending robots to fight Magneto, the Brotherhood goons not recognizing Cyclops, Professor X not noticing that the Hellfire Club was plotting against him, etc.), someone in the cast would point this out. You almost got the impression that he was simply trying to apologize for creating so many plot holes.
    • Kick-Ass, at one point, tries to traverse the New York City skyline, but finds that the buildings are too far apart, and notes that, in comics, said buildings seem to be much closer and less high...
  • Lighter and Softer: According to an interview, he started doing lighter stories after seeing Man of Steel (which, he claimed, "traumatized" him). He seems to have a soft-spot for Superman, as his comic 'Superior' is basically a love letter to the character, which contrasts heavily with the dark deconstruction he gives almost every other kind of superhero.
    • Adaptations of his work usually take a lighter and softer approach, toning down the more shocking, edgy aspects of the source material and making the characters a bit more well-adjusted and often a great deal saner.
    • Millar's work on the Superman Adventures series - some of his earliest work for DC - is shockingly light and fluffy compared to the well-earned reputation of his later works. It helps that (a) Millar does have genuine affection for Superman, and (b) these are comics aimed at a younger age group than most of his work.
  • Parents as People: Following his "trauma" when he saw Man of Steel, this trope started popping up left and right in his more recent Lighter and Softer books. Though even all the way back in Wanted, Millar had been including flawed but loving parents who want nothing more than for their children to be happy and/or stable.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Close to all of the villains in Wanted are this. The Future is definitely the worst though, as he is an unapologetic Nazi and misogynist.
    • In The Secret Service, James Arnold gives horribly offensive nicknames for his disabled henchmen. For example his Dragon with leg prosthesis is nicknamed Gazelle.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: He deliberately invoked this trope with his British comics magazine CLiNT, launched in September 2010.
  • Reality Warper: If it involves superpowers, there's a chance someone can twist space and time like a pretzel in Millar's work. More often than not, it's a villain.
  • Shout-Out: Early in his career, he did a stint writing Sonic the Comic. He credited this gig with helping to pay for his wedding, and thus there are references to Sonic in several of his works, including Secret History of the Authority and Wanted mini-series.
  • Show Within a Show: The way some of his Marvel work references DC Comics implies that in his interpretation of the Marvel Universe, The DCU exists as one of these.
  • Signature Style:
    • He has powers of ten show up a lot. Someone will be ten times smarter than someone else or something will be calculated to the tenth decimal point or will be miscalculated by misplacing the decimal.
    • He also had a tendency to use Nazis repeatedly in his works until someone called him out on it with The Ultimates. He hadn't even realized he was doing it.
    • When writing Ultimate X-Men, he would often have his characters pointing out obvious Plot Holes and Fridge Logic. It's unclear if he did this as a sort of Self-Deprecation, or as a way of apologizing for his own mistakes.
    • His works feature a lot, and we mean a lot, of anal rape, committed on both men and women.
    • Expect repeated askings of "What are you talking about?"
    • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner
      • What?
      • Ass kicking ensues.
    • Villains and heroes alike will talk about the billions of dollars that have gone into their equipment.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: He is a very cynical comic book author.
    • Kick-Ass is about as cynical as it gets, even more so than Watchmen. Dave is a loser, Big Daddy is a complete fraud, Hit Girl is lied to by her father about her mother dying, and not allowed to have a normal childhood, and everyone else except for maybe Dave's father is a scumbag of one sort or the other (Katie is a shallow bitch, Red Mist is completely unsympathetic unlike in the film, his father is evil, etc). Despite all this, it's incredibly funny. Many people preferred the movie adaptation since it toned down the utter bleakness of the comic book, but taken on its own terms, the comic is a great Black Comedy.
    • His other most famous work was Wanted which also falls in the far end of the Cynical side as well as The Authority.
    • Probably the one book he did that falls squarely on the idealistic side is Superior, a book about a 12-year-old boy suffering from multiple sclerosis who gets super powers, loses them, and in the process, learns to come to terms with his disability.
    • Firmly on the idealistic side is Starlight, the story of a Flash Gordon expy returning to the world he liberated forty years ago to save it from an even greater evil. The protagonist is shown to be heroic, kind, and totally selfless, preferring to live a quiet life on Earth rather than become king of an entire world. Decency and kindness are highly valued, villainy punished, and there isn't a hint of cynicism in sight.
    • Huck is also on the idealistic side. In fact, Millar wrote it specifically because Man of Steel applying Darker and Edgier to Superman himself was too much for even him.
  • Superman Substitute;
    • Wanted has Earth's first superhero who was implied to be Superman. Word of God later retconned him to be the Utopian from Jupiter's Legacy.
    • The Utopian is his world's first and most famous superhero. The main difference between him and Supes is that the Utopian was a human Touched by Vorlons and his friends also got similar weaker powers at the same time.
    • Superior is an In-universe one featuring in various comic books and movies who didn't become real until a child was granted a wish and wished to be him. Word of God says that Superman, Superior and all the other Superman Substitutes in the Millarworld were created by people who subconsciously remember the Utopian before the Fraternity wiped all superheroes from reality.
    • Huck is a rare variation that's based on Clark Kent's life growing up on a farm and doesn't show his superhero adventures in a city.
  • Take That!:
    Legally-distinct-parody-of The Hulk: Comics are for retards.
    • He hated Bill Clinton, and so in his run on The Authority and the Jenny Sparks mini-series had several jabs against him. One of the issues of the mini-series even goes so far as to implicitly compare Clinton to Adolf Hitler.
    • One of the supporting characters in Marvel 1985 is an obnoxious Hipster who keeps talking about how stupid people who like superhero comics are, and how the only good comics are indie fare like Cerebus and Love And Rockets. Accordingly, you can imagine how humiliated he is when Iron Man saves his ass near the end of the book.
    • After he left Ultimate Comics, a continuation of his title The Ultimates was given to Jeph Loeb, who created the terrible Ultimates 3 and the even worse Ultimatum. After that he returned to writing comics in Ultimate Universe. The very first page of his Ultimate Comics Avengers starts with Nick Fury looking at the mess caused by Ultimatum and saying "What the #$%^&? I leave for ten minutes and everything goes to hell." He gives another one towards Loeb (and possibly towards mainstream Marvel) in issue four of Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates. Tony Stark gives ten million dollars to charity in exchange for Thor promising to talk like a normal person again. He started using the whole "Faux Shakespearean" thing during Loeb's run.
    • His recent attempts at writing more light-hearted stories appears to be one towards Darker and Edgier comics, possibly including the ones he is most well known for.
  • This Loser Is You:
    • Wanted has Wesley Gibson, an Eminem look-a-like who is saddled with a dead end job, and an annoying, cheating girlfriend, bullied by assorted townfolk, and in general is shown to be practically spineless in regards to his life. Of course, afterward he breaks the fourth wall to tell you that you suck even more than he does. The idea is that Gibson is one of the people making life actively worse for anyone who isn't a super-villain - and yet the structure of the story encourages you to root for him as the underdog hero. He's reminding you, metatextually, that he's the bad guy.
    • Kick-Ass is not subtle about this. The story is about a pathetic, sometimes egotistical, American comic book nerd trying to be a superhero, and follows as he starts off getting his ass kicked, constantly humiliates himself and only manages by sheer luck and the intervention of the more successful heroes, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy. His crush only pays attention to him because she thinks he's gay, and when she finds out he's not, she tosses him aside, after he gets beat up by her boyfriend and left with a picture of her going down on said boyfriend for him to wake up to. The story is designed as a deconstruction on the teen superhero concept, but it crosses into this in how mean spirited it is in making the Dave as 'normal' as it can. His friends, who're also comic fans, aren't shown any better, and even Big Daddy, revealed to be a comic book fan himself instead of being an ex cop, is depicted as a pathetic loser who decided to become a superhero and train his daughter to be one after his marriage broke down.
  • A True Story in My Universe:
    • Wanted says the world used to be a Standard Superhero Setting until the villains teamed up and built a machine that altered reality, turning the superheroes into actors in movies and TV shows. Superhero media is written by people who subconsciously remember the old world. The superheroes are unnamed Lawyer Friendly Cameos of the DC heroes though Millar later said the Superman Substitute was the Utopian from Jupiter's Legacy.
    • Marvel 1985 is about a portal to the Marvel Universe bringing supervillains to our world. It ends with the protagonist growing up and writing for Marvel Comics. In Kick-Ass, Chris buys Marvel 1985 and the clerk tells him the author claims it was based on a true story.
  • Ultimate Universe: He says most of his Millarworld comics are set in the same universe with Jupiter's Legacy and Supercrooks are set in a universe where The Fraternity never got rid of the superheroes.
  • Urban Legend: Expect these to turn up and be treated as fact in narration and even as plot points, especially in his work around the Turn of the Millennium and The New '10s. Examples include:
    • The "special forces are trained by having them raise, then kill an animal myth in "Enemy of the State"
    • The "girlfriend sends a picture of herself having sex with another guy" myth in Kick-Ass
  • Vulgar Humour: He gets this on occasion.
  • You Bastard!: He likes this trope almost as much as he hates his readers, whom he's argued use comic-book violence as a substitute for the emptiness and meaninglessness of their lives. Wanted is particularly explicit about this.
  • X Meets Y: Often describes his own comics this way;