‘Super Crooks’ Review: Mark Millar’s Universe Goes Into Anime Form
In 2017 Netflix acquired Millarworld, the company founded by Mark Millar, a famous comic book writer and author of many properties such as; Wanted, Kingsman The Secret Service, Jupiter’s Legacy, and Kick-Ass. Miller became famous thanks to his work in the two major comic book houses, DC and Marvel, penning some of the most famous storylines in those lines of comics, like Civil War and Superman: Red Son. This time, we have on our hands another one of Millar’s Netflix adaptations, Super Crooks and this review will help you decide should you watch it or not.
After going independent and founding his own comic book company, Millar became famous for being an idea man, and his comic book house more of a pitch factory. Netflix, being a company always hungry for content, basically bought the factory of ideas with that in mind. Also, taking into consideration just how popular comic book adaptations are nowadays, In early 2021, Netflix released the first of those comic book adaptations, with Jupiter’s Legacy. The show, while popular with audiences, was quickly canceled and put to rest for various reasons, including bad reviews and expensive production.
The failure of Jupiter’s Legacy hasn’t stopped Millarworld from doing their job. This next adaptation of Millar’s work, Super Crooks, comes in the form of an anime produced by Studio Bones, and the result is more often than not quite fun.
Super Crooks tells the story of Johnny Bolt, who, as a kid, wanted to become a superhero, but failed. Instead, he started using his powers to become a thief. Now, recently released from prison, Bolt joins a crew of obscure supervillains in order to pull off the heist of the century.
Studio Bones has been killing it lately with an amazing output of fantastic anime. Their decision to work within the seasonal format instead of weekly has helped them preserve the quality of the animation. You just have to see shows like Mob Psycho 100, and My Hero Academia, to know that Bones knows what they are doing. They are true artists.
Netflix’s anime output on the other hand has been hit or miss, thanks to a reliance on 3D animation in order to make the production of the shows go faster. 3D animation is very controversial inside the anime fan circles, and it is seen more as a crutch than as something that adds to the series. Luckily, Bones is not cutting as many corners here. The show does use 3D graphics to enhance some action sequences, but other than that the animation has the classic draw feeling that many people like. Animation is fluid even in the most mundane of scenes. While in the action sequences, action is over the top and brutal, just like you want it.
The look of the show feels very much in line with something like Netflix’s own Great Pretender, so if you like that kind of character animation, then Super Crooks will be right up your alley. At first, Johnny Bolt might seem like a generic character, but as the season moves forward, he finds himself fitting the role of the protagonist a lot more comfortably. By the end of his run, you can see that the potential for Johnny to be more than a supervillain crook is there, and it has always been.
The rest of the characters that share space with Bolt also receive the spotlight here and there. Millar uses his characteristic use of flashbacks to explore the secondary characters’ backstories and make them feel more real to the audience.
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This use of flashback is a double-edged sword, though. Sometimes the flashbacks just interrupt the pacing of a scene, and they feel very shoehorned in. There’s also the fact that some characters have better backstories than others, and it can become quite boring and annoying when the show spends so much time with a character that is not to your liking.
Super Crooks is not a kid’s show at all. It explores very serious themes, and just remember that most of the main cast are criminals, and the “heroes” of the piece aren’t any better. The character of the Praetorian, for example, folds easily into the trope of the Evil Superman and is as brutal as you can imagine. Like that, Super Crooks tries to exemplify that the path someone takes in life is very much determined by their own actions. The way someone can decide to become a superhero, is the same way someone can decide to become a villain. Responsibility is with those who decide to act. It is an approach that can sometimes be seen as nihilistic, but Millar never goes too far into that realm.
All in all, Super Crooks ends up being one of the best original anime series from Netflix. Thanks to Studio Bones, the show displays amazing visuals and Millar’s story adapts very well to a medium that has proven to be the best way to tell adult genre stories.
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Super Crooks might not become an instant classic, and the failure of Jupiter’s Legacy might stain the release of the show a bit, but it is entertaining enough to be worth a watch when there’s nothing else to see. What you will find is a fun, violent superhero story, similar to what many others are doing nowadays. Fun nevertheless.