April 7th, 2008
Comic reviewed April 11th 2008
Written by Mark Millar
Drawn by John Romita Jr
Published by Icon
I was uncertain after reading the first instalment, but this confirms it. There’s a very bad smell around this comic. The smell of unwashed boy. The smell of socks encrusted with… well, let’s just say “encrusted” and leave it at that, shall we? Sure, Mark Millar’s wannabe superhero (a kid from the really real world who loves to talk about the things you the reader love to talk about) had the shit kicked out of him last issue, but this time – tres excite! – he’s back and KICKING the bad guys ASSES.
With his truncheon.
Turns out that Mark is, in all seriousness, spaffing off the worst kind of nerd power fantasy*. That he keeps highlighting his obsession with really real superheroes, and thereby tacitly suggesting that KICK ASS is written with the really real world in mind, causes me to worry about his mental health, if not his mental age. Hackneyed talk of the supersuit as fetish gear, and having the hero enjoy being bashed up as he administers street justice do not confer a sense of the really real, signpost a skein of maturity, or hide the trite storytelling dynamics at work here (dynamics that couldn’t be more at odds with Millar’s talk of realism), they just serve to make the icky even ickier.
So, now that I’ve forced my way through issue 2, my feelings are crystallized: I wouldn’t want to describe Kick-Ass as bad, in the same way that I wouldn’t want to describe the aforementioned sock as ‘bad’. ‘Bad’ doesn’t really capture what I think is wrong with the book; it’s not so much that it’s poorly written, and, hey, the art is predictably skilful. Nope, there’s just better, more accurate ways of describing it, just as there are better more accurate ways to describe the sock. Words like ‘rank’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘covered with spunk’.
*I say ‘the worst’ because we’re kinda in the business of nerd power fantasies around here. Never let it be said that I don’t enjoy a good nerdish power fantasy. I live and breath nerdish power fantasies
Secret Invasion #1
Written by Brian Bendis
Drawn by John Romita Jr
Published by Marvel Comics
Say what you like about this issue, Secret Invasion’s premise is about fifty quadrillion times more sturdy than Civil War’s. Marvel’s attempts to map their last mega-crossover over real world events didn’t so much come across as implausible, more downright fraudulent. Some might say distastefully opportunistic.
Secret Invasion, on the other hand, is traipsing across well worn ground, so even if it doesn’t manage to keep the continuity hounds at bay, there’s no excuse if it fails to work for those of us who don’t care whether Luke Cage couldn’t have been kidnapped by Skrulls because blah, blah, blah, boring, boring, boring. So I’m happy to say that on the strength of this issue it seems to be doing fine. Out is Bendis’s trademark decompression, and in comes the destruction of S.W.O.R.D, the implosion of the Baxter Building, the hijacking of global weapon systems, the neutralization of Iron Man, three big Skrull reveals, and one rather hefty curve ball. Okay, it ain’t All Star Superman 10 (more on that later), it isn’t particularly inspired stuff – quite the opposite, in fact. What it is is a competently written book that sets up the story at a rapid pace, and manages to entertain in the process. Granted, those of us who’ve been following the Avengers don’t need to bother with the first few pages, but the expository stuff is thankfully short-lived and probably entirely necessary.
If I had to point towards anything faulty, I’d suggest that the twist ending is somewhat undermined by the fact that a number of the character’s in question have their own books. To fuck with them, in the way that’s being suggested, would be pretty unforgivable, and as a consequence I can’t help but feel that it’s all a big Skrull fake out. On the strength of this I’ll be happy to check back next month to see if I’m wrong.
All Star Superman #10
Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Frank Quitely
Colours by Jamie Grant
Published by DC Comics
Perhaps the best superhero comic ever written.