Comic reviewed April 11th 2008

KICK-ASS #2 coverKick-Ass #2
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 #1Secret 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 10All 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.

That is all.

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16 Responses to “The yellow eye falls upon…”

  1. lordnuneatonsavage Says:

    Aaaand here it all is. Lovely work, all involved. My first piece will be up and at ‘em just as soon as all of my crap is out of storage and I have a decent place to live. Viva!

  2. bobsy Says:

    Savage is arrive. Good times. Hope the smoke is being kind to him, as do we all.

    Qrthr?g has hit on something quite telling hear – there is an acrid pall of weak, wet testosterone hanging over Kick Ass. This book is the first soft flush of pubic fuzz, embarrasing and unsightly. All involved have quite definitely dropped a bollovk, that’s a fact.

  3. Papers Says:

    All-Star Superman #10 taught me how to love again.

  4. Qthgrq Says:

    Without wishing to sound like a complete tool, it sort of does do that, though doesn’t it.

    The whole discussion about whether Quintum’s a goodie or a baddie hinges on the fact that Supes, through giving the guy his trust, has left himself vulnerable. To put trust on that level, to suggest that it has the power to lay Superman low, is to take trust very seriously indeed. To suggest that it’s a commitment to someone quite unlike any other, and consequently a central component in loving relationships.

    …that’s what I reckon, anyway.

  5. Papers Says:

    The thing with Quintum is a perfect example of Morrison disproving the “Superman is too powerful to write about” bollocks. It mirrors his statement to Lois back in #3, as well: “There has to be something I can’t help, Lois.” You can make a guy as powerful as you like if you make him open to risk in emotional relationships. It demonstrates a nuanced, grown-up understanding (rather than a shit-shit bang-bang “mature readers” approach).

  6. Qthgrq Says:

    So what, knife hands aren’t mature? Powerfists aren’t mature?

  7. Papers Says:

    I was more thinking, “Hur hur! Bad words an’ sex am mature!” Powerfists are TOTALLY mature.

  8. Qthgrq Says:

    Damn straight

  9. A Transfer Says:

    It’s the Buffy thing, isn’t it. Someone who can’t be hurt physically is still identifiable with if they can be hurt emotionally, via their relationships.
    This is one of the only comics I’ve ever read that caused me to shed tears in a public place, incidentally. Fortunately the coffee shop staff know me fairly well.

  10. Qthgrq Says:

    Last time that happened to me I was reading Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. What is it about Superman?

  11. Marco Milone Says:

    Nice post!

  12. Qthgrq Says:

    Why thank you, good sir

  13. The Beast Must Die! Says:

    Y’know I was thinking about Secret Invasion again today. I admit i was sucked in by the high concept – such an easy, but potentially awesome crossover idea. And the issue was okay, pretty good, blah blah…But imagine a writer with a bit of imagination tackling it, rather than Bendis, who can trot this shit out in his sleep. It’s Bruckheimer/Simpson comics, that will undoubtedly sell to 12 year olds, but at the end of the day it still boils down to the avengers standing around ready to kick the shit out of each other. Where’s the horror and mindfuckery? Where’s ths scope? i dunno, it’s just so predicatble and pedestrian at the end of the day. It’s really no different from Secret Wars, just given a modern sheen…

  14. Qthgrq Says:

    You’re absolutely right. That’s why I said it wasn’t inspired stuff – not only is it ploughing a well worn furrow, it’s pretty much superheroes by the numbers. I’m okay with that, but it is a missed opportunity.

    That said, I really liked Bendis’s latest New Avengers, which was all about the paranoid skrullage.

  15. Qthgrq Says:

    And, hey, maybe it’ll pick up

  16. Carl Weathers Says:

    Mark Millar reveals his new fears with Fucked-Ass #3.

    Now spread the word.

    ‘Cause I heard him and Morrison were really close and shit…

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