KICK ASS 4

KICK ASS 4
Written by Mark Millar and Drawn by John Romita Jr.
Published by
Icon/Marvel Comics

Young David Lizewski has continued putting on his costume and playing superhero, despite all the horrific injuries he has sustained. And now he’s reached a point where he has genuinely done some good. But there’s a flip side to doing those goods; David had hoped to inspire others to do positive deeds and make the world a better place. Instead, he has begun to inspire others to become costumed vigilantes. Two of those vigilantes pop up in the middle of his latest case, however, and they are something else entirely; one is a large man whop stays masked and behind the scenes, calling himself “Big Daddy.” The other is a ten-year old girl who packs a pair of swords and is unafraid to bloodily dismember those she feels are evil and need to be removed from living.

I genuinely want to like KICK-ASS better than I do. It isn’t that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with the book; Millar’s story and script are actually quite palatable, his work here leaps and bounds above the godawful WAR HEROES. Romita Jr’s art is phenomenal, really- the pages look absolutely brilliant, and he is one of the rare artists who can really make a sword-wielding 10-year old look dangerous and scary. But there’s something about this book that nags at me. And that’s weird, considering it’s technically a fine effort, and the most readable thing I’ve seen out of this writer in ages.

Perhaps it boils down to David as a character. In this issue, he spends a great deal of time on the sidelines, watching what is happening, and even when he tries to pursue something, it doesn’t go anywhere- he’s outclassed by what he’s dealing with. In his personal life, he’s helping his father write a personal ad and faking being gay to get closer to the girl he likes. In short, David doesn’t really come across as a protagonist the way you’d like in order to make him a compelling person to read about. Perhaps the ultimate point of the story is to get him to a point where he truly stands on his own two feet, but reading this singular issue (my first since issue one), that doesn’t appear close in the rearview mirror. And it hampers the book a bit, considering the amount of merit it possesses otherwise.

Marc Mason

KICK ASS 1

KICK ASS 1
Written by Mark Millar and Drawn by John Romita Jr.
Published by
Marvel

In stores Wednesday!

Dave Lizewski is your typical teenage geek. His life revolves around comics, sci-fi, daydreaming, and pining over girls he has no shot with. Living alone with his widowed father, he trudges through his existence with little in the way of excitement or enthusiasm about real life. But one day, a thought comes into his mind that he can’t make go away: why doesn’t anyone ever really put on a costume and go out and do good deeds. After all, he reasons, you don’t need a traumatic family tragedy to motivate you to help people, only a good heart. So Dave hits the gym, buys a costume, and he’s suddenly out on patrol. Unfortunately, his first attempt at stopping some troublemakers goes horribly, awfully wrong.

KICK ASS is the latest release from Marvel’s Icon imprint, where their top talent gets to take their creator-owned work out to play. Millar has placed creator-owned work at places as varied as Avatar and Dark Horse, but as his most well-known works have shipped from Marvel, it was only a matter of time before he’d put a book in this particular playground. Joining him is one of the five greatest comics artists working today, John Romita Jr., and that alone is almost enough to make me recommend this book. JRjr represents consummate professionalism in this industry; great work, strong storytelling, and the ability to always hit his deadlines. If we cloned fifty of him, the world of comic books would be a far better place.

Is KICK ASS any good, though? Yeah- it’s not bad. It isn’t brilliant, mind you, but it intrigues enough to carry you through a nicely dense read- decompression is not a problem here. The opening two pages are absolutely terrific, a gag that you smell coming a mile away, but still get a laugh out of. But then we shift to a “present” Dave, and the writer dives into his black-hearted side. I don’t have a problem with dark humor or material; far from it. But Millar has a tendency to play sadism for shits and giggle, rather than let it serve the story as is. Here, though, the writer wisely stops short of hanging with the horror for too long, showing a nice bit of restraint.

From there, we dive into a lengthy flashback that serves as an “origin” sequence that would have worked a bit better with a little more “show” and a little less “tell.” Still, you can’t help but like Dave for the loveable sap that he is, even if you kind of think he’s so damned dumb in trying to do the superhero thing that he kinda deserves what’s happening to him at the beginning of the book. The other flaw in the flashback structure is that we lack a true timeframe; because Dave’s face has… issues… when we first see him, we don’t know how long he’s been wearing the suit and playing hero. Is he a mature man questioning his choices? Still a stupid young kid? It makes a difference in how you sympathize with his plight.

Already sold to Hollywood, I’d expect strong issue sales, but stronger sales on the trade side. Looks and smells like an evergreen for sure.

Marc Mason