Monday, November 8, 2010

Kick Ass 2

I dreamed about Kick-Ass last night. Not the movie or any of the actors in it, but of the actual act of reading the comic. I’m not joking. This is the sort of thing I dream about.

This is what I remember: It was one of those dreams where my dead Grandad turned out to be Maximan from Zenith, and he had to put on the old costume to go fight zombies. This is no surprise - I watched The Walking Dead the night before, and I always, always have terrifying dreams about zombies after I see a good zombie movie.

But the other part of my dream that I remember was that bit where I was reading the third volume of Kick Ass, and I was a bit pissed off because the big battle promised in the first issue of the second volume had still not appeared.

That’s all I remember, and it’s a remarkably stupid thing to lodge in my head in the dark of the night, but I also think it shows how much I think about this stupid comic.

I think this has confirmed something I was worried about. I think Kick-Ass is now my favourite comic.

I don’t mean it’s my favourite in the same way Love & Rockets will always be my favourite comic, or in the way 2000ad will always be my other favourite comic, but when I bought a bunch of new monthly American comics recently, it was the first issue of the new Kick Ass comic that I wanted to read first, and it was the one that most satisfied.

I keep thinking I shouldn’t like Kick Ass, but I do. I really, really do. It’s stupid and pandering and has a phenomenally mutated arching eyebrow instead a story. Mark Millar’s ear for dialogue is still just slightly tone deaf enough to be discordant

But it also one of the few superhero comics with pretensions of realism doesn’t take itself so damned seriously. Comics so often mix up realism with pessimism, but life is a lot funnier than that and Kick Ass’ blatant wink, from the title on down, is why I buy it.

The first issue of the second series is exactly what what’d you’d expect – continuing the original series by making everything bigger and louder. It’s a comic that makes no secret of its predictability, even showing off a glimpse of the climactic carnage (something Mark Millar has been pulling out of his writing kit since Canon Fodder). The comic’s path is obvious, and its refusal to take itself seriously makes it a lot more charming that it should be.

It also cracks along at a fair pace, Millar likes deconstructing his action down to the most basic beats, before building them all up again, and his surprisingly delicate stories can live or die on their artists. Just as well he’s got John Romita Jr, who draws some of the best impact blows in comics.

While I’m nailing my dirty linen to this blog’s masthead – I also thought the movie was absolutely terrific. I really wasn’t sure about it the first time I saw it, but watching it on a airplane entertainment system that deleted all of the swearing and much of the violence made me realise it was really, really good.

It often takes me two viewings before I can form a concrete opinion on a movie. Watching Kick Ass again convinced me it was a classic, watching Zombieland for the second time was just fucking boring, and I enjoyed the hell out of both films the first time around.

There are no guilty pleasures here. I still know this stuff isn’t all that good for me, and I’m okay with that. It makes me laugh, and that’s more than most superhero comics manage these days. This weird tone of violent humour is really difficult to pull off, and even if Kick Ass often fails to meet that tone, at least it’s trying something other than dour pessimism. I can dig that.

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