Thursday, 6 September 2012

Books: Kick-Ass 2


Kick-Ass 2
Written by Mark Millar
Art by John Romita Jr. 

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

The introduction is by Joe Carnahan. I didn't know who Joe Carnahan is and he's much too full of himself to bother to include a little description underneath (he just signs off with his name and "Los Angeles, March 2012" - because - hey - that's all you need to know - right?). So I googled him and got:   "Joseph Aaron "Joe" Carnahan (born May 9, 1969) is an American independent film director, screenwriter, producer and actor best known for his films Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane, Narc, Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, and The Grey." I haven't seen any of these films but it felt like the first few paragraphs of the introduction told me everything that I would want to know (warning: contains potty-mouth): "Hey fucker. Let's face facts, you're one of these fucking fetishistic "fanboy" jerkoffs who secretly wishes that he could be Dave Lizewski, beating the shit out of muggers, gangbusters and mob heavies with those akimbo batons as a comely, prepubescent Hit Girl slashes and burns by your side. It's cool. Me too. I mean good money says that most of us already have our dicks in our hands and we're not even out of the intro... but just pace yourself pal and don't pop that nut just yet 'cuz what follows in these pages is one great white whale of a wank."

And - wow. I haven't even started to read the actual comic part of the comic and already I'm feeling well - uncomfortable and uneasy and a little put off. First of all it's all the swearing which just seemed a little - I dunno - unnecessary [1]. Then there's all that stuff about jacking off which is just kinda gross. I mean - yeah: birds do it, bees do it - even educated fleas do it: but that doesn't mean that I want it all over my introduction. And it's this whole sorta male jock thing that I just don't get: this macho pride in recounting your penis-related forays. That kinda stuff is an image that I just don't want to carry around inside my head. Plus: I don't really get why he describes it as being "one great white whale of a wank"? I guess - to give Joe Carnahan the benefit of the doubt it's a play on "whale of a time" (maybe?): but instead it just brings up associations with Moby Dick [2] and white whale meaning something that you obsess over to the point that it takes over your life until it destroys you which just makes the notion of one great white whale of a wank seem like something best avoided. But I guess the main thing that had me going "urg" was the description of prepubescent Hit Girl (who's supposed to be - what? - 11 years old?) as "comely." Because - well - (let me just put this as simply as I can) I'm not a paedophile. Sorry Joe.

So with an introduction that feels a little like someone spitting in your mouth [3] before you start eating your meal - once you get past that - what's the actual food like? Well: I guess I should have been prepared for something that was gonna taste that pretty but - well....

There was a part of me that was just thinking as I started reading this - maybe I'm just too old for this sorta stuff. Maybe I'm like a grandfather listening to Eminem or Odd Future or something and complaining it's all much too loud and violent while I shake my walking stick in the air ("damn kids!") and obviously it's the sworn duty of the younger generation to make and enjoy things that us oldies just can't fathom (I think I say all this because the reason Islington have Kick Ass 2 is because a teenager wanted a copy of it - and so in mind there's a big fat Kick Ass to youngsters correlation type thing). Except Mark Millar is (sorry Mark) no spring chicken and - well - since when did teenagers know which things are good and which things are bad? They're teenagers for godsakes!

So - no. If someone's just got beaten up and then they come up with a line like: "I feel like Rihanna after a quiet night in." - that's not really that funny: it's just kinda depressing. I mean - I don't want to get up too high on my horse of righteous indignation (I might fall off for one thing) but there's that line about how if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem. And Kick-Ass 2 feels very much part of the problem of a culture that's well - you know: mean and ugly and stupid (obviously culture has always been mean and ugly and stupid - but that's no real excuse). I mean - you don't want to finish reading a book and feel like you need to take a bath in order to wash all the dirt off. I mean - I don't want to sound like too much of a prude: but I prefer my entertainment without images of people shooting kids and depictions of sexual assault [4].

So yeah - in terms of sequelness it's not exactly The Dark Knight Strikes Again. There are no major revolutions: a different approach or a different style or anything like that. If you've read Kick-Ass then you can probably work out just what kind of things will happen before you ever start reading Kick-Ass 2. It's all just know - pushed a little further: more violent, more gross, more extreme (yeah bro: stands on a snowboard and makes devil-horns). It makes a few movements in the direction of being about empowerment or something ("How many rock stars settled for accountancy? How many astronauts grew up to be psychologists?" / "It's making a statement and being who you want to be.") but by the end it disintegrates into fighting and bloody noses.

On the back pages it promises that two more parts to the Kick-Ass saga (only maybe "threatens" would be a more accurate word): something which I regarded with a sense of despair rising up from the pit of my stomach. Which I don't think is so much of a good sign. Mark Millar has always had his haters who have grown more and more in number as the years have gone on. I mean - the first Kick-Ass left me a little sceptical but I remember there being a few meetings of the Comic Forum where I tried to stick up for (back when I was still a little wet behind the ears I guess): but this I guess is the point where me and Mark break ways.

See you later dude.

[1] And that's coming from someone that still loves Preacher (the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion comic book that pretty much makes swearing into some sort of beautiful art-form) and thought that The Aristocrats (the documentary not the Disney film) ended up feeling a little bit too tame (but then I guess that's sorta bound to happen when something is sold as being "the most vile, disgusting and vulgar film of all time.")

[2] And I can just imagine Joe Carnahan seeing that title and falling into fits of giggles. But let's try our best to move beyond such simple pleasures as dick-related puns (at least for the time being).

[3] What is this? New York?

[4] Of course just in case you think I'm being a hypocrite there are some books that I've talked about on here that depict the same sort of awful and horrendous things (Garth Ennis' Punisher Max series springs to mind). I guess the difference is that with something like the Punisher MAX it's all presented as being bad things and there's a sort of moral repulsion that comes with it. While Kick-Ass 2 just treats all these awful things as popcorn entertainment.

Links: Comic Book Resources Review of 1# / #7Guardian Review.

Further reading: Kick-AssSuperiorNemesis, Wanted, Preacher, The Boys,

Profiles: Mark Millar.

All comments welcome.

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