Images & Words – Kick-Ass 2 #1

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

It’s hard to fathom now, at this point. It’s hard to conjure in my mind an idea that I once held: Mark Millar is the best fucking comic book writer right now. It seems so fucking alien to me. Kick-Ass 2 #1 only drives home a belief that I’ve felt nagging at me since the middle of his first Kick-Ass run. Either the dude is out of ideas, mailing it in because he’s been stretched too thin, or he simply doesn’t care. His work has fallen into empty, pointless, paint by the numbers self-parody. And this is the same guy who used to inspire me.

He isn’t cool anymore. He’s just trying too hard to be shocking. He isn’t insightful anymore. He’s mashing the same tired tropes over, and over, and over, and over again. Let me break it down for you in something resembling MILLAR VERNACULAR:


The same ideas that were beat into a fine paste throughout the first Kick-Ass run make themselves beyond evident in this issue. The comic book opens up with Dave and Clever Little Vulgar girl training. You see, dickheads, this is funny, because it’s a little girl swearing. A little girl! Swearing! What, you mean you don’t think that’s awesome!? It’s sick! I fell off the Kick-Ass train during the first run when the comic ended with Hit-Girl dropping the “Cunt” bomb. Listen, I’m a fucking pervert, and I’m beyond empty in my vulgarity. I recognize what vacuous is, because I nothing more than.

So Hit-Girl? She doesn’t do anything for me. She was amusing at first, then she just got more violent and violent for the sake of violence, and now? She’s played out. Ha! A little girl, calling someone a pussy! Beat those concepts into paste, Millar. Then spread them over a shit sandwich and feed them to your fans. You and Kevin Smith should hang out, jerk one another off, and talk about how awesome it is that you can just puke up repetitious slop and your fanboy vultures will mill the puke for nuggets of Same.

Repetitious. Stop me if this sounds repetitious.

Then there’s the parts that are patently unfunny, and I cringe for Millar. After Davey takes an ass-whupping during his awesome training with Hit-Girl, he drops a line that just falls with the deadness of a hammer.

Hit-Girl: My dad would have had you doing a hundred push-ups for all this whining.

Kick-Ass: Not if he’d cracked my goddamn ribs, man. I feel like Rihanna after a quiet night in.

Referencing Rihanna’s abuse at the hands of Chris Brown? Fucking really? Even if that shit is questionable in taste, that’s not what I’m groaning about. The news is, what, a year and a half old? This shit is so forced, so “My Dad trying to make a joke” type shit, god damn. Speaking of Kevin Smith, this dialogue is as forced and trying as that bullshit from Steve And Jane Try To Fuck On Tape or whatever. When I read that line, I actually felt embarrassed for Millar. It just rang of suck, of trying too hard. Which, I suppose, all the violence and other bullshit does as well.

From there, the opening scene of redundancy and bullshit, the comic then dives into yet another boring ass monologue from Millar about the mundanity of life, and how being a comic book character totally fucking destroys conceptual ideas about the boring existence of the dorky teenager! Dave’s dialogue feels like something Millar picked up from a pile of cast-off scripts he had written in the past. Edited out. Thrown away. The banter is formless, interchangeable bullshit that has been done three-thousand times in Kick-Ass already.

The minute this got big, I read a hundred different articles, psychologists asking why we did it every night. Were we mad? Were we lonely? Were we just obsessed with comic books?

The answer, of course, was a little of all three…

…but I also liked to ask why they didn’t chase their dreams. How many rock stars just settled for accountancy? How many astronauts grew up to be psychologists? Other kids were playing Mafia Wars, we were taking down the fucking Mafia and no it wasn’t normal. It wasn’t even close. But it was awesome, man…and that’s the way life should be.

Holy fucking shit! Are you serious, dude? This is the fucking drivel you bring up for the first issue of the second run? What the fuck. This bullshit has been done over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over in Kick-Ass. Not only is this sort of diatribe the thematic undercurrent of the series, but Millar spells it out with blunt force and staples it to the reader’s tits in every fucking issue. I get it. I get it. I get it. Modern life is boring. Modern life sucks. We give up on our dreams. Do you know how I get it? Well, for starters, I’ve absorbed it through the obvious works you either were inspired by, or riff on. Fight Club, American Beauty, and on and on.

And!, I get it, because you mention it in every one of your fucking comic books. Wanted! Check. Kick-Ass! Check. 1984! Check! Superior! Check. This trope has been smashed into bits, and shoved down my throat, and stuck up my ass. To the point where I’m fucking sick of it. This is remarkable, since this concept is something I’ve always felt myself gravitating towards. I’m a middle class white guy, also obsessed with comic books and superheroes. Of course I feel the same ennui.

But it gets fucking old, yo. When you’re spitting it in every line of every comic that you’re writing, I’m going to roll my eyes at it.

Kick-Ass 2 brings nothing new to the table. It’s like the fucking ReLoad equivalent of the original. A bunch of shitty B-Sides of material that really wasn’t that good in the first place. If you care to see where Dave and his pack of retarded wannabe superheroes are going, I’m sure this is going to get your tits hard. But I’m not interested. I’m not interested in the comic book because I’ve seen all these themes down a thousand times. And done better. Not only done better, but done better by the same writer.

That’s the shame of this whole thing, at least to me. Mark Millar is a fucking awesome writer. He’s excellent when he’s at his best. One of my favorite writers. His work on The Authority, Old Man Logan, Ultimates, Fantastic Four, Civil War, 1984 (where the life is mundane, read comics shtick is well-felt) and others are on my list of favorite runs. But this just feels mailed in to me. Maybe he’s too busy, writing too much. Maybe he doesn’t care, this is what he wants to write. Or maybe he knows, like Kevin Smith, what will get his legion of mouth-breathing fanboys horny.

I don’t know why he’s devolved into repetitious drivel, but I know I’m tired of it. I don’t bemoan Millar as a creative force, and I don’t think he’s has any less potential as writer. But I can’t stomach the shit he churns out anymore, and I can’t wait until he feels like hitting upon something fresh. For the first time in a while.