The final issue of Kickass hit stands last week after a very long delay. I had let the last few issues pile up unread, not sure when the arc would ever conclude. I figured it would happen before the film hit theaters, but the specifics were pretty much unknown and so I put the book to the back of my mind and waited patiently for the climax to hit stands. So with the book finally complete, I decided it was time to read it from cover to cover, starting all the way at issue one.
I would like to begin this review by giving a little bit of my take on Mark Millar as a writer. I think that Mark Millar is a competant writer. He’s not a revolutionary, a visionary, or a sign of what comics should or will be. I have enjoyed his comics about as often as I have slapped myself in the face wondering what the hell he was thinking putting such schlock on the page. I think Civil War was a great idea tarnished by shoddy execution but The Ultimates is one of the best comic works of the last decade. Now, regardless of my opinions of the man as a writer, Mark Millar is most assuredly one of the best hype-men in the business. Even if half of what he says never comes to fruition (he once proclaimed that Kickass would be a modern day Watchmen), he can sell a project like no other in the game.
I think that Millar’s hyping of this particular project led to my eventual decision to forego reading it on a monthly basis and wait until it’s conclusion to read it in it’s entirety. He repeatedly described the story to be one thing and then delivered something that was basically 180 degrees off what was promised.
So, reading the book in it’s entirety, and putting aside what the writer intended the book to be and looking at it for what it is, the book seems oddly reminescent of one of Millar’s earlier works, that of WANTED. It has that same juvenile “fuck authority” attitude as well as an irreverant poke-in-the-eye outlook toward the comic industry itself. In Kickass, Millar makes little jokes at the expense of the books on the stands and the culture surrounding them, (fairly accurately, I might add. The message-board nerd fights are pretty much spot on) whereas he actively played with superhero/supervillain tropes in Wanted.
I am not going to say that Kickass isn’t a decent book, because it works on some level as pure fun and is content to stand tall in it’s own self-concious absurdity. It’s like if Kill Bill were written by Dane Cook. It certainly appeals to a certain audience on more than a few levels, but the book is flawed in one major way. Because it is so derivitive of other comic schemes and tropes, while it makes a tongue in cheek statement about such comics, it does nothing to elevate it above what it attempts to satirize.
And in the end, that is what the book is. A sort of “well, almost” approach to satirizing the over-the top, post-Frank Miller world of comics. The fact that the book LOOKS absolutely amazing, and has Romita Jr. drawing the sort of crap you’d normally never get the chance to see him draw, gives the book another notch in the postive column, but if the story had the panache of a more skilled writer, I wouldn’t be so down on it as a whole.
All that having been said, everything that works against this book will work FOR it as a movie. Trust me on this one.