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Review Group: KICK ASS 2 #1

Written by John Snow on Tuesday, October 26 2010 and posted in Reviews

Chubbles had the pick for new comics shipping October 20th and he selected KICK ASS 2 #1 by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer and Dean White.

banner_OHredThe Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

Love it or hate it, you could actually make the case that KICK ASS ended up being as big as Mark Millar talked it up to be.  Is it possible for KICK ASS 2 to live up to those lofty expectations as well?

1020-ka2_coverReview by Zero

Well that was certainly a sequel to Kick-Ass.

Mark Millar has written a comic without any particularly obviously shitty jokes, and for this he gets credit. He does however squeeze in a 'look how cool and awesome my characters are' moment with Hit Girl's little arsenal as well as a spot of gratuitous swearing for the little girl. Hit Girl is probably the easiest way to sum up of of Millar's worst writing flaws in one character by being sort of shocking, very good at violence and very very flat. Anyway what we have here is a hero not enjoying retirement, a group of wannabe idiots heading for a fall and oooh foreshadowing of dark moments to come. It's every sequel ever. More biggerer in every respect except originality.

John Romita jr is a great artist when he wants to be, and Tom Palmer doing finishes and ink washes here really brings out the best of the old pro. I just wish he'd been given something interesting to draw. Credit where credit is due though, he really does excel at selling us on the air of delusion and inherently pathetic nature of the super team.

I didn't like Kick-Ass, I didn't expect to like Kick-Ass 2. As ever, Millar delivers.


Review by Eli Katz

I read the first three issues of KICK-ASS and enjoyed the awkward geekiness of Dave, the wannabe superhero. I thought Mark Millar had done a good job of introducing a set of interesting, mostly realistic characters and showed with compelling simplicity what the consequences of gaudy vigilantism would inevitably be: Dave getting the snot beaten out of him. But I dropped the series, in disgust, when Hit Girl showed up and started slicing apart hulking men with ease. To me, the idea of a nine-year-old girl cutting apart goons defied all logic and upended the realism that Millar had established in the early issues.

Thankfully, the opening issue of KICK ASS Vol. 2 is similar in tone and style to the opening issues of the first series: a limited amount of mostly realistic violence and a greater focus on characters. Dave, now a recognized hero in tights, patrols the New York streets with a guy who calls himself Dr. Gravity. They talk about being superheroes in a humorous but mostly believable way: Gravity is concerned that he's treading on Dave's turf, and Dave's just grateful to have a partner in the street. This exchange is not only fun and well-written, but it also reveals the basic rationale behind superhero team-ups: it's very scary patrolling the streets and so any hero, but especially one without any real superpowers, should seek out strength in numbers. Millar interrupts this conversation with a nasty street brawl and, quite amusingly, shows the perils of superhero team-ups: one guy, in this case Gravity, fails to pull his weight and leaves all the fighting for his partner, Dave.

John Romita Jr. and Tom Palmer do an excellent job on art. Romita is as good at laying out domestic scenes -- a conversation in a living room or a birthday party in the park -- as he is at portraying a wild, fist-pounding, crotch-smashing street battle. And Tom Palmer, who has been one of Marvel's top inkers since the late 1960s, does an outstanding job at cleaning up Romita's pencils and producing crisp, clean illustrations. Looking at the back pages of this issue, which show Romita's pencils and Palmer's inks separately, it's clear that Palmer is a major artistic force behind this book. He transforms incredibly rough pages and turns them into some of the best art that we've seen by Romita in at least five or six years. Based on this issue alone, Palmer should be Romita's number one collaborator at Marvel, not Klaus Janson.

KICK-ASS Vol. 2 #1 is a solid opening issue. I imagine fans of the original series will find it particularly satisfying. And even I, a vocal Millar-skeptic, might continue to read this book to see where the story goes. My only fear is that Millar will do what Millar always does: ruin a very good opening few issues by concluding the story with pointless, over-the-top, guts-splattering-in-all-directions violence. Let's hope not.

STORY: 7.75
ART: 8.25

Review by starlord

Wow was I pleasantly surprised. I didn't dislike this half as much as I thought I would. If it wasn't for the mediocre art with the boxed chins and way too angular lines, I could have actually enjoyed this. Millar is obviously writing this in the same way Stephen King wrote many of his novels in the mid-eighties... for the movie. That can be as much a weakness as it is a strength, and most of the flaws that are here prove just that.

Still it's a pretty strong opening from a writer that I'm usually not that interested in. My biggest problem with this book is that I don't like the art... at all.

Story: 6
Art: 1
My Score: 5

Review by guitarsmashley

It was a pretty ok issue but the set up is starting to get ridiculous.


Review by GHERU

Ever since Ultimates 2 I have become less and less interested in Millar's work. That being said, never before has one of his comics bored me. Disgusted me / pissed me off / annoyed me yes, bored me; no. That is until now. Kick-Ass 2 #1 was completely uninteresting and tried too hard to be hip and current.

Story 3
Art 5
Overall 4

Review by Jude Terror

I didn't read the first Kick-Ass series, though I did see the movie. I wasn't exactly surprised to see that the comic storyline was different in a lot of ways from the movie, but it was a little bit jarring. Thankfully, as a comic fan, I'm used to that sort of thing, and Millar did a good job of laying out the basics in this issue to get moviegoers up to speed. The thing about Kick-Ass, as a concept, is that it really was great for a movie, and I'm not sure that it was really necessary to have a sequel, as things were wrapped up nicely in that original story. Still, more of a good thing is more gooder, I guess, so I'll be following this at least for the time being.

What really stood out to me here is John Romita Jr.'s art. It's not fantastic by any means, but this is the first work of his I've seen in a long, long time that didn't fill me with disgust. His Avengers, World War Hulk, and anything else he's done recently is just complete and utter garbage, with the boxy figures and amateur sense of incompleteness. Here, he polished his style up a bit, and it shows that he could be a decent, if stylistic, artist, if he would put a little effort into his work.

Better than Nemesis, for sure.

Story: 6
Art: 5
Overall: 5.5

Review by Punchy

Story - I'm going to kick-start this review from a different point than everyone else has, before picking up this issue, I had already read the first 16 pages of it in Mark Millar's UK anthology title CLiNT, and I have to say, it's really surprising how well this issue worked really well as both a 22-page American-Format comic, and also in shorter 8-page chunks in CLiNT, often when stories are cut up and moved around, it can leave you feeling short-changed or let-down, but Kick-Ass 2 seems to have been written with both formats in mind, and Millar does very well at walking that pacing tightrope, if you only read CLiNT, you'd swear blind that the story was written for the shorter instalments, and if you only read this issue, you'll swear that it was written as a whole. Who's to say which is right? But Millar should get some praise for this feat.

The actual story of Kick-Ass 2 picks up really well from where the first instalment left off, and executes all the rules of sequels well. It escalates the stakes really, we have more heroes, a team of heroes, and more villains too. From the looks of Dave Lizewski's monologue, the personal stakes for him have also been upped. Bigger is better. You've even got a hero trying to turn their back on the life of crime-fighting, Hit-Girl is Spider-Man in Spider-Man 2. Some readers may find this a little cliched. But if anything, it's meant to be cliched. Kick-Ass has always been more of a commentary on superhero cliches than a realistic take on them, it's a parody. The movie especially achieved this, it was Spider-Man through a nihilistic lens of violence and social networking. Here we're getting parodies of not only superhero teams and team-ups, but of superhero movies themselves. How very meta.

Wisely I think, Millar has taken some cues from Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn's movie adaptation of the first book, such as bringing the character of Marcus, Hit-Girl's new dad into things. I may be remembering the first book wrong, but if he appeared at all, it was a very minor role compared to that of the movie. I like seeing this kind of symbiosis between comics and film, it shows that they can work together. Plus the Kick-Ass movie was actually better than the comic (whisper it quietly) so anything that brings the movie's tone into the comic is a good thing. But he hasn't softened the book, the humour is still sick, we get Rihanna beating jokes, and even a character fantasising over Aunt May, only in Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass 2 is pretty much exactly what you would expect from Kick-Ass, it takes everything you loved from the original, and adds more. Yes, these are the rules of sequels, but they are golden rules, and hopefully Millar will play with them a little.

If you liked Kick-Ass 1, chances are you'll like this, it delivers all your Kick-Assy needs, and then some. If you didn't like Kick-Ass 1, then you'll probably hate this, and you'll probably let us all know at 100 decibels. But fans of Kick-Ass don't care about the haters, they're just having fun, just like Millar and Romita.

Art - John Romita JR, the sainted John Romita JR has actually been getting a lot of criticism lately for his work on The Avengers, which is apparently rushed, and apparently he can't draw Iron Man for toffee. I haven't really noticed it, I always enjoy his work, including Avengers. But I do have to admit his work here does look quite a bit better. Whether this is down to Tom Palmer's finishes or the fact that he cares more about his own property, I don't really know, but this is some of JRjr's best work, and it looks great,

Best Line - 'Man, I feel like Rihanna after a quiet night in'


Review by prozacman

I was a big fan of the first book and an even bigger fan of the movie Kick-Ass. Though I've been on an economic hiatus from buying floppies, I made sure I scrounged up enough money to get this book. Take my review with that bias in mind.

Despite there being a lot of fighting, Kick-Ass 1 volume 2 starts at a slow pace. It's letting us know what Kick-Ass and Hit Girl have been up to since the last book, sets up their new status, and shows were the new series intends to go. Closest thing I could compare it to is the first half hour of the movie Ironman 2. Like the first volume there is a flash forward to a big moment latter in the series. Though it doesn't quite have the impact that Kick-Ass getting his balls electrocuted had. The future super hero vs super villain mob battle really should have been a two page spread and the location should have been more recognizable visually. Without the text you wouldn't know wear they were. Other than that and Hit Girl being drawn like she is now six instead of eleven, this is some of John Romita's best art. Story wise it's a good set up issue. The question is now that the initial shock value of the first volume and the movie have warn off, can these characters hold up compelling stories in their own right?

ART: 8.5

Review by BlueStreak

Kick-Ass 2 #1 was a lot better than I expected. As someone who was largely unimpressed by Kick-Ass 1 #1 and didn't bother to follow the rest of the series, I expected a lot less from Millar (a writer's whose work is hit or miss for me) and Romita (an artist whose quality has gone down as of late). The plotting was solid, the dialogue was nothing spectacular, and the art was significantly improved (mainly because Romita only did the rough sketches.

If only Marvel would force Romita to draw all of his comics this way, Avengers would be a spectacular book.

I give it an 7.5

Review by 48THRiLLS

One of the reasons I like Mark Millar's creator owned comics so much is that they are fun. They may be a collection of 'oh shit!' moments at times but I always look forward to what he writing and I am rarely disappointed. After the first collection and the movie, it is pretty cool to see what MM has in store for Dave and Mindy... it is also cool to see that it is a sequel to the comic and none of the movie stuff spilled over. I love the tone that was set for this arc and there are so many things I am looking forward to see coming from this opening issue. JRJR's stuff looks absolutely amazing here, I don't hate his current Avengers stuff but I wish it looked a lot more like the stuff he is doing here.

ART - 9

Review by AMS

The book to me was just uneventful. Not much happened, but I suppose that is expected for an initial issue. The problem I have is that Millar's dialouge tries too hard to be realistic, he thinks by making it casual and vulgar it will help to bring us into the comic, but in reality casual speak is not used in writing for a reason. When speaking people do not follow simple written rules, and when transferring it to writing it just reads very awkward, at several points I had to re-read exchanges just to clarify what was going on. Overall the read was simply ok, nothing fun really happened and I cannot help but feel that this would be better as a movie just like the first book.

The art on the other hand was beautiful, the best Romita Jr work I have seen in years.

I give it a 6/10

Review by John Snow

Before reading this issue I went back and read the first hardcover again. It had been so long I had forgotten just how brutally awesome it was and the differences between it and the movie. Jetpacks indeed. Undecided

With the first installment of KICK ASS fresh in my mind, this issue honestly feels a bit light. So much happens in every issue of the first series, this seems more like an interlude or prologue - a where are they now type of issue than an actual beginning of a new story. The characters are still great though and I'm excited to see where Millar goes next, but I'll obviously be waiting for this to finish up and be collected before I read any further.

John Romita Jr. is one of my all-time favorite artists and his collaboration with Tom Palmer and Dean White on KICK ASS and continuing now with KICK ASS 2 is some of the strongest of his career. Tons and tons of energy on every panel of every page. If JRjr spent a couple of years working on nothing but KICK ASS it would be okay by me.

Story: 7
Art: 9
Overall: 8

That gives KICK ASS 2 #1 a group score of 6.51.  Big improvement over Nemesis, but the Review Group's a tough crowd of late and we're not handing out high marks to just anyone.  In fact we're well into our longest dry spell ever going 24 consecutive weeks without a book with a group score over 8..

For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out this week's thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.

guitarsmashley has the pick for October 27th and he has selected Incognito: Bad Influences #1 from ICON/Marvel Comics.  Look for the new thread in The News Stand forum on Wednesday morning to join in on the fun and post your own review!.

1027-ibi1_coverIncognito: Bad Influences #1

WRITER: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Sean Phillips

LAST YEAR'S BREAKOUT HIT FINALLY RETURNS! By the award-winning team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. One of the biggest Hollywood options of the year, nominated for THREE Eisner Awards, INCOGNITO is finally back for more! It's apocalyptic pulp noir at its finest! It's been over a year since Zack Overkill came out of Witness Protection to build a new life. But working for the government isn't that different from being controlled by them, and his new secret identity is becoming more trouble than it's worth. So what will Zack do when tasked with a mission that sends him on a hunt into darkest corners of the super-criminal underworld where he was raised? Also returning with Incognito are the exclusive Pulp magazine essays by Jess Nevins, Professor of pulp history, only available in the single issues of Incognito. MATURE CONTENT/ NO ADS $3.50

Written or Contributed by: John Snow

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