Two graphic novels that are coming (very) soon to a theater near you. Andy Diggle and Jock's The Losers and Mark Millar and John Romita Jr's Kick-Ass.
One of these is awesome. The other... isn't.
The Losers: Book One (Diggle / Jock): This double-sized collection pulls together the first twelve issues of this over-the-top espionage yarn. The titular characters are a band of 'burned' Special Forces grunts - dropped by the CIA after a mission goes wrong. The Losers are out for revenge - tracking down particularly dodgy CIA operations and breaking them up. As their digging around starts to turn up answers, they start drawing even more unwanted attention from the Powers that Be.
It took me a while to get into The Losers, but once I got there, I didn't want to put this down. Diggle's writing is already patently cinematic - this is straight out of the hyperkinetic paranoid action movies of the early 2000's. Jock's art and (gutsy) layouts reinforces the pace. Something is always going on and the reader's eye zips from panel to panel. This is a great comic book, and done, right, should make for a good film. (8/10)
Kick-Ass (Millar / Romita Jr): Kick-Ass poses the question, "Why aren't there any real superheroes?" and then promptly answers it, "Because they'd get the shit kicked out of them." Young Dave Lizewski figures this out for himself pretty swiftly. He dresses up, grabs some weaponry, works out for a bit, and then goes and gets himself thoroughly beaten up by the city's criminal element. Thankfully, he lives in the YouTube era - so, despite his repeated visits to the hospital, he somehow gets a cult following. With great fame comes great respectability - so much so that other 'super'-heroes begin popping up... and the criminal element starts getting really irritated.
For those paying attention, since I liked The Losers, you'll already figure out my opinion of Kick-Ass. Essentially, Kick-Ass takes the same issues that Millar has already addressed in 1985 and The Ultimates, and grinds them into the reader's face with a cheese-grater. Comic violence, see, is REALLY REALLY MESSY. Whereas in 1985 it was terrifying... and in The Ultimates fairly modern and interesting, in Kick-Ass, violence is merely another way of getting cheap juvenile laughs. The entire book is an S&M treatise. Dave is shat upon in every way - mentally, emotionally and physically - for the reader's entertainment. We're "ok" with that because he's clearly a disturbed figure that needs the thumping to get by. This is the "choice" he makes (not say, to get therapy - that's less funny and doesn't allow Romita to draw gooey lumps of brain matter on every page).
For everything decent that Millar writes, he churns out three more titles that leave me feeling physically ill. I, do, however, hold out some fleeting hope for the movie. Wanted was an abysmal comic that became a sub-par movie. If Kick-Ass is improved to the same degree by the screen-writing team, it could almost be an average film. (2/10)