Superior #1 Review

I don’t expect that much from Mark Millar anymore. Civil War and Old Man Logan will always be bold and entertaining prime examples of the epic nature inherent in the best superhero comics, but Wanted, Kick-Ass and Nemesis, while certainly daring, were never outstandingly original as his earlier works. Millar’s creations just seem to be becoming increasingly conventional and more reliant on profanity and extreme violence. However, Millar is not a bad writer and he has carved out a niche for guilty pleasures that no-one else comes close to.

For those unfamiliar with his previous work, they may very well drop Superior after this debut, but for the rest of us, we can surely expect bigger ideas to unfold in the next five issues. Superior uses a standard wish fulfillment premise as a springboard for a multitude of storytelling possibilities, of which are only hinted at here. Basically Simon Pooni used to be a star high school basketballer before multiple sclerosis began wearing down his body. Now he’s confined to a wheelchair, and along with his apparently only friend Chris is the target for bullies. After the pair see the latest Superior film (number five in the superhero franchise) Simon sleeps and is woken up by a talking monkey in astronaut’s clothing. This new hairy friend, called Ormon then tells him that he’s been “chosen” and becomes the scarlet clad, chest-barrelled Superior himself before being dropped down in his bedroom a day later. That’s pretty much it, and Millar only brings out questions in this debut with no hint of answers, but over the coming months we can look forward to clarification on why Simon was chosen, who Ormon is and who he represents.

With nods to Green Lantern, Captain Marvel and more, Superior is the kind of accessible tale that brings out Millar’s inner Spielberg, as he mentions in his afterword. It’s also no surprise that film producers have already show interest as it could easily become a family friendly affair, as long as they drop the four letter words in these pages.

Artist Leinil Francis Yu is a great match for Millar’s explosive pages and as he’s shown on New Avengers and Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk and well, everything else he’s done, he knows how to make comics look like blockbusters. Surely there’ll be more of that in future issues.

Superior isn’t off to a rollicking start, but there’s a sense that Millar and Yu are downplaying things now to catch us off guard later. So far it’s just the appearance of a mysterious monkey and some profanity that set this apart from any Disney movie, but we can be assured that there won’t be anything safe and expected about this title for much longer.

CLiNT Magazine Trailer

From writer Mark Millar (Civil War, Nemesis, Kick-Ass) comes his next project, a magazine featuring a bunch of comics including Kick-Ass 2, and more, from some talented British creators. Trailer below. The mag goes on sale on September 2.

Kick-Ass Review

I won’t necessarily say that I can’t see what all the fuss is about, because I can understand how seeing a pre-pubescent girl wielding a samurai sword, and a variety of guns while swearing can be jarring. However, I’ve read all the issues of the comic and it’s a lot more in your face on the page. What is sorely lacking from the transition to celluloid is the dark humour, and the likeable aspects of protagonist and titular vigilante Dave Lizewski.

It’s certainly a fanboy film, and comic creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, and film director Matthew Vaughan (Layer Cake) know their target audience well. From the Superman-like intro credits to the many scenes set in Atomic Comics, it is an experience for comic readers who can embrace the silly aspects of the superhero, with Nic Cage doing his best Adam West Batman impression, and Kick Ass hitting the streets in a green wetsuit. What is missing is the sense of fun, which does arrive too late at the film’s emotional and satisfying climax. Aaron Johnson is a fine actor, but he’s overshadowed in his own film, by baddie Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the fumbling Red Mist. It’s not long into the film that Kick Ass deviates from the source material (particualarly in who dies and who lives) but with only 8 issues released in 2 years, the film makers had a lot of room to move.

It is an enjoyable film, but not as ‘out there’ as I expected. There’s no nudity or excessive swearing or intestine spilling. And that’s certainly a good thing. Any Tarantino film pushes the envelope more than this in respect to blood letting. Raising issues of family, friendship and standing up for your fellow man may get lost in all the gaudy costumes and gunplay, but don’t dismiss this film straight away. It’s not another great cross-over film with daring and artistic mass appeal like say, Sin City was, but at the same time, it does stand out more as a parody amongst the horde of comics films that have landed on cinema screens in the last few years and proves that even sequential art can be self referential rather than self reverential.

Nemesis #1 Review

Well, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven have done it yet again. After the duo showed their artistic chemistry with Civil War and Wolverine: Old Man Logan, they whip up another series to complete the Marvel triumvirate. The obvious comparisons would be the down and dirty baddies vs goodies of The Boys with the in your face antics of Kick-Ass (also written by Scot Millar and on Marvel’s creator owned Icon imprint). Fans of either of those series will lap this up. When it was originally announed in a shroud of mystery, Millar cheekily summed up the concept as, “What if someone with Batman’s resources had the moral fibre of the Joker?”

Of course, fanboys lapped that up like hotel bookings at Comic Con. This first issue reveals very little about the titular “world’s only super-criminal.” There’s no origin, or even a name. What we do know is that, “he targets a policeman, moves into town, selects a team from the local hoods,” and causes manic destruction with the precision and planning of a Die Hard villain. The latest target of the white clad man with too much evil and time in his hands is Blake Morrow, a middle aged Chief of Police who doesn’t tolerate profanity (which means he wouldn’t read this book) or crime in his beloved city of Washington. In fact he’s decreased it by a whopping 60%.

As this debut issue opens Nemesis is holding a bloodied Tokyo cop hostage and disregards his life in a manner that defines overkill. Let’s just say there’s an exploding hotel and a falling train involved. Nemesis then decides his next challenge is to be found in America, as he considers Morrow, “a worthy opponent.”

The rest of the issue is a wise set up. Nemesis and Morrow won’t actually meet until next issue I assume. Here the pale force of destruction lands on the wing of the President’s plane, Air Force One with a gun almost as big as him, just to prove the point that no-one’s beyond his cruel reach. With such wild antics, surely Nemesis isn’t Batman by way of Joker after all. Does he actually possess superpowers? I mean the term “superhero” and “supervillain” get applied to non-powered characters too. Hopefully that will be clarified next issue. It may not seem like a big deal, but if Nemesis does possess powers, he’d be the only one who does in this world. That would be an interesting approach; if Nemesis is just wreaking havoc on the world because he can and doesn’t have an also-powered superhero to do battle with. He treats humanity as a cat would treat an injured mouse, as a killer whale would approach a seal before devouring it.

Morrow is set up as an interesting foil, but the core of his being seems summed up in a few mere sentences – Catholic, popular, family man. Got it. However this intro comes after he blows apart 5 armed robbers (none of whom have hostages) in a grocery store. It takes 5 armed men to rob a food outlet? Did they think they were walking into Fort Knox? That rash action seems at odds with Morrow’s fatherly demeanour, but then again, maybe those strong arm tactics won him that 60% crime decrease. Again, if Morrow disposes with all bad guys with the same cold manner that Nemesis uses against everybody, that conflict could be interesting, but it’s something that has yet to reveal itself.

Nemesis doesn’t scream of originality. We’ve seen all this before in any Punisher series in the last 10 years, but Millar does have a track record that requires our trust in what he’s setting up here. Like Kick-Ass there is the feeling that something special is being created and we’re in on the ground floor, before Hollywood brings it to everyone’s attention, which may just happen if Millar’s wonderfully honest afterword is anything to go by.

Steve McNiven’s art isn’t as detailed as his Civil War and Wolverine: Old Man Logan work. He’s doing his own inking here so there’s less spectacle and more simplicity. The mass destruction just doesn’t have the same visual impact it should. Nemesis’ costume is perhaps comics’ most simple yet, with just a white body suit and mask. No room for holsters, even? Perhaps he really is super if he doesn’t need a utility belt, or even room for spare ammo. However, the contrast of blood on the plain white suit, plus the use of white instead of black to represent evil, I guess was enough of an impetus to create it.

Nemesis obviously knows Morrow (even if the reverse isn’t true) and via the we’ve-seen-it-before approach of terrorising the city through a TV broadcast calls his latest attack, “revenge for a stolen childhood,” and refers to himself as, “the black sheep of the Anderson family.” Those narrative hints and the promise of more Millar/McNiven magic is more than enough for now to keep me around on this new series.

Kick-Ass Trailer

Kick-Ass, based on the guilt pleasure comic of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. debuts on cinemas on April 16. It stars Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage and Superbad’s McLovin and is directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust).It’s all about the titular teen who, inspired by his love of superheroes, decides to become one himself, making fans, enemies and lots of costly mistakes along the way. Black humour, blood and a high-five to fanboys everywhere. Trailer below, though it doesn’t really give the film justice and plays it generally safe.

Watch This Space

Millar/Romita JrThe footage from a certain Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. film from Marvel has been in the works for a while now. Infact more work has been done on the film than the comic that inspired it. Footage was shown at Comic-Con and has now been leaked on-line. It’s graphic, with profanity and blood aplenty. Go here to see a few clips plus the trailer. The sound and picture quality aren’t the best to be sure, but you’ll get the picture. This film was made without a distributor attached, but now they’re lining up for it after seeing the response at Comic-Con. It looks like it could be the next Sin City -a real in your face film that crosses over to non-fanboys. The costumes are slightly different, but the over the top violence and black humour is certainly the same, and the use of the excellent Superman: The Movie theme music is strangely fitting. And if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the film yet, well, it’s called Kick-A**. There I said it. Almost. The film opens sometime next year and is directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake).

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