Marc Jackson‘s comic work is a frequent flyer on the blog, because it’s great. Big, exuberant, friendly panels, jokes galore, a ton of energy and a ton of intelligence. Grow A Pair is aimed at a slightly different market to his usual work and is just as successful. It also throws into stark relief, for me, why I never got on with Kick-Ass.
Kick-Ass, the poster child of 21st Century super-heroic nihilism, never met a disability, physical trait or idea it couldn’t mock. There was no barrier too far, nothing which was out of range. Which is a creative choice as valid as any others and certainly did the job intended; as many column inches as possible, all the time. But, much like a lot of the author’s other work, it’s a cynical, unpleasant exercise in style and very little else. At least for me.
Grow A Pair is not. It’s the story of Dusty Danson, a boy who regularly gets the crap kicked out of him by bullies. Desperate for assistance, he asks his favorite poster for advice and she puts him in contact with a space genie who gives him super-powers. With great power…
it turns out you can actually stop the sentence there. actually. Because Dusty gains great powers, a city populated with villains like a game preserve and…that’s it. He still gets his ass kicked but this time he can fight back. Whether that makes things any better doesn’t even occur to him. Why would it? He’s a kid first and a superhuman second.
Dusty gains powers. He experiences the consequences of them. He’s fine with it. There’s none of the slick, spittle-flecked joy of Kick-Ass but there are some moments which are nastier than Jackson’s previous work. A ‘shit!’ and Dusty’s perpetually punched-shut eye in particular. What really impressed me though was the way jokes about Dusty’s mom’s weight were dealt with. Cheap fat jokes are an instant bail for me, but here they’re used not to point and laugh at her but at the villain making the jokes. It’s a subtle, welcome beat and just part of another impressive piece of work from Jackson.
Grow A Pair is big, slightly nasty fun. The knuckles may be bloodier than usual but this is still one of the most inherently entertaining comic creators in the country showing what he does best.