KISS #4 hits stores this week, wrapping up the “World Without Heroes” storyline that’s set in a barbarian era. I’ve been rough on this title in previous months, mostly due to my inability to look past KISS the comic’s connection to KISS the rock band. I’m going to make a serious effort here to look at the comic on it’s own merits. Here’s the official description from IDW:
The Elder’s cosmic soldiers known as the Four-Who-Are-One are reunited just in time to face off against the Destroyer’s evil proxy, General Black Diamond, who has unleashed his secret weapon! Will the combined might of the Demon, Starchild, Catman, and Celestial be enough to defeat the world’s first dragon in 100,000 years?
If I had to describe KISS #4 in one word, it would be “repetitive”. Not repetitive on its own, but as part of the series. So far, we’ve seen two different times with two different threats, and each time four men of vastly different personalities have been chosen by the Elder to become the “Four-Who-Are-One”. They defeat the threat with a little effort and then lose their powers, and we move on to a different era. It’s slightly more predictable that an episode of “Scooby-Doo”. If Tom Waltz is only laying groundwork for a deeper story of larger scope, then it’s all well and good, but I worry that that’s not the case. He tries to distinguish between the hosts that appear in each era, but since they are always possessed by the Four-Who-Are-One (typing that is going to get really old) their true personalities get overshadowed and we’re subjected to the same bickering comraderie over and over, with only token regard for the specific situation.
Casey Maloney‘s art is even more cartooney this issue, but that’s a good thing. He fits a surprising amount of detail, usually with complete figures, into small panels. I’m impressed by his consistency at operating on that scale. He also delivers with the splash pages, and one in particular, where we first see the dragon, is fantastic. It’s simple, but still amazing: the design is fairly unique, especially considering the grossly oversaturated field of dragon art. The look of the beast is insectoid, with multiple pairs of eyes and a sucker-like mouth. It’s very well done. The only artistic weakness is that, despite his level of detail, the cartooney style still makes telling the characters apart difficult sometimes (I’m sure if I read this series enough, I’ll get the face-paint designs internalized.)
As a straightforward comic – no literary aspirations, no serious attempts to draw the reader in, no groundbreaking art – KISS #4 is pretty good. It may not be best if your looking for an engaging ongoing series, but if you’re looking for a fun read this month, you might check it out.