Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kick-Ass Trade Paperback Review

Marvel Comics - Icon
$39.99 (2013) Oversized Hardcover
$19.99 (2011) Trade Paperback
$24.99 (2010) Hardcover
ISBN 9780785132615

Contributors: Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer, Chris Eliopoulos, Dean White and Steve McNiven

Reprints: Kick-Ass #1-8 (of 8)

Synopsis: Dave Lizewski is a high school nerd who likes comic books and is completely ignored by the opposite sex.  His mother died of a brain aneurysm and his dad is depressed all the time.  Dave reads comics as an outlet for his pathetic existence and one day the idea hits him - why not become a superhero?  People want to be just like asinine pop stars, but why not be like Spider-Man (minus the cool spider-powers of course)?
Great opening - sound familiar?

He sews a costume, ogles himself in the mirror in his room, and starts wearing it under his clothes at school.  It's a big rush.  He hits the gym to put on some meager muscle and walks rooftops at night.  The time comes to actually stop a real crime and poor Dave gets his ass kicked (and stabbed and run down by a car).  He spends the next six months in the hospital, but it's not enough to scare him off of the superhero kick.

Back on the street he gets another chance to stop a crime and actually manages to do it (while taking a massive beat-down in the process).  It gets captured on video and posted to YouTube - well, you can guess the rest, right?  Dave becomes an overnight internet sensation and celebrity.  His fame spawns copycats like the Red Mist - another teenage crime fighter, but with a sweet, superhero-themed car.

Is this your typical superhero?
Dave becomes jealous as the spotlight shifts away from him and his fame begins to ebb.  Then he runs into a father/daughter team of what appear to be the real deal - actual crime fighting superheroes.  Bid Daddy and Hit Girl are skilled, deadly, fearsome, and completely unknown to the general public.  Can Dave live up to their expectations when all he usually can do is get the crap kicked out of himself?  The real criminals are getting annoyed by all the costumed idiots and decide to make an example of one to scare them all away.  Will Dave survive when the hardened killers, both superhero and criminal, come calling?

Pros: Good concept/spin by Millar on real-life superheroes in the modern age of technology (using YouTube), art by Romita Jr. is competent, ultra-violent and filled with one-liners, turned into a successful movie, both comic book/movie have sequels, Dave being the gay best friend of the girl he likes is pretty hilarious, Hit Girl is bad ass
The introduction of Hit Girl
Cons: Highly improbable story - Dave would be dead or crippled ten times over with all the physical punishment he takes in the first two issues, Big Daddy's origin and reason for training Hit Girl was terrible - didn't make sense, no chance a ten-year-old girl could do that much damage - the weight and physical force needed is just not there, the proportions on Dave and Hit Girl (two young characters) by Romita Jr. are really inconsistent (i.e. not one of his strengths)

Mike Tells It Straight: Kick-Ass starts out as an amusing answer to "What if someone tried to be a superhero in the real world?".  Well, they would get the living crap kicked out of them and go to the hospital for a very long time.  It then devolves into a recurring over-the-top bloody beatdown massacre.  Highly entertaining, but not high art in any way.
Hit Girl and Kick-Ass...kicking ass
Millar has made quite a name for himself over the last ten years - The Authority, The Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, Civil War, Superman: Red Son, Wolverine: Old Man Logan and Wanted.  He now has multiple movies based on his works (including Kick-Ass) and is one of the biggest comic book writers in Hollywood.  With fame comes detractors and a lot of people are choosing Grant Morrison in some bizarre comic book pissing contest lately.  I say Millar's success is earned despite being helped by Morrison in the early days - you don't stick around this long without some major talent (and luck).
You may have seen this movie

His work on Kick-Ass is pure fantasy for every fanboy who wanted to become a superhero.  It's a novel concept taken to the absolute graphic limit by Millar.  The story starts out serious enough, but soon jumps the shark into completely ridiculous ultra-violence for pure entertainment.  It's not going to change your outlook on life or make you stop to ponder some intellectual concept, but it's funny and violent as hell.  I'm glad the movie modified the origin for Big Daddy and Hit Girl.  Check it out if you like seeing buckets of blood flying about.

TO BUY and Recommendations: