Kick-Ass by Mark Millar
Review courtesy of Ryan Frye @ http://bhymns.blogspot.com/
I get the feeling that a lot of people know the basic plot outline for this graphic novel thanks to the movie, but I'll give it a quick run-through anyway. Dave Lizewski is a high school kid who reads a ton of comics. His life isn't exactly the coolest, or the most exciting, so Dave decides to spice up his life. He buys a scuba suit from e-bay and becomes a costumed hero. At first he simply just prowls rooftops, and slinks around in sketchy neighborhoods. This gets tiring after awhile so Dave decides to take it to the next level. One night he comes across three guys spraying tags, and tries to deliver some street justice. As you might guess, Dave gets his ass kicked, though he put up a decent fight. Left stabbed and bleeding in a back alley, Dave tries to make his way back home, but instead gets mowed down by a mercedes.
What follows for Dave is a long recovery, but believe it or not, he makes his costumed comeback, this time making the big time as his brawl with three Puerto Ricans gets filmed and becomes a massive hit on you tube. It is through the video publicity that he finally gets his name: Kick-Ass. It is not long before others follow Kick-Ass' lead, and become costumed heroes. Kick-Ass first crosses paths with the father-daughter team of Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, and later Red Mist. While Dave spends his nights pretending to be a super hero, he spends his days pretending to be homosexual so that he can hang out with the girl that he likes. Amidst all the pretending, the costumed heroes are actually making a few good things happen; saving kittys, and busting thugs, but you can only take down so many criminals before you start to piss off the mob, and that is just what happens to Kick-Ass.
Kick-Ass is overall a fun and engaging read. The whole real-life super hero thing isn't exactly covering new territory, but Millar makes it pretty damn exciting. For me it was the characters that made Kick-Ass shine. Dave is the nerdy guy you either were, or knew, in high school, which makes him easy to relate to as a character, but he also has that never say die attitude in a fight that gives him some cred as a costumed hero. My favorite character from the graphic novel was easily Hit-Girl. She had a great blend of deadly ability and witty banter that often had me laughing. I definitely got more excited whenever she was on the page.
Another great factor was the overall sense of humor that this book had. The concept itself is pretty damn funny, but Millar mixes in great dialog and great situational humor that was consistently funny. Hit-Girl's "Wotta fuckin' douche." line had me cracking up as well, as the first scene with the mist-mobile, and Red Mist smoking weed while "on patrol".
Overall, I would say that Millar's writing was solid in Kick-Ass. Like I mentioned earlier, there isn't really anything new or ground breaking here. The story itself was pretty good, though the whole mob thing felt a bit tacked on, and felt like the plot device that it was. Basically it gave the characters something to do. While that element did feel forced, in the end, does it really matter if I was entertained? Not really. And this certainly was entertaining.
The artist for this graphic novel was John Romita Jr. He is a legend of sorts around Marvel, and after a quick google image search, I can see why. Some of his work is quite beautiful and stunning, but in comparison, some of his work on Kick-Ass is far from stellar. There were a few panels where characters didn't look the same as they had earlier, and sometimes the character's heads were absolutely massive. One in particular showed Dave's head being bigger than his entire torso. That isn't to say that all the art was bad, but there were definitely some moments where the artwork took me out of the story flow.
Through it all, I was pleased with Kick-Ass. It seems to find a spot somewhere in the middle of the road for me. Millar delivers a mostly engaging story filled with interesting, fun characters, and he tells a tightly paced exciting story filled with solid action and humor. This isn't nearly the best thing I've read in the comics world this year, but it is still worthy of being checked out. Kick-Ass could serve as a good introduction to the world of comics made for adults, as it has action, and dialog suited for adults, but also blends a bit of the classic costumed hero stuff that might help bridge the gap. Better reads are out there but Kick-Ass is pretty decent.
© 2010 Ryan Frye @ http://bhymns.blogspot.com/