Kick-Ass Comic Review
“The Greatest Superhero Comic of all Time” That quote above is printed in red and yellow ink on the back of the slick hardcover edition of Kick-Ass. Does Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s eight issue miniseries live up to such a bold statement? The short answer is no but that doesn’t necessarily mean Kick-Ass is something that a comic reader should skip.
Growing up on an unhealthy diet of comic books and action films, teenager Dave Lizewski looks high upon the New York City skyscrapers and wonders why aren’t their superheroes in real life? Becoming more and more dissatisfied with what the world around him has to offer, Dave decides to turn some of his fantasies into reality when he buys himself a green and yellow wetsuit. After his first attempt as a costumed vigilante leaves him crippled in a hospital bed, Dave swears to put all of this superhero nonsense behind him. But Dave’s retirement from masked adventuring is shorter than Eminem’s departure from rap. Not long after he’s off the crutches, Dave manages to stop a brutal mugging. This heroic action is caught on a camera phone and in a matter of days Dave’s masked personae becomes a viral hit. The world’s first living superhero becomes an instant internet celebrity, even bigger than Keyboard Cat and Tron Guy. Soon Dave’s adventures under the name Kick-Ass draws the attention of other would-be superheroes, Big Daddy and Hit Girl, who’s leading an all out war against Johnny G’s criminal empire. When Dave gets caught in the crossfire, his dreams of being a superhero becomes his worst nightmare.
Kick-Ass feels like a comic book written by Quentin Tarantino. If you cringe at that thought, perhaps this isn’t a graphic novel for you. Rich with pop culture references, vulgar dialogue, and over the top action scenes, Kick-Ass is a crazy but fun look at superhero comics. This definitely doesn’t mean that this graphic novel is without flaws. At moments the series feels tonally confused. Is Kick-Ass a satire or a loving tribute to the superhero genre? The first few issues feel real like the most honest portrayal of a real world superhero but by the second half Kick-Ass turns into yet another action packed fantasy story. This isn’t a personal complaint I had with the book but more of an acknowledgment of what others found to be a problem with the story as a whole.
Another criticism falls with the story’s young protagonist, Dave Lizewski. It feels like writer Mark Millar wanted Dave to be a blank slate, a character any comic book reader can identify with. But the character is too broad, lacking anything distinct about his personality. It isn’t all too surprising that the spotlight of the book is immediately stolen from Kick-Ass by the arrival of Hit Girl and her fascist father, Big Daddy. Dave’s teenage subplots are far from interesting and never feel like a genuine look at what it is to be a modern American teenager. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s characterization of Peter Parker back in the 1960s was a better representation of teenage angst. Even with all of Kick-Ass‘ faults, the series is still a highly enjoyable read due to its blend of dark humor and shockingly gory action scenes. But Kick-Ass sadly never quite reaches the classic status it so desperately wants to achieve.
Score: 7 out of 10