Posts Tagged ‘Hit-Girl’

Review: Kick-Ass 3

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

With Kick-Ass 3, the saga of the teenage real-life superhero Kick-Ass and the even younger but more badass Hit-Girl comes to a close. It’s a smart and worthy finale to one of the best original series published today.

kick ass 3 cover kleinWriter Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr. have created a wonderful series with a very original angle: a high school teenager, a big fan of comic books, decides to become a real-life superhero. But in real life superheroism is not as easy as it might seem on the comic book page. Chances are, when you confront a robber you get your ass kicked. Dressing up as a superhero doesn’t necessarily make you one. And Dave Lizewski, the main character, has learned that the hard way, as one could have read from past storylines in the series. I am a fan of the series, and wrote about past volumes before on this blog.

The series has spawned two feature films and now comes to an end with Kick-Ass 3, a story which, as far as Dave Lizewski is concerned, is all about growing up. In the previous installment, Kick-Ass 2, Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass took on the mafia and won, but the cost of this victory was high: Hit-Girl got arrested while all real-life superheroes got outlawed. Kick-Ass and his team Justice Forever are biding their time while Hit-Girl is waiting in vain for them to rescue her from prison. After Dave graduates high school he and his roommate Todd start working at a fast-food joint. Meanwhile mafia boss Rocco Genovese returns from exile with a grand plan to unite all the East Coast crime families. Rocco is a psychopath that likes to kill his enemies with a solid gold ice pick.

kick-ass-3-hit girlWith Hit-Girl behind bars and the police in Rocco’s pocket, the mafia seems to be unstoppable. It’s up to Dave and his gang to put an end to their crimes, but the best they can do is try to intimidate the mafia by re-enacting scenes from old Batman-comics and the execution of these little play acts aren’t exactly going as planned. And how is Kick-Ass to stop the mafia anyway when he can’t even get rid of The Juicer: the newest member to the team of superheroes that uses their headquarters as his own apartment and laundry basket while he’s playing videogames all day? The Juicer’s superpower seems to be slacking and being obnoxious.

I really enjoyed the personal growth Dave experiences in Kick-Ass 3. While Hit-Girl basically stays the same character, Dave is about to grow up. When he falls in love and gets a girlfriend for the first time, Dave starts to skip meetings with the team. He chooses to have sex with Valerie instead. (Who could blame him?) While the persona of Kick-Ass gave him some prestige, now Dave has met someone who likes him for who he is without the mask and he starts to detach himself from the superhero lifestyle. That is, until the mafia tries to kill Hit-Girl and they have to team-up one more time. The climax is as one could expect from a Kick-Ass story: bloody violent and funny at the same time. But then again, the comic is not meant for young readers.

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Kick-Ass 3 has hard-edged action and a lot of humor. One could see this series as a parody of superheroes taking a piss at comic book readers because it makes fun of conventions and geek-dom. Let’s face it: it’s fun to see Hit-Girl wielding a sword and chopping off the heads of bad guys, but when you realize she’s only supposed to be about 12 years old, you understand in real life she would never have the strength to execute such actions, which not only shows how ridiculous these superhero narratives can get, but also shows this aspect is part of what makes Kick-Ass so enjoyable. At the same time it’s also a celebration of the genre and as Millar has told me in an interview in the past, it’s his love letter to superhero comics.

When the going gets really though for Dave and he’s about to give up, regretting all the time wasted on reading comic books, he has a vision of his parents telling him how much comic books can inspire. ‘Reading COMIC BOOKS is what got you through the TOUGH TIMES, Dave,’ his mom says. His dad adds: ‘Your mother’s right, son. And it wasn’t just the ESCAPISM they gave you. It was the OPTIMISM they instilled in those twenty-two page CHUNKS.’

kick-ass-3-auwWhat I particularly like about this installment is that Millar has an eye for the effect the actions of supervillains have on the lives of people close to them. For instance, Chris Genovese’s mother Angela suffers a great deal because her kid tried to be the super villain the Motherfucker and has killed people. While walking down the street, family members of the victims spit in Angela’s face. Her son is a great disappointment and while Chris is whining his life didn’t turn out like he planned to, she thinks to herself: ‘You think this was MY PLAN. You think I grew you for nine months and fed you my milk just to watch you become a FIGURE of PUBLIC HATE? Your father only killed people for BUSINESS. You killed people for FUN.’ These kinds of characterizations make the Kick-Ass series a wonderful study of many aspects of the superhero genre. I believe the story has run its course and with Kick-Ass 3 has a worthy finale. It has been a wonderful adventure and a lot of fun.

Written for and published on the wonderful blog of the American Book Center.

Review: Kick-Ass 1, Hitgirl, and Kick-Ass 2

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Dave Lizewski is just another ordinary American Teenager: he likes girls (but can’t get a date) and he loves videogames and comic books. One day he has an epiphany. ‘Why hasn’t anyone tried to be a superhero in real life?’ he asks himself, and decides to become one. Dressed up in a green bodysuit and a ski mask and armed with just a pair of batons he calls himself Kick-Ass. After walking around in his suit for weeks without doing anything really, his first act as a superhero is an attempt to stop three loitering hoodlums painting graffiti. They beat Dave into a pulp and stab him. When Dave stumbles into the street, he gets hit by a car. This experience answers his question: nobody dresses up as a superhero in real life because when they do, they get their ass kicked.

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In the hospital it takes numerous operations – they fit three metal plates inside his head – and after weeks of recovery and physical therapy Dave is well again. Before we know it, he’s back hitting the streets. After one of his fights ends up on YouTube, Kick-Ass is an overnight success, and more people start to dress up as superheroes. Like the mysterious Red Mist, who seems to steal the spotlight from Kick-Ass, and Dave doesn’t like that one bit. Soon he’ll learn there’s more to Red Mist than he suspects. Of all the hero-wannabees Hit-Girl and her partner in crime Big Daddy seem to be the genuine article. Although Hit-Girl is only ten, she’s a lethal weapon all by herself and soon things get very, very violent when they take on the mafia.

Original ideas
Kick-Ass
is the brainchild of comic book writer Mark Millar and artist legend John Romita Jr. Millar is known for ultraviolent comic books that deal with marvel1985coverinteresting concepts. In Marvel 1985, a limited series Millar wrote a couple of years ago, the baddies from the Marvel Universe all of a sudden show up in the real world and make havoc. Young Toby Goodman has to travel to the fictional world of Marvel to get help. In Superman: Red Son Millar explores the notion what would have happened if Superman’s rocket landed in Russia instead of Kansas, making him a communist hero. Millar also wrote hits like Wanted, which was turned into a film starring Angelina Jolie, and worked with John Romita Jr. on Wolverine: Enemy of the State.

Romita Jr. is one of the best artists working in the comic book industry today. For the past thirty plus years he’s drawn every major Marvel Comics character including Iron Man, Spider-Man and currently Captain America. Romita is a brilliant visual storyteller: he always puts ‘the camera’ in the right spot and makes sure he presents the story in a clear, exciting way. One can read his comics just by looking at the drawings.

The first Kick-Ass comics inspired a film by the same name by director Matthew Vaughn, but this was not just a carbon copy adaptation. The comic book series had only just begun when the film was being written and shot, so the screen story deviates a bit from the comic book. Which is a good thing, because that way both stories are worth looking into. This summer the sequel Kick-Ass 2 is coming out, and that flick is based on the comics part two and part three in the series, respectively titled Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass 2.

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Hit-Girl is a great follow up to the original Kick-Ass comic and deals with the daily adventures of the title character. Although Mindy McCready as Hit-Girl could slice a mafia hoodlum in half with her sword without breaking a sweat, she has a hard time leading a normal life and blending in with her high school classmates. How can she outsmart Debbie Forman, smart-mouthed queen bee of the seventh-graders, if she doesn’t even know what Justin Bieber’s latest album is called and what the hell The Hunger Games are? This is where Dave Lizewski comes in. While Hit-Girl teaches him a thing or two about crime fighting, she learns from Dave what TV series are hip and what songs to put on her iPod.

When Red Mist and the Genovese gangster family try to get revenge on Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass for what they did to the Family in the first comic series, it’s just a matter of time before Mindy and Dave have to suit up once more.

Real-life superheroes
In the third story, Kick-Ass 2, Millar and Romita take the concept of real life superheroes up to a new level when Kick-Ass joins a superhero team. Besides chasing criminals, they also consider more mundane actions such as distribute blankets to the homeless and volunteer at a local hospice. (Stuff we never see DC Comics’s Justice League do.) This shows that Millar is really into tabs on the real-life superhero thing, which is a phenomenon that exists for real in the United States: people dress up as superheroes not so much to fight criminals but to help homeless people or volunteer to help other people in need.

Since Kick-Ass 2 is a comic book, soon things get really ugly and violent when Red Mist, now calling himself The Motherfucker, wants to be the biggest supervillain known to men. He and his group of hired thugs start a violent rampage targeting Kick-Ass’s family and friends and they leave a nasty, bloody trail of victims.

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The Kick-Ass stories are a wonderful, satirical take on the superhero genre, with a lot of humorous nods and winks at the comic book scene and contemporary popular culture. The humour makes the ultraviolent action sequences digestible for most readers. However, I had the feeling that in Kick-Ass 2 the creators went a bit overboard when for no particular reason the Motherfucker shoots a bunch of kids and adults in a quiet street in the suburbs. Although the depiction of violence has always been a big part of the story in the series – for example: when the mafia in the first series interrogates Dave they torture him and electrocute his scrotum – in Kick-Ass 2 the violence seems even harsher, even more in your face than before and this time it’s presented with little humour to lighten things up. I would say this kind of satire is probably not for the faint of heart.

Still, the artwork looks great, and on the whole, the Kick-Ass series is definitely worth reading for anyone who loves superheroes or likes to take a piss at dressed-up comic book characters. Needless to say: I am looking forward to the third series and the upcoming movie.

This review is published on the ABC blog.