I did not pick up the series Kick-Ass written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita Jr. as stand alone issues and instead waited for the Marvel Comics hardcover release. I had read many of the reviews during my wait and I was hooked by the premise of what it would be like if ordinary folks began to prowl the streets at night dressed as super heroic vigilantes. What I found was violent, offensive and shocking. In short, I fricking loved it.
Kick-Ass, the title of the book and the name of the superhero, centers on Dave Lizewski, a normal teenager trying to get by in high school and living with his single father. He has his small circle of friends, who share his love of comic books, but generally he is fairly invisible in his life and is not pleased with what the future holds for him; more obscurity. Thus he creates a costume and becomes a superhero, roaming around the neighborhood at night to get the feel for what it is to be like his favorite heroes. He even goes so far as to wear his costume under his clothes to school and seems bursting with pride over the feeling of empowerment that he has in his belief that he is indeed a superhero. Unfortunately for Dave, he has not actually done anything in his new role and that is about to change.
While on patrol one night, Dave comes across a group of street punks vandalizing a wall and upon being spotted by the group decides that now is the time to start making a difference. Having no fighting skills, or powers or street smarts, Dave gets his ass handed to him. He is stabbed, beaten within an inch of his life and hit by a car. Super hero life is tough.
After he awakens, he claims to have been mugged and after months in the hospital with plenty of physical rehabilitation, Dave does what most intelligent human beings would never do...he once again dons the costume and hits the streets. Dave's feet barely touch the pavement before he is being harassed by a bunch of little girls calling him a pervert, when out of nowhere a man comes crashing into him, knocking them both to the ground. In pursuit of the man is a gang of three very hardened street thugs wishing to beat the man to death. Dave, unable to stand by and let the beating happen, jumps into the fray and begins to fight off the gang. The fight is gruesome and incredibly bloody, but at the end Dave is the only one left standing. A large audience had gathered to watch the fight and cheer Dave on, but it was the one person with the video phone, who recorded the fight and posted it to YouTube that changed Dave's life forever and Kick-Ass was born.
The video goes viral and people now cheer when they see Kick-Ass patrolling the streets. He brims with confidence at school and even begins to talk to the girl he has had a crush on and they become very close...although she thinks Dave is her new gay best friend. Dave starts a Kick-Ass mySpace page and begins receiving requests for help, which he takes into consideration. On one such assignment, right when it looks like he is about to lose his life, a little girl strolls into the room, also wearing a costume, and proceeds to kill every thug in the building with her twin katanas. She is Hit Girl and along with her partner and father, Big Daddy, they have set their sites on the mob and they intend to purge the city of its evil. Copycat superheroes begin popping up everywhere and Kick-Ass has a team up with The Red Mist, the hero with his own superhero car, and shortly after Big Daddy and Hit Girl include the heroes in their grand plan.
From this point through to the finale, more and more heapings of violence are unleashed for the reader, which is not my usual cup of tea, but the writing and characterization made me care about Dave and Hit Girl and I honestly wanted them to win. Behind my wincing with practically every turn of the page, I was hooked and loving every moment of the book. I could see a bit of myself in Dave, and to be honest, who doesn't want to be a superhero? I would...at least if it was not for all of the pain and death and such. Kick-Ass is a great, fun read that is not for the faint of heart, but an incredibly fun adventure for the mature reader.
*The movie is released this Friday and I absolutely cannot wait to see it. Somehow, people all over the US have seen advance screeners of this movie and all of the reviews from people of like mind have been stellar. I need to get on the advance screening list somehow.
Other books by Mark Millar that I love and will one day review: Wolverine: Old Man Logan, The Ultimates (one of my all time favorite superhero books), The Authority (half of this TPB is the end of Warren Ellis' run and the other the beginning of Millar's run...start with Ellis' though), Wanted, Fantastic Four