WARNING: This Review contains MATURE SUBJECT Matter. (If you are looking for the review of the movie, you may find it here.)
We all know that a movie called “KICK-ASS” is about to be released in theaters real soon but what most everyone doesn’t know is that the coming film is based on an independently owned comic title of the same name. “Kick-Ass” is a comic book title published under “Icon Imprint” which is a subsidiary of Marvel comics. Written by comic book writer Mark Millar, drawn by comic book legend John Romita Jr., and inked by Tom Palmer; this title is a surprising turn for someone who has written “The Ultimates”, given us the Captain America vs. Iron Man moral saga “Civil War” and the phenomenal “Wanted” by Top Cow--Millar’s next project is “Kick-Ass”? What exactly makes this creation different that comic legends John Romita Jr. (World War Hulk, Man Without Fear) and Tom Palmer (The Avengers, Tomb of Dracula) are willing to risk their reputations?
Well, “Kick-Ass” is the art of “Ass Kickery” that features “Kick ass” writing, “Kick ass” illustrations and the most action-packed “ass kicking" drama and brutality to ever grace comic book panels. The 8-issue miniseries is finally collected in a graphic novel form to promote the upcoming motion picture.
Dave Lizewski is a normal looking if scrawny 16 year old who isn’t the best athlete, the smartest boy in class or even the guy who hangs out with the “in crowd”. Dave does have one passion in his young life and that is collecting comic books. One day, feeling the need to do something exciting (actually he was just lonely) he decides to make a costume and go out to play like a super-hero. His debut gave Dave a broken arm, ribs and a fractured skull. Luckily, Dave survives and goes back to school and burns his comic books; but the experience had changed him and the super-hero persona seems embedded in him.
Finally when he saves a Puerto Rican kid from being beaten to death, Dave becomes an internet phenomenon called “Kick-Ass”, as Dave sets up a “my space page” so that he can easily be accessible. He also inspires several others to take up a costume to help others. Dave runs across a mysterious 10 year old called “Hit Girl” who has the mad skills of a ninja warrior. Accompanied by “Big Daddy”, the two are poised to take down the mob. Puzzled, Dave lays low as another “hero” called the “Red Mist” appears. Now, Kick-ass must join forces with Red Mist and the mysterious duo…to take down the mob. But things aren’t always as they appear to be…
This is NOT your kid’s comic book. The writing by Millar is full of very mature subject matter that revolves around very realistic violence that wallows with a lot of blood and gore. The dialogue in “Kick-Ass” is sharp and edgy, you would read most of the curse words found in the dictionary; Hell, it even invents its own curse word in “Tunk”. The comic has some nudity and some scenes of sex, they are also very graphic and John Romita Jr. doesn’t hold back on the details. Look at “Kick-Ass” as a cautionary tale for comic book geeks and a commentary on separating reality from fantasy. We are what we eat and we are who are; and sometimes, we are what we read.
Dave is a guy who is pretty isolated and one can surmise that he feels real invisible. His single parent is struggling to make ends meet and the girl of his dreams is ignoring him. Dave is desperate that he pretends to be gay just so he can get close to her. The story revolves around the usual teenage issues and problems and it seems like Dave can escape his reality and this fantasy may well prove to be his downfall. It also makes a commentary about kids growing up watching “American Idol” and that such things can corrupt the youth. Well, ANYTHING can lead to the corruption of delicate minds, it all depends on how one wields it. You may say that Dave is “Big Daddy” when he grows up while “Red Mist” is in for it to gain his father’s approval. I find “Hit Girl” to be the most interesting character as she is undoubtedly John Rambo colliding with Polly Pocket. The story is pretty dramatic once you think about it and the characters are well-written; so the comic isn’t just another exercise in action, blood and gore. They felt very human and real and their cheap looking costumes just make them more realistic. (the movie will have ‘Hit Girl”, “Red Mist” and “Big Daddy” in fancier costumes that pay homage to some comic characters)
Now to prevent all the brutality to simply wash all over the reader, Millar keeps the dialogue sharp yet very realistic that anyone can relate to it. He also remembers to inject several scenes of very dark humor that was also real effective John Romita Jr. brings the reader to this insane world of violence where head are hacked off, innards are cut open, where humans are squished to pulp, and “tunks” are blown off. The illustrations are very bloody and very expressive of all the graphic brutality. Romita doesn’t hold anything back with the gory details that this may well be one of the definitive works of his career. The work of Millar and Romita are just inventive and simply overpowering--the two go real well together like “Cool Whip” and Pumpkin Pie.
“KICK ASS” is an original and ambitious work by two of comic’s greatest talents. It has the right amount of everything to make a courageous work of genius that may well be one of the boldest, controversial projects ever to grace the pages of a comic book/graphic novel. The last time I’ve read something this awesome was when I read “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen”. In those days, you have to be grim, thought-provoking and gritty to get commercial and critical acclaim; these days comic books need to simply “KICK ASS”!
Highly Recommended! [5 Stars]
Note: I am writing this review for the graphic novel to HYPE UP the upcoming motion picture “Kick Ass”. Judging from the trailer, the film won’t be faithful because to make a film this violent would displease mainstream audiences. (remember the recent “Watchmen”?) While the movie is said to be rated R, (and it is getting great reviews in the U.K) but we all know that to be faithful, this would have to be rated NC-17 to really “Kick Ass”.