Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reader's Diary #1033- Mark Millar (writer), John Romita Jr. (illustrator): Kick-Ass Volume 1

Still haven't seen the movie, but with the sequel already making headlines almost two months before its release, I figured it's time to finally see what all the fuss is about.

I'll be honest, I had no idea of the premise behind the book at all before heading in (though I had apparently read reviews of the movie, it was a while ago and I'd long since forgotten). I really didn't know what to expect but my assumptions of Spy Kids plus shock value swearing couldn't have been further off the mark.

Kick-Ass, the first 8 comics of which are compiled here in the Volume One collection, was written by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.. It is, as Jim Carrey has pointed out, ultra-violent. It's in glossy colour too so the blood splatters and bone bits and brain matter practically splurt off the page— saving what I'd call just average cartooning. Yet it'd be hard to say that the book glorifies violence. Compared to most traditional superhero comics where whole battles can be waged with nary a drop of blood to be seen, Kick-Ass is arguably more realistic than those and the consequences of said violence are explored in much more depth. Kick-Ass, for instance, finds himself hospitalized for 6 months with broken legs and a broken back, requiring therapy, surgeries, casts, pills and metal plates in his head from all the damage suffered during his very first fight. Plus, the language can seem harsh at times but certainly authentic.

Kick-Ass is a story about a somewhat bored, somewhat nerdish, somewhat gloomy but mostly average teenage boy named Dave Lizewski who one day decides to become a real-life superhero named Kick-Ass. Most readers would agree that Lizewski makes a lot of dangerously poor decisions, even if he is trying to rid the world of bad guys. If the hospitalizations are any indication, Kick-Ass doesn't meet with a lot of success. However, if success is measured in the admiration of fans and the inspiration of copy-cats, Kick-Ass has made the big time. The most significant of these other costumed vigilantes is a young girl named Hit-Girl, who for the time being accompanies her father, going by the moniker Big Daddy.

Not that Kick-Ass is realistic all the time. Hit-Girl, at just ten years old, would hardly be able to slice a skull in half like a melon, no matter how sharp the sword or how rigorous her training. Likewise, Kick-Ass's metal plates would not likely provide the level of protection that Millar seems to suggest they would. But comparatively, Kick-Ass is much more plausible than most of the superhero output. It's also a lot more fun.

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