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Comicscape: Kick-Ass 3
Kicks in the key of ass
By Joel Rickenbach
August 15, 2013
Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Read on!
Kick-Ass 3 #1-2 (by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.): Obviously the time is nigh to take a look at the current (last?) series of Kick-Ass. The sequel to the 2010 non-hit arrives in theaters this weekend, and my first question is- is there still a desire for more Kick-Ass in comics or film? My second question is- regardless of what the fans want, does Kick-Ass still have bite?
**Spoilers for Kick-Ass comic and film ahead**
One of the things that has bugged me over the years since the first Kick-Ass film was released has been the change to Big Daddy’s “secret”. For me, the change removed the soul of the story, and made the end of the film ridiculous and over-the-top, particularly for a story that is supposed to take a more grounded look at superheroes and vigilantes. In the comics, Big Daddy’s secret is that he’s not actually a cop, but a shlub accountant who decided to become a vigilante, and financed he and his daughter’s adventures with his old comic book collection, which he kept in a locked trunk for most of the story. In the film, he is an ex-cop, and the secret he’s been carrying around is… a jetpack. A jetpack that Kick-Ass uses to fly to the top floor of the mob building, and to whisk Hit Girl away to safety at the end of the climax. Why Millar was OK with that change I’ll never know, I’m sure there’s an interview somewhere that has him and the filmmakers saying that the change really doesn’t alter the story they were trying to tell, but I truly don’t buy it. Why the original reveal of Big Daddy worked so well was it served as a cautionary tale for Kick-Ass. Big Daddy is who Kick-Ass could become if he continues down that path. Big Daddy took matters into his own hands, just like Kick-ass eventually does, and he pays the ultimate price. He chose the Genovese family because he “needed a villain”, and that’s a decision only someone so delusional and self-righteous could make, a fate Kick-Ass could easily slip in to. It was that idea that really gave the original Kick-Ass book its edge, not the uber-violence or balls-to-the-wall tone. So, my question again- does Kick-Ass 3 have that same dark edge?
After two issues, not really, but to be fair, there’s plenty of story left, I was just hoping to see a thread. Kick-Ass 3 opens after the events of the Hit-Girl mini-series and Kick-Ass 2. Hit-Girl is in jail, the super villains are pretty much nonexistent, the Mother F***er is wasting away in the hospital, and the streets are relatively safe. Hit-Girl has left a detailed set of instructions, including equipment and access cards, for Kick-Ass to break her out, she just asks that he lie low for awhile. He and his vigilante brethren do just that, and when the time comes to liberate Hit-Girl they suit up and get totally psyched… until they actually get to the prison, which promptly makes then all chicken out. To quote Hit-Girl- “What a bunch of f***ing p****ies”. Instead, Dave Lizewski graduates High School, gets a minimum wage part-time job, and does his best Bruce Wayne impression while standing at his father's grave. He does admit to feeling more inspired and motivated afterward, but when the true purpose of the graveyard visit was to take cool looking pictures of himself "brooding like Batman", it's hard to take Dave seriously. He's still a pretty terrible vigilante, a gang gets the drop on him fairly easily, and his wetsuit fails to strike fear in the hearts of his foes. His alley beating does lead to a possible new love interest, and given the track record of Dave's female friends, things should work out just fine. Meanwhile, Chris Genovese gets good news- his uncle has come back to America from Italy, and his first order of business is to get the charges against Chris dropped. Chris' mom has other plans for her psycho son, but things turn out a bit differently than she expects.
It's a slow beginning to what I assume will end up being incredibly chaotic, as Kick-Ass stories tend to be. It's tough since Dave is not exactly a relatable character even after all he's been through, instead we keep watching him make bad decision after bad decision. One aspect that really has thrown me is John Romita Jr.'s art. Since Kick-Ass 2 he has just done the pencils/breakdowns, and let Tom Palmer and Dean White do the ink washes and colors. It worked previously, but this time it seems his pencils are even more loose, and the art is relying on the coloring, which is a bit muddy and feels even less like Romita Jr.'s signature style. I hope Millar has an unforgettable ending in store for us, and not just a violent one, but one that speaks volumes like Big Daddy's trunk full of lost youth and sadness.