on 23 July 2011
I was a huge fan of the movie as it was a fantastic change of pace to the usual superhero movie. I knew a bit about the book and knew that there were some large differences between the movie and the book. The ending, which I won't go into detail about is far different in tone, but I think each ending works for their respective mediums. The book ending would have not worked on film and vice versa.
The story, written by Mark Millar is generally well told. I was a big fan of Millar's work from Marvel's Civil War which was a superb tale and one of the best I've read. While the overall story is fresh, I can't help but feel that Millar, knowing he had free reign on his own story with original characters, just decided to throw profanity in as much as possible. Sometimes it just feels too shoehorned in. It is, in my opinion, forgiven by its interesting premise though.
The art, by John Romita Jr. is fantastic and compliments the high octane plot with extremely violent scenes and more than a little splash of red here and there. There are some inconsistencies with the art however such as costume pieces changing colour and a criminal with a disappearing tattoo.
For the contents of this book - the story and the art - I would give this a 4 star.
The reason I've taken a star off though relates to this particular product; the Collector's Edition. I had to have two replacements sent to me because the quality of the book just wasn't up to scratch. The first book I received apparently had a problem with its printing plates because numerous pages had its images doubled meaning it was blurry and unreadable. The second book had a problem when the pages were being cut because a sizable number of pages had diagonal cuts across the corner of the pages. Fortunately the third book I received is fine and I thank Amazon for their swift service.
All in all, Kick-Ass is a great read though I prefer the film. Unless you really want a hard back copy like I did, I recommend the paperback which is half the price and one version offers extra pages about Hit Girl.
I lied about the sex, but there's plenty of blood and terror. I picked up the collected edition of this comic book in my local library, having seen the film a couple of years ago. I have been reading comics since the early 1960s, so I am not just a casual browser of comics, but I never felt a great need to read this one before, which probably does make me a casual browser today. The basic story is that one day, a comic nerd asks the question - why has no one tried to be a super-hero before? So he buys himself a costume off of EBay and goes out into the night to be a vigilante, quickly ending up in hospital. Outfitted with metal plates in his head, and a deadened sense of pain, he has another, more successful go, and ends up as a You-tube sensation. Seeking to help out a young lady with a stalker ex-boyfriend, he is witness to a visitation from Hit-Girl, another, but more serious vigilante, who, with her crime-fighting partner, Big Daddy, is destroying a drug baron's network. Anyway, traps are laid, heroes are captured and tortured, rescues are effected, and revenges are had. You've seen the film, you know the body count.
The comic book had a different target audience than the film, and so the more extreme comic-related references were toned down in the film, as was the graphic violence - no entrails or brains flying about if you want a `15' rating, and Big Daddy does not look like Batman in the comic, though he does look like Nicholas Cage... And the comic version is probably more `grounded' in reality, though the comic is a good comic story, and the film is a good action/adventure/ superhero film. By comparing the two, you can probably draw a good lesson in how a story works best when told in two different media, and how different elements should be expanded or edited to suit the different requirements of said media; unlike Watchmen, for instance, where they tried to follow the comic faithfully, only making tiny adjustments which - to me - changed Rorschach's character and motivation.
Anyway, this is an entertaining comic book if you like well-told graphically violent comic books, as well as if you enjoyed the film.
A lonely young man decides to right the wrongs of the world the only way he knows how - by dressing up as a superhero called Kick Ass and wandering the streets for crime! News of his exploits spreads via YouTube and Facebook and soon he is a celebrity but not before he's beaten nearly to death during his first encounter with crime. He soon finds other "superheroes" though - the Red Mist, another young man with a costume but no real powers, and Hit Girl, a 12 year old girl with mad martial arts skills and a masked gun toting father. All roads lead to a mafia boss and Kick Ass soon finds out what it means to be a superhero.
It's an excellent concept and Mark Millar writes a fun, witty script with dark overtones of a disenfranchised society. The characters are excellent and the story barrels along at a fast pace. Millar is quick to point out where comics heroes ends and real world heroes begins which adds to the overall strength of the book. John Romita's drawings are also top notch with a lot of gore to offset the cutesy "kids in costumes" concept.
The book is almost the same as the film but with one notable exception - Hit Girl's father's motivations. They changed it to fit a more mainstream cinema crowd but Millar's original idea is fascinating and speaks volumes about the idea that grown-ups are supposedly grown up.
An excellent comic book with a great script and fantastic art, forget any preconceptions you may have, this is as good if not better than Marvel and DC superheroes. Can't wait for the sequel.
On its most basic level this is the story of a school student who, inspired by his comics, decides to dress up as a superhero and go out into the city and make a difference. But Kick-Ass is much more than that, although it may be a far-fetched story it still manages to capture a reality which makes the central character one easy to identify with.
Putting on a costume is a chance for David to stand out from the crowd and stamp his influence on the world, he considers himself to be a non-entity as he lives his life at school generally unnoticed and overlooked. There's no way that his alter-ego can slip under the radar though, and the genius of this book is how it constantly grounds itself in reality. After stepping out from the shadows to reprimand a gang of hooligans David doesn't engage in a series of ninja style moves which leave his opponents beaten - he is mocked, beaten up and left for dead. Instead of basking in the glory of vigilante justice he spends weeks in hospital and cries for hours thinking about the medical bill his exploits have left his dad with.
It's easy to identify with Dave as he narrates events, he shares his thoughts and regrets with us. We aren't just seeing the story, we're hearing his account of things and understanding his motives to the extent that you feel as though you're living out the whole saga along with him.
This is a comic for a modern age, it's full of modern cultural references such as 'Star Wars Kid' and of course various comic book characters. It also mirrors modern life with its frequent references to online social networking sites such as MySpace and Youtube. In fact, Kick-Ass becomes a cult phenomenon after a chance encounter with local thugs is captured on video by onlookers and uploaded to YouTube.
As it turns out, David isn't the only masked vigilante in town - and it's only a matter of time before he crosses paths with Hit Girl and Big Daddy - in many ways the real deal. Perhaps less heroic is Red Mist, another have-a-go costumed superhero with similar interests, but David has an identity Crisis when the new superhero starts to get all the media attention. We get to understand his desire to be Kick-Ass, it's given his life a new energy which has spilled into his normal life - he becomes more confident, he interacts better with people and evens becomes close to the hottest girl at school - but that's because everyone assumes he's a rent boy and she finds the gay David interesting and non-threatening! But by seeing how enriched his life is with Kick-Ass, we see how he can't bring himself to put the suit away and call it a day, something he sums up perfectly when he observes that "Dave Lizewski had eight friends on MySpace and Kick-Ass had thousands".
I read Kick-Ass after seeing the film and it's interesting to see how faithful the film was to the book, but there are still enough differences to make this feel quite different in places. The film successfully made efforts to look visually cool and also managed to inject a great emotional edge, the book instead feels less hyperkinetic and more gritty. The two complement each other perfectly and both have characters which defy logic to be incredibly believable. There are lots of superhero comics out there, but it's rare that a costumed crime fighter is shown involved with violence which has real consequences. Here there is lots of violence but it isn't mindless cartoon punches, there's real pain and moments which will have massive repercussions. The book has some great humour (I chuckled to myself seeing "tunk" make an appearance towards the end) and David's friends have the same sort of conversations I had as a teen (and still have now in my early thirties!).
The artwork in Kick-Ass is real enough to bring everything to life but slightly 'cartoony' to give it a unique style. Detail is great and the gangly limbs of Kick-Ass hint at the scrawny kids beneath the suit. The characterisations are perfect with faces conveying the thoughts and feelings of the full ensemble well. This hardback compilation of the original 8 books also features some displays of alternative cover art from the original releases.
In a nutshell: In the end he might not have been a superhero - but Dave did make a difference, the world was a little different and a bit more interesting because of him. Kick-Ass is ultimately a story about an 'average' kid who became an inspiration. Perhaps he was a super hero after all.
on 15 May 2010
This proved to be one of my most favourite reads of recent times, very irreverent, self-knowing, clever and just plain daft at the same time. Very enjoyable all round. There is one of them "c words" used at one point that seem to dreadfully irk certain portions of the populace so if you have sensitivities in that direction, you most likely won't be happy. But I laughed out loud and had a warm silly grin throughout so if that's the kind of thing you like to happen to you, go for it. Great fun.
on 27 March 2011
First and foremost, I apologise for the pun in the title of this review.
I'm sure most people are aware of the premise of this comic, but for those who don't...
Dave Lizewski is an ordinary teenager who is truly fed up with his boring life. He loves masturbating over his teacher, Mrs Zane, Comic books and superheroes. Dave has a dream, a dream which all of us have wanted to fulfill at sometime in our lives. And that dream is to become a superhero.
Mark Millar pulls of this story with such beautiful ease that it almost seems unreal. The characters are relatable, as are the trials and tribulations they witness within the pages. John Romita Jr. has illustrated Kick-Ass to his absolute best. Gritty, stylish and wonderfully violent artwork adorns the pages and is just a pleasure to look at. Once you have read Kick-Ass, you will know and understand why Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. are two of the greatest guys in the comic book business.
All of this is presented in this fantastic hardback book that is a treat to own.
Buy it, you'll not regret it.
on 27 August 2011
I am a huge fan of Mark Millar and this is probably his finest work. If you have already seen the film you will have some idea what to expect, but the graphic novel is funnier, darker, more violent and has a clever twist that wasn't in the film.
Basically the idea behind Kick Ass is that it is a comic about what a real life super hero would be like. Dave Lizewski doesn't have superpowers, he's just a bored kid in a costume he bought online armed with some metal clubs. While this comic is extremely violent, it also tries to show some of the consequences of violence. If Dave screws up he is hospitalised and his poor father is stuck with the medical bills.
While Dave is essentially just a comic loving nerd motivated by boredom, he realises he is in over his head when he meets the deadly vigilantes Hit Girl and Big Daddy. Hit girl in particular is a great character, a sociopathic ten year old with some great lines, who slaughters her way through the mob with a Samurai sword!
If you are new to graphic novels this is a pretty good place to start, as it doesn't require much knowledge of the genre and is great fun. It is also very well drawn and coloured. This is also a graphic novel I re-read more than most so I would say it is value for money.
If you are going to be put off by over the top violence or too much swearing this is definitely not for you, in fact you should avoid most of Millar's work. Otherwise this is a clever, original comic that is packed with pop culture references and black humour.
If you enjoy Kick Ass I highly recommend you check out some of Millar's other stuff. 'Wanted' is a really politically incorrect take on what a world ruled by supervillains would be like, while 'Red Son' is a story about what would have happened if superman had grown up in the USSR instead of America.
Slight spoiler alert. If bothered by this, don't read on.
I bought this book on the strength of the hype surrounding a movie I haven't seen yet, and boy is it good! Okay, it's foul-mouthed and hyper-violent, but it's extremely funny, extremely clever, and satirical in such a way that each new plot twist and shocking event has something new to say about the nature and the realism of violence, for example when you first meet Hit Girl the image of a 10 year old detachedly slicing up thugs in the most brutal way is completely shocking, and it's meant to be. But when you see the image later on of a thug detachedly shooting her full of bullets and her tumbling through a window, is that any less shocking to you because it's something you'd expect from evil people? Hey, people who read on despite the spoiler alert! She's wearing Kevlar so don't read too much into that, okay?
I doubt anyone who reads this could possibly miss the point that all violence hurts, all violence is shocking, and although many people would like to live in or imagine they live in a world where violence has rules, violence has no rules. We live in a world where, for example, people are making films as entertainment to profit from the murder of a woman that happened less than four years ago, to hell apparently with the family's feelings. TV shows are having debates about who owns the rights to murder. The subversion of this comic is that in a world where people have seemingly become numb to the reality and effects of violence, and where most fictional murders are sanitised and bloodless, it reminds us through entertainment just how shocking and bloody real violence is.
Kick Ass is a wannabe-superhero completely out of his depth, but through his run in with Hit Girl and Big Daddy he learns the reality of violence. He keeps wanting to quit, but finds himself addicted and keeps on coming back, only to suffer again and again for his choices. In sharp and deliberate relief, Hit Girl seems totally unaffected by the carnage she causes and her father's motivation for dragging her into this world becomes one of the modern comic book world's most clever metaphors. I believe Big Daddy's backstory is different in the film, which I think is a shame, as it means that this very deliberate point that is being made is unique to the comic.
Also different to the film are the costumes - slight differences with Kick Ass, greater differences with the others, and although I haven't seen the film yet I have seen the trailer and posters and believe the costumes in the comic are much better and more "honest" to the characters.
Some of the last words in this review, I think, should actually go to another reviewer on these pages who seems to sums up the whole point that I have described above, which I believe the comic is making, by saying: "Admittedly the movie is violent too, but the way it's shot manages to not make it disgusting." That's kind of the same thing a certain film director said recently about a film he has made about a real life murder that happened less than four years ago.
Hey, or I could just be reading too much into it, but that's the great thing about comic books - everyone has their own opinions.
on 24 July 2013
Really bloody, really naughty and really, really funny. John Romita Jr's claret-splattered artwork is perfect for Mark Millar's lean, punchy storytelling. Arguably, the film adaptation upped the ante and created yet more iconic images, but this is a short, sharp burst of brilliance that's a must-read for any self-respecting comic lover. And even un-self-respecting ones. Probably especially those.
on 22 April 2013
Kick-ass is the first graphic novel I've read from Mark Miller and it certainly won't be the last, the story flows majestically and the pace at times is frantic. Extremely violent, full of blood and gore with some spectacular kill shots amid a multitude of weaponry. The artwork is impressive, kick-ass receives a variety of beatings leading to a brutal torture scene involving electricity and our protagonists testicles, but the star is undoubtedly hit girl. Just when you think she's down from multiple gunshots, she comes back with samurai swords in hand to cut off numerous body parts until she spectacularly dispatches the mob boss as the final target.
There is a degree of sadness centred around hit girls upbringing and the violent demise of her father big daddy but the contrast between her innocence and her explosive violence is very powerful and the stand out feature of the story.