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Violent entertainment that has a strong point to make about violence as entertainment
on 6 February 2011
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.