Sep 7, 2010

[Comics] Kick-Ass

Kick-AssThere's a very large universe of comic books that I have yet to have the chance to read. My partner, who is a major comic book fan, has been keeping me busy with a heck of a large number of titles that I have to read as "assignments" of sorts and it's been a nicely enjoyable experience thus far.

This title was sort of on the assigned reading list, but naturally I was prompted to read it because of the recent movie, that we both enjoyed a lot. And as much as the movie was pretty violent and somewhat jarring at times, the comic was even better!

As much as violence in media tends to be a somewhat touchy subject amongst more conservative advocates, I still feel it works within appropriate mediums or with sufficient controls in place. The answer is NOT about censoring the worst bits out of a movie in order to give it a wider-reaching movie rating (I'm talking to you freaks at the MTRCB!) but about sufficient controls so that people who can handle the content can gain access and no one else. Comic books tend to be a gray area in this regard since I've yet to encounter comic book stores that limit what titles they can sell to minors, but I trust the clerks and their better judgement in terms of what can and can't be sold to younger audiences.

And the rest of us get to enjoy the results.

Artist John Romita, Jr. participating in the K...Image via WikipediaKick-Ass (Volume 1) is one of those rare comic book titles directly owned by the creator, in this case Mark Millar. While it was released under the Marve brand, it was still a new and rather compelling independent work with illustrations by John Romita, Jr.

Kick-Ass is the superhero alter-ego of Dave Lizewski, a high school student in New York who one day decides to become a superhero. Of course the "super" part is questionable since he's pretty much just a teenager in a green diving suit armed with a pair of batons. He has no martial arts training or superhuman abilities. He doesn't have a special suit, an alien power ring or a whole arsenal of gadgets at his disposal. He's really just a kid who loves comic books and as inspired by his heroes, he tries to become one too.

Of course his initial forays into the world of fighting crime (in New York no less!) are met with failure, multiple concussions and a short stay at the hospital. But this doesn't deter him and on his journey of superhero discover, he bumps into a disturbing pair of vigilantes called Big Daddy and Hit-Girl who are definitely a lot better at the stopping crime business than he is. But their little mission against organized crime has attracted the ire of local mob boss John Genovese and by the same thread Kick-Ass gets included in his plans for revenge.

Millar certainly crafted a great story carried along by some pretty well-developed characters. Dave is such a gem as the wannabe hero Kick-Ass and you can really appreciate how he really just a high school kid in way over his head in terms of the superhero business. And this is set in a New York more like the real world - there are no cases of Spider-Man or the Avengers zooming overhead to save the day. We just see normal people going about their business and some punk kid deciding to take the fight to the streets. But it's not because of some childhood trauma or a lost loved one. Instead it's just about a kid who likes comic book heroes and that's about it.

Of course what happened after the movie, Hit-Girl was definitely one of the more interesting and intriguing characters around. Sure, she isn't even past puberty but I doubt we can ever encounter a little girl who can handle a katana like her. And despite how easy it could have been for her to become a one-dimensional, highly unrealistic character, this wasn't the case and she came out to be a fully-developed person with a propensity for violence and bladed weapons.

The overall story just WORKS, and it's a small marvel that the people behind the movie were able to capture so much of the original story. I mean seriously, movie makers have a hard time capturing a single-issue in a movie, what more an 8-issue limited series like this? And yet now that I've had the chance to read the comic in contrast to the movie, I certainly have to appreciate how both are great stories that certainly mirror one another almost perfectly. Is the comic book better you ask? Well, that's ultimately up to the reader and your sensibilities. Each have their merits but this is definitely one of those instances when I feel they're pretty much neck-in-neck and one won't lose anything by choosing one over the other.

Kick-Ass is an awesome comic book that every teenage geek (in mind or body) should get around to reading...at least once they're old enough for it. It gets 5 stupid things Dave has to do as Katie's "gay" best friend.
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