While the follow-ups to Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s first Kick-Ass series, Kick-Ass 2 and Hit-Girl, no doubt enjoyed a great deal of financial success, it’s unlikely most fans would rank them as high as the original. Both sequels seemed to be following the adage “more is more” which theoretically makes sense for a series that eventually became as over-the-top as the original, but only succeeded in terms of the ultra-violence Millar tends to lean on when his large quiver of clever ideas has gone empty. Story-wise, both volumes moved too far away from the sharp, high-concept premise of the first one to deliver the kind of thrills you get when you realize you’re reading something unique, something you truly haven’t read before.
Although many writers, from Alan Moore to Millar himself, have scored big with other What-if-superheroes-were-real storylines, the first few issues of Kick-Ass cranked the realism up to 11, by turning the idea on its head and making it so the superhero in question could just as easily have been the readers themselves. Taken on its own, the first issue of Kick-Ass 3 does 3 things that make it feel like a return to what made the first few issues of the first series so special.
3. Kick-Ass Is More Dave Lizewski Than He Is Kick-Ass
One of the things the first series did so well was present us with a hero that could quite easily exist in our world. Dave Lizewski was not only lacking in super-powers, but he had no fighting ability or Batman-like smarts to fall back on either. Here was a character with no gadgets other than a black-jack to defend himself and a wet-suit costume he ordered off Ebay. It made perfect sense that the first “villains” he confronted were nothing more than graffiti-spraying thugs, and it was a jaw-dropping thrill when “reality” so fully intruded on the comic that Kick-Ass promptly got his ass kicked so big he wound up in the hospital. It was the kind of reality we’d never seen before in a comic.
Although Dave Lizewski avoids any beat-downs in the first issue of the new series, his actions (or lack thereof) are once again, far more suited to reality than a comic book page. In fact his decision to indefinitely postpone rescuing his friend and mentor, the imprisoned Hit-Girl, despite a great deal of prepping to do exactly that may be the most uncomfortable true-to-life moment we’ve ever seen in Kick-Ass. It’s like watching Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre back out of breaking Rorshach out of prison because there’s a good chance they could might get caught and arrested as well.
This article was first posted on June 7, 2013