In this issue, corrupt cops wearing skull masks calling themselves the Skull & Bones Gang murder drug dealers and steal their loot while the increasingly marginalised and splintered Justice Forever stand on the side-lines. Dave and Valerie have a LOT of sex as Dave's superhero persona, Kick Ass, becomes less and less important to him. Hit Girl is still locked up, and in retaliation to being stolen from by the Skull & Bones Gang, Rocco Genovese orders all costumes to be killed on sight. Good news for Dave who's too busy getting busy to put on the outfit and become a target - bad news for everyone else... I feel like the second act in Kick Ass 3, the final arc in the Kick Ass series, has been dragging its heels in comparison to the fast pace it began with. Our heroes aren't really developing much and the plot seems to be all about the bad guys with the heroes reacting to them rather than having an aim themselves. And that's crazy because Kick Ass does have goals: to free Hit Girl and take down the Genovese crime family. Instead all he does in this issue is get laid (and it is very graphic, hence the over-18 bag you'll see it in)! I suppose you could say Dave's character is developing in the way that he's choosing to leave behind the superhero lifestyle he feels he's outgrown, now that his priorities are Valerie and little else. But it's odd that Mark Millar seems to be hinting that getting regular sex would destroy any altruistic or heroic impulses in him. I'm pretty sure a lot of superheroes have regular sex and it doesn't stop them from their noble callings - does Superman getting laid by Lois stifle his need to save people? Nope. Plus it's quite convenient that now Dave's got a girlfriend, he'd suddenly grow up from the kid living out his comic book fantasies so recently it was only a couple of issues ago he had a plan that revolved around a scene from Batman Year One! It might be a deliberate choice to have this be the course of the story as I suspect Valerie is more than just a pretty girl who's fallen for Dave and that she might be a prostitute hired by Rocco Genovese to keep Kick Ass busy while he works his takeover of East Coast crime. But that'd be weird too because Kick Ass has never really been much of a threat. He can handle himself but, as he showed earlier in the series, he's still very green and his plans rarely go well. At any rate, I'm happy for Dave to actually be happy for once the character's been through a lot though really it's not the most riveting storyline to read. The other statement Millar seems to be making about superheroes (or simply heroes because nobody has superpowers in the Kick Ass world) with this issue, is that lasting change is brought about by killing only - which isn't very heroic. The costumed heroes of Justice Forever continue to be jokes and lambs to the slaughter while the Skull & Bones gang, with their ruthless, gun-toting approach, are the more effective crime deterrent (seemingly at least they're really just criminals robbing other criminals). We're also five issues in and it doesn't feel like the bad guy Rocco, the "Big Bad" or the heroes have made much of an impression, and I'm still not completely sure what the plot is. It's true I don't know where it's headed, and sometimes that's a good thing, but in this case I'm not so sure mostly because I'm not entirely certain what I've read so far can count as a story. The plan to scare the mafia with the Batman Year One plan was a half-baked plan at best, and the attempts to break Mindy out have been even less so. In which case this story arc has been about Dave going from superhero to ordinary guy while the rest of the arc has been about the dissolution of Justice Forever and the rise once again of mob rule. Not the strongest of stories, or the most interesting either. Issue #5 underlines the somewhat directionless story up 'til now. Hit Girl has been static the entire time while Kick Ass has gone from being his usual self to ceasing to exist with the result being that it no longer feels like a Kick Ass story. And the characters this issue does focus on simply aren't interesting enough: cynical cops shooting crooks, Rocco scowling and saying menacing things, and Justice Forever still being kind-hearted but undeniably lame at the same time. Millar raises the stakes by the final page so hopefully with three issues left the story will get a much needed shot in the arm, because at this point in the story, two-thirds done, things have become far too slow with much less creativity than I'd expect from someone as dynamic and imaginative a writer as Mark Millar. I'm still on board to see how the series will end but Kick Ass 3 #5 is a disappointingly flawed issue. Published by Icon, Kick Ass 3 #5 by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr is out now
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