After the, ahem, “spectacle”, that was “Kick-Ass 2” how does “Kick-Ass 3” fare? Turns out; pretty well!
Written by Mark Millar
Illustrated by John Romita Jr.
Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl’s blockbuster return for the LAST EVER story arc of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s mega-selling series. Hit-Girl’s in jail, leaving Kick-Ass to lead the superhero team of Justice Forever. Their first mission: Bust Hit-Girl out of the clink. But superheroes have now been outlawed, leaving Kick-Ass to dodge both cops AND criminals. For the first time since donning the costume, Kick-Ass is beginning to have his doubts. Is he now in too deep to get out? The phenomenal follow-up to the Kick-Ass 2 movie coming this June. Issue #1 features six different covers by the industry’s biggest artists, all available for order. Each cover will feature a different character, and when all six covers are linked, a special message will be revealed.
Mark Millar wrote a comic. Flip a coin. On one side is “heads”, or a writer who can tell really good stories like “Superior” and the other side is “Tails”, AKA a writer who just really enjoys cursing and punches (“Kick-Ass 2.”) It comes as a surprise then, that “Kick-Ass 3” actually manages to defy the laws of physics and allow the Mark Millar coin to land on its end. It doesn’t quite have a whole lot of artsy subtlety, but compared to “Kick-Ass 2” and its villainous team, “The Toxic Mega Word I’m Not Sure Multiversity is Allowed to Publish without a Huge Fine”, “Kick-Ass 3” is a master class in restraint and maturity.
Rather than seeing if he can top himself in terms of gratuitous violence and profanity, though there is quite a bit of the latter, Millar tells a more introspective story with “Kick-Ass 3”. It’s a lot less about the situation and more about the characters. One scene in particular, at a graveyard, delves into Dave Lizewski and company’s inner pathos quite a bit and… those characters are still pretty shallow. Yet it’s a very well done shallow; amusing rather than irritating. Plenty of Millar’s characters are detestable enough, but here we have a scene that hits a sweet spot that makes you realize how twisted the characters are without Millar diving head-first into “Why Would You Want That Published?”
territory. Instead of setting out to make the audience gag, Millar’s refined his script into a quieter, probably funnier, story. Best of all, it’s the type of funny that carries a certain weight to it. Sure, Kick-Ass and the gang say some ridiculous stuff, but almost every line they say drips with reminders of how pathetic and far-gone they all truly are.
If the past two volumes of “Kick-Ass” showed the real-life superhero movement ramping up, this series seems to be finally confronting its main thesis of how superheroes would be lame if they were real. For a comic with such a message, the last few volumes were pretty inconsistent. Yes, everyone had something wrong with them but they still did extraordinary things, or at least incredibly implausible things. Here though, the stakes are somewhat lower. Rather than fighting the Italian mafia or The Mother Ducker (again, no clue how Multiversity’s profanity policy goes), all of the threats seem to be more internal. This whole dream of being a hero that Dave has had for the past few years is crumbling at a distressingly slow rate. Real life begins to take precedence and no one is taking the “cops and robbers” game as seriously as everyone used to. It’s kind of beautifully sad to see a mundane hero like Kick-Ass to deal with mundane situations rather than go into the realm of impossibility. There’s still enough gags to make sure the book is interesting, but it’ a quieter “Kick-Ass” than has been done before.
Over on art, John Romita Jr. does as good a job as ever, especially in demonstrating that this book’s heroes are really just people. When Dave is out of the costume, he looks like someone you’d try and stay away from at Comic-Con lest he breathe too heavily from his mouth. Yet, when he puts on his costume and becomes Kick-Ass, his posture changes and he looks more heroic. It’s an interesting, Peter Parker, type of effect that demonstrates why Romita is such a natural fit for the title. Kick-Ass, after all, is just Spider-Man minus the powers and with a lot more cussing added. So it’s incredibly fitting to see the misadventures of a dork trying to do right be drawn by one of the web-head’s great artists. Romita doesn’t get a lot of the typical bloody scenes from issues past here, but he still does a stellar job with all of the quieter scenes; conveying a sensation of mundanity within the heroes’ new situations. Plus, his consistent style throughout the entire “Kick-Ass” line really helps transition from the goretastic “Mother Ducker” storyline into “Kick-Ass 3”.Continued below
Overall, “Kick-Ass 3” #1 is probably the most subtle book to ever be published about Dave Lizewski. Granted, there’s a lot of the typical Millar crudeness, but it’s matched with an amount of thought and heart that keeps the book from feeling too shallow. In fact, “Kick-Ass 3” might just be the best of the trilogy.
Final Verdict: 8.6 – Buy.