Kick-Ass #8

by on Jan.29, 2010, under Comics

The last issue of the first Kick-Ass story arc just came out, and since the movie release is only three months away, it’s worth looking back over the book’s first two years (yes, only eight issues in almost two years) to try to figure out why this story I loved so much at first went off the rails.

The premise was fantastic: a nerdy kid with no training or special abilities decides to put on a costume and go out and fight crime. In his first real altercation he foils a mugging, taking on three guys at once. He also gets beaten so badly he ends up in the hospital. But someone records the fight on a cell phone, uploads it to YouTube, and Kick-Ass the superhero becomes a national sensation. Of course in his secret-identity life, in which he still goes to high school with his costume on under his clothes, he’s busy pretending to be gay so that girls will deign to talk to him.

I thought this would be a story that took the desire to be special seriously, and let the kid be special in a real way, in a real world. (See, for example, the true story of Master Legend, a guy who lives in Orlando, dresses up in a superhero costume, and goes out to fight crime. He also rustles up donations of supplies for the homeless, launches a campaign to educate them about a staph epidemic, and helps force the state government to relocate endangered gopher tortoises out of the path of a freeway. He is simultaneously ludicrous and, in a deep sense, a hero.)

But instead Mark Millar ended up using his fake superhero as a backdoor into a plot involving real superheroes, a Punisher-type character and his ninja ten-year-old daughter. As soon as they made their entrance the tone shifted and we got several straight issues of slapstick violence, culminating in this issue 8 bloodbath. (There’s an onomatopoetic joke involving shooting a guy’s penis off and then splitting his head with a cleaver, for instance.) Maybe I should have known Millar’s intentions didn’t lie in the direction I wanted from the tag line on the cover of issue 2: “Sickening Violence…Just The Way You Like It!”

From the previews it looks like Kick-Ass the movie follows the comic’s storyline pretty closely. For once I wish the screenwriters who wrote the adaptation had decided to diverge more. I don’t think Mark Millar would have cared—Wanted the movie had only the vaguest of resemblances to Wanted the comic book.

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