Tuesday, 21 September 2010

‘Kick Ass’ – Mark Millar & John Romita Jr (Titan Books)

This is perhaps one of the more stupid and obvious questions that I will ever ask on the blog but I’ve managed to type this far so I’m going to go the whole way. Have any of you guys ever wanted to be a superhero? Yep, I thought so :o) Lets try and narrow it down a bit though. Would any of you guys still want to be a superhero? Cool, a few hands have gone down but we all know that those people are trying to protect their superhero identities. I can understand that... ;o)
I wouldn’t mind being a superhero, even now. I don’t know what powers I would want to have though, I would probably settle for looking damn cool and being able to fight crime without getting too beaten up myself! That’s the thing about fighting crime though; you’re going to have to take a few bruises yourself, that’s just the way it goes.

For those of us who are unwilling to take a beating and would prefer to live vicariously through someone else’s, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr have teamed up to give us the chance to do just that in ‘Kick Ass’...

Dave Lizewski is an ordinary American teenager who is about to become so much more, just by following his dream. For someone who loves comic books there is only one career path you can go down and Dave is about to tread that path. The city has a new hero and he is about to... well, you know ;o)
There are other heroes operating on the mean streets and a team up is inevitable. Can comic book idealism conquer organised crime though? That remains to be seen...

I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic book where the title sums up the feeling I was left with in just two simple words. In fact, this is one of the hardest reviews that I’ve ever had to write purely because I’m trying my hardest to avoid the blindingly obvious way of describing just how cool ‘Kick Ass’ is. ‘Kick Ass’... it just does.

Here is a book that lets you live out that dream of ‘If I were a super hero’ in a massive dose of Technicolor mayhem. It’s no holds barred stuff, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. don’t appear to want it any other way. Romita’s artwork, and White’s colours, in particular really make the sheer power of what’s going just jump off the page and maul your eyeballs. Artwork and plot combine to make the pages turn almost without you realising.

‘Kick Ass’ isn’t just about the violence though (although there is something cool about a ten-year-old girl feeding a mobster into a car crusher, I can’t deny it). At its heart, ‘Kick Ass’ is also a strangely bittersweet book about the fragility of childhood dreams and how they are ultimately lost in the face of adult reality. Comic books are cool but only comic book heroes are ever going to get the better of a man with a gun. Amidst all the violence, there’s also a sense of naivety being pounded into something a little more cynical and nasty. The sense of inevitability makes it all the more sad somehow.
It’s also a rites of passage tale unlike most others. Dave grows up in any number of ways throughout the book and sometimes I wasn’t sure which he found hardest, it’s tough being a superhero and a teenager...

Read it for the high octane action and body count; read it for a real searching look and just what it means to face up to your actions (even when you’re sure you’re doing the right thing). ‘Kick Ass’ worked (for me) on all the levels it set out to do a job on. Another one that’s highly recommended around these parts!

Ten out of Ten


Andrew Leonard said...

I've been meaning to grab this. I LOVED the movie and know I'll really dig the novel.

Thanks for the review, Graeme!

James B said...

As a great man once said; 'Wait until they get a load of ME.'

Rabid Fox said...

I reviewed this one about a month ago. A really fun read, but all that blood was more than I'd expected. And I'd expected some.