Graphic Novel Review – Kick-Ass 3
Mark Millar finished off the honorable failure that is his Kick-Ass series in August 2014 and the compilation trade hardcover, Kick-Ass 3, was released in September. Like the other two times, John Romita Jr. was the illustrator. Considering how the film adaptations of these comics have proved to be much better than their original counterparts, I’m disappointed to hear that there won’t, in all likelihood, be a third Kick-Ass movie, allegedly due to pirating. Be sure to financially support the films you want to see more of folks.
Picking up from the last story, and hey, spoilers if you haven’t read it, Mindy McCready, aka, Hit-Girl has been sent to prison, while Dave Lizewski, aka Kick-Ass, utilizes her left-over resources to buff up their league of not-so-super heroes in order to jailbreak her. Justice Forever proves to not be the hardy types capable of such a feat, thus, Mindy spends much of the novel in prison. Meanwhile, Chris Genovese, formerly Red Mist, and more recently The Motherfucker, has recovered from his balcony diving fight with Dave from Kick-Ass 2. The last of his family’s patriarchs, Rocco Genovese, returns to the USA in order to fill the gap left by his brothers and to defeat Hit-Girl once and for all. Dave tries to thwart Rocco at different junctures, but he mostly becomes distracted by his new romantic relationship with an implausibly young nurse. After a lot of false starts, the story finally peaks in the exact same fashion that Kick-Ass 1 peaked.
The colorist, Dean White, cleaned up his messy digital painting job that really fucked with the last trade hardcover that was released. Reducing the flow on the brush did him a lot of good, apparently. The visuals haven’t taken much of new turn since the last two installments, though I have grown fonder of John Romita Jr.’s style after become far more familiar with what appears to be the status quo in terms of the style for both mainstream and indie comics. Romita’s way of rendering faces and drawing hyper violence in what is honestly a rather impressionistic fashion has warmed me up to his style.
Kick-Ass 3 is paced significantly better than Kick-Ass 2 was, and more in general seems to be happening, but the story wastes a great set up by concluding the comic in the exact same way that the first one ended, except this time, it’s actually a finale. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re not exactly sure if the first volume of what you write of something will be the conclusion or not, so you write a satisfactory ending one for the first story, and then can’t come up with significantly different one for the actual ending.
But in all honesty concerning the themes of the story, which is basically the pondering of the utility of the superhero myth in modern day, the conclusions are rather naive and kind of frightening. In comparison to Watchmen, it’s out right juvenile, but that’s not a fair comparison. The superhero myth is interpreted by the two lead characters in different ways, but they both reach the same conclusion: the superhero myth allows for the main characters to find a source of validation, and the momentary assumption of a secret identity helps them find their true selves. This superhuman ideal can serve as an inspiration for others, despite the violent and immoral actions of the people the ideal is based on. Kick-Ass shares these ending messages with Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises.
In Dave’s case, his search for validation makes some sense, but for Mindy, it’s terrifying. Mindy is currently dead set in her ways as a merciless killer and it was the assumption of this fiction inspired role, manufactured by her psychotic father, that gave her the context needed to get over her anxiety about killing others. At the end, she offers another child the mantle of superhero-dom to help him get over his social problems. While it worked for Dave, could it not also serve as a viable way of turning this new child into a violent killer? Millar also seems to recognize that superhero vigilantism is this sort of right-wing power fantasy, although I can’t tell if he thinks that’s a positive thing or not. His message at the end of the book leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and leads me to think that Millar finds Hit-Girl’s non-judicial killing methods to be justifiable in the end. This is coming from someone who doesn’t even think the federal government should have the power to kill people under judicial ruling, much less a lawless vigilante. It’s a horribly executed theme overall. Speaking of overall…
The total work is well crafted, but due to how badly it handles it’s themes of self-improvement through identification with fictional roles, I can’t give it my full recommendation. Granted, the craft is well done enough that I don’t want to throw it in the fireplace or anything, but damn, did this need another rewrite, as well a hard examination of just how harmful the idea of vigilantism and super individuals really is starting to become in a modern context