Wednesday, 18 September 2013

‘Kick Ass 2’ – Millar/Romita Jr. (Titan Books)

One of the problems I’ve faced with the ‘Black Company Re-Read’ is constantly trying to find something new to say about a series with recurring characters and situations. Luckily for me, Glen Cook made it pretty simple, with an ongoing story that continues to engage, but it’s still an issue that has to be considered.
You would have thought that I’d learn my lesson then. Read a book, sure, but try and break a series up with other stuff so it all continues to feel fresh. You would have thought, wouldn’t you? You didn’t? Then you know me a little too well… Having read, and enjoyed the hell out of, ‘Hit Girl’ I immediately jumped straight into ‘Kick Ass 2’ and enjoyed the hell out of that too. Have some blurb,

Wearing a wetsuit and armed with a pair of batons, Dave Lizewski became Kick Ass; a superhero with no powers and no idea of what he was about to unleash on modern culture. What’s next when everyone is dressing up and fighting crime though? The answer, create the world’s first superhero team.
Red Mist is about to take it all one step further though, in his own quest to become the world’s most notorious supervillain, and if he can take Kick Ass down then so much the better. Kick Ass’ family and friends are targets now; will Kick Ass even make it as far as the final showdown in Times Square…?

So… Same level of detailed characterisation, same levels of ultra-violence and it’s all drawn beautifully with the same art (nice work Mr Romita Jr.) Where does a review go from here? Well, the good news is that while reading ‘Hit Girl’ helps, you can jump straight into ‘Kick Ass 2’ without having read the prelude first. That has to help things stay fresh.

In my position though… I couldn’t help feel that Millar and Romita are treading water a little bit here. That’s not to say that ‘Kick Ass’ isn’t a powerful read and stuff happens that will blow you away. I’m talking about the panel where we see what happened to Colonel Stars, the massacre on Katie’s street and, well… all the bits where violence happens really. I think the problem is that the first two books took things to a level where you can’t really go much further (apart from an ‘off screen rape’ that was unnecessary to say the least and I wonder if even Millar realised that he had gone too far there). Hence the ‘treading water’ in that respect.

Where ‘Kick Ass 2’ was a lot more effective for me was in its examination of people trying to live the superhero dream without the superpowers or billionaire funding. The war against crime is fought with nothing more than a piece of wood and a real desire to make a stand. ‘Secret Lairs’ are in garages where everyone chips in for snacks and supervillain Red Mist orders a shark, for his lair because it looks cool.
Take superpowers out of the equation and what you are left with is a story that really focuses on character and motivation. That’s where the gold is here and the personal journeys of Kick Ass and Hitgirl, in particular, give the reader a lot to chew on.

The book ends on a real cliffhanger and things are very much left open for ‘Kick Ass 3’ to kick in and carry the story on. I’ve got enough invested in Kick Ass and Hitgirl to follow this one through to the end but I can’t help but hope for things to go in a slightly different direction to the well trodden path that this is becoming.

1 comment:

  1. I've a bunch of issues of CLiNT that had Kick-Ass comics in them, but I don't know if these issues were what would become Kick-ass 2. I must go check; I could be missing out!