Sunday, 15 September 2013

'Kick Ass 2 Prelude: Hitgirl' - Millar, Romita Jr (Titan Books)

The week just gone has not been a great one for reading books, what with one thing and another. Hope started nursery (which she is loving so far) and it has been really hard to see her trot off and do her own thing after having her with us for the past three years. And the job hunting? Lets not talk about that right now...
Not the best conditions for losing yourself in a good book then, or even a bad one come to think of it. The absolute best conditions though for picking up a comic full of garish ultra-violence and letting the main character take it out on people for you. The absolute best time then for a copy of 'Hit Girl' to turn up at my door and demand to be read. Especially with my record of getting to see films at the cinema; it's very likely that I won't see 'Kick Ass 2' for a long time yet... Here's the blurb,

After the events of 'Kick Ass', Mindy McCready (aka Hitgirl) tries to settle down as a regular schoolgirl, but really wants to be dispensing justice to the scum of New York. She takes Kick-Ass on as her sidekick, and, in return,he is helping her to survive school - without spilling anyone's blood. But when Kick-Ass gets benched, leaving her to face the mafia solo, even Hit-Girl may be in over her head.

'Hit Girl' is a tough one to call, even though I had a great time reading it. Seriously, it's one of those comic books that I'll finish and think 'wow, was I really reading for that long?' It's still a tough one to call though as 'Hit Girl' seems to pride itself on not taking itself seriously while taking itself very seriously all at the same time. I get that approach and, to be fair, it does work in terms of constantly keeping the reader on their toes and hitting them when least expected. I think where the problem lies here is that I was after something a little more straightforward. Don't blame the book then, blame me ;o)

There's a lot to think about here then and it's all wrapped in the kind of lavish violence that we all secretly know we would unleash if we ever got the chance (don't worry, your secret is safe with me). Cartoonish and over the top? Definitely. Eye catching and a not so subtle reminder of the inevitability of what would happen (when super powers are taken firmly out of the equation)? Almost certainly. Millar and Romita Jr keep things very much in the real world here and there's a 'real world mentality' about how it plays out. If you can't fly and don't have heat vision, you'd better make damn sure that your gun is bigger than the one that Mafiosi is going for.

Which brings us right onto Hitgirl, one hell of a conflicted figure who is trying to balance a whole load of pressing issues that have come about now she has been forced to live in the real world. Millar reminds us that the real world has problems that are kore than a match for any superpower, let alone a twelve year old girl who may be a lethal killing machine but has just lost her father and is having to adjust to a new family and tough times at high school. I really felt for Mindy, especially when it all comes out at her father's grave.
Ultimately, some problems can only be solved by being yourself and Mindy has always been Hitgirl. I liked the way that Millar puts a spin on the whole secret identity thing and frees Hitgirl up to basically sort things out by doing what she is good at; namely applying violence to her problems until she is the last one standing. On a similar note, I also liked the spin that Millar gives Red Mist's own journey, a 'super villain' on a quest to avenge the death of his father. I wonder how Batman would feel about that?

But back to Hitgirl again and the violence that she dishes out on the New York underworld not only sets things up nicely for the next book but really stabilises her as well. Hitgirl may not be able to carry on as she is but she is in touch with who she really is and that's more than enough.

I may have been after something more straightforward but that shouldn't take away from the fact that 'Hitgirl' is an awesome read and I will be onto 'Kick Ass 2' as soon as I've posted this. I'm pretty sure it's what quiet Sunday afternoons are for after all :o)

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