After the events of Kick-Ass 2 (the comic series), Hit Girl is incarcerated in maximum-security prison with the belief that her team of ‘heroes’ will bust her out. While they bide their time, Dave, out titular hero, finds himself in a loving relationship with very little inspiration to embrace his alter-ego. Meanwhile, an old-school Sicilian mobster is filling the void of organised crime in the city, promising the live execution of Hit Girl to consolidate his position as Don to all the rival mobs.
It’s been eight years since Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. embarked on a creator owned title that defied all expectation, selling by the boatload, being adapted into a successful movie franchise that firmly placed a scuba suit wearing, crap vigilante on all manner of merchandise and in the consciousness of the general public, as well as making Millar a media darling who’s every thought seems to get optioned for film; but Kick-Ass 3 brings the saga to a definitive end (for now at least… never say never).
The core team consisting of Millar, Romita, Tom Palmer on inks, Dean White on colours and Chris Eliopoulos on lettering are all present and correct so little needs to be said about the quality of the finished art, it’s as solid, violent, pacey and fluid as each instalment of the series to date; and the writing too has that same wry snark and cutting dialogue that is synonymous with both Kick-Ass and Millar’s work in general.
All this ensures that Kick-Ass 3 is a fun read, but a keen eye will noticed that the franchise has seen some kind of shift, which, despite the violence and swears, has robbed it of some of its bite, making it, from a comparative viewpoint, something of a letdown.
It just feels less… maybe cutting-edge would be the term or perhaps consequential; and though the fact that it’s now getting on a little in years could be to blame to some degree (after all, nothing stays cutting-edge forever, we come to expect what it has to offer), there is something else at play here that is having a much deeper effect.
It’s that previously mentioned shift, and the shift is one of context and environment. With the exception of the trump card that was Hit Girl, unrealistic but entirely original as a character, the first Kick-Ass story took place in a world that followed the exact rules of our own, and with that things played out in a relatively realistic way, this made the violence and mindset of the characters simultaneously understandable and audacious.
The movie threw these rules out come the third act, leading Millar to take a few liberties with the comic sequel and the Hit Girl spin-off, and with this third instalment he’s gone even further than the movie ever did.
The story opens with Hit Girl being placed in maximum-security prison alongside dangerous male inmates, eventually becoming top-dog of the place… That’s all I really need to tell you, the rest of the story follows this entirely none-realistic lead, which as a backdrop makes it no different from a legion of other comics on the wracks or movies at the theatre.
It’s a shame really, because amongst all this fun silliness Kick-Ass struggles with an issue that is very much of the spirit of the original story, once he finds someone to connect with, that hole he filled with ‘superheroics’ has gone, giving his view on the entire thing perspective and making the promise he made to break Hit Girl out of prison seem unattainable and undesirable to the extreme.
So it’s a mixed bag; we get a taste of the original spin on the subject this might have been mixed with a whole lot of entertaining nonsense and the kind of observations and dialogue we expect and want…
And then comes the very end of the book which…
SPOILER ALERT! BYPASS THE NEXT SENTENCE IF YOU PLAN TO READ THE STORY!
ties the Kick-Ass reality to that of other key Millar World titles, leaving no doubt that genuine superheroes now exist there…
A move that promises to polarise the fans of the series… I for one think it dilutes, nay outright destroys the original conceit of the title.
All that being said, it’s very difficult NOT to like Kick-Ass, you can choose to be outraged by Millar’s treatment of this world, but what’s done is done and it’s not likely to be changed, so you might as well enjoy the ride, it’s as fun as it ever was, and if it was any other book you’d totally endorse it, but it being Kick-Ass just don’t expect to be blown away, you’ll only be disappointed.
You want something that feels genuinely fresh; I recommend you pick up Millar’s new series, Starlight.