It’s been hard to see the protagonist of Kick Ass, Dave Lizewski, as that much of a hero. More of someone in the Nixon model of congitive dissonance, overcompensating in order to disprove feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem, that will never be sated. He’s persistently pathetic.
This time, this issue, he finds a way to stand up, or rather sit down, and does what it takes to try and help save the day. And more importantly his own skin.
Kick Ass is one of those comics that people looked at nervously when we heard that Disney had bought Marvel. It has extreme violence involving children, the worst sexual swear words coming out of the mouth of an eight year old girl and the killer, Disney/Marvel don’t even own any of it, and won’t see a penny out of the movie next year – despite being very much associated in press and publicity. Suddenly there are flashbacks to what happened to Dogma, Kids and Farenheit 911 when Disney bought Miramax.
It is nasty, goes places that you really wouldn’t expect the superhero comic to travel, and has some of the most gruesome torture scenes I’ve seen in comics, without the torture porn associations of the likes of Saw, in part down to Romita’s deft touch, and consideration to the characters involved. Most importantly, especially considering its links to the now-wrapped movie, Kick Ass #7 never ever forgets that it’s a comic book first.
In fact the comic book mentions come thick and fast, from Batman to early Fantastic Four, this issue cements the title as a comic book geek fantasy pulled down to earth, from many directions, without losing certain impossibilities. No one should be able to do what the main characters do. But this is a comic book, and they can, yet you don’t lose the intentionally created aura of realism. It’s a difficult juggling act, the art of holding two contradictory beliefs simultaeously. Not only is the character an excercise in cognitive dissonance, but the book is too.
Some people will just see the violence, the swearing and the gore. But Mark Millar is constructing a Tarantinoesque parable, about not only what it takes to be a hero, but also what it means to be a comic book hero. And the affect the comic book has had on all of us.
And yes, you get to see what’s in Big Daddy’s case.
Kick Ass #7 is published by Marvel Comics in the USA, Canada and the UK tomorrow, at $2.99.