I would have loved this comic ten years ago when I was 15. But, see, here’s the thing: I was a moron then. Swearing was novel and funny, gratuitous violence was synonymous with entertainment, and, hey, if there are some naked breasts that’s fantastic. “Kick-Ass” seems to embody those tastes, which makes sense to a certain extent since the protagonist is a teenager, but the book itself never rises above that level either. How sad is that?
No, really, isn’t it a little sad that Mark Millar’s sensibilities haven’t advanced beyond those of a 15-year old? I didn’t think it possible, but he actually used the f-word in a new way. If the goal here is to create the most shallow and unlikable idiot of a character, then mission accomplished, because Dave Lizewski is utterly moronic and juvenile. It’s tempting to try and view Dave as a satiric commentary on teenagers, but everything about this book seems completely earnest. Maybe if any of the crudeness or gratuity was original or had some wit infused, “Kick-Ass” could rise above utter crap, but there’s none to be found.
We are meant to believe that Dave, at some point in the future telling this story, regrets his actions, but when there’s little difference between his narration and his dialogue excepting a couple of lines, how are we supposed to take it seriously? On one hand, we’re to believe that things will get worse and Dave will learn a lesson but, as a narrator, he comes across just as crass and stupid as his teenage counterpart.
Normally, this is where I’d say something like “Thankfully, there’s John Romita Jr.’s art, which prevents this issue from being a complete waste,” but you know what? It doesn’t. Romita’s art is great, but when it’s saddled with drawing this bad of a story, it’s more annoying than anything else, because his talents would be best used elsewhere. A great artist drawing something this bad is a waste in and of itself and does nothing to redeem the comic. Maybe if I couldn’t read English, I’d be able to appreciate Romita’s art, but I simply can’t get past the writing.
My 15-year old self would no doubt disagree with this review but, thankfully, I’ve grown up a little since then and so have my tastes. And, here’s the thing: that’s a good thing. It’s not a case of “not getting it” or being a snob or taking things too seriously, it’s simply that the writing in this comic is awful, and, instead of simply presenting a fool that we should mock and find repellant, Millar seems unable to separate his voice from that fool, making both the subject of my distaste and disgust.
(John Romita Jr.’s art is great to look at, but just don’t read Mark Millar’s words in CBR’s preview of “Kick-Ass” #5.)