I have mixed feelings about Mark Millar (as you’ll see from my reviews of The Secret Service: Kingsman and the first Kick-Ass) but he does spin a good yarn, and those I’m a fan of. This is the fourth part of a series (yes, for confusing reasons, number 3 is part 4), so this review may contain spoilers for the previous books. (Actually, it absolutely does.)
Kick-Ass is 18 now and his Justice League of costumed self-proclaimed superheroes is well established, but are they ready to face the big time? Their one member/friend who had the balls and skills to fight big scary criminals is Hit-Girl and she’s locked away in prison, thanks to Chris Genovese, nephew of terrifying mafia boss Rocco Genovese. Now Chris is in hospital in critical condition while Uncle Rocco is intent on taking over all organised crime on the East Coast. Can Kick-Ass and co step it up to fight the new super mafia that’s forming? Or can they at least break Hit-Girl out of prison so she can lead the way?
“Dear Kick-Ass, If you’re reading these words that means the shit has hit the fan and I’ve either been killed or busted. Either way, you are now the sole heir to all the cool things I have ever owned. If I have been arrested and imprisoned by our pathetic, liberal justice system I’ve left specific instructions on how to help me escape…My daddy always taught me to plan ahead…Now I appreciate that a jailbreak is an enormous ask…but come on. Have I ever actually offed a goon who didn’t deserve it twice as bad? It’s a joke they’d throw the book at me when there’s so many actual fucking sociopaths preying on innocent people out there.”
The storyline was a little predictable but I was impressed by the characters here. The violence didn’t bother me like it did with the first Kick-Ass comic and Hit-Girl’s endless swearing is no longer shocking (for one thing because she’s a teenager now) but her character still is extremely shocking. There’s a sequence where she is speaking with a prison counsellor that is very well done and actually surprised me with where it went. Millar is plumbing some dark depths.
Of course, there’s still comedy. A lot of this comes from Kick-Ass trying to hold together the Justice League, who are for the most part lame and useless. But his story also has a serious side – he’s graduated high school, friends are moving on, there’s this girl he likes – how long can he stay interested in pretending to be something he’s not? And let’s not rule out the comedic value of Hit-Girl kicking some serious butt.
Without giving anything away, I like how this story was wrapped up. I chuckled at the very unsubtle references to Millar’s other comics. And there are some real three-dimensional female characters here. But I didn’t love it. The predictability of the story was a real lack and I just wasn’t gripped. But I’m glad to see this kind of character depth and hope Millar can start bringing that to his other work.
Published 27 February 2015 by Titan Books.
Source: This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.