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Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizewski is back, along with his masked-compatriots, Justice Forever. This issue serves as little more than a status-update, introducing members of Justice Forever, detailing how they spend their time and reminding us why Dave chose to put on a mask and seek adventure in the first place. While it’s sad more of a story has not been established, it is a somewhat entertaining status-update.
This is largely because of the issue’s graphic violence, suggestive imagery, foul language and pubescent humor, hitting each of the bases that makes Kick-Ass special. To break it down like that makes the title seem shallow, little more than pulp fiction, but the success of the book lies in the way Millar humanizes these things. Violence in these books, even when it seems to be entirely for the sake of violence, serves to dispel the fantasies it’s heroes may hold as well as awaken a desensitized audience. Where most comics allow their heroes to walk off a set of broken ribs or dismiss a gunshot as being a flesh wound, it means dying slowly while your attacker continues to brutalize you in Kick-Ass. In this book, bad guys really are bad.
Speaking of which, the boy who was known as Red Mist returns for his longest appearance thus far in the sequel series. Romita Jr. does a good job aging him, whereas Kick-Ass looks like the same boy from the first series, and Millar does an excellent job using the character to recommit the series to pushing the envelope. This is best demonstrated as the Red Mist decides to now be called the Mother Fucker. It may seem like little more than a crass and superficial change, but in terms of Kick-Ass as a property, it’s significant. Beyond reviewers who may now find themselves hesitant to discuss a book whose villain’s name continues to be one of the few things you can’t say on network television, imagine the marketing for a film adaptation. One of the posters featured Christopher Mintz-Plasse as “Red Mist”, but no studio would consider an ad campaign featuring Mintz-Plasse as “The Mother Fucker”. In this way, the book sometimes seems to be a bucking-bronco trying to shake free normal comic book limitations and considerations.
Above all, the series continues to be strongest when it shows the men and women behind the masks. Even characters who appear in little more than a single panel are given dimension, like Moon-Bird, who commits herself to making sure drunk girls get home safely or The Enforcer, dedicated to protecting people on the public transit system. These habits shed light on their motivation, and in turn on their origin, reaching to fears of victimization that everyone can identify with. On the less noble side of humanity, we see Dave back in his role as a lonely, horny teenager. Detailing his masturbatory plans as they pertain to his Facebook friends, it’s easy to remember why he felt the need to find glory and value even at the risk to his own safety.
The greatest downside is the title’s inability to meet deadlines. Not much story exists so far, but when a reader can measure the eras of their life by what Kick-Ass issue had come out at the time, the series becomes a bit like “Memento”, suddenly you’re surrounded by people you’re not sure you’ve seen before and, for some reason, you’re watching a masked-dog chew a man’s crotch. Every time you excitedly open the book and realize you have no idea what’s happening… waiting for the collection to come out seems like a better idea.