Kick-Ass #5 Review

The Revolution almost passed on Kick-Ass #1 when it came out. However the fact that Millar was the writer and that it was a creator-owned title were enough to get me to give this new title a try. And The Revolution immediately became hooked on the tale of Dave Lizewski. With Kick-Ass, Millar has presented the reader with one of the most unique and entertaining titles current only market. I fully expect Kick-Ass #5 to be another quality read.

Creative Team

Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Tony Palmer

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Dave Lizewski (Kick-Ass) pissed off about one of the super-hero wannabes that has been mimicking Kick-Ass over on MySpace actually going public. The new hero is named Red Mist.

To make things worse, the media and the cops both love Red Mist. While Dave has been lying low since the Eddie Lomas murder, Red Mist has been taking down drug dealers and the Russian mob. The bloggers have been kissing Red Mist’s ass. Even on the Newsarama board people have been saying that Red Mist is a cool grown-up version of what Kick-Ass used to be.

We cut to Dave at his local comic book shop where they are selling shirts that say that Red Mist is greater than Kick-Ass. Dave is pissed that they would be selling such a dumb shirt. The comic shop owner retorts that people always choose sides with super heroes. It is like Batman versus Superman.

We shift to that night with Dave putting on his Kick-Ass costume and determined to win back the spotlight from the Red Mist. Dave hears some noise down an alley and investigates. It turns out to be a couple having sex. The woman yells at Kick-Ass to “get the fuck out of here.”

Kick-Ass slinks off. We see Kick-Ass going out night after night, but failing to find any crimes to stop. Kick-Ass wonders how Red Mist busted those big operations. Kick-Ass bemoans the fact that he is now number two while Red Mist is the number one super hero.

We slide to Dave hanging out with Katie. Dave thinks how pathetic he is to be pretending to be gay just so he can hang out with a girl as hot and popular as Katie. Dave mentions to Katie how worried he is about how his Dad would react if Dave told him that he was gay.

Katie tells Dave to just be honest with his dad and everything will be fine. Dave thinks how honesty is rarely the best policy. After all, honesty would mean telling Katie that he has a seven inch boner pressed up against Katie’s shoulder.

We cut to Dave watching television and getting pissed that the nightly news was applauding Red Mist for creating the world’s first super hero MySpace page. Dave curses that Kick-Ass was the first to do that. That Dave was the first to refer to it as the twenty-first century bat-signal. Dave thinks about how his private life was turning to shit again and that now the Red Mist had totally replaced Dave’s alter-ego. Dave angrily e-mails Red Mist to meet with him tomorrow night.

We shift to the next night with Kick-Ass waiting for Red Mist to arrive on the rooftop. Red Mist appears on the scene. Kick-Ass immediately barks at Red Mist for him saying that he was the first to create a super hero MySpace page. Red Mist is apologetic and says that the reporter misquoted him and that Red Mist totally name-checked the hell out of Kick-Ass during the interview.

Red Mist reveals that he is a huge fanboy of Kick-Ass and that this is a total honor to finally meet Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass then softens at this news and compliments Red Mist’s costume. Red Mist then says at the risk of sounding fanboy-ish if Kick-Ass wants to have a team-up tonight. Kick-Ass readily agrees. Red Mist then takes Kick-Ass to his car, the Mist-mobile. (Which is really just a cheesy red Mustang.)

Kick-Ass thinks that the Mist-mobile is “Totally fucking awesome.” They hop in the car and Red Mist then lights up a joint. Red Mist says that the weed relaxes him so that he is less scared when up against a crowd. Kick-Ass asks how Red Mist busted up the Russian mob operation. Red Mist reveals that one of his cousins was dating a captain of the Russian mob and the captain used to get high and tell Red Mist things. After a few busts the captain shut up, but by then Red Mist had already made a name for himself.

Kick-Ass incredulously asks if this means that Red Mist did not kick the mob’s ass like the news reported on TV. Red Mist retorts that he definitely did not fight the mobsters because they are all very big guys.

At this moment, Kick-Ass realizes that Red Mist has nothing to do with Big Daddy or Hit Girl. That Red Mist “was an asshole. Just like me.” Red Mist then cranks some Danny Elfman and suddenly Kick-Ass had a new best friend.

Kick-Ass thinks how seventy years of comic books finally made sense. That he finally understood why super heroes worked in twos. It was not because they were embarrassed. It was not because they felt a little less stupid hanging out with other people in capes and masks. That team-ups happened for one simple reason. They were fun.

The two heroes cruise around town having an absolute blast. They make up different moves that they would use on any criminal that they might cross paths with. The laugh at some “skanky babes.” Finally, the two heroes come across an emergency. We see an apartment building consumed in flames.

A woman stands outside and cries that her baby is inside. Kick-Ass tells Red Mist that they have to go inside and save the child. Red Mist exclaims that Kick-Ass is crazy and that they will get killed. Kick-Ass states that it doesn’t matter and that they are going into the building.

The two heroes rush into the building. The entire time Red Mist is scared. Once they get in the building, Red Mist says that they can sneak out the back and no one will know and that the firemen will be here soon and they will take care of the child.

Kick-Ass disagrees and says that the child might die by then. Kick-Ass races up the stairs with Red Mist following him and complaining the entire way. Red Mist complains that this is not what they do.

The heroes arrive at the woman’s apartment and find a cat in a crate. Kick-Ass cannot believe that the crazy woman’s “child” is just a cat. Kick-Ass grabs the crate with the cat in it and the two heroes head out of the apartment. However, the fire has gotten worse and the walls and ceilings collapse on our heroes.

The door is blocked and Red Mist bemoans the fact that they are going to die in this fire all for a stupid cat. Suddenly, the door is kicked down by some firemen. One of the firemen yells “Get these idiots out of here!” The firemen grab the two heroes and carry them out of the building.

The crowd goes nuts cheering Kick-Ass as he hands the woman her cat. Kick-Ass thinks how the scene was like when Superman caught the helicopter or when Luke blew up the Death Star. Kick-Ass thinks how he promised the cops at the scene of the fire that he would quite. But that was a lie. That it was far too late to be sensible now. That this was super heroes fighting side by side like Brave and the Bold and Marvel Team-up.

We cut to Dave back at home watching television and thinking of all the publicity that Kick-Ass was receiving after the rescue from the burning building. Dave thinks about how in the world he could ever throw away the best thing that ever happened to him.

We shift to Mr. Genovese watching the video of Kick-Ass and Red Mist at the burning building. Mr. Genovese is less than happy.

We slide back to Dave sitting on his bed and on his laptop. Dave sees how Kick-Ass has gotten two million hits on Google and his MySpace page has a hundred thousand friends. That the chat rooms are full of talk about Kick-Ass and Red Mist. Dave thinks how they are rock stars. Pop culture icons. Dave then thinks that he still cannot believe how much they screwed it all up.

Suddenly, Big Daddy and Hit Girl appear in Dave’s bedroom. Hit Girl says “So you saved a fucking cat? Big deal.” Big Daddy says “Let’s see how you do against the mob.” End of issue.

Comments

The Good: Kick-Ass #5 was another excellent issue. Millar continues to impress with his original and unique take on the super hero genre. And that is what continues to make Kick-Ass such a compelling and engrossing read. This title is one of the few comic books that I read that does not feel like I am getting a recycled story from the Golden Age, Silver Age or an Elseworlds title. I don’t feel like I am reading a title that is trying to be the next Dark Knight or Watchmen. Instead, Millar is delivering a well crafted little story with the goal of entertaining the reader while investigating an unusual take on the super hero genre.

Millar has succeeded in giving a rather trendy and modern twist on the super hero genre without it seeming forced or tragically hip like some other comic book writers who try this route. The pop culture references and all of the Generation Text references blend in seamlessly with the story and become part of the overall fabric of this story in an enjoyable natural fashion.

The reader never feels that they are reading a modern and trendy story. Instead, it just feels like real life. This is exactly what would happen if a teen-ager in our day and time would react and act to becoming a “super hero.”

The idea of regular schmucks trying to be super heroes is rooted in reality. Rolling Stone published a great article concerning the sub-culture of real-life super heroes where people much like Dave Lizewski are living their dream of being a super hero. Millar takes this bizarre real world occurrence and plays it out in a realistic and entertaining fashion.

I like that Millar has the use of a MySpace page as a twenty-first century bat-signal to be brilliant. Millar also has the internet play an omnipresent role in Kick-Ass. Dave is either on his laptop or he is thinking about his internet status. Having Dave worry about what the bloggers are saying or what the posters on the Newsarama board are talking about is part of what makes this story grounded in reality.

Kick-Ass is also ripe with pop culture references as Millar can hardly help himself since Dave is a character that easily lends to such references. We have Red Mist and Kick-Ass cranking Danny Elfman in the Mist-mobile. We get both a Superman and a Star Wars reference. And, of course, my favorite about how Dave thinks how Kick-Ass used to be like Heroes season one and is now viewed like Heroes season two.
Kick-Ass #5 is chock full of well crafted dialogue.

Millar treats the reader to such natural sounding dialogue that has an enjoyable flow to it. While Kick-Ass #5 is a nicely plotted issue, the fact is that the attraction of Kick-Ass is not the plotlines. It is not where we are headed. It is the journey. And it is Dave’s character that drives Kick-Ass. Bucking the trend of many plot driven American comic books, Millar gives the reader a comic book that is more akin to many Japanese manga titles that are character driven. Dave’s character and watching him live his fantasy of being a real-life super-hero that makes this title such a fun read.

I enjoyed seeing Dave having to deal with the eventual decline in popularity that all internet sensations seem to encounter. It is particularly tough for Dave to handle his alter-ego taking such a blow since Dave’s personal life is such a mess. Kick-Ass is more than just a super hero persona for Dave. It is the only time when Dave is not the ugly dork who gets marginalized and ignored by society. Dave so desperately wants to be Kick-Ass because that is the only moment when he can experience what it is like to be cool and popular.

Millar does a fine job handling the “rivalry” between Red Mist and Kick-ass. This was a nice take on the inevitable “rivalries” between fans of different super-heroes that is evident at almost every local comic book shop. But, what was really enjoyable and refreshing was that Millar eschewed the standard approach of having friction between “rival” super-heroes. Instead, Millar swerves the reader and reveals that Red Mist is a huge fanboy of Kick-Ass. And this leads to the ubiquitous super-hero team-up.

The team-up between Red Mist and Kick-Ass was my favorite part of this issue. The team-up is a super-hero concept that has been around forever. And I love how Millar has Dave experience an epiphany about why team-ups are so popular. Because it is fun. How perfect was that? Millar does not get bogged down in all the over-analytical and high-brow critical examinations and dissections of the super hero genre. Instead, Millar boils the concept of the super-hero genre down to its most basic element: fun.

The climactic scene of this issue in the burning apartment building was excellent. Despite the fact that Kick-Ass considers himself to be an “asshole” just like Red Mist and not a “real” super-hero like Big Daddy and Hit Girl, the fact remains that Kick-Ass is still a hero. He might not be a super-hero, but he is a hero nonetheless. And Millar drives this point home as Red Mist acts like a complete coward. Red Mist is exposed as a total fraud. However, Kick-Ass truly possesses a heroic heart and never hesitates to rush into the fire in order to save the woman’s “baby.”

Millar also does a nice job portraying the firemen who arrive on the scene as real every-day “super-heroes.” Firemen rush into buildings when other people are fleeing. Firemen wear a special costume of sorts and risk their lives to save others on a daily basis. This reminded me a bit of how in the final issue of Civil War Millar made a point of showing the reader that the true heroes are the first responders like firemen, police officers and paramedics and not the gaudy attired super-heroes.

Millar ends Kick-Ass #5 with a great hook ending as we see Big Daddy and Hit Girl appearing in Dave’s room and asking Dave if he is ready to take on the mob. Things are going to be heating up in the next issue. I like both Big Daddy and Hit Girl and am looking forward to learning more about these two characters.

John Romita, Jr. and  Tony Palmer provide for plenty of solid artwork.  Romita’s style of art works well with the realistic mood of this story.

The Bad: Even though I thoroughly enjoyed Kick-Ass #5, there will be some readers who will probably be better served not getting this issue. Kick-Ass #5 is a slower paced read. Readers who prefer fast paced stories full of detailed and complex plotlines probably will not be excited by what we get with this issue. And readers who are more interested in the destination rather than the journey also might not dig this issue.

I certainly would not recommend Kick-Ass #5 to the more delicate PC readers. This would not be the comic book for them.

Overall: Kick-Ass #5 was an excellent read. Millar is treating the reader to such a unique comic book that is quite a captivating read. We all mindlessly plunk down money out of pure habit for titles that we have been collecting forever even though those titles are no longer quality reads. And we all know which big name titles from Marvel and DC that I am talking about. Instead of spending your money on one of those titles I would definitely urge you to spend that money on Kick-Ass. This is a creator-owned title that is well done and certainly deserves strong support from the comic book reading population.

2 Comments

  1. Who uses MySpace anymore? Facebook is the place to be. It would be better for his news feeds…

    Just sayin’ is all.

  2. I am amazed how Millar can make me love ideas, which are absolutely sick when you first think about them.

    In Ultimates, it was two siblings having a sexual relationship(Ultimate Wanda and Pietro).

    In Kick-ass, it’s a cursing, mass-murdering, katana wielding 9 year old who cuts people to shreds(Hit Girl).

    Goes to show how good he is at building a proper atmosphere in his books.

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