Friday, April 30, 2010

My review of the Kick-Ass graphic novel

As you know previously from my Facebook page, I bought the graphic novel, “Kick-Ass” (KA) so that I can check out the story and decide whether to go see the movie while it was in the theater. Today is my review of the book. It is my guess that KA was meant to be to today’s comic nerd generation what The Watchmen (WM) was to their comic nerd generation; that is, a high-minded intellectual work that challenged various ideas and de facto dogmas on what superhero stories should contain.

But before I continue, let me lay out the usual spoiler alert: If you have not read the graphic novel or seen the movie Kick-Ass and don’t want what’s in it spoiled for you, then…

*******STOP READING NOW!******

You have been warned!

First, I think the graphic novel Kick-Ass is misnamed. It should have been “Hit Girl”, because pretty much the focus of the story is of the vicious and violent little girl who dealt bloody death by slashing away at the bad guys ninja-style. I think the fact that a little girl doing all this bloody death-dealing was meant to be the main draw of KA rather than the idea of a comic nerd so desperate to become a superhero that he’ll do anything to become one, no matter how stupid it is.

Hit Girl was vicious and violent and knew several ways to kill someone, and yet, she was this sweet and innocent little girl wondering when her daddy was going to be done getting revenge so that they could live a normal life together. And then later, after the climax of the story when her father is killed, she is somehow able to blend right into being a normal little girl when she went back to her mother. This just does not seem logical or credible. In order to build up a girl that age (I am guessing 8 or 9 years old) into the violent killer that Hit Girl was, her father would have had to put her through what would have qualified as child abuse in most of the U.S. In fact, there is one flashback scene in which her father is trying to “get her used to being shot” by shooting her while she is wearing Kevlar.

And yet, despite the grossly abnormal childhood Hit Girl would have had in order to become the violent killer that she is, she still becomes a normal little girl at the end of the story like nothing ever happened. No therapy, no anti-social tendencies or other violent behavior when her mother doesn’t give her what she wants – nothing. She also seemed to reason like someone twice her age; this despite nothing in the story that implied or indicated that she was a prodigy.

This “child doing adult things” idea was meant to be the main draw for the story, and it’s what makes me wonder if this is going to be the next “new thing” in comics and in movies; that is, having children doing these adult things. If so, then let say here right now that I don’t like it; I don’t like the idea of making child abuse into entertainment. Hit Girl could have easily - and more credibly - been a young teenager doing these things, but apparently even being a young teen isn’t enough of a draw; no, in order for the drawing power to work, Hit Girl had to be much younger. I just hope that no one else tries to “run with the idea” of making entertainment out of child abuse.

Having said all that, as for the rest of the story, I think KA relied too much on overkill of the violence and bad language, which is basically the comic book equivalent of a movie relying too much on special effects. I get that the violence and bad language was meant to make the story “realistic”, but I think if more attention had been paid to the story itself and not so much on trying to sell the “realism” (despite the fact that a ninja-level assassin of a little girl is very incredulous), then this could have been a much better story.

The storyline of a comics nerd trying so hard to be a real life superhero is very appealing to me, because I am also a comics nerd. Because of that, I really wanted to enjoy this story, but the unbelievable little girl assassin along with the gratuitous blood-spilling were needless distractions that got in the way of what should have been a very enjoyable and entertaining story.

If you take the same basic story, but made Hit Girl into a young teen, and tried less to insert gratuitous blood and bad language, then this story could have been so much better. On a scale of 1 to 10 in which 1 is a bomb and 10 is THE bomb, I give KA a 6, and I’m being generous because I really wanted to like the story.

So with that, I can’t see myself justifying the expense of going to see it in the theater, which seems to be a moot point anyway, because it seems to be dropping in gate receipts and probably won’t last much longer anyway. There was an implication on the final page of KA that a sequel is coming. If so, then I hope that it’s better than this work.

1 comment:

Wittie Indie said...

This review talks about the development of Big Daddy in the graphic novel versus the film.