Mark Millar's original Kick-Ass series turned the idea of superheroes on its head, bringing brutal realism to the concept and creating a more believable teen hero in Dave Lizewski than we'd seen in years.
With every bone-crunching, bloody fight he got into, fans cheered harder and louder in the hopes of seeing Kick-Ass succeed against the bad guys. It's ironic then, that Kick-Ass 3 feels like the series is on the receiving end of a beating, as the ideals and justice Lizewski fought for previously take a back seat to looking like Batman at his parents grave. Seriously? I hope it was Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s intent to turn fans against the protagonist, because that's what this issue did for me. After Hit-Girl lands herself in prison, she leaves detailed steps for Lizewski and friends to bust her out, except they all lose their nerve before taking one step through the door. So much for heroes, I suppose. They're more focused on their image than actually making a difference, with some members contributing nothing while abusing the resources Hit-Girl left them for her escape. This issue is a sad mess, leaving next to nothing for fans to identify with or cheer for, to the extent that when Lizewski finds himself in a dangerous situation on the last page, it had no impact on me, despite obviously meant to be a big reveal.
The art is still great, that hasn't changed at least. It's a very visually distinctive book, even if the subject matter has become a bit dubious. Making fans hate these heroes may be what Millar and Romita Jr. were intending to do, but after a lukewarm return with Kick-Ass 2 and Hit-Girl's solo series, I'm wondering if it isn't time to put this series out of its misery. It feels like more of the same shtick, without any of the excitement and suspense that made the original so great. Maybe they're trying to be even more realistic? Letting the heroes become the villains, or even worse, become these lazy sadsacks that are literally living off of an eleven year old girl's hard work, just so readers can watch them come out of it? Or perhaps more realistically, fall into obscurity and spend the rest of their days losing their courage and honour. That's a little too real for me, and not what I'm looking for in a book about heroes.