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kickass7There are fewer more curious beasts in comics at the moment than Kick-Ass. At once a gloriously over-the-top violence fest, and yet superficially grounded in something approaching “the real world”. Covers and advertising that bombastically proclaim it the greatest comics work in history and suggest a hugely piss-taking tone, and yet the internal content has been at its best when making the reader care about the characters rather than the blood and gore. And featuring a lead character who spent the first few issues as an unlikeable prick, but whom at this point one can’t help but root for.

But the deceptiveness of appearances is something that’s come rather to the fore in the last couple of issues – most notably with regards to Big Daddy and Hit Girl, the characters who’ve really become the stars of the series; an unexpected fact in itself given their explosion into its pages as remorseless deathbringers. The revelation involving Big Daddy here is an absolute stunner – almost laugh-out loud funny at the same time as it’s desperately tragic – and actually, without saying too much, seems to make the casting of Nicolas Cage in the upcoming movie a lot more apt.

In taking us back to the torture scene from the very beginning of issue #1 – albeit in slightly different circumstances to the way it was portrayed then, which I suppose we can put down to the lengthy time that’s passed between issues – and in putting Dave in absolutely the worst situation he’s so far encountered, it’s certainly not what you’d call a pleasant read. And yet by doing so, it finds its way towards instilling in us the reaction you suspect it wanted to all along – that we’re now positively relishing the prospect of Kick-Ass living up to his name. And what it does manage to be is utterly gripping.

Kick-Ass may never go down as the most complex of comics, but it’s imperiously assured in the way it tells the story that Millar wants to – even if it’s far from his strongest story or set of characters – and the veneer of class given to it by Romita Jr’s artwork (who still seems, based on his past career, a terribly inappropriate choice for this sort of thing, and yet who still absolutely knocks it out of the park without question) elevates it to something that you may not necessarily enjoy in anything but a visceral, compulsive way; but which you absolutely cannot ignore.