Kick-Ass #1 Review: Two-Thirds of a Good Book, but that Other Third is a Doozy

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Patience was a soldier sent into Afghanistan. She came home to find out her husband left her for a girl with whom he worked. Needing a job, she becomes a waitress, but it's not enough to pay for her and her children. A family member works for a rich crime lord named Hoops, and she decides it to be morally acceptable to take his money. To do this, she dons the identity of Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass #1 cover by John Romita Jr.
Kick-Ass #1 cover by John Romita Jr.

This story can be split into three parts: the Afghanistan section, the section at home, and the Kick-Ass section. Two of those work pretty well; the other is the Afghanistan section.

The Afghanistan part of this book really comes off like Millar just wanted to script a war scene for John Romita Jr. to draw. As such, it's overlong, adds nothing to the broader story, and depicts every brown person present as a murderous madman. Subtlety and nuance are not on the menu, and it also drops in a racial slur for good measure. If that's enough to turn you off to the comic completely, then you are entirely justified and have my sympathies.

If you can get past the touch of racism and edginess in the Afghanistan section, then the rest of the comic is pretty good. The family drama between Patience, her parents, and her husband are all quite good. You can connect and feel sympathy for Patience. She has dealt with more shit than any person should be forced into.

It plays against the previous Kick-Ass too by having Patience be less morally-driven as well as competent. There's a slight chance that this may not actually be taking place in the same continuity as the original Kick-Ass too, which would be a really interesting premise to play with.

Kick-Ass #1 art by John Romita Jr., Peter Steigerwald, and Megan Madrigal
Kick-Ass #1 art by John Romita Jr., Peter Steigerwald, and Megan Madrigal

The actual Kick-Ass section is a brilliantly gory action sequence brought to life by JR Jr. and Peter Steigerwald. The impacts are really visceral and play with all the ways you can break body parts. Steigerwald's coloring adds a lot of depth to JR Jr,'s work, and Romita himself puts in some of the best artwork I've seen from him in a long time. It's not overly inked, and it's a lot cleaner than usual.

          Kick-Ass #1 is heavily flawed and in the exact ways you probably expected. There's no guarantee those flaws will go away, and I can completely understand if they turn people off to this comic. That being said, Patience is a compelling character, and Romita and Steigerwald bring their A-game to the art. I can tentatively recommend this one. Check it out if you are up to it. No judgement if you're not.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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