Editor's Note: Kick-Ass #7 arrives in stores Thursday, September 10.
Kick-Ass #6's cliffhanger was straightforward enough that, despite the four-and-a-half month delay between that issue and this one, readers should have no trouble recalling it. In the closing scenes of that issue, Red Mist revealed that he was secretly working for the series' villains, and that he had used his infiltration of Kick-Ass's group of vigilantes to allow their criminal organisation to capture Big Daddy, Hit-Girl, and Kick-Ass himself.
This issue picks up immediately where that issue left off, showing us how Dave Lizewski's attempt to escape his captors plays out -- and it's as violent and humiliating as followers of the series might expect. Before that happens, though, we see his allies make their own break for freedom.
I still can't shake the feeling that the simultaneous development of the Kick-Ass movie has had a strong influence on the comic, with the most notable effect being the shift in focus that has seen the characters of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl become as significant to the plot as Dave Lizewski himself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as their scenes are some of the most enjoyable here.
We see the hyperactive pre-teen Hit-Girl make a spirited attempt to take down as many of the villains as possible, before being taken out of the equation in a surprisingly sudden and brutal manner. Also, we finally learn exactly what Big Daddy has been dragging around with him in his mysterious suitcase. I won't spoil that development here, but it's a neat play on the real-life comic-book obsessions that have informed Millar's characterisation of Kick-Ass himself, drawing strong parallels between Big Daddy and Dave Lizewski that took me by surprise, yet helped to make sense of what I had perceived to be a slightly too comic-booky origin story for these supposedly realistic supporting characters.
That said, one element of the issue that doesn't quite meet these more realistic standards is the extensive punishment suffered by Dave at the hands of his enemies, of which we saw a glimpse in the first issue. Although I understand that it's exaggerated for darkly comic effect, it stretches the credibility of a universe that is supposed to reflect the way in which superheroes would (or wouldn't) work in the real world. Still, it continues to reinforce Dave's status as the title's whipping boy, and suggests that we'll be lucky if he's anything more than mincemeat by the time the series is over.
Artist John Romita Jr. continues to walk the fine line between realism and colourful superheroics that the series demands. His work is consistently strong, with an attention to grisly detail during the more violent scenes that suggests that the artist is relishing the opportunity to cut loose with a slightly different flavour of superhero work. Despite this, the strengths gained from his more mainstream work persist: the clear storytelling, the tangibly chunky designs, and the clear and dynamic action are all up to the standard that we've come to expect from one of the industry's most consistent artists.
With only one more issue to go, I'm not holding out much hope that Kick-Ass is going to turn out to be anything more than it originally appeared: a heady mixture of comics geekery, swearing, and pre-pubescent ultra-violence in ridiculous colourful costumes. On all of those fronts, Millar delivers -- but after six issues of similar content, I'm not sure that that's quite enough. Still, as storyboards for teen-oriented Generation-Y superhero movies go, you probably couldn't ask for better.
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