With the film adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s graphic novel Kick-Ass
about to open in theaters, I picked up the book to see what it was all about. I'd seen the disturbing, high-intensity trailer
back in December, and I wanted to read the story before I got to the movies. Having read it -- ploughing through it in a non-stop, intense hour -- I'm pretty psyched to see the flick!
Kick Ass is the story of Dave Lizewski, an average high-school student headed for nothing much in life, who decides that rather than aspiring to being a pop-star or a great athlete, he'll become a super-hero. Why not? So he orders a scuba wet-suit, gets a couple of batons, and sets to work fighting crime.
He doesn't fare so well. Almost immediately, he receives a near-crippling beat-down that hospitalizes him and and nearly bankrupts his hardworking single father. He swears off vigilantism, only to be lured back out of retirement by the appearance of a copycat ("The Red Mist"), another caped "hero" who scores several high-profile criminal empires and attains even greater fame than "Kick-Ass"(Lizewski's super alterego), eclipsing his MySpace page and his Google pagerank.
Quickly, Kick-Ass ends up in a near-terminal situation, only to be rescued by a ten-year-old girl ("Hit-Girl"), who slaughters the bad guys who're about to kill him, dispatching them with a ninja sword and a great deal of bravada. The homicidal pair vanish, leaving Kick-Ass feeling inadequate and worried.
But not for long -- quickly, Kick-Ass finds himself confronting the Red Mist, who turns out to be a megafan of his, and the two of them pair off as a super-duo.
The story rockets along -- it's essentially one long flashback, beginning with Lizewski tied to a chair by bad guys who're electrocuting his testicles -- and comes to an extremely satisfying conclusions. It's a neat and bloody commentary on the mythos of superheroism and vigilantism, and while the contrast between Hit-Girl's innocence and violence is an exploitative trick, it's also a very powerful one, that works to get you thinking about the nature of the "heroes" who fill our four-color dreams.
The end of the book identifies it as the first volume, but even so, it draws to a very neat conclusion that won't leave you feeling cheated.
“We ask strangers on the street which celebrities they’ve been told they look like.” Another fun piece from our friend and collaborator Joe Sabia, for Vanity Fair.
Smash TV’s Megaplex feels like your entire 1980s life flashing before your eyes. Note: some of the 80+ films include 80s nudity.
Vanity Fair breaks down the individual incomes of people who work on a major Hollywood blockbuster. Assuming a budget of $200m, the breakdown is approximate but based upon average union rates and published figures. [YouTube]
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