By Mark Millar (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Dean White (colors)

Just when I thought this book might be falling a bit too comfortable with itself, Mark Millar (and John Romita Jr.) shock the hell out of me. The first half of this book covers the worldly reaction to Dave’s last costumed outing where he dispatched a thuggish group of Puerto Ricans. He revels in the spotlight in secret while trying to keep his normal persona as grounded as possible.

Because there’s no real way to hide the damage his body takes, Dave takes the impression that his schoolmates think he’s the kind of hardened soul who refuses to ever go down in a mugging. Even the girl he’s fond of, Katie, seems to have taken a liking to him. But when word reaches Dave’s ear that everyone thinks he’s a poor gay boy who’s beaten for sex every other night, he uses it to his advantage, playing upon Katie’s sympathies.

The first half of this book feels like it’s going through the motions of the previous issue. We know it’s eventually going to build to something, but we, like Dave, have to keep things real by day before we can go play at night. And it’s not that these “out of costume” scenes are boring, we’re just dying to see what happens to our hero next. This build up and anticipation once again serve the book in spades as we are eventually presented with one of the most shocking moments we may ever see in a comic book. I mean, really – I knew that coming into this series we’d get some hard-edged violence, but what happens in the last five pages of this book will make you gasp, wince, and drop your jaw to the floor. It affected me so much that I grabbed Daniel (the other WCBR editor) out of his room and made him see these pages for himself (to which he ran away screaming about spoilers)! I’m an evil bastard.

I remember listing to an interview with John Romita Jr. saying how he had to be careful with what he did with this series because of his relationship with Marvel. I’m guessing he threw that all out the window with this issue, because not only is this (most likely) the first time I’ve ever seen nudity from Romita Jr., but the scale of violence on display here is off the charts. I honestly never knew he had it in him, and it’s great to see him break out of his standard mold.

Just when I thought I’d be safe and happily entertained with this book, Mr. Millar throws a huge monkey wrench into the story. And yet, what happens to Dave seems so obvious, as if we should have seen it coming. This one really pushes the envelope. It’s also one of the few comics that have made me yell, “Oh shit!” out loud. Kick-Ass is, dare I say it, treading into Garth Ennis territory now. (Grade: A)

A Second Opinion

Let me just say that I am not against something featuring a bit of the old fashioned ultra-violence. In fact, if put in the right context, I believe some graphic violence can serve a story well by creating a special kind of emotional or gut-level response to the action taking place. I say this because the final pages of Kick-Ass #3 shock in a way that both serves and elevates an already compelling story. Simply put, Millar and Romita Jr. have taken Kick-Ass, and, dare I say, comics in general, to an entirely new level with their brutal, controversial, and uncompromising vision.

I am extremely pleased with Millar’s writing for this issue, as main character Dave finally feels like a sympathetic character worth rooting for. While I had been enjoying this series, especially the concept, I never really had any emotional attachment to Dave. Millar has finally given me a reason to care for Dave as he is given some much needed complexity and depth that adds a lot to the story. If I have one small complaint, and it is indeed very small, it is that occasionally it feels as though some of the edginess is a bit forced.

As for the art, there really isn’t a whole lot I can add to what was already said in the main review. John Romita Jr. knocks this one out of the park. The violence actually brought to mind The Walking Dead, which is always a good thing. I always wondered what that series would look like in color and now I have a pretty good idea. As for the characters, expressions are spot on and, as weird as this sounds, I never realized how much well drawn eyes can bring to a story. The level of emotion Romita Jr. conveys through the eyes alone is pretty incredible. As for pacing, the action from panel to panel is spot on, whether things are slow or hectic. In short, this is some pretty great stuff.

What more can I say? Kick-Ass #3 steps things up in every possible way and I really couldn’t be much happier with the result. Pick this one up. (Grade A)

-Kyle Posluszny