By: Mark Millar (writer/co-creator), John Romita, Jr. (pencils/ co-creator), Tom Palmer (inks), Dean White (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: With a certain, pint-sized vigilante in prison, how will Kick-Ass and the others continue?

The Review (with SPOILERS): This was the first issue of Kick Ass that made me think, “Maybe this series has passed its expiration date…”

There just isn’t a lot of new ground being covered here.  One thing this series has done effectively is show what it might really be like if we donned tights and masks to fight crime– Hit Girl is in prison because vigilantism is illegal, Kick-Ass gets beaten up and mugged because sometimes “training” will not always allow you to survive street-brawls with 5 dudes, etc…  In a way, I loved the opening scene of this issue (where Kick-Ass is mugged) because it shows just how silly the whole premise of the series is.  I mean, have you ever swung through a martial arts forum on the internet?  There are always people coming on those forums who want to start training a martial art and they are often interested in the best martial arts training for dealing with multiple attackers.  The answer, of course, is that the best martial art for multiple attackers is RUNNING AWAY.

While it’s nice to see that little bit of reality-reminder to open this issue, it is something that we’ve seen before.  Millar and Romita have already spent 3 previous miniseries reminding us that Kick-Ass is more of a symbol of hope to the general population than a real-life ass kicker.  We are retreading old ground here.  Similarly, watching Kick-Ass rally his teammates to take on this new mob boss feels very familiar.  I’m not about to drop there series because I suspect that the ending will probably be good, but I’m not very interested in watching this build up for several more issues.

A good portion of this issue is also devoted to Kick-Ass’ nemesis, Red Mist.  He’s always been this kinda nerdy, pathetic kid who was an embarrassment to his father (the original crime boss).  Now, he’s recuperating in the hospital and we see that many people want him dead, including his own mother.  While I guess it is a little bit interesting to see how his mother is suffering for his crimes, I’m not sure that the Red Mist family is where I’m looking for emotional resonance.

Even the art went off the rails in this issue.  It seemed like every 5th panel had some wonky faces.  The faces looked so weird, you almost wondered if a new character entered the scene. The screwy art is possibly sullying one of the moments I liked in the comic.  After getting mugged, a woman picks Kick-Ass up and gives him a ride.  She’s a nurse and fan of Kick-Ass, and you can kinda tell that she might be interested in a date sometime.  But, the last panel where she appears is a little odd.  There’s just a glimmer in her eye and something about the profile of her nose that reminded me of Red Mist.  So, there are two options.  One, the art was intended to be that way and she is something like Red Mist’s sister and she is out to destroy Kick-Ass for ruining her brother’s life.  Two, the art is screwed up and any familiar resemblance is accidental…  She’s just a girl who wants to go on a date.  When the art is inconsistent, it has all kinds of effects that go beyond just the screwy panels.  It also damages your ability to do subtle things with the story with the art alone.

Conclusion: Not a very strong issue.  There is a huge sense of sameness here.  I don’t doubt that Millar has some interesting stuff to come, but those interesting bits were not in this issue.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell