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In a nutshell, Kick-Ass (the comic) is about the notion of comic book fanboys moonlighting as superheroes. A teenage outcast decides to become a superhero, leading him to meet other would-be heroes, most notably Big Daddy and his Ax Crazy daughter Hit Girl. Also in the mix is the Red Mist, a hero with a secret.
Writen by Mark Millar and penciled by John Romita Jr., and published by Marvel.
A sequel is currently being serialized in CLiNT.
Compare with Domestico, a very similar comic in both story and design, released one year prior.
Not to be confused with the trope Literal Ass-Kicking.
The comic has the following tropes:
- Ascended Fanboy: Kick-Ass, who is a massive comic book geek. So is Red Mist, even though he wants to be the villain. Also, Big Daddy; he financed his vigilantism by selling classic comic books like Amazing Fantasy #15...
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Avengers Assemble: Said verbatim by Hit-Girl, albeit with a Precision F-Strike in the middle, at the end of Volume 2 #6.
- Averted Trope: Mark Millar wrote Kick-Ass sustaining highly visible injuries such as a black eye and inflamed soft tissue to defy the way comic books and Hollywood films depict people still looking like handsome, attractive A-listers after taking multiple punches to the face.
- Awful Truth: see Based on a Great Big Lie below.
- Badass Family: Hit Girl and Big Daddy.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: In-universe. Big Daddy is not an ex-cop whose wife got killed. In fact, he was an accountant whose wife hated him so much that he decided to run off with his baby daughter and start a new life as a superhero.
- Big Damn Heroes: Hit Girl pulls this after she disappears by being shot and falling into the water. The mobsters assume that No One Could Survive That, and assume she's dead. This allows her to sneak up on them just in time to save Kick-Ass from getting killed.
- Black Comedy: The scene where Big Daddy shoots Hit Girl and explains that it won't hurt.
- Pretty much the entire comic.
- Notable example in the sequel, book 4: Red Mist/The Motherfucker's crack about iCarly losing a few viewers, during his suburban massacre
- Bodyguard Babes/Cadre of Foreign Bodyguard: In this case, it's the singular Mother Russia to Red Mist, in volume 2
- Call Back: At one point, Dave's friends decide to invent a new curse, and come up with 'tunk' to refer to a cock and balls; specifically, they intend it to be the male equivalent of 'cunt'. They resolve to drop it into as many conversations as they can. In the last issue, John Genovese is shot in the crotch, and exclaims "He just shot me in the fucking tunk!".
- Canon Immigrant: Marcus, the cop ex-partner of Big Daddy, was a character specifically created for the movie. He was written into the sequel as Hit-Girl's cop step-father.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (in particular) are capable of crazy stunts and incredible exploits by virtue of good ol' training and perseverance. Kick-Ass and Red Mist are certainly aware of the trope, but don't get anywhere near that.
- Cheerful Child: Hit Girl, despite killing people.
- Child Soldier: Hit Girl, though she's aware of it and doesn't seem to mind at all. Until her father gets killed, after which Kick-Ass helps her track down her mother so she can live a normal life. Also, in a realistic twist on the trope, the bad guys have absolutely no problem with trying to kill her. The two most heinous examples are when they shoot her in the back with "a hundred bullets" (which she recovered from) and whacking her in the head with a meat hammer. To be fair, however, she had already done much, much worse to them.
- Clean Cut: Hit Girl's swords are implausibly sharp for a comic that claims to be set in reality. There's also the fact that even a grown adult wouldn't be able to generate enough force to cut through bone in one swing (at least with those weapons), let alone a ten year old girl.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Characters curse almost as much as real teenagers.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Kick-Ass gets a car battery hooked up to his testicles.
- Cold Opening: Kick-Ass in the first few panels is being tortured by men in suits in the opening, and begins a narrative...
- Contest Winner Cameo: Kind of, but going a bit beyond it: Dave Lizewski, winner of a charity auction and contest to name the main character, named him after himself. Which is rather fortunate because he could have named the character anything from Betty to Captain Ass if he wanted to.
- Corruption of a Minor: Big Daddy's methods of raising Hit Girl certainly fit this.
- Costumed Nonsuper Hero
- Crapsack World: Oh yeah. And it's "ours".
- Crusading Widower: Big Daddy isn't.
- Decompressed Comic: Sometimes is, sometimes isn't. Some issues goes by in days, some have months go by (especially when Dave is in the hospital).
- Decon Recon Switch: See the below deconstructive elements. Ultimately, however, the comics followed the movie's lead in its treatment of superheroes. The superhero fad Dave inspires eventually morphs into a subculture of altruistic social work and neighborhood watches. A few of the heroes are competent and well-trained, and the rest gain experience fighting thugs and watching eachother's backs, and superheroes as a whole become more competent and better fighters than a mafia funded private army. In the end, the superheroes garner tremendous public support, and are acknowledged without irony as superheroes but face antagonism and harassment form the police, who do have the authority and capability to take them down.
- Deconstruction: A pretty obvious example. In particular:
- Kick-Ass became a superhero because he was bored.
- He uses Myspace to help those in need. His 21st century 'Bat Signal' as he refers to it.
- The 'superheroes' use eBay to purchase their weapons!
- And they get their asses kicked more often than your standard superheroes.
- Also, the world seems to enjoy the amount of violence thrown around and even watch Kick-Ass beating up Latino gangsters through Youtube.
- A few aspects of Spider-Man's legacy are targeted as well: Dave doesn't end up with his love interest, would be a lot more responsible if he stopped vigilantism altogether, his civilian life gets even worse after donning the mask, often gets his ass kicked for being an Idiot Hero and acts every bit as angsty and egotistical as a superhero in his teens would act.
- "With no power comes no responsibility."
- And, ultimately, if one toned down the deconstructionism just a little, Kick-Ass could work as a pretty fine by-the-numbers superhero story.
- Which is basically what they did for the movie.
- Determinator: Perhaps the only real power Kick-Ass possesses is the fact that he never, ever gives up. Even when he gets strapped to a chair and gets his testicles electrocuted for half an hour, his plan for getting out of it is to get the mobsters to punch him until the chair breaks. Then he gets right back up and tells them to bring it. They do, but luckily Hit Girl returns just in time to eviscerate them all.
- Which is either pretty solid deconstruction or straightforward Badass. The fact he keeps at the whole superhero thing even when he knows full well that the world's not worth saving is supposed to be a gut-wrenching demonstration of the kind of depths of despair and nihilism he's fallen to, but it reads more like a very well written Moment of Badass.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Katie loses all interest in Dave when he admits he's not gay.
- What he does get however is a beating from her boyfriend and a picture of the girl giving the giant black kid a blowjob to add insult to injury.
- Disability Superpower: Kick-Ass's high pain threshold is due to nerve damage.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The hero leads with violence, in the face of non-violence. In particular, during his first foray into vigilantism, he brutally ambushes some young graffiti artists. Although he loses the battle, there's no indication that what he did was immoral.
- And this would lead to Unreliable Narrator — it's the perpetrator that's narrating the story. And the narrator is a supremely bored high schooler.
- What Red Mist does to destroy Dave. unmasks him, murders Katie's parents and rapes her, kills his dad, and bombs his funeral.
- Downer Ending: In the end, becoming Kick-Ass has arguably made Dave's life worse. On top of that, he's now got an arch nemesis who wants him dead.
- The beginning of Kick-Ass 2 alludes to Dave's house being burned down.
- Dave's dad is murdered in Kick-Ass 2 Issue 5 and his funeral is bombed.
- Enfant Terrible: Hit Girl. Not many 10-year-olds can cut through a man's head in one stroke.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Brutally averted in Volume 2, Issue 4, when Red Mist guns down a group of children. Then proceeds to kill the main character's love interest's mother and father and gang rape her with 2 of his henchmen. Though one could argue that the way the first volume ended she wasn't an entirely sympathetic character at that point. On the other hand, the book doesn't make any effort to justify her rape.
- Well, one of his Mooks asked whether if it was really necessary. The others were outright disgusted with Motherfucker and with themselves, but they did as told. They outright declare that the rape was going too far, but again they don't do anything about it.
- In the following issue, Vic Gigante tells Red Mist that his gang aren't getting any special treatment anymore, and that the Police force & the various mafia families are gunning for them now.
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids
- Expy: Big Daddy is basically The Punisher with a badass little girl sidekick.
- Lampshaded when Dave compares him to Frank Castle.
- Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are similar to Cassandra Cain and her father in that, in spite of being trained to be a killer by him, still loves him.
- Foe Yay: Red Mist being... Red Mist: "...and if I'm absolutely honest, I've wanted to see you in pain since the first night we met. I've even jerked off about it. Does that sound weird?" Yes, Red Mist. Yes it does.
- Glorious Mother Russia: Alluded to. Subtract the glorious, add a bit of Stripperiffic and you get the name and theme of Red Mist's new Russian bodyguard.
- Gorn: Quite a few scenes, especially whenever Hit Girl is around. The blood doesn't ratchet up until she makes her first appearance and she and Big Daddy crush some mafia goon in a car crusher.
- Before this, Dave getting run over was messy.
GroinTunk Attack: Said testicle-attack.
- He's Back: Hit-Girl, having spent the first four issues of volume 2 trying to be normal, steals a cop's gun & guns down Red Mist's Mooks after they set-off a bomb & kidnap Dave at his father's funeral.
- Heroic Sociopath: Hit-Girl.
- Heroic Wannabe: Kick-Ass spawns a costumed superhero craze, so no wonder people start dressing up like him. The fact that he is a superhero wannabe himself adds to the hilarity.
- Hollywood Nerd: Dave Lizewski and his pals who hang out at the comic book store.
- How We Got Here: Kick-Ass recounts his superhero glory leading up to his interrogation...
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Part of Kick-Ass' motivation. Also, Big Daddy's.
- I Just Want to Be Special: This is part of the reason for the superhero movement in Kick-Ass. In the second series, Kick-Ass meets Dr. Gravity, who claims to be a genius physicist wielding a device that can increase or decrease the weight of an object. Kick-Ass expresses disbelief, and Dr. Gravity comes clean — he's an English major at a local university and the gravity rod is a baseball bat covered in tin foil. He isn't ashamed, though. As far as he's concerned, being a superhero is primarily about living your fantasy life.
- Improbable Age: An eleven years old Badass with Charles Atlas Superpowers? If it wasn't so awesome it would have really stretched the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
- Informed Ability: Big Daddy doesn't do any of the actual fighting in the comic. In The Movie you get to see how good he really is.
- Ironic Echo: Johnny G refers to Hit-Girl as "just a girl in a Halloween costume." When Hit-Girl alludes to their horrible deaths in the very near future over the intercom, Johnny asks her to identify herself. Her reply: "Just a girl in a Halloween costume."
- Kick the Dog: Volume 2, Issue 5 — Red Mist has Dave's father, who handed himself over to the police as Kick-Ass in Dave's place, killed in prison just so that they'll be able to kidnap Dave at the funeral.
- Lampshade Hanging: Kick-Ass, at one point, tries to traverse the New York City skyline, but finds that the buildings are too far apart, and notes that, in comics, said buildings seem to be much closer and less high...
- Little Miss Badass: With a lock for a symbol and a katana. She annihilates a room full of baddies in her first appearance.
- This Loser Is You: Dave Lizewski is a pathetic, sometimes egotistical, American comic book nerd that often gets his ass kicked.
- Made of Iron: Kick-Ass. Hand Waved by his dulled nerve endings but that fails to explain how he shrugs off the damage from repeated electric shocks and multiple beatings without requiring a lick of medical attention.
- The various pins and metal plates he got after the car accident would account for some of his resistance to injury, though this has clearly been turned Up to Eleven.
- The Mafia
- Memetic Mutation: Happens in-universe with Kick-Ass' YouTube video becoming an Internet sensation and inspiring heroic imitators. Dave's friends' made up swear word "Tunk" also catches on quite faster than Dave imagined.
- Mistaken for Gay: After his first incident, a rumor at the school has people believing he was an underage gay prostitute... and the only reason why he was able to befriend his crush, who hates him in the beginning.
- The Mole: Red Mist.
- Offhand Backhand: Hit Girl, of course, does this a couple times.
- Ordinary High School Student: Dave, supposedly. He makes it very clear in the beginning that there's nothing special about him that would lead him to become a superhero. He just does it because he's bored. But he makes the case that he's so ordinary by listing a bunch of things that normal high-schoolers do and then pointing out that he's ordinary because he doesn't do any of them.
- He has Heroic Willpower, and a drive to actually do good. But the latter is mostly in the form of community activism. So yes, the costume is in part just a weird fetish.
- Overtook The Movie: The film and book were written at the same time, with both influencing the other and things being changed to keep them consistent.
- Pet Homosexual: After his crush starts to think he's gay, he keeps up the illusion to become this trope and come closer to her.
- Primal Scene: Dave is older than most examples, and it's not with both his parents, but rather his father and the hot black women he met. Still, you wouldn't want to watch this scene either.
- Psycho Serum: "Condition Red", a secret chemical compound to be used only in emergencies. Designed to give Hit-Girl the strength of ten men. Makes her even more violent. It's probably cocaine.
- Reality Ensues: A teenager with no powers or special training decides to become a superhero. Especially when Kick-Ass fights crime for the first time he ends up getting stabbed by one of the thugs.
- Then subverted by...most of the comic after that point. To start with, getting stabbed and hit by a car gave him just enough, very specific nerve damage to stop feeling almost any pain.
- Reconstruction: Despite elements of Deconstruction Kick-Ass still shows events pushed by superheroism as having a better side, that the characters fight for.
- Roof Hopping: Dave decides against doing this, because the roofs are too far apart. Hit Girl and Big Daddy, on the other hand, do it with ease.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What Kick-Ass and Hit Girl embark on after being set up by Red Mist and his father. Kick-Ass goes after Red Mist, she goes after everyone else.
- Running Gag: Somebody gets the drop on Kick-Ass/Dave in every issue, usually attacking from behind.
- Turned around when Hit Girl saves Kick-Ass the first time — someone gets the drop on THEM.
- Turned around again in Kick-Ass 2 #1 when two guys get the drop on Kick-Ass and HE kicks THEIR ass.
- Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Dave goes with a wetsuit. He gets harassed by two girls for looking like a gimp, before he comes across the beating that gets him famous.
- Shout-Out: The second FF 4 movie, and... well, other comics.
- The scene where Hit-Girl brings out the flamethrower to kick some ass seems to mirror the scene in Watchmen pretty closely.
- John G is the name of the villain that Big Daddy and Leonard Shelby choose as their wife's killer.
- The yellow teaser-text printed on the front of each issue are references to Marvel Comics marketing ploys, especially the "greatest superhero book of all time" line.
- When Red Mist asks: "Are you really this stupid? Are you really this dense?" it sounds a lot like a similar quote from All Star Batman and Robin.
- First time Kick-Ass tries to make the jump between buildings mirrors the scene in The Matrix shot for shot.
- The first volume ends with a quote from the 1989 Batman:
As a great man once said: "Wait 'till they get a load of me."
- Stripperiffic: Nightbitch, and the mother of Remembering Tommy.
- Tempting Fate: "He doesn't have the balls," says the gangster to a guy with a gun who just had his testicles hooked up to a car battery Needless to say, Hit-Girl probably did him a favor by killing him with that butcher knife.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Mocked by Hit-Girl:
Kick-Ass: "No way. I'm not going to kill anybody. I'm supposed to be a fucking superhero."
- Took a Level In Badass: In the sequel, Kick-Ass receives Training From Hell from Hit-Girl and learns how to actually fight.
- Heck, during his team-up with Doctor Gravity, he effortlessly beats the tar out of two hoods (something he couldn't even do in the first issue of the series), and this is before Hit-Girl's training!
- Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Kick-Ass tries to tell his torturers whatever they want, but they just laugh and say the torture hasn't even started.
- Training From Hell: When one of your lessons consists of your father shooting you just so you know what it feels like when you're only ten years old, you qualify for this.
- Training Montage: Which consists of Dave working out and telling us he did some Judo.
- Trilogy Creep: The comic was supposed to be three issues, which then changed to four by the second issue; then it was eight; now it's about to start a whole new arc.
- Tyke Bomb: Hit-Girl.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Kick-Ass is a high school student, and simply moonlights as his alter ego.
- Wangst: In-universe. Due to this, Dave keeps swinging back and forth between deciding to become a superhero to not. Then it comes to a head when he realizes he's just spawned a new force of incredibly violent vigilantes, and he's not taking it well.
- You Bastard: How the comic ends, and is pretty much a staple of Millar's writing. The Movie tones this way down.
- now re-christened as The Motherfucker