Tunk you, asshole!
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 was serialized in CLiNT
It should be noted that the comics have a slightly odd book numbering scheme. Kick-Ass
(i.e., the first volume) was Book 1, but the ending of Kick-Ass 2
revealed that that sequel was actually Book 3
. This segued into the Hit-Girl
interquel, written later but designated as Book 2. Kick-Ass 3
followed, set after Kick-Ass 2
Compare with Doméstico
, a very similar comic in both story and design, released one year prior.
Adapted into a film
in 2010, with the sequel
adapting both the Hit-Girl
interquel and the second volume of the comic.
Not to be confused with the trope Literal Ass Kicking
Provides Examples Of:
- Adventure Rebuff: Big Daddy and Hit Girl confront Kick-Ass after his first "adventure", and tell him that he should cut the heroics out because a) he's an amateur, b) he's way too exposed and c) he's simply pathetic. He ignores them, naturally enough.
- Alas, Poor Villain:
- John Genovese, sort of. Big Daddy drove him nearly to madness, and all because Big Daddy wanted to live his childhood fantasy and choose him as the villain.
- Chris Genovese, who dies saving Mindy and asking her to apologize to his mother for ruining her life.
- 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...
- Atrocious Alias:
- Kick-Ass, himself.
- In Volume Two, Red Mist changed his name to the Mother Fucker, and named his gang The Toxic Mega-cunts.
- Brief Case Full Of Money: Subverted when it's revealed that Big Daddy was never actually a cop, made up everything about his past, and that the trunk he keeps with him is, in fact, full of old comics that he sells on the internet to fund his operations.
- Callback: 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 of Volume One, 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 Volume Two as Hit-Girl's cop step-father.
- Canon Welding: This article suggests that the comic is interconnected with Mark Millar’s later Marvel works (1985, Fantastic Four and Old Man Logan).
- Car Cushion: The series opens with a monologue about why no one's tried to be a superhero before and a guy wearing a strange outfit standing on a skyscraper. He unveils his wings and jumps, sure that he will be the first flying superhero. His dreams end badly, as does the only car nearby on the ground level.
- 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.
- Deceptive Legacy: Big Daddy tells Hit Girl that her mother was killed by the mob, fueling their Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Genovese family. It's revealed however, that her mother is very much alive, and Big Daddy simply snuck off with her when she was an infant, so he could raise her to be Little Miss Badass and live out his fantasy of being a vigilante superhero. After Big Daddy is killed, she goes back to her mother, who had been searching for her for years.
- 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: The first few issues deconstruct the notion of the Badass Normal, by showing just what would happen if a kid were to dress up in a silly costume and go around looking for crime to fight. Then it picks it up again by having Dave help bring down a crime syndicate and officially do something special with his life. The next two volumes follow 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 each other'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 from the police, who do have the authority and capability to take them down.
- Deconstruction: The comic shows us what it would be like if a teenager without super powers ever became a superhero (like Spider-Man). The main character gets beaten to within an inch of his life in every encounter, and said life becomes even worse after he dons the mask; his only super power is that he has a metal plate in his head.
- Did Not Get the Girl: After months of pretending to be her gay best friend, Dave finally bares his soul to Katie Deuxma. Expecting her to reciprocate his feelings, Katie instead gets her boyfriend Carl to beat the crap out of him and later sends him a pornographic picture of herself with said boyfriend, which Dave later uses.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- In Volume One, Kick-Ass 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 in Volume Two. Unmasks him, murders Katie's parents and rapes her, kills his dad, and bombs his funeral.
- Mother Russia supposedly killed the other bodyguards of the Russian Prime Minister when they accused her at cheating at cards.
- Downer Beginning: The comic starts off like this (though it's In Media Res), with Kick-Ass getting his testes electrocuted.
- Downer Ending:
- By the end of Volume One, 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.
- In Volume Two, Dave's dad is murdered in Issue 5 and his funeral is bombed.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- 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 Counterpart: Red-Mist is this to Kick-Ass. While Dave was inspired by the heroes in the comics, Chris was inspired by the villains (even quoting The Joker before setting up his Avenging the Villain story-line in Volume Two).
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Subverted by Damon MacCready, a.k.a. Big Daddy, who despite looking like Ned Flanders, raises his little girl to be a ruthlessly efficient vigilante in order to exact revenge on John Genovese not really revenge, he was just bored with his life and wanted his daughter to have an interesting life.
- Expy: Big Daddy is basically The Punisher with a badass little girl sidekick, Lampshaded when Dave compares him to Frank Castle. He and Hit-Girl are also similar to Cassandra Cain and her father in that, in spite of being trained to be a killer by him, still loves him.
- Fag Hag: Katie Deauxma befriends Dave because she thinks he's gay and always wanted a gay friend.
- Forced Meme: Dave and his friends try to bring the word "tunk", conceived of as the Spear Counterpart of cunt, into the mainstream as a new curse word. They succeed.
- Freudian Excuse: Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl's Good Is Not Nice personalities stem from the fact that their mothers had died.
- Gay Best Friend: Deconstructed, as stuck up Katie will only associate with Dave because she thinks nerdy, unpopular Dave is gay (a fact that Dave has shamelessly exploited in order to be allowed to hang out with the woman he loves). When she finds out, she has her boyfriend savagely beat him and then sends him sexually explicit photos to torment him with the fact that she'd never be romantically involved with him.
- Genre Deconstruction: In regards to superheroes in their teens. Sure, the main character doesn't die but his life becomes even worse after donning the mask, his only super power is that he has a metal plate in his head, gets beaten to a bloody pulp after every battle and would actually be far more responsible if he quit vigilantism altogether.
- 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.
- Hero Does Public Service: In Volume Two, many of the heroes that Dave encounters do what essentially amounts to community service. One superheroine, for instance, devotes her efforts to making sure that young women in her area get home safely at night.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Two characters become superheroes: the title character because he wants to help people... and in a straighter version of this trope, Big Daddy because he was frustrated with his marriage and thought his life was boring. He even creates a fake Back Story to enhance his new identity.
- I Just Want to Be Special: This is part of the reason for the superhero movement. In Volume Two, 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.
- Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Kick-Ass's first attempt to fight crime ends in a Curbstomp Battle in the criminals' favor. His brutal defeat is filmed by a bystander on his cell phone and the subsequent upload of this video on Youtube becomes the inspiration for multiple others to join his cause.
- 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...
- Memetic Mutation: In-universe.
- The fruit of David's efforts to rescue people, which ends up as a Youtube video internet sensation? People cosplaying as superheroes and taking pictures of themselves, which now goes past the hardcore geeks and to everyday people. Plus, a whole bunch of them actually start training to be superheroes like Kick-Ass, Big-Daddy and Hit-Girl.
- Dave's friends', Todd and Marty, made up swear word "Tunk" (the male equivalent of Cunt) also catches on quite faster than Dave imagined.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Dave Lizewski after he gets beaten up twice while trying to be a real-life superhero, with the kids at school assuming he's a gay prostitute who keeps getting beaten up by his clients. Dave goes along with it for a while since his crush, Katie Deauxma, adopts him as a gay best friend. The situation does not end well. After acting the part of the Gay Bestfriend (including spray tanning her topless), he admits it was all a ruse. Katie is furious, and has her boyfriend beat him up, followed by a graphic photo of their sex sent by phone.
- 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.
- Parental Abandonment:
- Dave Lizewski's mother died of aneurysm some time before the start of the story. His father is later killed by Red Mist's goons after claiming to be Kick-Ass in order to prevent Dave from going to prison
- Subverted with Battle Guy in Volume Two - his origin story is that his parents were killed on the way home from the opera, and the criminal then forced him to watch as he cooked and ate his parents, then spent all the father's money on pay-per-view porn. However, Dave recognizes the voice of his friend, Marty Eisenberg, whose parents are alive and well; turns out he just thought superheroism would be fun, but (mistakenly) believed Justice Forever wouldn't accept him unless he had a cool background.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Averted when Big Daddy is executed by Johnny G's men. His face is drawn being blown out by the gunshot to the back of his head. An eyeball can be spotted, no longer part of his head.
- Primal Scene: Dave walks in on his father and his new girlfriend doing it doggy-style on the living room couch.
- 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.
- Unlike other Tykebomb-turned-superheroes in other media, Mindy is clearly damaged by her upbringing as Hit-Girl, escalating into disturbing hallucinations of her Father still giving her orders and advice.
- Reconstruction: Despite elements of Deconstruction, the series still shows events pushed by superheroism as having a better side, that the characters fight for.
- The Reveal: Nemesis, The Secret Service, Superior, and MPH all occur roughly around the same time that Volume 3 ends. Jupiter's Legacy and Super Crooks are in-universe movie properties though.
- 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.
- 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 Volume 2 Issue #1 when two guys get the drop on Kick-Ass and HE kicks THEIR ass.
- Ship Tease: For better or for worse, a lot of the scenes between Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl are framed from an odd angle where it looks like one is kissing the other (the dialogue bubbles dispel the notion, but the imagery is there), in addition to the two being about as close as anyone in the comic can be. The very large age difference may put it into No Yay territory, but Hit-Girl being both more mature and more experienced may not, so it's a YMMV/perception thing.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The comic is about as cynical as it gets, even more so than Watchmen. Dave is a loser, Big Daddy is a complete fraud, Hit Girl is lied to by her father about her mother dying, and not allowed to have a normal childhood, and everyone else except for maybe Dave's father is a scumbag of one sort or the other (Katie is a shallow bitch, Red Mist is completely unsympathetic unlike in the film, his father is a evil, etc). Despite all this, it's incredibly funny. Many people preferred the movie adaptation since it toned down the utter bleakness of the comic book, but taken on its own terms, the comic is a great Black Comedy.