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Comic Book / Kick-Ass

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Tunk you, asshole!

It didn't take a trauma to make you wear a mask. It didn't take your parents getting shot or cosmic rays or a power ring. Just the perfect combination of loneliness and despair.

In a nutshell, Kick-Ass 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.

Written 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.

In 2018, the comic returned, however this time following a new character taking up the Kick-Ass mantle.

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 chose him as the villain.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Dave's former love interest, Katie Deauxma.
    • 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. His name becomes a little awkward after he names one of his hench(wo)men "Mother Russia". (In the film, someone even points this out.)
  • Awful Truth: 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 figure she's dead. This allows her to sneak up on them just in time to save Kick-Ass from getting killed.
  • Big "OMG!": Hit Girl issue #3 is titled OMG!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Volume 3 ends with Dave giving up being Kick-Ass, becoming a police officer, and moving in with Valerie. While he never loses his love for comic books and superheroes and is happier than he's ever been, Dave's dad is still dead, and so are several members of Justice Forever, including Insect-Man and Doctor Gravity. Chris also dies saving Mindy's life, but his mother and Mindy's mother both become best friends. Dave never sees Mindy again, and if the epilogue is anything to go on, she's about to start training another kid to become the new Kick-Ass...
  • Black Comedy:
    • The comic gets a lot of mileage out of this trope, showing just how violent and psychotic a person would have to be to actually pull it off as a superhero.
    • Notable example in Volume Two, Issue 4: Red Mist/The Motherfucker's crack about iCarly losing a few viewers during his suburban massacre.
    • The Motherfucker's line before gang raping Katie.
      The Motherfucker: You're done banging superheroes baby, it's time to see what evil dick tastes like.
  • Book Ends: Volume 3 ends the same way Volume 1 began; with some loon trying to fly from the roof of an NYC skyscraper, drawn almost identically to the panels in the original. This time, instead of his plummeting to his death in a dark illustration of just how ridiculous the idea of superheroes really is, he actually pulls it off and soars into the air.
  • Briefcase 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).
    • Also, the ending of Kick-Ass 3 as well as Wordof God reveals that the Nemesis series, the Wanted series, the Superior series, the Kingsman series, the MPH series, and this series are all set in the same universe. Also counts as Shared Universe and The 'Verse.
  • 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.
  • Chuunibyou: A famous Western example of this Japanese-named syndrome, in which the characters of this comic book (since Kick-Ass to the rest of the heroes and villains) have the delusion of being superheroes/supervillains just as the comic book characters and try to emulate them in Real Life. This enters into the evil eye type in Chuunibyou's classification.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Kick-Ass is tortured through testicular electrocution, with his balls hooked up to a car battery, mainly for Red Mist's pleasure, because he knew Kick-Ass knew nothing.
  • Cold Opening: Kick-Ass in the first few panels is being tortured by men in suits in the opening, and begins a narrative...
  • Corruption of a Minor: Big-Daddy molds his daughter, 11-year old Hit-Girl, into a murderous Badass Normal Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb through Training from Hell. She comes out with a love of butterfly knives, an affinity with swords and expert marksmanship with handguns.
  • Cruel Mercy: Vic Gigante, the big Dirty Cop of the series, is the only major villain to survive the trilogy, but not before Mindy brutally maims him with a Groin Attack which also cripples him waist-down, intending to let him live and force him to become a Stool Pigeon to his fellow Corrupt Cops. The last time Dave heard of him in the ending is that the whole experience caused him to lose quite a lot of weight when he was brought to court to testify.
  • 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 go 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 their 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 superpowers 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 superpower 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 to pleasure himself with.
  • 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 an introduction to a flashback that explains How We Got Here), 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. Worse still, Mindy is in jail and Vic Gigante earns a high post at the NYPD.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Volume 3 ends the trilogy on a far better note compared to the first two volumes. Chris dies somewhat redeemed after refusing to go through executing Mindy out of remorse for traumatizing his mother with his crimes, allowing her and Dave to kill off much of the Mob and the corrupt cops, while Vic is brutally maimed and intimidated into turning up state evidence. Mindy's stepfather Marcus was cleared of wrongdoing and is allowed to return to the force, where he immediately leads a purge of its corrupt elements as well as crackdowns on the severely demoralized Mob. While the two have since cut off all contact, Dave is now happier with Valerie and has given up super heroics for good in favor of becoming a cop, while Mindy goes on a worldwide vigilante hunt, though she still sends flowers to her mother once in a while.
  • 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 isn'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 Kick-Ass 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 storyline 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: 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 crushes on). 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. If you're not trained or otherwise prepared for fighting crime, then you get your ass kicked if you're lucky. If you are trained for fighting crime then you're a Child Soldier who likely has a mess of mind issues.
  • 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.
  • Here We Go Again!: One "post-credits scene" at the very end of Volume 3 shows Hit-Girl inviting another bullied kid, just like Kick-Ass was at the beginning of the trilogy, to become the new Kick-Ass.
  • 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 Kick-Ass at his father's funeral.
  • Hero Does Public Service: In Volume Two, many of the heroes that Kick-Ass 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!: Subverted when Kick-Ass' 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, specifically because he keeps trying to get back up to fight, 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 the swear word "Tunk" (the male equivalent of Cunt) and also catches on quite faster than Dave imagined.
  • Mistaken for Gay: This 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 Best Friend (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.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Dave Lizewski's mother died of an aneurysm sometime 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. It's designed to give Hit-Girl the strength of ten men and make her even more violent. It's probably cocaine.
  • Reconstruction: If you have Heroic Spirit, you train properly, and you're prepared to get your ass kicked on occasion, then you can indeed put on a costume, fight crime and be a superhero.
  • 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 asses.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 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.
    • Interestingly enough, the scale slides to the opposite end with the third volume. Certain villains redeem themselves,after one final mission, Dave retires from being a vigilante and joins the police force, and the final scene mirrors the opening scene except for the man in the flight suit actually flies away this time instead of crashing into the ground.
  • 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.
  • This Loser Is You: The comic is not subtle about this. The story is about a pathetic, sometimes egotistical, American comic book nerd trying to be a superhero, and follows as he starts off getting his ass kicked, constantly humiliates himself, and only manages by sheer luck and the intervention of the more successful heroes, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy. His crush only pays attention to him because she thinks he's gay, and when she finds out he's not, she tosses him aside, after he gets beat up by her boyfriend and left with a picture of her going down on said boyfriend for him to wake up to. The story is designed as a deconstruction of the teen superhero concept, but it crosses realistic and goes into mean-spirited with how it is in making Dave as 'normal' as it can. His friends, who're also comic fans, aren't shown any better, and even Big Daddy, revealed to be a comic book fan himself instead of being an ex-cop, is depicted as a pathetic loser who decided to become a superhero and train his daughter to be one after his marriage broke down.
  • 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.
    Hit-Girl: Oh, kiss my ass. What is this, the Silver Age? I'm afraid we forgot our magic fucking hypno-ring that turns bad guys into good guys.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • In Volume 1, Kick-Ass was absolutely pathetic in a fight. In Volume 2, he 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 do in the first issue of the series), and this is before Hit-Girl's training! In Volume 3, he holds his own against six thugs, two of whom were holding guns to his head at the start. Though he eventually loses, he points out his one mistake immediately after the fact, implying that he was capable of taking them on a good day.
    • Averted and lampshaded in Volume 2. Before killing Colonel Stars, Red Mist says he was going to travel the world and learn martial arts... until he remembered he was rich and could just pay other people to do his fighting for him. That and his trainers were swindling him, with a 'task' ripped off Batman Begins because it looked cool.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Kick-Ass gets tortured for information by having a car battery attached to his nuts. He immediately folds, letting them know that he'll tell them anything, but is informed that the questioning won't start for another 20 minutes yet.
  • 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. By the time it ended the comic was now a trilogy consisting of three volumes comprised of eight, seven, and eight issues respectively, as well as a five issue Hit-Girl miniseries.
  • Tsundere: Hit-Girl counts as a Western example of this Japanese archetype (hard on the outside and soft on the inside).
  • Unknown Rival: Justified. Big Daddy doesn't actually have any personal connection to John Genovese; that's just a story he made up for Hit Girl to justify raising her as his sidekick. Big Daddy is actually just a comic nerd who wanted to be a superhero and chose Genovese as his arch-enemy more or less at random.