“I wasn’t the class clown or class genius or class anything, really. Like most people my age, I merely existed,” explains Dave Lizewski, the protagonist of Kick-Ass: The Dave Lizewski Years. While it’s only a small line in the first volume, Dave’s statement is the perfect explanation of why the Kick-Ass story has done so well. Its hero doesn’t need a major backstory or a big mission. Instead, it tells the story of how a superhero can be born from nothing but boredom. This retro review of Kick-Ass: The Dave Lizewski Years will look at how the comics are unique amongst a busy genre, and why they’re such a fun read.
What Kick-Ass: The Dave Lizewski Years Is All About
If you’ve watched the 2010 film adaptation, Kick-Ass, you already know a pretty great deal about what goes on in these comics. While the film does the story justice, there additional background and fun characters make its source material worth reading. The story follows Dave Lizewski, who, by all accounts, is a pretty normal teenage boy. He spends most of his time reading comic books and dreaming about girls. This gets just boring and mundane enough that he decides to spice up his life and become a hero.
Dave in the film adaptation, Kick-Ass. Image via Lionsgate.
Almost every superhero or supervillain has some big origin story that explains how they got to be who they are. Dave knows this, as he’s a major comic connoisseur himself. He recognizes his lack of this origin story and doesn’t think that he needs one. Sure, he has family trauma, but his mission isn’t to avenge his deceased mother or give his father someone to be proud of. He uses comic books to fill whatever voids he has until he decides to fill it. It’s not that reading about heroes isn’t enough, though. Instead, they’re the catalyst for his great idea to become the kind of guy who he loves reading about.
Becoming A Hero
Dave knows that becoming a hero isn’t an easy decision. He equates his desires with the common goal of celebrity, saying that “not everyone gets to be a rock star, but it doesn’t stop people buying guitars.” Even after getting stabbed on his first real attempt at heroism, he can’t help but keep going. There’s an internal desire to do something with his life that had been building for years, and he can’t hold back anymore. So, he does his best to train his skills and learns how to be brave, putting himself in risky situations until he finds something to fight.
While his unfortunate stabbing is a major setback, it also sets him up for success. He goes through surgeries and gets bones replaced with metal. This allows him to endure more pain than the regular person and he can fight for even longer. It may not be a superpower, but it sure helps. Dave eventually finds himself in the right place at the right time, taking down a gang as they attack a man, drawing enough attention to become a household name. Now branded as Kick-Ass, Dave has some star power.
A Hero Is Nothing Without Allies
Forget the Avengers. This story has Kick-Ass, Big Daddy, and Hit-Girl as a team, and they’re arguably even more fun. Hit-Girl, a young girl with zero fear and a concerning lack of remorse is one of the boldest comic book heroes around. Raised by her father, Damon Macready (a.k.a. Big Daddy), Hit-Girl has been raised to fight. She and her father have been working on seeking revenge after his former pal, Frank D’Amico, framed him and sent him to jail.
All three heroes are mere mortals with a common goal of vigilantism. Despite being on the same level, Kick-Ass is anything but. It’s fun watching a young girl run laps around him when it comes to taking down bad guys, and his inexperience is charming. Despite being little more than an extra pair of hands, Dave is ready to become what Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are: real, crime-fighting “heroes”.
Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass #4. Image via Icon Comics/Marvel.
So, Why Are The Kick-Ass: The Dave Lizewski Years Comics So Entertaining?
Superhero stories are always fun. However, sometimes reading about heroes with crazy powers can feel repetitive. That’s not to say that they’re formulaic, but a refreshing addition is sometimes needed, and that’s where Kick-Ass comes in. This story is widely inappropriate, filled with blood and curse words (mostly from the mouth of a child), and, best of all, relatable. The teenage angst in between all the crime-fighting is something that any reader can relate to on some level.
The comics mix the real and dangerous adult world of crime with the innocence and ignorance of teenagers so well. On one hand, there is an entire crime family causing real trouble. On the other, you have a couple of awkward teenagers trying to join the world of superheroes. Red Mist, who becomes a hero as a sneaky way of helping out mob boss father, uses his knowledge of comic heroes to create his own identity. Together the gang mixes fantasies with reality, and they somehow make it work despite the absurdity.
What If We Were Kick-Ass?
Now, I know that I could never be a superhero. I don’t have the same fantasies that Dave has. However, if I stop to think about the kind of hero that I’d want to be, I think I’d want to be Hit-Girl. She’s the ultimate bad-ass, using her status as a young woman to her advantage. She’s witty, she’s dangerous, and she feels real. Hit-Girl does have a goal, which is to avenge her mother. However, she still enjoys her work and can find the fun in beating up the bad guys.
Anybody who reads these comics is going to take a break to stop and think about their version of Kick-Ass. What kind of costume would you wear? What would your name be? Could you jump off a building? You probably can’t, and you definitely shouldn’t try. And we all know this. But Kick-Ass still makes us wonder… what if?
Kick-Ass Comic Books For Anybody
The series was brought to life by writer Mark Millar and illustrator John Romita Jr. Marvel Comics published the comics under their Icon imprint from 2008 to 2014. Not only did it inspire the film adaptation, but some spin-off series, too. The New Girl, first released in 2018, follows a new protagonist. Hit-Girl herself also received a sequel spin-off in 2018, named after her character.
This series of comics is easy to read for any potential fan. Having extensive knowledge of the wide world of preexisting heroes helps, as there are shout outs and allusions to other comic book characters throughout. Though, if your comic knowledge is lacking, you can still enjoy the excitement. Kick-Ass: The Dave Lizewski Years doesn’t expect you to know anything. All it needs is your imagination, and your ability to accept that sometimes we all want to picture ourselves as the hero.
Featured image via Icon Comics/Marvel, Kick-Ass #4.
Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.