“Jesus, man. Why do people want to be Paris Hilton and nobody wants to be Spider-Man?”
That’s a good question, I suppose. (Although the simple answer might be “Paris Hilton is rich, and Peter Parker spends half of his time, in his own book, miserable beyond all belief.” But, let’s run with this for a moment.) Why haven’t we seen a “real” superhero show up? Now, granted – Spider Man is a pretty bad example, because if a normal person gets bit by a radioactive spider, they end up looking like John Cusack at the end of Fat Man and Little Boy.
However, I would conservatively guess that somewhere around 99% of serious comic readers have, at some point in time, fantasized about being a super hero themselves. And of course, the most dangerous source of inspiration is Batman, who has no powers whatsoever. Bruce Wayne is the embodiment of what we all could be, with a combination of proper training, nutrition, discipline and serious psychological trauma.
Of course, this is hardly the first time the idea of a “super hero without super powers” has been broached: the entire cast of “Watchmen”, with the obvious exception of Dr. Manhattan, was exactly that. But our hero here, Dave Lizewski, does not have the benefit of being a powerfully-built weightlifter, or ex-military, and is certainly nowhere close to the smartest man on the planet. In fact, he’s pretty much a loser.
But it does take some guts to make your protagonist an actual loser (as opposed to the quasi-lower Peter Parker was supposed to be – exactly how many losers out there score girlfriends like Gwen Stacy or Mary-Jane Watson?). I also appreciate the random shout out to Joss Whedon’s work on “Astonishing X-Men”. It goes a long way towards establishing that, yes, these kids really are intense comic fans.
There’s obviously a lot of story here to be told, and I’m curious to see if Millar and Romita eventually move from having the character getting his ass kicked, to actually kicking ass. While that will certainly make for a more “fun” read (especially for all those aforementioned readers with their own fantasies), I have to admit to being seriously nervous about the possiblity of this book actually inspiring some mentally unbalanced teenager out there to get his own costume and start fighting crime, if Kick Ass turns into an actual “hero”. But, I guess time will tell on that front.