Yes, the title to Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s next installment of their Icon comic-turned-indie-action-film is called “Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall,” just in case anyone was wondering if the A-list Marvel creators had softened their content in the wake of a big screen adaptation. However, as the next phase of the lives of Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizewski and Mindy “Hit-Girl” MacCready ramps up on the page this October 6, Millar admits that the impact of the film’s production has reverberated in the comics world.
“I’ve always stuck with the same plan,” Millar told CBR News of the general shape of the full “Kick-Ass” story. “I couldn’t wait to get to writing Hit Girl in issue #3 because I knew she was going to be good. I came up with the idea of Hit Girl before I even had Dave. Originally, I’d considered doing Hit Girl and Big Daddy as their own comic about four years ago. So I always knew they were going to work. But I’m happy with those characters, and getting back into them again is like slipping into a warm bath. I had a few months where I wasn’t writing them while Johnny caught up with issue #8 and we were promoting the movie, but once the movie was out and we were all back at our desks again, it just felt lovely. It was nice to be writing them. I feel so familiar with them, and they feel like real people to me. And that’s probably because they are real people to me know -Â I’ve got Aaron [Johnson] and ChloÃ« [Moretz’s] voices in my head while I’m writing these guys.”
And just as the actors who portrayed his heroes on screen have worked their way into his head, Millar said the plot of “Kick-Ass 2” sees the concept of street-level superheroes going viral. “For me, I just always thought that all it would take is for one guy to do this and be successful and have people like him to create imitators,” he explained. “Once you’ve got imitators, you’ve immediately got people out there who hate you. And once the haters are out there, they start breeding their own imitators as well. In British comics terms, all it took was for Alan Moore to be the first writer to go over to the states and work for DC, and then suddenly you had a whole wave of guys trying to be Alan Moore. Some of them became successful and then influenced another wave of guys like me and Garth Ennis.
“It happens with everything. It happens with hairstyles and music. All it takes is for someone to write something about it, and then all of the sudden, there are imitators and haters! That’s when I realized that superheroes would be like that. One guys does it, and then people see someone get in a pinch and then another one is out there. That’s what happens with Kick-Ass.”
The arc of the new series involves taking the crime-fighting mission Kick-Ass and Hit Girl barely survived the first time around and making it work for themselves and for a new crop of teammates. “To me, this is the next logical step,” Millar said. “When you ask that very simply, he would probably say, ‘You know what? I’m not a tremendous fighter. I’m a little bit skinny. I’ll got to the gym. I’ll learn how to fight a little more. I’ll learn karate.’ So now he’s got Hit-Girl training him up, and then as these guys start to appear online who are dressed in costumes, they talk about forming gangs and superhero teams. It’s really simply what would happen next. They’re just kids, really. Kick-Ass in this book is about 17, and Hit-Girl is 12. They’re just excited about doing what they’ve always wanted to do, and they don’t feel any sense of responsibility for all this even though it’s quite an irresponsible thing that they’re doing every night.”
But even though the younger heroes of the series may be coming at vigilantism with a bit of a remove from reality, they’ve got nothing on the still secret lineup of imitators Millar and Romita have created to form the world’s first real superteam. “I do think it’s quite fun, the idea of a bunch of people on Facebook getting together to make a superteam, and they all want to be leader,” laughed Millar. “We never see that in the Justice League or the Avengers. Superman or Cap just assumes that role, but I like the idea of a bunch of people bickering around the table going, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa…I got in touch with everyone. I’m the leader!’ And some other guy’s going, ‘Hang on a minute, this is my basement. If you’re coming over to my basement, then I’m the leader.’ That kind of stuff. I don’t want to give too much away, but you will see his team in the first issue.”
And while the writer promised quite a few new characters, Millar hasn’t yet forgotten the threads from “Kick-Ass” volume 1, including the next move for young supervillain Red Mist, who’s out to revenge the death of his mob boss father. “Red Mist has got a kind of Harley Quinn figure. He becomes a kind of cross between Heath Ledger’s
Joker and the Crow,” Millar remarked. “He’s a fucked-up little goth guy who sees himself as the new Charles Manson, and he’s got this Harley Quinn girl with him. The analogy was made by Chris Mintz-Plasse himself, saying, ‘I want a girlfriend. Give me my Harley Quinn.’ And it was a good idea.”
Overall, Millar knows that the sudden film production that followed the first “Kick-Ass” series will have a lot of people both in comics and in Hollywood asking after the film sequel his new comic could inspire. But for the most part, Millar tries not to think about that. “It really happened organically. I don’t have to think about it too much, and if I did, I’d probably get some performance anxiety. This was an indie book that ended up outselling Batman or X-Men or Spider-Man, but it still really felt like a little indie book the whole time we’ve been doing it. I try not to think about the fact that, ‘Okay, it’ll probably be a movie in another year’s time’ and things like that. I just try to make it a little comic of its own.”
A major part of making that comic is working with Romita’s heavy schedule, as the superstar artist continues his work on the best-selling relaunch of Marvel’s “Avengers.” “I wish we were better organized,” admitted Millar, noting that the “Kick-Ass” sequel will ship every other month. “I’m on issue #3 at the moment, and Johnny’s on issue #2. Unfortunately, he’s too busy with his Marvel contract for us to do this monthly, but he’s got to prioritize the Marvel work over the Icon books because Marvel literally doesn’t see one cent of this stuff. It’s an amazing opportunity to get your own material and control it all but get the Marvel distribution. It’s very hard for artists who have other work, so he has to do his Marvel work first and then do ‘Kick-Ass’ in his spare time, which is ironic because the ‘Kick-Ass’ hardcover and trade paperback sold 100,000 copies in the U.S. and 50,000 in the U.K. alone. So financially, it’s much better than the Marvel stuff, but contractually, we’re going to honor what we told Marvel we’d do.”
“Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall” #1 will be in comic shops on October 6. The story will also serialize in smaller installments in Millar’s “CLiNT” magazine starting in September.