“Kick Ass 2” #7 is the final issue of the series and at this point there should be little doubt about what a “Kick Ass” comic is going to offer you: fantastic John Romita Jr. artwork, wilfully juvenile humor from Mark Millar and buckets of ultra-violence. If that’s what you’re after, expect to be pleased.
If, however, you were hoping for some sort of resolution to the current story, then it’s bad news. Millar has clearly positioned this as the “Empire Strikes Back” chapter of Kick Ass and as such it ends on a serious downer. Not unexpectedly, given the climax of the series is a huge costumed fight in Times Square (how else would that end?) but perhaps not very imaginatively either. With no closure or examination of the climax’s fallout, this is a series that feels like it ends after its own second act, rather than serving as the middle act of a longer narrative.
That’s not to say it’s a failure. Assuming the series will continue (and Millar has already confirmed that it will), it’s easier to consider this a cliffhanger instead of an ending, even if it is positioned as the finale of the current series. A double-sized issue packed with Kick Ass’ costumed imitators and Hit-Girl back in action means there’s a sense of scale to what’s going on that reaches both higher and wider than the original series finale.
Although in previous issues “Kick Ass 2” pushed the boundaries of taste and decency, things are marginally more restrained here. There’s still violence and swearing, but it also aims for an almost redemptive note for the likes of the Red Mist, who — when he’s injured and possibly dying — says things which suggest he was only “playing” the part of a villain. It’s grim and bleak and undoubtedly Millar’s sense of humor at work — and if you’ve read this far, probably yours as well.
In terms of the series often tenuous impression of superheroes in the real world, this issue also pulls things back from the brink of wish-fulfilment absurdity, although it’s only ever realistic to the point where people continue to escalate what should have ended long ago. Almost no one comes out this uninjured and it turns out the police don’t distinguish between heroes and villains when all they can see are masked idiots pounding on one another.
The problem, really, is that “Kick Ass 2” lacks any specific arc or direction. If we were to boil this series down to its core idea, it’s not so much “more is better” as “more is more”. When “Kick Ass 3” does come out, we can only hope it presents some new ideas because if “Kick Ass 2” did fall short of expectations, that was the reason.