WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the new Kick-Ass #1 by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., as well as for volume one of the original Kick-Ass.
After three miniseries starring nerdy teen Dave Lizewski beneath the green mask, Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. had promised an entirely different take on Kick-Ass, one featuring a new hero. Patience Lee is not only a grown-up, she's an army veteran and a single mother. Unlike Dave, she actually has the skills to fight crime, and also has stakes beyond catching the attention of the cutest girl in class. This is a more mature story, and, as Millar has presented Patience in interviews, this is a hero more in line with the current age.
One has to wonder, though, why this series is flying under the Kick-Ass banner.
Whereas Dave initially put on the costume out of "the perfect combination of loneliness and despair," Patience picks up the mantle for survival. Coming back from Afghanistan, Patience discovers that her husband has left her, tearing down her plans to go to college on the G.I. bill while he works -- after she had supported them throughout their life together. Worse, he's left Patience with his debt, and if she's going to make enough money to keep her family afloat, the only game in town is working for seedy clubs that host an array of illegal activity.
Or she could rob those clubs.
So, that's a plan. She puts on the costume, in a scene paying homage to Dave's debut, and vows to steal from out-of-town gangsters -- both details because, "I don't want anything that leads back to me" -- pledging to donate whatever she doesn't need to worthy charities.
The tension here between the original Kick-Ass and Patience is that Dave set out to fight crime for mostly selfish, ill-thought-out reasons, whereas Patience heads into the night to commit a crime, though her intentions were good. (Her original idea was "rob a bank.")
That's not a bad place to start overhauling a familiar hero. That very much is the difference in perspective between a woman in her thirties with two kids and a teenage boy with too much time on his hands. Patience is much more sympathetic than Dave, and it's clear that this is going to be a much more character-driven story.
So, where does this approach go wrong?