Millar & Romita "Kick-Ass" Until The Very End

SPOILER WARNING: The following story contains spoilers for the end of "Kick-Ass 3" #8, on sale now.

Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. have both done enough big name superhero comics in their careers to put them at the top of Marvel and DC's Rolodexes. But when all is said and done, they may be best remembered for a floppy-haired fanboy named Dave Lizewski and his foul-mouth ten-year-old compatriot Mindy.

Last week, "Kick-Ass 3" #8 shipped from Marvel's Icon imprint, marking the end of a six-year journey that took their creator-owned look at superheroes in the 'real' world from a mainstream comics side project to a genuine movie franchise and beyond. Over the course of four miniseries comprised of 20 issues, the pair grew their titular teen hero from a nebbish comic reader to the leader of a superhero movement, a story that brought them unexpected sales success and a pair of Hollywood movies. Now, with "Kick-Ass 3" wrapped, Millar and Romita have experienced the rare feat in comics of ending their series on their own terms and moving on to future projects with more confidence and opportunities as a result.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: Millar, Romita's "Kick-Ass 3" Finale

CBR News spoke with both creators to look back over the rise of "Kick-Ass," and Millar and Romita dug into the origins of the book, which came together after their initial collaboration on Marvel's "Wolverine," the struggles to continue making the comic amidst pressure from other publishers and commitments to a growing Hollywood presence, the controversial aspects of the series, from a ten-year-old girl assassin who dropped the C-word to an about-face on the material from "Kick-Ass 2" star Jim Carrey, and how the grand finale leaves both them and their characters happier than they've ever been before.

CBR News: "Kick-Ass 3" #8 marks the end of a long journey for both of you. I'm assuming that when you launched the initial miniseries, you weren't expecting nearly this level of attention and success as, at the time, "Kick-Ass" was just one of a number of Millarworld books coming out. At what point did you realize that this series was going to be the big one, arguably the flagship of the line?

Mark Millar: The weird thing is that we knew this was going to be big before the first issue even came out because we got the advanced numbers in and thought, "Holy shit!" It had been a crapshoot with creator-owned, because something could be massive or it could be negligible. It's not like doing Spider-Man or Batman where there's a pre-existing audience already there. You have to put these things out quite blindly, but we saw that the advance orders were really good, and at the same time Matthew [Vaughn] had just bought the movie rights because John and I had started working on it some time before that. Then the first issue sold out before it hit the stands, which always confuses me.

The thing is, we always knew that it had hit the ground running. It was exciting. Johnny, this was probably weirder for you because we did the whole thing for free. So when it was a big hit, it must have been a relief, wasn't it?

John Romita, Jr.: Yeah. That was a real talking point between myself and my wife when Mark said we should let the money go until the sales came in. It was a chancey thing, but hearing that the sales were so good mitigated that feeling.

Still, to answer the first question, as things go with the mainstream books, I expected the sales to drop significantly, and then things would settle in at a lower number. Being a cynic and a skeptic, I wholeheartedly expected that to happen over time, and the fact that it maintained such a high level is amazing. I did acknowledge in my head, "This is a high quality product, and it deserves to be this way," but I've said before: I've put out quality products that didn't sell as well. I always knew Mark had more confidence than me, and I was last to that feeling only because I'm a cynic. The only regret that I have is that I didn't do more issues and couldn't do more issues. I'll always blame myself for that because it was a difficult position when I was under contract [with Marvel]. I'll always wonder, if I had done this as a regular monthly title, what would have happened? But we'll never know.

Millar: A lot of people might say, "Why has this taken so long?" but they wouldn't be realizing that Johnny had 14 issues outside of "Kick-Ass" that he was under contract for every year at Marvel. So to get four or five issues of "Kick-Ass" out in a year meant he was doing at least twice as many pages as any other artist in the industry. What were you doing, 18 issues a year at that point?

Romita: Something like that. And in fairness to both of us, Mark does not do slight issues. There's never an issue of close-ups. He does full, Cecil B. DeMille issues. There are no simple costumes or easy panels because there are always a large amount of people to make it accurate and to make it effective. So while it's challenging -- and any artist who works with Mark will tell you that nothing is superfluous -- it makes for quality stuff. And yes, difficult work with no money up front does play into effect, but the sales softened that.

Interestingly enough, during the run up to the first film, I was doing "Spider-Man," "Kick-Ass 2" and some work for the film itself. There was a small animated sequence there, and it had to be redone several times because it wasn't getting done right with the special effects company. So I'm working three jobs at the same time. That was as efficient as I could get, and I still couldn't finish anything! Everything was late because it was just too much. The last thing I was going to do was tell Matthew Vaughn, "Sorry, I can't do the sequence for your movie because I have a few issues of 'Spider-Man' to do." [Laughter]

Millar: I remember talking you into this because in our "Wolverine" run, we had Helicarriers crashing into the city and things. And I said, "This is going to be so easy by comparison! It's full of kids, and they have no powers. It's a small cast." And it's still incredibly difficult to draw. There was never going to be an easy page, but I needed it to sound like there was going to be easy pages so you'd draw it. And also, this was originally supposed to be a four-issue series. I don't know if you recall that, but we told Marvel it was only going to be four issues, which was why they were more relaxed about you doing this.

Romita: Actually, when the first arc was done, Marvel said, "You really don't have to do any more. You did this one thing, took your one shot and got a movie made. No, you're done." [Millar Laughs] That wasn't sarcasm or cynicism. It was a serious business strategy from Marvel. "Don't do any more." And when I agreed to do more and things started deteriorating schedule-wise, I wasn't doing enough in their eyes, and I was killing myself. But it did change on the fly.

More on what Mark said about this being difficult: I defy any artist to do a series of all regular street pages or regular occurrences as opposed to all superhero stuff. But when Mark is so intent on making it very accurate regardless of my style -- we were in Queens and Jersey, with multicultural villains and good guys, and to make it accurate to life within this genre doesn't make anything easier. Mark is from a different country, so he doesn't have all the colloquialisms from here, but his knowledge of all things American was absolutely fantastic.

Millar: Everything I know about America, I learned from "Starsky & Hutch" and "C.H.i.P.S."

Romita: [Romita] Well, Mark always thought I looked like Eric Estrada anyway.

Millar: I just thought the two of us together looked like the two guys in "C.H.i.P.S."! [Laughter] Every time we walk onto stage together, it's like a "C.H.i.P.S." signing.

So why do you think that this book did connect with the audience like it did? Was a part of this that Dave Lizewski is a comic fan fist and foremost so the readers saw something of themselves in him, or was it the violence and the swearing that kept the crowds coming?

Millar: I think the violence and the swearing is actually the smallest part of it. I think the character is everything, here. People connected with Mindy, but they especially connected with Dave. Mindy has got more of a pop culture icon vibe, but Dave is the classic everyman. Kind of like Clark Kent was the everyman but was superceded by Peter Parker, I think we took it to the next level. Every time those superheroes were reinvented for the next generation, the idea was to get closer and closer to a real person. Peter Parker is much more real than Clark Kent, and I think Dave Lizewski is more real than Peter Parker. You never see Peter Parker on the CBR Forums, but you do see Dave doing that in a few issues. I think readers connect with that because that's what I was like at that age. I just wanted to make a character like somebody I would know. I think you drew him to be like that too, right?

Romita: I agree 100%, and the way I drew it was my attempt to make him look like an everyday person. Dave was fashioned, in a sensem after Jon Heder from "Napoleon Dynamite" and a kid who was in my jujitsu class who looked just like him, with the big floppy hair and the big Adam's apple.

To me, the violence and the foul language is something that I compare to the pinstriping on a very, very hot car. It's there, and it's beautiful. It makes the thing that much more hot, but the car is there because it's a quality car. So while people will say to me, "That's the comic with all the swearing and violence in it," I think that's not the reason they pick it up. It's something they talk about after they pick it up, but they read the story first, which just happened to have some violence in it. People have asked me whether I enjoyed doing this stuff, and I loved every second of the violence. I'll tell you why: It had nothing to do with the fact that it was violence. It had to do with the fact that it was such a departure from what I was doing. It got me out of this confined box I was in, and on a personal level, it made me a better artist. Regardless of what people might say about the results, it was a challenge I hadn't encountered before, and I loved every second of it. Yes, it's violent, but that's not the reason the book sold or why the comic is of quality.

Mark is right. The characters made everything on this. Look at Hit-Girl. That is one of the best, if not the best new characters to come along. Think about it. We have this young, strong female in the book, and people complained about her saying one foul word. Yet, this is a character who will last for a very, very long time.

But at the same time, I feel like you guys wanted to upend expectations with these characters. While Dave is a real fanboy, the thing everyone was talking about when the very first issue of "Kick-Ass" arrived was that as soon as he tried to take his fantasy out into the real world, he got the crap kicked out of him. Do you think part of the book is about the danger inherent in indulging that too much?

Millar: I think it's just applying logic to some of the tropes we know so well. I've read superhero comics since I was four, like most of the people reading this interview, I'd guess. We are familiar with these things. We're familiar with the idea that as soon as someone robs a bank, Batman or Spider-Man happens to swing by. But in reality, that would never happen. I just took that kind of logic forward. The chance is that if a criminal is committing an act, Kick-Ass is actually 45 blocks away and has no idea this is happening. So we'd have him go out on patrol every night and see nothing. How often in life do we see crime being committed? In the same way, if one guy goes up against three guys, the odds are that the three are going to beat the hell out of the one. That was the gag with the whole book -- taking tropes and messing with them.

Romita: And that's putting it lightly. I see Mark as out-Spider-Man-ing Spider-Man, out-Stan Lee-ing Stan Lee and out-Peter Parker-ing Peter Parker. When Stan created Spider-Man, it was as the "anti-Superman," so to speak -- a street kid becoming a superhero. This is one step below that. Here we've got a street kid who tries to become a superhero as opposed to actually ever getting powers. The power he develops is his intestinal fortitude, but he's taught by the only possible superhero in the whole series, who is Hit-Girl. It's not lost on anyone that this is a ten-year-old girl with an insane father who made this happen. We don't come upon those story points lightly. Mark may blame this all on his childhood, [Millar Laughs] but ultimately, these are some of the best characters you'll ever see.

Millar: Wouldn't it have been great if we ruined it in the final issue and gave him superpowers? [Laughter] Like maybe he'd join the Nova Corps or something.

Romita: Maybe he'd wake up from a dream and just have powers. No, I always felt like the only character who was really like a superhero in this series was Hit-Girl. With someone like Dave, it never would have fit, but he ended up being a superhero anyway because he became a cop.

What was it like continuing to make the comic at the same time as the movies were coming together? Obviously, you were able to draft a lot of new readers off the first film, but there were also struggles with timing on the second series and whether John would be able to draw the "Hit-Girl" mini which proceeded it. Did making the comic get harder the longer it went on?

Romita: It got complicated, physically, and that was it. Storywise, it all went beautifully and smoothly. If people want to look at "Hit-Girl" as a prequel as opposed to a sequel, they can read it how they want. But for us, it gave us priorities on how to develop the order for the story. But it never got more complicated. It just had more physical work.

Millar: The only thing that slightly bothers me is the fact that we have "Kick-Ass" books 1, 2 and 3 with the "Hit-Girl" series hanging in the middle there. I'd love to do new editions in ten years where it's just Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 so people had a simple reading order. That's the only slight complication I can imagine.

The idea with "Hit-Girl" originally was just that -- I obviously have a lot more time to write scripts than Johnny does to draw them. I wasn't under contract. I thought we could have the "Hit-Girl" series running at the same time as "Kick-Ass 2." So I found this incredible artist in Leandro Fernández to do "Hit-Girl," but as much as I love Leandro's art, when it came to the crunch, I couldn't see anybody but Johnny drawing the characters. It's a creator-owned book, and it just felt wrong. I had to apologize to Leandro and just say, "It's Johnny's gig." As nice as it would be to have ten issues out a year instead of four or five, it felt wrong.

I remember when "Watchmen" #12 came out and it was late, or issue #4 of "The Dark Knight Returns," and I don't see anybody today saying, "God, when I read 'Watchmen,' I'm so disappointed that #12 was late!" [Romita Laughs] I just wanted "Kick-Ass" to be Johnny, from start to finish, and he thankfully made the time -- even though it almost killed him. He was doing "Kick-Ass" in the evenings, like a part time job on top of his full-time job. So it was really tough, but I'm very proud of the result. After 20 issues of almost squeezing blood out of a stone, we've made our way here. There's something almost sad about it and poignant at the finish, but it's thrilling at the same time to be here.

Romita: And these weren't 20-page comics, either. They were large issues -- 40-page issues, 30-page issues and 25-page issues. There were a couple of 22-page issues in there, but those were not the norm. We did larger comics than the norm. Mark let the story play out with the amount of pages it needed to be done properly. I can grit my teeth over the amount of work that went into it, but it could not have been done differently. I couldn't be more proud of a project in my career -- unless something better comes along, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Millar: You know, it's nice to have something completely on your own terms. If we'd done this series 30 years ago, there would have been fill-in artists on certain issues, and as soon as we were done, someone else would have come in and taken over the characters. We would never have been allowed to do certain things. There's something great about creator-owned where, even if this hadn't done well commercially -- and it's been the biggest thing in our careers, financially, beating out what we made on the company books put together -- no company could ever come in and tell us what to do. Because it's creator-owned, it's all up to us as the writer and artist. I'm so glad we were born when we were as opposed to 40 or 50 years ago, when the company would make the decisions on these things. Putting this to bed when we did and in the way we did is the best part. Johnny and I discussed those last five pages a few years ago, and it's great to be able to do exactly that.

Over the course of all the "Kick-Ass" books, there has been a fair share of controversy surrounding it in the press. Plenty of people have had something to say about the level of violence or the language, and Jim Carrey's declining to promote the "Kick-Ass 2" movie was all over. Has that made the whole creative process more difficult, or are you of the opinion that all press is good press?

Millar: I think, as a creator, you've just got to make sure everything has a proper context. You can't just do something for the sake of it -- throwing in swearing or violence just to deliberately shock. Every single decision we made in the project had a well thought out reason.

RELATED: Jim Carrey Condemns Violence in Kick-Ass 2, Mark Millar Responds

Even Mindy's big entrance -- it was impactful, sure, but to put it in perspective, this is a kid who grew up without a mother and with a father who let her watch movies that were far too violent and old for her. She grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger say, "Fuck you, asshole" in "The Terminator" because no one in the house would tell her that was a bad thing. A seven-year-old girl shouldn't be watching that, so it all played into her character. I take it back to those very basics. Mindy was the way she was because of how she was raised, and from the moment you see her in that first scene, all the clues are there for you.

I never do these things lightly. And I do books like "Starlight," or in the past, "Superman Adventures," where it's all very charming and I'm equally proud of those books. I don't like to just strike out and do shock after shock for the sake of it, but as a reader, I think every once in a while it's nice to be shocked. Some of my most enduring memories reading comics are being shocked by creators, whether it's Alan Moore or Frank Miller or Howard Chaykin. That's the stuff that stays with you, and I hope people have enjoyed it.

Romita: There are several moments that get brought to me about this series, and the only one that I actually could feel uncomfortable about was the murder of a couple of kids in one issue. That happened a long time before the shooting in the elementary school [at Sandy Hook]. That was nothing we'd ever try to capitalize on, and that made me feel uncomfortable because I have children. My son was young at that time, and I don't know that I'd do that scene now if that kind of thing came up again.

But then again, I did a book about 9/11 with Spider-Man in it, right after 9/11. I felt uncomfortable about that too, but people told me it was important for that moment.

As for Jim Carrey, I know I'll never work with that bonehead again, so let me say this. I think Mark and I have talked about this before, but here's a guy who could have capitalized on the character he played and played it toward his anti-gun stance. The character he played gave up weapons -- gave up guns -- and became a good guy. Anybody with three quarters of an education could have figured out how to fold that idea in with their anti-gun ideas. He's not a smart enough guy to do that. He cashed his check and took his money, and then he went and pulled a bunch of crap on our film. I say "our film," because a lot of people worked on that. He made people suffer that had jobs and needed every dime from this. I'm not talking about Mark and I. I'm talking about people in the offices and people behind the camera that worked their butts off for this. He took money out of their pockets, and he should be ashamed of himself. I've always wanted to say that, and I'll stand on a chair and look him in the eye and tell him that's what I think.

Looking at the final issue itself, I felt like the series had gotten to a point where you set the boulder running down the hill -- or Hit-Girl running down on mob bosses -- and the audience just got to sit back and watch everything play out to its finish. Did you feel, after everything else, that "Kick-Ass 3" was a book where you were able to just lock in and let the creative momentum take you through?

Millar: Whenever you start a book -- and certainly in our case -- you tend to have an ending in mind from the start. I always work towards the ending, from page 1. When I wrote page 1 of Issue #1, I had the idea for the last scene, and the epilogue. I do this all the time, where I kind of reverse-engineer the story from that point. "Kick-Ass" was no exception. I like working backwards, and I think it's because when I was writing Marvel stuff and DC stuff, I'd always run out of pages. I'd want to put in a great climax to a story, but I'd find I only had two pages to do what I wanted to do in ten. But if you write your ending first and then work towards it, you'll never run out of space. Nobody has ever complained about a rushed opening, but they do complain about a rushed ending.

You have a real unique storytelling technique you use for comics here, because the finale has a fourth wall-breaking "credits sequence," and then a post-credits scene. Did you use that to help separate the comic and its definitive end from what people know from the movies?

Millar: I think it was just fun. The idea I had was to do something like the "Something About Mary" credits sequence. I know that sounds ridiculous and so far removed from what we're doing [Laughs], but I always kind of liked the silliness of that ending, with the actors and not the characters. That was honestly my only thought. I didn't think of the "Kick-Ass" movies at all. I just thought it'd be neat to end this like "Something About Mary!"

Romita: I absolutely felt like, up until the last panel, it was a good ending. The last panel made it a great ending. I remember at one point, Mark was talking about the ending, should we ever do it -- this was a few years ago -- and he was thinking about killing one of the characters off. He asked if we should do it, but over time he softened that stance. The fact that Dave becomes what he becomes is the perfect ending for him. He's a real superhero. It couldn't have been any better. This is his long term life, and it is what he should be. And Hit-Girl stays who she is and who she should be. You can't get any better than that.

The only thing I would have loved to have seen would see Big Daddy not having died and then seeing the father and daughter working together again. That dynamic was the original story, as I recall. It was just those two. And I would have loved to see more of that.

Millar: Johnny's right. Back in 2006 before our first launch, "Kick-Ass" #1 was already written two issues before anything came out. And the first issue was going to be all Hit-Girl and Big Daddy. We were thinking about that for a while, and at one point we even talked about going back and doing a prequel. It was a fun dynamic between the two of them, and even their training sequence were fun to write. How often do you see a training sequence that's anything but boring, but the two of them were great together?

Romita: I'd love to see Dave as a police officer training a younger officer in 20 years and treating her just like Hit-Girl treated him.

John, you've said here that Dave is a superhero in the end. And as we've discussed, this is a story all about people who love comics and want to take the lessons of comic books out into their real lives. Considering the ending, what did you want to say to people who have that impulse to take the ideals of superheroes or even the literal act of superheroing out into the real world?

Romita: To me, the morals of the characters are something I'm less about than I am about how this turns out as a product. This did something that even Stan Lee didn't go as far with, and whether Mark intended that to happen or not, I honestly believe that this was a ground-breaking series. It changed creator-owned products. But I can't think past the product. The characters themselves are something where we can all speculate on where they might be morally or immorally over the long term, but I only think of them in terms of what we might do if we ever returned to this. I think of who they might be as adults, and the fun we've had doing them. I'll do superheroes maybe until I retire, but this group of years is the point where I sat down excited to draw, every single moment I worked on "Kick-Ass" -- even when I was exhausted after a full day. This was just more fun. And it was not necessarily because I was drawing violence, but because I was drawing something different. I can't thank Mark enough for calling me up that day and asking me to do this. I can't get away from the product and what it was to me, to my family and to the industry. That's something special.

Millar: Like Johnny says, I can't imagine anyone else but him drawing this. It was his vision from the beginning. When I was telling him about what the series could be early on, I had these visuals in my head, but then the pages came back 250 times better than anything I could have imagined. It's like writing a screenplay and then seeing a great director, cinematographer and actor do all the work so you can sit back in the theater and go, "Oh, my God. This is so much better than black and white text on a piece of paper." For me, working with Johnny on "Wolverine: Enemy of the State" was an amazing experience, and this was a quantum leap beyond that.

As far as what the series itself was about for me, it's funny, because while it looks very cynical, I think there's something very sweet about "Kick-Ass" as a series and as a character. What it is is somebody who's so inspired by seeing people do good stuff when they're paying their $2.99 every month -- or sadly $3.99 every month -- and so they think, "I'd like to do that. There's more to life than just making money and more than just getting up and going to work. Adult responsibility isn't all it's cracked up to be, so I'd like to go out there and do some of what the characters in these pages do."

This was also the story of a little guy who didn't like himself very much. The journey that Dave Lizewski was one of a kid who hated being Dave Lizewski so he created another identity, and it taught him to like who he actually was. By the end of the series, he was the man he always wanted to be. Kick-Ass -- like all superheroes -- helped save him and helped put him on that journey.

Let's wrap with two questions about the future. First, I think the obvious question after the third and final book would be whether you think there's any chance there will also be a third movie?

Millar: I can tell you exactly where we're at. I'm always 100% straight up with these things -- to the point where I'm always revealing stuff two or three years before it's supposed to get out. I know I told you immediately after we got the first weekend after "Kick-Ass" came out that we were doing "Kick-Ass 2." And Matthew had engaged Jeff [Wadlow] by the following September, but no official announcement was made until the following year. But what you can always do is look at the opening box office to see how much money it's going to take in and see what the development possibilities will be.

With "Kick-Ass," it was a no brainer. It was made for $28 million and made $100 million back and then made another $140 million on DVD. So for the money guys, it was a $28 million investment that made $240 million. That's a slam dunk. You're getting your sequel. The second one didn't make as much. It cost a little less at around $24 million, made $61 million and made about $100 million again on DVD and TV rights. It was still profitable. It was by no means "The Lone Ranger." But does that mean we'll make another one again? I don't know. It's definitely up in the air, and we'll just have to see. Matthew is a guy who I trust to make that decision. If he decides he does want to do it, I know he'll get it done well. And he's got the movie rights, so it's ultimately his decision. I speak to Matthew every day, and we haven't discussed "Kick-Ass 3" so who knows? The option is always open.

And the other question is that you've obviously spoken about opening the world of Kick-Ass into other books like "MPH." With Dave now being a cop and Mindy traveling the world doing her thing, what are the odds that we'll see any of these characters showing up down the line -- either in some of your other books or as John was saying maybe in a prequel?

Millar: You know, I kind of like the way it closes here. Mindy's obviously such a great character that it could be nice to use her at some point in the future. But it's also kind of cool to think that if you want to see those characters, you've got those four books. It's the way "Lord of the Rings" was or when there were just three "Star Wars" movies that everyone loved. I kind of like the idea of closing that door. But who knows? It's such great fun to write as well.

Another thing to think about is that I've got maybe another 80 pages of scenes that I absolutely love. There are subplots and stories I've written that we didn't have time to do in the regular book because getting it all done was such a challenge as it was. But I've got whole typed-up scenes taking place between "Kick-Ass" and "Kick-Ass 2." So maybe we'll release a scrapbook of that stuff at some point. But it's a world I'm absolutely going to miss, I'll tell you that.

Romita: Absolutely. I'm going to miss Hit-Girl the most, and that's in part because I got to meet Chloe [Moretz] when she was a little girl. She's about the same age as my son, and there was an absolute glow about her as a little girl. Now she's a mature, beautiful woman, but knowing her when she was young made the character better for me. I actually got upset during a couple of scenes in "Kick-Ass 2" of her getting beat up by Mother Russia. I just imagined someone putting their hands on Chloe, and it pissed me off. So I'd love to do more with Hit-Girl, but only within the context of it being right -- not looking for a film out of it. That little character is so quality that I'd love to do more.

Millar: It's funny, because that whole little group from "Kick-Ass" are pretty tight. Johnny and I are obviously close friends, but when I was in San Diego last week, I traveled to LA after Comic-Con and met up with Chris Mintz-Plasse and Clark Duke and Jeff Wadlow. I had lunch and dinner with all these guys who had made the movie, and also with my friends at Lions Gate and Universal who distributed the picture. I think it's something that will never quite leave us in comic terms of movie terms. We all formed real friendships and got to know each other quite well over that period of time. It's a nice little gang.

It's been an amazing experience. When you think about it, 20 issues is less than I did of "Ultimate X-Men." It's about the same as I did with "The Ultimates." It's not a very long run, but the life-changing difference it's made is crazy -- for Johnny and I both. It gave us the capital to go off and do our own things. We can do the projects we want to do, and there are movies and video games. I can walk into a department store and see Kick-Ass hoodies and everything. The whole thing has been really quite surreal. It's hard to believe that only six years ago I was on the phone with Johnny, talking about the possibility of doing this. We weren't sure if we should go back and do more "Wolverine" instead. [Laughter] It's so strange the direction this has taken our lives.

Romita: One comment that Jonah [Weiland] said to me was that this series was going to change my life. And he might have been a little hyperbolic about it then, but it did change my life. It changed my career and my life drastically in that it opened me up to other things. Mark is correct. There are opportunities now to do other things that I never would have been able to do before. So I owe that to "Kick-Ass," but I really owe it to Mark. His career is going where it should be -- the way it should work out. He's got the mind of a director with the abilities of a screenwriter. For me, now when I sit down to work I smile because I did "Kick-Ass." It made things so much more fun, and it relaxed me for the future. I can't thank him enough and can't thank the series enough.

Millar: And not to make this too much of a love fest, but this literally couldn't have happened without Johnny. There are so many guys who would have ruined this. [Laughs] It's 90% the art. I say that all the time, and it's not a lie. When I work with Frank Quitely, it's 90% the art. When I work with John Romita, it's 90% the art. I'm very lucky to have the highest quality guys working with me and allowing me to continue.

"Kick-Ass 3" #8 is on sale now from Marvel's Icon imprint.

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