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October 19, 2018

Hit-Girl #1 (Review)


Hit-Girl #1
Image Comics, February 2018
Writer: Mark Millar

In February 2008, Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar created a comic book series titled Kick-Ass for American publisher Marvel Comics (via its Icon imprint). This comic told the story of a teenager, Dave Lizeweski, who decided to become a real-life superhero despite not having any superpowers or even any actual combat experience. His ineffective, yet highly publicized antics led to a recruitment offer from a brutal vigilante duo made up of a father and his daughter, who operate under the codenames Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. The comic developed a cult following due to its relatively novel approach to grounding the superhero genre in realism.

The Kick-Ass franchise has since been moved to rival publisher Image Comics, and along the way saw enough commercial success to warrant a follow-up comic book series, and two movie adaptations. The franchise continues to this day, leading to more spin-offs – this review concerns the new miniseries titled Hit-Girl. It is set some time after the sequel comic, with Dave Lizewski having retired from crimefighting/vigilantism (understandable as it is not something he is particularly good at), leaving Hit-Girl with no sidekick.

It has already been addressed in the original series and the spin-offs, but the reader is reminded in Hit-Girl #1 that Dave as the hero Kick-Ass provides a little bit of help to Hit-Girl in the field as her sidekick. But his ultimate purpose is to keep the young girl company (after her father Big Daddy was murdered) since fighting crime can get lonely without a buddy tagging along. When it comes to fighting, it was still mostly Hit-Girl doing all the work. The comic emphasizes this by showing Hit-Girl recruiting another man, named Paul, to fill the role of Kick-Ass only to have him quit in the middle of an operation.

In present time, it is revealed that Hit-Girl is now in Colombia after being contracted by a grieving mother whose son fell victim to gang violence. Aside from getting revenge for her client, Hit-Girl also decides to take her fight to the gangs and syndicates in Colombia, and eventually moving to other places in what might be considered a worldwide tour of vigilantism. Hit-Girl’s first mission is to rescue a notorious gang hitman, Fabio Mendoza, from police captivity.

Fitted with an explosive device by Hit-Girl, Fabio is given a choice by Hit-Girl – either Fabio dies due to the explosive device, or he joins Hit-Girl as her temporary sidekick while she takes down several criminal groups, all of which are rivals of Fabio’s gang. Afterwards, she promises, Fabio will be set free.

Hit-Girl #1 is an excellent follow-up to the original series. Plainly, the stakes are higher. While it can be argued that the mobsters that Hit-Girl has faced in the original series are just as dangerous as the gangs and cartels that she will face in Colombia, she will be doing so in unfamiliar ground. Further, she will be constantly at odds with a police force that she may not be accustomed to and will most likely not give her any leeway.

The comic also serves to show the progression in Hit-Girl’s character – or rather, her regression. Her methods are now starting to cross even further beyond the thin line that separates antiheroes like her from the villains – she resorts to brutal torture and a willingness to work with a dangerous criminal. The story also contains a scene where Hit-Girl is encouraged along by an apparition of her deceased father. Ghosts are not part of the franchise’s grounding in realism. This might be an indication that the character is starting to lose what little semblance of mental stability she once had.

Another favorable aspect of this new Hit-Girl comic is that it does not all revolve around the titular character. We get a glimpse of other players in the mix, from Fabio Mendoza’s father and brother, who are portrayed as massively influential and psychopathic enough to treat the capture of Fabio as a form of martyrdom for their group, and Hit-Girl’s client who turns out to be as scared of Hit-Girl as she is of the gangs in her city, with revenge being her biggest motivation for summoning the vigilante.

It is also worth keeping an eye out on Fabio and Hit-Girl’s partnership. Fabio has accepted the offer, but only out of self-preservation. The comic so far has made no attempt to portray him as someone who might be redeemable, and given Hit-Girl’s obsession with killing criminals it is hard to imagine her actually letting Fabio and his group go when she is done. We also look forward to seeing how they function as a crimefighting duo, given that Fabio – unlike Dave Lizewski – might be as dangerous and unhinged as Hit-Girl is on the field.

We can recommend Hit-Girl #1 as a great new mini-series to follow, especially for fans of Mr Millar’s brand of darkly-comedic, hyper-violent takes on the superhero genre. Of course, there is the requirement of familiarity with the original Kick-Ass series and its sequel, but given how popular the movie is (which did not depart too much from the comic books in the general trajectory of the plot), this background may already be familiar to new comic book readers.

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