BOOK REVIEW – Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. (Graphic Novel)

By Martin Mulrooney

KickAss2PreludeHitGirl

Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl sandwiches neatly between Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, offering fans of the comics (and the film adaptations – Kick-Ass and its forthcoming sequel) the chance to get up close and personal with 12-year-old pint-sized warrior of death Mindy McCready. A new mafia don is on the rise, but Mindy’s greatest challenge yet might turn out to be… middle school?!

Although Titan Books published Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2 before Hit-Girl, this collection is actually ‘Book Two’ in the Kick-Ass saga. It fills the gap between ‘Book One’ (Kick-Ass) and ‘Book Three’ (Kick-Ass 2) nicely. It’s a gap that admittedly wasn’t very noticeable to begin with – however, by focusing on the character of Hit-Girl rather than Kick-Ass (aka David Lizewski) as usual, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. are afforded the unique opportunity to further explore the most violent and bad-ass little girl in comic books as more than just a supporting character.

Of course, taking a closer look at Mindy McCready was always going to be a bloody affair and Hit-Girl doesn’t disappoint on this front. Every night she drugs her mother and stepfather (Marcus, the cop looking after her), slips into costume and meets up with Kick-Ass to train him in the art of killing bad guys. Romita Jr.’s detailed artwork pops out consistently from each page, whether Hit-Girl is mowing down mobsters, blowing up a drug warehouse or teaching Kick-Ass how to successfully jump through a window and deliver a cool entrance line.  The colouring is vivid and gorgeous, making even the grimiest and bloodiest scenes look surprisingly beautiful.

Yet perhaps the biggest surprise is that Mindy also needs training – in return for her help in the art of dealing out painful vigilante justice, she asks David Lizewski to teach her how to be ‘normal’. Crouching in front of her father’s grave, she recalls how she has shot people, choked people, even drowned a motherfucker… so why can’t she handle the bitches at school? It’s clever writing by Millar – the focus is usually on the coolness of the concept rather than the reality of the situation. It’s refreshing to see Mindy struggling with the same crap every girl her age goes through. Even more refreshing is that, when David’s advice fails to work, she falls back on her own tried-and-tested methods. We’re always told violence isn’t the answer. Hit-Girl riddles that claim with bullet holes – but not always in the way you’d expect.

As a closer look at Hit-Girl, this new batch of stories works wonderfully. She’s a fascinating character that is often downright scary. It takes a very special type of little girl to innocently ask a next-door neighbour if she can borrow a sledgehammer, before casually taking it back to her house and smashing a bad guy’s head in. That isn’t even the most memorable kill of the book either – wait until you see how Mindy deals with child abductors.

The main bad guys (the mob) are conveniently wrapped up so as not to interfere with Kick-Ass 2, but the throw-away story is still action-packed and plenty of fun. Even Red-Mist manages to get some hilarious Batman Begins-inspired training under his belt, 100% focused on his goal of becoming the world’s most notorious supervillain. Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl is by no means an essential read, but for fans of the series it will no doubt prove an enjoyable enough distraction – that is, until Book Four arrives…

8 OUT OF 10

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