I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Millar. Some works can be clever in concept and fun in plots like Superman: Red Son, other times he’s a 4chan Edgelord, a man-child writing the most offensive thing possible not to tell a story, but to get a high from pissing off the most people possible (looking at you, Nemesis).
Kick-Ass and now Hit-Girl hit the sweet spot on the MILLAR-O-METER; silly, over the top violence with just enough grit to be enjoyable, not an eye-roll inducing mess.
This issue picks up from the last, with Hit-Girl having kidnapped a high-profile Colombian hitman (Mano), making him an unofficial sidekick. It’s an incredibly goofy comic, taking the Kick-Ass universe into even goofier, comic-book-y territory with gadgets like the Microwave Gun (which cooks people from the inside out), cocaine-fueled alligators, and even a nod to the most recent Batman writers.
Pathos is given to Mano, showing us that in Mano’s world, becoming a gang member is a way to protect yourself and the ones you love in less-than-stellar living conditions.
As Mano carries out hit after hit with Hit-Girl, we’re also shown a young boy, Jorge, who’s to make his first(?) kill to initiate himself into the gang Mano was in, as well as Hit-Girl’s partner of sorts, Señora, who has a history with the gang Jorge and Mano are involved in.
The issue builds to these three, all on a collision course, before the story arc ends.
Millar is an established (superstar, whether you like it or not) writer in his own right, so allow me to shine a light on the kinetic, energy-filled art of Ricardo Lopez Ortiz.
Ortiz’s art is anime and manga-influenced– loose, expressionistic, wrapping the hyper-violence of Millar’s world in a bouquet of jest.
It works wonderfully in this world as opposed to the realistic take JRJR has rendered this universe in. Ortiz’s exaggerated style delivers a distance to the violence which makes it–with the risk of sounding like a goddamn psychopath–enjoyable. Here, it’s amusing seeing people turned into water balloons filled with blood in Hit-Girl’s quest for vengeance.
Ortiz’s drawings of people being killed in incredibly imaginative ways are complemented by Sunny Gho’s colors. Bright, bold, and beautiful, if you can apply that to the color template used for a dude that had his flesh turned inside out.
Honestly, this book has been a pleasant surprise. I came in fully expecting a lifeless, cringeworthy bloodbath, but instead got James Bond and Teen Titans (err, Titan) by way of exploitation movies.
The paper-thin plot may not satisfy everyone, but some truly beautiful work is being drawn on this paper.
Mark Millar– Writer
Ricardo Lopez Ortiz– Artist
Sunny Gho– Colorist
Melina Mikulic– Lettering and Production
Rachael Fulton– Editor