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Book Review: Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie by Mark Millar

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Once again, Titan Books does an outstanding job of presenting a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of a film by providing fans access to the participants and their creative process. This time out rather than using a freelance writer to cover the project, Mark Millar, co-creator of the comic book and co-producer of the film, serves as the reader's guide and removes a degree of separation from the process. The precedent may spoil future books or at least get Millar future work at a later date because he thoroughly engages the reader.

With art by the legendary John Romita, Jr., whose work has been on display at Marvel Comics since the late '70s, Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski. He's a regular NYC high schooler with no superhero powers — just a teenager who loves comic books, which inspire him act like his heroes. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that the life of a vigilante sometimes has disastrous results.

Millar provides background on the creation of the comics and how director/co-screenwriter Matthew Vaughn got involved. Vaughn read the comic scripts and decided he was going to make a film before the book launched. That created interesting challenges as the creation of the book and film ran parallel. They worked together on the visual look and plotting but the mediums ultimately dictated the end results. Since they had "a bunch of like-minded people on the same page," neither strays too far from the other. Big Daddy looks different as Romita's deadlines didn't allow him to wait for the film's production designer. In the film version, the character looks more like Batman.

This book is filled with great, colorful visuals. There are numerous photos from the set, during the shoot and between takes, and also preliminary drawings and designs from both projects. On hand as well are email exchanges, notes and doodles from Millar, entries from the blog of Chloe Moretz (Hit-Girl), and bits of screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman.

The only criticism I have is there's a revelation of a big plot twist about a certain character, which is understandable in the long run, but will be disappointing to those that haven't seen or read Kick-Ass. Regardless, this book is a must-own for fans.

Millar is bold, claiming that Kick-Ass "is going to redefine superhero movies in the same way Pulp Fiction redefined crime movies," but since Vaughn and others talk about a sequel, they obviously think pretty highly of it and how well it will do at the box office. After seeing clips at last year's Comic Con, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and hope this book gets a sequel as well.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS