When Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr. first published Kick-Ass in 2008, the idea behind the comic was simple: What if a high school kid tried his hand at being a superhero? Since then, the story of Dave Lizewski has spawned two movies (both starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and a wide array of sequels, spin-offs, and merchandise. Now, 10 years later, Millar and Romita are returning to Kick-Ass — but this time, there’s a new hero under the mask.
The Kick-Ass mantle has now passed from Dave to a black woman named Patience Lee. As both a mother and a veteran, Patience hails from quite a different background than Dave. In order to understand where she’s coming from, EW caught up with Millar ahead of the new Kick-Ass comic’s debut next month.
Check that out below, along with a sampling of Romita’s art from the new book. The first issue of the new Kick-Ass will hit stores Feb. 14, 2018.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel to be putting out a new Kick-Ass comic 10 years after the original?
MARK MILLAR: It’s like slipping into a warm bath. I don’t know what it is about Kick-Ass as a concept, but it’s caught on like no other. We had a movie within two years of the comic coming out, sequels, toys, clothes, Pez dispensers. We’ve done over a million copies of the Dave Lizewski storyline around the world, and the books just keep on selling. I never wanted to stop writing it. I just had other things I wanted to do at the same time and unfortunately not terribly fast. But it’s nice to get back and write a story that had been in my head a long time. Kick-Ass was always a legacy character for me. It’s like Doctor Who or The Flash or Green Lantern or James Bond in that it should be rebooted every once in a while with a new face. The same thing should happen again in five years.
What separates Patience Lee from Dave Lizewski? What does she do differently with the Kick-Ass mantle?
The big difference is that she’s immensely capable. I have a lot of fun playing with this in the story because Dave Lizewski was a good-hearted, ordinary loser who came home every night with broken ribs or a black eye and wasn’t especially well-trained. He just had good intentions. Patience is completely different in that she’s just back from Afghanistan and finds her life in a very unusual situation, one in which it makes sense for her to suddenly be dressing up in a green wetsuit and carrying a couple of sticks at night. Their personalities are just completely different, and being in her 30s and a mother gives the whole thing a completely different edge too. This is a military vet as opposed to a bored schoolboy, and she feels more in keeping with the more capable hero archetype of this decade. The ’70s lead was a man in touch with his feelings, the ’80s leads were hard-bodied and one-dimensional, the ’90s leads were animated funnymen, and the noughties leads were nerds. Dave Lizewski perfectly encapsulated the Tobey Maguire/Jesse Eisenberg era of leading men, but Patience is the very capable grownup we admire and want to be in this decade. I hadn’t even realized it until I’d written it, as these things are very subconscious, but the nerdy Dave just feels wrong for now, and the very effective, meticulous Patience just feels right. It would be boring seeing a teenage superhero just screwing up again. Seeing someone who’s really good at this and wearing that costume is actually really exciting and gives the comic a really different flavor, especially where we go with it.
Patience is a mother, and you’ve said you like “mom heroes.” What dimension does motherhood add to a superhero like this?
I’m a big fan of things I haven’t seen before, and superhero mothers are, as far as I’m aware, in short supply. Since 1938, most superheroes have tended to come from the same socioeconomic background, same ethnicity, and same class, so the stories can often feel a little generic. They even mostly live on the East Coast of America, which has always felt odd to me as someone who lives and was born on another continent. Whether it’s Empress or Hit-Girl or MPH or Jupiter’s Legacy or Reborn or Starlight, I’ve always liked the idea of breaking away from that 30-year-old white male lead because it’s just more interesting as a writer. There’s simply more scope to do something new if your character isn’t young or single or white or a playboy billionaire. The mother angle is especially important here as we rarely see superheroes with dependents, but it adds an extra dimension to the risk every time they pull on their mask and get into trouble. I think people are really, really going to like her. [Kick-Ass director] Matthew Vaughn went nuts for this when I sent him the first few issues a few weeks back, though he said it feels more like a great TV show than a movie series, and I think he’s right. You couldn’t do this in TV when we did the first Kick-Ass, but you absolutely could now, of course.
Patience is also a military veteran. How did she get from soldiering in Afghanistan to superhero-ing in her own country? What similarities and differences does she discover between the two jobs?
There’s something a little bit super-heroic about public service jobs, whether it’s fire-service, police, medics or military. You wear a uniform to stand out from the crowd, you tackle emergencies, and you’re not always known by your real name, prefixed instead by Doctor or Lieutenant or whatever. So it seems a natural fit for her, a logical career progression, but that’s one of the big mysteries in the story because she’s not actually a comic fan and has her own reasons for doing this. She’s completely different from Dave in that regard, and people are going to be surprised by what we’ve done here. It’s completely fresh.
Patience is obviously a bit more experienced at fighting and killing than Dave was when he started out. How violent might this comic get?
Millar. Romita. Kick-Ass. I can guarantee absurd levels of violence with those ingredients.
You have a talent for getting great artists to work with you, like Olivier Coipel on The Magic Order. What’s it like working with John Romita Jr. again?
Sometimes you just click with an artist, and they make you better than you are. You see it with actors and directors all the time. It’s just chemistry. Johnny and I did a one-year run on Wolverine a decade or more back, and we were immediately in love, desperate to repeat the experience. Dave Lizewski’s Kick-Ass is what followed, and now we’ve rolled the dice a third time. We both feel it’s our strongest work together. As much as I love the original Kick-Ass (and it changed my life in so many ways), we both think this is so much better. The writing and the art. I’m more excited about this coming out than anyone, and our initial orders are through the roof. I think people must just be ready for something like this because it’s on track to sell even more than the first one, which I’m obviously delighted about.