I Want to Like Hit-Girl, But the Violent Tween Vigilante is Deeply Unsettling

Hit-Girl surrounded by blood

"Daddy, you taught me how to blind a man with my thumbs, build a bomb with the contents of a kitchen cabinet," says the 12-year-old girl. "I've shot people, choked people, even drowned a motherfucker."

This quote gives you a good idea of the life of Hit-Girl, the tween vigilante star of veteran graphic novelist Mark Millar's new book, Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl. The book is his sequel to the successful graphic novel Kick-Ass, which in 2010 was turned into a movie starring the then-14-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz as the young crime fighter. With a much-hyped Kick-Ass sequel movie coming out this August, the new book—released in February—is well timed.

I, for one, may just sit this film out.

While I enjoyed the original, which was a neat twist on our celebrity-obsessed culture, there's something deeply unsettling about Millar's follow-up book.

In Hit-Girl, we see Mindy Macready (Hit-Girl's alter ego) picking up where the movie Kick-Ass left off. She is reunited with her mother and her step-father Marcus, who is seemingly the last honest cop on the beat. Mindy is tasked with hanging up her crime-fighting cape as she settles into normal life, but old habits are hard to break. It isn't long before she goes on the mother of all killing sprees. As she says, "I crossed the city like a fucked-up Santa, sliding down chimneys and dispensing death like candy canes."

In his introduction to the new book, novelist Scott Snyder says Millar "shakes off the restraints of all things kid-friendly, and gets totally down and dirty." In Hit-Girl Millar certainly ups the ante when it comes to violence compared to his first outing, Kick-Ass.

Vividly drawn by John Romita Jr, the world of Hit-Girl attracts and repels you at the same time. This is a male fantasy writ large: the geeks shall inherit the earth—and all the women are hot babes. Interestingly, the pre-pubescent Hit-Girl is the only female character of note and she is on the verge of taking a backseat to Kick-Ass as she approaches puberty.

Reading Hit-Girl, questions kept popping up in my mind: Aren't there any female police officers in Marcus' precinct? Why on earth does Mindy want to be friends with the boring, bitchy Debbie, who bullies her until Mindy threatens her into submission? I had to laugh when after her payback, the first thing a triumphant Mindy demands from her nemesis is a sleepover. Really? Perhaps Millar should collaborate more closely with a female story editor next time.

While the characters and story world are richly realized, there are some odd things about the book that kept distracting me. Though Hit-Girl is supposed to be 12, she is drawn more like an eight year old. And there's something not quite right about seeing a littlegirl caving a man's skull in with a sledgehammer, even though the violence is intended to be satirically over the top.

Hit-Girl illustration via Nerd Cabinet

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