While I did like the last issue a good deal, the lack of development with an overall narrative (aside from Mindy being in jail) had me somewhat concerned. However, this issue stares me in the eyes, slaps me across the face and tells me to get rid of that concern because it's unwarranted. Yes, Mark Millar delivers plenty of shock value in this issue and more than a few references that I absolutely soaked up, but most important of all, he impressed me a great deal when it came to character development and establishing new (and VERY interesting) plot points.
We know Chris Genovese's a piece of trash and deserved everything that came his way, but what is this doing to his mother now that the world knows her son is worse than the scum in the Mos Eisley Cantina? And how will his family react now that Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass have pretty much defeated most of the existing crime family? Who will step up to run things? What's next for the superhero group now that Dave's in charge? Can Kick-Ass trust a girl he meets or is she someone who's out to get him? All of these questions (and more) are addressed in this issue and Millar does a fantastic job making each intriguing. I know, it sounds like a lot for just one issue, but none of the points feel rushed and all deliver compelling stuff.
This volume is focusing on growing characters and plot elements over pure shock value and raw violence (so far, at least). To me, that's definitely a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I dug KICK-ASS 2, but there's no denying that relied on graphic violence and twisted moments to make it stand out. It's nice to see Millar's toning that down a bit to give these characters room to develop -- even if it's just for a tad. That said, I can totally see some very diabolic material in Rocco's future. It's tough to imagine someone more twisted than Red Mist, but man, Rocco absolutely has that potential. I have a feeling we're about to witness some very disturbing material with that dude.
John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer and Dean White provide a consistent level of the franchise's signature look. I've noticed the quality takes a bit of a drop when panels are more crowded every now and then in the franchise's history, but nothing like that ever caught my eye this time around. I honestly found myself enjoying each and every page. From the brutal impact of every punch and kick thrown in the brawl to fleshing out each character with a nice amount of depth and detail, #3 has some solid visuals for the entire ride.
Romita Jr.'s facial features can be a bit over the top at times (particularly noses), but honestly, it's nothing too distracting.
Millar makes ginormous progress with the overall plot, creating some massively interesting elements and presenting all kinds of new emotional drama. Meanwhile, he also manages to include plenty of his signature humor (you can't go wrong with the BATMAN: YEAR ONE scene) and hits us with just the right amount of violence and shock value. Throw in a steady flow of commendable artwork and you've got a very promising issue in Dave's final series. This issue of KICK-ASS... well, it kicks ass.