Her tour of the world has brought Hit Girl to India this week in the first part of Peter Milligan’s run on the comic. With the additional talent of Alison Sampson, Triona Farrell, and Clem Robins, Image Comics hold nothing back as the young vigilante brings violence to India’s largest city, Mumbai.
Like a spirit of vengeance crossed with the A-Team, Hit Girl prowls the streets looking for someone who needs her services. With Mumbai’s population being over nineteen million people, it isn’t long before she is engorged in violence but will the cultural differences cause her greater concern than she thought possible?
Hit the Ground Running
Peter Milligan is no stranger to violence having worked for a number of years on stories for 2000AD. He is also known for crafting surreal mysteries and mind warping tales of wonder. This somehow makes him a perfect fit for a Hit Girl story set in the underworlds of India. His research into the culture is obvious and he uses the culture shock of the central character to explore some of the world of Mumbai.
Mindy McCready lands into Mumbai and quickly gets involved with a bizarre kidnapping and exploitation ring. In her attempts to get to the heart of the gang she is faced with blockages she has never encountered before. Meanwhile Milligan shows the reader the otherside of the coin, with the wealth and opulence behind the villainy.
This contrasting nature of Mumbai provides a perfect opportunity for the artwork to really shine; and with Alison Sampson on art duties, the visuals do just that. Sampson has a delicate touch with very fine inked lines. She picks up every detail possible, especially in the architecture, illustrating beautiful, and bountiful, sets for the action to take place in. The exquisite design work in the Indian buildings and decoration is brought to life in every panel. Mumbai becomes a fully immersive world for the reader to get lost in, just as Hit Girl herself does.
The plot has some disturbing elements and so does the artwork. Sampson is as competent at depicting violence as she is at building liveable spaces. There is something unnerving and raw about the violence on show in this issue of Hit Girl. Previous runs of Kick Ass, the more recognisable visuals, have been brutal but always in a comic book way. Sampson brings a disturbing realism to the work. This is enhanced by the realistic coloring style of Triona Farrell.
Farrell’s vibrate colors bring out the beauty of India and the culture but this style makes the violence more impactful. Within this bright, shining world, the slashes of a machete or even something as simple as a slap to the face, stand out. The pain the characters feel is evident and in the readers face. As the story continues, Mindy begins to feel as if she is out of her depth, lulled into a false sense of security, just as the reader is by the attractive and inviting colors from Farrell.
This discomfort and awkwardness is further enhanced by Sampson’s use of unconventional viewpoints. She wildly swings the point of view from a long shot to a close up and then to a ground shot, looking up at the deformed figure of a man, looming over the reader. Sampson used this style to great effect in her horror comic Winnebago Graveyard, and it works just as well here. Hit Girl‘s world is not a safe, comfortable place and that is reflected in the way that Sampson leads the reader through Milligan’s plot.
The lettering brings some much needed grounding to the comic. Clem Robins seemingly straightforward approach to the speech balloons and the captions help to steady the wilder aspects of the comic. However, if you look real close, even Robins is manipulating the reader’s impression of Hit Girl‘s world. Occasional bolding of text not only gives emphasis in a particular speech but also alludes to something larger within the plot. References to the Beggarman and the Mumbai Diary stand out on a page as if they have a great significance.
This issue of Hit Girl is something special. It is obviously Hit Girl and draws likenesses from that world of storytelling but everything else about this comic feels new. The visual aesthetic and attention to cultural details gives the story some weight. The focus on the story is the cultural shock that Hit Girl experiences and this is portrayed through every strand of the comic. The creators invite the reader into this alluring world and then instantly make you feel uncomfortable.
This is a step up in every way from the original source material that spawned Hit Girl. Milligan, Sampson, Farrell and Robins all share one thing in common; their attention to detail. Together this makes for a comic that is instantly re-readable and a pleasurable, visual experience.