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‘Hit-Girl Volume 4:’ Trade Paperback Review

Hit-Girl has a score to settle in the city of angels. A Hollywood studio is making a movie about her life, and the pre-teen queen of carnage is determined to stop it by any means necessary. Hit-Girl Volume 4 collects all four issues of the eponymous anti-hero's trip to tinseltown from writer Kevin Smith and artist Pernille Ørum.

In an exceptionally violent first act, Hit-Girl learns about an unauthorized biopic of her life during a school shooting. She travels to Los Angeles and cases the studio where the movie, Heretofore Hit-Girl, is being made. Her anger and anxiety mounts as she witnesses the dramatization of her father's gruesome murder and comes face to face with Juniper Florence, the actress playing her in the movie. She breaks into the office of predatory producer, planning to sabotage the movie by cutting off his head. But, instead, she discovers that Juniper, in the guise of new masked vigilante, "The Dick Taker," has already removed a different appendage. Hit-Girl gets framed for the crime she didn't get a chance to commit, and news of her reappearance reaches some old adversaries on both sides of the law.

As I said in my review for Hit-Girl Season 2 #2, I am an unapologetic Kevin Smith super fan, and I believe his greatest strength as a comic book writer is his reverence for the material. When he's writing a comic book, he is first and foremost a comic book fan, and he doesn't shy away from showing his love for the characters. Just like his seminal runs on Daredevil, Green Arrow, and Batman, Smith brings his trademark wit to The Golden Rage of Hollywood while still keeping the character and the story true to form. Smith revels in mixing his sharp dialogue with the action and gratuitous gore and seems to take particular pleasure in using his insider knowledge of the entertainment industry to take some below-the-belt jabs at Hollywood.

Smith's new character, Juniper Florence (a.k.a. The Dick Taker), feels right at home in the Hit-Girl extended universe. She's an avenging angel, with a dash of homicidal psychopathy, striking back against the exploitative and abusive men in Hollywood. Her story is fun and ultimately satisfying, but a part of me wishes Smith had leaned harder into the issue. Admittedly, I don't think a gleefully violent anti-hero comic is necessarily the best place for sobering social commentary which, incidentally, made the aforementioned school shooting in the first chapter seem out of place to me. But I enjoyed The Dick Taker's first confrontation with the sleazy movie producer, and I would have liked more of that in the story's final act.

Ørum’s vivacious artistic style worked equally well in the book’s moments of levity and intensity. Renowned for her unmatched character design (which is the basis for the DC Superhero Girls television show), I found myself repeatedly captivated by Ørum’s gestures and facial expressions. Ørum brings a remarkable sweetness to every page with her smirks, side glances, and eye-rolls. And in a book where conversations overflow with Smith's signature pop culture references, it's fun to see the artist get in on the action with a pair of splash panel homages to The Dark Knight Returns.

In addition, Sunny Gho's colors bring striking vibrance to all of the costumes and backgrounds. The series covers by Francesco Francavilla, inspired by the pulpy one-sheets of Hollywood's golden age, sizzle with electric energy. My personal favorite is the cover for chapter four, with Hit-Girl leaning against a movie camera.


Creative Team: Kevin Smith (writer), Pernille Ørum (artist), Sunny Gho (colors), Clem Robins (letters), Francesco Francavilla (covers)
Publisher: Image Comics
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