Hit-Girl. Illustrated by John Romita Jr. and written by Mark Millar, 2012-2013. Fair use rationale.

Hit-Girl is the superhero name of Mindy McCready, who appears in Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass series of comic books and movies, as well as her own spin-off comic, Hit-Girl.

As a comic book, the target audience is generally considered to be boys in their teens and early 20s, although those stereotypes are beginning to fade as men and women of all ages assert their love for comics and superheroes at conventions like San Diego ComicCon. Hit-Girl, as a spin-off of Kick-Ass, aims to draw in the same audience, but by having a female main character, it has the potential to attract additional female readers as well.

Superheroes, whether or not they have special powers, capture the imagination by tapping into the universal desire to be special and powerful. The masked vigilante is a common theme in storytelling, and the drive to right the wrongs of the world is compelling. Superheroes like Batman and Superman often seem infallible and indestructable, whereas Dave Lizewski’s Kick-Ass persona is almost refreshingly incompetent in his abilities, if not in his desire to do right.

Hit-Girl, on the other hand, is a highly trained assassin, even though she is only 10 years old. She has been desensitized to violence and death, swears regularly and is often crude, and can compartmentalize her emotions, allowing her to finish the task at hand before mourning the death of her father.

Despite her training, Mindy can be a warm and loving girl, particularly with her father, and though she often seems older than her years, she is still a child who loves things like Hello Kitty. Her young age, as well as her gender, seems to be a tool to attract controversy and thus more readers. The casual way in which she both kills people and swears, in contrast to a “normal” girl of her age‚ makes her unique, but also contentious.

In the image above, she appears to be in her mid-to-late teens, and the motorcycle would suggest that she is at least 16, although Hit-Girl isn’t above driving without a license. She’s covered in blood, even in her hair, and she holds an unsheathed, bloody sword, suggesting she’s both physically and emotionally tough. She is also flat-chested, indicating prepubescence. Put together, Hit-Girl is a good representation of a tough young girl, though her age may be ambiguous in the comic. To some, it could appear sexually attractive, given Western culture’s increasing tendency to sexualize strong girls as desirable, but overall this impression isn’t strictly marketed.

What we see on this cover is a young, strong, independent girl who has obviously been through some tough times. This image is supplemented by the illustrator’s use of colors. Dark blues signify power, and the use of more steel-looking blues is traditionally associated with technology and masculinity. The illustrator also uses red, a color known for danger, aggression, and violence. Combined, they paint a glimpse of her dangerous, blood-filled life.

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