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‘Kite Man: Hell Yeah!’ Review: Max’s ‘Harley Quinn’ Spinoff Flies High

Kite Man: Hell Yeah! review

In the least likely character arc of all time, Kite Man (Matt Oberg) now has his own series. Starting from humble beginnings as a Z-tier DC Comics villain, elevated to heartbreaking heights by writer Tom King‘s ongoing joke reaching a powerfully emotional climax, and serving as a memorable supporting character on Max’s adult animated Harley Quinn series, Kite Man: Hell Yeah! sees the earnest anti-hero soar to new heights.

If you’re not familiar with Kite Man, he’s exactly what he sounds like: a guy who has a kite on his back. He can’t fly so much as float along the wind. He doesn’t have any superpowers to speak of. And he’s constantly getting his butt kicked by everyone from Batman to Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco on the animated series). On Harley Quinn, he was introduced as Poison Ivy’s (Lake Bell) boyfriend and eventual fiancé — before the show took the leap and romantically paired Ivy and Harley, instead.

Left alone, the earnest to-a-fault Kite Man eventually hooked up with the similarly earnest Golden Glider (Stephanie Hsu, taking over for Cathy Ang), and that’s where we pick up in Kite Man: Hell Yeah! The ostensible premise of the show, which is introduced in the first of 10 episodes, is that Kite Man and Golden Glider buy the villain bar Noonan’s together (and in fact, that was the original title of the series). But really, that’s just an excuse to throw a bunch of similarly Z-list villains, some bigger name characters, and more profane and raunchy jokes than The Boys can roll out in a full season over the course of twenty-ish minutes per episode.

Despite some cameos from the Harley Quinn cast throughout the series, and a regular appearance by the late Lance Reddick as the voice of Lex Luthor, the villains are somehow even more pathetic than in the original show. The Cheers cast of Noonan’s includes Janelle James as the severed head of the Queen of Fables, Michael Imperioli as Joe and Moe Dubelz (a mobster with two heads), Six-Pack, a character whose power is “getting drunk,” and another drunk whose power is that he’s an elementary school teacher. The Legion of Doom this ain’t, and that’s the point.

Kite Man: Hell Yeah!

Joining them are Jonathan Banks, doing his Better Call Saul thing as the been there, done that former bar owner Noonan; and What We Do In The Shadows stand-out Natasia Demetriou as Malice, the goth, social media obsessed adopted daughter of Darkseid (Keith David). Both are great, but as with Harley Quinn, the guy who steals the show is James Adomian as Bane.

Doing a riff on Tom Hardy’s voice from The Dark Knight Rises, Adomian’s Bane continues to take over every scene he’s in on Kite Man: Hell Yeah! And in fact, nothing against Oberg or Hsu, but despite trying to dig into Kite Man and Golden Glider’s romantic relationship and give it the same tug on the heartstrings Harley and Ivy have on the main show, it’s Bane’s emotional journey that provides the real pathos. Sure he’s a roided out (or Venom’d out) superbaddie. But he’s so pathetic at every single turn, your heart goes out to the guy — whether he’s ripping people in half, or wearing a clown wig on top of his costume at a child’s birthday party.

If there is one major criticism of Kite Man: Hell Yeah! it’s that it is missing that shocking moment at the end of most episodes of Harley Quinn where, after 20ish minutes of blood spatter and cursing, you’re suddenly crying in the last two minutes of the episode. It’s still a worthy continuation of the franchise, with the same fast-paced humor, packed and reverential DC Comics references and plot points, and a fair amount of nuanced cultural commentary as well. But rather than the raw tension between Harley’s loose cannon and Ivy’s resigned eco-villain, Kite Man and Golden Glider are perhaps too much cut from the same cloth. They’ll figure things out together because, with some variations (Glider’s origins, powers, and family history are very much the driving force for the season), they’re the same person.

Still, if you’re biding your time until Harley Quinn Season 5 comes out, this is a worthy successor to the series that will have you giggling and wincing in equal measure. It may basically function as Harley Quinn Season 4.5; but it’s fun to hang out in this version of the DC Universe, so here’s hoping they get to continue Kite Man with Season 5.5, too. Hell yeah.

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