The first volume of The Dave Lizewski Years, originally titled Kick-Ass, is set over the course of two years. Dave Lizewski, an otherwise ordinary New York City high school student, comic book fan, and the child of James Lizewski, a loving single father, and his deceased via brain hemorrhage mother, ponders the absence of costumed vigilantes in the real-world while "some Armenian guy" in a superhero outfit leaps from the rooftop of a skyscraper, fails to take flight, and plunges to his death on a car on the street below in front of a crowd of onlookers. Months earlier, Dave buys a wetsuit from the website eBay, which he wears under his normal clothing, begins exercising, and practices things like walking on roofs, satisfying his ambitions to become a real-life superhero for a time. He eventually seeks to actually fight crime, with his first attempt leading him to receive a severe beating and stabbing by thugs, followed by his wandering into the street and being hit by a car. He retains his secret identity by stripping off and hiding his costume before paramedics arrive.