"Iím interested in Hitman as a character in the larger DCU, and 'the area of Gotham so bad that Batman doesnít go there,' because Batman is a dude that has paid multiple visits to a planet literally called Apokolips."
Question: What would happen if you crossed over The DCU
, Sam Peckinpah
, The Boondock Saints
, John Woo
, and Sergio Leone
The Answer: Hitman
is a Cult Classic
comic book series written by popular and controversial writer Garth Ennis
fame and drawn by frequent Ennis collaborator John McCrea, starring Tommy Monaghan. It had its origins in the 1990s Dark Age
-tastic Bloodlines Crisis Crossover
, where aliens invaded Earth to murder human beings and drain their spinal fluids. Which somehow gave the few survivors superpowers in the process. It was easily forgettable, and the cast of Nineties Anti-Hero
equally so. Bloodlines was meant to profit off the Dark Age phenomenon by creating a new batch of "heroes" for the era, because, after all, Darker and Edgier
sells, doesn't it?
A former Marine and professional hitman, Tommy hangs out in the Cauldron, the poor Irish district of Gotham City. He frequents a bar with his buddies and father figure. During the Bloodlines crossover, in The Demon Annual
vol. 3 #2 (1993), Tommy survived an encounter with one of the invading Alien
knockoffs and gained two abilities: X-Ray Vision and Telepathy. Both powers prove to be rather handy to a man of his profession.
With these, a lot of guns, and a loyal band of friends, Tommy's contracts will always set him off on insane adventures one can expect in a colourful world like the DCU
, but this being a Garth Ennis piece there's always a darkly humourous and satirical bent. What other comic can you read about hitmen fighting zombie baby seals, two headed mafiosos, Ricean vampire pansies, gun-demons, dinosaurs, Eldritch Abominations
, the Justice League, Batman
The Hitman solo series lasted for 61 issues, running from April, 1996 to April, 2001. This series is chock full of Ennis' signature trademarks, yet it also emanates his signature subtle compassion. In a series that mostly exists to thrive on the Rule of Cool
, it can be surprisingly humane, compassionate, tragic and heartwrenching. This is primarily because Hitman is a victim of Cerebus Syndrome
, but it never lost its sense of humor or fun, even past the turning point of the syndrome.
This series provides examples of:
Hacken: "KILL THE CHICKENS! AN' KILL THE CHICKENS! AN' KILL THE CHICKENS! AN' KILL THE CHICKENS! AN' KILL THE CHICKENS!
- Raising the Steaks: "Zombie Night at Gotham Aquarium".
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The zombies in "Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium."
- Right Behind Me: In JLA/Hitman, right when Batman starts ranting about how Tommy is scum and the lowest of the low, Superman walks in, shakes his hand, and greets him on a first-name basis.
- The Rival: Tommy and Ringo. Whether it's played straight or subverted depends how far along in the story you are, what the stakes are, and what day of the week it is.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Every time a villain is dumb enough to kill off a main character, Tommy goes on one of these. The one in the epilogue of "The Old Dog" is particularly brutal/epic/terrible/justified.
- Serial Escalation: How crazy can Tommy's adventures get?
- Shout-Out: Many. To Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy, Blade Runner, many.
- Sole Survivor: Hacken is the only one of the core Noonan's crew to survive, although Baytor, McAllister, and Tiegel also live. Bueno Excellente is the only confirmed survivor of Section Eight, though Six Pack is also strongly implied to still be alive.
- Superhero Packing Heat
- Sympathy for the Hero: Though Tommy's not villainous, he hates all superheroes... except Superman.
- He eventually warms up to Green Lantern, and seems to be a pretty big fan of Wonder Woman when he meets her.
- If his brief crossover appearance in Grant Morrison's JLA is to be believed, this has a lot to do with Tommy's X-Ray vision.
- Batman is never treated as anything save an unstoppable badass. Tommy manages to get his licks in from time to time, but they're usually of the embarrassing variety AKA puking on him.
- Take That: You can copy and paste the examples from Preacher and place them here.
- There's a pretty specific one at the expense of obscure superhero Gunfire in the DC One Million issue.
- Title Drop: The "For Tomorrow" arc has a piece of dialogue by Ringo stating that most Hitmen live ...for tomorrow, meaning they long for the day when they can quit the business. Most of them don't, however, and die horrible deaths.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: In one issue, a group time displaced T-Rex's are going around causing general havoc and destruction, and one of them eats Baytor...only to spit him back out a few moments later.
- Torture Technician: The Waterman. And to make things worse he's a Psycho Electro as well.
- Johnny Navarone as well, though we don't see the actual torture, just the results.
- Touched by Vorlons: Tommy gets his powers by surviving an attack by an alien that sucked out his spinal fluid.
- True Companions: Tommy and the rest of the regulars that hang out at Sean's pub.
- Wham Episode: Hitman had been around a bit before getting his own series, and for the bulk of that time, his appearances were played as Black Comedy. Then came the story's second arc, which looks to be playing Tonight Someone Dies and Black Dude Dies First for all they're worth, with Tommy's best friend he's never mentioned before showing up just in time for a new killer to target Tommy. For three issues, it's played for laughs still, right down to a gratuitous attack of ninja. Then Nat goes to the bathroom... and finds Tommy's best friend, Pat, in the tub, mutilated and bleeding out. It's implied that while Tommy and Nat were engaged in Bloody Hilarious fun these past few issues, the Big Bad was working over Pat the whole time. Tommy tearfully gives a Mercy Kill. The series still has funny moments, but this sets up that Anyone Can Die.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Hacken, in "Zombie Night at Gotham Aquarium," thinks he's in a traditional zombie movie, not a DC Universe "Weird Science run amok" story. It's a subtle distinction, but a costly one for Hacken.
- Your Vampires Suck: Tommy shoots a vampire. It laughs, and heals. He shoots it a whole lot more. It can't heal fast enough to dodge the sunrise.