Hitman: Who Dares Wins, written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by John McCrea and Garry Leach (1998): For awhile, DC reprinted Hitman in these insanely short volumes. Now that they’ve started a new, comprehensive reprint program, this volume officially becomes obsolete. Oh, well.
Hitman always seemed like it should have been a Vertigo title during its run in the 1990’s, but nonetheless it remained wedged uncomfortably in the DC Universe. Garth Ennis seemed to go out of his way to make this DC-ness more and more unlikely with each passing issue. Super-powered assassin Tommy Monaghan lives and works in Batman’s Gotham City, though Batman never had to deal with a mob boss who’s always sitting on the toilet.
This volume, collecting the short arc “Who Dares Wins” and a standalone story, reads like a promotional comic for the SAS. Seriously. Garth Ennis apparently has a severe boner on for Great Britain’s Special Air Service, the most dangerous soldiers in the world (depending on what military magazine you read).
A four-man SAS Black Ops team gets sent to America to kill Monaghan and his best friend because they accidentally killed an SAS team during the first Gulf War. The SAS proceed to kill pretty much every mobster in Gotham en route to killing Tommy and Company. Not much hilarity ensues, a rarity for Hitman — Ennis seems so taken with the alpha-tough-guyness of the SAS that humour entirely evaporates, leaving the reader stranded with the ostensible protagonist being repeatedly humiliated by the super-manliness of the SAS.
The tone ends up being jarringly off, as black humour collides with a somewhat masturbatory paean to the undefeatable mates of the SAS. John McCrea’s art is solid as usual, and given an extra sheen by inker Garry Leach (legendary artist on the first few stories of Alan Moore’s Marvelman), but Ennis seems almost entirely out to lunch for this one. Not recommended.