Ice, Guns, and Beer

Hitman Volume 5: Tommy’s Heroes: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by John McCrea and Gary Leach (1998-99; collected 2012): Yay! DC Comics finally gets off its ass and finishes reprinting the brilliant Hitman series only…12 years after it finished. Volumes 6 and 7, both roughly phonebook-sized, will finish things off. First, though, there’s Tommy’s Heroes.

This trade reprints the so-so Hitman/SAS storyline that was previously published in a much shorter reprint volume several years ago (the last Hitman reprint volume, I believe). Super-powered (well, marginally super-powered — X-Ray vision and limited telepathy) hitman Tommy Monaghan, to clean the stink of the SAS fiasco off himself, leaves Gotham with his best bud and fellow hitman to fight as a mercenary in a small African nation trying to stave off a revolutionary funded by drug money.

As the title of this story arc (and this volume) references acidhead WWII movie Kelly’s Heroes, you can rest assured that things get weird and that the boys find a tank. And that things aren’t quite what they seem.

Then it’s back to Gotham for the award-winning standalone story “Of Thee I Sing,” in which Tommy and Superman talk on a rooftop for most of 23 pages. Then a bizarre, company-mandated crossover with the DC One Million event. Then more harrowing stuff awaits as Tommy finds out more than he ever wanted to know about what really happened the night he was placed as a baby on the doorstep of a Catholic orphanage. Good times, good times.

Well, violent times anyway. I like John McCrea’s gritty art anyway, but Gary Leach’s inks polish it to a sinister, occasionally bleakly comic high sheen. All this and Superman remains noble because he’s apparently the only superhero Garth Ennis actually likes. Highly recommended.

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