One Mad Dog

[Hitman Vol. 5: Who Dares Wins] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)
January 31, 2011, 8:28 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea

Volume 5 “Who Dares Wins” collects #23 to #28 of the DC Hitman series written by Garth Ennis and Illustrated by John McCrea.  “Who Dares Wins” has Tommy Monaghan as the subject of two hits, one by the British SAS  as retaliation for a friendly fire incident and one by Mafia don “Men’s Room Louie”.  There are no demons or guest superheroes in this book but that doesn’t mean it is any less violent.  This is a very focussed story that concentrates on the four SAS guys trying to kill Tommy and everyone else who gets in their way. Ennis tries to flesh out the character of the SAS guys by the use of slang and accents but it doesn’t work well. I found that the slang and accents  made the story hard to read at times which spoiled the flow a little.

The art is in the same style as the other books in the series and as such it is nothing special.  I Found some of the gunfight scenes to be a little confusing and had to reread them a few times before I finally figured out who was killing who.  I also found that a lot of the characters looked very similar to each other which had me flicking back through the pages a few times. The paper stock is typical cheap comic book fare and a doesn’t really do the presentation any favors but it suits the art style.

I really enjoyed the story and it tears along at an action filled pace but the art and paper stock hold this book back from a higher score. I also thought the epilogue was a bit out of character with the rest of the “Hitman” series.  A solid read that may not appeal to all “Hitman” fans due to its focus on the SAS guys rather than Tommy. [ISBN-13: 978-1563897184]. 8/10

[Hitman Vol. 4: The Ace of Killers] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)
January 28, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea

This 4th trade in Garth Ennis’s “Hitman” series collects  issues #15 through #22 of Hitman. It sees a return to its demonic beginnings with Tommy Monaghann fighting a hit put on him by his old adversaries the Lords of the Gun. It also features a rather voluptuous Catwoman and the most insane group of superhero misfits ever “Section Eight”. This is a great story and my favorite book in the series so far. It is action packed and full of satire and comedic elements most of which are aimed at the regular superhero universe.  From the well written and well paced fight with the demon Mawzir to the funny hit on Santa Clause this was a book I found hard to put down.

The art is very much in the same style as the other books in the series and fits the story well. Either I am getting more used to McCrea ‘s art style or he is getting better as the series progresses. The paper stock is typical cheap comic book fare but the page count is healthy at close to 190 pages and as such it represents pretty good value.

If you liked the other Hitman books or Ennis’s run on “The Punisher” you should enjoy this book.  [ISBN-13: 978-1563896149]. 8/10

[Hitman Vol 3. : Local Heroes] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)
January 11, 2011, 5:32 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea

“Local Heroes” is the third trade paperback in the Hitman series and it collects issues #9-14. There are two main story arcs contained within the book, “Local Heroes”  and “Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium”. Both stories follow the same format as the second Hitman trade, being a sort of a cross between “The Boys” and “The Punisher” , but leaning more towards the comedic elements of  “The Boys”.  There is violence a plenty but it doesn’t have the profanity or nudity of Ennis’s other work and definitely doesnt need a “MAX” label.

Out of the two stories I enjoyed “Local Heroes” the most and it  really progressed the Hitman story and supporting character development forward.  “Local Heroes” deals with corruption in both the police force and the government and features an appearance of the Green Lantern as a rather bumbling unwilling team up.  I have never read a “Green Lantern” story so I dont know if his inclusion would upset fans of that series or not.

“Zombie Night” is a much less serious story that draws upon cult movies for its inspiration. There are elements of  the Living Dead, Jaws, Army of Darkness and other classics a plenty.  It isn’t very Greenpeace friendly and doesn’t do anything to progress the story but it is an enjoyable romp.

John McCrea’s artwork is good but quite simplistic which fits nicely with the pulp fiction style of this series. It uses a standard “four color” comic palette and is printed on standard comic paper stock so it is nothing special in the presentation department.

If you enjoy Garth Ennis’s other work you should also enjoy this book. [ISBN-13: 978-1401228934]. 8/10

[Hitman Vol. 2: Ten Thousand Bullets] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea, Carlos Ezquerra, Steve Pugh)
July 20, 2010, 10:44 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea, Steve Pugh

This collected edition contains Hitman#4 to #8 and Hitman Annual 1. Garth Ennis’s second DC  Hitman collection has two stories “Ten Thousand Bullets” illustrated by John McCrea and “A Coffin Full Of Dollars” illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra and Steve Pugh. It also has a short bonus story called  “The Final Night ” which also features the artwork of John McCrea.  10,000 bullets continues on from Hitman Volume 1  and the fight with bizarre gangster Mr Dublez. Tommy has his work cut out with an over the top dishonest super hero, a host of would be assassins  and one other hit man that seems to be more than a match for out hero.  It is a good “Punisher” type story with no strange demons or aliens that made the first volume so unusual.  A coffin full of dollars pits Tommy against the inhabitants of Tiburon when he is hired to make a hit for a bent Sheriff against a Mexican gang. There is definitely a hint of “The Preacher”  in this one. Out of the two stories I think I enjoyed  the second one the most. This is another solid effort from Ennis but lacks a few touches to make it stand out from the crowd.

The artwork throughout the collection is classic limited color palette comic book style and it fits pulp fiction nature of the story well. It looks like Carlos Ezquerra only illustrated part 3 of the final story but it still probably my favorite art in the book.  [ISBN-13: 978-1401218423]. 7/10

[Hitman : Volume 1 : A Rage In Arkham] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)
July 20, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Garth Ennis, Hitman, John McCrea

This collected edition contains Hitman #1-3, Demon annual #2 and Batman Chronicles #4.  This isn’t just another Punisher variant by Garth Ennis, this book is an all together lighter and more bizarre read.  It is a bit like the love child of Spawn, The Punisher and the Boys.  The “Hitman” is a hired killer with a strong morale code that doesn’t allow him to kill good guys. After an encounter with a Demon he ends up with X-Ray vision and the ability to read minds which improves his hit man abilities to the point where he can take on supervillains and the like. Hitman is set in Gotham city but it isnt your fathers Gotham.  It features classic Batman locations and crime lord style action but mixes in grotesque and at times comical demons .  It took me a little while to warm to the over the top style action but Garth’s witty writing won me over and by the final story, about a hit on the Joker,  I was hooked. John McCea’s comic book style artwork is appropraite and actually gets better as the series progresses. It culminates in some satisfying artwork  in the Arkham story which is also the high point of the book.  Rage In Arkham is printed on standard comic book stock paper so it is nothing special in the presentation department  but the content more than makes up for that.  [ISBN-13: 978-1563893148]. 8/10