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The Answer: Hitman.
Hitman is a Cult Classic comic book series written by popular and controversial writer Garth Ennis of Preacher (Comic Book) and Punisher fame and drawn by frequent Ennis collaborator John McCrea. 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?
The only good to come out of this mess was Tommy Monaghan, the title character of Hitman. 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 and Lobo?
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.
Highly recommended to fans of Ennis, Woo, Tarantino and anyone who loves a good asskicking.
- Action Girl: Deborah Tiegel
- Action Girlfriend: Deborah again. She proves to be able to repeatedly floor Tommy every time he pisses her off.
- Anyone Can Die: At the end of the story, only three of the main cast reach old age. Hint: Tommy ain't one of 'em.
- Ass Shove : Parodied / lampshaded along with Ass Pull with the unfortunate researcher from Injun Peak who develops the power to pull whatever he wants from a certain orifice...
- The Atoner: Tommy has a bout of this in the "Tommy's Heroes" arc.
- Author Appeal: It's a Garth Ennis work. Guns, over the top violence, black comedy, Rape as Comedy, Action Girls, satire and parody.
- Author Tract: It's a Garth Ennis work. Superheroes are dicks who can't empathize with regular Joes, corporations suck, immigration themes, there's more to people than you think, you shouldn't look down on the lower class, etc. But Ennis shows that Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Ax Crazy: Most of the villains. And Hacken.
- Badass: Tommy himself. And any major character who frequents Noonan's, including the bartender Noonan himself. Catwoman. Deborah. Etrigan. Quite frankly, it's a World of Badass. Half the Badass Index can be integrated into this story.
- Badass Grandpa: Sean Noonan. How else can you describe a man who casually mows down a Tyrannosaurus-Rex with a BFG and remarks to his chef-cum-co-bartender; "I think we just solved our sandwich shortage."
- Badass Normal: Almost everyone in the main cast. Tommy himself can even count since he rarely uses his two powers in combat, and he can barely hold his own in a fist fight against any remotely competent combatant. And yet, Tommy rakes a higher body count than most Horror Movie Villains.
- Bad Boss: Agent Truman, and several Mafia Dons.
- Berserk Button: Never mess with Tommy's home turf. Just ask those vampires.
- Beware the Superman: Subverted. Every superhero Ennis makes up is an incompetent buffoon.
- Best Served Cold: The Father's Day arc.
- Big Bad: Agent Truman.
- Black Comedy
- Black Comedy Rape: Bueno Excellente has raped Green Lantern and Lobo.
- Black Dude Dies First: Notably averted.
- Black and Grey Morality: Depends on your point of view.
- Bloody Hilarious: Oh, God.
- Bottomless Magazines: Something of an inconsistent trope. It's either played straight, subverted, averted, lampshaded.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Hacken!
- Bulungi: The state of Tynanda.
- Butt Monkey: Tommy. And Hacken.
- Calling the Old Man Out: The point of the Father's Day arc. Tommy has a score to settle with his father.
- Captain Ersatz: Night-Fist. Take one good look at his costume. I wonder whom he's meant to parody.
- Career Killer: Kind of goes without saying.
- Car Fu: If there's something in the way, and Natt the Hatt's behind the wheel, you can bet this will happen.
- Combat Pragmatist: Tommy, natch. Arguably the worst hand to hand fighter in the series, yet he makes up for it with Improbable Aiming Skills. To paraphrase what he said to his instructor during military training, "What's the point of fist fighting a guy if I can just shoot 'im from a mile away?"
- The leader of the vampire coven in the "Dead Man's Land" arc also appeared in Ennis's run on Hellblazer.
- Kathryn McAllister from the final arc, "Closing Time," is the same woman as Kathryn O'Brien from Ennis's run on Punisher. (In her final appearance, she talks about her past relationships, including "that stupid bastard Tommy.") In The Punisher: Up is Down, Black is White" it's mentioned that one of O'brien's aliases is McAllister
- The Dragon: Tommy has occasionally faced a few.
- Evil Albino: The evil albino African Flying Brick known as Skull.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin : Zombie Night At The Gotham Aquarium. It's about zombies. In Gotham. At the aquarium.
- Eye Scream: Ringo in For Tomorrow
- Good Powers, Bad People / Lethal Harmless Powers: Supervillain Scarlet Rose has the ability to make roses grow. Which she uses to hideously kill people by making them grow inside their bodies.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Early on in the series, Etrigan, a Crazy Awesome rhyming demon, gets into a fight with an obese alien parasite. In the ensuing battle(which happens to take place at the funeral of a mob boss that the alien parasite had killed earlier), Etrigan uses the corpse's body to beat down the alien into submission. Yes, you read that correctly
- Groin Attack: Teigel's reaction to one of Tommy's attempts to get back together after he cheated on her. He should count himself lucky — her reactions to two other attempts resulted in her punching him out and leaving him for an elephant to urinate on, and persuading him to strip naked before locking him in a small room with only a lion for company.
- Insecure Love Interest: Tommy ends his relationship with Tiegel once and for all by pretty much telling her outright that he's a scumbag, and if they stay together he'd just keep letting her down and screwing up. He's saying it because it's true, but he's ALSO saying it because he's about to take on a pretty good sized chunk of the CIA and doesn't want her around for it. Whether or not a reader thinks he would have said/done it if not for the whole CIA thing varies.
- A MacGuffin Full of Money: The story in Hitman Annual #1 was titled "A Coffin Full of Dollars".
- Manly Tears: Chock full o' moments. The SAS funeral, with the saddest toast in the world. "Bob was a good soldier." "I'm glad we never found out." And, of course, the ending. We are such little men.
- Mister Danger: Martindale, in the Tynanda arc.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Hacken, Hacken, Hacken, Hacken.
- Nice Hat Natt The Hat's hat. Over the course of the series it gets more and more damaged.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: Parodied with Nightfist. A touch hypocritical, since Tommy himself can be seen as a less pretentious and more self-aware example of the breed. Still, Nightfist steals drugs from pushers and Tommy murders people for a living, is the point.
- No Indoor Voice: "I AM BAYTOR!"
- Oh Crap: Natt when he realises the SAS are after him and Tommy. Bear in mind these guys take on gangs, The Mob, supervillains and supernatural enemies on a fairly regular basis.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Hacken is a type B. Big, strong, lethal, prone to rage fits but simple minded, clumsy, very loyal to his friends and very child like.
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".
- Serial Escalation: How crazy can Tommy's adventures get?
- Shout-Out: Many. To Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy, Blade Runner, many.
- Superhero Packing Heat
- Take That: You can copy and paste the examples from Preacher (Comic Book) and place them here.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Teigel's (paternal) grandfather is a German Second World War veteran who likes to encourage Teigel and her mother to join him in singing Nazi songs. It's worth mentioning at this point that Teigel and her mother are black.
- 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.