THE DEMON ANNUAL #2 - This issue was part of the 1993 DC crossover event "Bloodlines". You can read more via the link, but basically it had aliens coming to Earth and drinking spinal fluid. This usually killed the victim, but in a few cases it gave a person super-powers instead. It was intended to create a new wave of modern 90's EXTREME heroes, but it's widely considered that Hitman was the best thing to come out of the event and the rest of the heroes faded away, usually ending up as cannon fodder in later DC events.
|Tommy's first scene|
Tommy is introduced waiting to perform a hit, but before he can, one of the aliens called Glonth attacks and kills his mark, then comes after Tommy and slurps his spine too. But Tommy survives and is rushed to hospital, he awakens to find his eyes are now black pools and that he can see through people down to the skeleton and is overwhelmed by their thoughts (he later gains control of these abilities and can turn them on and off at will). Tommy escapes the hospital and goes to his friends Pat's house to get tooled up. He then declares himself "not Tommy, Pat. Hitman". But this ID is never used again. He's always referred to as "a hitman" rather than "the Hitman".
|Ah, sweet, delicious spinal fluid.|
|Glonth takes on Tommy and Etrigan|
Tommy: "And sometimes, Mr. Blood. Sometimes, you ain't got a choice."
And the Annual ends. It's a great intro for the character of Tommy, and establishes characters and plot threads that get picked up three years later when Tommy gets his own series.
BATMAN CHRONICLES #4 - It starts with the arresting image of Batman with a gun jamed in his mouth by some two-bit thug. The thug was actually after Tommy, but using his powers, Tommy managed to manipulate the thug into covering Batman who was stalking him while he goes off to deal with his latest mark a creature who escaped a research laboratory and is part of a plague Gotham is suffering.
|Get out of that one Bats (he does easily)|
Batman escapes the thug holding him hostage and goes to find Tommy, who has located the monsterous Thrax. Batman refuses to let Tommy kill Thrax saying his blood could hold the plague cure. Tommy says Thrax has a timer inside him ready to set him off like a bomb.
Batman: "I will not let you earn blood money of this creatures life. I will not let you kill him"
Tommy: "For crying out loud Batman, look at him."
|Sucks to be Thrax|
|The Rage In Arkham begins...|
Meanwhile, in Hell, two demons called the Arkonne - The Lords of The Gun - observe Tommy saying he is just what they are looking for, despite his one scruple of not killing anyone good. They think if they can lure him to a place of evil they can twist him into accepting their offer to work for them. They send their current enforcer, the Mawzir to Gotham to engineer this meeting.
Tommy ends his date with Wendy like a gentleman, but then gets attacked by Batman. He tries to fend him off, but Batman grabs him and punches him in the stomach and Tommy vomits curry all over Batman's feet, who then tosses him into the street where several cop cars are waiting, and Tommy gets arrested. Using his telepathy to discover one of the cops is having an affair with the other cops wife, he tells them this and the cuckolded cop makes the other stop the car and they get out and he knocks him out. Tommy in turn knocks that cop out and goes to Pat's to get free of the cuffs and to get tooled up for the hit.
|Tommy and his best friend Pat.|
Tommy: "He's a motherlovin' bomb waiting to go off, is what he is. A sensible man woulda bust a cap in him years ago. But oh no, not Batboy."
Pat is concerned that Tommy still intends to go through with the hit. Tommy sees the million dollars as a way out of Gotham and to a life in Manhattan. Pat says he'd miss him. Tommy tells him to come with him. A pleased Pat then reels of a list of hits people want doing to inmates of Arkham "beer and pizza money" for Tommy. Then Tommy goes to Arkham and manages to infiltrate past the police cordon by hijacking a cop car. Inside he starts capping and maiming inmates. He arrives at the Joker and shoots him in the head, but the wound heals and the Joker turns into the Mawzir and shoots Tommy.
|The Mawzir revealed.|
A hellish cloud appears over Arkham and all the cops bar the mixed race female detective Tiegel are too scared to go in. She does as does Batman. The Arkonne appear and tell Tommy they want him to kill for them, like the Mawzir, who is five nazi officers fused into one being. Tommy tells them they can "stick their offer".
Tommy blasts his way free of Mawzir and blows open Killer Croc's cell with a grenade, and Croc attacks the Mawzir. Tommy bumps into Tiegel and Batman closely followed by the Mawzir. Batman deals with Killer Croc while Tiegel chases after Tommy. The Mawzir injures Tommy further, but Tommy uses telepaphy to discover the Mawzir can be hurt by his own gun. Tiegel blasts it out of the Mawzir's hand and Tommy catches it and badly wounds the Mawzir. The Arkonne give him one last chance to join them but Tommy tells them to "blow." He then makes the Mawzir heal him and say that the Arkonne suck, before killing him.
|Tommy 1, Demons From Hell 0|
Tommy: "I ain't your problem big man. I don't sell smack to kids or rob old ladies, or try to teleport Gotham to the moon. The guys I whack, hell it's what they do. So how about staying off my case?"
Batman says he's a hitman, of course he's Batman's problem. Tommy says he could easily kil them both, or tell everyone just who Batman really is. But he won't do that and leaves. Batman, Tiegel and the Arkonne all expound that one way or another they'll get Tommy Monaghan. The book ends with Tommy watching the sun come up, reflecting he didn't get a million dollars, but he does have one good thing in his life - a second date with Wendy.
|Tommy, ostensibly a good guy|
On the face of it, to begin with, Tommy looks like just another gritty 90's anti-hero. Amoral and willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. But actually, he does have morals. He never does kill anyone who doesn't deserve it, the "Hitman who only takes metahuman contracts" angle is dropped completely after this and he tangles only with murderers, mobsters and monsters almost always in self defence. It's also made clear that although he is a funny and likeable guy, the world he inhabits is one he can't escape from due to what he does. It's a nasty, grubby little world and he either isn't able or isn't willing to transcend it and it ends up costing him family, relationships, friends and finally everything. Oh there's plenty of fun stuff that happens along the way, but this series gets as dark as you can while still be a part of the mainstream DCU. In a way it's actually a judgement on the 90's anti-hero archetype, showing the terrible cost bourne by the soul of living your life that way. But like I said it's not all bleakness and horror, just wait until you see the zombie penguins and invasions of dinosaurs that happen in later books. And Dogwelder, mustn't forget Dogwelder!