Friday, 7 November 2014

Hitman Book 3: Local Heroes (#9-14)

"...All of a sudden I just don't feel like runnin'" - Tommy

Hitman, the story so far.  Acquiring the gifts of telepathy and X-ray vision, hitman Tommy Monaghan has risen to the top of his dubious profession.  He lives in a shady part of Gotham City called The Cauldron and when he isn't out shooting people he hangs out with his friends at a bar called Noonan's.  In the previous book his childhood best friend Pat was brutally tortured to near death by someone looking for Tommy, forcing Tommy to put him out of his misery.  Tommy managed to take out the man who did this but not before being badly wounded himself and losing his relationship with a woman called Wendy when she found out that he really was what he joked about being.  Tommy's adventures take place firmly in the mainstream DCU, he met Batman in the first volume and in this one will meet the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern.  While Ennis obviously has some respect for Batman, this isn't true of Kyle and he's portrayed as about as dim as you can get without crossing the line into open mockery.  With that said then, lets crack on.

LOCAL HEROES - The story begins with Pat's funeral, which is well attended.  It ends with Tommy, Sean, Hcken, Ringo and Natt by the graveside.  They each take a swig of booze and poor the rest on the coffin. Hacken admits that what Pat did before he died, he "never heard of anything as tough as that before".

Meanwhile Detective Tiegel is being questioned over her use of a dead collegue as a bullet shield when taking on a group of armed villains.  She lose her temper and accuses everyone of corruption, she is allowed to keep her job for now.  But later she gets into a fight with the dead guy's old partner and this results in her getting a suspension.  As she goes to confront the Captain she stops and hears her talking to a shady guy from the government who wants to recruit Tommy for something and if he disagrees, the Gotham police force will take him out publically.
Detective Tiegel
Meanwhile at Noonan's, Tommy is telling Sean how his injuries sustained in the last book are affecting him.  He can hardly keep one hand level and using his telepathy has become painful, if he goes too deep he gets a horrible migraine. Truman and his bodyguard Feekle find Tommy in the bar and ask to talk to him.  Tommy agrees but immediately starts needling Feekle about his name. Trueman says his department deals with superheroes.

Truman: "Bright costumes.  Incredible powers.  Battles with the city/country/world at stake.  Bit of soap opera. Public can't get enough of it. Our aim as far as possible is to control them...but what we want to talk to you about is their destruction."
Truman, the little creep.
Tommy says no.  He will not and never will kill a good person.  No matter how much money he is offered.  Truman says it's a shame and he and Feekle leave.  Later Tommy is at Pat's packing up his things, when suddenly the place is surrounded by many armed police.  Using his wits, Tommy manages to take their leader hostage and gets the rest to drop their guns.  He and his hostage get in a car and drive it away, while the locals cheer Tommy for putting one over on the police.

[As an aside, what's absolutely fascinating about this, is that Ennis did in fact reuse this idea of CIA backed superhumans who keep the rest of the superheroes in check with his main protagonists of The Boys.  Although context is everything, the morally upright heroes of the DCU need no shady govermental monitoring so this is an obviously villainous plan that Tommy is offered as becoming part of.  In The Boys the majority of "supes" are venal, corrupted, immoral and murderous and so a group of lets say "anti-heroes" charged with smacking them down when they get too far out of line is one the reader can get behind (I'll be discussing The Boys in April and May of next year, mark your calenders folks).]
Hearing of this, Truman says it's time to go to Plan B.  It might encourage Tommy to change his mind, if not Feekle can deal with him. Still in the car, anothr car piles into the side of it and it turns out to be Tiegel who tells Tommy to get in and then drives away shaking off the rest of the police as they go.  Tiegel says she didn't want the shady guys getting their hands on him as he "a bloodbath waiting to happen."

He takes her to the home she shares with her African-American mother and WW2 veteran grandfather, a German WW2 veteran.  Yes really.  Her deceased dad was a white cop. Tommy turns on the charm with her mother who is delighted Tiegel has bought a man home for once. Later when it's just Tiegel and Tommy talking, she tells him he everything she despises. He says he's choosy about who he shoots.  She says that makes no difference.  He then makes to leave.
Tiegel and Tommy get acquainted.
She asks him to stay and admits she jumped wihout thinking when she rescued him.  He says he's up to his neck in trouble, and just killing Trueman won't help.  Tiegel has an idea, why don't they make his plans public.  That way they can blackmail him and also embarress the Gotham Police colluding with him.  Tommy agrees.  Next day he is chliing on a rooftop thing when suddenly Green Lantern attacks him.

Green Lantern accuses Tommy of being hired by a Crime Syndicate to kill him. They end up in a running battle which ends in an impasse, Green Lantern's fist to Tommy's face, Tommy's gun to Green Lantern's head.  Tommy then proves he would never kill a good guy by withdrawing his gun.  He and Green Lantern go to Noonan's where he and Sixpack have some fun with Kyle over him being a replacement character.
Green Lantern and Tommy fight it out
Green Lantern tells Tommy he was told Tommy was out to get him by an Agent McAllister.  she showed him pictures of Nightfist and said this fate was planned for him.  Tommy laughs at how used Green Lantern must feel, although he admits the police have a lot of reports on him.  Green Lantern reacts with shock when Tommy says he is a hitman, but Tommy tells him to relax and that he only kills bad guys.  Tommy then fills Green Lantern in on Truman's proposed plans to recruit him as a superhero killer.  Green Lantern reluctantly agrees to help him and Tiegel blackmail Truman.
Kyle isn't the brightest bulb in this storyline.
Tommy phones Truman and tells him to meet him outside the Hilton Hotel the next night and perhaps they can do business.  Truman arranges to have Sean Noonan kidnapped to ensure Tommy's good behviour.  This goes badly for the men he sends.

Afterwards he phones Tommy to let him know he is alright.  After Tommy puts the phone down he thinks to himself.

Tommy: "'See you Sean' an' I nearly say uncle Sean by accident... that's nothin' though. Theres been times I nearly called him dad."
Sean deals with his attackers.
The next day, Tiegel takes up a smiping position and attaches a wire to Tommy so they can record what Truman says to him. There are Truman's goons hiding all down the street Tommy's X-Ray vision tells him.  But Green Lantern is their back up for when things kick off.  Tommy then walks out and meets Truman.  Truman tells him that metahumans are humanties greatest threat.  If they realised their potential and started to work together, normal government by the people would be over.  He says Tommy would have access to the highest level of killing technology, and he will rid the world of the "superhuman plague".

Truman: "Under my orders, if I tell you to firebomb the Batmobile, you do it. If I tell you to execute an Amazonian Princess, you do it.  If you find yourself looking down a telescopic sight at Superman and I say kill, you will pin him in the crosshairs and send a muclear bullet directly into his skull".
Tommy battles Feekle.
If Tommy says no again, his friends will be killed and Tommy tortured for life.  Tommy does say no and starts to walk away.  Truman's men begin to attack, but Green Lantern in a ring construct spaceship appears and they surrender to him. Mr. Feekle however, raging about being mocked by Tommy chases him into a shop.  But Tommy blasts him stone dead.

Later Tommy meets with Green Lantern, who says he was not happy working with Tommy but perhaps justice is darker in Gotham.  He keeps talking not noticing Tommy has slipped away leaving him monologuing to himself. Tommy contacts Truman and tells him he has copies of the tape and if anything happens to him or his friend they'll be released to the media.  Truman agrees to leave Tommy alone.. for now.
Oh Boo Hoo, Green Lantern.
Tommy and Tiegel have a chat together where he mentioned she said she would arrest him one day.  She says she's still suspended so can't.  He asks if she would if she wasn't.  She says "almost certainly".  Grinning, Tommy bids her farewell.  The story ends with Tommy at a baseball game.  The Gotham team are the underdogs here, there's been a fix but it will only take the team so far.  Tommy wants a win, not for the bet he put on them but for Pat.  And I assume (knowing nothing about baseball myself) that the team wins when the batsman strikes a home run and Tommy reacts with ecstasy.

ZOMBIE NIGHT AT THE GOTHAM AQUARIUM - There are more dodgy goings on at Injun Peak Research Facility.  One of the scientists has been murdered but managed to write "call Monaghan" in his blood before dying.  Tommy and his friends are relaxing when the call comes through, they met a scientist who tells them that  Doctor Oswald Minett has gone rogue.  He was responsible for Project Wormwood.  He invented a gas that would revive the recently dead, with the hope it had military applications.  But the zombies were uncontrollable and only wanted flesh.  Not one to give up they suspect he's going to try a mass test but not on humans.
When Undead Octopus's Attack!
This gives Tommy the idea that he'll be at the aquarium, which he is.  He starts boiling the water in all the fish tanks until they are all dead and he releases the gas.  At the aquarium Tommy and Natt bump into Ringo who had also been given the contract. Natt is then attacked by a zombie octopus.  They manage to blast it to death.  Then Hacken chainsaws his way in, he just tagged along to see what was happening.  Tommy opens the door and is presented with a whole room full of zombie animals.
They start fighting then and Hacken gets bit in the hand by a zombie baby seal that Tommy has to club to get to let go.  Hacken panics that he'll turn into a zombie now he's been bitten and his hand needs cutting off.  Better safe than sorry, Ringo chops it off with the chainsaw.

Natt: "Gotta admit, that guy Hacken is one hardcore dude, you know? Most anybody else would have died of shock straight away."

Hacken: [blasting his severed hand] "Gotta make sure of it. Don't want it coming after me".

Ringo: "Does that seem like a mind remotely susceptible to shock?"

Natt: "Point".

Hacken then deals with some zombie penguins in this awesome panel.
There are no words...
They then start making their way through the aquarium looking for Minett.  On the way they are attacked by a zombie dolphin.
Zombie dolphins FTW
They take it down, but Minett has seen them and drops zombie fish on them. He then confronts armed with a gun.  Tommy asks him if you can become a zombie by being bitten, the scientist says no, you have to be dead and exposed to the Wormwood gas.  Before he can kill them, a zombie shark breaks through it's tank and practically bites Minett in two.  In the rush of water the boys lose their weapons.  Tommy still has his and blasts open the door and the water rushes into the next room.  They jump down into the water and grab their guns and go all out on the zombie animals.  With all of them dead, they leave before the authorities can give them any trouble.
Zombie animals are no match for the Hitmen
The story ends with Tommy contemplating the stack of notes infront of him.  His pay for dealing with the zombies and Minett.

Natt: "What you doin' with your half?"

Tommy: "I'm mailing every cent of it to Greenpeace before I'm too sober to care."

Natt; [wordlessly moves his stack of cash next to Tommy's]

Tommy: "I guess we must be crazy, huh?"

Natt: "Nah.  You're crazy.  I'm just stoopid."

And thus ends probably the funniest Hitman arc of them all and the book overall.

This is a really enjoyable book.  We get to see Tommy use his wits, charm and cunning to get out of mess after mess in the first story.  Tiegel is a nice, fiesty addition to the cast.  Like us the audience she is both attracted to Tommy by his affable personality and sense of loyalty, while being repulsed by the fact he's a hired killer.  Poor Green Lantern gets the piss taken out of him for most of the story, but he does come through and help Tommy out of a tight spot.  It goes without saying that "Zombie Night..." is utterly hilarious with John McCrea's art really shining as it portrays the variety of zombie animals.  Thus endeth Book 3.  The next book sees the return of Etrigan and a villain Tommy already defeated once...


  1. hahaha, those zombie penguins crack me up every time!

  2. The next Resident Evil game should have zombie penguins in it. Then I'd definitely buy a copy.

  3. You don't like Kyle, do you? Well, I do, and there's no way the holder of the universe's most powerful weapon would be outfoxed by someone holding a gun to his head. So there :-P

  4. I thought you might come to Kyle defence! I don't think Ennis thinks much of Kyle, I haven't actually read anything with him in to form an opinion. And to be fair he does trust Tommy when he realises he's been used, so it's not a totally negative portrayal. The reason I think he and Tommy fight to a draw is they are at very close quarters which limits what Kyle can manifest and of course Tommy is a very experience and dirty fighter with X-ray vision. It is pretty cool when Kyle charges in during the final battle and the baddies immediately realise they are outclassed and give up. Ennis deserves credit for giving Kyle that cool moment :)