Friday, 14 November 2014

Hitman Book 4: Ace Of Killers (#15-22)

"I am Baytor!" - Baytor

Hitman, the story so far.  With the power of X-Ray vision and telepathy, contract killer Tommy Monaghan rose to the top of his profession in Gotham City.  Serious injuries in book 2 have limited the usefulness of his telepathy but he's still the number one, go to guy for weird hits.  When he isn't out killing for money, he hangs out in a bar called Noonan's with fellow killers Natt the Hat (his best friend), Ringo Chen (who might just be better than him at killing) and Hacken (who is.. he's just Hacken) under the watchful eye of bar owner and father figure to Tommy, Sean Noonan.  Tommy's adventures are set firmly in the mainstream DCU and he has already clashed with Batman and teamed up with Green Lantern.  This book which is one arc, plus two one shots sees the return of Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon and adds Catwoman into the mix as Tommy and friends take on a vengeful demonic being he defeated back in book one. Onwards!

THE ACE OF KILLERS - The story begins with a short scene of Catwoman stealing a rifle from a museum. Then we cut to Tommy and Natt stocking up on Ordinance at a dockside warehouse. Suddenly the demonic Mawzir from Book One attacks. Tommy and Natt manage to escape in their car while the Mawzir claims that "this city is mine." The Arkonne, the Lords Of The Gun in Hell are not impressed that Tommy escaped, but the Mawzir says he has rounded up some humans to help flush Tommy out.
Mawzir is back, and he's pissed.
Back at Noonan's, Natt and Tommy discuss the situation. Sean tells Tommy that someone in the bar has been watching them all evening, so they follow the man into the toilets and interrogate him.  Tommy tries to read his mind but only gets "MAWZIR", going deeper now gives him terrible migraines.  The frightened man says that they were holed up in their gang hideout and the Mawzir just showed up and took over. They leave and bump into Tiegel who says the Gotham PD fired her.

She invites Tommy back to her place and they commiserate over drinks.  Later she makes a drunken pass at Tommy, but he is a perfect gentleman and just tucks her up in bed.  Then he meets with Natt, carrying a dead cat in a bag (it was dead when he found it, don't worry).  When the Mawzir attacked he managed to get an image of Catwoman from it's mind and so using a dead cat and a floodlight he makes a "cat-signal" to attract her attention.  Amazingly it works and Catwoman appears, Tommy tells her he saw her in the demons mind.
The Cat Signal
Catwoman: "Is this a joke?"

Tommy: "Uh-uh.  Why would I bring you all the way up here if I wasn't one hundred percent serious?"

Catw:oman: "Because you might be some kind of degenerate, leering pervert."

Natt: "Turns out he is a degenerate, leering pervert..."

Tommy swears it's the truth and that he saw her with a gun.  She then recalls a client who wanted her to steal a fancy gun called "The Ace OF Winchesters".  When she realises she's been used by a demon, she decides to join forces with Tommy and Natt and take the Mawzir out.  After Catwoman leaves, Tommy and Natt swoon over her, and Tommy grins and teases Natt about seeing her with his X-ray vision.  Meanwhile Tiegel wakes up and dimly recalls the previous night which results in a big "NOOOOOOO!"
Jason Blood, the charmer.
Tommy enacts the next part of his plan which is tricking Jason Blood into coming to Gotham.  Blood being the human who shares a soul with the demon Etrigan, also featured in Book One. Blood resists helping him at first, but it turns out Tommy did an "offscreen" job for him that Blood ducked out of paying for, so Blood reluctantly hears him out. When he hears about the Ace Of Winchesters, Blood gives it's backstory as a legendary occult artefact whose most notable property is the ability to kill demons. Tommy figures that the Mawzir decided to remove the one thing that Tommy could use against him.

Tiegel then turns up and wants to talk with Tommy, but before they can, the Mawzir attacks.  Tommy, Natt, Blood, Catwoman and Tiegel all manage to get to the car and escpae, they hunker down in a nearby church where the Mawzir can't get them.  Tommy hands out guns, Catwoman won;t kill though, but she will lay down suppressing fire against the Mawzir's human gang.  Tommy then tells Blood they need Etrigan's help, like now.
Tiegel, meet Catwoman
Outside the church, the Mawzir tells his hapless human gang that it is their job to soak up bullets until he can get his hands on Tommy.  Inside the church Tommy tells Blood that they need Etrigan to get the gun from the Arkonne and bring it to the mortal world so he can use it to kill the MAwzir. Blood agrees as does Etrigan.  Etrigan isn't rhyming at the moment, he is diminished, Blood has taken Etrigan's heart from him.  The current Lord Of Hell is a mad demon called Baytor, who wears the "Crown Of Horns".  Etrigan needs the Crown to give him the power he needs to take on the Arkonne. So off he sets to get it.  Meanwhile Tommy and Tiegel continue their belligerant sexual tension.

Tommy: "C'mon, am I really such a bad guy?"

Tiegel: "Yes!"
Drunken fantasist "hero" Sixpack turns up at the church to help Tommy, but realises it's too much for him.  He then sets out on a quest to reunite his "superteam" Section Eight.  This threads through the next issue but to make it easier to read, I'll introduce them now. The team is made up of Friendly Fire, who can only hit his teammates. Dogwelder, who welds dead dogs to people. Bueno Excellente who fights crime with "the power of perversion" (ah, it's not a Garth Ennis comic if it doesn't include sodomy somewhere). Shakes, who um.. shakes. The Defenestrator who whacks people with windows. Jean De Baton-Baton who uses the power of Frenchness against his foes and Fleghgem, who.. well draw your own conclusions, it's gross anyway.
Section 8, assemble!
Back in Hell, Etrigan wrestles the Crown Of Horns from Baytor.  He walks up to the Arkonnes castle and demands entrance only to be blasted down to his skeleton by a huge gun. He manages to put the crown back on and grows his body back.  Meanwhile, the Mawzir's attacks have let up for a short while and Tommy and Tiegel talk some more.  She gets snippy about his reaction to Catwoman.

Tommy: "Just talking tactics Tiegel. Kind of an idea I got for later on. You ain't jealous are you?"

Tiegel: "You wish."

Tommy: "Yeah, I do."

Tiegel: "What?"

Tommy: "Yeah I do wish. I figure at least one of us ought to be honest about the way we are feeling."
Etrigan comes for the Arkonne
Back in hell, a rejuvenated Etrigan tears his way through the Arkonne's castle.  They try and order Mawzir back to help them, but Mawzir is so fixated on killing Tommy he refuses and Etrigan destroys them and takes the gun.  Back in the mortal world, Blood tells them Etrigan has the gun, but that'll take two hours to bring it to the surface.  Tommy says he can get it faster than that by swapping places with Etrigan.  Blood says NO, but Tommy read his mind earlier and knows the summoning incantation to bring forth Etrigan in Bloods place.  He recites it and Etrigan arrives screaming in triumph much to the alarm of all assembled.

Etrigan is feeling fiesty. Tommy says he can't hurt him on consencrated ground.  So Etrigan uses his fire breath to blow the church to smithereens and de-consencrates it. Tommy though has hold of Etrigan's heart that Blood was carrying with him.  Tommy offers the heart for the rifle, but Etrigan will only accept if he is given the heart first.  Suspecting he'll be double-crossed Tommy says no.   The Mawzir then realises the church can no longer stop him and he and his bodyguards launch an attack.  Our anti-heroes hide out in the cellar. Tommy reads Etrigans mind and Etrigan tells him he is stalling the Mawzir oh and can he have his heart please?  Then he kicks Tommy out of his head, the feedback knocks Tommy out.
The gun for your heart Etrigan...
Outside Section 8 arrive and the unlikely heroes manage to kill or disable all the Mawzir's men left out there. The Mawzir uses a hell grenade to blow open the cellar.  Etrigan curses Tommy for taking to long to hand over his heart, then finds Baytor has travelled out of hell with him in the folds of his cloak. Finally Tomy takes a risk and hands over Etrigan's heart and Etrigan gives him the rifle.  Tommy points it at the suddenly scared Mawzir who starts begging for his life.  Tommy pulls the trigger and there is an awful click, the sound of an empty gun.
Gleefully the Mawzir smacks Tommy around, while Etrigan replaces his heart, which also restores his rhyming.  Baytor though has the ammunition belt.  Etrigan demands Baytor give it to him, but a sultry Catwoman asks Baytor to give it to her instead.  He of course does so, and with the Mawzir distracted, Tommy manages to grab the Winchester and Catwoman tosses him the ammo.  He chambers a round and blasts the Mawzir with it.  A short gun battle ensues as Tiegel, Natt and Tommy take out the last of the Mawzir's men and Tiegel and Tommy share a passionate kiss. They find the Mawzir seperated out into the five Nazi's officers he was constructed from.  Tommy kills them all, finally and utterly kiling the Mawzir for good.
Even demons cannot resist the power of boobs.
Etrigan looks like he might cause trouble, but Natt threatens him with the Winchester and he returns to Hell, with Blood back and very pissed off with Tommy over him giving Etrigan his heart back. Tommy, Natt, Tiegel, Catwoman and Section 8 escape through some old tunnels to avoid the police presence the gun battle attracted. Back at Noona's Tommy asks if Baytor can stay there as he did save all their lives.

Sean: "But he's weird.  What are the customers gonna think?"

Tommy: "Come on.  A giant space monster ate the sun last year.  People get used to stuff."
The inevitable happens...
Catwoman bids Tommy farewell, telling him to keep the gun as it may prove useful to him once again.  Then Tiegel leaves, telling Tommy to call her.  Finally Etrigan reappears and in a roundabout way thanks Tommy for giving him his heart back, and that he likes Tommy, but also Tommy should watch his back too.  "I'll be waitin'" says Tommy and that concludes this plot arc.

KISS ME - The last two chapters are two one-shots.  This first one is drawn by Steve Pugh and sees Tommy and Tiegel take their relationship to the next level as well as kicking off some trouble that'll come back to bite Tommy in the next book. After an evening hanging out at Noonan's, Tommy heads to Tiegels, who is inside wearing a sexy red dress.  Then she starts to panic and takes the dress off, changing back into a T-shirt and jeans.  Then she starts practicing how to tell Tommy she is a virgin when he opens the door and startles her, causing her to blurt out:

Tiegel: "Ah! Monaghan! I've never made sex before!."

After recovering from her humiliation, she confesses that she is attracted to Tommy because he is the first man to treat her as an equal, as a human being. They kiss, then we next see them in bed, post coitally smoking a cigarette each. She says she enjoyed it, but it feels a bit weird as well.  She's having a hard time still reconciling Tommy the nice guy with Tommy the killer.
Sexy time.
Tommy: "I ain't trynna excuse what I do, you know? But Jesus, I ain't apologising for it neither."

Tiegel: "And you want to be with me, even if I feel like this about you?"

Tommy: "I wanna be with you because we're great together Tiegel."

Suddenly Tiegels Mum and Grandad return home unexpectedly and in a panic Tiegel pushes Tommy out onto the balcony where he scrables to put his clothes on.  Then the balcony gives way and he crashes through the roof of a building across the street and into the middle of a drug deal between Lefty Lugano an Z-Dogz.  The guns come out and the misunderstanding results in everyone but Tommy ending up dead.  Then Tiegel calls down to Tommy and makes another date with him, leaving him punching the air with joy.

THE SANTA CONTRACT - This is a Christmas issue whose main gimmick is that the narration is all in rhyme.  A disgruntled, Christmas hating nuclear power plant worker called Bob Smurd accidentally falls into some nuclear fuel and rises again as a mutant who can burn people to death with his touch.  So he puts on a Santa outfit and goes to declare war on Christmas.  The power plant owners decide to hire Tommy and Natt to deal with him, which is fortuitous for them as they are both currently broke.   They get tooled up which results in this fantastic bit of rhyme:
Bob Smurd reborn.
Narration: "'Word!' said his homie. 'I got my nine! Let's go an bust this nuclear swine!'.  So they took their nine millis and a big forty four, and a hand grenade Tommy was keeping in store.  And enough ammunition to fight a small war. And went to inform vile Bob Smurd of the score."

They find him causing mayhem at the shopping mall and take him out using first their car then their guns.  Later they return for drinks at Noonan's celebrating being able to buy Christmas gifts and reflecting on the crazy year they have had.  Natt leaves Tommy with a present, which Tommy unwraps and when he sees its a kids cop playset he goes chasing after Natt while Sean laughs his head off.  And that's the end of Hitman Book Four.
Even Hitmen celebrate Christmas
Book Four keeps up the quality of the previous books, with plenty of mayhem but also balances it out with the blossoming of Tommy and Tiegel's relationship into something more serious and it allows us to see a more loving and tender side to him that at least explains why he can be found so charming by readers even if in another book he'd more likely be cast as the villian.  This is roughly a third of the way through the series and it's noticable that the stories after this start to pull away from using other DC characters, although the stories are still set in the main DCU Gotham.  The two one-shots are a nice breathing space between the epic "Ace of Killers" arc and the very serious "Who Dares Wins" one that kicks off the next book, which I hope you'll be joing me for in a few days time.


  1. Why did Tiegel get fired? Why didn't Batman check out the cat-signal? Why doesn't the Defenestrator defenestrate people? Why does Tiegel have such a tiny waist? Is she, like, congenitally deformed or something? Are we still allowed to say 'congenitally deformed'?

    1. Answering the one question left unanswered, "why doesn't the Defenestrator defenestrate people?"
      Technically he does, but he's usually prepared for when there isn't a window readily available: he grabs these pre-assembled windows and bash people with them like he were throwing them out them. If you complain about the lack of logic in this, then you're missing the point: it's NOT supposed to be logic. At least, not in such a strict way that you have to demand it.

  2. Tiegel got suspended in a previous issue for punching another cop. Basically the Gotham PD is irredeemably corrupt and she.. isn't so she had to go. The cat signal was just funny, why must you bring logic into this? :p I assumed the Defenestrator doesn't defenestrate due to this being a mainstream DC book, but then they have Bueno.. so IDW. Tiegel's waist is so small because well, the art is quite styalised, John MaCrea reminds me of a less scary Kevin O'Neil. I think congenitally deformed is OK still.

    There I have ALL the answers! Cheers for the comment ;)

  3. i love that christmas issue! u should have reviewed it for this christmas xD

  4. The thought did occur, but I wanted to keep Hitman confined to a single month and doing this volume for Xmas would have unbalanced things. Think of it as an early present ;)