Hitman vol. 4 TPB: Ace of Killers

3 out of 5

There’s too much Demon in my Hitman, Ennis.  Both of the Etrigan and your regular ol’ god of guns variety.  I mean, I get it: Tommy M sprang from the demon-infused Bloodlines annual, starring your take on Jason Blood’s Hell-bound shadow, also drawn by your Hitman compatriot McCrea; it seems natural that the stories would give and take from one another.  But Monaghan’s birth into the world was one of the stupider things you’ve written – whether knowingly poking fun at Bloodlines or not – and the kind of loosey-goose scripting and elastic art style used on Demon just didn’t seem like the exact fit for a street-level assassin.  Indeed, Hitman only really started to have an identity once you’d moved away from such subject matter.  I don’t know how, exactly, zombie penguins are a different vibe from multi-armed beastie Mawzir, your gun demon, but there’s something different in being ridiculous versus furthering your Hell mythology.

Which is why Ace if Killers – which brings back the incredibly uninteresting Mawzir, and with him, Etrigan, and license for McCrea to go overboard with embellishment – is only really saved by the introduction of a master stroke of ridiculousness: the slapdash hero team of Section Eight, led by drunken slob Six Pack and featuring dudes that right people with Frenchness and perversion.  Pure Ennis silliness, and a bright spot in this cluttered, thrilless arc with a pointless Catwoman spot, offering none of the satire that came with Batman and Green Lantern.

SE’s first appearance and the subsequent non-demon infused tales in this trade rescue it to a three-star rating: Steve Pugh illustrates a fun date for Tommy and Tiegel, and McCrea returns for a joyously ribald Christmas tale in which a toxic Santa Claus gets a Merry Xmas bullet from Tommy and Nat.  That’s our Hitman.  Ditch the supernatural stuff, and bring on, uh, more mutant penguins.