Hitman: Ten Thousand Bullets (#4-8) – Garth Ennis

2 out of 5

Still dumb.  McCrea’s art: Fan-bloody-tastic, and even in our gore-soaked present years, I’m pretty flabbergasted to be reading such a headshot-stuffed book from one of the major two, so some of the flippant shock value makes it worth it.  …And within those extremes of art and Garth’s most ridiculous dudes-in-tights yuks, there’s a funny book, but just like his latter-day self, futzing things up with elongated moralizing speeches, this 90s title boggles the senses when it tries to smash in Ennis themes of friendship and relative rights and wrongs.  That’s what makes it especially dumb: that one might mistake Hitman for “smart” by suddenly turning a corner and having its lead level-set his gun-for-hire job by proclaiming “we’re all scum.”  No, it’s just sloppy, dashed writing that’s trying to turn a tossed-off Bloodlines idea into something with legs.  Which is still possible – and I’ll have to believe occurs more rightfully along the way, as the series went for 60 issues – but here in the second arc, which has boss Dubelz hire another hitman to go after Tommy, here buddied up with fellow hitter Natt the Hat, Garth hasn’t quite found the right pacing or style yet, causing the discomfiting clod-handed writing I’m maligning above.  This also allows / requires McCrea to lurch between overblown stuff like gigantic burgers and Dubelz double-wide zombie body and “character” moments that ask for more shadow and restraint.  He can do both, but the flip between comedic and dramatic in his styles is a big one, drawing all the more attention to the uneven mash-up occurring in the script.

Some bits of Hitman amuse, and when it’s just sort of riffing and going off the rails (Nightfist is Garth’s Dicks sensibilities in full force) it’s a good time, but the clumsy attempts to add pathos really dumb it down, and make the related pages worthy of eye-rolls.  Longevity requires more depth, but the book’s got some work to do to figure out how to make that happen.