Today is a good day to spotlight my favorite Irish-American character, Hitman Tommy Monaghan. Not only is Tommy of Irish heritage, but more importantly, he was created by two true-blooded Irishmen, Garth Ennis and John McCrea. Let’s take a look at this fan-favorite series and see if Tommy’s first appearance is a smart buy as well as an entertaining read. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays across the globe. From Brazil to Australia to the United States, everyone is Irish for a day on the 17th of March. Many commemorate the holiday with corned beef and cabbage and a frosty Guinness, but Irish cultural contributions go well beyond pub fare and beer. Ireland also gave us James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Conor McGregor, U2, and some of our most beloved comic book characters.
I have always been more of a Marvel kind of guy, but if there is a series that could make me switch sides to DC, it’s Hitman. Hitman made his first appearance in The Demon Annual #2 in the Bloodlines crossover event of 1993. Bloodlines is largely forgettable except for the introduction of Tommy Monaghan. In this storyline, we see Monaghan, a hired gun, imbued with the powers of X-Ray vision and telepathy after crossing paths with an alien. Tommy chooses to rely mainly on his guns despite these newfound abilities. What follows, beginning in Hitman #1, is one of the best modern runs in comics.
The Where and the Who
Hitman takes place in the Cauldron neighborhood of Gotham, a thinly veiled allegory to the once largely Irish neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. If you gave the Punisher a sense of humor and a love of dive bars, you’d get Tommy Monaghan. Hitman is a darkly amusing title that touches on themes such as camaraderie and loyalty amongst criminals. I won’t spoil the series with too much backstory, but one storyline involves all of the animals in a zoo becoming zombies. I didn’t know clubbing baby seals could be hilarious. Ennis also introduces memorable characters during the run such as Section 8, a team consisting of members such as the aptly named Dog Welder and Sixpack. You catch the drift.
John McCrea brings these characters to life with his dynamic artwork while simultaneously making sidesplitting and gritty choices of imagery. You’ll often feel like you’re having a cold one at the bar or involved in a shoot-out when reading the series, thanks to his energetic art. If these Irishmen don’t make you laugh out loud, no one will. For those of you who grew up in the 90’s and love antiheroes, this is the irreverent series for you.
Can We Strike Gold With Hitman?
Garth Ennis is one of the most decorated writers in comics. He has won multiple Eisner awards for his work and almost all of his properties have been adapted. Preacher and The Boys are enormously popular television shows. His run on Punisher set a new benchmark for the series while redefining the character. His influence on Frank Castle can be seen in both Daredevil and Punisher on Netflix. Remember that crazy scene when the Punisher tied up Daredevil on a roof with a gun taped to his hand? That was a Garth Ennis story.
I have read most of Ennis’ work and Hitman is, hands down, my favorite. That’s saying a lot, considering what else he has created. His track record of having his creations adapted, combined with the awesomeness that is Hitman, make Tommy Monaghan’s first appearance in The Demon Annual #2 a worthwhile speculative purchase. Frankly, I am amazed we haven’t seen Tommy in a movie yet, since everything Ennis touches turns to gold. If you’re already a Hitman fan, I know you agree that DC can easily make multiple successful TV seasons or films from this material.
The Demon Annual #2
The Demon Annual #2 is very much under the radar at the moment. There are a measly 38 9.8s and 149 copies total on the CGC census. I am shocked so few copies have been graded, considering the cult following of the series and Ennis’ prizewinning writing. GoCollect data shows us a 9.8 currently has a fair market value of $250 after a 33% increase in the last year. It seems others agree that this is a smart pick-up after the success of The Boys and its recently announced spin-off series.
The value of this book may be relatively low due to the fact that we haven’t seen Tommy in comics or other media since Hitman #60 in 2001, but these are comics and comic book characters always make comebacks. Considering the meager population, this book stillhas plenty of room to grow and can potentially explode if Hitman reappears in comics or makes it to the big screen. If a 9.8 is out of your budget, raw copies are readily available on eBay for as low as $10. Plus, if you buy a raw copy, you can actually give it a read.
Conclusion: Hit Em’ Up
Hitman is one of the few unadapted characters of Garth Ennis, a crime in my opinion. While speculating is fun, more than anything I wanted to take the opportunity this St. Patrick’s Day to highlight two Irish creators at their best. If you’re wondering where to start reading, I highly recommend Hitman’s Greatest Hits, a collection of some of the best Tommy Monaghan stories. Crack a Guinness, give it a download, and enjoy. Slainte!