1/07/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 174 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84856-552-4.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
From the start, I should point out that this is really the first time I've come across moderately super-human Tommy Monaghan aka the Hitman let alone read Gareth Ennis. Don't blame me on the latter. I'm barely getting in time to read the books I buy.
'Hitman: Ten Thousand Bullets' is actually the second volume of the graphic novel reprints so I'm dropped in running. However, things are relatively easy to sort out, even from reading the title. Monaghan is an assassin-for-hire specialising in removing super-humans but will take on anyone who aims a gun or weapon of choice at him. He prefers to use a gun himself and because his meta-humaness is essentially low-level close-up mind-reading and x-ray vision (that's according to the back-cover, although it's rarely shown inside), isn't afraid to bring in his pals to protect his back on the bigger multiple targets. A good thing, too, as he'd be talking to himself a lot of the time.
This volume contains the title four-parter 'Ten Thousand Bullets' and the Hitman Annual #1 story 'A Coffin Full Of Dollars' where the art is created by Carlos Ezquerra (who I normally see doing 'Strontium Dog' and puts distinctive oblong noses on some characters) and Steve Pugh from 1997. The first is a pastiche of Tarantinto and the second, the Eastwood spaghetti westerns. Whether the newer generations are aware of, let alone old enough to see the Tarantino material, I can probably appreciate why that and the extreme violence aspect is its key selling points. If anything, the humour tends to balance this out with the buddy-buddy banter helping you to pay attention.
In 'Ten Thousand Bullets', Monaghan is subject to a contract himself and with the assistance of his pal, Natt, has to deal with that and a contract he is given to take out a new super-powered felon, Nightfist. The dialogue controls the pace but also gives what it's like to live the life he lives.
'A Coffin Full Of Dollars' is a visit away from Gotham City to Tiburon in Texas where the local sheriff wants him to take out the local criminal organisation which want to take out the local cemetery where there's the prize of the title. Even if you don't recognise elements of 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly', it isn't a total plot borrow so there are some interesting surprises.
I think it's the humour aspect that is probably the strongest appeal of the 'Hitman' books. Well, that and Monaghan's total disregard for life or a simple problem-solving with the odd grenade that he might have on his person. Don't be prepared to be shocked at whatever he does.
If you missed out on the original comicbook when it was released then getting them in softcover volumes is definitely the way to go. Just duck when he starts shooting.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA