Review by Jamie McNeil
For Tomorrow is the sixth Hitman book, and finds Tommy Monaghan back in Gotham licking his wounds, wallowing in booze-soaked self pity after the events of Tommy’s Heroes. He’s had a rough time of it lately and it’s about to get worse, co-creators Garth Ennis and John McCrea only beginning to run our guy through the mangle.
Most of For Tomorrow is set during the events of Batman saga No Man’s Land, though isn’t an official tie-in. Instead it works on the premise that Tommy and his pals live in the Cauldron (the old Irish district of Gotham City), ergo they are affected in some way. It proves to be perfect for the kind of chaos that makes up Tommy’s world, facilitating some zany stories more in the style of British comic 2000AD. The title piece features Tommy and pal/rival Ringo in a tragic stand-off with a mythical creature hired by a vengeful Yakuza boss. It’s a firm reader favourite with stand-out gun battles and human drama. ‘Dead Man’s Land’ is wonderfully gothic and macabre, a vampire leader named Darius seeking to take the Cauldron as his fiefdom during the land grab of No Man’s Land. Since he plans to use Noonan’s Bar as his base, the lads have something to say about that with McCrea providing gory fun to match Ennis’s irreverence.
The human element is a major component of ‘The Morning After the Night Before’. Tommy and Natt take a job but Tommy is completely off his game with Natt working hard to keep his buddy alive. It has a real 1990s flair, showing how good an artist McCrea is, his cast’s movements and expressions conveying a large amount of emotion. There’s still the usual craziness too especially in ‘Fresh Meat’. When Natt and Tommy take a job up at the meta-human research facility they accidentally trigger a chain of events featuring a herd of rampaging tyrannosaurs. It is very funny, offering nods to classic stories from afore-mentioned 2000AD with some biting commentary on the audacity of the rich from Ennis. Best bit is McCrea having a whale of a time letting dinosaurs loose on Gotham, the mayhem fantastic!
While lunacy is a trademark of Hitman, there’s always been far more to it than crazy storylines. Ennis and McCrea take characters that are essentially bad guys and flip the tropes, generating empathy for the characters we shouldn’t experience. Yes they are scum, but how and why they become scum makes for moving narrative. ‘The Old Dog’ is such a story, the Ferretti Family calling a vendetta on Tommy and Natt for events told in Tommy’s Heroes. While Tommy is trying to get back with his lady love Tiegel, Sean Noonan reflects on his past (told in a marvellous war story flashback) while reflecting on his own mortality. Its three stories interweaving very well and progressing to a heck of a finale with all guns blazing.
Life doesn’t work out well for Tommy, sometimes by his own hand and sometimes because life is just unfair. Yet despite his bad choices and questionable career we still feel for him. That, my friends, is the work of good storytellers who know how to invest their cast with humanity. The series concludes in the appropriately titled Hitman: Closing Time.