Review by Jamie McNeil
Earlier in the series Tommy Monaghan and best buddy Natt the Hat regaled a story of their time in the Gulf War. Friendly fire is an unfortunate reality of combat, but the last bunch of soldiers you want to accidentally aim at is Her Majesty’s Special Air Service. Of course, Tommy and Natt didn’t know that right until the SAS kick down the door of Bucket Burger ten years later. Meanwhile Tommy’s little escapade in ‘Kiss Me’ (Ace of Killers) has earned the ire of notorious Gotham mob boss Don Ferretti aka Men’s Room Louis. In ‘Who Dares Wins’ Tommy and Natt are fighting for their lives, but Gotham’s mob are about to learn just why the SAS is not to be crossed. Garth Ennis writes a melancholic tale, originally printed as a separate TPB now collected with Tommy’s Heroes making for a bulkier volume. An action packed war story told from the perspective of the soldiers themselves, it’s intriguing yet maintains that anarchic spirit epitomising Hitman. Garry Leach joins as inker for John McCrea’s pencils to deliver some amazing Gotham settings and excellent gun battles.
‘Tommy’s Heroes’ follows on from there as Tommy, Natt, Ringo and Hacken head off to Africa as mercenaries to train militia in a war torn country ravaged by a drug smuggling warlord. Really it’s to lie low after the whole incident with the SAS and the mob, but trouble always finds Tommy. This time it’s just dictators, super-powered bodyguards and corrupt corporations. The battle scenes are well illustrated, though violent and there’s some interesting characters introduced that give the story some heft. However the views on how Africa’s problems as highlighted in frequent news features during the 1990s can be solved are well meaning, but overly simplistic.
Tommy’s problems are compounded when he’s visited by his sister Frances who reveals secrets his friend Sean Noonan has protected him from his whole life. Tommy heads off to Ireland in ‘Katie’ to confront the man who fathered him and may have murdered his mother. You can view it as a comment on Ennis and McCrea’s homeland, the hypocrisy of “God fearing” people who ostracise anyone different including women. It might be set in Donegal, but such people are sadly found everywhere regardless of faith and creed. McCrea’s little details like snow in a blizzard make it atmospheric, the interactions and traits of the cast uncomfortably realistic.
It is gritty reading but it just wouldn’t Hitman without some satirical story telling. ‘Of Thee I Sing’ won Ennis and McCrea an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue on original publication. Tommy is on a rooftop enjoying the Gotham night when he spots Superman across the same roof deep in thought. Tommy strikes up a conversation, becoming a listening ear in Superman’s crisis of confidence. It’s not your usual Superman tale, McCrea rendering a more angular Supes, but it’s a good story worthy of its accolade. ‘To Hell With The Future’ is classic Hitman satire, where a utopian society inspired by the Justice League has developed in the year 85,271AD. Using time travel to clone the powers of 20th Century heroes, someone has got their historical wires crossed and mistaken Tommy Monaghan for a super-powered saviour. Imagine their surprise when they bring him to their time and all hell breaks loose. McCrea nails the futuristic setting and gory violence in a hilarious tale.
Tommy’s Heroes veers from the serious to the insane, a solid read from start to finish. Tommy’s life is only starting to get complicated as we head into Hitman: For Tomorrow.