When Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman ended, it ended definitively for almost all of its characters --- including the collection of heroes called Section 8, who would have to sweat for a lifetime to reach the lofty heights of the Z-list. So I held off on buying All-Star Section 8 --- written by Ennis, drawn by McCrea, with colors by John Kalisz, letters by Pat Brosseau and covers by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts --- because I didn’t feel the need to revisit it.
But eventually I did, and I was not expecting what I got: affection wrapped in sheer nihilism, a pointed critique from a very unexpected angle on how the Big Two superhero universes work, and nothing less than Ennis and McCrea’s own Flex Mentallo.
When it comes to the Superman books, we are living in an age of terrifying uncertainty. Like, seriously, I have read every single Superman comic that has come out since DC's latest relaunch, and right about the time the Eradicator showed up to fight Post-Crisis Superman because New 52 Superman was dead, I had to admit that I had no idea how we got here. But with all that uncertainty comes a thrill of excitement, and this week, Superman #4 gave us not one, but two surprising returns, courtesy of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.
The first one is actually not all that unexpected: It's Bibbo Bibbowski,the lottery-winning former heavyweight champ best known for being Superman's #1 fan. Considering that he was a staple of Superman's supporting cast in the '90s, his appearance isn't exactly shocking. The guy he's arm-wrestling, though? That one's a surprise.
Phil Hester and John McCrea's Mythic is the platonic ideal of a rip-roaring working class supernatural adventure, focused on a group of specialists who help keep the world running by troubleshooting the problems of various gods, monsters, and other magical beings --- all while hoping that they can get overtime pay. They've faced down renegade deities, averted a potential apocalypse, put down a robot uprising, and figured out how to kill candy, and that's just in the first eight issues.
Now, with the book's first arc completed, ComicsAlliance spoke to Hester and McCrea about their approach to magic, their reactions to the absurdity of the world around them, and why McCrea demanded more swearing --- both in the comic and in this interview.
When you pick up a new comic by Phil Hester and John McCrea, you pretty much expect it to be good. Hester, after all, has produced amazing work as both a writer and an artist on titles like Green Arrow and Firebreather, going all the way back to The Wretch, while McCrea was, among other things, the co-creator of one of my all-time favorite comics, Hitman. They've got a track record, is what I'm getting at, so when they pair up and launch a new series, you expect it to be good.
With Mythic, they're bringing a rip-roaring adventure to a world full of magic at a pace that doesn't leave time to explain anything to its readers, and they're happily blowing their biggest surprises in the next-issue blurbs just to make sure you keep reading, and it's not just good. It's great.
Anyone can make fun of DC comics. Don't believe me? Go ahead and look around the Internet. I'll wait. The publisher's long life, huge catalog of characters and hundreds of thousands of pages of material have certainly provided a target-rich environment.
But it takes a very special mindset and skill set to make fun of DC comics within the pages of a DC comic – and I'm not just talking gentle ribbing or affectionate teasing, but fairly scathing satire. That Garth Ennis and John McCrea were able to do so on such a regular basis for so long in the pages of their 1997-2001 Hitman is pretty remarkable; almost as remarkable as the fact that DC invited them back for All Star Section Eight, a series that necessarily focuses on and amps up the superhero parody of the pair's Hitman series.
This week's DC Comixology sale features one of the best lineups of dollar books that the publisher has ever done, with great comics like JM DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Shawn McManus's highly underrated Dr. Fate, Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch's all-too-brief run on JLA, and Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham's Batman Incorporated — including the issue Burnham wrote about Batman Japan fighting Lady Tigerfist, a lady with tigers for fists — but really, those books are all tied for second. If you don't already own Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman and you take this as anything other than an opportunity to get as much of it as you can, then you're doing something wrong.
DC rocked the comics Internet pretty hard today with a massive announcement of 24 new comics spinning out of their Convergence event, and I can assure you that no one is more excited about this than I am. But the one thing that's most impressive about it is just how weird the publisher is getting. And folks, DC is getting weird.
Not only is the publisher reviving some of the deepest cuts in DC history, but it's also putting the spotlight on some truly weird characters -- including a few that I didn't think would ever make a comeback. So for the benefit of those of you who haven't been obsessing over DC Comics for the last three decades, here's a quick breakdown of the three weirdest comics coming up in DC's new lineup!
A more appropriate name for DC Comics' Convergence event, at least the miniseries that will accompany the main series for two months next spring, may be "Nostalgia Trip."
DC has been rolling out titles and creative teams for the 40 planned series week by week. The first batch focused on the publisher's pre-New 52 continuity. The second focused on the 1990s (including WildStorm), and the third seemed to center on the 1980s.
The fourth and final group of miniseries, which DC announced Tuesday, covers a much wider time period: All of DC's pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity. And there's another twist: They all take place on defined and listed alternate Earths which existed before the company's last line-wide reboot in the 1980s.
Q: I'm interested in Hitman as a character in the larger DCU, and "the area of Gotham so bad that Batman doesn't go there," because Batman is a dude that has paid multiple visits to a planet literally called Apokolips. -- @kingimpulse
A: For those of you who haven't been following the War Rocket Ajax podcast, Matt and I have been spending the entirety of 2014 ranking every single comic book story ever on a master list from the best (Amazing Spider-Man #33) to the worst (Identity Crisis). Last week, we finally got around to Hitman, and while it eventually fell between The Dark Knight Returns and Impulse #3, the conversation that we had about it involved me mentioning that Tommy Monaghan lived in a section of Gotham called "the Cauldron," which was so thoroughly lawless that they didn't even really notice when No Man's Land swept through.
There's a pretty obvious reason why it went down that way, of course, but the more I thought about your question, the more I realized that it's the core of Hitman's complicated relationship with the universe where it's set, which is one of the best things about that comic.
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
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