As stated above, Hitman is a graphic (and boy, is it ever graphic - this one's rated M for Mature) novel by Garth Ennis and John McCrea (both of whom are consistently credited as creators throughout the series, with writer credit to Ennis and artist credit to McCrea), about a normal guy in Gotham City. Well, sort of normal - he kills people for a living, and he seems to have obtained a few supernatural advantages over his competition: telepathy and X-Ray vision. Still, in a city where a grown man dresses up in rubber costume and punches criminals each night, that's not all that odd.

"My name's Tommy Monaghan, and I kill people for money. It's a living. Regular hitmen kill regular people. I ain't regular hitmen. I take the weird jobs. Get mugged by a cyborg? Call me. Darkseid kidnap Mom? Call me. Swamp Thingy scare your kids? Call me. Possessed by Etrigan and don't know any exorcists? Call me. Number one in a field of one. Superpowered, supernatural or just super-freakin' annoying: I do 'em all."

Hitman works partially due to the witty dialogue but primarily due to the human characters, agendas and priorities. Does Batman ever worry about having an affordable place to crash? Is Green Lantern going to get the next round of drinks (we get to find out that no, he doesn't)? Does Wonder Woman get dog shit placed in her desk drawers by chauvinistic pig coworkers? Probably not (although comic book writing has gotten better recently), but all of these things strike a lot closer to home than defusing a cosmic anti-megatron-ray to prevent the extinction of humanity for the nth time. Ennis does have Tommy rub against some genuine super powers every now and then, and each glance we get is pure gold.

Hitman ran for 60 issues, the first 28 of which are collected in the various TPBs (trade paperbacks) listed below.

Hitman TPB 1 - collects Demon Annual #2, The Batman Chronicles #4, and Hitman #1-3

Colorists: Carla Feeny, Gene D'Angelo, Glen Murakami
Letterers: Willie Schubert, Steve Haynie, Ken Lopez

Interestingly, the art style in the first book is more raw than elegant, more crude than defined. It's very entertaining to watch the book and the person evolve from the very first issue as McCrea and Ennis find the character of Hitman.

In which Tommy Monaghan, out on an assassination assignment to take out an important mob boss by name of Dubelz, makes the unfortunate acquaintance of Bloodlines Alien Glonth and his spinal fluid-sucking, Alien-like proboscis - without the benefit of flowers and dinner, even. Brief fling with property damage, a dead mob boss and police intervention follows as Glonth beats a hasty escape.

After waking up with the aforementioned superpowers, Tommy's back in business as Hitman, the semi-super-powered assassin. His first point of order is to follow-up on Glonth - so he follows the trail to Joe and Moe Dubelz, the siamese twin sons of the mob boss that the alien was munching on (2 spines are tastier than one!). As demonic occurrences draw the attention of a certain Jason Blood, the two meet up at the funeral as mobsters, aliens, demons and hitmen converge. Hijinks ensue.

We are also introduced to Sean Noonan, who owns the bar where Tommy hangs out and is a bit of a father figure; Pat, Tommy's best buddy and honorary hitman; Ringo, a stylish assassin who may or may not be Tommy's superior and Hacken, a low-rent thug who's always looking for work fitting his, ah, talents.

The book ends with Tommy taking a hit bid ... on Joker. With the million bucks offered and dreams of retirement floating in his head, he accepts. Things are not as they seem however, as events in Arkham Asylum turn out to be manipulated by the Arkanonne, the self-styled Lords of the Gun, powerful demonic beings who are seeking a mortal champion to further their cause on earth. Things go to Hell quickly, and not even Batman and the Gotham PD on the scene are enough to stop the chaos.

Hitman: 10,000 Bullets (TPB 2) - collects Hitman #4-8

Colorist: Carla Feeny
Letterer: Willie Schubert

In which the mob vendetta on Tommy Monaghan gets resolved with the introduction of Johnny Navarone, the hitmen's hitman. As the Dubelz scheme(s)* to get revenge on Tommy, he meets up with his buddy Natt (the Hat) to take out a scummy, drug-addled vigilante menace Nightfist (He Will Hit You With His Fist!). Silliness mixes with drama once again as paths are crossed, lines are drawn, declarations are made, goodbyes are made, and revenge is had.

The TPB ends with a stand-alone episode that crosses over to The Final Night, yet another of DC's attempts to cash in on crossovers in the Infinite Crisis cycles. Hitman remains outside of the craptide though, as the protagonists hole up inside Sean's bar and tell each other stories of when they came closest to death. The Saint of Killers makes a guest appearance, although he doesn't seem as pissed off as he generally is in Preacher.

* Well they are/is siamese twins.

Hitman: Local Heroes (TPB 3) - collects Hitman #9-14 & Hitman Annual #1

Artists: John McCrea, Carlos Ezquerra, Steve Pugh
Colorist: Carla Feeny
Letterer: Willie Schubert

With the local thugs taken out of the equation, a bigger agency sets its sights on Tommy Monaghan: the US Government - one of those branches that are at least 40 security levels above the President, dont'cha know. When they sic one of the most powerful figures in the DC Universe on him, you know some fur is gonna fly. With much tongue-in-cheek dialogue and scenarios at the expense of the "spandex universe", this storyline is probably one of the more hilarious ones. We also get an extended introduction to Tommy Monaghan's romantic life.

The TPB again ends with a one-off which boldly crosses the line of good taste and wanders straight into grotesque. Still a good read, and one that sees the entire Noonan's crew together in of the ah, more strange capers yet.

Hitman: Ace of Killers (TPB 4) - collects Hitman #15-22

Pencils: John McCrea
Inks: John McCrea, Steve Pugh
Colorist: Carla Feeny
Letterer: Willie Schubert

We see a lot of old friends and enemies appear in this one, with Etrigan and the Arkanonne being at the focus of the story. Turns out the Lords of the Gun didn't take very well to Monaghan telling them to "blow" and well .... this time they won't take no for an answer. In fact, they're through with asking. Things go from bad to worse when the unholy Mawzir goes rogue (can a demon even go rogue?) and decides to take out Monaghan for his own personal satisfaction. The only hope for Tommy and the gang appears to be ... Catwoman?

Over the course of the book Etrigan will go to Hell (and back), Catwoman will use an assault rifle, the hilarious dysfunctional supergroup Section 8 will wreak perverted havoc, and some undead Nazis will get their just deserts. How can you not love it?

Hitman: Who Dares Wins (TPB 5) - collects Hitman #23-28

Penciller: John McCrea
Inks: John McCrea, Garry Leach
Colorist: Carla Feeny
Letterer: Willie Schubert, Pat Prentice

The most serious book to date, Who Dares Wins brings Tommy and Natt back to earth. Seems that in their shady past, Tommy and Natt were involved in a blue-on-blue incident in the Gulf War, and the SAS isn't too pleased with the loss of their squad. In a tale having more to do with politics of terror and reprisal than tentacle monsters from outer space™, this story arc is more grim and fatalistic than any of the previous books. Not even Men's Room Louie, the Gotham godfather who runs his business from the loo, can brighten up the tone, and the series ends with Natt forcibly reminding Tommy that they're not heroes; they're killers.

And that is it. Due to some decision somewhere, we don't have any further TPBs even though the series has finished at 60. It is possible to obtain the set in the usual places and at reasonable price, but I personally buy comics to read, not to collect - and single issues are a pain in the ass. Maybe one day - in the meantime, I highly recommend you pick these up if you like Ennis' iconoclastic works.