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Top Five Current Garth Ennis Comics

Top Five Month continues (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) with a look at the top five current comic books written by Garth Ennis!

Enjoy!

5. The Boys

Ennis’ twisted look at superheroes, along with the great Darick Robertson on artwork, is a fun comic book series, and often, you will be astonished at some of the truly sick jokes that Ennis not only attempts, but manages to actually convincingly PULL OFF! To wit, he had a plot in a recent story where a hero suddenly felt compelled to have sex with anything nearby him, including a robot and a cat.

He quickly sent his young sidekick on a year-long journey to keep him away from him.

Such a joke is quite gross, but Ennis actually managed to sell it as an actual personal torment, showing the guy dealing with the ramifications of his actions. It was twisted but almost endearing.

That is a lot of The Boys right there – twisted, but almost endearing.

It’s a fun series.

4. Dan Dare

Dan Dare is ending soon (or at least Ennis’ involvement is), but Ennis has given it a good strong foundation, by taking an extremely back to basics approach to the comic.

It is a lot like reading a turn of the century war novel, only done in space with aliens. This is right up Ennis’ alley, as he loves to write war comics and does so better than practically any other comic writer.

Gary Erskine does a fine job on the artwork.

3. Streets of Glory

Artist Mike Wolfer does not give Ennis as much help with the art on Streets of Glory, the series by Ennis that is wrapping up soon, but he doesn’t really need to, because Ennis goes out of his way to tell an extremely clear tale where the story is told as much by his words as any of the drawings.

It is a very traditional story about a veteran lawman fighting the good fight in the Old West, but it is done with such great professionalism by Ennis that even the most standard of stories feels convincing and entertaining.

2. War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle

Ennis has already done Enemy Ace for DC, and now he turns to the Phantom Eagle, Marvel’s World War I pilot hero. Ennis takes a sort of satirical look at the character, filling the book with tons of twisted humor, but again, there is a real heart behind all of the jokes – and Howard Chaykin’s artwork helps get across the grittiness of it all beautifully.

Still, seeing stuff like the Phantom Eagle’s first encounter with a prostitute? Comedy gold.

Another cool thing is how the covers by Cassaday are sort of like the propaganda versions of the stories within – it’s quite clever. To wit, the issue with the prostitute has a super-romantic cover. Very cool idea by whoever came up with it.

This is a great series, and it is also wrapping up soon – try to pick up some back issues!

1. The Punisher MAX

This list was more about letting folks know about the other strong work Ennis is doing right now in comics, because I don’t think anyone really needs me to tell them that Ennis is doing a fabulous job on the Punisher, do they?

If so, then yeah, Ennis is doing a fabulous job on the Punisher, mostly by surrounding the fairly bland character of Frank Castle with amazing plots and intriguing supporting characters. The art has been good, too, by a variety of artists (Goran Parlov is the current artist).

Right now, Ennis is ending his long run on the book by tying up all his loose ends and forcing the Punisher to go up against American Soldiers, something Ennis has established that the Punisher is not really willing to do.

It’s strong work – it’s going to be quite sad when Ennis is all done on this title.

Well, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

17 Comments

Was there ever any doubt in the #1 pick. Personally I feel they should just cancel Punisher Max (and the rest of the Max line too I guess) after Ennis leaves as it is unlikely that anyone will ever reach the dizzying heights that Ennis did.

Ennis’ Ghost Rider minis with Clayton Crain (Road To Damnation & Trail Of Tears) are will worth tracking down too, particularly the first one.

Like I said, though, Paul, it was more about highlighting the other fine work Ennis is doing right now in comics! :)

I mean, FIVE good series at once?!!? That’s awesome, right?

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 15, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I think THE BOYS should have been placed at # 2, but to each their own.

I didn’t care for STREETS of GLORY, but am looking forward to CROSSED.

They’re all good comics, so one being ahead of another one isn’t meant to be much of a slight!

The Boys has been getting so much better in the past 6 months it’s amazing. I feel like the first 2 arcs really focused more on the shock value part of the premise than the characterization or politics, but with “Good for the Soul” and the current “I Tell You No Lie, GI” arc, we’re starting to get a glimpse at how much more there is to this series than just the shock value of rampant violence and sodomy that characterized the first year.

Punisher MAX meanwhile, is still absolutely amazing. Just the use of the 6 pages of photographs in issue #58 gave me chills at how brilliantly Ennis used them to heighten the tension of the story. Ennis really does not get enough recognition for how great his work on this series is. Reading issue #60 is going to be a truly bittersweet experience for me, and while I’m sure that Hurwitz, Swierczynski and Gischler will turn in entertaining stories to follow up, it just won’t be the same without Ennis building up all of his individual arcs into one overarching thematic narrative.

Yeah true Brian, if you look up ‘awesome’ in the dictionary you would probably get a picture of Garth Ennis.

I dunno, man — a War Is Hell without John Kowalkski? It just doesn’t sound right somehow.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 15, 2008 at 5:45 pm

I agree that Castle can be quite a limited character, but I think Ennis has made him quite interesting (and really scary as well).
I think even if the next writer can come up with plots just as good, the book will still suffer as Ennis really has made Frank into a whole and complex character – even in the arcs where he functions almost like Jason from Friday The 13th, his personality and obsession is present.

I can’t wait for the trades of the middle three t come out, but I have been hesitant of The Boys.
Worth taking the plunge?

Annoyed Grunt

July 15, 2008 at 6:53 pm

I’m a pretty big Ennis fan but I’d say pick up a Marshall Law TPB rather than The Boys.

The Boys started ok but the second arc was pretty bad for shock value. Really hoping it picks up with the third one, when does it come out? (Amazon and Chapters had nothing.)

What’s really underrated about Ennis’ Punisher run is that he’s not writing comics, so much as the most awesome, violent TV series ever. If you could image each 6-issue arc as a TV movie (think of those crappy early-80s Sunday detective shows, only not crappy), stitched together into a series like The Wire – that’s what he’s doing.
Hollywood is missing out on a goldmine by not snatching him up.
None of the above is meant as a slight to his artistic collaborators on the series, btw.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm

I see it more as how Dirty Harry or Death Wish should have been, rather than tv – each arc being a film.
Dirty Harry with an unlimited budget and directed by Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs but the protagonist is even more scary than the villains).

I’ve been bored to tears with War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle.

Cancel my reservations for the Second Flight…

I’ll probably pick up the Phantom Eagle when the trade comes out. I loved his Enemy Ace stuff.

The Punisher is my favourite book on the shelves at the moment. It’s straight off the pull list once Ennis is gone.

[…] title=”Zot! Single Copy Previewed”>Zot! Single Copy Previewed Top 5 Current Garth Ennis Comics <a href=”http://wweek.com/editorial/3436/11257/” title=”Comic Book Tattoo Project […]

Happy to see Preacher is not on your list. Completely overrated, and the ending was a bigger letdown than Y:The Last Man’s. Fun reads, to an extent, but jeeze, those endings…

It’d be hard to have Preacher be on a current comic list. :)

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