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A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 107

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we continue my spur of the moment middle-of-the-week theme week where I look at cool moments in comics where the cool moment is for a character who does not normally appear in the book in question. This time around, we take a look at an award-winning issue of Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.


Garth Ennis has always had a bit of a reputation for disliking superheroes. He never seemed to pass up an opportunity to take the piss out of various superhero characters, and in fact, earlier in Hitman, Kyle Rayner guest-starred and Ennis was about as mocking as you can be and not cross the line with his depiction of the straight-laced Green Lantern.

However, in Hitman #34, Ennis decided to set the record straight a bit, and show that he does not hate all superheroes, with a heartfelt talk between Tommy Monaghan (the Hitman) and Superman.

Superman stops off on a rooftop where Tommy is, when he discovers Tommy, they begin talking, and Superman explains how he had a rough day – he saved some astronauts earlier by fashioning a shield to save them from the dying core of their spacecraft, but he missed one that the other said was already dead, and just as Superman’s makeshift shield gave way and the ship exploded, Superman discovered the astronaut, who had NOT actually died, but he then died. As Superman explains, he could just see it in the man’s face – “You’re Superman…and you’re not going to save me.”

So Superman is shaken up, and Tommy is a willing listener, leading to this great exchange…

And the “twist,” of course is that the very next page, Tommy blows Figs’ brains out with a sniper rifle, which was the whole reason he was on the rooftop in the first place.

Great twist.

And a great, heartfelt issue (I believe it won the Eisner that year).

As for “the” moment, I guess I’ll go with…hmmm…I guess the conclusion of Tommy’s “I’m an American” speech.

Good stuff.


Man … if DC’s finally collected this series, I’ve GOT to read it.

Thanks for another great column, Brian.

Once they finish the Starman omnibi, they should do one for this book.

Oh, I could tell he was going to kill that guy straight away and really got my hopes up you’d show that bit as well! : ( oh well haha

Look, you might as well just change the column because let’s face it- HITMAN had at least 365 cool moments all on its own! You could feature one a day.

So he totally buttered up the Man Of Steel so Supes would fly off and let him get away with murder? And it worked? You think maybe that was Ennis’ REAL commentary on Superman? LMAO

I had never read this issue before. Now knowing what i missed, I will stick a carnivorous earwig inside my skull as penance.

Wow, that pretty cynical Bob.

Perhaps. I haven’t read the story. What was Supes doing on that roof in the first place?

I think Bob’s question’s pretty valid, as it crossed my mind when I read this issue. I think Tommy was sincere in his pep talk, not buttering Superman up to get rid of him before the hit (I was also disappointed you didn’t show that part of the “moment”), but it makes Supes look like a bit of a chump, whether intentionally or not. With super-hearing, smell, x-ray vision, etc., you think he would notice Tommy had a loaded gun with him.

It can be justified that Superman was not on his game because of his little crisis of confidence, and that he was on the other side of the planet by the time Tommy pulled his trigger, but it’s still a death that he might have prevented but didn’t (that’s two in one day!).

I’m not trying to take away from a real nice character piece and a great bit of writing by Ennis, which I think is how the issue should be taken. I’m just saying one can be forgiven for a bit of a chuckle at Supes’s expense, if that’s how one happens to react.

Still really like all the Hitman I’ve read. Bring on more trades!


He was in Gotham City to talk about what had happened with the astronaut to Batman, who was grim and unsympathetic so he stopped on a rooftop to think about it some more, and Tommy just happened to be there.

You know, I just read the entire run of “Hitman” a couple of weeks ago for the very first time after hearing for years how great it was, and I can’t believe I missed it the first time out. Say what you will about the Nineties, any decade where Garth Ennis could be writing this and “Preacher” at pretty much the same time is OK with me. I’m still snickering just thinking about the aquarium two-parter.

Why would anyone speak ill of the nineties? I stopped collecting in the nineties only because of marriage, money, and other mundane grown-up reasons. I pick up modern comics now and very few of them come close to the level of storytelling fans enjoyed in the Eighties and Nineties.

I get it. Supes kicking himself over the guy he couldn’t save is certainly nothing new, and it’s one of the things that sets him apart from other heroes. When Batman fails to save someone he just takes it out on the next badguy to cross him and moves on. I just find it funny that Hitman talked Superman up so much then, as soon as Supes takes off, he does the one thing that Superman would least approve of. Kind of makes Superman look like a dad would was just conned into letting a Kennedy date his daughter! LMAO

i found the moment ironic that Tommy was giving superman advice about what America stands for and his place in it. another reason dc needs to stop messing around and get this thing rereleased even if its due to some legal issues of some content dc needs to get hitman back in play for new fans and old alike mostly for this momment

Custer’s Last Stand is emblematic of America’s greatness? Because we were trying to take the land from those savage Indians and make it into something productive?

And different ethnic cultures are bad? Because bland WASPs like George W. Bush and Lex Luthor never do any harm?

Sorry. This exchange may be well-written, but I’m not feeling its message. Sounds to me like thinly veiled racism–the idea that white Christian America is superior to everything else.

No, it’s a message of integration. It’s saying “Stop trying to drag your whole lineage into every interaction with a person and just relate individually. “

Random Stranger

April 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I wish I could figure out why British writers are so determined to define what it means to be American…

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

April 18, 2009 at 3:42 pm

The “twist” is that Superman is a buffoon who doesn’t realize what Tommy is on the roof to do? I don’t even like Superman and I think that’s insulting to the character.

Man, I’m old if this is what passes for ‘cool.’

Read the issue, ya old fart

I don’t think he was lying to Superman or buttering him up. In fact, killing that guy is perfectly consistent with his speech. He’s doing his part to make America great, just like Superman is. It just happens to be that he does it by killing the scumbags instead of rescuing their victims.

I never read Hitman and know nothing about it apart from these couple Cool Moments and that there was a movie adaptation but man, was the art always this bad?

The movie called Hitman was an adaptation of the video game, not the comic.

The same artist on this issue, John McCrea, did draw the entire series.

You know, looking at Ennis’ usual hatred and ridicule of the superhero genre (this is the man who writes THE BOYS, for God’s sake!) this exchange seems kind of unlike him. Has he just soured as he’s grown older?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

JLA/Hitman has a follow-up conversation between Tommy and Superman that makes it clear that, for Tommy at least, this was totally sincere conversation. If it’s a bit of a joke on Superman that Tommy peps him up and gets on with his murder, it’s also meant to indicate how damn far from decent Tommy is at bottom.

That’s one of the virtues of Hitman: likeable as Tommy was as odious as were his targets, the book frequently stepped back to remind readers that Tommy was quite self-deceptive and a bit worse than merely fallible. Hell, that was pretty much the whole point of the SAS storyline.

As long as we’re talking cool Hitman moments, you should mention his cameo in JLA #5(I think), from the Grant Morrison era, where Tommy Monaghan tried out(unsuccessfully) for JLA membership, and then said that he just applied for membership so he could scope out Wonder Woman with his x-ray vision.

You didn’t address my point that Superman basically defended America’s policy of Manifest Destiny, Apodaca. Why not?

Here’s how Hitman could’ve responded to Superman. And how an Indian or another minority might’ve responded:

“The shot heard round the world, the Alamo, Custer’s Last Stand, a few Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima…America, the greatest country on God’s earth…and Superman.” What the hell is that? Culture? History? A bunch of stuff your folks said you hadda believe in all your life? Does that make it REAL?

Get the point?

If by “integration” you mean integration into the white Christian culture that white Christians consider the norm, I agree. I thought that was my point, not yours.

This was all around very good stuff, but I also take issue with Supes’ summary of American ideals. It’s all war, war, war. Most are moments Americans are proud of (with the exception of Custer), but it’s saddens me that people think of America’s major contributions to the world as all happening through conflict. It’s a much more common perception than just this comic. I had a history professor who seemed incapable of discussing American history as anything other than a series of wars. What about Chuck Berry, Mark Twain, Norman Rockwell, Jimmy Stewart, etc.? It seems to me these kinds of things would be more valued by the very anti-killing Superman than all those horrible moments (horrible for the people who were there, at least, even if they did accomplish lasting good).

But I digress. Cool moment.

Sympathetic ear or not, Superman doesn’t bother to bring in a known killer like Hitman? I don’t get it.

He’s not a supervillain, Hackett. He’s a low-level Gotham thug who specializes in killing super-people. Superman had no idea who Hitman was, nor was there any reason he should. This was followed up on in JLA/Hitman.

Rob Schmidt- Does it change your interpretation of this issue knowing that Ennis is Irish, and not an American?

And this is Monaghan’s speech, not Ennis’s. Tommy’s a career soldier: first officially, then as a merc, then as an assassin. He sees EVERYTHING through the glasses of killing, not just America. I mean, he has superpwoers and he’s using them to do the exact same job he always did. But he does have a sense of honor: he didn’t read Supes’ mind and sell his identity.

But any comic that makes people debate what it means to be an American I think is doing something right. Even if it doesn’t have all the right answers, it’s asking a decent question.

Excellent speech. Thanks for making me aware of it’s existence!


April 20, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I wish I could figure out why British writers are so determined to define what it means to be American…

He’s Irish, and he lives in New York.

But maybe they can just see it clearer from a distance.

[…] as I do. That said, he also wrote one of the best personifications of Superman ever in his comic Hitman, which really sums up everything I believe about Supes quite well. Yes, Superman is […]

I love this issue so much, I’d say the only thing that’s missing is the very last page.

[…] idea of a Superman story. Not that you can’t tell good stories about such a thing — this Hitman story is one example — but…well, it just didn’t feel right, you know? Yes, this is […]

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