web stats

CSBG Archive

You Decide ’09 – Which of These Ennis Works is the Best?

You know the bit – each day in October I’ll give you folks a poll question. Each poll will last four days. The results will be posted every Tuesday leading up to (and ending with) Election Day on the first Tuesday in November. Here is the master list of all questions asked so far!

Enjoy!

66 Comments

Haven’t read preacher or his work on Punisher either but I really enjoyed Hitman and guess it’d still be my No.1 even if I read the others.

Argh! Please don’t make me choose between these three!!!

(Although a moment’s consideration leads me to conclude that the presence of Dogwelder pushes’Hitman’ just past the other two. Sssh though…)

Preacher is the once and future king of adult comic books.

Preacher is the obvious answer. No contest.

It’ll be a distant third in this poll, but for my money Ennis’ Punisher Max is his best work to date. Being honest, I was on the verge of dropping his Marvel Knights Punisher when it got cancelled and rebooted and I couldn’t believe the amazing change in tone when Punisher Max #1 came out. It wasn’t just that Ennis could get away with showing violence and crimes that he couldn’t touch in the Knights book, it was that suddenly he changed up to his “A-game,” and dropped the adolescent humour in favour of compelling, stripped down story-telling. Hitman and Preacher are both fantastic comic-books, but neither of them feels to me that it has as much of the author in the story as Punisher Max.

100 votes in, Chris, and it is not #3. ;)

Gotta go with Frank. Preacher was good and all but shockingly profane for the sake of being so. Hitman was pure awesome. But I gotta go with Frank.

I think Ennis’ Punisher is the most consistently satisfying comic I’ve ever read.

I love them all, this is really a hard choice!

Ennis is my favourite writer but I’m going with Hitman if only because he manages the perfect mix between action, violence, humour and throws in a hugely likeable cast into the whole thing.

What, no love for The Boys?

Preacher hands down. To be honest though, I haven’t liked a single thing Ennis has done since his original Punisher run.

Hitman, easily. I’ve read every issue of all three series, and Hitman only gets better with the passage of time.

“100 votes in, Chris, and it is not #3.”

Happy days :)

I think that Hitman was the least mean-spirited of the 3 and has the most heart so I’m going to go with that.

Punisher Max is the only comic that ever made me say, “Fucking hell! I really hope the unlikable character kills those guys!”

hard choices but had to go with preacher for enis took religion in comcis and turned it on its ear not to his true genius unleashe and unrestrained not to mention preacher being the one property that scares hollywood trying to adapt it.

The Ugly American

October 13, 2009 at 6:44 am

I’ve read all three. Punisher is too much “What if Hitman was a psycho”, and to me Preacher went on too many tangents. Hitman outshines them both.

preacher and not close. so many great moments.

hitman was excellent but hit a bit of a lull in the middle. (time travel, dinosaurs)
punisher is so varied….you could go for dark comedy and grab “welcome back frank” or go for the more serious max issue…either way you cant go wrong with anything that has punisher and ennis on the cover.

Wow, his Hellblazer run doesn’t get a nomination? Okay.

I’m just SO PISSED OFF at DC for never continuing the trades on Hitman, and then every time I think, “Maybe I’ll just break down and buy the rest from back issue bins,” some vague announcement comes out about them maybe starting up the collections again.

MAKE A DAMN DECISION, DC!

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 13, 2009 at 7:15 am

Preacher is my favorite of the three.
Hitman is a damn close second.
Punisher is pretty good, but The Boys will probably outshine them all when Ennis is done with it.

Hitman.

I loved Preacher, but never felt the level of emotional affinity for the characters that I did for the ones in Hitman. The camaraderie and meditations on friendship and loyalty came across as more fully realized for me in Hitman than they did in Preacher.

PUNISHER for me, by a landslide. I was always at-best ambivalent about PREACHER and HITMAN, though, so I suppose I am not a “typical” voter here.

@Jeff Holland: I am fairly certain that DC just (re)started the HITMAN trades. Certainly, a new version of V1 came out in the last few months.

Punisher easily. Punisher Max remains one of the single greatest achievements in big-two comics. Absolutely amazing storytelling. Moving, meaningful, and deep without sacrificing action and fun. Preacher falls apart as it drifts along, and Ennis fell too in love with his characters. And Hitman was too Tarantino-pastiche-y for my tastes.

I thought Punisher was a brilliant, brilliant work. Preacher was very good, as well, but the ending wasn’t satisfying. I haven’t read all of Hitman, because, you know, no trades. What I have read was also good.

Went with Punisher, though.

comicbookreader

October 13, 2009 at 8:01 am

It should be clear that when we are talking about Ennis’s Punisher, we are talking about his Punisher Max series (#1-60) and the Punisher: Born 4-issue miniseries. Those 64 issues taken together form one brilliant, cohesive, satisfying work. I fear that the character will never be made interesting again after Ennis’s definitive take on Frank Castle.

Just seeing “Garth Ennis” in a comic’s credits is enough to make me NOT buy it. So yeah, no vote from me.

@ Sijo: Not trying to sell you something you don’t want to buy, but I felt exactly the same until I read PUNISHER. (AND, I wasn’t even a fan of that CHARACTER before reading Ennis.)

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade
Authority: Kev (several tales)
Midnighter
The Boys
Hellblazer
The Pro

and so many more to choose from.

I really enjoyed the Punisher Max series, but have was amazed when I first heard people saying it was better than his Preaccher run. Maybe because I read Preacher in trades after it was all collected, and I read Punisher in floppies in monthly installments. I need to go back and re-read it straight through. Preacher is my favorite series of all time, though, so it’ll be tough to beat.

And I’m with Jeff Holland. I have a couple fo Hitman trades, but haven’t been able to read the whole thing. I know DC has started re-printing them. Hopefully they’ll cover the whole series this time so I can get the full experience.

I’m not a huge Ennis fan – Preacher’s great, haven’t read the other two runs – but if I were I’d want to see more than just three series up here.

If we do further “You Decide” polls about different books by the same author, can they be a little bit more inclusive?

(With Alan Moore and ABC it made sense ’cause they were all one line, of course)

Well, I’m not gonna repaste my huge essay about why Punisher MAX is my favorite comic of all time, so I’ll just agree with what Joe Rice said. It’s an amazing achievement of a series, and probably the best sustained 5-year run in comics.

” Just seeing “Garth Ennis” in a comic’s credits is enough to make me NOT buy it. So yeah, no vote from me. ”

Keeping in mind the entirety of Ennis’ body of work, why?

Hitman had the most heart and most fun.

I also like the Punisher Max I’ve read. That was in close consideration, but I haven’t read a huge amount of it.

Liked a lot of Preacher but didn’t like many aspects of it. The ending was unsatisfying, and somewhere midway through the series there was no doubt Custer was in no danger from anyone he was facing. Kind of killed the tension.

Starr was a great character, though.

Never read Hitman (now I intend to with the new trades) and I loved most of what I read from his Punisher run. However, Preacher is one of my all-time favorite epics.

Col Michael J Rossi

October 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

Preacher, but only because The Boys wasn’t an option. :-)

This is second only to the ABC poll over toughest for me as I LOVED all three of these series. I had to go with HITMAN though. To me, it was always the little title that could, despite having some of Ennis’s best writing and the truly underrated art skills of John McCrea. The humor was some of Ennis’s sickest, the emotions some of his most real, and the ending truly of the most bittersweet moments in comics. I tear up every time I read it. The JLA/Hitman follow-up was every bit as good too.

DC looks to MAYBE FINALLY be getting the rest of HITMAN in trades. Something looong overdue. Now, if only we can get an Absolute hardcover edition of the series out of them…sigh…

Hitman, easily. Followed by Preacher. I don’t know that I’d put Punisher on a list of comics I love, but I’ll put it third on this list without a question. But Hitman is one of the few comics I actually got choked up while reading the ending. I think it might be a prefect comic.

about “the boys”:

The first time Ennis lost me with a longer series.
It’s a one trick pony (superheroes are laughable and yet he still tries to ground them in a realistic setting) with a premise stretched way too thin.

If I could vote “non-applicable”, I would. Ennis has the highest ratio around in terms of hype to actual quality work – and not in the good sense.

This is easily the cruelest poll that you’ve ever created CBR. Thanks. Thanks a whole lot.

Those people posting things like “Preacher, no contest” either haven’t read the other series or have bad taste. Preacher was fantastic, but the cool think about this poll is that all the choices are full, fleshed out, runs with real endings (quite rare for ongoing comics in the last 20 years).

For this reason, Preacher must fail when compared to Hitman and Punisher Max. Preacher’s ending was simply unsatisfying.

Hitman had, by far, the best ending of all three choices. The way that heartfelt farewell contrasted with the oftentimes slapstick feel of the series was brilliant. Almost made me want to cry…

Punisher Max had a fine ending, but it didn’t stack up to Hitman. Nevertheless, Punisher Max was a far more consistent book over the long-haul than was Hitman. For that reason, I went with Max, but I wouldn’t fault a guy for going Hitman.

That’s like asking what’s better Ice Cream, Pie or Cake. Ummm all of the above.

I have to go with Hitman if only for the Catlight to call Catwoman and Green Lantern not being able to buy his round in the bar.

“Zombie night at the Gotham Aquarium” is still one of only maybe three or four stories that I’ll pull out and read every few months. That’s counting all of human-produced literature.

So I went Hitman. But as others have said, not an easy choice here.

Yeah, talk about Sophie’s choice.

I think some of Ennis’ best work has been in his war comics- both in War Stories and his more recent Battlefields work.

Preacher, hands down. Hitman was brilliant at times but the artwork makes it less of a masterpiece than Preacher. His stuff for Punisher often seemed to be recycled ideas from both Preacher and Hitman. The ideas that weren’t recycled were just shocking for the sake of being shocking.

I’m really pleased to see the respect for Punisher Max. Not a huge Preacher fan and while I’ve liked the sporadic issues of Hitman that I’ve read (and loved certain moments, especially Tommy’s “Supes is the ultimate American” monologue) it also seemed to have the kind of over-the-top moments that made MK Punisher fall apart.

Punisher Max is an amazing action/crime genre piece with character work that will make you weep all wrapped up in a thoughtful meditation on America’s love of firearms and the human affinity towards violence. A stunningly complete work of fiction.

Preacher is awesome and I love Hitman, but for me, Punisher is his best work, really great storytelling, amazing artists and some last pages that are really historic (anyone of you remember that particular final page in the Slavers arc, nuff’ said)

Peace.

Whats this bullshit with Preacher having an unsatisfying ending?

The Saint of Killers shooting God and taking his place? How much more satisfying can you get?

Hitman, hands down. I liked Preacher, but it lacked the proper down-to-earth personalities everybody had in Hitman. Not everybody should be larger than life.

“Punisher Max had a fine ending, but it didn’t stack up to Hitman. Nevertheless, Punisher Max was a far more consistent book over the long-haul than was Hitman. For that reason, I went with Max, but I wouldn’t fault a guy for going Hitman.”

What would you consider the end of Punisher Max? #60 or The End?

@ Pablo: Preacher’s ending is too happy and convenient. I think most people who were reading it in real time will acknowledge that Preacher’s ending was a bit disappointing.

@ Grunt: #60. The end was fine, as was all the other extra stuff ennis did throughout the run. For the purposes of this pole, though, I’m thinking only of Max, issues 1-60. I think a lot of the people summarily dismissing Punisher probably only read some of the MK stuff and never got into the masterpiece that was Max.

+ Born, of course.

That’s one of the toughest poll questions I’ve ever had to consider. But I’ll have to go with Preacher – my first introduction to the wonderful, twisted mind of Garth Ennis.

Preacher. Problems with the ending (or the story as a whole) are piffly quibbles; it’s all about the glorious moments.
Hitman happened while I was on a break from comics, and I still haven’t got around to it (I’m sure some of you know how that can happen).
(For the record, the first Ennis I read was Fury Max, which I read when the Nu regime lured me back.)
Punisher Max and MK Punisher should have been separate selections. I hated the Punisher unreservedly since forever until Ennis’s MK series convinced me ‘hey, maybe this character doesn’t always automatically suck ass.”
When I read the idea of what Punisher Max was going to be, I passed, as I have no place for either “Ennis without humour” or “gritty more ‘realistic’ Punisher in my reading list.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 14, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I went for Preacher over Punisher MAX.

I think his MAX work is way more technically accomplished, at least in the earliest arcs (it started to slow down and feel a bit stretched thin later on), but Preacher just has this mad energy which makes it better than the sum of it’s parts – and some of those parts are all time classics,

I passed, as I have no place for either “Ennis without humour”

You’ve no place for War Stories or Battlefield either?

What a lonely life you must lead!

(If you haven’t checked them out DO IT! Not so many laughs, but it’s his best work).

I like ‘Preacher’, and I like ‘Punisher’, but ‘Hitman’ is what more comics should feel like. It’s a perfect mixture of goofy fun and gallows humor and heart and character. The only real problem with it is that the last twenty issues feel a bit rushed; it seems like he knew he had a deadline and he wanted to give all the characters some kind of ending, but the various endings pile up on each other a little bit. It would’ve been nice if there was a little more breathing room.

I actually never got around to finishing ‘Punisher’ MAX. All the books I read were really good, but they didn’t seem to build off of each other at all. The arcs were all self-contained, and the character never grew. These aren’t bad things, but I think that’s why I was less invested and stopped reading at some point. But I do like what I have a whole lot.

Hitman loses for me on the basis of my distaste for John McCrea’s art, though I did enjoy the series. While I’m pleased to see the generally underrated Punisher Max series get some worthy praise, there’s no way I can vote against Preacher. That’s one for the ages (future civilizations reading it will think we were a very depraved culture, and would probably be right).

I’ve read an issue of Battlefields, and yeah, I enjoyed it, though I’d argue that there’s a pretty strong element of soldier’s gallows humour running through it.
It’s actually more a matter of the two issues I mentioned (serious Ennis plus “realistic” gritty Punisher) put together than either one alone being an absolute deal-breaker (though, actually, the Punisher one kind of is).
Though I enjoy Ennis mostly for his sick humour, sure, I’ll give his work a chance when he’s in “serious” mode, but not if the frickin’ Punisher is involved, let’s just put it that way.
It’s a total case of “I loathed this character for over twenty years until the Ennis’s comedy take made it palatable for the first time ever.”

Can’t believe people are voting/commenting when they haven’t read all three.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

I’ve read an issue of Battlefields, and yeah, I enjoyed it, though I’d argue that there’s a pretty strong element of soldier’s gallows humour running through it.

Well, the best of the Battlefields was the ‘Dear Billy’ mini, and it was far from a barrel of laughs – War Stories as well, there was humour in some of them, but not typical Ennis humour.

It’s a total case of “I loathed this character for over twenty years until the Ennis’s comedy take made it palatable for the first time ever.”

Fair enough.

Did you try any of his MAX run though?

‘From First To Last’ collects three one shots Enni9s did with the character – one set before his first night as Punisher, one set in a prison during his reign of terror, and one set against the end of the world (his last mission)… if you haven’t tried any of it, give this collection a shot, it may change your mind on what he can do with the character – it’s really good stuff.
(And with Severin, and Corben on board, it’s pretty easy on the eyes).

I’ll give it a fair reading when I have a chance. I also actively want to read Hitman, it’s just that nobody has infinite time or resources and we all have our unavoidable gaps..

In general, though, would anyone say that there’s something to the idea that the two Punisher runs are different enough to have been considered for separate voting options?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 15, 2009 at 6:19 pm

In general, though, would anyone say that there’s something to the idea that the two Punisher runs are different enough to have been considered for separate voting options?

They are different enough, but to be honest, the MK one isn’t on the level of Preacher or Hitman, but the MAX one is.

I would say the original Ennis MK series (the 12 issues that comprise the “Welcome Back, Frank” story) are on par with the MAX stuff, but the MK ongoing only sporadically matched it. Subtracting out the Tom-Peyer-attempts-Ennis arc (left uncollected for a reason) and the faltering late-series storylines take it out of contention (the obligatory shoehorned “western” story springs to mind).

Fie upon you for not making this broader. Hellblazer easily beats all three– back when Ennis could tell a story instead of just puking up a bunch of lowest-common-denominator “humor.”

I liked Preacher back when I first read it… but after The Boys I’m a bit scared to go back– worried I’ll only see the seeds of the terrible style he’s been in lately instead of the great character work I saw on the first read-through. But Hellblazer– that was just good, solid storytelling.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 18, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Hellblazer easily beats all three– back when Ennis could tell a story instead of just puking up a bunch of lowest-common-denominator “humor.”

Umm, there’s zero humour in Punisher MAX, and Hellblazer has it’s share of low-brow humour – Peeing on the PHantom Strangers shoes, for instance.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives