Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.
This week we look at one of my all-time favorite two-part stories, the deliciously strange “Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium” from Hitman #13-14 by Garth Ennis and John McCrea!
In Hitman #13, the “hero” of the book, assassin Tommy Monaghan and his friend Natt have been hired to kill this mad scientist who is testing out a process that involves re-animating dead things (there’s a great line where Tommy explains that he usually gets hired by scientist groups and chemical plants, because they’re always having SOMEone get doused with chemicals and turning into a superhero – so they hire Tommy before she/he can start a superhero career – maximum deniability). They discover that their friend Ringo has ALSO been hired to kill the mad scientist.
They track the guy to the Gotham Aquarium, where the mad scientist has turned the temperature up in all the tanks to boiling.
Eventually, their OTHER assassin friend, the incompetent Hacken, follows them to the Aquarium hoping that there is some work he can do (as, being an incompetent assassin, he does not get hired much).
Once there, they discover why the scientist turned up all the water – he is testing his zombie formula on all the sealife in the aquarium, by gassing them with the formula.
So there’s lots of funny scenes of them killing zombie animals…
… but also a great bit where one of the zombies bites Hacken, so he has Ringo chop his hand off, only to discover later that a bite does not turn you into a zombie (you have to be dead first and then exposed to the gas)
There’s also a great sequence where they’re surrounded by the zombie animals and they just have to open fire with all that they have.
It’s a great visual by McCrea…
Anyhow, Hitman had more than a few offbeat tales during its run (it also had some really serious stories, too), and I think this one is probably my favorite of the strange and wacky ones. Ennis at his comedic best.
(Note: This article first appeared as part of the Fools of April feature – BC)
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