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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Zombie Penguins!!

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.

Cue hilarity…

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)

13 Comments

This was absolutely one of my favorite issues of this book. The title alone is magnificent. How can you beat Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium?

any of those penguins manage to escape and start hanging out with Lobo?

The story made famous by the cover where they’re moving to club a zombie baby seal.

I so completely loved this series. Started great, ended great, lots of great in between.

Amazing that this was a good decade before zombies were really in.

I really need to find a copy of this issue.

Garth Ennis must have had a lot of fun writing this script.

“Dude, you just smoked flipper” is a work of art.

This issue is basically Barry Bonds with a t-ball stand. Ennis and McCrea crush it out of the park on every single page.

Ben – the two-part story is reprinted in Hitman: Volume 3: Local Heroes.

Glitchy – Yeah, it’s great because this was back in the day when doing a zombie story wasn’t just one of the cliche things you had to do. It was still just a bizarre, out-of-left-field thing to do.

While I love Ennis in general (excitedly looking forward to reading the finale of “The Boys”), Hitman was great because he got to kind of play around in DC proper. Hitman being in Gotham meant he got to run into Batman and various other established DC characters. Also, while I am staunchly anti-censorship and all that, the fact that Ennis kind of had to rein himself in (couldn’t show crazed pseudo-zombies raping people to death like in “Crossed”, for example) actually made for some inspired, edgy-but-not-over-the-top lunacy.

I loved Hitman, and probably this arc is one of my favorites, killing zombie animals is just fun to watch, Ennis did a great job in Hitman.

Peace

It would’ve been great to see an epilogue scene involving Aquaman’s reaction to the carnage.

i miss this book so much im excited they finally reprinted the whole series in trades finally

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