Sure, Batman, sure … All-Star Section Eight #1 features a variety of iconic Batman shots reinterpreted to suit the zany, grotty tale in which they appear.
All-Star Section Eight #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: John McCrea
Publisher: DC Comics
Reading All-Star Section Eight #1 (henceforth: ASSE) brought a whole crate of fond memories back – memories of Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s hilarious and frequently over-the-top Hitman series (no relation to the video game) from the 1990s.
Section Eight was the name of a kind-of superteam that appeared now and then in Hitman, and whenever it showed up, the comic’s hilarity and OTT mayhem increased.
Tommy Monaghan, aka Hitman, may be gone (as gone as you can get in comics) but some of his, uh, associates still linger around the Irish quarter of Gotham City.
Foremost among these luminaries is Sixpack – a “hero” in thought only, not in deeds, whose superheroic feats were almost always the result of alcohol-fuelled dreams. Yes, Sixpack refers not to his abs (or just “ab” in his case) but to the fact that he’s a drunk.
And Section Eight was his team of costumed crimefighters, counting among their number the perverted Buono Excellente, the aptly-named Defenestrator and Dogwelder, and Flemgem, who could expectorate gobs of glue-like mucus … yeah.
Hitman fans may recall that most of Section Eight perished in battle with the trans-dimensional demons called The Multi-Angled Ones (a nod to Grant Morrison’s Cthulhu Mythos-based Many-Angled Ones from 2000AD’s Zenith). And Sixpack sacrificed himself to save Earth by going off to their dimension and fighting against their efforts to consume his soul. Quite possibly because the Ones were quite intrigued and amused by him.
As we gather from the first issue (appropriately, of six) of this new miniseries, Sixpack made it out and is back in his favourite hangout, Noonan’s Bar (another familiar location for Hitman readers).
Getting wind of a dire threat, Sixpack must assemble a new team. And when he comes up one short, a little trip outside the bar brings him the potential eighth member … Batman!
ASSE #1, part of the “retooled” DCYou wave of post-Convergence offerings, is a fun read, the enjoyment comprising equal parts nostalgia and edgy humour. It’s been too long since I read one of Ennis’ trademark wickedly funny stories.
It’s also quite telling that the most sensible person in the comic is Hacken, who used to be a dumb, musclebound and borderline insane friend of Monaghan’s (but he’s now going to Book Club to improve his mind). As the wannabe principal hero of the book, Sixpack … well, let’s just say he puts the “pathetic” in “sympathetic”. And we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the retooled Section Eight in action.
What about Batman, you ask? Isn’t he sensible? Not so fast. The biggest menace he faces here is a parking ticket for illegal parking after stopping to use the ATM, and spending the rest of the time griping about it. Oh, and being drawn in the style of legendary artists Neal Adams, Kelley Jones and Jim Aparo, recreating classic scenes from the Bat-comics’ milestones. And being forced to do some impromptu soul-searching by a meter maid.
On the visual side of things, McCrea hasn’t missed a step in the long years since Hitman went away. His semi-cartoonish style fits the story perfectly, in the tradition of 1950s MAD parodies and Marvel’s “Forbush-Man” adventures from its 1960s satire comic Not Brand Ecch. And McCrea also goes one further this time with perfect imitations/tributes of those abovementioned iconic Bat-scenes.
It may not be for all tastes, but here’s to ASSE and its “hero” anyway – a legend in his own mind who, by this adventure’s end, will no doubt add another notch to his … beer-keg.