Hitman #22 (January, 1998)
“The Santa Contract”
Writer – Garth Ennis
Penciller – John McCrea
Inker – Steve Pugh
Letterer – Willie Schubert
Colorist – Carla Feeny
Separations – Heroic Age
Associate Editor – Peter Tomasi
Editor – Dan Raspler
Cover Price: $2.25
Welcome everyone to our Third Annual (third annual???) Christmas on Infinite Earths… in July! Wasn’t sure we were going to discuss any Christmas books this month… but, then I gets to thinking “Am I going to still be doing this (every day) come December?”… smart money’s on, prob’ly not. So, let’s just keep up the tradition.
Like last year, this isn’t going to be a very organized “blog event”… no set number of books/days… I’ll just sprinkle ’em in here and again.
Today we’re going to talk about… a book that I never really glommed onto, Hitman! Might sound like heresy, but… I can’t lie to ya. I’ve tried getting into Hitman time and again, and just find it kinda… I dunno, empty?
Let’s see if this Christmas Special changes my mind!
We open with a radioactive Santa Claus romping down the streets of Gotham City… but, how did this come to be? I’m glad you asked. Ya see, there was once this man named Bob Smurd who worked as a janitor at a nearby nuclear power plant. On this Christmas Eve, he finds himself knocked into a vat of glowing green ooze. He lunges outta the muck, and is shocked to see that he has “powers”. He suggests he might be a hero, however, a co-worker suggests he might make a better bad guy.
Bob throws on a Santa Claus outfit and stomps his way through the snow, while… uh, Mr. Burns… and that guy who works with Mr. Burns look on. They don’t want this news to get out… sooo, they decide it’s in their best interest to hire a professional.
Speaking of a “professional”, we hop across town to Noonan’s Bar on Peckinpah Street where Tommy Monaghan and Natt the Hat are drowning their empty-pocketed sorrows in the drink… lamenting that they passed on a “werewolf job” that would’a floated them through Christmas. Natt also razzes Tommy about dating an ex-cop.
The bar’s proprietor, Sean Noonan reminds the fellas that they’d made a promise to do something special this Christmas Eve… and that something special is, caroling with Saint Killian’s Orphanage.
During the caroling extravaganza, Tommy gets a call on his cell. It’s Mr. Burns… or that guy who works with Mr. Burns, and they’re offering to pay ten-grand for the removal of the radioactive Santa Claus.
Using a Geiger Counter as their guide, the fellas track Bob Santa to a local mall. They drive straight into the mall, Blues Brothers style until they find their man.
After getting his attention, he attacks… Tommy stops short sending Santa crashing into a wall… he then swaps pedals, from brake to gas… and plows right into the radioactive baddie.
Santa then proceeds to beg for his life… he also claims to now understand and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. Tommy briefly pauses, before visions of $10,000 start dancing in his head. He then blows Santa’s brains out… repeatedly.
After cashing-in and some very late Christmas shopping, we rejoin Tommy and Natt back at Noonan’s. They exchange gifts… with Tommy getting a “Junior Cop” playset.
We wrap up with a special message which basically reads… don’t be a jerk on Christmas! Now, there’s a sentiment we can all get behind!
Well… still not my favorite book, but this was a pretty enjoyable issue. Can’t quite shake that feeling of emptiness… maybe even detachment, though. I guess Hitman might just go down as a book that “isn’t for me”. Can’t deny its quality, it’s just not for me.
That said… there isn’t a whole heckuva lot for me to say about it! I suppose there is a bit of charm in seeing Tommy Monaghan singing with a church choir… but, I mean, the juxtaposition is sort of the point, right? I mean, it’s like the “rapping grandma”… it’s not supposed to be a thing that we see, and so it’s a novelty. It isn’t particularly funny… or even anything we want to see, it just “is”.
I dug some of the back and forth between Tommy and Natt… and, I suppose, the radioactive Santa Claus isn’t the worst baddie for this book. Still, it doesn’t make me want to read more. Maybe someone out there can point me to an issue of this series that might! Can’t help but feel I’m missing out on some “inside joke” here. I just don’t get it.
Overall… if you’re a fan of Hitman, I bet this issue will be right up your alley. This issue is available digitally.