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From The Boys to Hitman: 10 best comics by Garth Ennis

Garth Ennis' The Boys and Preacher comics (Image via Dynamite Comics and Vertigo)
Garth Ennis' The Boys and Preacher comics (Image via Dynamite Comics and Vertigo)

Garth Ennis is a name well known in comic book circles. Now, thanks to the success of shows such as Preacher and The Boys, this name is gaining recognition outside of those circles too.

A celebrated writer from Northern Ireland, Ennis has been writing since the '90s, with his earliest work being published by a London publishing company called Fleetway Publications. His work, which is known to be graphic and hard-hitting without pulling any punches, has earned him multiple awards.


How many of these Garth Ennis comics have you read?

1) The Boys

A graphic look at superheroes (Image via Dynamite Entertainment)
A graphic look at superheroes (Image via Dynamite Entertainment)

A high-profile comic series, The Boys shot into the limelight owing to its live-action counterpart on Amazon Prime. Its third season is due to release on Friday, June 3.

A deconstruction of the superhero genre, The Boys is similar to Watchmen, albeit infinitely more violent and graphic.

In this comic, Garth Ennis follows a group of humans who work for a government agency tasked with keeping superheroes in check. However, the term "superheroes" is loosely used in this series because there really are no good guys. These heroes all have inflated egos and believe themselves to be above the law, while the humans watching them have a knack for bending the rules to do what is necessary.


2) Preacher

Occult horror at its best (Image via DC Comics)
Occult horror at its best (Image via DC Comics)

Another comic series adapted for live-action that is far more graphic in print than film, Preacher is about just that - a preacher. Except, as opposed to the conventional do-gooder you'd expect, Garth Ennis created more of an anti-hero.

The protagonist, Jesse Custer, is possessed by the offspring of an angel and demon. This abomination is named Genesis and possesses aspects of absolute good and absolute evil, making Jesse Custer potentially the most powerful being in the universe, rivaling even the power of God.


3) Crossed

A violent post-apocalyptic tale (Image via Avatar Press)
A violent post-apocalyptic tale (Image via Avatar Press)

In this post-apocalyptic story, humans have to survive against a pandemic that turns people into zombie-like creatures. The only difference is that these zombies aren't the mindless type that you find in The Walking Dead or Night of the Living Dead. Ennis' zombies retain their human intelligence, except that they become slightly more (okay, a lot more) violent.

Everyone rightfully raving about the understandably shocking #TheSadness on @Shudder should seek out #CROSSED created by the great #GarthEnnis (#Preacher & #TheBoys) from @Avatarpress where this freakish film obviously derived inspiration. You sickos won't be disappointed. 😉

Garth Ennis paints this post-apocalyptic tale the only way he knows how: bleak and graphic. It is further enhanced with art by Jacen Burrows that perfectly captures the feel that Ennis intended for the book.


4) Hellblazer

Con Man and magic practitioner John Constatine (Images via DC Comics)
Con Man and magic practitioner John Constatine (Images via DC Comics)

John Constantine is a professional conman, occult detective, and practitioner of magic. He is such a powerful magician that he used Zatanna's type of backwards magic with minimal studying and can rival the First of the Fallen. John tries not to rely on magic, however, and leans heavily on his silver tongue, which he has used to con his way out of sticky situations against the most powerful entities.

Created by Alan Moore, his main title - Hellblazer - was originally with 2000AD before DC Comics began publishing it in 1988. Garth Ennis took over the title in 1991 and penned one of the most personal stories at the time. Constantine faced his own mortality in this arc.

Ennis' story was the influence for the Keanu Reeves starrer, Constantine.


5) Punisher Max

The most violent Frank Castle has been seen on the printed page (Image via Marvel Comics)
The most violent Frank Castle has been seen on the printed page (Image via Marvel Comics)

Garth Ennis' run on Punisher began in 2004 and lasted until 2009, taking place under the Marvel MAX imprint. Here, there were no superheroes with powers and the timeline operated under the fact that Frank Castle had been active since the '70s. This made him an older version than the mainstream continuity of Earth-616. Characters like Microchip and Nick Fury, however, did make appearances.

Frank lends himself well to a graphic setting. Not only is it easy to make him violent with a lot of gore, but he can also be used for a range of different themes that relate to the police and the justice system. While Ennis writing the character is far more violent than what you might be used to, it is also magnificent (if you like that kind of thing).


6) Judge Dredd

He is the law (Image via 2000 AD)
He is the law (Image via 2000 AD)

A lot of writers from across the pond got their chance at writing Judge Dredd and Garth Ennis is no exception. In fact, he injected a little bit of himself into the run with the creation of the Emerald Isle, the Irish justice system in Dredd's world.

Ennis, however, had a spotty run with Dredd. His work wasn't continuous, but it has been collected into a single trade paperback so you don't have to go hunting around for them.


7) Wormwood

He is the antichrist and he has a bunny (Image via Avatar Press)
He is the antichrist and he has a bunny (Image via Avatar Press)

Garth Ennis really gets out his worldview on politics and religion with The Chronicles of Wormwood, where he is writing about the antichrist. While it is a graphic and tasteless story, it merits a read if you are a Garth Ennis fan, although you might want to avoid it if you are easily offended. Ennis has a lot to say on the topics he's trying to convey in this story.

That does not mean the story is poorly written. The main character is likeable and even kind. He has a pet bunny, too. He doesn't want to bring about the end of the world like he's supposed to and no amount of pressure from the man in the clouds or his father down below can get him to follow through with his destiny.


8) Fury Max

The most graphic Nick Fury (Image via Marvel Comics)
The most graphic Nick Fury (Image via Marvel Comics)

Garth Ennis might be known for his creator-owned work, but his writing for mainstream comics at Marvel and DC is no slouch. Ennis went on to write thirteen issues about Nick Fury under the Marvel MAX imprint - an imprint of Marvel Comics created by Joe Quesada. MAX has since ceased being an imprint and is just a label indicating mature content for Marvel comics.

Ennis' Nick Fury story followed Fury shortly after World War II as he made his way into his spy career during the Cold War. Fans get to see the master spy become the man with a plan. He's a no-nonsense type of guy that gets the job done.


9) War Stories

An anthology series about war (Image via Avatar Press)
An anthology series about war (Image via Avatar Press)

As a writer who is fascinated by the concept of war, it's hard to separate Garth Ennis from the military. Even The Punisher and Nick Fury are military related and are easily some of his best work. War Stories is an anthology series that features various wars throughout history.

Here, Ennis portrays his violence in a manner that is far more excessive than what even Hollywood has attempted so far. It might be gratuitous, but it is his style and it works for the stories he's trying to tell.


10) Hitman

Not Agent 47 (Image via DC Comics)
Not Agent 47 (Image via DC Comics)

Garth Ennis isn't a superhero type of writer. While he can write them well, they don't typically fit the mold of the stories he tries to tell. Hitman is one of the few superhero stories Ennis could make his own.

On tomorrow's @WizardsComics mini-episode it’s all about #DCComics #HitMan!! Forget the #Punisher, #TheBoys or #Preacher this @mccreaman and #GarthEnnis creation may just have been the best of them all!! https://t.co/7gJpR7soiC

Hitman is about a telapathic assassin that lives in a part of Gotham City, populated by Irish immigrants. The title character, Tommy Monaghan, gets headaches if he uses his powers too often, and even though he has powers like x-ray vision, he chooses to use guns in order to solve most problems. Since Hitman was based in Gotham, it was only natural that Batman (and Superman) made cameos.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal
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