Best Garth Ennis Comics

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Garth Ennis is known as a writer who pushes the boundaries of the comic book medium into expected new places. Often controversial, his stories are full of dark, morally gray characters who embark on missions of revenge, punctuated by Ennis’ signature blend of extreme violence, graphic sex and cynical musings on religion, politics, war and human nature. Over the course of his career, Ennis has gifted his readers with such memorable titles as Punisher MAX, preacher, and The boys.

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Ennis has been widely praised for his unique take on traditional comic book stories, incorporating sharp, realistic drama and mundane themes into his comics. He covered everything from World War I to superhero stories and was always able to wow his readers every time.

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Absinthe Chronicles


Wormwood Chronicles cover image

In this short six-issue comic, a benevolent version of the biblical Antichrist finds himself reluctant to bring about the apocalypse, even though God and his father, the devil, pressure him to do so.

Like Ennis’ most famous comic strip, Preacher, Absinthe Chronicles serves as yet another exploration of religion. Only this time around, Garth focuses specifically on the subject of fate, with his iteration of the Antichrist – Danny Wormwood – questioning his prophesied role in the end of the world. It’s a sharp and surprisingly poignant comic from Ennis that’s as punchy as it is genuinely comedic.

War is Hell: The Phantom Eagle’s First Flight


Cover of War is Hell First Flight of the Phantom Eagle

In the 2000s, Ennis rose to fame for popularizing Marvel’s MAX impression, featuring sobering versions of traditional superheroes with adult audiences in mind. In this 2008 comic, Ennis set out to revamp the character, Phantom Eagle, portraying him as a World War I airman.


Ennis was often drawn to war in his comics, repeatedly returning to World War II, Vietnam, and even the Gulf War. Here, his exploration of World War I, one of the most horrific conflicts in human history, is every bit as dark as his other war epics, with harrowing depictions of early aerial battles and the grim realities that war isn’t always the fictionalized subject it’s portrayed as in comics and movies.

Crossed


Image from Crossed by Garth Ennis

Crossed is Ennis’ version of a zombie story. However, rather than his version of zombies turning into mindless, dragging deaths, Ennis’ infected retain their basic human intelligence they had before the infection, which simply makes them homicidal, psychopathic versions of themselves- same.


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Praised for its unique take on the traditional zombie narrative, Crossed has been hailed as one of the best post-apocalyptic stories ever. In it, Ennis paints a chilling depiction of a major pandemic wracked by twisted and malevolent individuals who freely and openly engage in mass murder and cannibalism.

hellblazer


John Constantine holding a cigarette on the cover of Dangerous Habits

Ennis’ race hellblazer helped revitalize the character and paint John Constantine in a remarkably different light than ever before. In perhaps the most famous hellblazer story, “Dangerous Habits”, Constantin learns that he has severe lung cancer and must save himself, knowing that his soul will go to hell if he does not cure his cancer in time.


When Ennis wrote for the character, Constantine wasn’t the cool, confident, knowledgeable magician fans knew when Alan Moore created the character. Instead, Ennis’ version of Constantine was someone whose self-destructive tendencies and cunning made him constantly near death. He’s a man who knows the most terrifying secrets in the DC Universe, and it seems that this information and knowledge is slowly driving him insane.

MAX Fury


Fury MAX my war is over

Ennis is perhaps best known as the man behind the super graphic, ultra-violent Punisher MAX, but his exploration of Nick Fury in this short MAX series can rival the best of Ennis Punisher days.


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Consisting of 13 issues, Ennis returns to the character of Nick Fury during his post-WWII career and his transition to heavy Cold War spy warfare. The genius of MAX Fury does not portray Fury as a patriotic, peace-loving superhero, but as someone who likes to fight and kill, a man who knows war and is always ready for the next fight.

war stories


Image from War Stories by Garth Ennis

As mentioned earlier, war is a common theme in many Ennis comics. His interest in the subject would eventually culminate in the ongoing anthology, war storiesfeaturing stories about various conflicts in human history (especially World War II).

Ennis’ stories themselves may be fictional, but his exploration of some of the weirder historical elements of these real-life battles and wars remains endlessly fascinating. Given Ennis’ penchant for violence as well, he never opts to depict war as an action movie would. Here, people die horrible and terrifying deaths, leaving huge effects on their fellow soldiers. According to Ennis, there’s nothing glamorous or remarkable about the war – it’s a horrific, pointless affair that needlessly costs lives, as seen here.

The boys


Homelander and Soldier Boy take on members of The Boys in the Herogarsm comics

The boys is easily Ennis’ most famous title, serving as the basis for the critically acclaimed and incredibly gory series, The boys. In this comic, a group of skilled combat experts attempt to expose Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, who secretly murder predatory psychopaths who use their powers to their advantage.

With The boys, Ennis asks an interesting question: what if the Justice League existed in the real world, what if it was evil and no one knew about it? It’s an entertaining hypothesis to ponder, and Ennis does it expertly here, crafting a quick, enjoyable narrative that’s often difficult to read but features an almost parodic inversion of the superhero genre.

Preacher


Preacher Comic Book Cover Trade Vol 1

Preacher is easily one of the most famous and well-known comics of the last 30 years, following an agonistic Texas preacher in search of the incarnation of God. Along the way, he is joined by his girlfriend, Tulip, and an Irish vampire named Cassidy.

The amazing thing about Preacher it’s how well Ennis fits in without feeling overloaded. There are biblical characters, demons, a secret religious order, the half Terminator, half Clint Eastwood ghost of a murderous outlaw who seems straight out of Ghost Rider. That should seem like too much in a series, and yet Ennis manages to pull off the comic with grace. It’s dark, funny and as violent as anything Ennis wrote, known today as perhaps Ennis’ magnum opus.

Punisher MAX


Frank Castle surrenders as guns have their red sights trained on him in The Punisher MAX

Ennis’ race Punisher MAX not only helped set the standard for every MAX Marvel storyline that followed, but also helped introduce a new, modern take on the Punisher to a generation of readers.

Containing some of Punisher’s darkest stories to date, Punisher MAX holds absolutely nothing back when it comes to the violent, seedy criminal underworld that Frank Castle seeks to systematically take down. It’s incredibly violent and at times downright difficult to digest, but Ennis’ unwavering ability to portray horrific acts of violence makes it his bravest and most memorable project to date. It’s a comic like no other.

Hitman


Hitman showed Ennis’ ability to defy expectations when it comes to superhero stories. It features the titular Superhero B-turned-assassin, capable of light x-ray vision and telepathy, but instead prefers to use weapons as his primary superpower.

The most entertaining aspect of Hitman is Ennis’ ability to poke fun at both the DC Universe and comic book conventions in general. It’s fun, funny, and features hilarious cameos from everyone from Batman to Superman. Ennis may not superhero very often, but when he does, it’s pure entertainment.

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