June may be advertised as the launch of a new superhero line for DC, but for fans of the classic comic book Hitman, the month marks the return of quirky-but-beloved superhero team Section Eight.
Created by superstar creative team Garth Ennis and John McCrea, Section Eight is made up of oddball characters made popular by the comic book Hitman. The lead character of that comic, Hitman himself, died at the end of the series along with most of his teammates.
But that doesn't mean the Section Eight team can't reform — led by surviving member Sixpack and including a ragtag band of heroes like Dogwelder, who uses a blowtorch to weld dogs to people, and Guts, who's basically just a set of internal organs existing outside of her body.
In this week's All-Star Section Eight #1, Sixpack recruited seven total members for the team (including himself), but of course needs eight to make the name work. So over the six issues of the new mini-series, he'll recruit members from amongst the heroes of the DCU, like Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.
All-Star Section Eight is also notable because DC's willing to put its best-known superheroes into an age-15-and-over, humor comic by Ennis, whose superhero satire comic The Boys had been judged too racy for DC's WildStorm imprint in 2006 (and was canceled after six issues).
Newsarama talked to Ennis about All-Star Section Eight, returning to the Hitman characters and working with McCrea again.
Newsarama: Garth, what drew you back to this team and the Hitman corner of the universe? Was it DC's idea, or something you wanted to return to?
Garth Ennis: My old chum Marie Javins had just taken a job at DC, and asked if there was anything I was interested in doing for them. I've had various offers from the company over the years, but All-Star Section Eight is the one and only thing they have that I'm really keen on.
Nrama: You're not the only one that loves what you created in Hitman. What do you think was the draw of "Hitman" and why it's described by so many people as a beloved classic?
Ennis: It's an odd, quirky little beast, but it has a lot of heart. Difficult to predict what's coming next. Plenty of fun. Fair amount of heartbreak too. And it's a complete story — no one comes back from the dead or anything daft like that. That more than anything else is probably what gives Hitman its power.
Nrama: As we discussed, there are a lot of people who love Hitman, and All-Star Section Eight seems to be in a similar vein.
Ennis: It's very similar, except that this time Section Eight are front and center, not supporting characters. And we're essentially starting from scratch, with a nearly all-new cast (sort of by necessity, really, after the old team were butchered almost to a man).
Nrama: OK, let's talk about the overall concept. Most of Section Eight were killed in Hitman, but now they're getting back together. And that's pretty much the point of the series, right?
Ennis: Sixpack, a demented alcoholic who believes himself to be a superhero, forms a superteam of similarly delusional individuals to fight crime. But because he can only find six of them, he needs a seventh to make up the magic (in his mind) number of eight. So he'll go around the DCU trying to get a genuine superhero to agree to become the all-important last member.
Nrama: Which isn't easy, considering who the first six recruits are. Walk me through some of these guys…
Ennis: Bueno Excellente, the only other original team member, is a massive pervert who fights crime with his thirty-six inch erection.
Dogwelder welds dogs to people — he was also in the original team.
Nrama: Yeah, how did he come back?
Ennis: This is a new Dogwelder, whose past is about to catch up with him.
Baytor is the demon lord of criminal insanity, who vomits dubious white fluid over people — this then hardens and crumbles to dust, taking the victim along with it.
Guts, the only female member of the cast, is a set of internal organs existing outside of a human body.
Powertool has a drill sticking out of his helmet, although he claims there's more to him than that.
And The Grapplah is an annoying tool who won't shut his stupid mouth.
Nrama: Sixpack is at the center of #1, as we saw his return to superheroing in the first issue. As you mentioned, he's determined to get the team back together. What's motivating him so strongly to form the team?
Ennis: There's something odd going on with Sixpack — a little voice at the back of his head that's trying to tell him something. He's pretty sure its intention is to get him to reform the team to fight an unspecified threat, but as time goes by he starts to wonder if something more sinister might be happening.
Nrama: This issue featured Batman, and I know you've got Green Lantern coming up in issue #2, Martian Manhunter in issue #3, and Wonder Woman in #4. As these oddball characters interact with the mainstream superhero universe, have you gotten any push back on some of this stuff?
Ennis: Not much. A few notes on #1, but, interestingly, nothing to do with the Section Eight characters or their interaction with the regular DC characters.
Nrama: What's it been like working with John McCrea again? What is it about your collaboration that makes it work so well on this type of project?
Ennis: It's always brilliant working with John. As he himself said, we'll probably still be doing comics together when we're 90. I write to make him laugh and he draws to make me laugh, and that's the way it's always been.
Nrama: This is described as a six-issue mini-series. Any chance there will be more? Would you like to do it?
Ennis: I'd certainly like to do another mini, I have a pretty good idea for it. We'll have to see.