Garth Ennis

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The man who gave Frank Castle his balls back.

Garth Ennis is a Comic Book writer from Holywood, Stroke Country, known for his love of graphic violence and Dead Baby Comedy and his intense dislike of superheroes and organized religion. As you can imagine, he has developed quite the devoted Hatedom among some people in the comics community. Some being not very fond of his writing quirks and pet themes, others find that in his strongest works like Hitman, Preacher and Hellblazer Ennis writes with an engaging intensity and even humanity.

While he is rather fond of author tracts, his excellent plotting and grasp of character voice makes them work (Assuming you can stomach the subject matter). Many of his characters function as Badass Long Coats, but he is also very good at writing down to earth, mortal characters as well (Agent Clive in Unknown Soldier, Tommy in Hitman, Kev in The Authority). The exception to his disrespect of superheroes is none other than Superman himself, surprisingly enough; Ennis writes the character with complete and total respect. Also known for reminding us of the many Crowning Moments of Awesome in World War II.

Works written by Garth Ennis include:

His most famous works are his four-year run on Marvel's adults-only MAX imprint version of The Punisher (aka Punisher MAX) and Preacher, which he co-created with artist Steve Dillon.

He has also written for:

and created:

  • The Boys - Inglourious Basterds meets Super Heroes; A squad of Heroic Sociopaths cause all sorts of hell for the local Villain with Good Publicity Smug Supers.
  • The Pro - A foul-mouthed hooker gets superpowers, then gets inducted into an Expy Justice League.
  • Just a Pilgrim - A group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland encounter a tough gunslinger who leads them. He turns out to be a psychopathic cannibal and his leadership gets them enmeshed in a conflict that leaves them all dead.
  • Preacher - A preacher with a Dark and Troubled Past finds himself the Right Man in the Wrong Place, empowered with a Compelling Voice and makes a vow to use it to Call The Old Man Out - by the Old Man I mean God.
  • Hitman - An underrated series about Tommy Monaghan, a hitman with superpowers who operates in the mainstream DCU.
  • Crossed - 28 Days Later meets "The Screwfly Solution"; a mysterious plague turns numerous people into psychotic rapists with crosslike scars on their face.
  • War Stories Exactly What It Says on the Tin, with each issue focusing on different characters and their involvement in a campaign or battle of various 20th century wars.
  • 303 - A Russian soldier discovers a well-kept secret about the American President and sets out to exact revenge, using an old Lee-Enfeld .303 rifle with one bullet left. Readable, but very much an anti-Bush II revenge fantasy.
  • The Chronicles of Wormwood - Danny Wormwood, cable TV producer, is the Antichrist, and his best buddy Jay is the second coming of Christ. Many people want them to bring about the Apocalypse, but they aren't willing to play ball.
  • Jennifer Blood - A woman is a loving housewife by day, and a crusading vigilante by night. Ennis appears to have intended the book as a comedy, but instead it reads like a distaff version of his run on Punisher. It's one of his less popular works.
  • Battlefields - A collection of stories set in the Second World War.
  • Stitched - An American helicopter crew crash-lands in the mountains of Afghanistan. They and the SAS crew they're there to pick up must then contend with a particularly sadistic breed of zombie. A comic version of the story is still ongoing as of this writing,[when?] and a short film of the same name, written and directed by Ennis himself, was shown at a couple of comic conventions in 2011.
Garth Ennis provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Anti-Hero: type V mostly, a few type IVs. Danny Wormwood might just barely qualify as Type III. Jesse Custer is actually a pretty good example of Type III.
  • Author Appeal: Military history, well-researched. Noble soldiers brutalized by amoral superiors. Black Comedy, with occasional forays into Toilet Humour.
  • Beware the Superman: While most of his works have this theme such as The Boys, this is best exemplified in his 1995 comic "Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe".
  • Black Comedy
  • Crossover: Ennis doesn't do it a lot, but characters from his major works tend to wander back and forth between stories. Cassidy from Preacher (Comic Book) shows up in The Boys as the owner of a bar in New York, Kathryn O'Brien from Punisher is the same CIA agent from the last arc of Hitman, and the vampires that Tommy Monaghan kills in the "Dead Man's Land" arc in Hitman are led by the new King of the Vampires, after the previous king was killed by John Constantine. There are other examples, of course.
  • Depraved Bisexual: A lot of Ennis's villains will bang anything that doesn't run away fast enough. He frequently uses a particular brand of anything-goes, hedonistic bisexuality as a character trait for his villains, as further evidence of their utter amorality. Almost as if to balance this out, though, he's gone well out of his way in many stories, including The Punisher and The Boys, to depict gay people in dedicated, healthy relationships.
  • Eagle Land: An odd, yet intriguing form of it. He believes the United States is way too self-righteous and full of itself, but he also believes that when Americans choose to get over themselves they showcase what is best and brightest about humanity. The clearest expression of this is from Gunther Hahn in Preacher:

The Myth of America: that simple, honest men, born of her great plains and woods and skies have made a nation of her, and will prove worthy of her when the time is right. Under harsh light, it is false. But a good myth to live up to, all the same.

  • Evil Versus Evil
  • Even Ennis Has Standards: Though his hatred of superheroes is well known, even he treats Superman with nothing short of complete respect.
    • While Ennis has come up with a great deal of thinly-veiled parodies of various superheroes, most notoriously in The Boys and Hitman, he's more even-handed when he actually writes those characters than many fans give him credit for being. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all depicted in his work as thoroughly competent. Similarly, Ennis' depiction of Spider-Man in TANGLED WEB #1-3 was extremely sympathetic and touching, showcasing Spidey's compassion and genuine heroism. Kyle Rayner was portrayed as naïve, well-meaning but ultimately ineffectual, and Wally West was, well, really kind of a dick. The only mainstream superhero that Ennis has consistently refused to write well is Wolverine, who is an idiotic collection of his own clichés every time he appears in Ennis's work.
  • Fan Nickname: Ennis, Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison all became popular in America at about the same time, which led many fans at the time to refer to them as the Trinity.
  • God Is Evil: Ennis is an atheist, and is very forthcoming about that fact. In his work that deals explicitly with the Judeo-Christian religion, God Himself is either a drooling imbecile (Hellblazer, Chronicles of Wormwood) or a complete asshole (Preacher). Summarized briefly, the world in Ennis's fiction is so deeply flawed that any God responsible for creating it is either insane or unthinkably cruel. God's servants, on the other hand, run the gamut from good to bad to indifferent.
  • Groin Attack: Ennis is very fond of writing these - both Preacher and The Boys are littered with them, but his Hellblazer run is particularly notorious for them. It was a horror comic where the ultimate horror was always literal castration.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Some of Ennis' best work revolves around exploring deep male friendships, generally Ho Yay-free (even when one of them is gay).
  • Humans Are Flawed
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Soldiers in general, veterans in particular. Ennis routinely depicts blooded soldiers as being capable of slaughtering mooks by the dozen.
  • Promoted Fanboy: He was a big fan of 2000 AD and especially Judge Dredd as a kid.
  • Invisible to Gaydar
  • Rage Against the Heavens
  • Rated "M" for Manly: Ennis tends to give high praise to traditional masculine values, at the expense of more feminine values. As a result, many of his works have a conservative and sexist feel to them.
    • This is a common criticism of his work, but at the same time, he manages to avert it in several of his higher-profile stories. The most recent example is in the Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker miniseries from The Boys, where Rebecca successfully manages to talk Billy into breaking the cycle of violence that started with his father. One of the morals of Preacher, in the end, is that Jesse's entire sense of self is mostly bullshit.
  • Reality Ensues
  • Shades of Conflict
  • Shout-Out: Especially to movies like Where Eagles Dare and Kelly's Heroes.
  • The Troubles: As one might expect from the best known comic book writer from the disputed area, he has addressed this in several stories.
  • War Is Hell
  • Write Who You Know: A lot of his best-written characters are Irish.