***Full SPOILERS, but it’s been sixteen years***
I like parody. I like crude humor at times- mostly the kind where you snicker and move on. Sustained, long-form crude jokes (that’s what she called it anyway) are not really my cup of tea. And Garth Ennis, as much as I liked Hitman, is not often for me either. He’s one of a handful of creators that I feel should not be allowed to publish creator-owned work. Not in the name of censorship, just… well, he’s gross… and crude… and, well, he has a disturbing knack for making you laugh and feel uncomfortable at the same time.
All of that is on display in The Pro. The story in short: a Watcher parody named The Viewer bestows part of his cosmic soul upon a prostitute, giving her super powers- flight, strength, speed, and a measure of invulnerability. He then alerts the League of Honor (a group full of straight-up Justice League parodies) that a new super-person has been born.
The League convinces her to join, and she wreaks all manner of havoc. She gives a villainess a beatdown and a golden shower in front of the ambassadors of the United Nations. She leads a band of hookers in exacting painful vengeance on a short-changing john. When he comes back around for revenge, threatening the life of her baby, she knocks his jaw clean off. She orally gratifies The Saint for saving her baby which leads to a stray… um… shot endangering a passenger plane, and The Saint exposing himself to the passengers. There are other sexual mishaps hinted at when the League takes her to task for the way she does things… and people.
All of this is interrupted by a call of terrorists with hostages on top of the Empire State Building. The League intervenes… badly… and The Pro is literally left holding the bag. A bag with a nuke about to go off. She makes The Saint promise to take care of her kid, and not let him become a costumed hero. Then she flies the nuke into space where she presumably dies in the blast, and inadvertently takes out The Viewer and his robot friend.
The main story is followed up by a short flashback encounter with The Ho- a twelve-armed hooker who specializes in hand gratification. After a brief altercation, The Pro gets The Ho a job with a zoo’s wildlife sperm collection program.
There’s a lot of foul language, bare chests, sitting on toilets, walking around in just underwear, heads in laps, jizz jokes, imaginative sound effects, and what Amanda Conner calls “doody humor” here. It is just short of being a porn comic along the lines of Cherry Poptart or Captain Hard-On. It’s not, but it toes the line.
And look: I read it… twice. Once when I bought it back in 2007, and once now in 2023 while considering whether I want to put it up for sale or not (and yes, I do). I see the humor. There’re things here that will make you smirk for sure… and things that will make you cringe.
Here’s the thing: when I said earlier that guys like Ennis should not be allowed to publish creator-owned work… no, I don’t mean that. This book was very popular when it came out, and it’s still kind of a legend now, so there’s definitely an audience for this kind of thing. Make that book, make that money, have your fun- all good.
It’s just that when you look at Hitman, an Ennis book set within the DC Universe, and under the constraints of editors and company edicts, you see a story that can be just as raucous and up-to-the-line, without the crude language, without the half-nudity, without the splooge effects, and all of that. So, when I see it in Ennis’ creator-owned stuff, it comes off as very much “just because I can, so nyah.” That just seems… juvenile.
I realize that this is simply my problem. And really, it’s not a problem. Not every story can be for every reader, and this one just isn’t for me. If you enjoyed it, good on you. Have your fun too.
It’s a free country. Ennis and crew are allowed to publish juvenile humor stories if that’s what they want to do, and to that end, they did it well. For that reason, I give this book four stars, subtracting just one star simply because it’s not really my favorite kind of story. I applaud them for doing what they wanted to do, making a living at it, and having fun.