The greatest superheroes of all time, unseen since the end of the hit series HITMAN, have returned for the greatest superhero story ever told! Befuddled hero Six Pack returns to Gotham City, desperate to rebuild the all-star team known as Section Eight, in the face of a deadly threat. He gathers old friends Bueno Excellente, Baytor and the seemingly reborn Dogwelder, along with some new faces—but he still needs that elusive eighth member. And that’s when the Dark Knight Detective gets an offer he can’t refuse in part one of this unforgettable six-issue miniseries.
Section 8 is probably one of the weirdest concepts at DC that could have chosen for the publisher’s new wave of comics. With the name of their superteam being a play on a phrase about the characters being ‘unfit for duty.’ Before digging into the issue in question, a quick history lesson is in order. Hitman first debuted in the pages of a Demon Annual and then starred in the Garth Ennis written 1997 title. Section 8 first sprung from the pages of Hitman #18. The Ennis-penned 2015 title featuring the heroes is a mini-series, and the first time that the Section 8 heroes have ever sustained their own comic. The premise is pretty interesting as well: with the Section 8 now re-established, the unlikely heroes are searching for an 8th member when Batman of all people is tapped for active duty.
For those that are worried about the comic being inaccessible because of the sheer amount of history regarding the franchise, author Garth Ennis has a way to dispel your concerns: Batman. The Caped Crusader is all over this issue, proving as a great comedic foil for Sixpack. The cover is a nice bit of Amanda Conner-tinged humor that ends up bleeding into the actual issue itself. The tale serves as a beacon to really suck readers in with the sheer amount of energy funneling through Ennis and McCrea in the opening sequence bringing the band back together. The revelation as to what the different team members have been doing since the Section 8 split is a fantastic main source of humor.
McCrea’s distinctive set of pencils are needed for a comic asking so much from the penciler. Humor in comics is something that DC shied away from during the New 52 (for the most part,) but this title accurately brings a specific mode of dark humor back to the publisher. McCrea is instrumental in evoking that vibe while still making characters look slick and interesting on the page. The first page of the book features DC’s marquee heroes in striking positions while getting their dues on the same page. John Kalisz makes a coloring choice in the span of the issue that makes action sequences feel even more chaotic than they would have been otherwise. Also Ennis, McCrea, and the talent on the book toy with the form later on in the issue in a manner that makes All-Star Section 8, really feel like a progressive addition to DC’s current stable of titles.
Unfortunately the spastic and beautiful energy pulsing through the first issue is not maintained throughout the final section (pun intended) of the initial installment. The ending introduces some new elements into the title but doesn’t pay them off, or link the cliffhanger with the rest of the tale appropriately. While the issue does have the comedic obscenity to really capture the old-school Hitman vibe instigated by the author, the comic lacks direction in the sense that readers may not be sure where this mini-series is going. With Ennis’ work becoming sparse at the Big Two, this issue is certainly worth a look regardless of your are interest in the entirety of this brand new take on the team. Also, nobody quite writes comics as vicious as the seminal author. Ennis and McCrea perfectly evoke the stuff of black comedy nightmares present in the original series — but can the creative team follow-up on the foundation they have set here in subsequent issues?