Cool Comic Covers: Hitman 14

Happy day-after-Halloween! The spooky season may be ending, but I’ve saved you one last treat, this LOL-worthy cover to Hitman 14:

This issue is part two of the classic two-parter Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium, in which our titular hitman, Tommy Monaghan, and his pals must shoot and/or hack their way through a horde of killer penguins, crocodiles, sharks, dolphins, and yes, seals. The resulting adventure is as irreverent, hilarious, and thrilling as you’d expect, given that description and the cover above.

I may be revealing too much about my sense of humor here, but this cover never fails to get a laugh out of me. The gag is so simple yet so classic. What did this poor, cute seal do to deserve the violence about to befall them? The answer is “became a killer zombie,” but you don’t get that from this cover. Wisely, artist John McCrea chooses to leave this seal’s cute, black eyes in place, unlike the red-eyed zombies that populate the story itself.

Another great choice McCrea made was to omit any background elements from this cover. The gag doesn’t need any additional elements to sell it, and a fully-illustrated background would only draw attention away from the cute seal and its aggressors. Also, this issue released in May, but I have to think the cover’s coloring is a nod to the story’s horror/Halloween roots. Even if not, the orange and black create some great contrast.

As I’ve said before, Hitman is a series that took me some effort to collect. This story in particular was tough to track down, probably because it’s a fun, self-contained two-parter that people really love recommending. (Yes, I am now part of that chorus.) However, I eventually found both parts of this story in the back issue bins at Comic Alley in Lake Geneva, where I don’t think they were even marked up that much. After reading them, I instantly understood why I couldn’t find any copies of this story at Wizard World Chicago, while putting together most of the rest of my Hitman run … it really is that good.

(Want to check out more posts in the Cool Comic Covers series? If so, click here.)

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