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Sunday, June 30, 2024 

What's so great about Garth Ennis?

A writer at Slash Film, one who may have also written an offensive puff piece for Anime News Network previously, fawned over the writings of Garth Ennis, the creator of The Boys, who's also notorious for despising superhero fare:
Garth Ennis, the writer behind "The Boys" and "Preacher," has been called the Quentin Tarantino of comic books. On the surface, both men tell stories filled with violence, profane dialogue, crass comedy, and their fans love them for it. I've adored Tarantino since I first encountered him — no movie, from "Reservoir Dogs" to his latest (and favorite of his own films) "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" — has broken that spell. My feelings on Ennis are more of a journey; I dismissed him in my younger days but I've since settled on the more positive side.
On this, I wonder what the writer would say if he knows Tarantino does at least have the fortunate understanding of the terrible situations Israel's faced, as seen on October 7, 2023, which stands in stark contrast to what the columnist's beliefs are. That said, I can't say I'm a fan of Tarantino's resume, because I find his notion of humor very crass, and violence off-putting. This certainly is quite interesting the columnist views Ennis' writings as something he overlooked years ago, and now embraces more fully. In that case, what about writers who've dealt with comedy without putting to use the kind of nasty ingredients Ennis is known for? Just head-shaking.
A key piece of Garth Ennis' reputation is that he's the comic writer who hates superheroes. Since we Americans often think of "superhero" and "comic book" as synonymous, this seeming contradiction stands out. Ennis is not Alan Moore, who loved superheroes as a child but became disillusioned with them, either; he never read cape comics as a kid and so, when introduced to them as a teen, only saw them as ridiculous. Why else would he write a comic like "The Boys," an exercise in subjecting superheroes to his trademark creative and vulgar death scenes?
And that's positive why? I think I've long missed the part where Ennis' apologists explain why there's anything entertaining about seeing people being put to death. Why, what if a writer came along and wrote jokes about sexual abuse? Would that be acceptable? Of course not. So it's hard to understand why death is considered something funny, if the victims happen to be the good guys. Sexual violence definitely isn't funny, and what's truly reprehensible about the apologists for cheap sensationalism is that they never consider how victims in real life can feel if they know the terrible experiences they went through were being minimized for the sake of sick laughs. And do Americans still consider superheroes and comics synonymous? If anything, not many care about the theme anymore, based on where Marvel and DC sent them, to woke-land. It's also questionable whether anybody not introduced to superhero tales in childhood would only consider them ridiculous upon reaching their teenage years. Besides, there's plenty of teens - certainly in past decades - who appreciated an adventure with hot women as stars or co-stars. Now, even that's being trashed by the leftist PC crowd.
Now, I first heard of Ennis when I was a preteen superhero dork. Before I'd even bothered to read his comics, I was turned off. Reading that the one superhero he likes is the Punisher "confirmed" for me the perception I'd built up of him as an edgelord who just likes blood and guts, being too cynical to write anything else. Well, I was wrong and short-sighted. (Garth, if you're somehow reading this, mea culpa and apologies.) Part of my transformation was just listening to Ennis speak in interviews; the soft-spoken Irishman I found had none of the immaturity or venom I'd imagined.
It sounds like the writer may be of the crowd despising the Punisher because Frank Castle represents all a modern liberal despises. What is clear is that, somewhere along the way, the columnist suddenly decided bloodletting was entirely okay. By contrast, I find the kind of crude violence Ennis specializes in atrocious (I also can't stand video games like Mortal Kombat, but that's another story). That said, after what the Punisher's been through under PC writers like Jason Aaron, one can reasonably wonder if Ennis would consider even Frank the only superhero he cares about today, if it turns out he's willing to embrace the same PC narrative his USA peers are now. It has been a while since Ennis had much to do with the Punisher, after all.
I've also since actually read more of Ennis' work (which, again, I should've done in the first place). "Preacher" is a masterwork that finally won me over to the beauty of the late Steve Dillon's art. I've still never been able to quite enjoy "The Boys" comic, but I appreciate it as some needed counterprogramming to the superhero Big Two, especially since I have been able to enjoy "The Boys" TV show.

Preacher, Garth Ennis' messy masterpiece

Ennis' writing is much more meaningful than I'd imagined too. This is where he again intersects with Tarantino; some dismiss them as reactionaries because their dialogue isn't PC, but pay closer attention and you'll notice the righteous rage animating them. The violence in their stories is often inflicted on evil that deserves it. Just as Tarantino uses his canvas to invent punishment for Nazis and antebellum American slavers, Ennis does the same to Christian fanatics and corporate America.
Now as plenty of realists may know, there's no chance writers like Ennis would ever depict Islamic terrorists as fanatics in their scripts, so it's bewildering why the columnist is drawing comparisons between Tarantino's visions and Ennis' approach to Christians. Sounds like there's an awfully offensive analogy taking place there. And as for corporatism, where's the columnist been all these years? In the past decade alone, corporations stateside have taken up the very left-wing viewpoints he goes by, and not many liberals see a need to take issue with them anymore. And when the columnist talks some more about a comic Ennis wrote called Sara, which is about a communist-employed sharpshooter, it's told that:
There's a lot of World War II historical fiction there, but "Sara" gives a perspective that isn't quite so well-tread: the Soviets'. They were just as vital in defeating Nazi Germany as the other Allies. When Americans think of World War II battlefields, we think of Omaha beach on D-Day (especially thanks to "Saving Private Ryan") and bombed-out German cities. "Sara" takes place in snow-blanketed forests; Chapter 1 — "Words To Live By" — opens with Sara perched on a treetop waiting for her perfect shot. The conflict is familiar but the battlefield feels new.
Sorry, but this sugarcoats all the evil the commies were guilty of, even before WW2. Some could say the only problem communist Russia had with Nazi Germany was that the latter was something like a rival gang battling for their turf, and that the commies could not have. Similar points could be made about how they view Islam.
Ennis hates Captain America ("The Boys" viciously lampoons him with Soldier Boy), but clearly even he recognizes Epting's talent.
But can Epting have much talent, any more than Ennis, if he's willingly going to participate in another disgustingly negative allusion to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's masterpiece? All these attacks on the superhero genre have gotten way out of hand, without even clearly explaining why we're supposed to consider Ennis' takes on them any better. And the columnist only suggests he's not much of a fan of the Star-Spangled Avenger either.

There's really nothing special about Ennis, except in the sense that his questionable visions must have some admiration among certain leftist crowds. Ennis is just another modern leftist who doesn't know how to appreciate escapist fantasy as developed by past generations, so it's bewildering why he even worked in superhero comicdom at all. He's just another overrated scribe from Europe, who was likely only hired based on the woke beliefs he may harbor.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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