January 19, 2022

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #167: The Section 8

Some of the most incompetent heroes ever assemble in this bizarre team that could only have come from the mind of Garth Ennis.

How the hell did I go this long without writing up Section 8?  Those guys were practically created to be part of this series!

Anyway, here they are.

I mentioned back in the Gunfire entry that DC Comics did a summer crossover one year called Bloodlines, a series intended to use various annuals to launch some new heroes.  I likewise mentioned the only one that was in any way successful was Hitman from the pages of The Demon by writer Garth Ennis and artist John McCrea.  That pair would go on to do a fairly successful Hitman series that told stories about a lowlife hired killer and his criminal pals, hanging around Gotham City’s worst neighborhood–the Cauldron–and having adventures that were sometimes a reflection on violence around the world and what it means to be a person of violence, or sometimes were just the weird, slapsticky dark comedy that Ennis did so well.  And since Ennis didn’t care much for most superheroes (he actually has said he likes Superman and that’s about it), when he created his own team, he went for the guys with what were probably the least useful powers and abilities he could imagine.

Those guys were the eight men in the Section 8.

Section 8 was led by Sixpack, who was a longstanding supporting character to the Hitman series.  He had a superhero team he claimed were mighty defenders of justice.  The thing is, Sixpack was a drunk who told stories about heroic adventures in the bar the Hitman cast hung out in, and the stories were blatantly the ravings of a crazed alcoholic.  True, Sixpack was very handy with a broken beer bottle (like most of the Section 8, Sixpack had no problem with lethal force), but he wasn’t the hero he claimed to be.  Were the others?  Well, here’s the line-up of the other seven members.  You be the judge:

  • Jean de Baton-Baton:  a man who dressed like some sort of cartoon Frenchman who fought evil with garlic wreathes and a baton.  Sixpack said he fought with the power of French-ness.
  • Flemgem:  a man who spat large and particularly sticky green blobs.
  • The Defenstrator:  a mostly-silent Terminator lookalike who tossed people out of windows.  Don’t worry about a lack of nearby windows in some scenarios, though.  He tends to carry one with him at all times.
  • Friendly Fire:   having some legitimate superpowers, Friendly Fire shot powerful energy blasts from his hands.  He also always hit his teammates no matter how hard he tried.
  • Dogwelder:  another silent man, this guy in welding gear spot welded dead dogs to bad guys, particularly the face.
  • Shakes:  he shook.
  • Bueno Excellente:  Um…he fought crime with the power of perversion.  I don’t want to get too much into this guy for obvious reasons if you know anything about him.

As it is, Sixpack summoned the Section 8 three times during the Hitman run.  The first time they fought some gangsters and were doing well until Friendly Fire blasted a couple of his own guys and a ten-armed demon showed up.  The second time was for a special issue where the guys helped Hitman Tommy Monaghan take down intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo.  The last time?  Well, after Friendly Fire finally told Sixpack they weren’t actually heroes, but instead were just enabling a pathetic drunk in bad tights, they assembled to battle some demons called the Many-Angled Ones, and most of the Section 8 were killed.  Most of them by the demons.  Most of them.

Well, you didn’t blast an ally this time, Friendly Fire.

As it was, Sixpack sacrificed himself to enter the demons realm and showed a true hero could withstand the horrors of their dimension and save the Earth.  That issue mostly ended with Sixpack, in regular clothes at a support group, having relocated to New York City.

The other survivor was Bueno Excellente.

As it was, Sixpack’s time on the wagon was short-lived, and Ennis and McCrea returned to tell another story involving him where he took a drink, reverted back to his crazy drunk persona, and then assembled a new team for the Section 8 with the returning Bueno Excellente.  This time the group was made up of:

  • Baytor:  another longstanding Hitman supporting character, he was the Demon Lord of the Criminally Insane who mostly shouted a short phrase reminiscent of a certain Groot.
  • Guts:  a sentient, and apparently female and human-shaped, pile of internal organs.
  • Dogwelder II:  yeah, apparently there was another one.
  • Powertool:  apparently, a useful vigilante with a powertool motif going on.
  • The Grapplah!:  an obnoxious guy who liked to go on about his grappling hook guns.

Now, do some math and you’ll see that that’s only seven members.  Who was the eighth?  Well, that was apparently the gag for that mini-series:  Sixpack was trying to recruit a legitimate superhero, starting with Batman (who got a parking ticket), to be the eighth member.

I’m guessing it didn’t work out.

A legend returns?

Section 8 is clearly a group DC Comics is glad to leave to the background except when its creators want to do something with them.  That’s fine.  Given Ennis’ work, I’m not sure if anyone else could write a story that does them any justice, and whether or not that’s a good thing, well, that’s up to the fans.

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