Duane Swierczynski’s Charlie Hardie knows a thing or two about murder. Introduced in Fun & Games (June 2011), the first title in a new trilogy, Hardie is an ex-cop still haunted by the death of his partner, who finds himself protecting a low-level actress from a swath of trained killers. And there are more hit men who find their way into Hardie’s crosshairs in Hell and Gone (Aug. 2011). So, given all the time Swierczynski has been spending with killers in his mind, we asked him to give us a rundown of some of his favorite guns for hire.

Burke, from Blow Out

I still think John Lithgow’s character from this Brian De Palma classic wanders the streets of Philadelphia, looking for people to strangle or stab for his own amusement.

Charly Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight

She’s potty-mouthed. She’s sadistic. She could snap your neck with her thighs. And yet, Charly Baltimore (Geena Davis) turns out to be a pretty great mom, too.

Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, from Trevanian’s The Eiger Sanction

He’s an art professor. He’s a ladies’ man. He’s a mountaineer. And he snuffs people for a shadowy government agency. Is this what our teachers meant by having a well-rounded resume?

Frankie Bono, from Blast of Silence (1960)

This slab of stoic Cleveland muscle returns to New York during the Christmas holidays just in time to meet an old flame, check out Rockefeller Center, and lose his mind.

Hitman (a.k.a. Tommy Monaghan) from DC Comics’ Hitman

Monaghan is not afraid to stick a gun in Batman’s face or try to pull off a hit on the Joker. Garth Ennis has always had this love/hate thing going with superheroes, and that’s the sick fun of this late 1990s series.

Leon, from The Professional

Sure, you could call this “Lolita With Guns,” but I think the relationship between Jean Reno and a (very young) Natalie Portman is one of the sweetest on-screen romances ever. With, uh, guns.

Martin Terrier, from Jean-Patrick Manchette’s The Prone Gunman

After 10 years of wet work, all Terrier wants to do is retire and go home to his sweetheart. But his former employers don’t want to let him go—and his sweetheart has already moved on. A cold shot of existential awesome, and one of my all-time favorite novels.

Martin Blank, from Grosse Point Blank

I like to think of John Cusack’s Mr. Blank as an American cousin of Mr. Terrier—only with a 1980s alt rock soundtrack.

Nameless, from The Killer by Jacamon & Matz

What’s truly disturbing about this hit man’s worldview isn’t that it’s dark; the scary thing is how often you find yourself agreeing with him. A truly excellent French graphic novel series, The Killer is now published in the U.S. by Archaia Studios Press.