Or – “It’s Wanton #&$*ing Cursing Weekend At Stately Spoilers #&$*ing Manor!”


En l’honneur de notre premier vrai examen des Garçons connus sous le nom de ‘La Français ‘et ‘Le Femelle,’ j’ai choisi de parler la langue maternelle du garçon gallique, de ma propre façon maladroite. Il est bon de voir que Garth Ennis a prévu, de nouveau, mes quelques plaintes au sujet de son écriture (dans ce cas-ci, le fait qui se focalisant comme nous avons sur Le Petit Hughie et de Billy Boucher a laissé les autres caractères dehors dans le froid.)  Maintenant, à la suite de l’arc énorme d’histoire de saucisse d’amour, nous obtenons l’histoire personnelle du Professeur et du Mary Ann de ce titre…

(Translation: “In honor of our first real examination of the Boys known as ‘The Frenchman’ and ‘The Female,” I’ve chosen to speak the Gallic Boy’s mother tongue, in my own awkward manner.  It’s good to see that Garth Ennis has, once again, foreseen my few complaints about his writing (in this case, the fact that focusing as we have on Wee Hughie and Billy Butcher has left the other characters out in the cold.)  Now, in the wake of the huge Love Sausage (Heh)story arc , we get a personal story of this title’s Professor and Mary Ann…”) 

Boys1.jpgPreviously, on The Boys:  Hugh Campbell thought he had it all.  A career, the perfect woman, a real shot at happiness…  until a superhero called A-Train liquified her at super-speed.  Understandably, Hughie has a bit of a complex about “the supers,” but his anger pales before the hatred that Billy Butcher carries about with him.  Seeing Hughie’s loss and distress, Butcher inducts him into his own strike force, a group whose sole mission is to keep Supers in line: codenamed The Boys.  Now, after seeing the brutality of their world, and being injected with Compound V (a drug that gives HIM his own super-powers) Hughie is searching for any sign of normality, something to prove that he’s still a normal man, while things spin wildly out of control.  Last time out, Butcher singlehandedly killed over 200 superheroes, while Wee Hughie befriended a Russian superhero called (no joke) The Love Sausage, and all hell broke loose in Siberia.  Now home again, the team finds itself in a bit of a lull, but the mysterious creature known as The Female has been given a message that she, apparently, can’t ignore…

We start our #&$*ing sotry this issue with The Female standing silently, holding a photograph with an address on the back.  She watches as the man in the picture takes his hyperactive children out for a day at the zoo, seemingly taken aback by the fact that he has a family…  At the same time, Wee Hughie sits in the park with his new friend Annie January (who is secretly the superhero called Starlight) talking about their chance meeting six months earlier.  She is very amused when Hughie calls her “Hen,” apparently a Scottish term of endearment, but her happiness quickly evaporates when she’s reminded of the things she had to do (a euphemism for performing sexual acts, I believe) to get her position in the Seven, the world’s greatest super-team.  She is ashamed at her past, but Hughie blows it off (no pun intended) by pointing out that she’s not blaming everyone else for what happened.  He is reminded of his lost girlfriend, now a fine red mist, and an awkward silence ensues…

“Annie?” he says, suddenly gaining his courage back, “Would you like to come out for a drink wi’ me tonight?”  Her face lights up as she says yes.  This entire exchange is beautiful, well written and thought-out, and the art is simply gorgeous.  Darick Robertson manages to show us everything the two characters are thinking throughout, and their “acting” is really top-notch.  When he returns to their “office” in the Flatiron Building, Hughie joins his associates in spying on the supers.   Strangely, though, The Female isn’t present, which troubles The Frenchman greatly, and he sets off to find her as Butcher and Mother’s Milk (these names are awesome, I might add) spy on the JLA-like team, The Seven.  It occurs to me at this point that perhaps this issue isn’t the best “jumping-on point” for the series…

Hughie manages to set up surveillance on Teenage Kix, a Teen Titans-like group of heroes with whom they have an unpleasant history, and finds out that Blarney Cock (whom Hughie thought he had KILLED in a blind rage) is still alive, but something is… wrong with him.  Meanwhile, Frenchie makes his way to a bistro in a bad part of town, confronting someone who seems to be a mob kingpin.  He quietly and unassumingly asks the man to leave The Female alone, and gets told to get the $&*# out…  “I know who you are… Le Patron, oui?  Le grand fromage, you are the king of, how you say, Little Wopoli?”  The man sics his bodyguards on him, and The Frenchman kills them.  Just that quick…  Covered in the blood of hired killers, yet perfectly calm, he steps forward.  “You like to speak as if you are at war…  But I wonder if you have every truly seen one.  La guerre…  Strange that it should be feminine, do you not think?”  And just that quickly, the character who had been cute and comic relief is revealed to be as much of a bad ass as Butcher himself.  I’m jealous of the economy and brilliance of this scene, as The Frenchman doesn’t even blink. 

Hughie and Annie meet for their drink, and have another wonderfully awkward proto-romantic conversation…  “I guess I should be looking for something to keep me here,” she hints, and he totally misses the point…  sort of.  Already tipsy, Annie swoons to hear his accent, and a confused Hughie asks if she’d been drinking before he arrived.  “I’ve never even touched a drop before!” she giggles, and we can the the combination of sadness and realization on his face.  Minutes later, he’s hustling her into a cab, as she tries to convince him to come home with her.  “I want you…  I want–” she begins, but Hughie interrupts.  “I know what you think you want…  If I ever take advantage of you, it’ll be because you’re drunk or emotionally vulnerable: but no’ both, alright?”  HA!  Best… line… ever.  She drives away, leaving Hughie to repeatedly tell himself he’s not being “an arsehole.”  Heh…

Still watching the house, The Female sees her target fighting with his wife, storm out in a huff, and makes her move.  Suddenly, she hears a noise from behind her, and turns to see…  The Frenchman.  “I go to the stor on Hudson, where M’sieur Charcuter goes to buy his teabags.  How does he say?  The Brit Shop.  I buy the good English candy…  Chocolate limes.”  She reaches out, whether for him or the candy, I can’t tell, but he stops her cold.  “I know it is not for the money.  I know it is because you cannot… not.”  I don’t know whether he is in love with her, whether he sees her as a sister, or just can’t bear to see a friend on this road, but it’s an amazing scene.  The character who was a clown, then became a bad-ass, suddenly shows a very human heart as he tells her she doesn’t have to kill.  “It is bad for you, to do it for no reason.  For your heart.  You can catch him.  He is not quite gone.  Or… well…  Chaux de chocolat?”  She stares silently at him, and I realize this book WOULD NOT WORK without Darick…  The Female never speaks, HAS NEVER spoken, but you can see her make her decision as she takes the candy and they walk away together.  It doesn’t even matter if their relationship is a relationship or not, because whatever it is, it’s beautiful to see their mojo at work.  Not so much, poor Hughie, alone in his room, pushed to self-abuse and repeating “Why am I such an arsehole?”  Heh.

From the tragic to the ridiculous and back, Garth Ennis has this book locked down solid.  The characters, the relationships, the interactions are awesome, with everything I loved about his work on Hellblazer and Preacher intact, and whole new paradigms emerging.  This first real insight into the natures of Frenchman and Female was both frightening and touching, and the moments with Hughie and Annie (with the implication that hero is dating hero-killer) were almost as exciting as having a new girlfriend, or potential girlfriend yourself.  I hate to do it on back to back reviews, but I’m thinking that The Boys Sixteen (they don’t number them, so neither do I) will have to earn another 5 out of 5 stars.  Man, I can’t start giving these things away like candy at the bank, but…  this was a wonderful issue.  I’m already afraid for the moment that all hell breaks loose (and since Ennis is writing, it most certainly will, sooner rather than later.)


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. Mokin
    March 16, 2008 at 10:51 am — Reply

    De très bon commentaires, monsieur Matthew! Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec vous!!

    It is fun to see that he did, indeed, clean up his act for the French used in the comic (although there are still a few minor thingies that don’t work…like “le grand fromage”…I’m about 99% sure this expression does not exist per say…it’s a litteral translation of “the big cheese”, that’s all…). I’m a French speaking Québécois (working as a translator to boot…) and the French used in comics in general is usually atrocious. Ah well…I’d offer my services, but I figure there are about a million of us French speaking fanboys who’d do the same…

    As for the comic itself, I think it was great that for once, it did not fully centered on the “shocking” aspect, but rather went fully on the character development. Can’t wait to see what happens between Wee Hughie and Annie…do I smell some conflict of interest here? And the kind of bonding between The Frenchman and The Female…in very little pages, Ennis manages to give us something that will probably last until the end of the series…he’s slowly telling us why all these very different individuals all came to work together and why they make such a great team.

    …fun times to be had by all, readers included…

    So…from another 40 years old guy whose wife gave up on eradicating the geek gene, who loves the Legion of Super-Heroes, who’s astonished that, even though it’s not perfect, one of his favorite columnist speaks and writes French…that’s Mokin signin’ off!

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