Or – “The Best Justice League Story You’ve Never Read…”

I had such plans for this week…  I had lined up a review for each day, broken it all down, done the legwork and created my images, I was READY.  Then came Friday…  A group of coworkers and I were chosen to take a trip to Kansas City to celebrate our performance at work, and I thought, “Hey, free food!”  They didn’t tell me about the open bar…  Suffice to say that I enjoyed Cirque Du Soleil, but I’m not used to drinking like that anymore.  Friday night was a bust, Saturday morning was a bit of a hangover, Saturday afternoon I went to the pool and soaked in chlorine, and Sunday?  Sunday dawned, and… um… stuff.  Best laid plans, and all that.  Anyway, here we are on Sunday evening, and The Boys is up and ready to mess with your head.  Haven’t you ever wondered WHY The Butcher hates the super-dupes?  Read on, MacDuff, but be aware…  Adult themes and language await you after the fold.

Previously on The Boys:  The Butcher.  Wee Hughie.  Mother’s Milk.  The Frenchman.  The Female.  Each a superhuman powerhouse in and of his or herself.  They are the first, last, and only line of defense against the superhuman encroachment on the world.  Imagine if Superman were a self-centered dick, Wonder Woman a narcissistic boozehound, The Flash a careless perverted jackass…  Would you honestly feel at all safe to have the protecting you?  Last issue, Hughie returned to the mysterious comic shop run by the man known as the Legend, to finally get some perspective on Vought American (the company behind the supers) and exactly what it is that filled Butcher with pith and vinegar and pure hate for anything in a cape.  At the same time, Butcher himself arranged a face-to-face meeting with The Homelander (think an opportunistic Clark Kent with no morals) to discuss recent incursions from both side, throwing the delicate balance between cape and cape-killers off balance…

The Legend and Hughie start the issue off, with Wee Hughie reading some very familiar “Hang Loose, Heroes” patter from an old issue of ‘Nukester.’  “Y’know, it’s amazin’ to me that you used to write this stuff,” says Hughie.  “Ah, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to just write #&$!suckers,” replies the Legend.  Heh.  The Legend reveals that The Seven’s debut was the most important event since the advent of the internal combustion engine (and also that Butcher spilled the beans about his embarassing moment with Annie two issues ago) and that the man who invented Compound V (the power enhancing formula that the Seven’s abilities are based upon) committed suicide when he realized that it was that he created…

While The Legend and Hughie have their two-sided conversation, The Homelander and Butcher have an equally important, though one-sided, jawjack of their own.  Homelander realizes that he must have killed someone, someone important to Billy B. to make his hatred burn so hot.  H.L. wonders if he killed someone “on that day,” but realizes that’s not it.  Using his super-hearing, he monitors Butcher’s bodily responses to his questions and perversely toying with Butcher.  “There’s something irreversible about you.  You’re in this all the way, you don’t expect to come out the other side…  Nothing to live for…   Lover?  More than just a love…  WIFE.”  The two men stand silently atop the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge, coming to grips with the realization that both is more than the other thought.

Back below the comic shop, The Legend explains to Wee Hughie the real power behind the supers: merchandising.  The comics do more than just make the cash they need to get ahead, they make the public think that all the heroes are noble and good, spinning tales to explain their foibles and flaws, to explain the meaningless fights, to control the spin of their collateral damage.  Speaking of collateral damage, we cut to the secret lair of The Seven, where newbie heroes Starlight and A-Train have finished cleaning up after The Lamplighter, reduced to a zombie-like mess living in his own excrement.  A-Train makes the same point that Stephen did a few weeks ago, that Starlight may have been humiliated by things she had to do, but she chose to do them for her own reasons.  She tells him that she knows she’s not any better than him, but he continues to prod at her, telling her that they picked her for the initiation because the wanted the most stuck-up goody-two-shoes they could find to humiliate.  “Well, I’m glad it worked out for you,” replies Starlight coldly.  “Because it’s the only way someone like you could ever get his hands on someone like me.”  A-Train is first stunned, then angry, and I’m very afraid for Starlight (especially since she’s secretly Hughie’s main squeeze, Annie.)

The Legend’s tale continues, explaining that even the President is in the pocket of Vought-American, and that “Vic The Veep,” legendary political moron, was purchased specifically for his stupidity and tractability, meaning that the highest office in the land is in the pocket of the company that cares about nothing but net profits and might making right.  The perfect proof of that, The Homelander, continues to try and needle Butcher into attacking him (seemingly WANTING the head Boy to start something) until the Butcher finally smiles.  “While you’ve been listenin’ to me heartbeat, and smellin’ me sweat an’ watchin’ every one a’ me responses, bangin’ on an’ fuckin’ on like the clever bastard you think you are…  you know what ol’ Terror’s been doing?” asks Butcher, and Homelander is outraged to find Butcher’s pet bulldog urinating all over his leg.  Heh.  The faux-Superman keys up his heat vision, but Butcher cuts him off.  “You harm one hair on his head, and it’s starts *now*,” warns the Butcher.  Homelander is astonished to think that he’d start a war over a dog, and begins to rail at his opposite number, but Butcher cuts him off with three words, two of them obscene.  The Legend explains that the Brooklyn Bridge is gone because of the events on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, as a plane neared New York with a mission of destroying the nation’s tallest building…  and then the supers got involved.

To be continued…  Garth Ennis has gone on the record as saying that this is the series that will “out-Preacher Preacher,” the book that went far beyond the boundaries of good taste in the name of an over-arching story, and this issue is really the first one where that feels like a real statement.  I’m leery of how the 9/11 plot is going to play out (as well as a reference to V-A picking Vic for their moron because the youngest Bush sibling wasn’t available.)  This whole issue is really the first glimpse into the inner-workings of what must become the center of the story, and it doesn’t disappoint, but it does shock.  From the Stan Lee stylings of the Legend, to Starlight’s fellatio introduction, to the Lamplighter’s cries of “Ware mah paaahr” (sounds a bit like “beware my power”, doesn’t it?) this issue is designed to find hot buttons, to shock.  But the story, and the characterizations are still as brilliant (if unsubtle) as they have been, and the history lesson is fascinating for me.  Darick Robertson nails every scene, making The Legend both disgusting and wise, making an excrement-caked Starlight in a peek-a-boo costume still seem to be a little bit disnified, even throwing in a fun little bit where The Female is skipping stone across the river while waiting.  It’s a very good issue of a very good series, and I highly recommend it to all our over-18 Spoilerites.  The Boys Twenty nails the landing, earning a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars, and I’m cautiously looking forward to what Paul Harvey would call The Rest Of The Story.

3stars.jpg


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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3 Comments

  1. July 20, 2008 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    Fair enough, mate,
    we all have weekends like that. For the ancient Greeks, that kind of a thing, once a year, was essential in maintaining a social order by purging our more “dionysiac” urges.

    Nice review of The Boys too!

    Gotta really thank Major Spoilers for getting me onto this, as there’s been no publicity for it in Australia, and our local LCSs tend to favor the big two’s who actually make it worthwhile selling comics in the antipodes. At least while the average comic price here is $6.00.

  2. July 20, 2008 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    Six bucks? Yikes… I complain when they’re $3.99… :)

    AND I get a discount.

  3. Brad Ball
    July 21, 2008 at 12:46 pm — Reply

    LOL, I hear that, great review, and if not for MS I would not be reading this great comic either!

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