Or – “Well, That Cover Is A Bit Unpleasant, Ain’t It?”
Harry Chapin once wrote a little ditty called “Thirty Thousand Pounds Of Bananas”, the tale of a young truck driver whose brakes give out on the downhill side while hauling the titular load. As the Boys picks up steam on it’s own race to the finish, I am reminded of a particular lyric from that song:
And he said “God, make it a dream!”
as he rode his last ride down.
I’m pretty sure that Wee Hughie Campbell can relate…
Previously, in The Boys: For several years, tensions between the rogue CIA faction known as The Boys and the world’s most powerful super-team have been balanced on a razor’s edge. The Homelander (who is quite clearly NOT Clark Kent, nope, nope, not unless you squint) has put into motion his own still-unclear-but-obviously-nefarious plan, while Butcher and his team have been rocked by the changes in power after the death-by-misadventure of President Dakota Bob, leaving the half-witted Vic the Veep (himself only a pawn of Vought-American) as the leader of the free world. Every character in this book, from Director Rayner to seldom-named Man From Vought-American, is about to have their worldview knocked askew, and since it’s a Garth Ennis joint, I’m expecting a hefty body count.
THE EVE OF BATTLE…
Last issue ended with The Boys being confronted by Paralactic, a team of cyborgs with artificial limbs, and the promise of carnage hung in the air… Hilariously, this issue opens with that battle already done (and the implication that it was a pretty short one, to boot) as Butcher calls out, “Hang on, ain’t anyone left one o’ these $&@$# alive?” Heh. Frenchie, Butcher, Mother’s Milk and the Female have literally torn their attackers apart, while Hughie hid under a desk. I get a very scary feeling as the art (Russ Braun again, leaving me half-convinced that Darick Robertson is never returning to interiors) focuses on an enraged Mother’s Milk repeatedly batters a clearly-dead cyborg til there’s nothing but a fine red mist splashing about, but it’s nothing compared to the first scenes of Vic the no-longer-the-Veep in the Oval Office. CIA Director Rayner’s meeting with him is actually a meeting with his mouthpiece from V-A, and you have to appreciate Ennis’ ability to infuse menace into his dialogue. Rayner’s future is in jeopardy, and since Rayner is the one who allows the Boys to exist (albeit not entirely voluntarily), there’s trouble afoot for Butcher’s blood-thirsty band of brothers…
WHAT’S BUTCHER GOT FOR WEE HUGHIE?
Each recent issue of the Boys has felt remarkably like picking up speed towards a horrifying and unavoidable car crash that everybody sees coming. This one is no exception, as we discover that Rayner has put a mysterious file in the hands of NORAD, Frenchie & The Female have walked into a trap, and Homelander puts all his pieces in motion. Between all of that, though, Russ Braun delivers some pretty amazing explosions, decapitations, and such, and Wee Hughie finally tells the truth about what happened to him at Herogasm at the hands of Black Noir. (Here’s a hint: EWW.) The issue ends with Billy Butcher offering his pal an olive branch in the form of a man that Hughie has a grudge for, showing his own manipulative tendencies as he seems to be offering Wee Hughie the chance to kill his enemy. There’s always been a note of ambiguity to The Boys, especially about the question of who is really good and who is really evil, but this issue helps to muddy the waters further, by showing that Homelander has reservations about the impending ultra-violence, while Butcher and his team clearly do not… As the issue ends, things are even more confusing than before, and I’m left with a dreadful premonition of things to come.
THE VERDICT: SURPRISING IN A LOT OF GOOD WAYS…
The Boys has long been a favorite of mine, and I have found that the quiet issues are often some of my favorites, as we learn more about the characters’ internal realities, making their wild shenanigans and bloody lives seem less ridiculous. For the book that vowed to out-Preacher Preacher, Ennis has always imbued this title with deep character and bits of humanity that even ground lunatics like the Homelander somewhat. The problem comes in that as the series progresses, the heroes are proving to be as horrifying as the villains (although whatever last month’s cover was about may put the lie to that) and I’m finding myself trusting Butcher less and less with each successive secret revealed. The Boys Sixty-Two is a good issue, though a bit conventional, but very successful in building the tension towards what I’m expecting to be a very bloody conclusion, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Which is worse, a villain with doubts or a hero with no restraint?
About Matthew Peterson
Were pop culture a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Matthew still 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.