Based on the cult Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson comic book series, The Boys is about an on again, off again clandestine team of deep cover agents whose job is, ostensibly, to keep a tight leash on the nation’s growing community of superheroes. These “supes”, as the Boys refer to them, are mostly affiliated with Vought-American, a vastly powerful private corporation that has its tentacles wrapped around everything from pharmaceuticals and defense contracts to movie production and a 24-hour news channel.
All of Vought’s disparate entities operate behind a ruthlessly enforced, corporation-wide, culturally “conservative” facade, infused with the sort of pseudo-populist, phony Christian “friendly fascism” with real-world echoes that should be all too familiar to anyone whose powers of perception are superior to those of the average jar of mayonnaise.
The Boys consist of Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the hot-headed, foul-mouthed leader, Frenchie, the weapons expert, Mother’s Milk, whom the others look up to as being the most pure-hearted, the Female (of the Species), who is a deadly dangerous, psychologically damaged young South Asian mute who was drugged by Vought as part of a treacherous plan to [NO SPOILERS FROM ME], and Wee Hughie, who longs for revenge against A-Train, a speedster supe (and member of the World’s Greatest Superhero Team, The Seven) who, while freaking out on a dose of the specialist supe pharmaceutical Compound V (as opposed to Compound W, America’s most popular wart removal system), ran straight through his girlfriend, accidentally exploding her like a water balloon full of blood and guts.
Meanwhile, The Seven are also important characters who get a lot of screen time in their own right, particularly team leader The Homelander, sort of a psycho-fascist cross between Superman and Captain America. There’s also the newest member of The Seven, the relatively innocent and swiftly disenchanted Starlight, who coincidentally—some might say a little too coincidentally—becomes Wee Hughie’s friend and love interest after a chance encounter in a park.
I have long been a fan of the comic book The Boys. It’s an intriguing concept—one that was tried a few years before, with far less recognition and far fewer laughs, with the 11-issue run of the DC series Stormwatch: Team Achilles (a series of which I appear to be the sole surviving fan)—and the Amazon studios version of The Boys feels like an unmitigated success to me, even if it isn’t slavishly faithful to the comics.
However, where the series truly excels, even exceeds expectations, is in how it takes the comic book’s portrayal of the prevailing political climate of illegitimate Preznit Dubya’s post-9/11, post-T.H.E.U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T.A.C.T., post-Shock-and-Awe America—the often justified paranoia and distrust engendered by all those no-bid multi-billion-dollar contracts and unaccountable mercenaries murdering carloads of innocent Iraqis and the phony rescue narrative cooked up around “kidnapped” soldier Jessica Lynch and the very suspicious “friendly fire” death of former NFL’er Pat Tillman, all of which led to the rapid rise of conspiracy theorizing as America’s new favorite pastime—and updating it for the even more horrific, post-reality, anti-truth, proof-allergic, New Fascist International(e) America, full of brainwashed, Bizzaro World, “alt”-media sheeple who think that repeating their favorite paranoid, raging, Pizzagating Q-tard Youtuber’s rants verbatim proves that they’re independent, original thinkers who “do their own research”, all of which are hallmarks of the even more illegitimate Reality TV criminal/traitor Preznit Donald Trump’s ongoing pornocratic kakistocracy.
Anyhoo, I binge-watched all eight episodes of The Boys in one day, and the entire series just flew by. Oh, and just for the record, I’m totally ready for Season Two, and hope they’ve already begun to film it, because Season One ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. RECOMMENDED!
Writers: Pacheco/Marin, Artist Jose Ladronn
Roughly three years ago, I asked the lovely folks at The Beguiling (my favorite comic book and art book specialty shoppe) to keep an eye out for a relatively rare, not-so-popular 4-issue miniseries, published in 2000, featuring Marvel Comics' THE INHUMANS. I wanted it for the art more than anything, an intriguing mix of European sensibilities (especially on the covers and splash pages) with a kind of George Perez style, economical, no nonsense approach towards propelling the narrative, punctuated with the occasional bravura action set-piece.
Well, this week, they found me three of the four issues (1, 2 and 4, as seen above)... and they let me have them for three bucks a pop! Talk about tenacity! Talk about a deal! Talk about customer service! Thanks, guys, I truly appreciate it.
Story: Kurt Busiek and Various, Art: Alex Ross and Various
I thought we were all done with Marvel Comics' reprint of their groundbreaking, Alex Ross painted miniseries MARVELS, but it looks like they decided to cap things off with an all-new epilogue, featuring another fully painted tale, set long after the finale of the original series' last issue.
The second half of this issue is jam-packed with cool extras that any fan of the series, the X-Men, Alex Ross or pretty much anything that has anything to do with Marvel Comics is going to want to have in their collection. And if you've held off buying this reprint series because you already have it as original copies and/or one of the collected volumes, you're at least going to want to have this issue to add alongside it, for completion's sake.
Story: Johnathan Hickman, Art: Pepe Larraz
Well now, this is interesting. In the late 70's/early 80's, the Uncanny X-Men were front and center as part of Marvel Comics' resurgence into the forefront of comic book readers' and superhero fans' hearts and minds. They certainly played a big part in bringing yours truly back to the rack, thanks to their combination of spectacular heroics and diverse roster of characters, from the flamboyance of Nightcrawler to the grimdark heaviness of Wolverine, and from the softhearted powerhouse of Colossus to the relatable teen-aged angst of Kitty Pryde.
This was actually the tail end of the X-Men's heyday, after the awesome heights of the Claremont/Byrne era and before the descent into 90's cash grab proliferation of new X-titles (all featuring Wolverine of course) with their multi-cover foil variant #1 "collector's editions" (with print-runs in the millions, which actually made them the exact opposite of collectible). Personally, I haven't picked up an X-Men book in ages, with the only exceptions being Morrison/Quitely's New X-Men and Whedon/Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men.
The hype around House of X (and its sister title, Powers of X) has just been so potent—with Marvel taking the unprecedented step of putting all its other X-titles on hold until these two series are completed—I couldn’t help but get sucked in. So I picked up the first issue, and now that I’ve just finished reading it… I don’t know how I feel about it. Surely that’s what the creators were going for?
First things first, for everyone who complains about how mainstream comics are too “politically correct” these days, House of X works as a pretty bracing corrective. This is a title that, with only one issue under its belt, has explored more politically incendiary and philosophically touchy areas than you’ll find in a week of the average 24-hour news channel’s programming. And the ambiguity of it all can be downright disturbing.
I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but if you buy comics and you’ve ever had any interest in Marvel’s treatment of the whole mutant-as-metaphor issue, then you should definitely at least pick up this #1 and read it, then decide whether you want to keep up with these series. They’ll be coming at us fast and thick from this point on, with a new issue of either House of X or Powers of X being produced every week until September. Again, I’d love to know what y’all think, down in the comments section. I know it’s a pain to register, but come on, man… I want some COMMENTS!
Story: Donny Cates, Art: Tradd Moore
Wow. With the first issue of this five-issue mini (reviewed in this blog last month), Cates and Moore knocked it right out of the park, past the parking lot, over the interstate, and into parts unknown. If anything, the second issue of this series tops the first in every way possible.
LITTLE BIRD #5 (of 5)
Story: Darcy Van Poelgeest, Art: Ian Bertram
From the first issue of this five-issue miniseries, I have made no secret of my love for Little Bird. The story, the artwork, the characters, the world-building, all of it. Now, as the series comes to its climax, although my admiration is undimmed, I can’t help but feel that all the disparate strands were singled up just a little too swiftly, leaving a certain level of uncertainty and confusion in its wake.