Monday, December 6, 2010

VINTAGE - Good for the Soul, The Boys

Have you heard of The Boys? Well if you had, they wouldn't be doing their job very well. These five individuals, sort of freelancers that kind of work for the CIA, are called in when superheroes... well, when they don't act very heroic if you get my drift. Garth Ennis, the series' writer, really gives the finger to modern superhero culture in this book. In just one example, a supporting character known as "The Legend" - a crotchety old man who is in essence Stan Lee - swears, drinks, and throws around terms like "no prize" just so you know who he's a parody of. Fun stuff like that. The Boys are; Butcher, the leader and general sociopath (at least when it comes to heroes). Mother's Milk (or "M.M." for short), basically a guy who likes everything neat and orderly but that you really don't mess with. The Frenchman, who is often used as a kind of muscle for his tendency to go into fits of horrible murderous rage. The mute Female (of the Species) who, even with the not talking, is actually the scariest one of the bunch. Finally, Wee Hughie. A Scotsman who's girlfriend was killed with practically no regard by a speedster, he's often the voice of reason in the sea of superhero chaos. That, and he's generally a nice guy.

I read this one out of order. I accidentally got my hands on vol. 4 which is the G-Men story (a parody of The X-Men). This story follows a quiet time in The Boys' life as they recover from the vol. 2 trip to Moscow. They are revising their surveillance of The Seven (a Justice League parody). Hughie's relationship with Annie (actually the newest member of The Seven, but he doesn't know that) also intensifies when they go out on a date, then subsequently spend a first awkward night together. There's also some nice moments with insight's both into The Female, who works for the mafia, and some cryptic stuff about M.M. that I'm pretty sure is revealed more in detail later on. A backup story also reveals a little bit more about how the world of The Boys veers off from our own, specifically with what happened on their 9/11 attack when a plane flew into and subsequently destroyed the Brooklyn Bridge.

A good point is raised here. Sure, many of you reading this blog probably saw the intensely underwhelming Superman reboot movie where, in one of the movie's few good moments, show him rescue a plane full of people. Despite his difficulties, it all went rather well, didn't it? What if it didn't? This is a question raised in this story. These superheroes, despite having awesome power, really don't have any clue what they're doing. When they are placed in a life and death situation, it shows. People die. Some by their own hand, most notably when Seven member Maeve is trying to get off the plane and people won't let her. She literally has to plow through them. One member of The Seven is mortally wounded early on, another looses his head when the Homelander (a rage filled take on Superman) isn't paying attention and accidentally gets him decapitated.

I started reading these after someone suggested them. I have to say, I don't always like every decision that Ennis makes. Sometimes the series is trying too hard; we get it! It's gritty! It's adult! But I don't think people would ever swear quite that much in any situation. I really like the character of Annie in particular. I like her questioning (and even possibly losing) her faith at this point. She's really just looking for anything by the time she meets Hughie. Hughie, despite having his new vocation with the rest of The Boys, also need something else. Something human and something real. He finds that with her. The scenes with The Homelander trying to guess Butcher's motivations without the latter talking alone are kind of worth reading this tale. If you haven't checked out The Boys, try and read some. Tell me what you think.

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