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Boys #8

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2007
By: David Wallace



"Get Some: Part Two"

Writers: Garth Ennis
Artists: Darick Robertson (p & i), Tony Aviņa

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment


It's interesting to see The Boys, in its first two issues since parting company with DC Comics, turn in two of its tamest instalments to date. By tame, I mean that there's not nearly as much graphic sex, violence or language as in the previous Wildstorm issues - but that doesn't stop writer Garth Ennis from effectively exploring some pretty dark corners of the superhero community's dark underbelly, and the self-restrained approach actually makes for a far more enjoyable read.

Indeed, it's proof of Ennis' writing ability that this issue can be as entertaining a parody of superhero comics as previous issues without relying on shock value to carry the book, and the writer also manages to flesh out his characters considerably amongst the piss-takes of the storytelling conventions of the genre. Hughie and The Butcher's investigation of a superhero-related murder in the gay community allows Ennis to examine the subject of homophobia in a genre which has often carried a strong homo-erotic subtext, turning the stereotype of The Butcher's hard-man image on its head with his surprising lack of prejudice, and showing up some of the hypocrisies of Hughie's outwardly liberal worldview through his evident discomfort in the presence of homosexual men.

However, Ennis remembers to keep things funny too, tempering the direct commentary on the bombast of superhero comics of the opening pages with some broader touches of absurd humour such as the game of reverse-strip-poker, or the innuendo of (Batman analogue) Tek-Knight's direction of his irresistible sexual urges towards his butler. Darick Robertson also maintains a fine balance between realism and exaggeration in his artwork, capturing true-to-life facial expressions and convincing environments, but clearly having fun with the more fantastical elements too, remembering to include little touches (like the tiny flying "Superman" silhouette in the background of one panel) which remind us that this isn't the real world any more than the Marvel or DC universes are.

Whilst I definitely prefer the more subtle "less is more" approach that we've seen over the last couple of issues of The Boys to the empty shock tactics of the first few, there's a sense that not a huge amount happens this issue. However, it lays some important groundwork for the arc, giving us lots of new character information (I particularly appreciated the extended focus on Mother's Milk, who looks to be one of The Boys' most complex and interesting members) and setting up a fun confrontation between Hughie, The Butcher and Tek-Knight next issue. The last few issues of this book have done a lot to convince me that it's capable of more than just a one-note joke about the ridiculousness of superhero comics, and as Ennis has continued to add texture to the initially two-dimensional characters, I've found myself becoming more invested in where their story goes next.



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