To quickly recap, The Boys is set in an alternate world where superheroes exist and are mostly venal, corrupt and selfish in their desires, while they are overseen by the company Vought-American who handle their publicity and marketing, the common term for them is the slightly contemptous "Supe" and believe me, most of these "heroes" deserve your contempt. Policing them is a CIA backed group called "The Boys" led by roughly aimiable Londoner Billy Butcher, African American "Mother's Milk", a supposed Frenchman called "Frenchie" and a non-speaking young Japanese woman called "The Female". In the previous book, a meek Scotsman called Hughie was inducted in their ranks after one of the supes caused the death of his girlfriend. After an injection of Compound V, he's become strong enough and tough to fight with supes, unfortunately the first time he does so he accidentally kills his attacker. This collection is made up of two arcs, the first is Garth Ennis having a pop at Batman, the second sees the supe menace is a global one as The Boys travel to Russia to investigate some renegade supe activity.
Before we start, just to clarify, although Black Noir fulfills the Batman position in The Seven, we find very little out about him bar that he's marketed as the "edgy" one. This version is much more on the nose. He has no intrinsic powers although he has a mechanical suit giving him powers like Iron Man and is a member of the Avengers parody group "Payback". But he has a ward called "Laddio" (Robin) and a grown one called "Swingwing" (Nightwing), plus an frenemy who has a close resemblance to Catwoman. Anyway, the story kicks off with him seeing a therapist for a tricky problem.
Tek-Knight: "Since then it's been a side of beef, my neices chinchilla, a hole I found in the wall of my cave. Doctor, what am I going to do?"
However his therapy comes to an abrupt end when his therapist leaves the room for a moment and Tek-Knight tries to have sex with his cup of coffee.
We then join The Boys as Hughie takes delivery of his uniform. He wonders why they wear them and Billy says "so we look like a packa scary, hard bastards". He then takes Hughie to meet The Legend (an affectionate tribute to Stan Lee) a little old man who lives in the basement of a comic shop and knows everything about supes, and is just as devoted to policing them as Billy is. He's got a job for them, his sister's grandson was thrown off a rooftop six months ago and rumour has it he was the gay lover of a supe called "Swingwing" - Tek Knight's former ward.
Tek-Knight: "In the name of God Almighty, isn't there anyone who can help me?"
In a cafe, Hughie read up on Swingwing's comicbook adventures. He is played up as the gay-friendly hero, Hughie thinks the comic is stupid. Then Billy shows him a photo of the boy whose death they are investigating, an eighteen year old called Stephen Rubenstein. Billy confesses he has no idea where Swingwing is, so that area of investigation is closed at the moment. The decide to interview some of Stephen's friends.
We return to Tek-Knight who's butler has just quit on him because Tek-Knight had sex with his ear. He promises to be discreet, but feels he cannot stay. Hughie and Billy arrive a Stephen's local gay bar. Hughie is a bit nervous about going in and Billy mocks him saying he might attract "some dirty old chicken hawk in search of romance."
|Paul and Alex.|
Tek-Knight is communicating with someone from The Seven in the hope he can join, but his little problem has been leaked to them by a "little friend of yours" and not Laddio. Back with The Boys, Hughie and Mother's Milk share a drink and Hughie admits he can't stop thinking about Blarney Cock, the supe he accidentally killed in the previous collection. M.M tells Hughie he doesn't regret any of the deaths he's caused as part of The Boys and neither should Hughie. Hughie wonders some more about Billy and M.M gives him some friendly advice regarding him.
Mother's Milk: "Everything he does or says serves whatever's he got planned. He doesn't waste nothin'. Not time, not words, not effort, not even a Goddamn smile."
Thus warned Hughie and Billy go to visit Tek-Knight. Billy says they never had any contact with Tek-Knight during The Boys first incarnation, despite his gritty reputation in reality he was just... boring.
|Paying Tek-Knight a visit.|
Billy questions Tek-Knight about Swingwing. Tek-Knight says Swingwing is gay and was probably sleeping with Paul as he likes younger men. Hughie finds the restroom is locked and does a poo on the floor instead. Tek-Knight then throws them out and the rest of The Boys except for the Female have a good laugh about the poo incident.
They wonder if Tek-Knight was jealous of Swingwing's boyfriends and decide they need to talk to him out of his suit and in a position where he can't turn his base defences on them. They infiltrate his lair and Billy distracts Tek-Kight long enough for The Female to wreck his suit and beat him down.
|Negociation, Female style.|
Tek-Knight: "Part of me can't believe what's happening. All I can think is.. don't look at his face. Don't look at his face, don't look at his face."
Swingwing: "Suck it baby. Suck his big bamboo"
Tek-Knight: "And it's all downhill from there."
Billy sarcastically tells him he's been very enlightening and they leave a broken Tek-Knight behind. Now they at least have Swingwing's address and Hughie and Billy go and wait for him. Swingwing arrives home to find them in his flat. He denies knowing Stephen, but an angry Hughie says to him:
Hughie: "Six months ago that boy was found lyin' dead on the fuckin' street. D'you know the look he had on his face? Misery - not fear - misery."
Billy says Swingwing will pay for this by becoming an informer for him, but as he says so he surruptiously removes a screw from Swingwing's jetpack. Later in a cafe, Hughie and Billy talk about the case. Hughie says no one really cared about Stephen, even The Legend seemed not be bothered much by who killed his sister's grandson. Billy reveals that The Legend doesn't have a sister and maybe he saw a kid with no one to speak for him and decided to do something about it.
|Swingwings missing screw.|
Hughie: "What is it about love stories you know?"
Billy: "Two people finding each other."
The arc ends with Tek-Knight saving a woman from a wheelbarrow dropping from a building site above. This turns into a full blown fantasy where he saves the world by fucking an asteroid. The final page shows Hughie reading in a paper that Tek-Knight is dead, killed by the falling wheelbarrow and the coroner found a fist-sized tumor in his brain, which explains his abherrant behaviour.
GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN - The next arc begins with The Boys flying to Russia. We also meet the primary antagonist of the arc, a woman called Little Nina who has a fondness for huge sextoys and is leader of the feared Russian mob. Monkey (their CIA liason) picks up The Boys, he has a fetish for disabled women, so happens to be in the vicinity due to the womens paralympic exhibition games taking place nearby.
|Vas, the Love Sausage|
Finally Billy tells them why they are in Moscow. Supes have been appearing and then their heads explode. They weren't shot so how it happened remains a total mystery. Billy thinks it might be related to a version of Compund V that did the same, but it was too unstable and difficult to predict when it would go off. Vas says he can get them into the morgue to check the bodies as he still has some pull with local law enforcement. Vas then pours them all some vodka which none of them bar Hughie drinks, because it's foul and made with brake fluid.
Little Nina meanwhile is meeting a representative of Vought-American who is never directly named but by a process of elimination seems to be called Stillwell. In the morgue The Boys confirm there was no shooting involved, while Vas tells Hughie that he misses the old communist regime. He then sends a flunky out for a pizza which is delivered with the flunky's torn off face decorating it.
|I prefer anchovies on mine but whatever..|
Elsewhere Little Nina's men are watching Hughie and Billy having a fake argument over the face-pizza. This distracts them enough that Frenchie is able to sneak up on them and attack them, he kills one and the other is dragged into the bar for questioning. Inside Billy breaks the man's arm and he confesses he works for Little Nina. He was sent to kill them and all he knows is that Nina is gathering supes and working with an American man.
|Vas and Hughie bond.|
Vas: "I love communism. I long for the return of communism. But before I tie my soul to such a man. I must be sure of him."
This makes Hughie look very thoughtful. Later on having got the hotel location out of the man sent to kill them, Billy and Hughie follow Little Nina, while Mother's Milk bribes the hotel barman to point out the American she was meeting. Billy and Hughie follow Nina back to a huge warehouse which turns out to be filled with a a hundred and fifty supes. They quickly leave and Billy wonders "is this lunatic fuckin' slapper tryin' for a coup?"
|Nina and her supe army.|
The action jumps forwards to Billy back at Vas's bar (who is cooking a big pan of Borscht), and he tells the rest of The Boys what he learned. The American works for Vought-American, Nina has told all the supes she has gathered that she is going to pull a coup. But actually when the supes are running riot in the Kremlin she'll use the trigger she's been given to set off the explosive Compound V, save the day and become a major political player. But she's been double-crossed as well, the trigger she has is useless, Vought-American don't want her in charge. But before he can elaborate further he passes out, as do the rest of The Boys bar Hughie and Vas.
The borscht was poisoned. Hughie panics and blames Vas for it, but Vas kills the gunmen who rush in to finish the job, proving he is innocent. Vas then reasons that the horrible vodka he and Hughie have been drinking must have saved them somehow. The others will survive, but Vas decides it's time for the Love Sausage to make a comeback and team up with Hughie to take their adversaries down.
|He's called Love Sausage for a reason ladies.|
She is sitting angrily on her aeroplane and as it takes off she pulls out an enormous vibrator. Cut to picture of a huge explosion taking place on board. This is due to the bomb Billy put inside the sex toy. A recovering Billy says they have Vought-American bang to rights with all the surveillance gear and explosives they supplied the Russians. Apparently the real detonator was given to a man called Josef Chemenko in the hope he'd get into power and restart the Cold War which Vought-American would use supes to police. Vas is left feeling depressed at this news.
Vas: "Fucking games, little Hughie. Does no one care about the people anymore?"
Billy meets with Monkey and to his disbelief is told that Rayner doesn't want to pursue the case against Vought-American any further at this point. An angry Billy goes to the warehouse and uses the real trigger to set off the Compound V and one hundred and fifty supes die in a messy headsplosion.
|Achiement Unlocked: Headsplosion.|
And thus ends the second volume. The first arc treats the Batman parody with some grudging generosity and unlike the rest of the supes who act according to their selfish desires he goes out of his way to resist what is happening to him and even manages to die heroically. The treatment of gay men is actually very sympathetic, despite some of Billy's more un-PC language. The homophobe is punished, the gay couple get back together. It could have been ghastly and insensitive, but actually it's rather touching and sweet. The second arc is where we see primary antagonists Vought-American make their first serious moves in introducing supes into political life, a struggle that will remain consistent throughout the rest of the series. Vas is a stereotype but manages to rise above that with his interactions with Hughie and we will be seeing him again, proving that not all supes are automatically the enemy.