Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Boys Book 2: Get Some (#7-14)

"Comics mate.  They rot your brain" - Billy Butcher

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.
Introducing Tek-Knight
GET SOME - This arc begins with Tek-Knight in therapy because he can't stop fucking things.  He's a member of a group called Payback and his position is in jeopardy due to his amorous actions.  When they were flying home from a successful mission he became fascinated with fellow member Mind-Droid's arse and the inevitable happened even though they were in mid-air.  He's been suspended but his urges haven't stopped.

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.
The Legend.
Speaking of Tek-Knight, in an effort to remove temptation he sends his current ward Laddio away on a quest to visit all the other superhero groups.  Laddio leaves and Tek-Knight is left kneeling on the floor whimpering:

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.
They go inside and talk to the bartender, and we find out here that Billy is teetotal.  The barman is called Paul Drake, and he says he thought Stephen was confused and vulnerable.  "And extremely fuckable let's not deny it" snaps Paul's boyfriend Max.  He then stalks out saying Stephen is "back from the grave to torment us all over again".  Paul tells them that Swingwing would come and do community outreach work with them and Paul would try and talk with him.  Paul doesn't know if Swingwing is gay or not, but he doesn't think much of him personality-wise.

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.
Hughie and Billy barge into Tek-Knight's mansion.  Tek-Knight is not in his costume and strenuously denies being Tek-Knight until Billy finds the book in his library that opens up his secret lair.  He tells Tek-Knight that a member of Payback they tangled with in the past over beating his girlfriend told them Tek-Knight's secret identity.  Hughie has other problems, he desperately needs the toilet.  Tek-Knight points him in the direction of the restroom.

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.
Oh Hughie..
Then Paul and Max show up.  Hughie goes outside to talk to them, and Max confesses he saw where Swingwing got changed and on the fateful night sent Stephen to go and talk to him.  Paul then stomps off leaving Max protesting that he didn't want Stephen to get hurt.  Hughie returns to the office and Billy shows him the front of the New York Post which has a front page headline about Tek-Knight being gay for assaulting his butler, who did in fact decide to be indiscreet.

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.
Defeated, Tek-Knight says that neither he nor Swingwing are gay.  The reason he told them so and why things went bad between him and Swingwing was because of what happened during a threesome he had with Swingwing and the female anti-hero The Talon.

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."
Swingwing, finally.
Swingwing tries to escape but Hughie chases him down and beats him into submission.  Finally Swingwing admits that Stephen confronted him on the room where he changed and told him he was in love with him.  This triggered a homophobic panic response in Swingwing and in the scuffle, Stephen was knocked off the roof.  Turns out Swingwing hates homosexuals, Vought-American force him to be the gay friendly supe but he thinks they are "filthy disease ridden faggot scum."

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.
Later still, in the nearby park, Hughie tells Paul what happened.  We also find out that Swingwing is dead, killed by a jetpack malfunction.  Alex is lurking sadly nearby and Hughie tells Paul he had no way of knowing what Swingwing was really like.  Hughie then sees them making up from the office window.

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
They go on to a local bar and a great bear of a man greets Billy with a hug.  He also greets the others but is careful not to touch The Female as he is missing two fingers from making that mistake before.  His name is Vasilii Vorishikin, and is in fact a Russian supe called "Love Sausage", but he is an old friend of Billy's despite that.

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..
Stillwell and Little Nina continue their discussion.  She wants to know why the supes heads have been exploding.  Stillwell says that the compound was refined enough to give 98 per cent control.  Nina asks what the US government will do, Stillwell says governments change.  Nina says no one will vote for the cretinous Vice President but Stillwell says the next US election need not be a concern of hers.

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.
Billy tells him to phone Nina and tell her he has done the job, but the man refuses saying Nina will kill him.  As Billy starts to torture the man further Hughie can't deal with it and goes into the backroom to share some more horrible vodka with Vas.  On the TV Vas is watching is a man called Josef Chemenko. A leader who wants a return to communist ways.  Hughie wonders if Vas supports him.

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.
Back in the car Bily muses that someone has convinced Nina she can pull off a coup.  He also wonders where he has seen the American who was meeting with her before.  Later Billy visits Little Nina's aeroplane and finds a man in there putting C4 explosive in the cockpit.  Billy tells him to stop and then questions him about why he is doing this and what can he tell him about Stillwell's involvement. 

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.
The rest of the villains are arguing in a place nearby, when Vas comes crashing through the skylight. He takes out the rest of the shooters an chase after the final one through a strip club, but "titties are like kryptonite" to the Love Sausage and Hughie chases the man down and intimidates him into telling him Nina is back at the hotel.  He reasons that Vought-American have cut their losses and pulled out and Nina will probably follow.

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.
As they leave on the plane, Billy keeps humming a tune he's had stuck in his head since blowing up the supes.  He asks what it is, and Frenchie tells him it's the Ode To Joy.  Something that once you know how the series pans out becomes a piece of ominous foreshadowing.  The volume closes with Stillwell on a plane and speaking to The Homelander over the phone.  They plan on killing Josef Chemenko in a few months time to tie off a loose end, and his conversation ends with him telling the Homelander to "grow a pair".

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.

4 comments:

  1. I'm making up for my Dragon Age induced tardiness. Expect another on thursday and the rest in May, so as I can devote all of June to 2000AD collections and related stuff.

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  2. thas cool, i really like the next volume, some good character stuff and the vaught-american history lesson really fills things out. wondering if you'll include the infamous panel... ;D

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  3. If it's the one involving Hughie, then yep, it's already scanned and on my hard drive!

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