Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Boys Book 11: Over The Hills With The Swords Of A Thousand Men (#60-65)

"You fucking fucking fuck you fucked my life!!" - The Homelander

It's all coming to a head now. This penultimate arc is six issues long. Vought-American, the corrupt multinational company that created and manages the artifically created superhumans, is seeing it's plan for superheroes as part of national defence reach fruition thanks to the Vice President being in their pocket and much support in the corridors of power.  Meanwhile The Homelander, leader of the premier superteam The Seven has his own plan to seize power in the name of helping Vought but really just for his own amusement and has tricked many other supes into going along with him.  Finally The Boys, the empowered team of five who are backed by the CIA to deal with superhero related problems, are about to uncover the ultimate Vought-American secret. At the same time, Billy Butcher, their leader is on course to finally face off against The Homelander, the supe who raped his wife and caused her later death thanks to a superpowered foetus bursting out of her one night.  How will Billy survive such a confrontation when he is so totally outmatched?  Read on.

It begins with the President of the United States "Dakota Bob" Schaeffer groaning about having to spend some time meeting kids with unusual pets with the moronic "Vic The Veep" Vice President.  His assisstant is telling him that they have been switching the men in his security team around regularly to make sure Vought's men are kept out.  Bob says it doesn't do much for his confidence that he could be surrounded by men with a vested interest in NOT taking a bullet for him or even pulling the trigger themselves.
The soon-to-be-late President.
He and Vic go and speak to the children.  One of them has a wolverine in a cage called Tommy.  Vic The Veep opens the cage and the wolverine flies out and attacks the President's face.  It keeps biting and clawing and when his security team can finally shoot it safely, he is utterly dead due to missing most of his face.

Meanwhile at Boys HQ, Mother's Milk lets out a stream of obscenities and pitches his PC and desk out of the window before storming off out.  Wondering what set him off, Hughie, Frenchie and Billy log onto the last website he visited.  It is a porn site and there is a picture of two women holding onto one man.

Hughie: "What..?"

Billy: "Well the useless fuckin' crackhead cunt slag hangin' off the dickhead - that's his wife.  An' the other one..."

Hughie: "Aw no, that's Janine!  That's his wee girl!"

Billy: "The dirty fuckin' slapper got her doin' mother-daughter porn."

Billy says this is just what he doesn't need right now.  He needs MM "switched on".  He then leaves saying he'll be back tommorrow.
Mother's Milk is displeased.
Stillwell is on an aeroplane, talking on the phone.  He says he feels somewhat cheated that a complex paramilitary operation has been rendered unessessary by a "halfwit and a carnivorous animal."  He says it's time to bring in Team Titanic.

On The Seven's base, The Deep and A-Train are discussing their disposability after the death of Jack From Jupiter.  The Homelander comes in and tells them to get lost as he needs the room.  When they have gone he uses his X-Ray vision to see Queen Maeve putting the bugs back in and he grins to himself.  Then the people he summoned arrive, they are are parody of a Rob Liefeld style 90's superteam called "Paralactic".
About time the Image era got a kicking
We then cut to Hughie and Annie in bed together.  Hughie is apologising to her.  Everytime he tries to even kiss her, he gets an image of her performing oral sex on A-Train and the others.  He says he's been dreaming about it as well.  She sighs and says he seems to want to "wallow in it" she tells him to "sort it out.  Please."

At MM's house he gets a phonecall from Janine.  She apologises for what happened, she just wanted to get back at him that was all.  She's got away from her mom, and is safe, but she doesn't want him to find her just yet, and she promises "I'm never going near mom again."

Stillwell is back at Vought headquarters and introduces Jess to Team Titanic, a superteam made up of leftovers from other superteams.  Stillwell tells them their orders are to protect him and to also protect Jess, saying she is "important to the future of this company".  She smiles to herself upon hearing this.
Team Titanic.
On The Seven's base, A-Train and The Deep are leaving.  The Homelander talking with "those fucking maniacs" was the last straw.  Watching them on his phone via the bugs, Billy says "good girl, yer majesty" to himself.  Later MM returns and apologises for his behaviour.  Bily says it's OK and they get down to business.  Vought haven't made a move against them yet even though they are in charge now via Vic The Veep.  Billy says it's back to checking the surveillance with a fine tooth comb.

Stillwell and Jess are having a meal together in a restaurant.  Jess wants to know how much disbanding The Seven will affect revenue streams.  Stillwell says The G-Men (see book 4) and Payback (see book 6) are still earning them a lot of money.  By the time the public realise they won't be coming back the defence contracts will have kicked in.  Jess wonders how they'll deal with The Homelander.  Stillwell says a sanction against him is in place and he'll tell her what it is later.
It's a trap!
Back with The Boys and MM makes a discovery.  The mysery code that's been bugging him was actually O-O-O not zero-zero-zero.  He says to call The Legend because if he can get into the Vought system with that code:

Mother's Milk: "I just might give you Black fuckin' Noir on a plate."

Hughie then tells Billy he wants nothing more to do with the violence.  He'll investigate and plant bugs and so on but he's "no fuckin' hurtin' folk ever again."  Billy rolls his eyes at this saying they've been down this road before, but Hughie says he means it, the violence stays with him in a way it doesn't for the others.  Before they can talk further, Paralactic burst in through the door.

In the gap between issues, The Boys (except for Hughie who cowers under a desk) utterly destroy Paralactic.  One of them is still alive and tells them Vought sent them before his self destruct is tripped and he blows up.  Meanwhile, CIA Director Rayner is summoned to the Oval Office.  Vic The Veep just sits there looking gormless, while a Vought employee tells Rayner that all CIA activity bar counter-terroism is suspended for now.
Vic the Ve.. President.
Back with The Boys and Hughie decides to confess something.  He tells them at Herogasm (book 5), Black Noir found him and stuck his thumb up his arse.  He also 'fesses up to taking Queen Maeve's file from Doc Peculiars and tells them about The Homelander tricking Maeve into having sex with Black Noir.  And that might be why she first agreed to put the bugs in for them.  When Billy asks him what he wanted the file for, he goes bright red:

Billy: ".. you do realise that if this is what saves the day it'll be 'cos you was after pictures for a wank."

And The Female lets out a joyful laugh, the first time she's been heard to make any noise, much to the rest of The Boy's surprise.
Rayner calls Billy and tells him about the blanket suspension. Billy wonders if The Seven are being held back for "somethin' fuckin' horrible" and asks if she handed the file over to the airforce, the one that contained information in how to adjust missiles so they could home in on Compound V enhanced brains (see book 9).  She says she handed it over to NORAD.  She asks if he is going to hit back at Vought and he says he has sent in the "experts."

Frenchie and The Female infiltrate Vought HQ via the roof.  Inside Team Titanic, Stillwell and Jess Bradley are all hanging about.  One of Team Titanic mentions The Homelander having a plan and assumes Vought know about it.

Stillwell: ".. pretend just for a second, that I don't know what you're talking about."
That's how you make an entrance in style.
Before the conversation can go any further, Frenchie and The Female crash through the skylight and start fighting Team Titanic.  Back with Hughie and Billy, Billy takes him up on the roof saying he knows Hughie doesn't want to be part of the rough stuff but:

Billy: "If this don't work, I bleedin' well give up."

On the Seven's base, The Homelander finalises his plan over the phone and then says to himself:

The Homelander: "Tommorrow, the sun rises on a different world."

Then all of a sudden he rushes to the toilet so fast he smashes through the cubicle door, and vomits.  He then starts whimpering to himself, "oh Jesus, what have I done?"

As an army of supes descend upon the Whitehouse, Hughie is face-to-face with A-Train.  Billy starts playing a recording of when A-Train returned to the base after killing Hughie's girlfriend by mistake way back in book one. This sends Hughie into a rage and he starts shouting at A-Train about how much she meant to him, while A-Train just hysterically pleads for his life.

Billy says there is no point in speeches, "best thing to do is just get it fuckin' on with."  Hughie is still reluctant, so Billy plays him the recording of the male members of The Seven picking out Annie as someone they could sexually exploit:

Billy:  "for the last fuckin' time.  They think we're shit."

And this pushes Hughie over the edge of reason and he kicks A-Train's head clean off his shoulders.
Billy really is a magnificent bastard.
At the same time Frenchie and The Female are fighting Team Titanic.  A powerblast severs one of Frenchie's arms off, and a stricken Female rips one of Team Titanic's member's ribcage out in retaliation.  Stillwell calmly tells Team Titanic to stand down.  He believes Vought and The Boys have been the victim of a hoax. He believes they were set up to keep each other busy while another's plans reached fruition.

On The Seven's base, Annie is packing to leave.  A melancholy Queen Maeve says it's alright for Annie, she has someone.  Annie wonders if she still does, and supposes she'll just have to take that risk.  As they walk into the bay area, The Homelander confronts them.  He tells them he has a plan in place.  Maeve says this has nothing to do with his plan.

The Homelander: "No, this is personal.  You know what I'm going to do to you."

Queen Maeve grabs Annie and hurls her into the sky outside the base.  She charges The Homelander and brings her sword down on his head.  It shatters.  Her decapitated head goes flying past Annie at speed and she flies away in terror.
Queen Maeve sacrifices herself.
At Boys' HQ, they are watching the news coverage of the supes gathering at various government buildings.  Frenchie calls Billy and puts Stillwell on the phone to him.  Stillwell says that The Homelander has managed to persuade the majority of supes to seize the control of the government in the name of Vought.  He says Vought had no such plan of violence and could Billy's team take a back seat while they try and sort this out.

Billy says nope, and hangs up on Stillwell, then he tells MM to give the media every single bit of dirt they have collected on the supes over the years, including the photos of The Homelander killing the family, to the mass media.  When Hughie asks what he's doing:

Billy: "Goin' to Washington.  You had your turn Hughie.  Now I'm havin' mine."

Billy and Hughie are on a plane.  Hughie is watching the news with all the coverage their release of their files has provoked as well as the fact Washington is crawling with supes.  Billy says to Hughie:

Billy: "All I've been doin' is trynna toughen you up mate.  I just can't stand the thought of you gettin' hurt.  'Cos this fuckin' world'll eat you alive if you let it."
The Homelander pays Stillwell a visit.
We get a quick look at the airforce loading up with specially adapted missiles, then it's over to Stillwell's office where the Homelander is confronting him.  The Homelander observes that Billy has let the cat out of the bag.  Stillwell says he can't imagine how many years of careful planning he's wrecked.  The Homelander says he was never going to be invited to the party once the defence contracts were in place.  He checks Stillwell's heartbeat:

The Homelander: "Still eighty over sixty.  You're about to be torn limb from limb and you're completely calm.  I think I've finally met a superhuman."

Stillwell insults the Homelander calling his actions "a spoiled child's personal Auschwitz".  Then he goes to throw himself out of the window.  The Homelander gets angry and tells him not to fuck around.  Stillwell just repeats "Kill me now" at him. Finally The Homelander leaves shouting at Stillwell to keep watching.

Stillwell: "I will believe me.  Or I would if I thought you had something worth seeing."

At The Whitehouse, the gathered supes are wondering why Vic hasn't released a statement due to the support they are giving him and Vought.  They believe the massing army is Dakota Bob loyalists.  A reporter comes up to Oh Father and asks him about the evidence of his paedophilia as released by The Boys to the media and Oh Father breaks the reporter's jaw.

Billy and Hughie arrive at the line of tanks and infantry pointing at The WHitehouse.  Bily has been given seniority there and the leader of the armed forces consults with him over the plan to take down the supes.  The Homelander was spotted dropping into the building twenty minutes previously.  Billy tosses Hughie some teabags and tells him to go make a drink.

When Billy finishes his cuppa, he gets out the crowbar he carries with him and tells Hughie he's off to confront The Homelander.  He tells one of the soldiers to shoot Hughie in the kneecaps if he tries to follow and sets off across the lawn towards The Whitehouse.
One man and his crowbar.
Mother's Milk finally gets through to Hughie by phone and asks him about Black Noir.  When Hughie says what about him?  MM says "It mighta been him all along".  He says if Butcher is going into the Whitehouse he may not be prepared for what he finds there:

Mother's Milk: "He ain't gonna find no fuckin' superhero waitin'.  He gonna be up against some other shit altogether."

Inside the Oval Office is blood smeared carnage with only The Homelander left alive.  Billy comes in and The Homelander tosses him Vic the Veep's head, observing "he did have brains after all".  Billy says there is a dickhole in the head. "Well you know how it is" smiles The Homelander.

Billy: "Impressive stuff"

The Homelander: "I'm not trying to fucking impress anyone!!"
President Homelander?
He says the world is his, he says he has a right to "take what's mine".  Billy says people are not his toys, especially one person in particular.

Outside MM is still on the phone to Hughie putting it all together.  He says Vought wanted to take no chances with The Homelander going out of control.  They can't use the threat of a bomb instead they create a being who is "better, stronger" to keep an eye on him.  That being is Black Noir.

Mother's Milk: "The Homelander's happy 'cause he's in charge.  Vought're happy because they got their livin' fuckin' weapon right next to his target.  Black Noir is happy 'cause if he ever gets the word - and this is the goddamn reason he exists - he can get the fuck to it."

Back in the Oval Office The Homelander says he remembers nothing of hurting Billy's wife, nor doing what he did in the photos.  Bily goes to belt The Homelander with his crowbar but Black Noir suddenly appears.

MM tells Hughie that The Homelander behaves himself and Black Noir slips into the background.  Shit nearly kicks off when the photos do the round, but The Homelander is a big earner and Vought are reluctant to pull the trigger.  More questions, like how did Black Noir survive 9/11 if he supposedly couldn't fly?  How did he walk unharmed from the wreckage of a burning plane?  And what would happen if you spent all your time with your target but were unable to fulfil your mission? 

Maybe you'd try and make it happen.  The final puzzle piece was in the transcripts of the file on Queen Maeve, in which The Homelander tricks her into fucking Black Noir because they are the same size and shape.  And in the Oval Office, Black Noir reveals himself to be The Homelanders identical twin.
I must admit, I never saw this coming.
Black Noir:  "I put on your silly suit and did things.  So many things they'll never know.  Lovely things I liked so much."

He explains he killed the family and sent the photos to Billy and Vought.  The Homelander is gobsmacked and says he would never have done the things he's done if he hadn't thought himself somehow capable of what he did in the photos.

The Homelander: "Oh Jesus Christ Almighty.  Do you know what this means?"

Billy: "It means you turned yourself into a fuckin' psychopath by mistake."

The Homelander and Black Noir start brawling with The Homelander screaming at Black Noir about how he ruined his life.  Billy makes his getaway back to the army line and the military start their assault on the supes.   The adapted homing missiles prove very adept at blowing the supes out of the sky. 
Billy's final revenge.
And finally all that's left is the almost skeletal body of Black Noir staggering out of the Whitehouse dragging part of the dead Homelander with him.  The military open fire on him and force him to his knees.  Billy walks over to him and using his crowbar, opens up Black Noirs skull, scoops out his brain and squishes it.  Killing Black Noir for good.

Billy: "Oh Becky.  I'm sorry love.  That ain't what you would've wanted at all.  That was a hundred percent me.  You would've have hated what I've done with me life.  An' what I'm gonna do next...you'd hate most of all."

Well, that was an epic ending to the Homelander/Vought plot and we're not done yet.  Seven more issues to go.  It's great seeing how plot elements seeded through the previous books paid off in this one.  The oddness surrounding Black Noir was finally explained, the reason why The Homelander couldn't recall some of the dreadful things he had done, and I almost felt sorry for him thinking he was schizophrenic when in fact it was Black Noir trying to provoke events into allow him to fulfil his mission and destroy The Homelander.  Queen Maeve's death was very sad.  Although not a main character it was interesting to see how she developed from a one-dimensional sex mad lush into a severe PTSD sufferer who reached out tentatively to Annie and ended up sacrificing her life to save her.  Billy finally got his revenge after years of hating the wrong person, and he restates that he's not done it in Becky's name because she'd have hated it, but it was all selfishly for his own sake.  With most of the major supes dead, Vought disgraced, and no President or Vice President left in power, what is left to make up the final arc in the series?  Well there's been another conspiracy brewing since Book 2 ended and events will reach their explosive climax in the last book of the series. Don't miss it!


  1. that twist with black noir was the coolest! he desrved to get his brain squished after all he did.

  2. Yes on rereading the series the clues were all there, so its not just out of the blue, but the first time I read the book I was all "whoa".