"Here's the world's most popular outcasts" - Billy Butcher
"Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother's Milk, The Frenchman and The Female are The Boys: a CIA backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most lethal force on Earth - superpower. Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them sometimes need to be taken out of the picture." So sayeth the blurb on the back of this volume. After events in the previous book Hughie has started a relationship with Annie "Starlight" January a new member of the most powerful superteam on the planet - The Seven. He does not know she's what is commonly referred to as a "supe" and she doesn't know he's part of a team policing them. This volume is the longest arc in the series, a full eight issues dealing with the strange events surrounding the "G-Men" which of course is Ennis pointing his satirical blunderbuss at The X-Men. "We Gotta Go Now" is seven issues telling the main story, and "Rodeo Fuck" is a single issue wrapping up loose ends after it. It also continues the theme of linking superheroes with sexual dysfunction although this time there is a horrifying excuse in the G-Men's pasts helping to explain it...
WE GOTTA GO NOW - The story begins with some workers loading a tonne of weaponry including flamethrowers onto a Vought-American truck. Then we go over to Hughie and Annie sleeping together in Hughies grotty hotel room. Hughie gets up and as he leaves observes the puddle of semen under the door again. Billy and CIA Director Rayner are meeting in a cafe. She says a member of the G-Men - Silver Kincaid - committed suicide yesterday morning. We are then shown a woman with white hair standing on a street corner staring, when a policeman asks what she is doing she says "Where's Uncle Paul" and then uses her gravity powers on herself to kill herself rather graphically. Vought swept in and collected the body before the CIA team got there and Rayner says it's about time they looked at Vought's number one earner. She and Billy then have sex in the cafe's bathroom.
|Silver Kincaid, kickstarting the plot with her suicide.|
Hughie: "It's all bollocks of course. There's no one of them that isn't a millionaire. I mean it's true they are orphans or ran away from home. But the closest they get to fightin' the system is being bailed out by Vought's lawyers."
Billy says a few have gone rogue in the past. Silver Kincaid took down the member Nubian, who went crazy with her lightning powers one day near Three Mile Island. He goes on to say that Godolkin's house is one place they don't have bugged. He then points at the jonior team G-Whiz, who are different from the main teams in that they genuinely like each other. They need a man on the inside and Hughie realises this means him. Later Hughie grouches that the only reason they keep him around is to laugh at him, and reveals himself in his supe outfit much to the hilarity of the rest of The Boys.
|Love the pointless, Liefeldian pouches.|
A member of G-Whiz shows Hughie round their frat house which has a small cinema totally devoted to showing porn movies, Randall asks Hughie is he wants to jerk off now and leaves Hughie speechless. Billy goes to see The Legend and they discuss Hughie and the fact The Legend created the papers that got Hughie into G-WHiz. The Legend says they should fool the G-Men long enough for Hughie to plant the bugs and skeedaddle.
Roger: "I mean, you think she lived here at some point, you're welcome to check the town records. But it ain't on the computer or nothin'. It's gonna be a lot of work."
Mother's Milk: "Well that's why they sent me. Because I am one patient motherfucka."
Later, G-Whiz drive Hughie up to the main house where the main G-Men live. All the other branches of the G-Men are coming too for Silver Kincaid's funeral. The G-Men all are rough parodies of the most famous X-men, Ennis especially dislikes Wolverine, whose counterpart here called "Groundhawk" has hammer for hands, and just walks around spitting out one word "Gonna" all the time.
|Godolkin and the G-Men.|
Hughie enters Godolkin's mansion, with Frenchie and The Female listening ready to pull him out if things go wrong. Godolkin isn't keen on supes foisted on him by Vought but lets him have a look around and Hughie starts planting bugs. In the bathroom he plants a bug behind the mirror then Nubian comes out of a cubicle saying "kill me." This gives Hughie a huge fright. Turn's out she's another undead supe resurrected by Compound V after death.
Hughie: "Why do you keep her?"
Godolkin: "Because she's my little girl. Just like the rest of them. They're my children, every last one."
Later that night, Hughie is back in the frat house and takes a glance into the porn room and is greeted by the sight of six members of the team wanking each other off.
|I enjoy a good mass debate etc.|
Monkey (Rayner's employee) is lured out of his flat by a woman in a wheelchair offering sex, which he enthusiastically responds to as he has a fetish for disabled women. But when he can't get it up, she stands up and walks away saying it's a waste of time. Bewildered, Monkey returns home and finds the hard drive of his PC gone, stolen by Billy Butcher.
The next day Hughie peeks in on G-Whiz members pissing on each other in the bathroom. he is off to meet Annie, but first he checks in with Billy on the phone. He want's to stay with G-Whiz a little longer, something isn't sitting right and he also wonders if he can stop them turning out like all the rest:
Billy: "What are you going to save them from themselves? Jesus, don't ever fall in love with a stripper Hughie."
But he agrees to allow Hughie to stay undercover for a while longer then Hughie meets Annie.
|Brunch is serious business.|
Godolkin: "When it comes to the G-Men there is simply no such word. For good or ill my children.. I just can't seem to stop."
We rejoin Hughie and Annie after a bout of alfresco sex. Annie is taking care of Jamie the hamster while Hughie is away. Annie talks about love and Hughie comments:
Hughie: "A fella I know.. my boss actually.. says it's two people findin' each other."
Annie: "Hmm. I like that. He must be quite the romantic."
Talking of Billy, he is busy searching Monkey's hardrive and finds something on it that makes him exclaim "Jesus fuckin' Christ!". Then we go over to Mother's Milk standing outside a house. He tells the man inside he's been searching the town records and found a report that the man's brother Paul shot himself in Arizona in 1982. Why? Reluctantly the man who is called Wilhelm, inside lets him in.
|Mother's Milk on the case.|
Billy: "Ol' Billy might have to kill some stupid cunt. That's all."
Wilhelm and Mother's Milk talk. He tells him that his brother Paul killed himself because of Wilhelms young daughter, Grace. He used to love spending time with her and bought her ice-cream which she loved. "Uncle Paul..." muses Mother's Milk. One day after buying her ice-cream from Desano's he left her outside while he nipped back in for his change and when he came back out she was gone. She'd been abducted. Wilhelm shows MM a photo of her, she had white hair from a fright she got as a younger kid.
Wilhelm: "Her bein' taken killed us. Left us walkin' around anyhow. So many years stretchin' out ahead of us we didn't want no part of."
Paul shot himself two years later, cancer claimed Wilhelms wife and he was left a broken shell of a man. MM let's himself out, leaving Wilhelm alone with his grief.
|An awful day for us teetotallers.|
Billy says Hughie's undercover work must come to an end as Vought are sniffing around. Hughie is disappointed as he is beginning to feel about G-Whiz that someone might have "done a bit of a number on them."
Hughie: "It's like they've no been taught boundaries, they think their bodies an' other folk's bodies're just toys...they've never been given any idea o'whats sexually appropriate."
Hughie goes on to ask how they have access to The Seven and realises they must have someone on the inside, but Billy won't say who. Hughie goes on to start asking Billy about what The Legend told him about The Homelander's birth killing the woman who bore him, but trails off as Billy glares at him.
|Guess who these two are based on..|
Billy: "Look at that. What's that?"
Hughie: "It's uh.. It's a green plastic bowler hat fill wi' sick."
Billy: "My point exactly. Happy Saint Patrick's Day Hughie."
Stillwell is on the phone to Godlokin who wants Silver Kincaid back. Some costumed children run past Godolkin and Stillwell demands to know if he's training up another Pre-Whiz? He hangs up on Godolkin and opens "Bagpipe's" file and immediately recognises Hughie.
|Hughie takes a huge risk.|
Stillwell calls his superior about the breach of security at the G-Men. Godolkin said he'd deal with Hughie in return for Silver Kincaid being resurrected. This and another Pre-Whiz being started speaks to Godolkin's mounting instability.
Stillwell: "The G-Men by their very nature - both in terms of their recruitment and manner in which they are bound together - are an atomic reactor waiting to explode. What we might find ourselves cleaning up when they do does not bear thinking about."
Stillwell's superior is still reluctant to enforce containment due to the revenue they produce. Stillwell says they should be thinking about "survival".
Later G-Whiz leave Godolkin's mansion and drive Hughie to a forested area where they confront him saying they know he's a spy and Godolkin wants them to deal with him. Hughie tries to reason with them saying they don't even want to be G-Men and don't even have to be supes, but when it becomes apparent they mean to go through with killing him, he apologises to them and Frenchie and The Female kill all but one of them.
|Frenchie and The Female prepare to murderise.|
Mother's Milk: "All that orphan-outcast-rebel-bullshit. How did that cocksucker Godolkin get you? An' what the muthafucka did he do to you to make you the way you fuckin' are?"
And it all comes out, Godolkin abducted all of them, every last one. Poor children he enticed into his car with sweets, and toys and by being "nice." When they ask to go home, he says you can't, you'll be G-Men soon and will start training...
Jamal: "And a week goes by, a month. It's like a kid's story anyhow, it's somethin' a kid can buy into."
You get a shot every week until your powers start to manifest and then you're a superhero. And one thing you are trained to do above all else is protect The G-Men. The money makes things easier and if any go off the rails, other G-Men take them out. Finally Jamal blurts out the darkest secret.
Jamal: "There's a thing that happens early on. Happens a lot. He started the first team when they were nine or ten. We were six. Sometimes I think I'll be six for the rest of my life."
Hughie: "Jesus Jamal... If he did it to the older ones, why would they let him do it to you?"
Jamal: "You stupid motherfucker. They don't say shit to him. Some of them even join in."
Hughie: "They were just wee innocent kids. An' he turns them into... into..."
Then the Nighcrawler parody teleports over and punches through Jamal's head, killing him. The Boys turn to see all of the G-Men assembled together across the otherside of the grounds. Godolkin is standing with them.
Five-Oh: "There isn't one of us said no!! There isn't one of us won't die for John Godolkin!"
Angrily Hughie starts marching towards them to administer a "spankin'". Mother's Milk follows, then Frenchie and The Female. Finally Billy says to himself that there are worse ways to go out and follows. Suddenly a large number of Vought helicopters land between the two groups. The Vought men pile out and let loose a volley of automatic weapons fire upon the G-Men turning most of them into red mist and they set the remains and the still living ones on fire with flamethrowers. Still comes out to a (for once) shocked Billy and says:
Stillwell: "Just so as you know. We can clean up our own shit."
Billy: "Fuck me."
|Takes a lot to shock even Billy.|
Mother's Milk goes to tell Wilhelm the truth about what happened to his daughter. He admits to Roger the local cop that he knows how Wilhelm feels, as his daughter was taken from him once, but a friend helped get her back for him. Billy confronts Monkey saying he knows Rayner was in contact with Silver Kincaid and how long for? Three years apparently, and Billy is very angry that he didn't know this.
Stillwell meets with The Homelander and says that now The Seven are Vought's number one earners and there will have to be changes to things like costumes and backstories. The Homelander wants to go after Butcher, but Stillwell says the stuff Billy has on The Homelander could bury him twenty times over. But maybe they could go after one of the other Boys.
|Such a cute couple.|
Hughie; "Aww God. Just hold onto us, Annie will you? Please just hold on tight."
The volume finishes with Billy and Rayner having sex. As they do so, Billy tells Rayner that if she ever puts one of them in the firing line again without the full facts, he'll come to her house and kill her family and then her...
Overall this is a very strong arc. The sense of "wrongness" about the G-Men and Godolkin's proclivities are built up subtly during the seven issues, and although it seems obvious in retrospect it was a real "penny finally dropped" moment for me when I read Jamal's confession. And it's handled perfectly gently when it all comes out, no humour or anything, the ruination of so many lives encapsulated by Jamal's pathetic admission that he think's he'll be six for the rest of his life because of it. Ennis is great at the killer line and that particular one is like a knife in the guts. Vought-American are shown as knowing what was going on, but lest we think Stillwell is heroic for wanting Godolkin stopped, the fact he has all the G-Men brutally killed puts paid to that idea. No saving these abuse victims, even though Hughie once agains shows his humanity by trying in a small way to stop G-WHiz becoming like the rest and showing empathy, which is something Billy lacks, allowed him to realise something was terribly wrong with them, when all Billy can see is just another bunch of supes. His mild PTSD afterwards and need for Annie shows how quickly the pair of them have become the emotional heart of the comic, balancing out the black nihilism elsewhere and shows that Hughie still hasn't learned to accept the violence that comes with being part of The Boys. His essential "Hughiness" remains intact despite Billy's attempts to mould him. Lest we think things are getting to grim though, join me in a few days for a lighter look at a Crisis Crossover, The Boys style, in Herogasm.