Let's Hear It For The Boys


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Usually, being banished from one of the Big Two is the kiss of death. But The Boys have done so well that it’s becoming a franchise, with a spinoff hitting tomorrow.

When The Boys debuted for DC imprint Wildstorm in 2006, Garth Ennis set a high goal for the series. In a oft-quoted snippet, he said that he intended for his new series to “out-Preacher Preacher”

This was a reference to his most famous work, the Vertigo series where a Texas preacher became imbued with the Voice of God. This series was legendary for its ultraviolence, it’s embracing of sex and nudity, and its pitch black yet at the same time off-color humor. There were no sacred cows in Preacher. Suicide, religion, and politics were all fair game for a skewering. And under Ennis’ expert hand, there was a great story wrapped around this dissection.

The Boys took Ennis’ trademark violence, sex and black, scatological humor to an absurd level. The title focused on five, black-ops operatives who are charged with keeping the world’s superhero community in line. The heroes of The Boys are unlike any you see in comics anywhere. They are an example of absolute power corrupting absolutely. They believe that they could do anything and so far, they have.

I consider myself jaded as a comic reader, and it takes a lot to shock me. And The Boys managed to shock me. I was still entertained, because there was good storytelling in the series, but I was still shocked. And I was not the only one.

The series was one of the most successful books put out by Wildstorm, an imprint in search of an identity and some hit books. The Boys was ensconced well in the Diamond 100 and could be the success Wildstorm was looking for. And then it was cancelled with issue #6.

Rumors abounded as to why. The most prevalent, and the one hinted at by both Ennis and series artist Darick Robertson, was that the DC brass were uncomfortable about the raunchiness of the title. Others have claimed that what the DC brass were really upset about was the main group of heroes gone wrong that The Boys run up against—The Seven—are eerily similar to the seven DC icons, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, et al, of Morrison’s JLA. The rumor was the higher ups didn’t like their most famous properties made out to be rapists and sexual deviants.

Regardless, The Boys was cancelled. Instead of letting the concept rot away in the dustbin of history, DC/Wildstorm returned the rights to Ennis and Robertson. Soon, The Boys had a new home—Dynamite Entertainment.

Dynamite did not put any fetters or restrictions on Ennis and Robertson. The result is an even more thorough examination of how superhumans would work in the real world and debauchery that would put Caligula to shame.

You have to look no further than to tomorrow’s The Boys: Herogasm to see how loose the boundaries are for the creators. The main crux of the series, in which Ennis’ Hitman cohort John McCrea steps in for Robertson, is that every year all the heroes of the world get together to supposedly fight a menace to Earth. What they really do is get together at a remote resort and throw one of the biggest orgies you ever did see.

Yes, you read that right. And if you think that they wouldn’t show this in a comic, wait to you get to the midway point of the issue. This is definitely not for the kids. Heck, it might be too strong for most adults.

But I don’t want to mislead you that this series is utter pornography. There is a story to go along with it. The series also deals with the team’s war against the abuse of power shifting from the capes and tights to the suits and ties and Hughie’s “Romeo and Juliet” like romance with a superheroine taking on a new dimension.

The Boys is vulgar, crude and outrageous. It is also an intelligent discussion not only on how superheroes would work in the real world but also a commentary on the superhero –heavy comic culture. I’m glad that DC/Wildstorm allowed it to have a second lease on life and that Dynamite let Ennis, Robertson and company have the freedom to let it develop the way they wanted it to.

Also out this week

Captain America #50

When you spend most of your history in and out of a cryogenic stasis chamber, you’d think birthdays would lose some of their meaning. After all, birthdays not spent in the deep sleep were usually spent on assignment. But Bucky Barnes’ birthday is causing him to reminisce this year. Maybe it’s because someone is trying to kill him.

It’s good to see that they are doing a birthday story for an anniversary issue. The two fit together very well and makes the occasion seem more special. I wonder what they are going to do for next month, because the numbering is going to change so that the next issue will be #600—yet another anniversary issue to celebrate.

Ed Brubaker (W), Luke Ross (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Killapalooza #1

Rock and Roll has given a voice to political protest, as the counter culture movement of the 60s can attest. Rock and roll has also been used as a form of military torture, as Manuel Noriega can surely attest to when he was ousted from Panama. However, rock and roll has not been used much in the field of assassination. Well, that is until now.

You’d think that the immensely popular band, The Clap, wouldn’t need a second job as the massive record sales and sold out stadiums should keep them rolling in the dough. But their night job is really just their day job. They are really high-paid, meta-human assassins who use a rock and roll lifestyle as a cover. But now, the world has gotten so dangerous that they have decided to do one last job. However, their last job might be their last job—forever!

Adam Beechen (W), Trevor Hairsine (A), DC/Wildstorm Comics, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Movie Adaptation #1

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is set to be one of the biggest films of the summer. The sequel to the 2007 franchise starter has audiences buzzing. However, they have over a month to wait. What are the impatient fans to do if they simply cannot wait for the film to hit screens?

Well, IDW has the answer. They are releasing the comic book adaptation of the film starting tomorrow. The series will run weekly and is scheduled to wrap up two weeks before the film’s June 24th release date. So, if you are chomping at the bit to find out how the fallen is getting their revenge, head to the comic shop tomorrow. 

Simon Furman (W), Jon Davis-Hunt (A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

The Complete Dracula #1

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula 112 years ago. The author himself has been dead for almost a century. Yet, his most famous creation still lives on to be reinterpreted by generations of new fans and followers. Drac might be a member of the undead, but it’s his legacy that will never die.

Dynamite is the latest company to bring the world’s most famous Transylvanian to life. They are bringing us a five-issue, fully painted, “authentic and exhaustive” adaptation of the horror classic. If you are a fan of vampires, a fan of Dracula, or just want to experience a lovingly crafted tribute to one of the greatest books of all time, then you might just want to check this out.

Bram Stoker, Leah Moore, & John Reppion (W), Colton Worley (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $4.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1

Super Young Team was vital in saving the Universe during Final Crisis. So, this means they can right their own ticket to fame and stardom, right? Wrong, because their accomplishments have gone unnoticed. The only way they can make any money is to dance at whatever public venue that would have them. However, this is all about to change. An American is joining the team and is bring a dangerous threat with them. Some are born heroes, some have herodom thrust upon them. Which will apply to Super Young Team?

Super Young Team was a concept that only Grant Morrison could come up with. However, he’s nowhere to be found in this miniseries. Will Joe Casey be able to capture the magic Morrison used in creating the team? Or will this spinoff spin out?

Joe Casey (W), ChrisCross (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

X-Men Forever Alpha

Way back in 1991, Marvel, as was the trend at the time, expanded its X-Men line to give superstar artist Jim Lee a showcase for his work. The artist was paired with legendary Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont on a brand new series called simply X-Men. What should have been a match made in Heaven soon turned sour as Claremont experienced creative differences with Lee and then editor Bob Harris. Claremont left the new series with issue #3.

Claremont never had the chance to finish the story he started then, but Marvel is giving him the chance now. X-Men Forever starts next month and will be the continuation of the storyline the writer started almost 20 years ago. To catch readers up to speed, Marvel is reprinting the issues Claremont worked on in this special one-shot. 

Chris Claremont & Jim Lee (W), Jim Lee (A), Marvel Comics, $4.99. One-Shot.

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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