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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Boys #8 -- Nuance isn't a word that immediately comes to mind when pondering The Boys, and yet this issue has plenty. A seemingly minor character bit about Hughie's distaste for Butcher's use of anti-gay terminology pays off later in the issue with a sequence that tells us a great deal about the two characters (and the series in general). The Boys is wicked fun, yes, but it's also Ennis and Robertson thoughtfully exploring the characters they've populated the title with.

Even the Tek Knight seems sympathetic to a degree here; he made his debut last issue with a disgusting and outrageously funny personal problem that was getting in the way of his superheroing; in this second part of that story, we see the mystery of his distress deepen, even as we witness the funniest "Superhero's Butler Gives His Notice" scene that you will ever see. You've never, ever look at Jarvis or Alfred in quite the same way.

It's gratifying that Ennis and Robertson are able bring so many emotions to the story -- it's clever and witty and dirty as hell, yes, but the superhero avatars resonate strongly and breathe all on their own. They're satire, but they ring true as characters, and that makes the world of The Boys a deeper and richer reading experience than I had expected when the series first debuted. The storytelling is confident and bold, and the more I get to know these people, the more effective the overall narrative becomes. The Boys, published by Dynamite Entertainment, is probably the best team superhero book being published at the moment. A moment in which, perhaps not coincidentally, Marvel and DC have mostly abandoned readers looking for quality in their superhero comics.



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