Eight years after their final issue and in the context of their successful Amazon TV adaptation, which sanitized this superhero satire for a broad audience, The Boysis back from writer/co-creator Garth Ennis, artist Russ Braun (Who drew 24 issues of the original series, and colorist TonyAviña. The Boys: Dear Becky #1 is concerned with the future of the relationship between Wee Hughie and Annie January, but also the past relationship between Billy Butcher and his wife Becky, who was one of the few people that saw beneath his violent, hateful, asshole self. And it’s sad to say that the scenes set in the present come across as a tone-deaf Scottish boomer ranting on Facebook while the past scenes actually do hold up with poignant narration from Ennis paired with his usual dark humor and gruesome visuals from Braun and Aviña, who unleashes an abattoir of a color palette.
The Boys: Dear Becky #1 is truly a half good, half bad comic. The first half is Wee Hughie moaning at a pub about the state of the world to his friend Bobbi, who is trans and misgendered immediately. Paired with Russ Braun’s stereotypical art that is reminiscent of Howard Chaykin’s recent, hateful work on Divided States of Hysteria, it’s not a great way to start the story. But it is par for the course for the “Everyone’s bastards, especially superheroes.” sensibility of Ennis’ writing on The Boys. It seems like the goal of the pub scene is to reintroduce readers to Wee Hughie and his post-Boys life, but it’s all overwhelmed by tone deaf takes on everything from white male privilege to affirmative action. However, it’s not all punching down with (In true Scottish manner.) Wee Hughie and Bobbi taking the piss out of Brexit with the loss of the E.U. safety net negatively impacting rural Scotland and also wondering why so many of their fellow citizens are afraid of immigrants in such a racially homogenous area.
All in all, this scene that definitely needed a spot of editing (Although Ennis’ dialogue is still entertaining and colorful, if a bit cringeworthy.) shows that The Boys along with South Park and most of Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy’s oeuvre have outstayed their welcome in 2020. At its finest, The Boys was a darkly hilarious satire of fanboy culture and American foreign policy with a dash of coming to terms with the effects of violence. Now, it’s just cynical for the sake of being cynical. Bright eyed, optimistic Wee Hughie is now just another middle aged libertarian moaning about keyboard warriors and safe spaces. And to add insult upon injury, Russ Braun uses his skill to makes jokes at the expense of aka pot shots at one of the most marginalized groups in 21st century society.
However, to look at the issue and Hughie from another perspective, not giving a shit could definitely be an after effect of the trauma he went through in The Boys. When Ennis and Braun aren’t trying to be edgy, middle-aged white male commentators on society, they do a good job of showing of how Hughie is unable to move on with his life, including several panels of him lying in the bathroom looking at a letter from Butcher that brings his past all the way back. The letters adds depth to the now-dead Butcher, who could take a step back and see that maybe pulling the tongue out of a ten year old copyright-friendly version of Shazam is not a good idea. Braun and Aviña’s art is definitely representative of The Boys’ cartoonish ultraviolence towards superheroes, but Garth Ennis adds an air of conscience in both Butcher’s dialogue and narrative captions that are Hughie reading his letter. He thinks about how the effects of his actions will have both on himself and on Becky and comes across like Wee Hughie when he first joined the team.
If The Boys: Dear Becky #1 was just the Butcher flashback with a bit of a Wee Hughie framing device to see what he’s been up to 12 years after the original series, then it would definitely be worth picking up. However, the new effort from Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, and Tony Aviña gets a pass thanks to half the comic being a privileged white man punching down and a woeful mishandling of a trans character, especially on the art side. It speaks to the conflict in The Boys comic, which could be both a funny, if over the top satire of the comics industry and power structures with surprisingly deep character studies, and a tasteless, stereotyped-filled book that didn’t meet a female character that ended up raped or murdered in a macabre manner. This comic reminded me of my days as a closeted, libertarian teenage edgelord reading The Boys, and why I shudder at them.
Story: Garth Ennis Art: Russ Braun Colors: Tony Aviña Letters: Simon Bowland Story: 6.0 Art: 4.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass
Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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The Boys are returning to comics, or at least what’s left of them, with their original writer and creator Garth Ennis for the sequel, Dear Becky.
Following the massive success of the comics and Prime adaptation, with over 150,000 omnibuses sold in 2019, Garth Ennis returns to Wee Hughie, Billy Butcher, Vought and more in this hotly anticipated new entry. Picking up in-story 12 years after the finale of the 90 issue epic run, the marriage of Hughie and Annie (Starlight) is derailed by a mysterious document that threatens to rip open the scars of the past and reveal nightmarish truths about The Boys.
Joining Ennis on this series are some returning greats. Russ Braun picks right back up on interiors years later, after drawing a large chunk of the original series following series co-creator Darick Robertson. Robertson returns to contribute covers. For his first, Robertson once more calls back to the very first cover with The Boys looking down on something, as was also seen with #7 and #50.
Using a flashback structure, Dear Becky will flesh out both the pre-history of The Boys, call back to classic moments, and move the story forward. It’s an indispensable chapter for all fans of The Boys, going back nearly 15 years or new to the story from the show.
Dynamite will also release a promotional poster of The Boys, perfect for both retailers and fans to advertise the series or show off their fandom. Additionally, all six volumes of The Boys Omnibus are available to catch up on the original comic, as well as art books and collectibles.
Now that 2019 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics, movies and events that really stood out for me during the year. Now this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.
Just like last year, we’re looking at comics (ongoing or miniseries) without focusing on single issues or breaking them into specific categories, I’m going for everything in one. If it came out in 2019, then it’s fair game for me. Below you’ll find Eight of them in fact, that for one reason or another rocked my socks off. Underneath that, you’ll find my list of comic book/nerd based movies and T.V. shows. Same general format as the comics, though the total number may be different.
I haven’t decided yet.
I was playing with the order of these right up until I sent it off for publication. I’ve no idea why I only allowed myself the number I did because there were far more comics I read that I wanted to include here. Comics like X-Force, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, Crecy and X-O Manowar were tough to leave off this list, but at the end of the day the books below are the ones that had me the most excited.
For me, these were the very best books (whether miniseries or ongoing) of the year in a sea of high quality comics from all publishers.
8. The Last God(DC Black Label)
Recency bias? Possibly. But over the three issues of this book that I’ve read, I have become thoroughly enamored with how the twin narratives play into and off each other. I almost missed the comic, if I’m honest. It wasn’t until a coworker at my LCS put it in my hands and told me to take it home that I actually did. I haven’t regretted buying this book for a second as I devoured the three issues one after the other. I’m not normally one for fantasy in my comics, but this year that’s almost exactly what I’ve enjoyed the most.
7. Berserker Unbound (Dark Horse)
I had picked this book up purely because it was a new Jeff Lemire book, and Lemire is an author whom I’ll give his comics a chance without knowing what the story is about because I’ve yet to read a book of his that I don’t life. The four issue story about a barbarian thrown from the realm of fantasy into New York City tackles the loneliness and loss felt by those who have nothing left, and the hope that a new friend can shine upon your life. Plus, it’s brilliantly illustrated, with Mike Deodato Jr. using a fantasy inspired high art style that’s eerily reminiscent of the Conan magazines without ever feeling tired.
6. Dead Man Logan (Marvel)
The final send off for Old Man Logan before his younger counterpart is resurrected properly, this twelve issue series always had an ending that we’d expect. There was no secret that Logan would die in the comic, but Ed Brisson was still able to make you care about the death of an alternate version of a character many consider to have been over exposed for much of the first half of this century. I couldn’t get enough of this character’s story, and to finally see an end to Logan’s story left me feeling complete.
5. The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada (Valiant)
Man oh man. I don’t have enough space to rave about how much I loved this series. It is the culmination of Joshua Dysart’s work on the character which began with Harbinger #1 in the 2012 relaunch of Valiant. This series focused on one of the most complicated men in the Valiant universe, telling the story of his life and death (it’s in the title, it isn’t a spoiler), and we’re left wondering whether Toyo Harada was really the villain he’s often portrayed as or whether he was simply a misunderstood hero whose methods rarely aligned with what the world found acceptable in his quest of Peace – at any cost.”
4. Incursion (Valiant)
Perhaps one of the more underrated of Valiant’s miniseries this year, but but had been on my radar for some time given that one of the featured characters was the Eternal Warrior – easily my favourite character in the Valiant universe (as I type this, I am wearing a custom made Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior shirt), and so I knew I’d lap this series up. I didn’t expect to be so taken with the father/daughter dynamic between Gilad and Tama as they face off against the antithesis of all life in a very private battle for the lives of billions of people – but that was only a happy coincidence for Gilad – he was determined to save the young Geomancer at any cost.
3. Once And Future (BOOM! Studios)
This book took me off guard; when my Those Two Geeks co-host Joe told me to pick it up, I was expecting a pretty decent comic (he’s never yet steered me wrong). Instead I found a re-imagining of Arthurian legend with revelations that are teased out ever so slowly as our protagonist gradually becomes aware of who he is and his place in the world. Maybe because I have an incredible soft spot for Arthurian legends, maybe because Dan Mora’s art is right up my alley, or maybe it’s something else entirely, but I love this series.
2. Voracious: Appetite For Destruction (Action Lab: Danger Zone)
I’m surprised that this series fell to this spot in my list; Markisan Naso, Jason Muhr and Andrei Tabucaru’s masterpiece of comic book story telling was among the very best of 2019 – and considering that my expectations were sky bloody high for this series, that it was able to exceed them still blows my mind. I can’t pick one aspect or creator of this series to single out – all deserve an equal measure of praise and credit. Whether it’s Naso’s incredible writing and grasp of dialogue, Muhr’s emotionally powerful art or Tabucaru’s way of breathing life into the pages… each and every aspect of this series was spectacular.
1. Rai (Valiant)
Every once in awhile there comes a series that takes you entirely by surprise. I always hope I’ll like any comic I read because who wants to read a bad comic? But with Rai, I have been consistently shocked. Not because it’s such a marked improvement over Fallen World (which itself was utterly phenomenal and narrowly missed out on this list), but because Dan Abnett has been able to tell such an interesting story with such a simple backdrop. His way of making us question our use and abuse of technology, the loss of our privacy and our seeming inability to distance ourselves from what should be a tool is both as subtle as a butterflies kiss and a sledgehammer to the gut. I’ve never read anything like this before. (Disclaimer: this is based on having read the first three issues, even though the third issue won’t be released for at least another week at time of publication.)
The Television Shows
I didn’t expect to have so much great TV to watch this year, and I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see it all. For that reason, given the relatively low number of TV shows to comics that were released (and that I’ve seen) I’ve gone with a list of three. If you’re wondering, I have yet to see Watchmen because I don’t have HBO.
3. The Boys (Amazon Prime)
Brutal, bloody and very well written, The Boys is a look at what happens when superheroes are as corrupt as the people they’re supposed to stop. But who stops the heroes? That’s where Billy Butcher (played spectacularly by Karl Urban) and his boys come in. Well worth checking out, but possibly not worth a long subscription to Amazon Prime to do so (unless you’re getting it for the shipping perks).
2. The Mandalorian (Disney+)
If you’re a Star Wars fan, and you haven’t seen this yet, then now is the ideal time to sign up for a free week’s trial of Disney + to get your fix in. This is one of the better live action offerings in the Star Wars canon, certainly it’s in my top two from what has been released this decade. It constantly surprised me how expressive the actor beneath the armour is when you can’t see his face (I say “the actor” because there are times when Pedro Pascal was unable to be on set due to scheduling conflicts and Brendan Wayne stepped in to fill the bounty hunters helmet), and how much emotion is conveyed in the scenes from the score, camera angles and body language.
1. The Witcher (Netflix)
I was waiting for this show ever since I first heard it was coming. 2019 was, for me at least, the year of the Witcher. It was the year I started and finished the books, and the year I invested over a hundred hours into the Playstation 4 version of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. I was ready for the live action adaptation of the books to be somewhere between average and good, but I wasn’t ready for Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and Joey Batey to bring the characters I envisioned to life so well. I don’t think I have ever seen somebody convey so much emotion and gravitas with a single word as Cavill does so often and so well in this series. While there are some complaints that it feels disjointed, and I understand them, my only suggestion with that is to make it to the finale. Once you do then you’ll want to rewatch the season with a new found understanding of the events that you just witnessed. I don’t remember the last time a TV show left me wanting to reread, rewatch and replay as much as I could of the universe it comes from as The Witcher has. The sooner the soundtrack is available the better.
Well… this was certainly a year for movies, eh? Whether it was arguably one of the best DC movies in their live action movie universe or some movie about a bunch of people assembling something, there’s no doubt that this year had a lot of great movies released that fell within our sphere. Now there are movies from this year that I enjoyed more than some of the ones below, but because Aladdin doesn’t really fall into the scope of this list I’ve left it and others off the list. Try as I might, I couldn’t justify putting John Wick 3 on the list either, so I shaved the arbitrary number from eight to five.
5. Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker
I seem to be one of the minority who enjoyed The Last Jedi despite its flaws, but even I’ll admit that movie paled in comparison to the finale of the Skywalker Saga. This was everything I hoped it would be and more. I cannot wait to see it again.
4. Captain Marvel
Part of me is surprised this movie came out in 2019. It’s hard to remember a time before Endgame changed the face of the MCU, but when I looked back I realized that not only did this film come out in 2019, but I enjoyed the shit out of it when I watched it.
I remember leaving the theater after seeing this being a little shaken. This wasn’t what I expected from a comic book movie. Much like Logan, Joker transcends the supposed limitations of comic book films and evolves into a thrilling story about one man’s descent into psychopathy. Now you and I are more than aware that comic book films are just as legitimate pieces of cinema as anybody, but for some reason Joker has pulled in critics looking to talk about Batman’s arch nemesis. While I don’t know if I’ll ever watch the movie again, I will always remember that feeling of watching something special as the credits rolled.
2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
It took me a long time to decide where to place this movie. I want to rewatch this more than any other of the movies on this list, but struggled to place it above Endgame because of what that movie represented in the culmination of the entire MCU up until that moment. But why do I want to watch this more than Endgame? Because Spider-Man: Far From Home has some fantastic acting from the entire cast, especially Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhal, and it also feels a lot more personal than the exhaustively epic scope of Endgame. At this point, I’m comfortable saying that this is my favourite Spider-Man film yet.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Well shit. What can I really say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? When you look at it as a movie, it’s really good. The journey that Thor, Captain America and Iron Man take in the film alone could easily be the basis of solo films, likewise with Clint Barton. The finale is breathtaking in its scope, with each character getting their moment to shine amidst the madness. But when you take Endgame as a whole, as the culmination of twenty plus movies over more than ten years, it is unparalleled. I don’t honestly think I will see another film like it ever again.
Includes: Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men (#60-65) The Bloody Doors Off (#66-71), You Found Me (#72)
It’s been a long time coming. When the Homelander finally sets an army of superheroes against the forces of the United States military, Billy Butcher and The Boys must finish the job they were recruited for: to take every superhero out of the picture. While the battle rages on the White House lawn, Frenchie and the Female are unleashed, Mother’s Milk uncovers a terrible secret at Vought-American, and Wee Hughie discovers the senses-shattering truth behind Butcher’s ultimate plan of vengeance.
Volume 9: The Big Ride Volume 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker
In Volume 9, all the pieces are falling into place, for the Boys as well as their most mortal enemies. The long-dreaded superhuman conflict is on its way. But first there are secrets still to be uncovered: like the story of the team’s first encounter with supergroup The Seven, and the shockwaves from that disastrous meeting that still reverberate today. Hughie, meanwhile, discovers his comrades’ hidden history, as their original leader Colonel Greg Mallory takes him through sixty years of the filthiest black operations imaginable. And finally, with good and bad guys teetering on the brink, a shadowy force sets events in motion that will push even Butcher over the edge.
He could have been a very different man. Billy Butcher, leader of The Boys, once had a chance at another life entirely — when the love of a good woman pulled him aside from his dreadful path of violence and despair. Volume 10 is the story of Billy and Becky, told by the man himself, from the heights of love to the depths of tragedy. And when he’s done, he’ll be ready… to finish things once and for all.
Mondo Music and Madison Gate Records have announced they’ll be releasing the vinyl record of the original soundtrack to Amazon‘s The Boys. The soundtrack is by Christopher Lennertz. The vinyl goes on sale at noon on Wednesday.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, The Boys tackles our modern obsession with superheroes in media with a biting satire of modern politics and the abuse of power from a fictional League of Heroes who may need to be taken down a peg. Christopher Lennertz has composed a blistering, propulsive score for the darkly comedic series that adeptly parodies the musical landscape of propoganda, all while being a terrific soundtrack to the ensuing action drama that unfolds when the “Supes” collide with the titular anti-heroes tasked with being their checks and balances.
The album feature osriginal artwork by Jack Hughes, liner notes by composer Christopher Lennertz, series creators Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, and showrunner Eric Kripke, and pressed on 2X 180 Gram “Compound V” colored vinyl (also available on 2X 180 Gram Black vinyl).
They also are offering free vinyl shipping domestically with a flat $10 fee for international. That runs until 11:59 PM on Wednesday.
THE BOYS – Music From The Amazon Original Series 2XLP. Music by Christopher Lennertz. Artwork by Jack Hughes. Featuring liner notes by composer Christopher Lennerts, series creators Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, and showrunner Eric Kripke. Pressed on 2X 180 Gram “Compound V” colored vinyl. Also available on 2X 180 Gram Black vinyl. Expected to Ship in November 2019. Ships Worldwide. $35
It’s a new week and we’re recovering from Baltimore Comic Con as we look towards Halloween Comicfest! While you kick off the week, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
So where are the real superheroes? The warriors for truth and justice, the defenders of the American way, the heroes who fight to make things right and ask for nothing in return? Hughie finds out when he meets the teenage adventurers known as SUPERDUPER… but unknown to the little Scotsman, Butcher has finally learned his secret. A dire scheme is set in motion, and at the vast superhero evangelist festival of BELIEVE, Hughie’s relationship with Annie January – aka Starlight of the Seven – reaches its terrible conclusion.
Next… a special story featuring everyone’s favorite pint-sized Scotsman, Hughie. Mind reeling from cataclysmic events in New York, Wee Hughie heads home to Auchterladle — the semi-idyllic Scottish seaside town where he grew up. All Hughie wants is some time to himself, to return to the bosom of family and friends, and get his head together after two years of unimaginable chaos. But our hero’s luck has always been more cloud than silver lining, and the familiar surroundings he craves are not all they might be. Old pals are warped beyond recognition, strangers in town are up to no good, and a figure from Hughie’s recent past has come back to resolve some unfinished business. You can go home again – but whether or not you should is another matter entirely.
Collects: Issues 39-47, plus Highland Laddie
The Boys Omnibus Vol. 4 Photo Cover Edition
writer: Garth Ennis
artists: Darick Robertson, John McCrea, Russ Braun
cover: Mother’s Milk Photo Cover From The Boys TV Series!
FC | 328 pages | $29.99 | Superheroes | Mature
Both Versions of Volume 4 Contain: Issues 39-47, plus Highland Laddie