Thursday, January 3, 2013

When Super-powers Happen to Terrible People

The Boys Volume 3: Good for the Soul: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Darick Robertson (2008): Many terrible things happen and more terrible things are revealed about the superheroes of the world of The Boys. Pretty much all of them are corporate lackeys of Vought-American, a multi-national that's excellent at making money and terrible at making weapons that actually work.

Ennis and Robertson illustrate this with some World War Two references to profit-motivated cock-ups by arms manufacturers on the Allied side, all of which made the companies tons of money and all of which resulted in increased fatalities. Because modern warfare is all about money. The troops are essentially irrelevant except as testing units for the hardware, regardless of whether it's an improvement on the last hardware.

The super-powered Boys, funded by the CIA but running their own deeper game, once again take the piss out of some superheroes while trying to uncover the truth about 9/11 in their universe, where the Brooklyn Bridge and not the World Trade Center Towers was destroyed. A pretty searing portrait of dangerous, profit-motivated incompetence. Recommended.


The Boys Volume 6: The Self-Preservation Society: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Darick Robertson, John McCrea, and Carlos Ezquerra (2009-2010): Payback, Ennis's horrifying parody of Marvel's Avengers, comes after The Boys. Stormfront, Payback's thinly veiled version of Thor, is an actual Nazi used by uber-corporation Vought-American to exterminate undesireable ethnics on Third-World land they want to purchase when he's not posing for photo ops and pretending to be a German God of Thunder.

But like pretty much ever other super-powered character in Ennis's bleak vision of the world, he's never been properly trained in hand-to-hand combat because he's simply too powerful to worry about it. That's about to change. Another bracing, barbaric, ultraviolent yawp against the world's violent stupidities. Recommended.

 

John Byrne's Next Men: Scattered Part 2: written and illustrated by John Byrne (2010): Byrne's great 1990's series, once on a 15-year hiatus, draws to a (sorta) close, as one volume remains. The time-travel stuff is complicated but nicely reasoned out; the stakes are high; everything we saw long ago in the first issues moves satisfyingly towards an ending. But you'll need to read everything that came before to understand what comes now. Recommended.

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