After the controversy a few weeks ago over Darick Robertson not drawing “The Boys” for the foreseeable future, some fans of the book may be heading into this issue with less enthusiasm and confidence. Let me assure them all that the book continues to be a great, entertaining read with Russ Braun handling the art chores. He’s a great fit for the title with a style closer to Robertson’s than previous fill-in artists. Coming aboard with the beginning of “Believe” is good timing since Bruan gets to prove himself with a quieter, character-based issue that allows him to show how he handles the cast when they’re simply having conversations full of meaning and subtlety.
“The Innocents” left a fracture in the group after Hughie was beaten by Malchemical trying to protect the Superduper gang and Mother’s Milk took strong issue with how Butcher could suspect Hughie of being a plant by Vought-American. “Believe” picks up where that arc left off, addressing many of the issues raised, while introducing some new plot points with the upcoming Believe event put on by Vought-American. It’s a religious event where people pay money to advance in the organization with supes like the Homelander acting as the ministers. The concept is only introduced here, but the advertisement for the event is funny enough to suggest that Ennis is planning some big things.
The quiet nature of the issue as far as action goes isn’t reflected in the events. Homelander rebels against Vought-American and finds an unlikely ally in Starlight (Annie), as neither one wants to participate in Believe. The conversation over the matter is tense and seems ready to spill over into violence, especially when the other members of the Seven make it known what they expect of their teammates. Alternatively, the conversation between Butcher and Hughie is relaxed and friendly. Both men are looking to make things right, even if Butcher can’t do so completely without revealing his suspicions about Hughie.
As I said at the beginning of my review, Russ Braun is a good fit for the comic, using a softer style than Robertson, but one that isn’t too different visually. He’s very strong with facial expressions and getting across what each character is thinking. Two conversations between Hughie and Annie are enough to convince me that, if Robertson can’t draw this book, Braun is the man for the job. He steps into things without missing a beat, which is difficult considering so much of this issue relies on conversations between characters. He has a good handle on all of the characters, how they react, and how they move.
Some may groan at Ennis coming back to the idea of religion, but the topic is only introduced here with it taking a backseat, for now, to the ongoing subplots of the title. It’s some of Ennis’s best character writing on the series to date, while Russ Braun joins the book confidently and looking like he’s been drawing it all along. And, most of all, the final panel of the comic is the sort that makes you curse and scream that the next issue isn’t out for another month.