This issue kicks off with a simple three page scene between Hughie and Butcher, but it’s got just the right level of brotherhood, Butcher’s charm, and super-kinkiness to feel like this book did back when it first launched. There’s a simple charisma to this comic when it’s firing right in its wheelhouse, and this month is one of those times. This isn’t an issue as a laborious flashback or overplayed conversation. This is The Boys doing what they do best, watching the superpowered deviants of the world. “The Boys” is back, and not a moment too soon.
The heart of this book was always the connection between Hughie and Butcher and, with that on the rocks, so was the quality. The interplay of these men was the one-two punch of innocence and cynicism we all had to view this world with. They seem back on the rails here and it’s just like old times. How interesting, then, that Hughie decides to lie to Butcher about something very important. I think you can guarantee that’ll come back to bite him within two arcs.
The highlight of this issue has to be the interplay of the Seven as they discuss a sexually perverse death they might be blamed for. They act like petty fame whores who only want to out the others and get in the good graces of the top dog. It’s a John Landis scene of hilarious dialogue and backstabbing. These guys haven’t had enough of the silly spotlight lately and this scene reminds us how funny Garth Ennis can actually be.
Doctor Peculiar lives up to the name and the final locale of this issue works to remind us we are back where this book belongs. It’s a super bordello and Butcher is there digging for answers. There’s an interesting aside about the AIDS monkeys, and their place in creating the nickname for Butcher’s friend Monkey (hint, the cover is dirtier than you first suspect), but behind that there’s some business involving Hughie finding out more about one of the Seven. It’s great layering and the sort of thing this comic does exceptionally well when it does it at all.
The artwork from Russ Braun is a breath of fresh air after too long suffocating in a dirge of unemotional and distracting art. Braun creates this world like he was born in it. His background figures might lose their definition, but his foreground is constantly superb. Tony Avina’s colors are awesome, have always been awesome, and I’m certain will continue to be awesome. He’s got that right palette mix between the brightness of day and the clarity of intellect. He doesn’t push this into a silly gritty corner. He lets every page play.
Remember when “The Boys” was just some frivolous fun? This issue will transport you back to those salad days and make you laugh while you cringe. It’s not taking itself too seriously, and yet it’s still pushing the grand narrative forward. “The Boys” is always the best when it’s fun and this issue is as much fun as a barrel of monkeys. Green monkeys, and they’ll take any orifice they can get.