Striking color green on the cover, isn’t it? Certainly stands out amongst the others on the rack. Another weird winner from Robertson. I kind of like that it’s all eyes and teeth, be they animal or human. They’re not what the issue’s about. Instead, we’re treated to Hughie’s return to active duty. Rather than throwing a party (and somewhat to the wee lad’s disappointment, truth be told), Butcher immediately takes him out on a job, making no fuss at all. It’s not about that.
The case involves a transsexual pimp and a murdered call boy. Make that ladyboy. Jack From Jupiter is implicated, but it may all be a frame up. The madame, Doctor Peculiar, is a feather-festooned quasi-mime, apparently. He helpfully keeps extensive files on all his clients, and seems more than cooperative when Butcher requests a look. Is it a problem that he doesn’t speak, and is coded as clownishly effeminate? Or that his luxurious manor is filled with tiffany laps, figurative sculpture, and paintings of nude women? It certainly adds to the weirdness, but that’s not really what the issue’s about.
Hughie, now schooled in a more accurate reality by Mallory (and amusingly trying not to let on to Butcher how much he knows, as if he still doesn’t wear his every emotion on his sleeve; you could read this issue without balloons thanks to Braun’s skills with facial expression and body language, easily), tries not to be too shocked by each new depravity, but generally fails. He also tries to assert his hard-gained experience over his former innocence, demanding a more active role in the team’s decision-making. And he remains intent on protecting Annie.
Butcher takes all this far too well (though Braun fits in several sly glances that Hughie doesn’t see), quite reasonably wondering why Hughie should have a leadership role over senior members like the Frenchman or the Female? As if everyone involved isn’t all too clear on their already full-time jobs: the Female’s being not to kill everyone, always; and the Frenchman’s being to help her not kill everyone. Mother’s Milk is already ersatz co-leader, never suffering Butcher’s bullshit at least.
Meanwhile, the Seven try to manage the crisis in their headquarters, meaning the boys bicker while Homelander tells them what to do about it and Queen Maeve sits in the background drinking. Their pathetic and crass concerns must weigh on everyone’s patience at this point, maybe even their own, as even party animals Jack and A-Train seem to have had it with each other. Homelander has his ongoing agenda (supes as the planet’s lawless dictators for life) to worry about, and Queen Maeve interestingly requests a different beverage in the background. The slow burn of the past few arcs is picking up speed near the final stretch, if clandestinely.
We check in with the Vought executives, too, who are counterplotting to the plotting of all the plotters on the Boys and the Seven. Basically, it’s all about to hit the fan. The feeling of rising dread is a good one. The payoff will likely be disgusting, and it may be exciting and cruelly apt. One thing I’m betting it won’t be is anticlimactic. Not with all these ticking time bombs.
Oh, and there are AIDS Monkeys. They’re not what the issue is about.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net.