This issue is a nasty piece of work. It exposes the foils and foibles of the underside of the superhero trade. Yes, it's hard to believe the "heroes" we saw partying at Herogasm could have a down side or even dirtier secrets, but there are layers beneath layers here.
We've got stereotypes in play that are both culturally pervasive and unnervingly raw, easy trigger buttons that Ennis delights in pressing, hard and repeatedly. Robertson's cover gives us a holiday snapshot version of Jack From Jupiter and his harem of hot "gals," but who they really are and what they do together is enough to make Hugh Hefner look like Martin Luther King.
Last month's mute madame/pimp Doctor has produced several of his "ladies" to be interrogated by Butcher and Hughie. While Hughie tries to bide his time looking at the Doctor's etchings (amusingly, these are all blue versions of some very iconic cover art, an unremarked-upon easter egg to anyone reading the Boys in search of some subversive flair), Butcher sees if the girls can keep their stories straight. Apparently Hughie's transvestite (and accidental transsexual) childhood friend didn't prepare him for the wiles of working "girls."
Who can't keep their stories straight, and his refusal to refer to any of them in the feminine (a basic rudeness in our politically correct age) would grate more if they weren't, in fact, shown to be lying to the "cops" (though is Butcher any more real in his drag than they are in theirs?) in order to participate in the unfolding frame-up of Jack From Jupiter, the purpose of which has yet to be revealed.
All we know is that it's got Queen Maeve running scared, the Legend isn't sure what's going on, and Butcher and his gang are playing along because a confrontation with the Seven has always been impending, so if not now then when? There's a grim fatality to the rooftop meeting that occurs as the issue's cliffhanger, and while Hughie may have wet himself, I don't think we're actually on the verge of final battle yet.
I think Butcher is still fishing, doing his detective footwork, even if that risks a few broken noses or another Seven casualty. He plays hardball, and he doesn't care who gets rolled over. In his own mini-series, we're seeing step-by-step how the lad became so hard. In this series, the damage is already done, and no one is safe from his pogrom against the supers. Not even former informant Queen Maeve, if we're to believe his rant about the culpability of everyone involved in the Brooklyn Bridge fiasco. He for one hasn't forgotten, and he doesn't forgive.
It's not an issue where much happens besides the due diligence of some "cops" on the beat. But it's all riveting at this point nonetheless. Ennis has all his pieces in place, and a variety of opposing forces in play. How they're going to fall is still up for grabs.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.