Oh. Wow. I get it now. I knew it had to be something like this. I didn’t know what exact form it would take. I mean, of course there’s a very personal reason Butcher hates the supers. Of course it centers on Homelander the most. But this way, this demise of the love of his life, yeah, that would do it. It’s just… the sangfroid it took to tell this story this way. Chilling.
This issue is all about death. Billy is talking to his father’s corpse in his funeral coffin. The story begins with a funeral for his brother Lenny, who didn’t die in any especially gruesome way, but just randomly, hit by a bus. Just one more thing that happened in the Thatcherite England of Billy’s young adulthood. And all of that leads to the ending, which is just mind-blowing.
Along the way, we get a few significant incidents. Becky tries to talk him into starting a family with her; Butcher’s family is so gruesome, he thinks it much better not to. That’s bitterness talking, and that bitterness has only ever been assuaged by Becky herself, whose kindness and sparkling personality have shown Billy a different way to live. But the mercenary soldier is still underneath, and that soldier is at base an angry man who wants the world to stop screwing him over and finally make sense.
Then they share a sushi dinner with her coworkers, where Billy talks politics without punching the opposing view’s head in. Which counts as progress for the former brawler. And then the loving couple takes a vacation where they witness a meet-and-greet with the Seven. From a distance. While snickering about it. Becky finds them “<em>creepy</em>.” Butcher couldn’t agree more. The melting ice cream cones in their hands are more important to them, dripping down their fingers as they kiss.
But after these events, Becky starts pulling away. She isn’t quite the same. She becomes sickly. And then it happens. Something that Darick Robertson was born to draw. Something that is a new level of horror we haven’t seen yet in this unfurling narrative of just how awful people can be to other people, especially when the power balance is uneven. It’s eerie. It’s horrific. It’s not at all right.
I’m not saying Butcher should have handled it the way he did. I’m not saying the option he took was the only option. But, since we know him, we know that for him it was the absolute right thing to do, the only response to the trap he woke up to. It’s… it’d be sadder if it wasn’t already so grim. Well, we wanted to know why, didn’t we, Mr. Ennis? Hughie needs to know why. And I’ve got to give it to you, because now we do. And it’s worse even than we feared. Frigid blood runs coldly through those icy writer’s veins.
<hr><em>Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at <a href=”http://cornekopia.net” target=”new”>Cornekopia.net</a>.</em>