The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #5

A comic review article by: Shawn Hill

What was suspected last issue is made explicit this one, at a poetic remove: through Becky's journal, she tells Billy what she couldn't tell him while alive. What happened to her on their honeymoon, because of their chance encounter with the Supers. The reason they've become the scourge of Butcher's life has been made clear, and it's worse, and more gruesome, and more pathetic than our worst imaginings.

The weirdest part is that Homelander doesn't even seem to remember her. He's done so much damage to so many, a random rape of a pretty lady at a beachside hotel doesn't even register.

He doesn't know that Billy killed his son, and likely wouldn't care even if he did. Absolute power has driven every "hero" in the Boys' world back into a state of infantile depravity; they haven't discovered morality yet, they only desire gratification and wish-fulfillment, in whatever form of depravity that comes next while never hurting them, and Queen Maeve's decision to drink herself silly at the tedium of it all remains the wisest decision we've ever seen any of them display.

There's predictable gore in the way Billy copes with the aftermath of his apocalypse, and believable disdain in the way Mallory recruits him to the American team of black ops intent on coping with the worst the Supers can dish out. The hard sell seems to amount to nothing more than: "Do you want to kill them? Good, we would like that."

The final scene is gratuitous and signature, and the bad taste it leaves comes from the parent series' continual befuddlement and condemnation of anything other than rosy, besotted, "natural" heterosexual sex. As the other miniseries and the worst excesses of the Seven have shown, orgies are bad, transvestites are bad, horny teenagers are bad, rich men want to rape the wrong holes and strong women still sleep around. Underlying subtexts refute some of this, with our well-endowed Russian friend one of the more positive supers in a lot of ways, or Maeve stepping in to protect Starlight from Black Noir... but nothing is ever going to wash clean the horrors of the child abuse practices of the G-Men, or the overall message that what Billy and Becky had was heaven. We get why Billy was so drawn to Hughie, though, from the start, as Hughie also lost a lover to the excesses of the supers. And now, though Butcher doesn't agree, we know that his love for Starlight is just as "pure." 

Certainly there's little to surprise us in Butcher wandering through an isolated house where the worst crimes seem to be four-way sex upstairs and a druggy haze down below. Seeing Butcher shoot a sleeping fish-lady in the heart is not pretty, nor is watching him chase down some sort of ice generator who hopes to run to safety across a frozen lake. Fat chance, the kid is no Bobby Drake.

We've seen Butcher become the cold killing machine he was almost raised to become, and understand clearly how Becky's death (and the insane way it happened) inevitably placed him on this path. We'll cheer when the Homelander finally pays for his crimes. But is Billy's revenge the best we can hope for? Becky lived her final days in silent suffering in order to keep him from this path of violence as long as she could.

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at

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