Where Monsters Dwell 5 (December 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #5

So light. It’s so light. And it’s a sequel to War Is Hell, which I’ve read at least twice and I can’t remember any of it. Not even when there’s a flashback–got to love the Marvel Ennis-verse.

But, even though it’s light, it’s really funny. Ennis is able to run with a joke until it’s funny. He doesn’t wear the reader down by relentlessly hammering it in, he just molds the joke until it’s ready. There’s a maturity to the humor. Even if the joke isn’t particularly high brow.

This issue wraps up the Phantom Eagle’s adventures in the Savage Land. Does it have anything to do with Secret Wars? No. In fact, it’s just Phantom Eagle in the Savage Land. And the Savage Land part isn’t even particularly important. Ennis and Braun show they can get an issue out of almost any material and they do. It’s good material, sure, but it’s not the most compelling. Most of it is a narrated flashback.

Where Monsters Dwell probably reads better in a sitting, just for how Ennis paces out the jokes. But well done, disposable, excellent amusement.

CREDITS

What Comes of Empire-Building; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Where Monsters Dwell 4 (October 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #4

It’s not deep, it’s not in good taste, it has nothing to do with Marvel Comics, it has nothing to do with Secret Wars, but it’s funny. Where Monsters Dwell is funny. Ennis has a good time–not a great time, because he’s clearly just spinning his wheels to make some smoke and not actually trying anything–and Braun’s art is excellent. Amazons, pygmies, giant sharks, dinosaurs–is Disney aware of this title?

Maybe the only reason Marvel brought Ennis on for Secret Wars was to show they still had some autonomy.

But Monsters Dwell is, four issues in, something of a strange book. The protagonist is a complete jackass, which is Ennis’s point of the character. Only, he’s the protagonist. The comic follows him around, being a jackass. Ennis doesn’t spend any real time with the female lead. She’s joined the Amazons and is off panel most issue.

Seeing how Ennis handles the battle–there’s a battle–one does wish he’d have taken it a little more seriously. I’m sure he would’ve had some great details for the prehistoric warfare.

Instead, it’s just fun.

CREDITS

See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Where Monsters Dwell 3 (September 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #3

Garth Ennis is being a silly guy. There’s no other way to describe Where Monsters Dwell; it’s silly. It’s well-written and Braun’s art is great, but it’s silly. There’s not so much a story as a series of good jokes, ending in a funny hard cliffhanger. It’s not even a dangerous one because Ennis doesn’t care about his characters and he doesn’t ask the reader to care. He’s just having a good time telling this story.

Maybe if it weren’t a Marvel comic, maybe if Ennis were doing something serious (or even hinting at something serious), it wouldn’t be as amusing. But Ennis still takes the time to get in strong characterizations and the way he paces out the humor is excellent. It’s a beautifully executed, completely unambitious amusement.

I guess it’s something of a bridging issue, with the humor disguising the lack of plot momentum. Regardless, real fun.

CREDITS

Tipping the Velvet; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Where Monsters Dwell 2 (August 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #2

Ennis is a funny guy. He’s so funny, in fact, I wonder if sometimes he isn’t funny just because he doesn’t want to get the reputation for being another funny comic book writer. Or maybe he just has actual ambitions outside writing a funny and exciting, if disposable, comic book.

Where Monsters Dwell continues the tale of the chauvinist pig male flier and the independent British lady in the Savage Land. The sad part is its a Secret Wars crossover, which means it probably can’t have a sequel continuing their misadventures together. Ennis gives them all the banter of a screwball romantic comedy–in fact, the comic sort of plays like one–but none of the romance. There’s no chemistry. And it’s hilarious.

As always, Braun is just as good at dinosaurs as mega-sharks and people. The whole thing is a slightly filling, elegantly designed, incredibly tasty little treat.

CREDITS

Meet the King; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Where Monsters Dwell 1 (July 2015)

Where Monsters Dwell #1

Thank goodness for Secret Wars, otherwise Garth Ennis and Russ Braun wouldn’t be doing a riff on pulp heroes. It’s got that Ennis attention to period detail, which Braun goes along with, but it’s far more irreverent than expected. Given Ennis’s concentration on historical war fiction, Where Monsters Dwell–set sometime post-WWI–works out beautifully. Ennis can put the serious attention into setting while still just having a good time.

And that good time is what puts Monsters immediately apart. The story seems to have the hero–The Phantom Eagle–ending up in the Savage Land because of the end of the world. Only the hero, nor anyone else Ennis introduces this issue, knows the world has ended. Instead, they’re just 1920s people ending up in the Savage Land.

And it works out. Braun doesn’t get a variety of dinosaurs to draw here, but his period work’s beautiful stuff.

CREDITS

Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Dono Sanchez Almara; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jake Thomas and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Boys 71 (October 2012)

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For the last regular issue–there’s one more, but this one ends the plot line of the the final arc at least–Ennis does rather well. He doesn’t recover the series, however. He turns in almost a standalone. One wouldn’t have to read the previous thirty or forty issues to still get a good experience.

One definitely wouldn’t have to read all the ancillary series, even though Ennis directly refers to many of them.

It’s a talking heads issue, a return to the good old days of Hughie and Butcher shooting the shit. And this time, Braun does really well with the scenery.

Unfortunately, a lot of the dialogue has to do with the silly stuff Ennis was done with The Boys. It reminds the reader the characters were deeper without Ennis trying too hard than when he pushes too hard.

It doesn’t right the course, but it’s definitely good.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 70 (September 2012)

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It’s a fast issue. Hughie gets to meet some mentioned, but never seen characters. Well, let’s just say Ennis should have gone the Vera and Maris route because doing a Lovecraft thing? Not the best scene. He can’t even make it funny when he tries.

Ennis resolves two mysteries the series never needed solving. Then he kicks off an ending somewhat akin to the one in Preacher. He has an excuse for it, sure, but it’s the same thing. Only Braun doesn’t go in enough for the iconic scenery to make it work.

There’s also a complete misfire of a 9/11 reference, which doesn’t sit particularly well. Ennis isn’t trying anything with The Boys, something I feared back when it became clear where he was going with things. Even worse than not trying–I just realized he borrows two things from Preacher–he’s not even trying to be witty.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 69 (August 2012)

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I’d say another problem with Ennis’s big twist is how many twists does he really need for this comic book. He’s about to hit seventy issues–I’m not going to do the math, but his readers have dropped north of two hundred bucks on this series (especially since it’s so heavy on continuity–no jumping on late)… Isn’t that investment worth something from the writer besides three or four twists in the grand finale?

Especially when the twists don’t amount to anything. Ennis is at least playing this “big” twist out through the finale arc. The last big twist got resolved in an issue or two.

Worse yet, he doesn’t seem to know how to write his villain. He turns him into a Bond villain and not a very good one.

It’s like he never wanted anyone to read this series a second time through. It’s a perplexing cop out.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Four; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 68 (July 2012)

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I don’t think I’ve ever quite read something like what Ennis is doing with The Boys. He’s making the reader feel bad about liking the comic. It’s a crazy thing, full of hostility.

There’s also some other stuff. Some good stuff. Well, the one good moment where the Female finally talks. It’s an awesome moment, really subdued. Ennis delivers that moment. The crazy stuff with the cliffhanger? Not so much.

But he’s operating on two levels simultaneously. He’s rewarding the reader for his or her patience while also chastising him or her for liking the characters. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes it. Maybe not good or even engaging, but interesting.

The opening, full of exposition as Hughie reveals the plans he’s discovered–but Mother’s Milk stays oddly quiet as to why he’s on board with Hughie–is a mess though. Ennis just can’t hide his boredom anymore.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 67 (June 2012)

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The biggest surprise this issue–and the issue has three or four surprises, maybe five–has to be Ennis deciding to deport the Boys. Except Mother’s Milk. It’s a throwaway little bit, intended to show how Hughie is becoming more like Butcher, but it’s an unexpected complication.

The other surprises? While Ennis hasn’t been foreshadowing them directly, he’s been hinting at them for quite some time. On one hand, he might be getting ambitious again with where he’s going to take the series for its conclusion. On the other, it’s a lot of sensationalism–over and over and over again this issue–and Ennis has already burned out the series’s ability to shock.

Strangely enough, when he’s showing the characters in such distress–previously likable characters–he can’t create concern for them. He’s let the series get too cynical, too harsh, for anyone to register as a human being anymore.

D+ 

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 66 (May 2012)

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Ennis opens with the most exciting thing in the issue–only he doesn’t intimate there’s not going to be anything else exciting in the issue. He also doesn’t explain the scene. He just lets it play out, then goes back to the fallout from the previous arc.

The Boys sort of break up this issue. They take a break, with Butcher messing around with everyone–mostly Hughie–and then Hughie has another big scene with Annie.

There’s also the corporate stuff, but it’s unclear if Ennis is doing it to show the resilient evil of corporate America or if it’s a subplot he’s going to bring in. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

This arc is set some time–a month, maybe more–after the previous issue. It already feels like a different comic. Instead of a last issue, Ennis is doing a last arc as postscript.

There’s very nice Braun art.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 65 (April 2012)

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And Ennis comes up with a huge surprise reveal–before teasing a surprise in the next issue. He doesn’t go as far with it as he could; he basically does a Brubaker. He reveals something in the characters’ history to change everything they knew and so on. He doesn’t do a full Brubaker though. I was worried he’d go too far… instead, he goes just far enough. It’s an awesome twist.

It just doesn’t make for an awesome finish. Seeing the Air Force take out the superheroes probably ought to be cooler but it’s just an expository moment. Ennis doesn’t worry about giving the reader anything to care about. It’s an odd misstep, given his experience writing war comics.

But the finish, with Butcher, isn’t particularly good either. It’s a little bit of too much in one issue and too many tricks in one issue.

Still, the big twist rocks.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, Russ Braun, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 64 (March 2012)

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There’s so much talking. Ennis just has Butcher and Hughie standing around talking for what seems like six pages. They’re waiting at the White House for the big showdown, only there’s a secret they don’t realize–Black Noir is up to something and no one knows about it except Mother’s Milk….

And he decides to wait until next issue to tell Hughie. Why? For drama.

It’s an enjoyable issue, especially with the Voight guy giving the Homelander a speech. The speech sort of implies the superheroes are disappointing because they never do attain the comic book ideal. It’s the closest Ennis has ever gotten to anyone hoping for such a thing in this series. It’s out of place, but a good moment.

There’s some other stuff–all the dirt on the superheroes gets out–but really it’s just Ennis getting ready for the big finale.

Like I said, enjoyable stuff.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 63 (February 2013)

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Even though Braun gets loose every other page (or maybe even panel) and Ennis’s big finish for Hughie and A-Train flops, the issue works. Things are finally coming to a close and Ennis is working at a breakneck speed. There are lots of callbacks to better issues, whether it’s the stuff between Frenchie and the Female or Maeve and Annie–Ennis knows what he’s doing. He’s going for maximum impact as efficiently as possible.

Lots of little things happen in the issue, with the big thing–the superheroes attacking the Pentagon–not even getting real page time. Ennis instead focuses on his scenes. The fight scene with the Titans stand-ins is sadly underwhelming for the most part and the aforementioned A-Train resolution flops. Annie probably gets the best scene.

Ennis keeps promising something great in the next issue but doesn’t deliver.

This one’s shallow, but moderately amusing.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Four; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 62 (January 2012)

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I don’t know what’s going on with Braun’s art, but he gets positively cartoony at times this issue. It’s like he’s too enthusiastic with Ennis’s humorous moments, which mostly involve Butcher making a wisecrack.

With Ennis trying to wind everything up, he’s dialed certain things back on The Boys. It looks a lot like the early issues, but he’s no longer reminding the reader of the characters’ journeys. If he keeps going this way, the series could have been twenty or thirty issues, not sixty plus.

It’s most relevant with how he handles Hughie. Hughie tells two big secrets and both remind of the old Hughie, not the one with all the profound emotional issues. Ennis is going for the smile and the laugh.

It makes the comic more entertaining and it insulates Ennis from failure. It just doesn’t make the comic better… but maybe Ennis was always faking ambition.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 61 (December 2011)

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The Boys is so far off the rails, it’s hard to even get excited about a decent issue anymore. And this issue’s decent. It’s not good or great, but it’s got a couple funny moments and Ennis doesn’t shortchange Mother’s Milk entirely–just partially.

And there’s a funny bit where Ennis makes fun of the Teen Titans.

But the good moments just gloss over the bad ones and even Ennis seems to notice he’s on repeat. Hughie wants to stop being violent again, which Butcher points out is his favorite thing to say. There’s yet another scene with Annie about how Hughie isn’t comfortable with her. Ennis isn’t even pretending he’s not repeating Hughie scenes.

Sadly, there’s no point to it. Ennis isn’t making a statement about the lack of possibility for fictional characters, he just doesn’t have anything else to do with Hughie.

Kind of like the comic itself.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 60 (November 2011)

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Once again, it’s very hard to determine whether Ennis had these plans for The Boys all along or if he rushed things along with contrivances.

Because it sure feels like he’s rushing things along.

Most of the issue is spent with the President, who’s sort of been a character but not one to run the major sequence in an issue. It’s even been a while since Vic the Veep showed up; Ennis mentions him a lot (hence the memorable name), but it’s definitely been a while.

They’re back now, as Ennis starts moving towards the end. He also does a cliffhanger with a reference to some lame nineties series from Image. At least I think it’s an Image series–cybernetic superheroes or something. Ennis isn’t taking much pleasure out of the cameos. He always treated Boys as a black comedy at the start… but not anymore.

Still, could be worse.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 59 (October 2011)

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Ennis can definitely still write great scenes. The Butcher “losing it” scene in this issue–it takes up the last three or so pages, but feels like a lot more–is amazing Ennis writing.

Strangely, it comes in an otherwise weak issue. There’s a talk between the Boys and the Seven, just a talk, then Hughie going off the deep end on Butcher at a staff dinner. That scene is particularly weak because Ennis’s arc for Hughie this issue is awful. He starts one place then immediately goes another–Ennis writes him angry, sure, but the final place he takes him doesn’t make any sense either.

There’s some more stuff with the evil company, mechanically moving along its subplot. Ennis is solving mysteries no one really cares about at this point. He’s winding down the series and he’s hitting his plot points, nothing else.

But that last scene… truly amazing.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 58 (September 2011)

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Most of the “events” this issue are old items hinted at in some bug logs Hughie is reading. There’s a scene where he and Butcher continue investigating the crime, but it actually just confirms the suspicions they’ve had for two issues. It doesn’t develop anything, just confirms. Ennis is really treading water here….

Especially given the scene with the Legend and Butcher. The whole “Is Butcher a bad guy” foreshadowing runs through the scene and I realized Ennis tries as hard as he can to bring it back every issue. To force it into one conversation or another; at this point, there’s no way for him to do it naturally.

And nothing about The Boys feels natural anymore. Ennis has hit a point where way too little is happening in his story arcs. He’s not taking his time to enjoy; here it’s just bad jokes.

He’s tired, so’s the comic.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 57 (August 2011)

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There sure is a lot of talking this issue. There’s Hughie and Annie talking–they talk a whole lot, all about their relationship’s current status, Hughie working for the Boys, Annie being one of the Seven. Wait, it actually sounds like a bunch of conversations Ennis has been writing for twenty issues or so.

Then he’s got Butcher recapping the previous issue.

There’s a long conversation between Hughie and Mother’s Milk–this issue is the first one where Hughie sees the Boys after his trip away (he really didn’t rush to get his hamster back). The long conversation sort of moves things forward, sort of recaps a lot of other things Ennis has gone through already.

I feel like I’m missing something, but I’m really not. The Seven’s evil plot doesn’t even get play; it’s just a talking heads issue with old conversations.

There’s also a cloyingly sensational soft cliffhanger.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 56 (July 2011)

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Ennis brings Hughie and Butcher back together in a criminal investigation. It’s very similar to one of the early Boys arcs. It’s straight investigation with a lot of lurid elements. The only big difference is there’s a little with the evil corporate guys and then something with the Seven. It might be the first time Ennis has actually had the Seven on the same page as the Boys when it comes to investigating something.

It’s a decent enough issue, though Ennis draws a lot of attention to the foreshadowing stuff. Does Butcher know Hughie has met Mallory, will be find him out? Are the Seven on to Maeve? It’s mildly annoying but not particularly distracting stuff. Ennis writes a lot of good dialogue–Hughie and Butcher talk a lot.

Braun’s art is fantastic here too. There’s not a lot for him to draw, but he nails everything Ennis gives him.

CREDITS

The Big Ride, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 51 (February 2011)

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First, a technical issue. The company woman who’s decided to get rid of the Boys and the Seven has a computer simulation running with both team’s head shots then an “accuracy” calculation. Except Braun goes for realism, showing the Mac taskbar… and the Photoshop app running.

Pretty sure Photoshop doesn’t run military simulations, not even in the world of The Boys. An editor should have caught it, but it’s unclear if this series’s editor does any work at all.

The issue opens with a lot of exposition in dialogue–useless political stuff–before finally getting to Butcher blackmailing Monkey. It’s a fine sequence, funny, lots of little surprises; no reason Ennis should’ve played Butcher scared a couple issues ago. This resolution was always available.

Then Butcher hangs out with his CIA boss lady for a scene. More good stuff.

Ennis isn’t back on track, he’s just had a good issue.

CREDITS

Proper Preparation and Planning, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 50 (January 2011)

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Having Mallory just be some guy doesn’t pay off. Sure, it’s realistic enough, but why hide his face for forty issues. No reason he couldn’t show up. It’s not like he’s Butcher’s dad or Hughie’s or a clone of Frenchie. He’s just some old white guy.

Ennis hiding him suggests he was trying to get up the interest in the reveal and the backstory. Since the pay-off is non-existent, the whole thing was just Ennis messing with the reader. His handling of it makes me somewhat suspicious overall now. All the promised pay-offs all of a sudden seem less likely.

The flashback continues without many surprises. There’s a cute Thing reference. None of the scenes are earth shattering, none seem to have much effect on the present, it’s just Ennis filling in with long scenes when short would have worked just as well.

It’s kind of boring.

CREDITS

Proper Preparation and Planning, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 49 (December 2010)

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So it’s all setup for Ennis flashing back to the big first fight between The Seven and The Boys? With Butcher recounting the event to his dog, I’m not sure the Homelander is the only nutty one in the comic.

The transition doesn’t go well at all–because Butcher doesn’t usually talk to Terror for this purpose–and it’s actually not a particularly good encounter. Ennis has everyone talking way too much. He’s being very coy, very opaque and I keep losing interest in the exposition. Whether it’s the Homelander, Mother’s Milk or Butcher, there’s just too much talking. The book, even at its best, isn’t worth all this effort.

I assume Ennis put in the cliffhanger to make it more action-packed–I forgot all about the Homelander blathering–but it doesn’t help. All these explanations don’t make for a good comic. Not even Ennis can sell superfluous exposition.

CREDITS

Proper Preparation and Planning, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 48 (November 2010)

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Why get Russ Braun to draw and then do all that color shading when he’s capable of doing it himself? Does Dynamite actually tell their artists to go light on detail?

Ennis isn’t just doing a bridging issue, he’s apparently doing a bridging arc. The Seven are gearing up for whatever the Homelander has planned, the Boys are getting ready to fight, there’s a bunch of regarding both things.

The company guys at Vought have a bunch of scenes about the insanity of the Seven, without calling it insanity. The Boys do too–calling it insanity–but there’s really nothing here. Lots of talking, not enough movement forward. The biggest change in the issue is the CIA doofus becoming Butcher’s boss.

It’s not exactly like Ennis is treading water, he’s moving stuff forward… he’s just doing it oddly. He’s got a bunch of B plots without an apparent A one.

CREDITS

Proper Preparation and Planning, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 47 (October 2010)

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Ennis inexplicably employs a third person narrator for the end of the issue, after Hughie breaks up with Annie. I’m nearly positive he’s never used it before in the series. It’s jarring, reminding the reader it’s just a comic.

He also skips over giving the reader a look into Hughie’s thought process, as he acts so out of character. Traumatic event aside, he’s still acting out of character. And Annie’s somewhat sympathetic… but not exactly well-written.

As for Butcher, who’s the only character with a lot of dialogue besides them–and Maeve, who comes off well in her drunken ramblings–he comes off as malicious. It’s strange stuff.

At the same time, Ennis is building Homelander’s big evil subplot. He’s clearly setting up Annie and Hughie’s breakup to play into it, which is too bad. He doesn’t let anything in The Boys grow organically.

But it works more often than not.

CREDITS

Believe, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 46 (September 2010)

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Butcher gets around to setting Hughie up for the whole truth about Annie, which implies he’s also messing with Mother’s Milk’s flask, but there’s also a big reveal about Maeve.

It all of a sudden makes sense why Ennis has always been so careful with her character–he’s got major plans for her. Or at least minor interesting ones.

It’s another of those Butcher and Hughie talking issues, just like the old days. At one point Hughie even mentions they haven’t had a long talk for a while.

There’s just not a lot of content to it. There’s a funny moment for the Female, but otherwise it’s just exposition. Mallory–the mystery Boys member who’s never been seen on panel–shows up for a second in the flashback, so does the Legend, but it’s all just fill in. Ennis probably could have done it in dialogue.

It’s fine, just underwhelming.

CREDITS

Believe, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 45 (August 2010)

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Actually, it wasn’t a soft cliffhanger last issue; Ennis takes the reader through Annie telling Hughie about her superhero life and Ennis and Braun show Hughie’s thought process in glorious detail.

There’s a little humor with Frenchie and the Female as they infiltrate the superhero religion convention. Not a lot, but enough–with visual gags–to get through all the boring plotting Homelander does the rest of the issue. He’s got some master plan, which Ennis is way too obscure about in the dialogue; I’ve got no idea what to expect.

Otherwise the issue is mostly just Hughie freaking out and Butcher finally having a little talk with him. Not even one where he says anything, because Ennis is keeping the deep conversation for later (if ever).

It’s okay enough, but after racing into this issue’s situations, Ennis is slowing down. He’s laying out new subplots while delaying others’ resolutions.

CREDITS

Believe, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 44 (July 2010)

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I was going to comment on how different Robertson’s art looks, but it’s Russ Braun, not Robertson.

Braun does a good job too, except Tony Avina’s colors do way too much, putting in cheekbones and the like.

Ennis finally has a go at religion this time–corporate “700 Club” type religion, with some Scientology digs thrown in, all tied into the superhero thing. It’s a funny opening sequence, then it turns into a plot point for Annie.

Meanwhile, there’s tension between Mother’s Milk and Butcher, Hughie in the dark about some things, Annie deciding he shouldn’t be in the dark… Not to mention the Homelander apparently on the way to a meltdown.

It’s a fast read, but a full issue. Instead of putting things off, Ennis finally seems ready to move ahead with his long gestating plots. Maybe having Braun on the book got him moving.

Great soft cliffhanger too.

CREDITS

Believe, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 43 (June 2010)

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It’s another underwhelming issue. Ennis actually goes so far as to have Annie sitting in a coffee shop, writing Hughie an email all about her secrets.

Why Butcher isn’t investigating her (or why he doesn’t have Hughie’s phone automatically tapped) is left untouched. One has to assume Ennis is trying to get the series somewhere and he likes this route the best. But it’s terrible plotting. It’s tedious and boring.

Maybe having the super team be okay is the problem. They aren’t funny, they’re just nice. It’s like The Boys can’t function with sincerity and now Ennis has two big sincere things going on. Annie and Hughie’s love story is sincere. It just doesn’t amuse.

There’s some stuff with Mother’s Milk, but he’s not active enough to make the pages count. Ennis probably could have done all this story in two issues. Instead, he stretched it thin as he could.

CREDITS

The Innocents, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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