Jimmy’s Bastards #8 (May 2018)

Jimmy's Bastards #8

There’s one more Jimmy’s Bastards after this one. It only runs nine. Thank goodness.

The series has been a littly wobbly–though sometimes a lot wobbly–and, as Ennis prepares for the finale, it’s finally stabilized. Sure, Jimmy’s still extremely upset and emotionally distressed and in his pajamas (not to mention bringing his puppy) but he’s in motion. It helps.

His partner, who somehow manages to be a perfectly good character and deserving of more page-time… well, her name still doesn’t stick in the noggin. Nancy. Nancy tries to bring the old Jimmy back while she steps up to save the day.

Unfortunately, she’s not the hero so the plot twists don’t go in her favor.

Some great art from Braun, like, you forget how good Braun’s art can be and then there’s an issue like this one. Just great action art, great movement, great expressions.

And Ennis keeps the train running. It’s always compelling, especially since there’s only one more left. I was terrified he was going to go straight into another story arc instead.

CREDITS

Go Full Villain; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

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Jimmy’s Bastards #7 (March 2018)

Jimmy's Bastards #7

Jimmy’s Bastards ran the risk of going on too long, with Ennis running out of story in the first arc. If it’s an arc. The first six issues. But with issue #7 he seems to have things moving again. Jimmy’s back in the game, albeit slowly, as he’s got to deal with the institutionalization thing.

And Nancy gets a bunch to do on her own.

Still way too much with the offspring, who aren’t anywhere near as diverting as the amount of pages Ennis dedicates to them suggests. Everything with the kids feels like filler, until there’s action, then it’s at least that awesome Braun action.

The book’s not spectacular or anything (and never–or rarely–has been to this point), but it’s certainly in better shape than I thought it’d be at this point. Ennis does have a continuation in mind; I’d just assumed he was dragging things out.

At least he’s got Braun on the art. Braun makes up for a lot.

CREDITS

I Never Get Tired of That Sound; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards #6 (January 2018)

Jimmy's Bastards #6

Jimmy’s Bastards #6 is all about the true horror of the Bastards’ plan. It breaks Jimmy. His partner tries to get him out of his funk–Jimmy’s gone nonverbal–can she do it in time to save the day?

Ennius juxtaposes her well-drawn but tedious visit to the mental hospital with flashbacks to Jimmy’s discovery of the aforementioned true horror.

Ennius does all right with the partner’s monologuing. Not great but definitely all right.

The problem is it’s a stretch issue. It’s issue six, it’s time for Jimmy’s Bastards to wrap up and instead we’re just going into the second arc. Worse, what if the series is planned for twelve and Ennius has paced it so poorly. Everything in Bastards is thin, everyone is caricature; Ennis doesn’t go for character development in this book, he goes for sight gags.

Sometimes exceptionally gross ones.

It’s been difficult to maintain enthusiasm for this book, despite it sometimes being good and usually being better than mediocre (Ennis mediocre being much better than most other mediocres). And now he’s dragging it out? Bastards is on the brink of exasperating.

Great Braun art, though. At least one beautiful–horrifying–double-page spread.

CREDITS

The Laughing Academy; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards 5 (November 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #5

And there you have it, don’t count Ennis out, not even on Jimmy’s Bastards.

It’s been a rocky series and this issue’s probably just another peak, but it’s a good peak. It’s beautifully paced, it’s funny, it’s dry. The Britishness comes through.

The issue’s all action. Regent’s doing things and Nancy’s doing things. Bloodshed and dead Regent offspring ensue.

But what does a good issue of Jimmy’s Bastards mean? It doesn’t mean the comic’s saved. It’s been too rocky. When Ennis is on for a series, he tends to be on for it. At least by issue five. Bastards is an ongoing, which is concerning enough for Ennis these days, but one without a clear point? Well, it’s hard to get invested in the comic again. Beyond reading it, enjoying it, appreciating it. Anticipating it is out.

Which is fine.

Good art as always from Braun, including a great double-page spread of Nancy’s skydive landing. The book’s fine, with some standout issues, it’s just not consistent.

CREDITS

Better Get the Puppy; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Guy Major; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards 4 (October 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #4

Well. I’m not sure what to think of Jimmy’s Bastards right now. Ennis goes broad with the humor, giving Braun what becomes a litany of sight gags involving the villains’ mass disaster plan. And the usually careful dialogue gives way to a bunch of inferences and interrupted thoughts. Ennis returns to his undercooked (still bleeding) “attack” on social justice and basically just fills pages with it until the mass disaster strikes. Then it’s time for Braun’s art fest, then it’s off to the cliffhanger setup.

Take

It’s technically all right–mostly Braun’s art–but Ennis isn’t putting Jimmy’s Bastards is a good spot for a strong finish. More like he’s hobbling it and reducing its ambition.

CREDITS

Takeable-Pissable; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards 3 (August 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #3

While Jimmy’s Bastards is only on the third issue, it certainly feels established. Ennis is working on the banter between Jimmy and Nancy–during a shootout–and it seems like it’s going to be Nancy who figures out the plot. Jimmy’s a little too dense for it. Ennis is falling into some familiar characterizations for the villains and his attempts at being anti-politically correct are word balloon fodder, but Bastards is still moving well enough not to trip. Having Braun on the art helps.

CREDITS

Some Animals Are More Equal Than others; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards 2 (July 2017)

Jimmy's Bastards #2

Ennis retreds more familiar territory this issue–Jimmy’s Bastards really does feel like all his most successful elements set into a new, gimmick-y book, but it sure does work. Especially here. There’s a lot of banter between Jimmy and his female partner and some nice foreground and background humor. Braun’s art is fantastic–the issue opens with a helicopter assault on a golf game, then moves on to investigation and conspiracy. And Idi Amin as a cameo. Because Ennis. It’s perfectly solid, accessible Ennis. This issue’s success suggests he might even be able to keep it going for the whole series.

CREDITS

Ninety-Nine Percent; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

Jimmy’s Bastards 1 (June 2017)

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What if James Bond had a bunch of bastard children out to destroy him (and, presumably, Mother England)? That concept is the hook for Jimmy’s Bastards, which has got to be some of Garth Ennis’s most accessible work in years. Sure, it’s frequently risque, but it’s still an accessible risque. It’s all for laughs so far. Are they great laughs? Not really. Mostly smiles, the occasional eye-roll actually–Ennis takes some way too easy shots at "safe spaces," for instance–but it’s got gorgeous Russ Braun art. Braun handles the action, the hi-tech, the London setting, and the goofy villains beautifully.

CREDITS

Get Daddy; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Mike Marts; publisher, AfterShock Comics.

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)

848225

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)

799397

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.

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