THE BOYS – DEAR BECKY / BLACK LABEL – BIRDS OF PREY [Comics Reviews]: The Boys/Birds Are Back In Town!

“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007
THE BOYS: DEAR BECKY #1 – Dynamite Comics

The Boys are back in town (sorry…I had to. I’m going mad with isolation…)! Writer Garth Ennis and artists Darick Robertson (doing covers) and the incomparable Russ Braun return to the satirical, perverse, hilarious, seedy, ultra-violent world of Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, and the rest of the Boys, in The Boys: Dear Becky. And they haven’t missed a single step. A highly-anticipated title for yours truly, I had an ache to return to this series after Jimmy’s Bastards had wrapped up (the same high-concept satirical deconstruction…but with James Bond in lieu of superheroes).

Here, we’re thrust back into the life of Hugh Campbell, the seemingly last survivor of the titular Boys, the government agency that monitors supes. He’s living a quiet life in Scotland with Annie, having spent the better part of a decade traveling. Opening while he’s catching up with his buddy Bobbi (nee Bobby), we see how closely the real world has melded with the fictional (debates about being “woke”; half-hearted threats by a bartender joking about giving them corona; Bobbi’s continued joshing of Hughie using dead-names and wrong pronouns), the story then goes back about twenty years, after a diary belonging to Becky Butcher — with additional writing by Billy himself — shows up in Hughie’s mail.

And here is where we jump feet first into the dirty business. Reintroducing ourselves to the Boys, we find them in a bathroom, having abducted a ten-year-old boy, and using a razor to slice out his tongue. It’s a hard line they’ve crossed, but once the kid turns to Billy and angrily shouts “THYATHAM!”, and the anger with which this kid stares daggers is at once terrifying and pitiful. It’s a credit to Braun that he’s able to elicit such emotions from a single still image; that and Billy’s face, looking at this pathetic Shazam-knockoff, describing how for a brief second he just sees a ten-year-old, and just how foresaken he is with the work he does already…but then that moment passes. We’re getting into the fabled Mallory-era of the Boys, with the gang at the height of their abilities, and running like clockwork.

While Dear Becky will explore the ramifications of Hughie’s earlier work (and who knows? He might return to it. There are still a few active supes operating in this world), the voyages back into the past are a literal bloody good time. They haven’t missed a step, and if the following issues are as strong, then you shouldn’t miss an issue. It’s like it never ended. 5/5 Good ol’ Beezers.

-J.L. Caraballo

“Alter Boi” Frank Simonian
BIRDS OF PREY #1 – DC Comics (Black Label)

DC’s Black Label titles have gone out to tell stories in its own universe with a somewhat more mature or adult atmosphere. Brian Azzarello is a favorite of mine personally, and his writing of Birds of Prey on the Black Label, did not disappoint.

The book collectively is well put together. Pencils by Emanuela Lupacchino fill out the panels nicely and progress the script with ease. The art is stellar and is matched with inks by Ray McCarthy that contain the pencils by Lupacchino. Colors by Trish Mulvihill and John Kalisz electrify the art and script. It is refreshing for all these elements to coincide with each other. Everything just flowed in this issue. This issue was a little slow in pacing as where the story is going, but that felt entirely intentional as this was the first issue and really laid out the introduction to the series.

DC Black Label Birds of Prey is with a familiar team, but in the early stages of meeting and banding together against a mutual cause. Harley Quinn is fresh out of the Suicide Squad, and away from Amanda Waller’s grasp. Harley is also trying to find herself post-Joker and their relationship. Her inner-search finds her literally in the arms of the Huntress. Following a team-up with the other Birds, Quinn must prove that she fits into the group and their connection with a case dealing with the criminal underground of Gotham City.  While there is plenty of action within this issue, where the story heads is the return factor for this series. 3.5/5 Bibles.

-Frank Simonian

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