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Dynamite Entertainment

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Written by Garth Ennis and Drawn by Darick Robertson

Hughie and Robin are young and in love, and it feels like it will last forever. Sadly, it only lasts thirty seconds, as Robin is killed in the middle of a super-powered incident, leaving Hughie emotionally bereft. That puts him on the radar of Butcher, a covert operative who runs a team of agents specially trained to take out metahumans and keep others in line if necessary. Now Hughie must decide if he wants to slink into pain and suffering or do something about those who took away his life so that others can be spared his pain. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Hughie discovers that his world’s superhumans are an unrepentant group of deviants and bastards and they deserve every bit of what The Boys can offer.

In fact, the main group of heroes in The Boys’ world is as far from your class kid cartoon supers as possible. They’re greedy, dishonest, and blackmail a new female member of the team for sex in exchange for her acceptance to the group. They’re a rotten lot. But they’re on the backburner for The Boys right now, as the primary group of sidekicks (think TEEN TITANS) takes priority. And what The Boys have planned isn’t pretty. But it is delicious.

The publishing history of this no-fuckin’-lie-For-Mature-Readers title is well known and easily located on the web. I had been waiting for the trade paperback, and had actually pre-ordered it from the original solicitation. Now I’m sorry I did; THE BOYS is delightfully mean, black-hearted stuff, nearly as cold as the villains of the book themselves. Wait- that’s not quite true, either. Because excepting Hughie and the poor girl victimized by her own teammates (mentioned above), no one in the book is anything but a complete shite. You just like the shites without super powers a lot better than those with.

If issue seven was the one that broke DC’s back, it isn’t hard to see why; it takes a particularly nasty poke at the comics industry, the “Big Two” in particular, and especially one legendary creator. But I can’t take issue with it; hell, I can’t take issue with any part of THE BOYS. Ennis and Robertson have put together one of the most gleefully demented and wrong books of the past decade and I ate it up with a spoon. I honestly can’t recommend it to everyone; it isn’t even remotely for everyone. But it is for those who have a sense of humor and/or a heart as black as coal, and that’s certainly me. More, please, and make it snappy.

Marc Mason

Written and Drawn by Jim Starlin

I’m sure there are stranger ideas than cosmic-comic master Jim Starlin putting out a full-length graphic novel that qualifies as a kid-friendly, all-ages book, but I’m hard-pressed to think of one right now. The man who brought us Thanos’s obsession with death and Captain Marvel’s bout with cancer now delivers the story of a young orphan boy named Ray Torres. Ray has been chosen as the latest in a long line of cosmic guardians, a group of super-powered individuals who protect the galaxy at large (showing that, at least, we’re working with a Starlin we’re familiar with thematically). But Ray’s basic lessons are about to get a twist when an alien named Hyperion Mors snags him from his mentors and shows him the face of the enemy he’s being taught to battle… and that there are other forces playing in the middle of the grand war for the fate of the universe.

As a child of the comics of the 70s and 80s, I have more than a passing nostalgia for Jim Starlin’s work, so I went into KID KOSMOS with certain expectations. No one does cosmic stories like Starlin, and no one draws them like him, either. His gift has always involved drawing wondrous creatures, strange ships, and a bizarre universe, and them making them accessible to the reader, and that’s on full display here. But his weakness has always been in how his cosmic characters react to their great power- almost inevitably, he winds up having them defeat themselves because they know they are ultimately unworthy of the gifts they’ve been given. Wisely, though, this problem isn’t present here, as Ray is young and hasn’t taken his powers for granted or adopted a belief that he truly deserves them.

The only serious problem I had with KID KOSMOS is that the dialogue ranges from flat to leaden; Ray sounds like what Starlin believes a kid sounds like, not like an actual kid. And the supporting cast, outside of Mors, delivers their words like they actually know they only exist for expository purpose. But in the end, I still enjoyed KID KOSMOS for the fun it offered and the way it worked as a reminder of the comics I loved as a youth, and that’s more than enough for me to recommend it.

Marc Mason

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