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Herogasm #4 FULL REVIEW and RECAP!

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  • Herogasm #4 FULL REVIEW and RECAP!

    Wherein we suddenly switch gears from "Full Speed Porno" to "Lightspeed Exposition."

    When last we left Butcher and The Boys, (kinda sounds like a late 60's Art-Rock ensemble, doesn't it?) they were interrogating somebody. As you may recall, I was a little pissed off that Ennis had spent an entire issue building up to the Climatic Reveal of... "some dude".

    Well, it turns out "some dude" is a Secret Service agent, assigned to Vic the Veep. And in the first of many, many side notes, let me say that as much as I'm a huge Transmetropolitan fan, the fact that the President of the United States and his V.P. have names like "Dakota Bob" and "Vic the Veep" tends to really crotch-punch my immersion into the story.

    So the Secret Service guy, who shall from henceforth be known as "Agent Exposition", has missed his flight. The Bad Guys, who are part of a group called "Red Water", (not to be confused in ANY WAY with the Black Water mercenaries that were all the rage in Iraq last year) decide to ignore the sudden disappearance of the only person in their group that isn't a murderous sociopath.

    Cut to Butcher and crew, who are holding Agent Exposition hostage. There are a lot of good things about this issue of Herogasm, not the least of which is the fact that the book has dropped any pretense whatsoever of The Boys being "good guys". This is done by way of Butcher explaining that "of course they're the good guys", while everyone else on the team does their best to look as demented as possible.

    This brings me to "Inexplicable Comic Cliches #2" for this issue: The name of the story is "Sparta". I don't know when it became hip to give story-arcs titles that are either song lyrics or movie references, but it's friggin' annoying. The story could have been titled "Ow my balls" and it would have made as much sense. More, come to think of it.

    At this point, Agent Exposition asks why they've beaten him up and taken him hostage. Note to Ennis: Never have a character bring up a question that you, as Writer, cannot answer rationally. Butcher replies with several variations of "because we're Dicks". There's a lot of talking in this issue, bro. I'm sayin' a LOT of talking.

    Eventually, we cut to Herogasm, where things are obviously winding down. Jack and A-Train, having apparently bonded, are having a "worst thing in the world" competition. A-Train wins with "performing a scatological sex-act on your mother and being surprised by your father." Note that this isn't even remotely the worst thing in the world, as anyone who's been subjected to "Crossed" can attest.

    Soon, Homelander shows up and tells them that they'd better show up next issue for the Supies. The Supies are like the Oscars, only for sex offenders. Jack and A-Train seem none to enthused, but hey, it's Superma... uh, Homelander, so they agree to go.

    Back with the Boys, Agent Exposition is about to deposit a large runny pile of Plot upon the Boys. The problem is that we already know his story. That's the problem with Side-Arc books like this: nothing important will ever be revealed. But here we go anyway. I'll put anything we didn't already know in Bold.

    Vic The Veep is a sexually perverted dimwit.
    Vought American used 9/11 as a means of Weaponizing Supes.
    Vic hit Dakota Bob with a fire extinguisher so that the Seven could try and take out the plane headed for the Twin Towers.

    While Agent Exposition tells his story, we cut to a couple of Vought guys, who are sitting and talking. Lotta sitting in this book, bro. Lotta talking. Two full pages of it, to get across the point that Vic is a moron. Never in the history of comics has so much ink been devoted to make sure that we realize that one minor character is an ineffectual idiot.

    Back with Agent Exposition, we get the rest of the 9/11 story, along with some really weird bullshit about how they "can't prove Vic hit the President" even though:
    A: They're in a High Security room which would surely have cameras.
    B: There were at least 20 guys in the room who had NO OTHER JOB besides watching the President.
    C: It doesn't really matter if you have fucking proof or not!

    If I'm your boss and I'm standing next to you one moment and I wake up in the hospital the next with a dent in my skull and the knowledge that you REVERSED MY LAST ORDER, I'm not going to whine about how I "don't remember who hit me." I'm just going to fire your stupid ass.

    This is what Roger Ebert likes to call an "idiot plot" because it's success hinges on everyone involved being an idiot.

    We cut back to the Vought guy, now meeting with Vic. More sitting and talking ensues. We are again informed, just in case we missed it the first 700 times, that Vic is stupid, Vought is Evil, and that they plan to kill the President and replace him with Vic. One wonders why Vic hasn't just capped the President himself, given that the Ennis version of America seems to operate off of some kind of "if nobody directly saw you do it, you can't be charged with a crime" theory of Jurisprudence.

    Bottom Line: There simply has to be some sort of happy medium between "nothing but porn" and "endless sitting". While I do admire the fact that this particular issue tried to advance the plot a little, I'm still left with the knowledge that for all the talking that went on in this book, (and bro, they talked a lot) we really aren't much wiser than we were before.

    Still, I'm giving it Three Stars out of Five, because at least Ennis made the effort to deliver an actual story, instead of just handing the artist a napkin reading "Poop jokes? I dunno, make a dog humping someone...?"

  • #2
    Couple of points, K-

    1. It's implied by the VA people that they not only knew about the attack beforehand, but that they had their own hijackers in play that same day. Think about it. How else could they be standing by, ready to take action, on a day they knew Dakota Bob was supposed to be out of the way? How would they know where to position the Seven unless they were in on it? You're a big fan of pointing out where Ennis recycles plot points, so you probably already know this was pretty much ripped out of the "Mother Russia" arc from his Punisher run.

    2. We don't know that Vic hit Bob. My guess would be an as-of-yet unrevealed speedster or invisible guy who was supposed to shadow Vic this day for just such an occasion. The rationale behind my theory? The attack was unnoticed, and the stealth needed for such an attack would almost have to be superhuman. The normal person would suspect Vic, but wouldn't be able to prove a thing. Exactly like what happened. Also, Vic seems to be too stupid to tie his own goddamn shoe. Do you really think Mr. "Help mah dickey hat" is capable of a sneak attack like that?


    • #3
      Hola BP!
      Your recap convinced me to go buy this issue. So it's really your fault that I'm back abusing Garth Ennis.

      I should mention right up front that this was my favorite issue of Herogasm so far. I bitch because it's my gimmick. Plus, it allows us to engage in discussions like this one.

      Let's talk about Point 1 first. Keep in mind that I don't have the issue in front of me at the moment, but it was my impression that Ennis went out of his way to specifically mention that nobody knew specifically what the attack was going to be or precisely when it would occur. They just knew that something was going down soon, and Vought wanted to capitalize on it.

      Again, I don't have the book in front of me, but I seem to recall being impressed that Ennis was making a point of avoiding all the "9/11 Truther" stuff that's going on here in the Real World.

      As for Point 2:
      Yes, I absolutely DO think that it was just supposed to be Vic that hit him. I think your plot is better than the one Ennis provided, but still, I think it was just supposed to be Vic that hit him. But either way, it would have been obvious to anyone that Vic was at very least in on it, considering that he immediately reversed Dakota Bob's order to shoot down the plane.

      Also, and this is a small point, but one worth mentioning: during the real 9/11, Bush and Cheney were both taken to SEPARATE locations, to insure continuity of Government should anything happen to one of them. I realize this is a comic book, and so comic book logic applies, but I also think that at very least the NSA would be aware of the possibility of an enemy Supe trying to kill the President, and would therefore have better security in place than what they apparently had.


      • #4
        K- as far as the details of 9/11 go, I assume you're referring to the Legend's intel on the matter. It should be mentioned that even the Legend's sources can go only so far. And from the "Glorious Five Year Plan" arc, we know that VA isn't above using terrorist acts to achieve their goals. There's no reason why they couldn't have sent a spy into Al-Qaeda, or even financed their own terrorist group specifically for this incident (yet again, Ennis borrowing from his own catalog).

        As far as the attack on Bob goes, It could be Vic, but Lucero said there was an inquiry afterwards, and even a BS investigation would've found his fingerprints on the extinguisher. If Vic was the assailant, they'd have all the evidence they needed there. After all, there was no fire, so why else would he have touched it? But then again, maybe that's just more "comic book logic."


        • #5
          I interpreted it as vought having manipulated the investigation, so that vic's off the hook, they're clearly powerful enough to do that, just for the fact they forced Bob into having Vic as VP


          • #6
            Originally posted by Claus_x View Post
            I interpreted it as vought having manipulated the investigation, so that vic's off the hook, they're clearly powerful enough to do that, just for the fact they forced Bob into having Vic as VP
            Yes, that's how I saw it as well: Vic hit Bob, everyone knows he hit Bob, but nobody is willing to provoke Vought.

            One comment on "comic book logic": I'm totally willing to suspend disbelief when reading fantasy. It would be impossible to be a comic fan otherwise. As much as I might mock some of the more questionable plot points, I'm completely willing to accept that, in this particular Comic Universe, Vought American is so powerful that there's no way to confront them directly without sparking an outright war.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
              Yes, that's how I saw it as well: Vic hit Bob, everyone knows he hit Bob, but nobody is willing to provoke Vought.

              My two cents on that scene:

              When everybody turns around and sees Bob on the ground, even the Vought people look shocked, as they didn't expect such a thing. What happened looks like improvised (Bob was supposed to be in Florida, didn't he?), and it's unlikely they told Vic to behave like that in the case, or Vic himself having such initiative.

              Also, Vic over-repeating the order to back off, and the order itself being suspectly clear, brief and well-spelled (remember we're talking about a "brain-mouth disconnected third grade", as the security chief put it), may mean someone told him to say exactly those few words.
              Last edited by Boris; 09-05-2009, 09:07 AM.