Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ryan's Best of 2008: Part III

# 6: The Boys - Dynamite

Scripts: Garth Ennis
Pencils: Darrick Robertson

The Boys is the # 6 book of 2008 because it continues to be the greatest achievment in vulgarity on the racks.

Some people don't really "get" The Boys. It's really just two great tastes that go great together.

Taste # 1: Vulgarity. Ennis likes to run without a governor, and God bless him for it. He doesn't like rules, and he doesn't like doing stuff because it's expected. The Boys is a book specifically designed to tear up The Rules, pee on them, and them feed them to The Rules' grandmother. And that's how we like it at Chronic Insomnia.

Taste # 2: Anti-Superheroism. Lots of writers are very vocal about how crappy and limiting they find superheroes. Besides Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Brian K. Vaughan come immediately to mind. There are scads of others, of course.

The Boys is a vehicle to completely debase everything Ennis can't stand about the genre. And so he takes great pleasure in the book, which in turn helps the reader enjoy it. Because nothing reads better than real passion. And Ennis fucking HATES superheroes.

So you put them together and you have a weekly romp of bad taste and unbridled passion. Dead heroes covered in their own feces, Hughie's defense of the gerbil, that mad Russian's love sausage, and Hughie's "strawberry beard" can I not adore this book?

And to be fair, it's more than just a gross-out affair. Ennis obviously has a detailed plan, and there is genuine intrigue about how this world has come about and what Butcher's plans might do to change things. If they can be changed. If they should be changed by a maniac like Butcher.

And just when you think things have gone too far off the rails, Hughie is there to bring them back to earth. The Boys is smarter and than a fart joke, and I'm glad we have it.

# 5: Buffy Season Eight - Dark Horse

Scripts: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Georges Jeanty

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight is the # 5 book of 2008 because it doesn't just faithfully capture the television series - it takes it up a notch.

The first thing that strikes you when you read Buffy Season 8 is how completely is embodies the television series in tone and dialogue. I've read Star Wars, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Battlestar Galactica adaptations - nothing comes close to this Buffy book. No matter who Joss assigns to it - they nail it.

And while it would be a supreme achievement to just get that far - to just mimic what was a hall-of-fame TV experience, Buffy Season 8 goes beyond that and uses the comic book medium to revel in all the things they couldn't do on television.

Wouldn't it be fun to make Dawn 60 feet tall or a centaur? Not really a viable option on the small screen, but pretty easy to draw. An army of Slayers? Sounds like an awful lot of special effects, but again, pretty easy to draw.

Hot lesbian action for our lead heroine? A little racy for Standards & Practices, but Dark Horse readers don't mind. (trust me) How about a Fray guest shot? The TV crowd wouldn't even register the reference, but the comics crowd sure does.

Honestly, you need to be familiar with the show to get everything out of the comic series. But I would recommend it to anybody simply because Whedon's hand-picked keepers of the Slayer are producing a surprisingly consistent blend of action and laugh-out-loud humor. It's the best treatment of a licensed property in the history of the medium.

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