Darick Robertson returns to tell the secret origin of Mother's Milk, but does this book suckle, or is it the tits?
The Boys #35
Written By Garth Ennis
Artwork By Darick Robertson and Tony Avina
The Boys is a good book, but so far, it's not a great Ennis book. There has been something lacking, and I feel that it's because many of the main characters have not been fleshed out at all, and have remained ciphers. Aside from Butcher and Wee Hughie, The Boys are still just one-note characters. The Frenchman is french, the Female is female, and Mother's Milk... well, all we know about him is that he's a big black dude who was present in The Boysverse's version of 9/11, where the Brooklyn Bridge was destroyed. So perhaps it makese sense that the Brooklyn Bridge is where we begin to discover his history.
MM and Hughie are staring at the wreckage of the Bridge, as it finally starts to get rebuilt, and here Ennis gets to comment on the baffling situation of what's being done at Ground Zero, and what he personally thinks should be done. Ennis, even though he's Northern Irish, has always been very passionate about America, about what it should mean, and this is another great example of this.
We then delve into Mother's Milk's origins, and man, what an origin, it's tragic and heartfelt and real, yet still fantastical and fucked up. The best of Ennis really. MM is the only member of The Boys to have been born with superpowers. His mother worked in a factory owned by evil Superhero corporation Vought-American, and she was mutated, and this waspassed on to her sons. MM's brother Michael was retarded, and MM himself, well, his name is pretty literal, he needs his Mother's breast-milk to survive, without it, he dies, he can't be weaned off it. It's a pretty disturbing idea really, and offers a lot of possibilities for the future of the series, what if his Mother dies? What if Vought kills her?
Ennis makes this a profoundly human story, despite the mutations, and superheroes involved. He has MM's father take up legal proceedings against Vought, it's the little guy against the corporations, a familiar story, but it has that Ennis edge, the satire that The Boys is all about, the phrase 'win some lose some' has never been so chilling.
And then things get really upsetting, when MM's brother Michael's latent superpowers erupt, killing him painfully, it's incredibly shocking and violent, and it shows that mutation is not like the X-Men, it is a hideous thing, and this subversion of the tropes is what this book is all about. Superheroes are a bad thing people! Put down your copy of Spider-Man! Don't you see what it's doing!
MM then joins the army, where his powers manifest in a similarly gory fashion, and then The Boys step in, Billy Butcher and General Mallory. Mallory has been a mysterious figure in the book, the founder of the team, and someone who the Supes fucked over, and seem to genuinely fear. Ennis continues to tease the character here, we never see his face, he's veiled in shadow. It'll be a big moment when he finally appears, and Ennis and Robertson subtly build up the tension here.
This issue marks the return to the book of Co-Creator Darick Robertson, and it really helps, no offence to Carlos Ezquerra and John McCrea, who have been filling in, and are very good artists, but this really is Robertson's book. He really makes the most of MM's origins, the very real human faces, and the shocking violence too, some of the images in this issue are very powerful, and may very well stand up as the series' best.
This was a great chapter in The Boys' story, it's adding heart and pathos to a character that was previously pretty much a blank slate. Ennis is not just the gore and puerility merchant many paint him as, his characters have soul, and now, it's The Boys' turn to get some soul. There's another issue of Mother's Milk to come, and then the Female and the Frenchman get the spotlight, it's a well-needed breather between the crazy shit that goes down in this book, and it also builds up the world. If you've been behind on this book, pick up this issue and see just how deep it goes.