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*Part the third at the Factual. Contrary to what Tucker claims, there's no way in hell I'd ever replace him with Olav Beemer; that dude's contact info is impossible to find. Part the fourth will be here, late Saturday-ish.

*Mini Reviews Dept: I did manage to read The Boys #29 while sticking my head up for air from all these Humanoids books - it's the last issue of the prolonged X-Men storyline. I was immediately pleased to see that David Lloyd had provided not only the series' best guest cover, but pretty much the only one that didn't embrace the series' "ho ho ho, superheroes all bloodied up" elevator pitch at face value (or, you know, just draw the characters standing around or something). The actual contents lived up too, sort of.

I think this issue reinforces in miniature what I've previously felt about the series as a whole: it's a not-particularly-effective satire that still, fortunately, works quite nicely as a piece of grimly comic worldbuilding, populated by familiar yet goodly-detailed characters.

Certainly 'the X-Men stuff' in here doesn't warrant a lot of attention as stuff-related-to-the-X-Men; the Professor X stand-in's dark secret winds up so obvious that Ennis feels the need to have a different character remark on how it's "what we thought," in story, while a nasty explanation for why the X-characters fight all the time only left me wondering if that's even much of an X-Men trope these days. Do the Marvel mutant teams even meet much anymore? It feels like a would-be clever spoof of something half-remembered as dumb from years ago, which doesn't exactly lend the criticism (or even the joke) an awful lot of weight.

And yet, there's some real punch behind the abrupt, blood-and-thunder resolution cooked up by Ennis and artist Darick Robertson (I maintain the the guy's work on this is more effective the rattier and less slick it gets), a pretty deft bait and switch, promising lots of heroic anti-heroic violence, and then delivering way more, way worse than anyone expected. The whole 'we hate superheroes' motivation allegedly joining the characters has never been all that uniform, really, and it's rewarding to pay attention here and wonder if, say, Hughie & Butcher aren't reacting in astonishment for totally different reasons, given what we've gotten to know from them.

Theirs is the classic Ennis 'sensitive man with a dark heart of murder dominated/intimidated by a powerful, amoral, maybe-charismatic-but-sometimes-malevolent male' dynamic, as seen in many a war comic; hell, you can even spot it in Crossed, albeit with the more powerful male played by a woman. That series is starting to grow on me too; I really like how the faultless Ennis cool of the 'tough' characters is both totally appropriate for surviving their situation yet clearly obliterating their relatability to all of the poor mortals left to sweat like people in the post-cataclysm world.

I think next issue's the official halfway point for the series; pin-ups are promised, so you know it's special. I wonder how many will have them all laughing and kicking at people in old-timey capes and cloaks... but then, maybe that's just how you get these things sold. Lampoon aimed at an audience good enough to laugh for the barbs landing just a little bit off.