I picked Herogasm at random. I admit that any title that so blatantly and tastelessly promotes sex peaks my attention, plus the cover is a real shocker. I thought that this was either going to be genius or chipping-you-brain-out stupid read, but at the very least entertaining. It turns out that Garth Ennis [Preacher, people, Preacher] is the sick mind behind this idea and from all I have heard of the man, he is twisted, but in the good genius way. I actually planned on getting to Preacher soon, but for this little event it seemed too ambitious a series.
Before I start the official review, let’s get down the facts first. Herogasm is a six issue spin-off mini-series from The Boys, which means that the characters are introduced and the staged is set. I can say for sure that is better to have had some experience with The Boys prior starting this series. The holes concerning world building and the actual boys can be filled piece by piece, but the actual process might be a bit tedious. As the title and cover art thickly underline this is a series for mature readers, who do not mind Rated R action, language and the in your face grotesque. Quite the opposite to be exact. The reader has to be equipped with the early puberty humor, the point of transition, where the young boy can bring his head around irony and sarcasm, but still appreciates fart and dick jokes.
That being said, Garth Ennis’ work can be described as a case of machine guns thrown five stories down to start bullet mayhem and then with the ring stilling rattling your brain, trying to decipher the ballistic marks. We have the obvious, the shocking, the remorseless zap to your system, the absurd and over the top and then the oh-so-subtle meaning behind the freak circus and I mean subtle in the sense that it’s hard thinking about content, when your conscious mind is bombed with sex, violence and depravity.
But let’s start with the obvious. Herogasm is an island in the Pacific, where every year all the super hero and villain population unwinds for a week, while the public thinks they are out in space saving the world. Unwinding, however, is a word too civilized. The supes, as they are called, enjoy other vacation activities such as high class hookers, superhero orgies, nasty fetishes, outrageous drugs, violence and the list goes on and on. America is owned by a big corporation. Its vice president is a retard, stuck at third grade as far as his mental development is concerned and the supes are in fact puppets in the war of business suits.
It’s only up to the Boys, five member CIA team, to keep these people in check. But while we get full frontal and up close and personal of the supes’ ‘vacation’, the Boys have a different target. Ennis provides a reimagining of what led to 9/11, mixes it up with conspiracy and bold absurdity to give the reader every American’s worst nightmare [or so I would imagine]: that is corporations getting hold of political and military power.
One can hardly speak about suspension of disbelief or a serious layer beneath all this, because Herogasm is too out there, too eye gauging and doesn’t take itself very seriously. Garth Ennis parodies the superhero genre with profanity and the very lowest traits that can be attributed to a human being. He mocks superheroes on several levels; first by spinning the ages old saying that power corrupts [superheroes are dicks inebriated on their fame] and by reducing them to nothing more than a PR project [real superheroes have comic book series as records of their exploits]. The power is in the people, writing the comics and not in the hands with powers. Ennis continues his mockery by thinly veiling recognizable icons and letting them roll in the dirt as if they are stats in a Rammstein video. Herogasm is a humongous middle finger at this movement in comic books sprinkled with dick jokes all the time.
Verdict: Herogasm is not a pretty mini-series to read [literally and metaphorically]. The art by John McCrea and Keith Burns parodies the style used for superhero books, giving the protags unrealistic proportions that just look strange in the sloppy not so well handled manner. I am not sure whether the way the art has been handled is intentional or not, but the lines used are not the most flattering accompaniment to a story. As far as content goes: Read At Your Own Risk. You need to have a high tolerance for this type of story and know what you are getting yourself into. I loved it, but then again, I do love me some low brow explicit entertainment.