The Boys’ R-Rated She-Hulk Death Unleashed the Ultimate Anti-Supe Weapon
Warning: contains spoilers for The Boys comic series!Despite being known for its button-pushing excess and shamelessly on-the-nose parody, The Boys is a story that hides more than one major twist in plain sight, with the death of this world’s take on She-Hulk having bleak significance down the line. While Homelander’s superhuman coup on America is the huge battle that The Boys leads up to, even that is only the set-up to the story’s final conflict, as Butcher plots to kill every remaining superhuman and Hughie races to stop him.
In The Boys lore, all superpowers derive from Compound V, a chemical which can cause drastic changes to the human body, but can also lie dormant in small doses. Believing that supes are a cancer on society, Butcher spends the entire story plotting to commit a horrific act of genocide, activating a weapon that will kill everyone with any trace of Compound V in their system, including his friends in the Boys and countless innocents. It’s a gut-punch twist, especially as Butcher personally kills off his friends to prevent them acting against him. However, the earlier battle in Washington D.C. includes a major clue as to his plans.
In The Boys #65 (from Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, John McCrea, and Keith Burns), Butcher faces off with Homelander and Black Noir in the White House, but the real battle is going on outside. There, Homelander’s army of supes take on the miliary, with his superhuman allies leading the charge. One of the most prominent true believers in Homelander’s coup is Shehemoth, a hero introduced as a Herogasm attendee who is a clear parody of Marvel’s She-Hulk. She-Hulk is known for her incredible strength and durability, which is what makes it so shocking when Shehemoth is hit dead on by a missile and blown to pieces, with only her upraised fist not disintegrated in the blast.
The Boys’ She-Hulk Death Sets Up Butcher’s Real Plan
It’s clear in the issue that the Supes are surprised by the firepower being used against them, but even moreso by the surgical accuracy with which they’re picked off. Later issues specify that the missiles were so effective because they utilized depleted uranium, but that was only half the battle. It’s several issues later, in Ennis and Braun’s The Boys #68, when the Boys learn why the missiles were so effective – they were programmed to home in on the unique brainwaves thar result from Compound V; technology which was a secret until the battle itself. The team investigate, finally learning that Butcher has spent years using the Boys’ black-ops budget to develop a new type of weapon that will specifically target those whose bodies contain Compound V. The missiles were developed as an offshoot of Butcher’s horrifying final weapon.
It’s a shocking twist, but one that – typical to The Boys – recontextualizes the Battle of Washington as a major clue. The shockingly effective massacre of the supes – as exemplified by Shehemoth being obliterated by a single missile – was a clue that Butcher had been working behind the scenes, developing the ultimate anti-supe weapon for the day he finally got a chance to target them as a group, rather than picking off the worst offenders one by one. The Boys is excellent at planting seemingly inconsequential details that have a dark relevance down the line, and the ease with which the franchise’s take on She-Hulk is dispatched sets up the story’s final twist, as it turns out that Butcher is a far greater monster than even his closest allies ever suspected.