December 11, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #371: Jack From Jupiter

When The Boys became a streaming series, one member of the Seven was replaced for possibly good reason.

So, as I was sitting down to watch the new Amazon Prime Video animated anthology series based on The Boys, something happened:  one of the shorts was written by Garth Ennis and set in the comic series’s continuity, not the continuity of the TV show.  And for that one 14 or so minute animated short, the Seven had amongst their numbers a character that has only barely appeared in the live action series:  Jack from Jupiter.

So, as a change of pace since I would normally never touch something like The Boys here, let’s look at Jack from Jupiter, the most disreputable, hated member of the Seven by people who actually were in the Seven.

By the by, I try to keep swearing out of my Gabbing Geek posts, and finding panels on Google Images where Jack isn’t dropping a certain F-bomb was somewhat…difficult.

So, to start, it’s probably important to point out that, given both are essentially satirical looks at superheroes, timing means a lot.  When The Boys first appeared in print, it was 2006.  George W. Bush was still president, some of the commentary was based largely on American foreign policy since the days of 9/11, to the point where something similar happened in the universe of The Boys, only with (incompetent) superheroes being a thing, the Seven had tried to stop the last jet on that fateful day, and they did prevent it from hitting the Twin Towers, but that was mostly due to the fact that it hit the Brooklyn Bridge instead thanks to Homelander’s general uselessness.  The TV show did something similar, but it wasn’t quite the same thing.  Likewise, 2006 meant superhero movies were still a somewhat new thing, and the MCU’s first movie, Iron Man, wouldn’t be out for two more years.  The Avengers, as a group, were not well-known outside of comic books, and that’s the biggest difference between targets.

See, the comic book version of The Boys was mostly a satirical, R-rated parody of superhero comics.  The TV version is more about the motion picture industry’s use of superheroes and wider media culture.  The TV version is casting a bigger net if for no other reason than superheroes have expanded that much in the past 16 or so years.

However, since the comic book version of The Boys was mocking superhero comics, concepts such as the mega-crossover and the like were all fair game.  Billy Butcher’s inside man was a Stan Lee-like former comic book writer, and the Seven were much more clearly stand-ins for the “Big 7” version of the Justice League with Homelander being Superman, burnt out cynical drunk Queen Maeve being Wonder Woman, silent mystery man Black Noir being Batman, and so forth.  A-Train was the Wally West Flash, replacing a previous speedster named Mr. Marathon who died on the 9/11 mission (he got hit by the 747 mentioned above while being carried by Homelander, and since it was a Garth Ennis story, he was also decapitated).  Starlight doesn’t have an exact stand-in, but she replaced the Lamp Lighter, who sounds an awful lot like the Green Lantern.  The Deep, the team’s Aquaman, in the comics was a Black man in what looked like a 19th century diving suit who, despite his best efforts to try and at least look dignified, was continually disrespected by everyone he met.  This Deep did not take part in Starlight’s sexual assault–that was Homelander, A-Train, and Black Noir–but his thing seemed to be nobody respected him all that much regardless.  But then there Jack from Jupiter, the stand-in for the Martian Manhunter.

The whole thing with Jack was he seemed to be the one who basically rubbed everyone the wrong way for a wide variety of often completely legitimate reasons.  He was openly racist, cowardly, sleazy, a drug-user, mean to anyone who wasn’t Homelander or Black Noir, and just generally unpleasant.  It’s not that hard to see why the guy was excluded from the TV show and just replaced by the invisible Translucent.  Certain aspects of the comics would be changed for a wide range of reasons.  For example, Hughie in the comics is often homophobic.  He knows it’s wrong, he is frequently called out on it by the others, and he’s trying to change, often showing progress when dealing with gay Supes and trying to be a decent human being.  It’s a character flaw that the series doesn’t paper over so much as acknowledge, but if Hughie is to be the ultimate hero on the show as he is in the source material, I can see why someone making a TV version in 2020 or so would want to skip that aspect of the character.  That, in and of itself, is something the TV series does differently as the comic version showed the Boys, always decked out in black leather dusters, were more about blackmailing heroes into behaving but also giving themselves doses of Compound V to make sure they could win a fight if they had to since Supes as a rule were generally not able to fight their way out of a paper bag.

All this brings me back to Jack.  What powers did he have?  The series was vague.  He could fly and seemed to have superstrength, but the only power mentioned much at all was he could make himself temporarily invulnerable by uttering a magic word.  That didn’t really come into play because, well, Jack never really got into any real fights.  Most of the Seven didn’t, but Jack’s most noteworthy storyline, aside from his ongoing efforts to educate A-Train in the best ways of general superhero debauchery, was how he met his end.  The Boys had a mole in the Seven, and Billy Butcher was hoping to use that to keep the Seven in line until he could perhaps find a way to take them out since Billy Butcher believed the only good Supe was a dead one.  I don’t want to get too much into who does and doesn’t survive the comic book version of the story since I can’t say how much that will or won’t affect how the TV version eventually ends, but since Jack only barely appeared on the TV version (see below), I think I’ll just be direct:  Jack dies horribly.

At a certain point, it comes to the Boys’s attention that Jack has a certain sexual preference.  Now, times have changed since that comic came out, and even factoring in Garth Ennis’s general teenage-boy-level-sense-of-humor, Butcher and Hughie going to investigate a brothel that caters to Supes at the request of the owner means there’s something there that suggests Jack prefers something beyond general vanilla stuff.  This also comes into play with Hughie’s general discomfort with certain types of sex, but the point there was also this was Butcher’s way of keeping Hughie in line by deliberately making him uncomfortable as often as possible, a tactic Hughie eventually realized and did his best to overcome as he just did his best not to cast judgement on the brothel’s employees.  Apparently, there was video tape of Jack’s preference for…you know what?  I am not even sure what the correct term is.  I’ve heard some in the past, but I don’t know what the appropriate term is now.  Let’s just say look above at the comic panel I posted of Jack with all those women and realize he liked those women with male genitalia.  In fact, what little was shown of the extortion tape was more or less a single panel, and that panel was recreated on the TV show in the form of a porno that Hughie watched with Lamp Lighter, and that is Jack’s, to date, only appearance on the live action show.

This is it, Not pictured, but visible in both the comic and the TV show, are the people standing around Jack here.

What followed was basically the first casualties for both the Boys and the Seven.  Butcher came home to find his beloved bulldog Terror had been violently killed.  Jack had, at a meeting between the Boys and the Seven, not taken too kindly to Homelander’s dismissing Butcher as the cause of the Seven’s most recent problems, which was actually true but Jack still loudly complained about it regardless.  As such, Butcher figured Jack must have killed his dog.

While Jack was the most likely suspect, the actual dog-killer was never revealed.

Instead, Butcher found Jack at home, violently shoved the much smaller man against a wall, and started stabbing Jack over and over, faster than Jack could utter his magic word, and asking with each stab why Jack killed his dog.  Jack never answered.  Instead, he bled out, and the endgame for the comic series more or less began right there.

So, let me say again…I am not the slightest bit surprised Jack from Jupiter was excluded from the show.  The show has much different targets in mind, and Jack was far too…let’s say unpleasant, to be adapted all that much.  I don’t plan on doing this again in this space, but let’s just say anyone curious who the kinda orange-skinned guy in the animated series is, well, here you are.