The Boys (Dynamite Entertainment)
Written by: Gareth Ennis
Art by: Darick Robertson
The Boys is one of the most dark, violent, depressing, and cynical comic books you will ever read. It’s also one of the best comic books you’ll ever read and available through issue 22 (of #72 issues total) on Comicsfix. Before I proceed I want to make it clear that this comic book is not for the faint of heart with instances of sex, extreme violence, rape and drug use. Still with me? Good, buckle up, because this is going to be a bumpy ride!
Quite a number of authors have taken a stab at the “What if Super Heroes existed in the “real” world?” motif. The most famous example of these is of course Watchmen and Kickass. Both try to present a realistic take on Super-Heroes. In the former, only one real character has any super powers and they are on the level of a god (Dr.Manhattan) and in the latter, no one has any super powers, they are just regular people in costumes. Both strove to write complex three dimensional characters, who were distinctly human and didn’t just exemplify humanity’s best characteristics. Every character felt alive, they felt greed, jealousy, lust, apathy along with bravery and convinction. The Boys takes a third path, lots of people have super powers of every kind but they are no less human, quite the contrary; the author, Garth Ennis seems to go out of his way to make just about everyone a selfish asshole. I cannot stress how depraved the characters are, it almost seems as if the author goes above and beyond just to shock you. Believe me, he will succeed.
The main character of the book is named Hughie who literally has his girlfriend ripped from his arms by a speeding superhero named A-train while in pursuit of a super villain. Wracked with anger and grief he is contacted by Butcher who is reactivating a black ops team called “The Boys” which is in need of a fifth member. The Boys act as the bogeymen of the super-hero community, policing the various teams and keeping them in line. Which needs to be done quite often. You see in this world, the super-heroes work with a corporation by the name of Vought-America which essentially sell the image of the super-heroes to the american public. As a result, said public worships the heros and see them as being capable of no wrong. This in turn causes the heros to act like spoiled children, used to getting what they want because might means right. They never really care what kind of damage they cause when they use their powers.
Through the course of the book, Hughie comes to learn about the history of superheroes and more about his various teammates, Butcher, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman, and the Female. He essentially acts as a moral compass for the rest of his jaded teammates. He also begins to realize what a crazy and corrupt world he lives in after he is essentially given a peek behind the curtain. I don’t want to get too deep into the plot development, you’re going to have to check out Comicsfix and see that part for yourself!
Garth Ennis’s writing can be quite tongue in cheek. Most of his super-hereos are straight up parodies when it comes to the looks and powers of well established characters such as Superman, Wonderwoman, Flash, various X-men and so forth. This makes them no less compelling to read as their personalities are very much uniquely their own. As much as I hate to admit it, I couldn’t help but agree that if people actually had super powers, they would act closer to Ennis’s vision than that of Marvel or DC. It’s not all grim and despair though, there’s a surprising number of jokes and comedy within the book as well. The art by Darick Robertson is a little rough at times but overall solid and fits the story being told. There’s no denying that Garth’s characters are over the top and extreme in everything they do. Yet, there is a grain of truth between all the sex and violence. I couldn’t recommend this book enough so go and find that grain for yourself.