The Boys

“Well, Where I come from, when somebody wants someone done over, they talk about sendin’ the boys round. ‘Harry’s turned into a right mouthy twat, I’m gonna send the boys round.’ Yeah?”
“Who’s They?”
“Whoever wants Harry’s legs broken.”
“Who are the boys?”
“Whoever they send to break ’em”

If you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, then this comic is one that you shouldn’t judge by its content. Cocraeted by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, it’s Ennis at his absolute best to include jokes involving menstrual blood or condoms to ultra-violent gore that would rival splatterhouse films. But that also means it includes surprisingly good characters that are developed and unique with moments that hit deeply and make you empathize with them all the better; And while they tell you Billy Butcher’s origins early enough, but it isn’t until you see the story unfold that you realize the full impact of what really happened. The story ends up as an interesting combination of a look at the world around us and a look at the world of comics seamlessly bundled together. It starts off gory and slapstick and then about a third of the way through it takes a sudden turn and reveals itself as the ridiculously tight and violent political thriller that it is. It’s a strong use of misdirection that pays off handsomely.

From left to right: Billy Butcher, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman (“Frenchie”), The Female (of the Species), “Wee” Hughie Campbell, Terror

The story begins with Hughie and his girlfriend enjoying a day at the fair until she is inadvertently killed by a speedster superhero called A-Train. After being approached by some people in suits asking him to sign a waiver, he is approached by Billy Butcher who is intrigued by the fact that Hughie didn’t even mention money or recompense for his loss; he is quite simply that devastated.Billy recruits him to join The Boys: a black-ops team funded the CIA and charged with keeping superhero activity under check. Billy has reformed the group with the original members of the team sans the founder Captain Mallory. Each member has their own reasons for joining the team and many of them involve taking down the corporation Vought American who is responsible for the creation of many of the heroes with harrowing repercussions.

While the majority of the action takes place in the main comic, smaller side events filled with relevant information and clues are contained in the handful of mini-series that emerged at the same time as the main comic. Herogasm shows a superhero orgy/convention and the beginning of the Homelander’s plans, Highland Laddie is about Hughie’s pilgrimage home and the adventures he gets into there, and Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker details Billy’s past and his relationship with his father. Other characters are given their own centric comics where they flesh-out their backgrounds, though Frenchie’s is the least clear given his fantastical style of speech (which only makes his origin comic amongst the absolute funniest of the series).

At any rate, while this is may certainly not seem like a mature comic for mature readers such as yourselves, there is a strong story with fantastic characters that’s well-developed since the beginning. While it was originally published by Wildstorm, an imprint of DC comics, it was canceled after only 6 issues. Thankfully, they allowed Ennis and Robertson to retain the rights and have a different company, Dynamite Press, publish it. They even went so far as to allow Robertson to continue to illustrate it to completion despite having an exclusive contract with DC. And considering this article was written on Thanksgiving Day, this is something we can all be thankful for.

Or not:

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