Dynamite Comics The Boys by Garth Ennis has been a bit of a rough ride. I just finished book 8, Highland Laddie, and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, the rest of the series has been wildly inconsistent. The first book, The Name of the Game was almost as good as book 8 but everything in between has been so many different things that it is hard to say if I actually liked it.
The series follows a CIA “backed” group purposed with watching, and if needed, removing from play, superhumans. The main story follows Wee Hughie (and yes, he really is meant to look like Simon Pegg) as he discovers the world of The Boys and what they do, and are willing to do, to control the country’s “heroes”. The other main members of the group are Butcher, The Frenchman, Mother’s Milk and The Female. None of these others is exactly what you would call tightly wrapped. The series itself moves from intense character study to violence so extreme, I would almost call it pornographic, and that is without the actual pornographic content here. There is nothing glamorized or romanticized about this world. The closest thing here that qualifies as nice, is the relationship that Hughie begins to develop with his girlfriend and even that has some issues. The themes of each book vary some, but violence and hate are always there. This is not a feel good read. These are all issues that Ennis is using to illustrate a point about some of the things in comics that he doesn’t much like, and in amplifying them to a high degree, he gets his point across and still manages to tell the over arching story. I can’t say that I always like where he is going, but it is a compelling book if nothing else.
In this book, the establishment is the bad guy. Each of the main players represents at least one stereotype in comics and pop culture, some more that one. We are meant to most identify with Hughie, and the book is mostly told from his perspective.
The art has varied some from the original artist Darrick Robertson (still on the covers at least) to a few other artists, things are not always well rendered, but the style fits the nature of the story well enough.
Really, this is an ugly book. Not visually, although that is sometime the intent and the result. The real ugly comes from the not very nice story being told. If you have enjoyed Ennis in the past, then you know what to expect. If not, there is nothing I can say to prepare you. Just head in to this expecting to be in conflict about this book.