Rebecca’s #CBR4 Review #33: The Boys vol. 1-2 by Garth Ennis et al.
The Boys has a clever concept; the titular group is a secret government black ops team that keeps superheroes in check. In this world, superheroes are brash, reckless, corrupt groups of people with super strength they received from taking a drug compound. The Boys spy on them, blackmail them, and otherwise make their lives difficult.
The art in the comics is incredibly graphic, both in terms of violence and sex. The author also uses sex and violence in shockingly funny ways at times: a panel of two young lovers spinning around in the afternoon sunlight cuts to a panel of Hughie, one of the lovers, holding his girlfriend’s severed arms after a reckless superhero plows through her while carelessly pursuing a villain; a superhero who compulsively humps everyone and everything imagines himself rehabilitating his image by humping a meteor headed towards Earth into tiny pieces.
The Boys themselves lean towards the lovable rogue archetype; they are violent and often obnoxious, but they are working for a good cause. The leader, Billy Butcher, inhabits the trope of the modern anti-hero who doesn’t care about rules, but is so good at what he does that he is rarely, if ever, called to task for his actions. Even when sitting squarely within these types, the characters come off as original because they inhabit such an interesting world.
The biggest possible pitfall for The Boys will be the longer story arc. Obviously, no one side can definitively win, as that would end the series; but fighting that never tips the balance too far one way or the other runs the risk of not only becoming repetitive, but making the stakes seem small. The first two volumes are fresh, funny, grotesque and profane, and the tone is definitely enough to keep reading.