I was drawn to this series after I saw the trailer for the television show on Amazon Prime. Though the concept is fascinating and it truly is a good series. Certain aspects of the comic lose its luster when you factor in all the gore and sex (and I promise I'm no prude).
Hints of: Justice League, Deadpool, Watchmen, Batman
Warning: Insane amounts of violence and gore. Only recommended for mature audiences.
Publisher Synopsis: This is going to hurt! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone's got to make sure the "supes" don't get out of line. And someone will! Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother's Milk, The Frenchman, and The Female are The Boys: A CIA-backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth - superpower! Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them - sometimes - need to be taken out of the picture. That's when you call in The Boys!
Review: And hurt it does. The Boys is a fascinating concept that has been explored a time or two in other comics. Most notably Deadpool or Watchmen. In my opinion though this would be the most realistic account of how our world would react to superheroes and how that power would corrupt those special few.
The Boys starts out with an introduction to a couple. Hughie and his girlfriend are talking about getting serious with their relationship. When all of a sudden she disappears in a pool of blood and guts and the only thing left is her hands intertwined with Hughie's. We have just met our first superhero "A-Train" (think of him as the flash), and he has just run super sonic through Hughie's BAE. Its not a pretty sight. After a weak apology A-Train continues on his mission that is "Vital to the safety of the public". This incident sets the stage for our anti-hero group called "The Boys" a secret government funded group of super assassins tasked with keeping the "supes" in line.
Billy is the leader of this group. We meet him, in what can only be categorized as rape, with the CIA official in charge of The Boys. The group has seemingly disbanded but recent events have brought the need for the group to reform. We learn that a drug is what makes the supers super and some are abusing it and causing havoc for the community in the name of justice.
The other three members, Mother's Milk, The Frenchman, and The Girl, all have their storied and mysterious pasts and all have their reasons for fighting and sometimes killing "supes".
Finally, the other major players in this series are the "supes" themselves. Operated and funded by corporations, Vaught America being the largest. They are vast. With multiple organizations and groupings to keep up with it reminds one of boy bands and the recent rising of K-pop groupings in modern music. The ultimate group is "The Seven" comprised of Homelander (Superman), Black Noir (Hooded Justice), Queen Maeve (Wonder Woman), A-Train (The Flash), The Deep (Aquaman), Jack from Jupiter (Dr. Manhattan), and newest member Starlight.
Starlight is from fly-over country and Vaught America tagged her as the replacement for The Lamplighter (Green Lantern) who was recently implicated in murdering someone and sent deep below The Sevens headquarters where he's repeatedly cleaned regularly from his bowel movements by one of the members. Starlight is added to bring in the evangelical base into the fold of superhero fandom. There is politics galore when it comes to running a business like Vaught America. After all, if the taxpayer is going to pay for the protection provided by the "supes" they better represent their values and morals. Lets just say The Seven make that last statement extremely tricky.
One mission The Boys are tasked with reveals the truth behind the superheros abilities and its not provided by God.
I gave The Boys three stars because its a bit too controversial for my taste. From the multiple incidents of rape between Billy and the CIA director, the gang bang scene that the Young Americans participate in, to the role The Seven had in mucking up rescue efforts during the 9/11 attacks. There is a certain level of escapism I want to achieve when reading superhero comics. The Boys not only prevents you from that it also forces unnecessary tropes onto its characters. Not to say that The Boys doesn't make valid points. This is probably exactly what superheros would be like in real life. However, there are just better ways to portray greed and power than the total lack of care presented in The Boys.
The approach Darick Robertson takes in The Boys for its artistry is classic superhero comic. He's drawn for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and more. But his most famous drawings come from The Boys, for sure. His character portrayals and the extremely graphic content that is required from the writing is very good. However there are times where its a lot. I wont show any of those screenshots on here but trust me, its a lot. Below are a few clippings from the series showcasing Ennis and Robertson's work.
Final word of note, Amazon's adaptation of this series is highly recommended. Though I sort of dogged on them here, this story is worth reading and watching. It will challenge you and make you cringe but its a fascinating take on our beliefs of heroes.
Drink Pairing: Classic American Bud that you then crush violently upon your head once finished.