Friday, 24 August 2012

The Boys

I had not known of Garth Ennis' monthly comic book The Boys but found its collected edition vol I in a Public Library and borrowed it. Why? First, Garth Ennis. Secondly, panel II makes clear that this is a comic about superheroes so we know where we stand. Thirdly, panel IV makes clear that our central character, Butcher, introduced in panel I, is antagonistic to at least one of the superheroes so we are in Moore-Miller moral ambiguity territory.

Since then, I have bought the entire series, first in collected editions, then, on catching up with the publishing schedule, in the monthly issues. Garth Ennis, having first worked out a very long and detailed back story, starts his narrative with the reconvening of the CIA covert team, "The Boys," and moves the story forwards from that point with occasional glimpses of the longer story which, by the end, we know in its entirety. Garth likes, and is good at, his war fiction so he fits some of that into this superheroes history, as he did in Preacher.

The Boys has two climaxes, Butcher's showdown with the Seven (parodies of the JLA) and what happens after. As the first climax approaches, we are told that it is Black Noir, the anonymous masked Batman-equivalent, not the Homelander, the powerful, colorful Superman-equivalent, that the Boys need to worry about. Despite this, we are unable to work out what is going on although it makes sense when explained but remains a surprise.

The second climax, not quite completed as I write, is really horrible and maybe a bit of an anti-climax? Butcher does not know when to stop. We were warned that he needed watching. Does it come down to Butcher versus Hughie? Who else is left? Does Butcher want Hughie to kill him? If not, where else has he to go?    

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