Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Boys #3 - A Review

The Boys #3 - Writer Garth Ennis, Artist Darick Robertson, Colors Tony Avina
Premise - A covert group (The Boys) has been sanctioned by the government to take down the super hero class. The first target for the boys has been picked and it is a teen-age super group. Meanwhile an adult super hero group (The Seven) has promoted a teen hero into their rank.

What I Liked:

1) The art. Darick Robertson has really elevated his art into a top tier class. His layouts are innovative and still very clear for story telling purposes. Flipping through this book he utilizes so many different panel formats it is amazing. Yet it never hinders the story telling or feels like it was done just to do it. It always works for the story. Facial expressions, body type. movement, backgrounds, scenery - he has it all and it has a richness to it. The color is fantastic and utilizes the high grade paper to its full extent. One or two occasions I believe the colors are too dark, but having 4 of The Boys in dark clothing and in a dank basement was perhaps impossible to do perfectly.

What I Didn't Like:

1) The premise, the story, the degradation of everyone. When I read the first issue I loved this book. The shock factor and the art and pornographic humor won me over as well as Hughie, the new recruit for the boys. By issue #3 if it wasn't for the art I would stop getting this book. This issue we see an obvious JLA clone group bringing in Mary Marvel as a replacement as one of the Seven is unable (for unknown reasons) to stay in the group. Starlight (Mary Marvel) is shown the headquarters by Homelander (Superman) and then eventually Homelander drops his pants and asks Starlight to perform a sex act on him. She refuse to be Monica Lewinsky and runs away and sees two other males heroes coming in (Flash and Batman clones). They also proceed to drop their pants and ask for the same service. Apparently Starlight has to do this to stay in the group. Ultimately she does it and then she meets the Wonder Woman clone in the bathroom. Starlight is happy to met her and tells her how wonderful she is and what an inspiration she is and the Queen Maeve tells her to F*&# off. So we are to believe that no one is a good person. These people in fact are sick twists who use their power and station for self gratification. Not only are we to believe that, but that Starlight (who is portrayed as a good soul) will throw her values to the side and do anything to be one of the chosen Seven. Starlight is portrayed as a virgin who within the span of an hour (maybe) decided to give three guys oral sex? Ennis must really hate all super heroes more then any other writer.

How about The Boys. Well the leader of the group is shown as a super powered bully who uses his powers for whatever he wants. The three recruits from a previous incarnation of this group are shown as total sociopaths who kill with abandon and maximum gore. Hughie so far is portrayed as the innocent drawn into this group and I'm sure we are learning with him how nasty and evil this group is. Also The Boys are government sanctioned.

So we have the good guys are bad, the bad guys are as bad and the government is evil. Who I am supposed to care about in this book?

Garth Ennis is a great writer and I highly recommend his War Stories and Preacher(which was a rough book, but it had a point). The Boys may have a point down the road, but what is the need for a book that is "shock jock" comic writing. I guess Howard Stern fans may like this book, but I think degrading everyone is not a good story premise. As a person who has been known to be critical I know it is easier to be negative then positive and this book is negative to any ideals that have been raised about super heroes. Exploring themes of power corrupting and the underside of a super hero community is valid, but it has been done before without being this mean spirited. Ultimately the Howard Stern analogue is valid. At first he was funny with a little racy humor, then he just wanted to continue to push the envelope of good taste and then he almost becomes just a pornographer. Once we have been shocked by the violence and over the top sexual perversions what is left to be shocked with. Is bestiality and pedophilia next. Captain America raping Bucky and then the Boys eviscerating Captain America is not what I need to see.

Grade - F


  1. Ennis is a strange duck. He thinks superheroes are silly and has gotten a real kick out of humiliating them over the years. His work is usually full of gross out humor and overly violent or gratuitously sexual material. But underneath the surface you can often find a deeply heartfelt and meaningful story. Hitman was about friendship and family. Preacher was really just a big love story. Pride and Joy was about the often trying relationship between a father and son. So what is the theme of The Boys. After digging through the usual grossout stuff, there seems to be emerging a story about responsibiliy. We'll have to see. Right now I would recommend dropping the book from your pull list and waiting for the trade. It certainly is not Ennis' best stuff and is not worth the cover price.

  2. Jeff - I agree about Ennis' other work and I will stick with Boys for six issues to see if a theme comes through. My hope is that Hughie is the one who ultimately straightens stuff out. The responsibility angle is not coming through to me.

  3. Your explanation of the new issue (which I did not get because it was sold out) makes me like it even more. :P

    DEATH to the HEROES!



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