This post of The Boys Omnibus by Authors Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Illustrations Peter Snejbjerg complies the spoiler free reviews and full summaries of the entire The Boys graphic novel series.
Volumes 1-3 Review
The Boys is a graphic novel series in 6 huge omnibus volumes. It is also now a show on amazon prime streaming. I have not yet watched the show, I’ve heard good things.
The graphic novel is just as violent as I was expecting it to be but it’s also a lot more. It has WAY more graphic sex and sexual violence than I was prepared for, for one. But it also is way smarter and more profound than I thought it would be as well.
The basic premise is that this team called The Boys needs to be established in order to keep the other teams of super heroes in check. They’ve let power and fame throw them into hedonism and sadism that is rampantly out of control. They are doing far more harm than good.
The whole series is a commentary on a dense web of corruption that we can see paralleled in our own societies. Commentaries on the military industrial complex, the corruption of power and fame, and the true price of capitalism.
It’s a smart book. It balances the ultra violence with satire and well informed politics. However, that makes it all very dense.
I was expecting a lighter read. These first three volumes made for a tough binge. It’s going to be better to space it out a bit. There is some really rough material in these pages, lots of trigger warnings could be applied.
Although the book overall is smartly written and has a lot to say the structure leaves something to be desired. It’s episodic and becomes repetitive. The main plot takes a back seat to meandering side missions that ultimately don’t add much to the experience.
Many of these missions are entertaining but when read back to back they start to blend into each other. It becomes a melange of sex and violence that looses individual flavors.
The standout of the book, in my opinion, is a young naive new superhero named Annie, aka Starlight. She is the most interesting character in the whole book and deserves even more page time. Honestly, she is why I will even finish the series.
Her story is tragic and, although extreme, unfortunately relatable for any woman who’s ever been in a male dominated field. She’s the star of the book, not any member of The Boys or any other team of super heroes.
I do intend to finish the other three volumes of this series. It is definitely entertaining and interesting. But I can’t do it all in one go. It’s a big bite to chew and needs a few palate cleansers as I go.
If you do decide to venture into the corruption of this universe bring along some light reading for in between volumes. There’s only so much the average reader can take at once.
4/5 punches 👊👊👊👊
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The Boys Volumes 4-6 Review
After reading the first three volumes of The Boys I had to take a break. I just couldn’t binge read something this heavy and dark. I’m very glad I read a few lighter things at the halfway point because the second half gets even darker.
The Boys as a series is smart. It’s intense and graphic but it definitely has a strong commentary to make. It’s all about capitalism and how power corrupts. It’s about the need for goodness to balance out the evil but how easily evil can win out.
The problem is that in order to portray this commentary it requires the presence of a lot of very objectionable characters. Characters that I did not want to keep returning to. It made it very difficult for me to want to keep picking this book up.
Ultimately, I’m glad that I finished the series but I can’t say I enjoyed every second of it. The final omnibus volume is spectacular. It’s incredibly fast paced and really pays off the effort of the rest of the volumes.
The 4th and 5th volume however, drag. The volumes include some repetitive blackmail heavy plots as well as way too many flashbacks and history lessons.
The most meaningful flashback story is told by Butcher about his late wife. This one has substance and a profound effect. The others, I could honestly do without.
Annie, aka Starlight, continues to be the only tolerable character in the whole book and I consider her woefully under-utilized. I was also disappointed that we never really got a backstory for The Female. Just a couple hints.
Many of the characters progress in ways that make them even worse as people. A necessary evil for this plot but, once again, not a fun one.
The Boys is not light reading. It is not an easy graphic novel to plow through on a weekend. It requires thought and emotional energy. This is not a bad thing by any means, just something I wish I had been more aware of going in.
Overall I believe the ending makes it all worthwhile. I love it when a series has a plan from the beginning and is able to actually stick to it throughout. I recommend sticking through the sagging middle volumes to see the final showdown in volume 6. You won’t regret it.
Volumes 4 and 5: 3/5 noir people 👤👤👤
Volume 6: 5/5 noir people 👤👤👤👤👤
Volumes 1-3 Summary
There is a lot that happens in the first three super sized omnibus volumes. I will miss many plot points in this synopsis/spoiler full review. That is not because it wasn’t interesting but because it’s very episodic. I’m going to mostly keep this review to the main plot line and not the repetitive ones that occur for every three to five issues.
The Boys is an actually completed graphic novel series that is also now a popular amazon prime streaming show. I picked it up because I’m always looking for complete series that might have actual endings! Amazing!
The book being episodic is its main problem. That is probably why it would lend itself well to a tv show, but as a book it gets old pretty quickly. I really liked the first ten issues and then got more and more bored as it went on.
The main premise is that a man who goes by Butcher works as a kind of independent contractor for the CIA. He is attempting to reassemble a team known as The Boys. A team made of powered adults who need to keep the super heroes of the world in check.
He recruits Hughie after Hughie’s girlfriend is dramatically killed as collateral damage by a member of The Seven, the premier super hero team.
The Seven are the absolute worst. They’re what would happen if a super powered Justin Bieber and Harvey Weinstein formed a team. They’re all narcissistic, sexist, abusive, monsters who KNOW they are above the law.
They’ve just recruited a new member. A young naive hero named Annie, aka Starlight, who is as wholesome as The Seven are loathsome. The three leading members of The Seven conclude her audition for the team by demanding that she fellate all three of them.
The book uses acts like these to make it very clear that these heroes are not the good guys. Their rampant misogyny is disgusting and we’re supposed to think it’s disgusting. Any sexist acts in the book are clearly defined as bad. Honestly, I appreciate that. There’s nothing casual about the politics and statements in this book but I typically agree with it.
There are many other groups of super heroes who are active in this universe and they’re all pretty deplorable. This is why we need The Boys to reel them in.
Teenage Kix is a band of younger heroes who spends are abhorrent amount of time ripping prostitutes in twain, only somewhat metaphorically.
Butcher wants Hughie on the team so he injects Hughie with a super serum to give him powers as well. You need to fight fire with fire afterall.
The Boys set off on their mission to restore some order by blackmailing Teenage Kix. The Seven sees this going down and is worried that they’ll be hit sometime soon as well. Hughie accidentally kills a member of Teenage Kix because he hasn’t yet learned the limits of his new power.
In addition to these super hero teams we also have the evil corporation Vought American. Vought basically finances The Seven and various other teams. They produce comic books that show the public the events as they want them to be seen. They produce merchandise to make money and they supply military contracts for the heroes.
Vought are also very clearly bad guys. They manipulate and corrupt just as much as the bad heroes. They changed Starlight’s costume to ultra slutty to get more sales to teen boys.
Starlight, Annie, is easily the most interesting character in the book. And she doesn’t get nearly enough page time. Her story is the most complex, the most thought provoking, and the most tragic.
She meets Hughie by chance, neither of them yet know who the other really is. Neither of them know the other is superpowered. They are just both looking for someone nice and un-corrupt to feel loved by.
Annie is in an incredibly vulnerable position when they go on their first date but Hughie does not take advantage of her in any way. It’s lovely.
Meanwhile, the Teenage Kix member that Hughie killed comes back to life, as super heroes often do in comic books. He’s basically a zombie though, the team just keeps up the appearances so that the public thinks heroes are immortal. But they’re never right again after death.
Hughie is forced to re-kill him and has to start coming to terms with the violence in his new life.
The reader and Hughie then learn that Vought American created The Seven in a lab to be the biggest and best heroes there could be. They’re basically well designed weapons. There is a lot of commentary about the military industrial complex. And a lot of commentary about corrupt capitalism. Honestly, this book gets way deeper than I thought it would. It’s smart but heavy.
Vought and many corrupt politicians are covering up events that happened in this book’s alternate version of 9/11. It was The Seven’s first day out and they ending up destroying an entire plane full of civilians trying to stop the terrorist attacks. What a blunder!
Now the book starts to get repetitive.
Annie has more sexual assault issues with members of The Seven. More super hero teams have brain dead zombie members. More corrupt plots with various teams and organizations. More assassinations. More more more.
Volume three brings us even deeper into the politics by exploring the character of Vic the Veep. The Vice President of The United States. An absolute lack wit of a sexual deviant puppet man. He’s…. the word they use in the book is retarded. But yeah, he’s not all there, in an extreme and undefined way. He only knows that he wants to fuck and that the heroes supply him with a steady amount of prostitutes so he’s pro hero.
Vought owns Vic the Veep. They put him in the seat because he’s easily controlled, he has no thoughts of his own. The President hates him. The Boys aim to assassinate him.
This plot line will likely pick up in the second half of the series. Volume three however ends with some back story for the other characters in The Boys. Mother’s Milk, Frenchie, and The Female.
I had been waiting for some more information about these mysterious team members and it took so danged long to get to it! And then it was like 6 whole issues of nothing but. If I hadn’t been taking notes for this review I probably would’ve forgotten the plot by the time I got to volume four.
Overall The Boys is smart. It’s ultra violent and full of nudity, definitely not for kids. But it has a lot more than a standard action packed series. It has a lot to say about super heroes, politics, capitalism, and the corruption of power and fame.
Since it does get so smart and so dark it makes for a bad binge. As I go into the second half of the series I intend to break the reading up a bit so as to not get burnt out. It started to feel like a bit much by volume three.
I definitely recommend the series but I don’t recommend reading it all at once. Give yourself a little breathing room between all the rape and violence.
If you’re looking for more complete comic book series check out Harrow County
4/5 punches 👊👊👊👊
Buy it here:
The Boys Volumes 4-6 Summary
After reading the first 3 omnibus volumes of The Boys series I had to take a break. It’s very violent and upsetting and heavy. Many great books are. But I just needed a breather before I went back for more.
The final half of the series continues with the darkness and gets even worse as it progresses. But ultimately I’m glad I stuck with it to the end.
Volume 4 starts with Butcher discovering Hughie and Annie together. He is very surprised to find out Hughie’s been dating a member of The Seven and nobody knew. He sends Hughie on some busy work until he can form a plan.
The Boys have some extremely graphic photos of The Homelander and they intend to use these for blackmail.
As you can see, The Homelander leaves no sin untouched. He eats a freaking baby for crying out loud!
A lot of blackmail will take place in these volumes. A lot.
Annie finally comes out to Hughie as a superhero and he’s furious. He can’t seem to see his hypocrisy in being mad at her for lying. He admits to Butcher what happened and he lets him “accidentally” find the video of Annie aka Starlight being forced to perform oral sex in order to join The Seven.
Hughie cannot handle this revelation and very cruelly dumps her. He flees home to Scotland to find his old loser friends and his adopted parents. He stays here for a good portion of these volumes.
Annie tracks him down and tells her whole story and why she thinks they can make it work. Hughie then comes clean and they have a lot of secrets to overcome.
The rest of the Boys use the photo evidence and Vought American and The Homelander want to make a deal with them. But The Boys’ funding still gets cut. Causing Butcher to blackmail some other people into getting it back.
Blackmail starts to be performed by all sides. A lot of moving pieces are played against each other and people get lost in who is actually responsible. This all leads to a member of The Seven killing Butcher’s dog Terror.
Butcher kills him in retaliation. Turns out Vought actually leaked The Homelander tapes though, not The Boys.
Around this point in the volumes we get a lot of flashbacks and history lessons. Butcher’s life story including what happened to his late wife is pretty tragic. Told by Butcher in his own dead inside words, it’s pretty heartbreaking but doesn’t excuse his current and future behavior.
Back in the present the president is killed in a ludicrous freak accident. This leaves the absolute imbecile Vic the Veep in charge of the Nation. Ahead of Vought’s schedule.
This means everybody needs to speed up all of their plans. Frenchie and The Female go to kill the heads of Vought. Butcher has even more malicious plans.
He’s still upset that Hughie was never fully converted to his violent ways. So he kidnaps the member of The Seven that killed his girlfriend before he joined The Boys. He finally provokes him into killing. Butcher comes off as excessively cruel here. He destroys the last bit of soul Hughie had left.
Annie narrowly escapes Homelander as she finally quits The Seven. Frenchie and The Female strike a deal with the Vought executives when it becomes clear they are all being played by Homelander.
Butcher releases every last piece of blackmail he has to the media. Effectively striking against every entity involved in this war.
This is when the book reveals the last big twist. We discover that a member of The Seven, Black Noir, was created as the anti-Homelander.
He was designed as a failsafe with the sole purpose of killing Homelander if the order is ever given. All he’s wanted to do his whole life is kill Homelander and he hasn’t been able to.
In order to provoke the command to be given he has acted as Homelander doing awful awful terrible evil things. Like the things in the photos. Homelander was aware of some of the things through stories. He thought he’d been blacking out and doing terrible things so he started to just do terrible things while awake too. Cause, fuck it.
But even after Black Noir escalated to eating a live baby (!) the command was never given because Butcher held these photos away from those who could give the command. All because Butcher wanted revenge more than actual justice.
He gets his revenge, he manages to kill Black Noir with the help of a full army. But as with all revenge it’s ultimately meaningless.
The Boys disband for a break since everything is chaos and unmanageable. Annie leaves Hughie saying they can never move past what’s happened.
Butcher, on his own, has weaponized compound V. The chemical that creates superheros. He intends to turn it against them and killl every last superhero.
He starts with Mother’s Milk, his own best friend and member of The Boys. He then blows up Frenchie and The Female. Why? So they won’t stop him.
In the final showdown Butcher goads Hughie into killing him. Hughie was brought onto The Boys as a way to keep Butcher from going all Homelander but Butcher kept trying to corrupt him. It’s all about checks and balances.
In the end politicians continue to be corrupt, corporations continue to be evil, superheros will be brought back, and the status quo remains.
Hughie and Annie reunite to give it one last try. Maybe they’ll get a little bit of happiness in a world where everything still is and likely always will be a capitalist nightmare. Ugh, too real.
For me, that’s what the series boils down to. It’s too real. It’s smart and risky, it’s definitely well written. But I didn’t want to read it. I had a hard time finding anything redemable in almost any of these characters.
Annie was my favorite throughout the whole series. She’s a complex character that I feel was under-used. But I basically hated everyone else and I have a hard time wanting to read about characters I hate.
But art transcends my feelings of dislike. I dislike most people, that’s just the way it is. For the ultimate story of absolute power corrupting absolutely you really can’t beat The Boys.
Volumes 4 and 5: 3/5 noir people 👤👤👤
Volume 6: 5/5 noir people 👤👤👤👤👤
Also check out a lot more comic books for adults