Authors Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Illustrations Peter Snejbjerg
This is the spoiler full review of the first half of The Boys graphic novel series. If you would prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to read about how this book has even more politics than it does violence please visit here.
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!
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 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.
4/5 punches 👊👊👊👊
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