****Warning: Use of Mature Language is used in this review*****
Before I go further this needs to be made perfectly clear, this is not for the casual reader of graphic novels or somebody who is easily offended. The violence is extremely over the top, in almost the first panel you see Wee Hughie holding the severed and bloody hands of his girlfriend. However even this pales in comparison to the treatment of a young female superhero trying to join The Seven (a direct parody of the Justice League) which has to be seen to be believed.
Despite the offensive material you will find razor-sharp and gritty wit, with topics ranging from gay rights to animal rescue and good-will.
1998 Eisner Award winner Garth Ennis created The Boys back in October 2006 with the help of illustrator Darick Roberston, who himself was nominated for an Eisner award for his work on The Boys, but is best known for co-creating and illustrating Transmetropolitan.
The Boys is set between the years 2006 and 2008, with the world having become infested with a quarter of a million super-powered beings. Someone has to keep watch on what is going on beneath the masks and secret identities of these people and that task falls to ‘The Boys’- a government-funded band of five, dedicated to keeping the ‘supes’ in line.
The group is headed up by an Englishman called Billy Butcher and his bulldog Terror. Butcher is an extremely large and violent individual who I can’t help but read in a Michael Caine style voice. He is at home with blackmail, torture and even murder in the line of duty and feels right at home when things get bad.
His character is pretty well summed up in the first two scenes he is shown in, in ‘The Name of The Game’. His first line whilst looking up at six members of The Seven and saying with a smile upon his face. ‘I’m gonna fuckin’ have you, you cunt’. The man is so wrapped up in his hatred of the supes that he seemingly loves the idea of fighting and breaking the biggest in the super hero game. His next appearance happens directly after being introduced to Wee Hughie.
In this scene he is quite obviously taking the female Director of the C.I.A roughly from behind over her own desk, quite obviously enjoying the string of obscenities she is throwing his way. Billy Butcher is a man who knows how this world works and has the resources to get things done.
However, despite being the leader, Butcher is not the main character. That honour goes to a Scotsman by the name of Hughie ‘Wee Hughie’ Campbell. We first meet Wee Hughie as his girlfriend is killed right in front of his own eyes by a supe by the name of A-Train.
In summary, if you like your graphic novels graphic, violent and funny then this is definitely for you. Garth Ennis creates another masterpiece to go alongside the Vertigo title Preacher. What’s more, if you’re already a fan of the serie,s then it may interest you to know that Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, The Campaign) has been hired to direct the film adaptation. The rights were picked up originally by Colombia Pictures however in February 2012 they reportedly dropped the option yet was picked up by Paramount Pictures.