Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Boys, a graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

My interest in graphic novels has been off-again, on-again and has re-entered the on-again stage.

I was in the Comic Cubicle to pick up We3, the story of three "animal weapons" - a dog, a cat, and a rabbit - who escape captivity before they can be terminated when the program in which they were created is closed down. Will Wheaton recommended it on his blog and I liked his other recommendation so much (Fell) I decided to get We3. It wasn't in so I started browsing. By the way, comic stores are browsable unlike most big box bookstores. I found The Boys, written by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and illustrated by Darick Robertson.

The story line immediately appealed to me. I enjoy seeing a common theme reversed. Even if you don't read comics you know about super heroes battling super villains to save the world. What if the super heroes are really arrogant, super jerks who have only disdain for normal people, for whom a 60% attrition rate is acceptable because they don't know what they are doing? That's the idea here. The president of the U.S. unofficially sanctions a team, The Boys, to monitor the activities of the super heroes and stop them when they go too far. The Boys are Butcher, Frenchie, The Female, Mother's Milk, and Wee Hughie. OK, one of The Boys is a woman. Basically, they declare war on the supers. In volume one we learn that Butcher and Wee Hughie have personal scores to settle against the super heroes. Butcher's wife was raped by one, and Wee Hughie's girlfriend was killed by another. Wee Hughie is is the newest member of The Boys and his attempt to come to terms with their mission is possibly the only endearing aspects of this series. He is still an innocent among psychopaths.

Besides the story, another reason I had to have volume one of this series is Wee Hughie. They used Simon Pegg as a model when drawing this character. You might remember Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, one of the best zombie movies ever. Also, he will play a young Scotty in the next Star Trek movie which might actually get me in the theatre to see it. I get a kick seeing Simon Pegg battling super heroes.

When I took The Boys to the counter I was cautioned that it is a bit twisted. I don't know if that was out of deference to my age and perhaps I should be looking at Archie and Jughead or if it was a general caution. The fellow was quite correct; The Boys has extreme violence and graphic sex. Definitely for mature readers, really mature readers.