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The Boys #15

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2008
By: Michael Colbert

Garth Ennis
Darick Robertson, Tony Avena (c)
Dynamite Entertainment
"Good for the Soul" (part 1)

It seems that, eventually, great superhero comic writers put out a comic about how much they hate superhero comics. Some examples that come to mind are Warren Ellis with Ruins, Mark Millar with Wanted, and Garth Ennis with The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.

Well how about The Boys? A bunch of CIA backed tough guys deliver well deserved beat downs to a bunch of jerk-offs in capes. Sounds like a big case of hating on the surface. The thing is, Garth Ennis, when hitting on all cylinders, has an uncanny ability to be both superficial and deep at the same time. The Boys is quite possibly the best example of this dichotomy you could possibly find. This series embraces the 14 year old boy in the reader with sex, heads splattering, booze/drugs, scatological humor and a grim violent world view that only a teenage boy could have. At the same time Garth knows the consequences of all this and, hopefully, while your laughing at the mean streak something else slips in. This is by no means subtle, subtle isnít the first word Iíd ever use to describe Ennisí work (In fact it wouldnít be the hundredth word) but it is, at his best, (as with The Boys) primal, demented, visceral and a hell of a lot of fun.

Did I mention mad funny too?

Which takes me back to the hating superhero statement at the beginning, The Boys isnít a hating superhero story; itís a superhero comedy but instead of taking the absurdist approach we come in from a black comedy angle. The superheroes of The Boys are pretty much magnified versions of the worst parts of human nature and The Boys themselves arenít that far behind. This is what both Wee Hughie and the young naÔve super-heroine Starlight are finding out almost simultaneously. As if to reinforce this almost a quarter of the comic is an exchange between Billy Butcher (the leader of The Boys) and the head of the CIA (Iím counting the hate sex they have) about how all levels are compromised, morally and security wise. Garth brings up how the Taliban and the CIA were buddies during the '80s and doesnít shy away from the accusations of drug connections that partnership probably brought about. The issue ends with the two most innocent characters questioning what theyíve placed their faith in; Starlight in Christianity and Hughie in Billy Butcher.

Donít let any of this put you off from the book. Believe me, there is plenty of trademark Ennis violence and over the top dialogue also and eventually everybody winds up having a conversation over a beer. Oh yeah, thereís more sex in this one than other issues too.

If you were interested in The Boys but didnít want to play catch up this issue is a good jumping on point. There is talk about past events but you can dope it out pretty easily and with what seems like a turning point coming up for both Hughie and Starlight it feels like The Boys is reaching a new level of (Gulp) maturity. Maybe the level of a fifteen year old boy.

I give The Boys issue #15 four bullets. If there was a head being splattered it would be 4.5.

"Who is Crazy Mary?"



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