Thee Comic Column #13: The Boys wraps up with issue #72

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Garth Ennis’ long-running series The Boys ended this week with the release of issue #72 and it was fine reading indeed. Similar to Preacher (the GREATEST comic series EVER in this guy’s humble opinion) the final issue of The Boys was an almost lilting outro compared to the absolute mayhem that has defined the series, especially in the last year and a half as the story really began to ramp up toward its conclusion. Now that it’s over I’m looking forward to going back and re-reading the series from the beginning to really smooth out some of the perceived kinks I experienced following it monthly – all most likely my own fault.

Originally launched by DC’s Vertigo imprint and hyped as the book that would “out-Preacher-Preacher” DC proved it’s lack-of-fiber in following up a statement as bold as that (if you’ve read Preacher, you know what it means to say The Boys would “outdo” it) by dropping the book after only six issues. You may remember that from the outset Ennis projected he would need 70 issues to tell his tale, and by fumbling the pass when he delivered exactly what the company asked of him in it’s first TPB-ready installment it proved the absolute passing of the old Vertigo aesthetic. The company that racked in the acclaim – and revulsion – from Preacher suddenly didn’t want to play quite so rough anymore.

As it was told to me by sources that are several times removed, Vertigo has been on DC’s chopping block for some time, as the execs that run the company – and essentially act as parent company Warner Brothers’ interest guardians – find its creator-owned manifesto more and more counter-productive as they look to streamline their own books into idea-farms for Hollywood the way Marvel has done so much more successfully. Of course these same execs were fine to trade on the hype for a book like The Boys – which no doubt seemed to guarantee sales – without ever really paying attention to just what exactly they were publishing. Supposedly around about issue six one of them decided to see just what exactly all the hype was about and became mortified by Ennis’ story and its stark depiction of, well, sexual depravity and graphic violence. A small bidding war ensued as The Boys went on hiatus while looking for a new home and finally decided on Dynamite comics. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, I’m aware that the previous fly-by-night description of The Boys makes it sound heavy on the shock and lite on the substance but I can assure you, that is not the case. While I do think that perhaps Mr. Ennis occupied himself a little too much with outdoing himself in the depravity department, The Boys in long-form ended up being just as touching, strong and intelligent as Preacher, if maybe not quite as perfectly synthesized. But this is comic book punk rock folks, and we wouldn’t want our Stooges rekkids cleaned up and evenly polished, now would we? Nor would I say Mr. Ennis should ever back away from his hard-edged and violently remarkable take on the world – whether that’s the world of Rev. Jessie Custer while he’s occupied by the spawn of an angel and a demon, the world of a young woman with blossoming, goddess-like powers, the world of a certain cockney magician (whose fate will be the subject of next week’s column, thank you very much once again DC comics) or the world of Wee Hughie and The Boys, the poor sods who have to look after the seedy underbelly of a world with real superhero’s who – as would happen in reality – use their status and abilities for more than just protecting mankind, flowers and puppy dogs.

Much more indeed.

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The Boys hiccuped  a little bit for me when it came back from hiatus, but I followed all the way through and it was around about issue #69 that the series suddenly grabbed me by the throat again and just did not let go until I flipped the final page of the final book just a few short hours ago. Hence my eminent re-reading will hopefully iron-out any of the discrepancies that may have arisen with following a monthly comic with an intricate and ever-expanding plot line in this post-Twitter, ADD age.

All in all the book is fantastic and one amazingly entertaining ride. If you’re not familiar with The Boys I’d suggest going out and picking up Preacher first, Ennis’ BRILLIANT and emotionally powerful Hellblazer run second and then starting in on The Boys – by that time you may find that you have developed a sense of reverence and joy for Garth Ennis’ brutally wonderful style.

Garth – I raise a pint of ESB to you sir. I can’t wait for the next series!!!

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Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

2 Responses to Thee Comic Column #13: The Boys wraps up with issue #72
  1. [...] published back on February 5th of this year (told ya I was late to the game on this one!). With The Boys...
  2. Joe Grez

    JGrez Reply

    Again I need to sort a way to start reading some of these electronically. Ennis as you probably know is my favorite as well as Bendis after you got me into him when he was writing Daredevil. As far as John…I just read your link. Stunned. I just can’t seem to think this will be the same. I’ve not followed as closely in the past two years thus the revelation to me. We’ll discuss further.

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