Comic Review: The Boys TPB Vol. 1

The Boys Vol. 1: The Name Of The Game
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Darick Robertson
Covers by Robertson and Avina
DC Comics/Wildstorm & Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $14.99; Available Now

Who watches the supers? Butcher, that’s who. Billy Butcher. An English gent employed by the CIA to keep an eye on all the horrible deeds that superheroes do when they are not on camera, or get away with when they are on camera simply because of the recognition. Butcher hates supers. And with a very good personal reason. And when he gets a chance to do some damage, whether it be stomping some superhero or pulling some of darkest humored pranks on them, Butcher and his team, known and feared as The Boys, are the best at what they do.

Hughie. Wee Hughie to his mates. He just your average Scot bloke who think he has just the perfect woman. Unfortunately that woman is killed right in front of him during a skirmish between two supers while at the fair. Hughie is devastated, and when the men in black come knocking at his door, they easily coerce him to sign a document stating he will not hold the government responsible. Hughie is just the man for Butcher’s newest line-up of The Boys — someone who has a personal hatred for the supers’ disregard for humanity, and someone with the balls big enough to stand up and put them in their place.

Starlight. She was part of the youth superhero team The Young Americans before being tapped to join the most prolific and powerful superhero team on the planet, The Seven. Starlight has a very naive vision of The Seven, and the same vision that The Seven push on the world so that their merchandise lines sell. Starlight is about to discover just what The Seven are really made of, and it is a soul crushing exposure that is only topped by her desire to part of the famous team. This is the world of The Boys, and this is a look at a world where 200,000 superhumans, whether heroes or villains, are mostly nothing more than arrogant, ego-tripping, untrained, sexually perverse, drunk assholes that need to shown with brute force who is still running the Earth. And if a few of them are actually out there trying to protect the citizens and make the world safe, Butcher has only to say, “Fuck ’em.”

In the mid-nineties, Garth Ennis produced one of the most startling and blasphemous looks at Christianity with his absolutely perfect Preacher. Now, Ennis sets his eyes on tearing down the dogmatic beliefs in the superhero genre, destroying anything wholesome that can be associated with the term “hero,” and even eliminates the wide diversity of where all these supers originate from with one fell swoop of a word bubble. The first splash page of the first issue should give a hint at exactly what Ennis is going to do to superheroes, as a huge black boot comes smashing down on the already battered skull of a generic masked super, presumably killing him. His pen is a sharp as the words he puts to paper, and if you get too close, he will make you bleed. This is the bus we’ve climbed onto, with that mad Irishman Ennis at the wheel, a half bottle of drank Bushmill’s in his hand with full intentions of finishing it.

Ennis sets up two parallel storylines running here as the everyday man Hughie and rising superhero Starlight are both inducted into their respective teams. Though it is not a groundbreaking idea by any stretch, the use of two inductees into a vast new experience as a way to introduce the reader into the writer’s universe is the exact perspective needed to push this raw story to its maximum potential. It allows the leaders of these inductees, Butcher and The Homelander, to open their eyes to what they are about to deal with, and thus provides in great detail to the reader how this world operates without it seeming like a bunch of forced exposition. The reader is both Hughie and Starlight, and what they are exposed to is horrifying.

And who better than Darick Robertson to visually expose in every horrible detail the dystopian society that Butcher and his crew live in? Robertson, best known for his work on Transmetropolitan, had just come off that title when he began to do preliminary work on The Boys. And much like Transmet, Robertson is equally responsible for the final outcome here in the character creations and story. Of particular note is Hughie. When Robertson was creating Hughie, he had recently seen Simon Pegg on the BBC show Spaced, and used Pegg’s uncanny likeness to create the version of Hughie we see on the page. This in turn helped solidify the voice that Ennis was looking for in Hughie. And it is this camaraderie between two creators that really gives The Boys its dynamic feel.

Working in tandem, these two brilliant and brutally wicked minds have brought to the page one of most twisted, violent, and consistently dark humored stories in quite some time. And this book is violent! No one can draw a head exploding or a fist punching through a torso quite like Robertson. Robertson can magically pull out of nothingness the perfect facial expression for any occasion. Ennis though, who has given plenty of opportunity to Robertson to unleash the red stuff, is much more focused, at least for now, on the naturally progressive sexual deviance that would be needed to help get a superhero off. This is played into heavily as Starlight is inducted into The Seven, the relationship between Butcher and one of the directors at the CIA, and plays particularly into a later story arc as The Boys set up the Gen-X superhero team Teenage Kix. No taboo is off limits for Ennis when it comes to the perverse needs of his supers. And no superhero golden rules or iconic characters are off-limits for him to parody and deconstruct with the anger and wit that we’ve all come to expect from one of the finest pens in comic literature.

Originally published by DC Comics/Wildstorm, Dynamite Entertainment has since picked up publishing rights and now collects issues 1-6 here in this trade paperback for those that missed the hard-to-find single issues the first time around. The trade features a loving forward by Simon Pegg, and four pages of Robertson’s sketch art and his notes about the main characters. Dynamite will continue to publish the further ongoing issues under their own moniker. They currently have issues 7-11 available on their website, with issue 12 available for pre-order.


  1. […] In the mid-nineties, Garth Ennis produced one of the most startling and blasphemous looks at Christianity […]

    Pingback by Sayonara Cinema — September 16, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  2. […] A series that will forseeably get to 60 issues, and with other plans in the works of this project going further, I personally recommend you searching this one out. The comic is based on the premise of a team of suped-up Black Ops on a mission to keep the superheroes of the ‘real’ world in check. Read the original Geeks of Doom review of TPB Volume one here: Comic Review: The Boys TPB, Vol. 1. […]

    Pingback by Inter-Re-View: Darick Robertson — June 11, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

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