The Boys: A Retrospective Part 1
Dynamite Comic’s The Boys has been one of my personal favorite comics since the first time I read issue #1. This book takes place in a pessimistically realistic universe where superheroes are created and backed by a major corporation known as Vought American. Vought American uses a drug known as compound-V to create these super powered individuals. These superheroes, or “supes” as they are referred to, are arrogant, irresponsible and dangerous to the general public. The Boys are a C.I.A. team created to keep the supes in check.
Through the course of these reviews I will walk you through the major plot points of the series up to the last issue released at the time of publishing. I will break these reviews down by trade, starting with Vol. One: The Name of the Game, to avoid publishing a never ending article. I should take this opportunity to warn you that The Boys is intended for mature audiences due to graphic sex, nudity, gratuitous violence and a few bad words. I should also warn you that this review contains major spoilers. The Boys was created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.
The opening scene of the series introduces Wee Hughie, a character that is based on the appearance of actor Simon Pegg (he actually wrote an introduction for the first trade paperback), and his girl friend Robin. Hughie and Robin are a fairly new couple and clearly crazy about each other. These characters are seen at some sort of fair in their native Scotland when suddenly a super villain is seen flying through the air and crushes Robin into a wall, leaving a traumatized Little Hughie holding nothing but her arms. A supe by the name of A-Train (a speedster) then arrives on the scene and makes sure the villain he was fighting is in custody. He notices a very distraught Hughie and asked the police on the scene “You have people to handle this kind of thing, right?”, and without waiting for an answer speeds off. This sequence sets the tone for the entire series.
Enter Butcher. Butcher is an incredibly intimidating British man and is introduced by walking into the head of the C.I.A.’s office and having angry, hateful sex with her then telling her he is going to be the head of the recently renewed anti-supe team. While taking charge of this team, Butcher lays out that his team will consist of individuals called Mothers Milk, The Frenchmen and The Female; he also mentions he needs a replacement for a man who was previously on the team. Butcher then pays a visit to a man known as Monkey, a sleazy weasel of an individual who functions as the teams liaison to the C.I.A. Monkey and Butcher proceed to search for a new member for the team through a database and Butcher eventually decides that Little Hughie seemed like a perfect candidate.
Butcher tracks down Hughie and tells him about their team. He tells him that he knows what happened to his girlfriend and that it makes him the man for the job because he’s personally experienced the superhero scourge. Hughie is apprehensive for several reasons, not the least of which being his fear of taking on people with super powers. Butcher alludes that they have ways of dealing with supes and that Hughie could learn as he went. He then tells Hughie that he should come and check the operation out and hands him several thousand dollars.
After recruiting Hughie, Butcher starts to gather the rest of the team. The next character Butcher gathers into the fold is known as The Frenchman. The Frenchmen is a tall, thin, unassuming looking individual. We first observe The Frenchman sitting in a cafe, seemingly talking to his coffee about a long lost love. The people at the next table, a trio of business men can be seen making jokes about him. In response to the jokes he snaps from docile to psychotic and beats them unconscious. He then returns to his joyous self and forgets his fight entirely when Butcher greets him.
The next team member Butcher goes to recruit is The Female. The female is shown to be a very small girl of ambiguous age with shaggy black hair and baggy black clothes. She is first seen knocking at the door of a house that has mobsters inside it (you can tell by the conversation overheard by her through the front door). She enters the dwelling and chaos ensues. Screams and pleas for mercy can be heard through the door and they finally stop when a human face is seen sliding down the window.
The final member of the team Butcher meets with is Mothers Milk. Mothers Milk or MM is a very large, intimidating man who is shown very early on to have a heart of gold. He tells Butcher that he has been doing volunteer work with kids and is unsure if he wants to give that up to rejoin the team. However he is eventually persuaded to come back into the fold.
In issue three we begin to see the appearance of several supes. We are first introduced to The Homelander and Starlight a.k.a. Annie January. Starlight is the newest member of the premier super team known as The Seven. She was recruited to be the newest member of The Seven from a minor super hero team called The Young Americans who are based out of Iowa. The Homelander is the Leader of The Seven and is decked out in an American flag themed costume. The Homelander gives Starlight a tour of The Sevens Headquarters and asks her about herself. She mentions that she has a boyfriend called The Drummer Boy whom she had met at a Christian Superhero rally and that they were ‘waiting for marriage’. As the tour draws to a close Starlight begins gushing about how excited she is to finally have her dream of becoming one of the illustrious Seven come to fruition. The Homelander then informs her there is one final test she must pass to become part of the team, as he says this he drops his pants and indicates she should preform oral sex on him. Needless to say Starlight is shocked and appalled by this situation and is incredibly relieved to notice two more members of The Seven, A-Train (the supe that killed Hughie’s Girl Friend) and Black Noir, enter the room.She begins to explain to her new teammates that she believes someone to be controlling The Homelander, as if she is unable to believe the leader of The Seven is capable of such an act. To her amazement however, A-Train and Black Noir don’t come to her rescue but join in! Starlight is then reduced to tears and asks if they are going to rape her, to which Homelander responds that they would certainly not rape her but that her position on the team was at stake. When we next see Starlight she is vomiting in a bathroom stall. She emerges from the stall to find she is in the presence of yet another member of The Seven: Queen Maeve. Once again Starlight starts to gush about how much of an influence Queen Maeve had on her as a super hero. Like the rest of The Seven, Queen Maeve was not what Starlight expected; her gushing was greeted with a resounding “Fuck off”.
While Starlight was getting her grand tour Wee Hughie decided to travel across the pond to investigate Butcher’s job offer. We find that Hughie has rented an apartment in a less then pleasant area in New York City. Butcher picks him up and apologizes for him going through immigration because he had already been a U.S. citizen for over a week. They proceed to the headquarters of The Boys, which happens to be none other then New York’s Legendary Flat Iron Building. Butcher introduces Hughie to the rest of the team and they begin to talk shop. Butcher explains that since they are just getting re-started they should “fire a warning shot”. He then starts explaining a photo array arranged on the wall behind him. The array depicts a young super group known as Teenage Kix. The Teenage Kix are to be the target of the previously mentioned warning shot. Butcher explains that they are a team that’s well enough known to get publicity however not well liked enough to cause a public outcry. Just the right group to target to let the supes know they are back in business.
The Boys begin by setting up surveillance on Teenage Kix to see what dirt they can gain. They eventually learn many things, and obtain photographic evidence to back these facts up, about each team member that would be a PR nightmare if they were revealed to the public. They learned which members of the team were sleeping with each other, which have embarrassing kinks, which did what drugs and various other such pieces of information. During the process of information gathering Butcher asks Hughie about how he likes the job. While this conversation is going on Butcher injects Hughie with Compound-V, the drug which grants people super powers by altering their genetic structure, so he can cope with the possibility of having to defend himself against supes. Hughie flips out on Butcher for injecting him with drugs without permission and storms off angrily. Hughie spends a few days mulling over the pros and cons of taking a permanent position with The Boys. While doing so Hughie meets Annie January, A.K.A. Starlight, in the park. With neither of them knowing the others true identity Hughie and Annie begins to talk vaguely about the doubts they are having about each of their respective new jobs. They seem to hit it off and make vague plans to meet in the park again some time in the future.
After the marathon information gathering session,The Boys then sent copies of each of the pictures they had obtained to the Teenage Kix and demanded they choose one of their members to confess their secrets to the public or risk having The Boys choose a which of them would have their dirty laundry aired. The Kix eventually decided that the member of the team who could most easily recover from the public shame would be ‘Shout Out’ who The boys had discovered was a homosexual. This public humiliation sent the message it was intended to send because everyone from the Teenage Kix all the way up to the Seven knew: The Boys are back.
The Teenage Kix are furious about being treated in such a way. They are then surprisingly handed the location of the boys by an anonymous source and decide to pay them a visit. The Kix show up at the flatiron building just as the boys are returning to work and pick a fight. This is the first time we get to see The Boys in action and it is truly an impressive sight. Butcher, Mothers Milk, The Frenchman and The Female all lunge into battle with these super powered beings and inflict serious damage on each of them. Hughie is told to hang back because he is clearly terrified but is forced to defend himself when one of the Supes known as the Blarney Cock attacks him. Not knowing his own strength since being injected with Compound-V, Hughie punches Blarney Cock in the Stomach and to his horror feels his fist sink all the way through his assailant and out his back. This sends the Teenage Kix packing, they know when they’re beat.
The shock of killing the Blarney Cock leads Wee Hughie to tell Butcher he can no longer be a part of the team. Butcher tells Hughie hes making a mistake by leaving so Hughie asks Butcher why he bothers doing the job which leads us to a rare inside look at Butchers past. Butcher reveals that his wife was raped by a supe. She became pregnant and eventually died carrying a superhuman fetus. Butcher went on to tell Hughie that he should stay because hes good at the job, he likes the job and has a score to settle with a supe and wont get an opportunity to do it elsewhere. Hughie eventually decides to stick it out a little longer.
This is where The Boys Vol:1 The Name of the Game ends. Check back next week to read my review of The Boys Vol:2 Get Some!
See you next Wednesday!