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The Boys, vol. 1 by Garth Ennis: A Review

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Superheroes. They’re the good guys. When things get bad, heroes are the ones we turn to. What happens, however, when the heroes turn out to be pretty bad themselves?

You call in The Boys.



Written by Garth Ennis, who won multiple awards for his work on Preacher among others, this ongoing series seeks to expose the seedy underbelly of the superhero community and the guys that stop them. Using many popular superheroes as inspiration, much in the world of The Boys is a parody of existing superhero mythology. Take The G-Men, for instance. Loosely based on Marvel Comics’ The X-Men, the public image of The G-Men is that they are downtrodden runaways and outcasts. However, they live in a mansion and are extremely wealthy, similar somewhat to The X-Men that they are derived from. It’s eventually revealed that John Godolkin, a caricature of X-Men founder Charles Xavier, actually kidnaps members of his team as children instead of recruiting them properly.

Billy Butcher, an Englishman with a crooked smile and penchant for murder, gets CIA approval for a special unit (nicknamed “The Boys”) to stop, blackmail, and occasionally kill any superhero who abuses their power. Butcher serves as de facto leader. Other members include:

  • Mother’s Milk, or "MM" - Butcher’s 2nd in command who handles the details.
  • The Frenchman, an insane man from France who uses violence as his panacea.
  • The Female (of the Species), a mute girl; the most violent recruit on the team.
  • Hughie Campbell, or “Wee Hughie,” newest member and actually a nice guy.


The Boys is a not a title for little kids. Most of the seedy underbelly that gets exposed is, well... seedy. On their first assignment together, The Boys monitor the junior superhero team Teenage Kix. They learn that several members of the team are engaging in everything from rampant drug use, to illicit sexual affairs, and even, in one case, self-mutilation. Hughie joins the team because his girlfriend is accidentally murdered by a superhero traveling at the speed of sound. After committing this heinous act, the hero in question (named A-Train) all but ignores Hughie. He callously leaves the scene with little more than an “oops.” Ennis treats the series with a realism and grit that few other comics would dare to attempt. Ben, a young adult patron and library regular, recommended this title to me when I was looking for a new comic series to read. Ben is definitely on the mature side and it's worth noting that The Boys is probably a title for older teens.  With that said, I think The Boys is well worth it.

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