Preacher. It is right up there as one of my all time favorite graphic novel series. Going off the strength of that experience, I thought for sure that Garth Ennis' other big comic series The Boys would also be a sure fire hit for me as well. You gotta trust your instincts right? Well, It turns out my instincts aren't as sharp as I had hoped...
The Boys are a C.I.A. backed team of dangerous, quite likely even psychotic individuals. The team, which consists of a motley crew if there ever was one, are employed by the U.S. government to protect the country from earth's superheroes; who run the risk of finally coming to the conclusion that they could rule the world if they so desired. Here to prevent that from happening are The Boys, who do their best to keep the superhero threat controlled, and if necessary, remove potential threats.
I'll admit, the premise of this series did intrigue me. The Boys sorta seemed like the anti-Authority, and with Ennis at the helm, I had hopes that would lead in some pretty interesting directions. Not to mention the catharsis I imagined feeling when slightly altered yet easily identifiable super heroes got their asses kicked by a bunch of no-names. Though I did get a bit of wish fulfillment with the latter part, I was sadly disappointed in all other terms.
The first and ultimately most disappointing thing about The Boys is that it is by far the most mature comic I've ever read. In terms of language, and graphic content it is pretty much off the charts. However, the mature-ness of the whole thing is taken so far to the extreme that it manages to become simultaneously the most immature comic I've ever read. The "humor" registers at an extremely low maturity level, and the excess and raunchiness of the sex might be exciting and/or hilarious to some, but for me it was ridiculous, offending and stupid. Throw in a few other instances that made me cringe and severely question my own judgement in purchasing this title, and you have a complete fail of a read.
It seems pretty clear to me that Ennis tried really hard to make this the most edgy, balls out, extreme, no holds barred comic on the shelves, and he did that by pushing all the wrong buttons. There is so much useless sex, sexism, and stupidity in this title that it completely lost sight of the concept, which could have been interesting. I wouldn't mind reading a comic about a group of people who keep the incredibly powerful superhumans in check, and how they do it, but sadly, that shit ain't gonna happen because I'm not reading any more of The Boys, and it is unlikely that this concept will get revisited anytime soon.
I think what is most frustrating for me is that I normally don't mind, and even enjoy a bit of humor, foul language, violence and sex. They can all be used to make a story better and stronger. Look no further than Tim Marquitz' Demon Squad books for an example of all four elements done right. The thing is, humor, language, violence and sex all have a greater impact when they are used in small doses, but with The Boys there is no such thing as a small dose, it is all the time to the point of perversion. Ennis could have cut back and added more depth to the story, developed more characters, or given more life to the world, but instead he opted for a fairly straight forward plot that did little to interest me.
All told, this one was an epic fail. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, and would advise staying away. I really liked Ennis' Preacher series, but I guess I'll be more cautious with his stuff in the future. Simply put, this is the worst thing I've read in years.