The Boys 72 (November 2012)

And what does Ennis do for the finish? Pretty much exactly what I figured he’d do. There’s nothing really new to it, except maybe some gesture of humanity from the corporate jerk, which makes one wonder why Ennis bothered. Darick Robertson comes back (with assists from Richard P. Clark). It makes sense, since Robertson created the series with Ennis, only Russ Braun’s been doing the book for ages…. Having Robertson back doesn’t remind of the good times. For better or worse, Ennis broke the comic to the point nothing could fix it. The new and improved Hughie is a laughable … Continue reading The Boys 72 (November 2012)

The Boys 71 (October 2012)

For the last regular issue–there’s one more, but this one ends the plot line of the the final arc at least–Ennis does rather well. He doesn’t recover the series, however. He turns in almost a standalone. One wouldn’t have to read the previous thirty or forty issues to still get a good experience. One definitely wouldn’t have to read all the ancillary series, even though Ennis directly refers to many of them. It’s a talking heads issue, a return to the good old days of Hughie and Butcher shooting the shit. And this time, Braun does really well with the … Continue reading The Boys 71 (October 2012)

The Boys 70 (September 2012)

It’s a fast issue. Hughie gets to meet some mentioned, but never seen characters. Well, let’s just say Ennis should have gone the Vera and Maris route because doing a Lovecraft thing? Not the best scene. He can’t even make it funny when he tries. Ennis resolves two mysteries the series never needed solving. Then he kicks off an ending somewhat akin to the one in Preacher. He has an excuse for it, sure, but it’s the same thing. Only Braun doesn’t go in enough for the iconic scenery to make it work. There’s also a complete misfire of a … Continue reading The Boys 70 (September 2012)

The Boys 69 (August 2012)

I’d say another problem with Ennis’s big twist is how many twists does he really need for this comic book. He’s about to hit seventy issues–I’m not going to do the math, but his readers have dropped north of two hundred bucks on this series (especially since it’s so heavy on continuity–no jumping on late)… Isn’t that investment worth something from the writer besides three or four twists in the grand finale? Especially when the twists don’t amount to anything. Ennis is at least playing this “big” twist out through the finale arc. The last big twist got resolved in … Continue reading The Boys 69 (August 2012)

The Boys 68 (July 2012)

I don’t think I’ve ever quite read something like what Ennis is doing with The Boys. He’s making the reader feel bad about liking the comic. It’s a crazy thing, full of hostility. There’s also some other stuff. Some good stuff. Well, the one good moment where the Female finally talks. It’s an awesome moment, really subdued. Ennis delivers that moment. The crazy stuff with the cliffhanger? Not so much. But he’s operating on two levels simultaneously. He’s rewarding the reader for his or her patience while also chastising him or her for liking the characters. It’ll be interesting to … Continue reading The Boys 68 (July 2012)

The Boys 67 (June 2012)

The biggest surprise this issue–and the issue has three or four surprises, maybe five–has to be Ennis deciding to deport the Boys. Except Mother’s Milk. It’s a throwaway little bit, intended to show how Hughie is becoming more like Butcher, but it’s an unexpected complication. The other surprises? While Ennis hasn’t been foreshadowing them directly, he’s been hinting at them for quite some time. On one hand, he might be getting ambitious again with where he’s going to take the series for its conclusion. On the other, it’s a lot of sensationalism–over and over and over again this issue–and Ennis … Continue reading The Boys 67 (June 2012)

The Boys 66 (May 2012)

Ennis opens with the most exciting thing in the issue–only he doesn’t intimate there’s not going to be anything else exciting in the issue. He also doesn’t explain the scene. He just lets it play out, then goes back to the fallout from the previous arc. The Boys sort of break up this issue. They take a break, with Butcher messing around with everyone–mostly Hughie–and then Hughie has another big scene with Annie. There’s also the corporate stuff, but it’s unclear if Ennis is doing it to show the resilient evil of corporate America or if it’s a subplot he’s … Continue reading The Boys 66 (May 2012)

The Boys 65 (April 2012)

And Ennis comes up with a huge surprise reveal–before teasing a surprise in the next issue. He doesn’t go as far with it as he could; he basically does a Brubaker. He reveals something in the characters’ history to change everything they knew and so on. He doesn’t do a full Brubaker though. I was worried he’d go too far… instead, he goes just far enough. It’s an awesome twist. It just doesn’t make for an awesome finish. Seeing the Air Force take out the superheroes probably ought to be cooler but it’s just an expository moment. Ennis doesn’t worry … Continue reading The Boys 65 (April 2012)

The Boys 64 (March 2012)

There’s so much talking. Ennis just has Butcher and Hughie standing around talking for what seems like six pages. They’re waiting at the White House for the big showdown, only there’s a secret they don’t realize–Black Noir is up to something and no one knows about it except Mother’s Milk…. And he decides to wait until next issue to tell Hughie. Why? For drama. It’s an enjoyable issue, especially with the Voight guy giving the Homelander a speech. The speech sort of implies the superheroes are disappointing because they never do attain the comic book ideal. It’s the closest Ennis … Continue reading The Boys 64 (March 2012)

The Boys 63 (February 2013)

Even though Braun gets loose every other page (or maybe even panel) and Ennis’s big finish for Hughie and A-Train flops, the issue works. Things are finally coming to a close and Ennis is working at a breakneck speed. There are lots of callbacks to better issues, whether it’s the stuff between Frenchie and the Female or Maeve and Annie–Ennis knows what he’s doing. He’s going for maximum impact as efficiently as possible. Lots of little things happen in the issue, with the big thing–the superheroes attacking the Pentagon–not even getting real page time. Ennis instead focuses on his scenes. … Continue reading The Boys 63 (February 2013)

The Boys 62 (January 2012)

I don’t know what’s going on with Braun’s art, but he gets positively cartoony at times this issue. It’s like he’s too enthusiastic with Ennis’s humorous moments, which mostly involve Butcher making a wisecrack. With Ennis trying to wind everything up, he’s dialed certain things back on The Boys. It looks a lot like the early issues, but he’s no longer reminding the reader of the characters’ journeys. If he keeps going this way, the series could have been twenty or thirty issues, not sixty plus. It’s most relevant with how he handles Hughie. Hughie tells two big secrets and … Continue reading The Boys 62 (January 2012)

The Boys 61 (December 2011)

The Boys is so far off the rails, it’s hard to even get excited about a decent issue anymore. And this issue’s decent. It’s not good or great, but it’s got a couple funny moments and Ennis doesn’t shortchange Mother’s Milk entirely–just partially. And there’s a funny bit where Ennis makes fun of the Teen Titans. But the good moments just gloss over the bad ones and even Ennis seems to notice he’s on repeat. Hughie wants to stop being violent again, which Butcher points out is his favorite thing to say. There’s yet another scene with Annie about how … Continue reading The Boys 61 (December 2011)

The Boys 60 (November 2011)

Once again, it’s very hard to determine whether Ennis had these plans for The Boys all along or if he rushed things along with contrivances. Because it sure feels like he’s rushing things along. Most of the issue is spent with the President, who’s sort of been a character but not one to run the major sequence in an issue. It’s even been a while since Vic the Veep showed up; Ennis mentions him a lot (hence the memorable name), but it’s definitely been a while. They’re back now, as Ennis starts moving towards the end. He also does a … Continue reading The Boys 60 (November 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 6 (December 2011)

Ennis ends the series, his summing up of Butcher, with a quote from Unforgiven. He also includes a reference to himself in the comic, apparently when he was trying to get work at the superhero companies back in the eighties. Anyway, ending on a quote from Unforgiven just shows how little Ennis cares about this comic. I knew he didn’t care when he totally skipped over a Boys version of Spider-Man, which would have been awesome… at least if Ennis had been doing it towards the beginning of the run, before he’d lost interest. What’s so amazing about the quote–I … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 6 (December 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 5 (November 2011)

Mallory shows up–the first time Robertson has drawn him–and the series becomes about what I expected in the second half. Sadly the first half mostly consists of Butcher reading his wife’s diary where she talks about the Homelander attacking her. The diary goes on and on for pages. Not sure why Ennis thinks anyone would believe Mrs. Butcher had no idea what Butcher saw in her, which is how he ends the diary reading. It’s like he had the diary as one thing and then the character in two issues of the comic as someone else entirely. It’s weak writing. … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 5 (November 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 4 (October 2011)

I have to give it to Ennis, he does come up with one hectic of a death scene for Butcher’s wife. I always assumed it was something similar to Hughie’s but no. Ennis and Robertson pace that sequence beautifully. The way Ennis gets there though, it has some problems. One of the things Butcher does, regardless of its problems, is bring the reader out of the Boys universe. It’s Margaret Thatcher, it’s Falklands War, it’s real. Bringing in the superheroes at the end without any context… it’s jarring and it reminds the reader Ennis is just doing this series to … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 4 (October 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 3 (September 2011)

Why am I reading this comic? It’s a family drama this issue–oh, wait, Butcher meets the greatest woman in the world and she totally changes his life with her patience and inner beauty. Of course her death would send him over the cliff–she doesn’t die here, it’s way too soon, but I do think Ennis has established she does die. It’s like a happy scene in a soap opera, page after page, over and over again. Ennis is completely incapable of writing these scenes honestly. I wonder if he had someone give him a list of trite romantic blather for … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 3 (September 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 2 (August 2011)

This issue is a bit of a summary nightmare. The opening stuff with the Falklands is okay, though Ennis has covered a lot of the same territory with Born. Butcher turns out to be a natural born killer, which should get him in more trouble than it does–and it might even do so, but Ennis falls back on summary for the last half of the issue. When his family–not the dad though–shows up in the last few pages, I’d forgotten they were still around, like maybe they’d died at some point between the first and second issues and Ennis just … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 2 (August 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 1 (July 2011)

Besides the vaguely obviously device of Butcher narrating his tale to his dead father (in his casket, no less), Garth Ennis does a fairly decent job with this issue. In some ways, leaving Butcher a mystery–instead of giving him Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker (way too cute)–would have been better. However, given Ennis opens with Falklands War and then goes back to Butcher’s childhood in the seventies? It works. Ennis’s big problem with The Boys is his lack of interest. He had a gimmick, he got tired of it, but he didn’t create characters strong enough to support a series without continuously … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 1 (July 2011)

The Boys 59 (October 2011)

Ennis can definitely still write great scenes. The Butcher “losing it” scene in this issue–it takes up the last three or so pages, but feels like a lot more–is amazing Ennis writing. Strangely, it comes in an otherwise weak issue. There’s a talk between the Boys and the Seven, just a talk, then Hughie going off the deep end on Butcher at a staff dinner. That scene is particularly weak because Ennis’s arc for Hughie this issue is awful. He starts one place then immediately goes another–Ennis writes him angry, sure, but the final place he takes him doesn’t make … Continue reading The Boys 59 (October 2011)

The Boys 58 (September 2011)

Most of the “events” this issue are old items hinted at in some bug logs Hughie is reading. There’s a scene where he and Butcher continue investigating the crime, but it actually just confirms the suspicions they’ve had for two issues. It doesn’t develop anything, just confirms. Ennis is really treading water here…. Especially given the scene with the Legend and Butcher. The whole “Is Butcher a bad guy” foreshadowing runs through the scene and I realized Ennis tries as hard as he can to bring it back every issue. To force it into one conversation or another; at this … Continue reading The Boys 58 (September 2011)

The Boys 57 (August 2011)

There sure is a lot of talking this issue. There’s Hughie and Annie talking–they talk a whole lot, all about their relationship’s current status, Hughie working for the Boys, Annie being one of the Seven. Wait, it actually sounds like a bunch of conversations Ennis has been writing for twenty issues or so. Then he’s got Butcher recapping the previous issue. There’s a long conversation between Hughie and Mother’s Milk–this issue is the first one where Hughie sees the Boys after his trip away (he really didn’t rush to get his hamster back). The long conversation sort of moves things … Continue reading The Boys 57 (August 2011)

The Boys 56 (July 2011)

Ennis brings Hughie and Butcher back together in a criminal investigation. It’s very similar to one of the early Boys arcs. It’s straight investigation with a lot of lurid elements. The only big difference is there’s a little with the evil corporate guys and then something with the Seven. It might be the first time Ennis has actually had the Seven on the same page as the Boys when it comes to investigating something. It’s a decent enough issue, though Ennis draws a lot of attention to the foreshadowing stuff. Does Butcher know Hughie has met Mallory, will be find … Continue reading The Boys 56 (July 2011)

The Boys 55 (June 2011)

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised Ennis, McCrea and Burns screwed up the finish. Ennis has had problems wrapping up arcs before (though he’s also had some awesome wrap-ups). The real surprise should be reserved for how much everyone screws up, each one of them. Ennis wraps up Mallory’s story, which gets a whole lot less interesting when it becomes all about Butcher. Ennis is trying to turn Butcher into the villain of the series, at least for now; it has the awkward added value of making the reader feel bad for liking Butcher. Readers should have seen through him, … Continue reading The Boys 55 (June 2011)

The Boys 54 (May 2011)

Letting Mallory talk so much has an odd effect on The Boys. This issue is another long read, just because there’s so much information; Ennis covers from the end of World War II to 1985 in Mallory’s life. There are also the hints of Butcher’s deceptions, things Ennis and Mallory are both promising to reveal. The additional effect is more delicate. Ennis sets up Butcher and Mallory on different ends of a spectrum, but not just as characters, as his creations. Butcher is the expected Ennis protagonist–head-strong, funny, stand up guy to his friends. Mallory is the one who can … Continue reading The Boys 54 (May 2011)

The Boys 53 (April 2011)

It’s another war issue and it’s a good one. Burns and McCrea continue to do excellent work; one knows Ennis can handle a good war comic, but the artists stepping up is nice to see. He wasted them on the goofy Boys stuff. Hughie is still listening to Mallory tell his story, only there’s nothing for Hughie in this issue. You can always tells what subject Ennis actually wants to explore and here it’s World War II. There are the superheroes, and they’re analogues of a lot of the Golden Age guys, but Ennis doesn’t really spend any time with … Continue reading The Boys 53 (April 2011)

The Boys 52 (March 2011)

Ennis finally gets to do not just an Invaders story, he also gets to do a war story in The Boys. It’s Mallory’s story, which he’s telling Hughie after Highland Laddie. Oh, and Annie’s around. She and Hughie still aren’t getting along, which is strange because I thought they were after Laddie. It’s a lot of talking. On and on with the talking, whether it’s Mallory recapping Laddie and telling Hughie about Mother’s Milk and Butcher or if it’s Annie’s rather expository explanation of she and Hughie’s troubles… It feels like Ennis thinks he’s at a jumping on point or … Continue reading The Boys 52 (March 2011)

The Boys 51 (February 2011)

First, a technical issue. The company woman who’s decided to get rid of the Boys and the Seven has a computer simulation running with both team’s head shots then an “accuracy” calculation. Except Braun goes for realism, showing the Mac taskbar… and the Photoshop app running. Pretty sure Photoshop doesn’t run military simulations, not even in the world of The Boys. An editor should have caught it, but it’s unclear if this series’s editor does any work at all. The issue opens with a lot of exposition in dialogue–useless political stuff–before finally getting to Butcher blackmailing Monkey. It’s a fine … Continue reading The Boys 51 (February 2011)

The Boys 50 (January 2011)

Having Mallory just be some guy doesn’t pay off. Sure, it’s realistic enough, but why hide his face for forty issues. No reason he couldn’t show up. It’s not like he’s Butcher’s dad or Hughie’s or a clone of Frenchie. He’s just some old white guy. Ennis hiding him suggests he was trying to get up the interest in the reveal and the backstory. Since the pay-off is non-existent, the whole thing was just Ennis messing with the reader. His handling of it makes me somewhat suspicious overall now. All the promised pay-offs all of a sudden seem less likely. … Continue reading The Boys 50 (January 2011)

The Boys 49 (December 2010)

So it’s all setup for Ennis flashing back to the big first fight between The Seven and The Boys? With Butcher recounting the event to his dog, I’m not sure the Homelander is the only nutty one in the comic. The transition doesn’t go well at all–because Butcher doesn’t usually talk to Terror for this purpose–and it’s actually not a particularly good encounter. Ennis has everyone talking way too much. He’s being very coy, very opaque and I keep losing interest in the exposition. Whether it’s the Homelander, Mother’s Milk or Butcher, there’s just too much talking. The book, even … Continue reading The Boys 49 (December 2010)