Cry for Love

The Boys Volume 7: The Innocents: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Darick Robertson, Russ Braun, and John McCrea (2010): Revelations follow revelations, as Bill Butcher comes to believe Hughie is secretly working for the evil Vought-American corporation because his girlfriend turns out to be a member of premiere superhero group The Seven.

Hughie being Hughie, this is all a coincidence aggravated by Hughie’s blithe ignorance of current events and, for that matter, who exactly it is that he and the rest of The Boys are fighting. Hughie’s also going to finally find out a different terrible truth about his girlfriend, but only after spending time keeping tabs on Superduper, the only superhero group composed of neither bastards nor poseurs.

That’s because, no joke, they’re all suffering from major mental health issues which render them benign, loveable, and pretty much harmless. Hughie’s relationship with the members of Superduper (a parody of DC’s teen supergroup of the 31st century, the Legion of Superheroes) will pay dividends much later in the series. Recommended.

The Boys Volume 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Darick Robertson (2011): Collection of the six-issue miniseries that finally laid out Boys leader Bill Butcher’s tortured personal history. The violence is often overwhelming, as is the tragedy: Butcher is cut from the same mould as Ennis’s Saint of Killers in the earlier Preacher series, a violent hardcase redeemed by love and then further damned with the loss of that love. Recommended.

The Boys Volume 11: Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Russ Braun, John McCrea, Keith Burns, and Darick Robertson (2011-2012): The corporate controlled superheroes have decided to take over the world. Well, 65% of them, anyway, while the other 35% lay low and wait to see who wins.

Have Bill Butcher’s plans prepared the world to successfully stand against several thousand nigh-invulnerable wankers, or will the vile and vainglorious Homelander soon rule over everything? And which side will corporation Vought-American, which didn’t authorize a hostile takeover of the United States by the superheroes it created, come down on as all Hell breaks loose? And will Bill Butcher finally get vengeance upon the Homelander for the rape and subsequent death in (super-powered) childbirth of his wife? And if everything ends here, why is there one more volume to go? Highly recommended.

The Boys Volume 12: The Bloody Doors Off: written by Garth Ennis; illustrated by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, and Darick Robertson (2012): The six-year, 90-issue, 2000-page odyssey of The Boys ends here, a few months after the blood-soaked superheroic attempt to overthrow the U.S. government. Loveable Scottish Boys member Hughie is still having relationship problems with former superheroine Starlight, more normally referred to as Annie. Vought-American is still up to lots of things, most of them profitable and dreadful. But with armageddon averted, Boys leader Bill Butcher suggests that the Boys take a vacation.

But when a Russian superhero ally of the Boys shows up dead along with a black marketeer, the vacation is cut short. And then the deaths of both supporting and main characters start to mount. Who is tidying up? Was the superhero coup the real threat? Is Hughie capable, mentally and physically, of engaging this newly revealed conspiracy and saving millions or perhaps even billions of lives? Is this Garth Ennis’ last superhero comic book? All will be revealed. Highly recommended.

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