William Thomas's Reviews > The Boys, Volume 1: The Name of the Game

The Boys, Volume 1 by Garth Ennis
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Feb 14, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: post-watchmen-comic-books, graphic-novel, over-the-top

When I talk about comic books, I generally set them into two categories- pre and post Watchmen books. And it has nothing really to do with when the books were published although I can't rightly place Golden Age Superman books, no matter how hard edged they could possibly have been, in the post Watchmen category. However, I can and do place some titles after Watchmen into pre Watchmen category for their lack of edge and their "fluff" content.

This book, although 'edgy', may not merit being in either category. It isn't really important enough for a distinction. It uses too much 'shock value' to make itself known and I may have fallen for its tricks when I was younger, but now, it really only deserves a C+ as a grade. It can't trick me into liking it or thinking that this is the same talent that worked on Preacher or reincarnated The Punisher. Because although the name is the same, something feels off. Something feels like it is missing.

Its campy nature makes it almost unbearable. I don't exactly know why it wants to be a slapstick comedy instead of a respected book utilizing its shocking nature as a way to provoke thought in the same way many of Alan Moore's books do, and Ennis' Preacher title did. But it abandons any sort of decorum for a bulldog that fucks- even people- on command and a superhero team that tries to force new recruits to suck their dicks. And it's done in a way that you laugh out loud at its absurdity instead of thinking about whether or not it is an abuse of power. There is no moral here. Only an overload of absurdities.

But it is an entertaining book. I enjoyed every bit of it. I love the premise. I just don't like the over-the-top nature of the execution of the premise. Because when we have these superhero teams smoking crack and raping and murdering innocent civilians, well, it seems to me that there should be more of a morality play. And I can't say that moralizing has ever been Ennis's style. So I can't say that that is what is missing from this book. But there is something missing from this. At least from this volume. And I can't quite put my finger on it. I hope it develops into something worth more than a few laughs. Because Preacher was one of the greatest comic book achievements of the past 25 years. And this really just pales in comparison.

It does keep up with all of the disgusting and outlandish scenarios that Ennis has made himself most famous for, I will say that. Anyone looking for a good time should give it a try, but should expect to be shocked, maybe even dismayed, by some of the material. Although I loved it for some of those things, I hated it for those same reasons.

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim I actually felt similarly about this series, especially in the first trade. I do feel like it calms down on the shock and gets a little more substantial in the following trades, but the goofiness certainly doesn't go away. Still, I definitely intend to finish up the series at some point and it is entertaining. There are just huge chunks of it that could be removed and it wouldn't matter a bit.

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