Upon finishing “The Boys: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker” #6, the conclusion to the mini-series spotlighting Butcher prior to “The Boys,” there was a feeling of emptiness, that the comic that I’d just read was a bit unnecessary. The fifth issue ended on such a strong point with Butcher earning his spot in Mallory’s group that this concluding issue is an exercise in tying up loose ends that aren’t really loose at all. It’s the issue that answers the minutiae of Butcher’s past and ends on a crude note when he finishes his little monologue to his father’s corpse. The series to this point was compelling, but this is a dull, uninteresting place to end.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t amusing parts in this issue. The opening scene where Butcher and Mallory send a message to a supposedly blind lawyer superhero has the usual charm of Garth Ennis-penned scenes where hard, tough guys debase a supposedly tough superhero. The various allusions to characters and events we already know are nice touches, while Butcher’s first meeting with the Legend is just as fun and entertaining as any scene where the Legend appears. In many ways, this issue is the prototypical issue of “The Boys” with Butcher playing Hughie to Mallory’s Butcher to a certain extent.
However, reading like your average issue of “The Boys” isn’t enough. The emotional closure of the series happened in issue five. What little we get here emphasizes elements previously explored, namely Butcher’s relationship with his parents. There is some closure there with his mother, but it is of the ‘epilogue’ variety where it doesn’t need the space allotted to it. Butcher and his mother meeting for the first time since Becky’s death is a scene that should carry more weight than it does. And Butcher’s final goodbye to his father undercuts whatever emotional punch the final part of his monologue is supposed to provide.
To make matters worse, Darick Robertson’s art on this issue is some of his most inconsistent work. Some pages are detailed and refined, full of life and energy, while others are far more simple and less composed. The way he continues to draw Butcher as subtly younger is impressive, and his familiarity with the character enables him to pack in a lot of emotion where other artists couldn’t. The younger Legend is also some of Robertson’s best character work. Unfortunately, the detail and energy of those early scenes don’t carry all of the way through the issue.
If this were just another issue of “The Boys,” it probably wouldn’t disappoint so much. As the finale to what’s been a strong mini-series, it doesn’t have the weight or sense of necessity to stick the landing. Too much of the issue is devoted to Butcher playing the role of Hughie in his own way that it feels like a simple retread of what we’ve seen before. Part of the appeal is no doubt meant to be seeing Butcher in that role, but he’s so confident in himself that the differences between him here and in the present aren’t pronounced enough.