I admit I wasn’t exactly enamored with the introductory issue of this spin off miniseries for “The Boys.” It played too heavily with dialectic dialogue and introduced some characters from Wee Hughie’s past that felt like gross caricatures of pantomimes. And that’s coming from a Garth Ennis penned comic. It wasn’t a good start. I continue to pick up this series because the main title has just hit a return to stride with an excellent arc and this storyline seems to relatively relate to it, so I read with hope. My hope is not quite dashed as it is left to curdle in the sun and be forgotten.
Highland Laddie continues with Hughie’s return trip home where he needs a break from the terrible things that keep befalling him in New York. In the first issue, he realized he can’t really go home as his mates annoy him and home isn’t the panacea he’d hoped for. In the opening scene here, we find Hughie discussing his woes with the strange painter he met on the waterfront and has decided to spill his soul to. It seems strange that Hughie just opens up to this man but it offers an opportunity for us to see one of two flashbacks that helped form Hughie as a person.
It’s not that the flashbacks are poorly written or constructed, it’s just that they don’t really feel like they offer much at all. Hughie watching a pilot break down in the cockpit gives us an angle, but not an interesting one. Then we see Hughie and his mates, Det and Bobby, as kids getting their Scooby Doo on as they thwart a local dealer just feels too odd to even be in this series. They’re keen little beggars and they do their job well, only to be met with expletives from the suspect like he’s filming an ‘adult’s only’ comedy set followed by a beat down from the cops like there’s a daily quota of loose teeth they need to meet. But most disconcerting is the nonchalance these boys show to such brutality. It doesn’t feel right in the world of The Boys. I always felt that the superpowered people were the creeps in this world and the juxtaposition worked because the world still felt relatively real. Asides like this do not help world build effectively at all.
The majority of the final half of the issue only works to set up a terrible drug dealing threat in Hughie’s old home town. Apart from an interesting use of some gardening shears, I could not care less about this new character. He’s bad, I get that, but he’s not exactly vibrant or new. He seems extremely generic and thin as a foe for Hughie to have to take on.
It’s not that the writing, or the artwork, in this issue is bad. The previous issue offended me, this one just makes no impact whatsoever. I can barely align that this is the same guy steering the ship on the main title. This issue gives very little to me as a reader and I can’t even guarantee I’ll be back, collector’s mentality be damned. At $3.99 an issue, I’ll just stick to the superior main title, thanks.