The Astonishing G-Men: Ennis talks "The Boys"

Dynamite Entertaiment's "The Boys" was in 2007 one of the highest selling comics to be published outside of the Big Four (Dark Horse, DC Comics, Image Comics and Marvel Comics), and the creative team of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson haven't missed a beat in the controversial title's transition from its original publisher Wildstorm to its new home at Dynamite. CBR News caught up with writer Garth Ennis to talk about what's in store for "The Boys" in comics and on the big screen.

"The Boys" chronicles the machinations of a pharmacologically enhanced CIA team tasked with policing the world's variously irresponsible and depraved superhero community by any and all means necessary. After his girlfriend wound up as collateral damage in a super-brawl, the unassuming Hugh Campbell found himself joining the ranks of team leader Billy Butcher, Mother's Milk, The Frenchman, and The Female in the unspeakably brutal world of superhero espionage. The Boys' chief rivals are The Seven, a high profile, morally bankrupt super team, who recently took on a new recruit of their own: the irrepressibly innocent Annie January, aka Starlight, whose disillusionment with her childhood heroes is decidedly pronounced.


"The Boys" #15, the first installment of the new storyline called "Good for the Soul," hinted at a burgeoning relationship between Annie January and Hughie Campbell. Ennis told CBR News the four-issue arc would advance the Hughie and Annie's connection, as well as delve deeper into the lives of the other members of both The Boys and The Seven. "There's a certain amount of fallout from the Moscow trip to be dealt with, in terms of Vought-American's reaction," Ennis added.

Ennis also dropped some hints about the upcoming storyline "I Tell You No Lie, G.I," beginning with "The Boys" #19. "Hughie sits down with The Legend to learn the history of The Boys and their various adversaries," Ennis said, referring to the geriatric basement-dwelling keeper of all knowledge regarding superheroes and their lore. "And after that, I think it'll be time to have a go at the G-Men. Who are the G-Men? Think a bit nearer the end of the alphabet and you've got it."


Ennis said the move from Wildstorm to Dynamite was relatively painless, and that the broad strokes of the ongoing plot have not changed. "The changes involve creative freedom 100% at Dynamite as opposed to about 60% at [DC Comics imprint] Wildstorm," Ennis explained. "It's been enormously liberating to know that I can write what I like and not have to worry about censorship. So my approach to the story has remained constant, with the added bonus of the aforementioned creative freedom. I keep writing lines and scenes where I think, 'This would never have flown at DC, not in a million years. Har har har.'"


The writer actually cited the publisher changeover as one of the reasons the series has performed as well as it has. "[President] Nicky Barrucci and the team at Dynamite have done an excellent job of promoting the book," Ennis said. "And I think-- I hope-- people respond to the commitment we made to finish the story: the book will be out every month, it will be collected and kept in print. We won't mess the readers about."

Columbia Pictures recently acquired the rights to adapt "The Boys" for the big screen. Ennis says he has no idea who will be cast in the lead role if and when the film goes into production, but he does have a few casting choices of his own. "Personally, I think Clive Owen would be an excellent Butcher," Ennis said. "Simon Pegg for Hughie, obviously." Indeed, "Shaun of the Dead" star and co-writer Simon Pegg is Darrick Robertson's model for Hughie. "Sam Jackson would be a good Mother's Milk; not so much physically as on presence alone. Vincent Cassel (from 'Brotherhood Of The Wolf') for Frenchie. And someone very small and homeless-looking for The Female."

As for Ennis' long-term plans for the series, the writer expects "The Boys" to run for 60 issues, with the possibility for one or two spin-off mini eries. "Butcher's definitely getting his own three-parter," Ennis confirmed.

"The Boys" #15 and #16 are on sale now.

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