We all know Warren Ellis' famous line about nurse novels, right? He said, "the superhero's cultural and economic dominance of the medium is the same as walking into a bookstore to see nothing but novels about nurses as far as the eye can see." This aspect of mainstream comics has an interesting affect on writer's careers, because everyone eventually ends up writing a superhero, because that's what sells. No writer has had a more advesarial relationship with this concept than Garth Ennis. Outside of his Vertigo work, Ennis has written Hitman (a "superhero" who about as far from a superhero as you can get), The Pro (the prostitute superhero comic which ended by telling it's readers that they should grow up and stop reading superhero comics), The Punisher (where Ennis delighted in having the Punisher humiliate Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil and the Hulk) and Authority: Kev, where he made the superheros supporting cast members to his creation, Kev (now in his own ongoing!). So you see - while he might now WANT to write about superheroes, they are never that far behind Garth Ennis in his mainstream works, so soon, he is going to write The Midnighter for Wildstorm, and today, we have his comic, The Boys to read. The concept? An elite squad of tough guys who beat the crap out of superheroes. It's fun to work with nurse novels, isn't it?
Darick Robertson's art hasn't looked this good in quite some time. I can't remember the last time it looked this good. I guess sometime on Transmetropolitan. This is a really nice looking comic book, even if it can be quite graphic at times.
The first issue sets up our two main characters, Billy Butcher, the sadistic, super-tough leader of "The Boys" and Wee Hughie, our POV character, who we see in this issue go through some crazy crap, all for the sake of seeing him moved to the point of becoming one of The Boys.
Like Phonomancer, a lot of this comic is based on attitude, although the plot is a bit steadier here (even if it is basically a "recruitment" beginning to the story, a la the beginning of any movie or TV show when someone puts together a team).
When Butcher comes to visit a CIA Director, we're not expecting what we see happens. When Hughie is with his girlfriend, we're not expecting what we see happens. It all comes at us fast and furious, in a blur of colors, but by the end of the issue, we've had one wild ride.
I especially loved the scene where lawyers barrage a character into signing an agreement. Ennis and Robertson worked together beautifully to capture a moment that would seem like you would need video to fully appreciate. The words and art were truly in synch with each other. Great scene.
People's faces are the main stars of this issue - as Robertson's puts so much effort into them that you are just taken aback at the amount of detail and emotion that emanates from the faces. Again, it's almost like video.
So yeah, good characters, sex, violence, humor - sounds like another good Garth Ennis comic book, doesn't it?
Even if it IS just a variation on a nurse novel.
Thanks to DC for the review copy!