The Boys #41 Review

With the Innocents, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson are really reaching a whole new level of greatness in The Boys. I suppose that's what you get when you allow a story to percolate for this long - we've gotten such a great feel for the characters that when you place them into certain circumstances, the payoff is so much greater than you would normally expect. But even taking that out of consideration, The Innocents is great because of the teens of SuperDuper, perhaps one of Ennis and Robertson's greatest contributions to this series.

As I've written before, in many ways the greatness of Ennis comes from the way that he can find the humanity in pretty much anything - take the most ridiculously obscene story idea and still find the humanity within. When paired with an artist like Robertson whose most impressive attribute is his ability to DEPICT humanity (facial expressions, etc.) then you have yourself one heck of a combination, and The Innocents brings out the best in both of these creators.

Now, for a quick recap, Hughie (the fellow smiling in the cover) is a member of The Boys, a covert organization that is designed to spy on superheroes and, if necessary, neutralize (sometimes even kill) them. Hughie is happy because for the first time since his beloved girlfriend died (due to a superhero, which led to Hughie joining The Boys) he is in love. What he doesn't know is that his girlfriend, the lovably cheery Annie, is actually a superhero and a member of the Boys' equivalent of the Justice League.

Hughie's boss, Butcher, discovered this a couple of issues ago, and he automatically (and naturally) presumes that Hughie is not who he says he is, and is actually working WITH the superheroes.

Butcher then put Hughie on a ridiculous detail - supervising SuperDuper, a team of superpowered teens from the future (yes, they're meant to be like who you think they're meant to be like) who have just been given a new leader - a superhero being punished by being sent to SuperDuper (in the Boys' universe, almost all superheroes are total jerks, which is why they need The Boys to watch them).

These sample pages shows Malchemical, the aforementioned superhero, showing up to SuperDuper headquarters...

(the girl with the busted nose is a phaser who forgot to phase before she walked into a wall)

The problem with these pages is, as I mention above, the greatness of Ennis is that he introduces an scenario that is practically obscene and then he finds the humanity hidden within - well, these pages give you the former, but they don't show you the latter. So from these pages, you do get some humor, but it seems like it is just cynical stuff, and that's what is so amazing about Ennis on The Boys - he makes it LOOK like he's going to go the cynical route, but he always manages to fork off and make the stories actually touching and relatable.

I would just skip the pages all together except that they DO show you a glimpse of Darick Robertson's awesomeness when it comes to facial expressions. When Ennis DOES do his redemption for the early stuff, Robertson's ability to make the characters' reactions appear convincing helps sell the scenes wonderfully.

Besides the innocence of the SuperDuper kids as they get caught up in a brand of superheroing that they never wanted a part of, the title also applies to how Hughie approaches life - he trusts Butcher completely, and he does not realize that when he steps in to help save an injured member of SuperDuper that his actions might not be seen so, well, so innocent by Butcher (by the way, there's an absolutely brilliant sequence by Ennis and Robertson where they show Hughie learning how to do emergency medic work like a tracheotomy, only under...let's say...less than ideal circumstances - I'd love to know who came up with framing the flashbacks like that - Ennis or Robertson, either way, it works wonderfully).

One of the more impressive aspects of the TV series Frasier is that they managed to constantly do those silly farcical stuff where a simple misunderstanding leads to wacky hi-jinx, but almost always delivered in such a fashion that you could actually believe that a non-moron could find themselves in such a position. Ennis and Robertson pull that same thing off here - you see Hughie sink deeper and deeper into Butcher's bad graces, but there's nothing he can do - and the whole thing seems quite believable (in another good bit, the other members of The Boys, not being morons themselves, are noticing that Butcher is acting differently around Hughie, and rather than just letting it go, they're investigating it themselves - it's a really nice touch).

This was a great second part of what is shaping up to be perhaps the best The Boys arc yet!

Highly Recommended.

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