It's a moment "The Boys" fans have waited so long for: the secret history of Butcher. Kind of. Hughie and Mallory wrap up their conversation by touching on the most important connection they share, Butcher. Mallory explains why he drafted Butcher into this quest and it makes sense, but it could have been so much more fun.
"The Boys" continues to be an intriguing and interesting title. There's no doubting the story is great entertainment, however the delivery method is far from gripping. Mallory delivers another few pages of prose and you certainly won't get through this issue in any manner of quick time. Perhaps that's a good thing, and Garth Ennis' plan all along.
The best part of this issue is the explanation of how this group of men got their name. "The Boys" is a perfect fit, and Butcher's offhand petition for the moniker is completely the way it should be. It's the little moments like this that Ennis still manages to whip up, but it's an exception that proves the rule. This moment is perfect for just a little bit of dialogue, but everything else requires a visual tale and instead we only hear about it. You'll be annoyed because you know Ennis has the good buried here but it's a chore to excavate the gold from this depth of text.
The last half of this issue does raise the level of quality as Hughie's reaction to this massive set of diatribes by Mallory is interesting. This might be the moment where Hughie finally stands up and redeems himself in his own eyes, if no one else's. His scene with Annie feels a little tacked on and could have used a bit more fleshing out, as many of their recent problems have been.
John McCrea sneaks in a few good panels. Butcher standing in the rain is one example. He seems to understand the tone and timbre of these characters but is so often unable to translate this into effective pages. Ever since Darick Robertson left the title, this is just something we have had to periodically deal with.
Ennis calls this issue on the very first splash page - "What follows will therefore be enlightening and frustrating in equal measures." He got it in one. Damn.