Overview

The Boys #41

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The Boys #41

Credits

  • Words: Garth Ennis
  • Art: Darick Robertson
  • Colors: Tony Aviño
  • Story Title: The Innocents - Part Two
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Apr 7, 2010

Satire is a tricky thing. When done wrong, it can come off as belligerent, misinformed, and obtuse. Good satire requires an open mind, the willingness to both look at the big picture and narrow your focus to pinpoint the absurd. You also have to love your subjects. When it’s done right, it can be a powerful tool. In the hands of creators like Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, satire can come off as sheer bloody genius.

In The Boys #41, the two artistic collaborators and co-creators continue their satirical assault on mainstream superheroes with their typical brand of good-natured abrasiveness and disgusting humor. In this issue, The Boys’ leader Butcher targets a seemingly innocuous band of do-gooders called Super Duper for infiltration by his protégé Little Hughie, who it seems, he doesn’t trust as much as he used to.

There’s a lot going on in this issue that requires prior exposure to The Boys and their ultra-violent world of degenerate corporate superheroes. This is my only complaint with this issue. Despite the informative introductory page, (Remember when those weren’t necessary?) there’s an assumption made that the audience already knows who people like the Legend are and where they fit in the scheme of the book’s extensive superhuman hierarchy. For those unfamiliar with the series, the obscure references to Team Titanic, Herogasm, and the McGuinea Brothers might prove distracting.

Throughout most of the series though, Ennis’ storytelling has been crisp and unpredictable. He understands the danger in a book like The Boys lies in its own proclivity towards over the top violence, vulgar language, and grotesque characters. To avoid the pitfalls of formula and shallow caricature, Ennis finely balances the violence and blue humor with moments of genuine empathy and heroism. Whether Auntie Sis’ sober plea for Malchemical to leave Super Duper unmolested in a world of perverted super-maniacs or Little Hughie’s panicked tracheotomy on a suffocating Black Hole, Ennis understands that pee gags only go so far.

That’s one reason why the satire works in The Boys. Both Ennis and Robertson have impeccable timing and their pacing is fluid and natural. It’s easy to get caught up in the rhythm of the sharp dialogue and smooth page layouts. Scene-to-scene transitions occur effortlessly and without a reliance on gimmickry. Ennis and Robertson are both veterans of mainstream comics. They know all of the tricks of the craft and use them effectively to recreate the experience of reading a typical superhero comic. From Robertson’s clean, accessible lines to Ennis’ pointed observations of everything we love and loathe about the cape-and-spandex set, The Boys shows the audience a familiar, if frighteningly ridiculous reflection of the archetypes they’ve unquestioningly loved for so long.

And that’s the other reason why the satire works so well in this book. Not only do both creators know their subjects intimately, there’s also an obvious love and respect for the heroes they’re lampooning. There’s something endearing about The Boys, in spite of the vulgar language and disturbing humor. The creators are honest and unabashed in their observations but at the same time, don’t take themselves or their satire too seriously.

It might never be said that The Boys is good-natured fun, but its sense of humility and undeniable exuberance make it a definite guilty pleasure.

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