Overview

The Boys #42

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The Boys #42

Credits

  • Words: Garth Ennis
  • Art: Darick Robertson
  • Colors: Tony Aviña
  • Story Title: The Innocents, Part Three
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 5, 2010

It’s funny how one of the best superhero comics on the shelves today is a book dedicated to satirizing the genre. Maybe ironic is a better word, although considering the subject of this review, funny works too. Last month, I went on at length about how a large part of The Boys’ continued success is due to the creators’ brilliant understanding of satire. Looking back, this strikes me as pretty obvious – still worth mentioning but obvious.  

The Boys is more than just an exercise in satire, though. In this installment of “The Innocents” arc, Ennis and Robertson rely less upon the gratuitous and the disturbing to draw the audience further into the plot and more on basic character development and exposition. This isn’t a bad thing. As reviewers, we talk a lot about pacing and usually we’re referring to a single issue or one-shot. With this issue of The Boys, Ennis shows that pacing isn’t simply a consideration confined to 22 pages or more but must also be a priority over the course of an entire serial.  

In other words, the plot, as they say, thickens.

Ennis keeps us guessing this issue, as he explores the rift emerging between Butcher and his team, Mother’s Milk and Wee Hughie in particular. There is something of a mystery surrounding the possibility of Wee Hughie’s true allegiance but it’s left purposefully unclear as to whether this is a product of Butcher’s own twisted paranoia and self-loathing or one of the most unexpected cons perpetrated in the history of comics. Mother’s Milk has his doubts about Butcher’s perceptions of the little Scotsman’s loyalty but his inquiries seem to lead him to the doorstep of the team’s greatest enemies, Voigt American.  

This is the true conflict at the heart of this arc. There’s only so many sociopathic super pervs a team can take down before they begin to set their sights on each other. Regardless of the outcome of Butcher’s elaborate scheme to test Hughie’s loyalty, the real battle for the Boys on this outing will likely be against themselves. It’s an interesting and intelligent progression for a book as notorious as this and showcases Ennis’ understanding of pacing over the long haul. There may be a lot of targets left for the Boys to aim at but first they must get past themselves.

The danger in downshifting on a book like The Boys is that it’s so brilliantly over the top most issues, anything less than the same level of ribald intensity seems to pale in comparison. The gorgeous art of Darick Robertson help make all of the talking heads not only palatable but engaging as well. His bouncy, classic style complements Ennis’ snappy dialogue perfectly yet never sacrifices detail or texture for the sake of comic relief. From the opening page to the final panel, his rich backgrounds and robust figures allow the Boys’ world to live and breathe.

Although this issue of The Boys features a slightly shocking lack of truly disturbing content, it more than makes up for the absence of bodily fluids and toilet humor with insightful character development and precise pacing. It’s a refreshing change of pace made all the more engaging thanks to some slick plotting and fabulous art by its talented creators.

Having said that, thanks to this issue, I’ll never look at a blood sausage the same way again.

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