The Boys: Highland Laddie #1


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The Boys: Highland Laddie #1


  • Words: Garth Ennis
  • Art: John McCrea with Keith Burns
  • Inks: Keith Burns with John McCrea
  • Colors: Tony Avina
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 18, 2010

Highland Laddie #1 is a miniseries stemming from the pages of Garth Ennis’ The Boys, focusing on the group’s common man, Wee Hughie. Since the beginning of The Boys, Wee Hughie has acted as the audience’s window into the specific and graphic world that Ennis and artist Darick Robertson have created. He is our avatar for all the crazy and sick happenings the readers of The Boys have in store for them. When you think that something is pretty messed up, odds are that’s Hughie’s next thought.

In Highland Laddie, we follow Hughie home to Auchterladle in Scotland. It’s a small village where everyone knows everyone else and Hughie’s arrival is met with great reception. Taking a small break from the bombastic, in-your-face style of The Boys, Highland Laddie is very much a character piece about this indefinitely changed man. We’re able to see his humbling beginnings and juxtapose them upon his current, crazy life. Hughie has to reconcile these two parts of his self and figure out just exactly where he belongs.

Hughie meets up with his parents, who we come to find out aren’t his birth parents, but the people who raised him. They are a humble couple that adore Hughie and support him in whatever he does. Of course, they don’t know he polices supes for a living, but that’s beside the point. It isn’t hard to see where Hughie derives his compassion when reading the pages between him and his parents.

We later get to meet his mates while growing up, Big Bobby and Det (which is short for detergent, because he never seemed to use any).  The introduction of these characters reminds you that you’re reading a Garth Ennis book. These characters are distinct, a little bit familiar, and a whole lot wonky. They’re originals all right.

The genius in Ennis’ story comes from the authenticity of going back home. Sure, your parents may not be this doting and your friends may not be as eccentric but the reality of the situation is familiar. Being able to trace your personality back to a place and people, yet feel like an outsider is an emotion that’s genuinely human. In Hughie’s extreme case, it’s even more vexing to him. He remembers the good and bad of both sides of his life, still not sure which one he wants to pursue.

The art chores by John McCrea and Keith Burns maintain the visual tone that Robertson has set in the proper title, but vary in character consistency. Wee Hughie looks a bit different here, but Avina’s colors and Ennis’ dialogue let you know exactly whom you’re reading. With a series as artistically defined as The Boys, sometimes it's difficult for another penciler to tackle illustrating duties. McCrea and Burns handle the transition very well. This also isn’t the first time McCrea has worked in The Boys universe, working on Herogasm, a previous miniseries based in the same world and using some familiar characters.

All in all, Highland Laddie is a solid issue and hopefully the start of a solid miniseries. The rougher aspects of The Boys have always been tempered by, and often tolerated because of, the strong and relatable characters. This series is all the good, with a hint of the outrageous (and a tease of more to come). Sure, the authentic dialect that Ennis has chosen to write the story in takes a few pages to get used to, but it doesn’t deter from the book’s overall tone.

If you’re a fan of The Boys, this is a wonderful side story that may not give you all the gore that you like, but offers a bit more about the character that you love.

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