TITLE: The Boys vol. 9, “The Big Ride”
WRITER: Garth Ennis
ARTISTS: Russ Braun & John McCrea, cover by Darick Robertson
REVIEWED BY: Tim! (..from last week)
JD (half of that great internet radio team, Phono-Graphics over at Party934.com) may be tired of The Boys, but I found a special place in my heart for this series. You know: my heart. That place where all that blood gushes around. Blood squirting all around my body. Except, you know, it’s inside my body. As opposed to Garth Ennis, who likes the blood to be on the outside.
The Boys is summed up by the back cover blurb: “In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the ‘supes’ don’t get out of line. And someone will.” The Boys are that “someone”…
I see The Boys as an extension of the idea that Warren Ellis had when he started The Authority, at WildStorm. Start with some major violence, and then add some complete characters that are willing to do what needs to be done to save the world. And, sometimes, more than what needs to be done. Except Ennis was allowed to include boobs and pee-pees. Although I wish my world was less violent, I can enjoy a good book that has violence. It should be no wonder that DC/WildStorm decided to let The Boys slip away!
One of JD’s concerns about The Boys was Ennis’ “holy shit moment of the month”. Sometimes, it was more than one per month. After a few story arcs, it really did seem that Ennis was trying to gross everyone out, and just kept throwing something outrageous into the story, just to include something outrageous. After a while, that can get tiresome. I kept reading. JD stopped.
After a few months away, I picked up vol. 9, “The Big Ride”. I had enjoyed vol. 8, “Highland Laddie”, so I thought I was guaranteed to enjoy this ride. Ooops.
Vol. 9 includes three story arcs: Proper Preparation and Planning, Barbary Coast, and The Big Ride. Most of the book is dedicated to some history of the group that becomes The Boys, and how Butcher became the leader of the pack. There were also two similar encounters between The Seven (the premier super-hero team) and The Boys, one in the past and one in the present. Both meetings were civil, but both ended badly for The Boys.
Honestly? I had trouble differentiating between the past and the present, during most of the story. Going back a second time, I had a slightly better understanding of it. Second time is not the charm when it comes to storytelling, though. I also think 12 issues in a trade might be just too much. It was a looong read, which did not help me feel the story was moving along.
Proper Preparation and Planning (4 issues) shows the continued introduction of Jess Bradley, of Vought American, to The Seven. She is interesting, and has a few big story/character moments. It also starts the history of The Boys, and includes a past meeting between The Seven and The Boys. The follow up to this meeting is what leads directly to Butcher becoming their leader.
Barbary Coast (4 issues) is essentially one big interview between Wee Hughie and Colonel Greg Mallory, a Captain in the Army during WWII, who saw the introduction of supers, and eventually went on to lead the first incarnation of The Boys. By the end, this arc felt like 10 issues…
The Big Ride (4 issues) is sort of the sum of all the parts. Everything sort of finds a reason in this last arc. Hughie is back with The Boys, and possibly back with his girlfriend (a load of back story, there…). This is the “present” story, and shows the parallel meeting between The Seven and The Boys. Although a tense truce is in place between The Boys and The Seven, it won’t last. And, a significant character meets his end, which is a shame because he might be the most complete character in the series.
Although I understand why this book “needed” to cover 12 issues, I think each arc could have been shorter. And, for as outrageous as Ennis can be, most of it was off-panel, this time around. Almost disappointingly absent.
I can feel the climax of the series approaching in this volume, which is good. I do plan on finishing this series. I hope that both storytelling and outrageousness find their place in the remaining 3 volumes.
Tags: Dynamite, Garth Ennis, Highland Laddie, Proper Preparation and Planning, The Authority, The Big Ride, The Boys, Tim From Last Week, Tpb, Trade Paper Back, Vol 9, Warren Ellis, Wee Hughie, Wildstorm