So far The Boys has been a mixed bag of superhero conspiracy theory, toilet humour and extreme ultraviolence. With Volume Three: Good for the Soul, Ennis takes a breather, letting The Legend fill Hughie in on the Ennis’s intricate back-story. This couldn’t have come sooner, and lends a genuinely plausible alt-history to The Boys’ universe. Illuminating the readers on the history of Vought-American and its financial interest in the supers not only provides the series a sense of depth that it until now lacked but emphasises just what Butcher and company are up against.
Continuing in this character-driven vein, love blossoms between Hughie and Annie January/Starlight. Typically, Hughie’s romance is tarnished by a “bedroom accident”, while Annie is nearly raped by speedster A-Train, the super responsible for killing Hughie’s previous girlfriend. The former event not only provides the chuckles, but makes one appreciate how no other writer but Garth Ennis could pull off The Boy’s bizarre blend of genre subversion, modestly intelligent political satire… and enough bum, tits and blowjob driven humour to give regular Viz readers headaches.
While pompous superhero team The Seven are an unmistakable dig at the Justice League, with Volume Four: We Gotta Go Now, Ennis takes on the X-Men. The G-Men are a brilliant piss-take of Marvel’s mutants, seen as a merchandise cash cow by Vaught-American and perpetually spawning spin-off teams – including G-Force, G-Coast, G-Nomad, G-Style and G-Brits. Hughie is sent to infiltrate G-Wiz, a Generation X build of teenage supers who are having such a grand time jerking one another off and urinating on each other that they dread the day they get integrated into the G-Men roster.
The G-Men are headed up by the seemingly kindly John Godolkin, who’s not a lot unlike Charles Xavier… apart from the fact that he enjoys molesting the newest, youngest recruits. This level of lowly humour has become a staple of The Boys, which not only makes DC’s cancellation of the series all the more understandable, but makes me wish someone at Dynamite would put some level of restraint on Ennis’s more revolting subplots. It’s a shame that the series has to stoop so low, because there’s some real sharp humour amongst all the sordid gross-out moments, not to mention some hilariously (but deliberately) awful G-Men designs courtesy of Derick Robertson.