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Culture » Arts & Entertainment

Cape Fear

With The Boys, Garth Ennis’ superhero-mocking is wearing a little thin.



Garth Ennis hates Superman. In fact, he hates pretty much all superheroes. He’s been steadily writing comics for every major publisher for the past 20 years but he still can’t resist ridiculing spandex and capes and he’s more than happy to tell you why you should, too. With his new series The Boys, he wants to give everyone a list of reasons to make fun of their childhood hero. But he might be trying a little too hard to convince everyone and forgetting that a lot of good jokes don’t make for a great story.


The Butcher is an angry man. The “heroes” that inhabit his world are all pretentious jerks that think they can get away with anything, but he isn’t going to take it anymore. Backed with government money, he has put together something of a “black-ops” team to keep them in check. Once he gets his team together, he sends a message to let these heroes know he’s watching them.


The main problem with the story is that it’s not sure where to focus. It jumps around between humorous bits but lingers too long when it should be developing the main characters. Ennis (best known for Preacher, currently being developed for HBO) is a great character writer when he wants to be, but it seems like he would rather spend his time trying to shock the reader. Each time he gets close to something resembling humanity with any of these characters, he’s compelled to go the complete opposite direction as soon as possible'which makes it difficult to find a reason to care about anyone. We know who the “good guys” are supposed to be, but we’ve yet to see a good example as to why we should root for them when the way they act is almost as bad as the “bad guys.”


Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan), on the other hand, has no trouble with his job. His art is some of the best he’s ever done, and his pacing and page breakdowns are top notch. His character work is great, too, and hopefully he’ll get a few more chances to show off in quieter moments like Issue 2 when The Butcher recruits Wee Hughie, who’s just lost his girlfriend as a superhero casualty, in the park.


Ennis is no stranger to long-form work, so it’s safe to say that he probably has a plan. It just needs to be kicked into gear before the book runs out of steam. Some people may get bored reading about superheroes getting knocked around, but that’s what Ennis has built his career on. As long as there’s someone running around in a mask and undies, there’s something to mock.


nGarth Ennis
nDarick Robertson