Number of issues 72
Writer Garth Ennis
|Publication date October 2006 – November 2012|
Penciller(s) Darick RobertsonRuss BraunPeter SnejbjergJohn McCrea
Inker(s) Darick RobertsonRuss BraunPeter SnejbjergJohn McCreaRodney Ramos
Publishers WildStorm (#1–6), Dynamite Entertainment (#7–72)
Nominations GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding comic book
Similar Preacher (comics), Transmetropolitan, Crossed, Project Superpowers, The Punisher
The Boys: Full Story | Comics Explained
The Boys is an American creator-owned comic book series, written by Garth Ennis and co-created, designed and illustrated by Darick Robertson. It was originally published by Wildstorm before moving to Dynamite Entertainment.
- The Boys Full Story Comics Explained
- Publication history
- The Name of the Game 12
- Cherry 36
- Get Some 710
- Glorious Five Year Plan 1114
- Good For The Soul 1518
- I Tell You No Lie GI 1922
- We Gotta Go Now 2330
- Miniseries Herogasm 16
- The Self Preservation Society 3134
- Nothing Like It in the World 3536
- La Plume De Ma Tante Est Sur La Table 37
- The Female of the Species Is More Deadly Than the Male 38
- What I Know 39
- The Innocents 4043
- Believe 4447
- Miniseries Highland Laddie 16
- Proper Preparation and Planning 4851
- Barbary Coast 5255
- The Big Ride 5659
- Miniseries Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker 16
- Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men 6065
- The Bloody Doors Off 6671
- You Found Me 72
- Collected editions
- Film adaptation
- TV series
The series is set between 2006–2008 in a world where superheroes exist. However, most of the superheroes in the series' universe are corrupted by their celebrity status and often engage in reckless behavior, compromising the safety of the world. For this reason, a superpowered CIA squad, known informally as "The Boys", is charged with monitoring the superhero community; the name is Butcher's contribution, a reference from his neighborhood that those in power would send "the boys" to handle anyone causing trouble.
Ennis has said that the series would "out-Preacher Preacher", presumably referring to the extreme violence and sexuality that were that series' hallmark, and that the series would end with its seventy-second issue.
The first six issues of The Boys were published by Wildstorm, starting in 2006. On January 24, 2007, the series was abruptly canceled with issue 6. Ennis later explained that this was because DC Comics (of which Wildstorm was an imprint before it was disbanded) were uneasy with the anti-superhero tone of the work. The planned collection of said issues was also canceled. Co-creator Darick Robertson said that "DC is being good about reverting our rights so we can find a new publisher and we're in the process of doing that now". Ennis then released a statement some other publishers had expressed interest, and that issue 7 and a trade of the first six issues would be available. While Darick Robertson is on exclusive contract to DC, he has been given special dispensation to continue working on The Boys. In February 2007 the series was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment and it resumed in May. A collected edition of the first six issues was also published by Dynamite, with a foreword by Simon Pegg.
In February 2009 Dynamite announced a spin-off mini-series Herogasm, with art from John McCrea, who Ennis has worked with numerous times before, and Keith Burns, a friend of McCrea's of whom he has said: "Keith's strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa." The series is The Boys version of the big 'event' storylines but, according to Ennis "while we're having a pop at the notion of mass crossovers within a shared universe, we're not picking on 'Crisis' or 'Secret Wars' or 'Countdown' or whatever in particular." The idea for the mini-series came about because the first part of the story does not involve the team and focuses on the superheroes, but will affect the main series:
After The Boys was completed, Ennis told Comic Book Resources that the comic had benefitted from Wildstorm cancelling it, as Dynamite gave him far more freedom than DC ever would have: "We'd have died on the vine [at DC]. The book would have been chipped and chipped away at until writing it was pure frustration." He also admitted to "a sigh of relief" as Wildstorm had been dissolved as an imprint not long after the move.
"The Name of the Game" (#1–2)
Billy Butcher learns of a presidential directive charging the CIA with monitoring all superheroes. He uses the directive to get the backing required to reform "The Boys", a black ops team designed to police the superhero community. Butcher brings together Mother's Milk, the Frenchman, and the Female of the Species, but the Boys' fifth member, Mallory, refuses to return as his grandkids were murdered due to his involvement with the group. Requiring five in the team, Butcher recruits a Scottish conspiracy theorist named Wee Hughie; his girlfriend was accidentally killed by A-Train, a member of major superhero team The Seven.
At the Boys' first meeting in New York City, Butcher reveals that their first mission is to intimidate a teen superhero group called Teenage Kix. The Boys conduct surveillance on the group, using the dirt they gather to blackmail its members into compliance. It is revealed that all superpowers come from Compound V, a drug invented by Nazi scientists; a low-powered version mixed with cocaine is called Blue, and it is used to attain a singular, powerful high (or, as revealed during the surveillance, allows prostitutes to endure or recover from sex with superhumans), but it carries a risk of spontaneous and horrifying mutations. Judging that he is suitable to join the team, Butcher injects Hughie with a specially formulated mix of V that gives him super-strength and durability—much to Hughie's chagrin.
Meanwhile, Annie January, an evangelical Christian who fights crime as the superheroine Starlight, is recruited to join the Seven, the most elite of the superhero teams. Annie quickly learns that the Seven are not as wholesome as their reputation suggests, as she is coerced to perform oral sex on the Homelander to gain entry into the group. Hughie and Annie meet, unaware of each other's occupations, and find themselves attracted to each other. The Teenage Kix are sent a message from The Boys, along with selections of surveillance revealing their misdeeds, with a directive to expose one of their members, or the Boys will make their own choice on who to expose; the team picks the black homosexual hero Shout Out to appease the Boys, believing that his loss will hurt the team the least. Homelander informs the Kix that the Boys are responsible. Teenage Kix confronts the Boys, but is unprepared for their ferocity; Blarney Cock is killed in the ensuing fight when he threatens Hughie, who panics and lashes out, punching through Blarney Cock's chest.
"Get Some" (#7–10)
Butcher introduces Hughie to the Legend, a comic book magnate and one of Butcher's sources. The Legend has the Boys investigate the mysterious murder of a young gay man that he believes was committed by a superhero. The ensuing investigation leads to Tek Knight and his former sidekick, Swingwing.
During the course of the investigation, Hughie and Butcher discover Tek Knight (a hero the Boys never approached because his powers came from technology, not Compound V) is suffering from an odd compulsion to fornicate with any orifice that presents itself. Hughie sorts out that the victim had approached Swingwing and confronts the hero, who reveals his intense homophobia and tries to escape. Hughie chases him down and fights Swingwing, Butcher staying out of the fight. After Hughie defeats Swingwing, Butcher approaches Swingwing under the premise of forcing him to become an informant for the Boys; unbeknownst to Hughie, Billy sabotages Swingwing's jetpack, which later fails leading to Swingwing's death from being run over by the Staten Island ferry.
However, Hughie becomes depressed that there is no real justice for the murder victim. Despite this, he is able to bring a gay couple back together. Tek-Knight, disgraced by his former butler's expose of his condition, rescues a woman from a falling wheelbarrow and subsequently saves the planet when he destroys an asteroid by engaging in coitus with an orifice in the asteroid, dying in the resulting explosion. This is revealed to be a hallucination; the wheelbarrow actually killed him, and his delusion (and likely his sexual compulsion) turned out to be the result of a large brain tumor.
"Glorious Five Year Plan" (#11–14)
The Boys travel to Moscow, where the local supes are mysteriously exploding. Working with Vas and being targeted by Russian organised crime head Little Nina, they discover that Vought-American is working with Little Nina to engineer a coup - an army of 150 East European/Russian supes, organised by Nina, will ravage the country before she remotely detonates them all via their altered metabolisms and rises to power based on "saving" Russia (Vought are just using her as a pawn and have another figure they want in charge). The Boys stop this plot and Butcher detonates the supes, while Hughie bonds with Vas and is disgusted by the group's willingness to torture. However, when Butcher gives the information to the CIA, he finds Director Rayner isn't going to do anything about it, due to the fear of Vought-American using their superhumans on the CIA, and possibly the country itself, as retaliation.
"Good For The Soul" (#15–18)
Hughie visits The Legend, determined to find out more about the Boys - their history, their personalities, and their mysterious hidden agenda. Annie January (alias Starlight) has her own doubts about membership of the Seven. Hughie must also deal with his new romance with Annie January and the return of Blarney Cock as a brain damaged zombie (Compound V is used to resurrect some supers, but with extreme brain damage), as the Boys get closer to finding out about their relationship.
"I Tell You No Lie G.I." (#19–22)
Hughie learns the true origins of the supes while the rest of the Boys meet with members of the Seven for a discussion. The Legend goes on to reveal the history of Vought-American, concerning their contributions to both WW2 and Vietnam. He then tells Hughie about their first major success regarding the Supes, the creation of the Homelander, the Seven, and his own past experiences working for Victory Comics, Vought-American's publishing company, specialising in fabricating VA's superheroes deeds. The Legend then reveals the Seven's part in the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11 and how it led to the creation of the Boys. Afterwards, The Legend elaborates on the death of Mallory's grandchildren and Lamplighter's death/resurrection as a brain-damaged zombie. Meanwhile, as the rest of the Boys meet with the Seven, A-Train attempts to rape Starlight, only to end up being blinded in one eye.
"We Gotta Go Now" (#23–30)
Following the very public suicide of an original G-Men team member, Silver Kincaid, The Boys are sent in to investigate the G-Men, Vought-American's most bankable team of outcasts. After a brief history of the team is given, the Boys send in Hughie undercover to G-Wiz, one of the junior teams in the franchise, with the Female and the Frenchman as back up in case anything goes wrong. Mother's Milk discovers that Silver Kincaid was abducted as a child from outside a store where her uncle had taken her for ice cream. It is later revealed that most, if not all of the G-Men were abducted as children, and not, as the G-Men claim, "orphans and outcasts". Meanwhile, the members of G-Wiz are instructed to kill Hughie, after Hughie is revealed to be a spy. Hughie's life is saved when the Frenchman and the Female intercede and murder most of the group. Through interrogation of a surviving member of G-Wiz it is revealed that the founder of the G-Men, Godolkin, abducts young children and injects them with Compound V in order to manifest powers within them. It is also revealed that Godolkin and other members of the G-Men sexually abuse the young recruits. This revelation spurs Hughie and the rest of the team to attempt to attack the entire G-Men forces at once. Before they can launch this potentially suicidal attack, Vought-American forces arrive and slaughter all of the G-Men before confronting Butcher, telling him that they are capable of clearing up their own mess. The team deals with this in many ways, while Vought-American gears up to try to destroy the Boys.
Miniseries: "Herogasm" (#1–6)
This first of the series' stand alone miniseries chronicles the Boys as they sneak into Vought's secret, exclusive annual superhero bacchanalia "Herogasm". Funded by the company on the premise of being a giant superhero battle to the public, the "heroes" spend a weekend at an island resort running wild and indulging in reckless debauchery - primarily vast amounts of sex and participating in the use of illegal drugs. Meanwhile, the Vought-owned Vice President joins the festivities, and the Boys learn more about the corporation's plans as they target a Secret Service agent to try to determine V-A's infiltration of the White House through Red River operatives placed in the Secret Service.
"The Self-Preservation Society" (#31–34)
The world's second most powerful team, Payback, are contracted by Vought American during the events of Herogasm, to take out the Boys. In exchange for their service, they are promised the opportunity to have their own team's profile elevated up to the level of the Seven. The Female is ambushed by Stormfront and is badly beaten, falling into a coma. The team is attacked at an abandoned hospital, where the Female has been taken. Mother's Milk is severely injured and Butcher proceeds to eliminate each of the remaining members of Payback while providing the rest of the team cover to get the Female to safety. With only Stormfront remaining, the remaining Boys, with Vas called in for backup, defeat the former Nazi superhero in battle. The Female recovers after the battle in the hospital when Hughie makes the mistake of trying to eat one of her Chocolate Limes, getting his forearm broken in the process. The story arc ends with Soldier Boy tied to a chair, while Butcher prepares to torture him for information.
"Nothing Like It in the World" (#35–36)
Mother's Milk tells Hughie his life story, how he came across the Boys, and why he continues to fight.
"La Plume De Ma Tante Est Sur La Table" (#37)
Frenchie tells his life story to Hughie. He finishes the story and jumps out of the window, leaving Hughie to question the tale's validity (such as the title itself, quoted often as "a notorious example of one such misleading statement that probably confused the student more than teaching them anything functional about the language"). This is the first stand alone issue in the series.
"The Female of the Species Is More Deadly Than the Male" (#38)
A stand alone issue, The Frenchman gives an account of the Female's origin to Hughie, speaking from her point of view, which is required, as she herself never speaks. He explains that her mother left her unattended in a lab, and she ended up in a pail of Compound V waste, brutally attacked the doctors there, and was eventually captured. She grows up in captivity, and is treated like an experimental animal as the company tries to determine how she got her powers. She occasionally escapes and causes mayhem until recaptured. Eventually the Boys, led by Mallory, capture her during her latest escape. Butcher drops in a concussion grenade to knock her out, with the intent of using her as a weapon. When she awakens, the Frenchman volunteers to instruct her on integrating her within the world, treating her with compassion and love and attempting to manage her recurring bouts of homicidal rage, which she tries constantly to control.
"What I Know" (#39)
Butcher stumbles upon Hughie's relationship with Annie, aka Starlight. On the other side, Jess Bradley, an executive of Vought American, shows Stillwell her eagerness to work for his department during the celebration of the new CEO of Vought American.
"The Innocents" (#40–43)
After consulting The Legend, Butcher assigns Hughie to watch a C-list team called "Superduper". Hughie discovers that unlike the superhero community at large, Superduper is a minor-league group of low-powered supers who truly desire to use their abilities for good. The arrival of a new team leader, the dangerous Malchemical, upsets Superduper's safe environment; Malchemical is doing "community service" for Vought by working with SuperDuper because of a transgression with his previous team. Hughie accidentally befriends the team when he steps in to save one of their members from choking by performing an emergency trachaeotomy, but takes a stand against Malchemical in defense of the group, an act which irritates Butcher. After Malchemical plays a cruel prank on one of the members, he threatens them to stop making him look bad, declaring he will do as he pleases. Upon seeing Malchemical threaten to rape two of the female members, Hughie steps in to stop it. Butcher's test of Hughie was that, in the event of a direct conflict, had Hughie been a Vought plant, Malchemical would have had orders not to hurt him. However, Hughie is nearly killed; Butcher, now convinced of Hughie's innocence, steps in at the last minute to save him, killing Malchemical by setting fire to him while he is in a gaseous state. Butcher almost misses his opportunity to do so because his plan is discovered by Mother's Milk, who himself contacted the Legend and confronted Stillwell to assess Hughie's role with Vought. Angered at Butcher's secrecy, the two have their first severe discussion, creating tension between the two.
On the other side, Stillwell brings Jess Bradley up to speed on The Homelander's profile, including a unique incident occurring twenty years ago. The photos of this incident are the main weapon "The Boys" have against The Homelander.
The Homelander uses a Christian convention of superheroes and fans in New York, to gather all superheroes who are able to fight for Vought America in the case of an open conflict against the Government or the military of the USA. The content of this meeting remains unknown, but The Boys watch over the events. Meanwhile, Hughie learns of Annie's identity as Starlight, and subsequently discovers how she joined the team. Angered and hurt, he leaves her.
Miniseries: "Highland Laddie" (#1–6)
After the events in Believe, Wee Hughie takes a vacation back to his family's house in Scotland to think about his life and whether he should leave The Boys or not.
"Proper Preparation and Planning" (#48–51)
The full story of Butcher's vendetta is revealed, as is Vought American's part in the events of 9/11.
"Barbary Coast" (#52–55)
Greg Mallory tells Hughie about Vought-American's involvement during the Battle of the Bulge, and how he put together The Boys. Mallory also shares his own personal fears of the direction Butcher is taking the team, and Hughie confesses his real identity to Annie. This is the full story that The Legend offered to tell Hughie in "I Tell You No Lie, G.I.", but didn't.
"The Big Ride" (#56–59)
Hughie returns to the fold as he and Butcher are investigating a murder of a transsexual prostitute that may be linked to Jack from Jupiter of The Seven. Tensions escalate between the two groups as unknown forces may be trying to steer them into direct conflict with one another, with the first casualties from both sides since the aftermath of 9/11 occurring as a result.
Miniseries: "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker" (#1–6)
Butcher returns to London, to view the body of his deceased father, and begins to reminisce on what led him on the path of vengeance against superheroes. It is revealed during the series that The Homelander was responsible for the rape, pregnancy and death of Butcher's wife.
"Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men" (#60–65)
The Homelander leads a superhuman coup d'etat against Washington, D.C.. Butcher confronts the Homelander inside the White House, as he is defiling the corpse of the President. Homelander confesses to Butcher that he has no memory of what he did to Butcher's wife nor the horrific events in the photographs of him. Their confrontation is interrupted by Black Noir, who unmasks and reveals himself to be an insane clone of the Homelander. Black Noir committed the cannibalistic murders of women and children (as well as the rape of Butcher's wife), and sent the photographs to the Homelander to make him doubt his own sanity and unhinge him. The Homelander wonders whether he would have gone through with his own horrible crimes had he not believed he had a homicidal split personality. Black Noir kills the Homelander, and Black Noir in turn is killed by Butcher and the marines. With the Homelander's army in disarray, the military swiftly crushes the coup.
"The Bloody Doors Off" (#66–71)
In the aftermath of the coup, Stillwell appears before Congress and blames Bradley for the disaster, having set her up as a scapegoat years in advance when he realized that VA's superhuman project was headed for catastrophe. Meanwhile, the Boys are dealing with their own crisis, as the unit has been disbanded and the members' citizenships have been terminated. Hughie discovers that Vogelbaum never committed suicide and was secretly helping Butcher develop a bioweapon that will kill anyone who was exposed to V...including millions of non-supers. Having already killed the other Boys, Butcher lures Hughie to a skyscraper to witness the detonation of the anti-V bioweapon. Hughie and Butcher scuffle and tumble out a window. The fall breaks Butcher's neck. Not wanting to live as a paraplegic, Butcher manipulates Hughie into killing him by falsely claiming to have murdered Hughie's parents.
"You Found Me" (#72)
Six months have passed since the events at the Empire State Building. Hughie arrives at the Brooklyn Bridge to leave his memorial to his fallen friends as well as to leave a final ultimatum for Stillwell for Vought-American (now American Consolidated) going forward. Rayner's political career is dealt a fatal and filthy blow by the perverse Kessler. Meanwhile, Stillwell begins to undergo a mental breakdown, realizing that Superheroes are a "bad product." Hughie and Annie finally find happiness.
Dynamite releases both hardcover and trade paperback collections on an ongoing basis (including those comics previously published by Wildstorm). In addition, Dynamite also releases "Definitive" slipcased hardcovers, which contain two trade/hardcover collections to an "omnibus".
Variety reported in February 2008 that Columbia Pictures had optioned the comic for a film adaptation, to be produced by Neal H. Moritz. and Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi writing the screenplay. In August 2010, Adam McKay said that he had been signed on to direct the film. McKay added, "They already have a script and we're doing a rewrite on it so hopefully getting the whole thing into shape in the Fall with maybe a shoot happening in January." Columbia Pictures reported in February 2012 that it has dropped its option regarding a film adaptation of The Boys. However, Adam McKay said in a Twitter response that Paramount Pictures has picked it up, and that it is still in the works. On April 30, 2013, Manfredi and Hay were hired by Paramount to write the film.