20 February 2013

Review: The Boys, Vol. 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker

The Boys, Vol. 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker
The Boys, Vol. 10: Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker by Garth Ennis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So, when it comes to The Boys, I've never really found The Butcher to be all that interesting. I know most who love the series love The Butcher, but he too often felt like a ringleader type with an interesting cast of characters surrounding him, not a major piece of the overall puzzle. So when I went to pick up the next trade in line and saw it was an extended Butcher series, I was a little disappointed. Having seen a glimpse of the overall endgame in the previous arc, to spend time away from that with a character I didn't especially care much about in either direction?

Boy, was I wrong.

As a basic place in the story, the arc itself does a tremendous job fleshing out a significant background for a character that has more or less kept it tightly bound. We get the rage, we get the skill, and, devastatingly, we get why he hates the Supes now, and the over-the-top brutality that this series is known for finally has a purpose.

As actual storytelling? Even better. The quality of writing, the way everything is lined up from start to finish? Flawless. Up there with some of the best I've had the privilege of reading period. The final scenes where The Butcher finally learns about what happened? Just gut-wrenching.

I get that The Boys isn't for everyone. Heck, I doubted it was for me for a time. Not only did this arc fully and completely validate the entire series for me up to this point, but it really validated where Ennis sits in comparison to his peers, how he can create something so out there, so over the top, and yet so effective at pulling the right strings.

I wish this was something I could hand to people as an individual issue, to say "read this and you'll get something out of it." Without the rest of the story to fuel the necessary knowledge that makes this book work, it's just a story of a man dealt a tough hand. In context, it's a brilliant character study instead.

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