Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
The Boys #54
Ennis, McCrea & Robertson
Part Three of “Barbary Coast” could very well be the most boring issue of The Boys to date. It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad issue by any means but it’s essentially a brain dump combined with a history lesson from Mallory to Hughie. Mallory continues his long origin story that picks up from his first involvement with super soldiers in World War II from the previous issue to more current times, right up until he meets up with Butcher. The issue reads very much like a wikipedia entry for The Boys and while it answers a lot of questions it just feels so overwhelming that I’m not sure what’s the big reveal or just a filling in of the blanks.
Mallory has seen it all over the decades. One thing in this issue that really shines is Ennis’ ability to weave Mallory’s story into American history. Mallory’s involvement in government activities fits in perfectly with the fictional history that has the government skimping on costs in military operations in order to fund the super soldiers. The history also places many of the other key characters, like the Homelander, into the overall back story of Mallory. The depth of the history certainly makes it seem like Mallory is infinitely more important that any of the current roster of The Boys.
The weakness of the issue is execution of the origin. It’s just Mallory talking to Hughie. However, last issue had a story within the origin that was loaded with action and new characters. Last issue was clever and was a page turner. This issue contained very little in comparison. Sure there a couple of interesting panels but we don’t get the story around it because the narrative just plows on to the next piece of the story.
The artwork doesn’t help things at all in this issue. The characters are difficult to tell apart and because the characters don’t interact in the flashbacks it’s impossible to figure out which character is which across time periods. There are even panels where Hughie and Mallory look alike and that just isn’t right. Some of the best panels occur during the war times. The heads on sticks panel is probably the highlight of the issue and is both creative and disturbing.
This issue gives the long time readers of The Boys a lot of the answers they have been looking for. However, the issue just reads very slowly because of density of information. What’s the rush to deliver everything in one issue? Perhaps if each of the time periods had its own specific story, such as the previous issue than it would be more enjoyable. However, in its form here, the issue is a labor to get through mentally. I’ve waited fifty issues for some of these answers and I would have waited one or two more to deliver them in a more creative and entertaining fashion.
2.5 out of 5 Geek Goggles