The Boys and I have a weird relationship, and now that it's coming to an end I'm having a hard time dealing. Throughout the entire thing I've been in various states of uncertainty about my feelings towards it, and it's taken recent months for that to finally clarify.
This is the second-to-last issue of the series, and arguably the most important. After an abrupt turn of the heel in terms of psychosis, Hughie and Butcher finally have the showdown we've been waiting for. To be honest, it's a little cathartic having the book end this way: no one really wins, as how Garth Ennis books usually go. However, I'm not totally sure that I hate it; I haven't been left with a depression in the pit of my stomach, like I do with, say, Mark Millar books.
Hearing Hughie and Butcher argue over their morals, motivations and conflict (all while bleeding out and enjoying various states of paralysis) bring this story full circle: the truth eventually comes out, and usually it's not the cleanest break in the world. Having Butcher show small signs of affection for the "little brother" in his life was a nice touch, and ultimately the way that the characters parted left me a bit shattered.
Butcher's character arc was a complicated one, and having him go from a stalwart leader to a grim, dark figure was a tough transition to see. His actions against other members of the Boys were despicable, but they weren't classless: that's what sets this book apart from "shock value for the hell of it" titles like Kick-Ass. There was a carefully thought out plan being executed both on and off the page, and I can say that even though I've seen a few of my favourite characrers die, it was in a way that I thought was befitting to them.
Ultimately, Ennis pulled something off with this series (and this issue) that I didn't think was possible: he had me care while indulging something visceral that I've never really been a fan of.
The Boys #71
The Verdict: Buy this book if you've read The Boys at all and enjoyed what you've read. It pulls together so many plot points and feelings that will answer questions and leave you with a weird sense of peace.