Comic book character and their stories have become big business in entertainment over the past few years. The top grossing movies and TV shows have been dominated by superheroes. Green Arrow, the Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on TV and Captain America, the Avengers, and Iron Man in the movies just to name a few. The rest of 2016 will bring us big superhero movies like X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Strange. Don’t forget about the certainly epic Avengers: Infinity War (parts 1 & 2) and the Justice League (parts 1 & 2). It seems like the entertainment industry’s creativity has devolved to peppering us with capes, cowls, recycled stories, and when that fails we can expect more capes and cowls thrown into the mix. Some of these stories have been a breath of fresh air like how Deadpool broke the mold of what a “superhero” story could bring us; however, I fear a supersaturation of the comic book superhero market which will lead to the decline of seeing my favorite characters and stories on screen. If/when that happens, what are we left with?
Robert Kirkman Paves The Way
There will always be a market for superheroes and their stories as they have carved their way into the entertainment industry since comic books were brought to prominence since the late 1930s. It is not enough to just retell a superhero story in a different visual format anymore. Kirkman has written superhero stories; however, he excels at telling stories that bring a very human element into the drama that is otherworldly. The Walking Dead is one of the most watched TV shows on cable right now. Who would have thought that a story about survivors in the zombie apocalypse would be so successful? Kirkman also has another non-superhero, comic book based show arriving at Cinemax later in 2016. Kirkman’s creativity has paved the way so other great comic book stories can make their way into other multi-media formats. The comic book source material that are being turned into movies and TV are starting to shift away from brightly colored cape and cowl clad types to becoming more diversified. One other creative writer who is just now starting to have his stories adapted into other live action formats is Garth Ennis.
The Perfect Time For “The Boys”
With Captain America: Civil War being the top grossing movie in 2016, the botched DC team up movie of Batman V. Superman, and many more superhero movies based on comic books upcoming, viewers will begin to see the same types of movies. It seems as though the film industry is starting to squash the potential of what can be achieved with an already established fan base, hungry new fans, and comic book source material galore. With B v. S and Civil War showing us what happens when superheroes go unchecked or have different ideologies, The Boys will show us a covert government unit that does keep the superpowers in check. The Boys is the answer to “Who Watches The Watchmen?”
“Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female are The Boys: a CIA backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth- superpower. Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them- sometimes- need to be taken out of the picture” (Ennis, 2008).
Garth Ennis writes very anti-superhero stories. The first title you may have heard of is Preacher. Preacher was the first Ennis property to be put into production as it aired last night on AMC. I am hoping by the time you’re reading this that Preacher broke some record or at least interested you into watching episode two. The Boys asks the questions we as viewers and fans oftentimes don’t, who are the superpowers when no one is looking?
The Boys is one of the most inappropriate comic books out there. But boy is if fun! Ennis blends humor and harsh realizations wonderfully into his superhero satire. Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, Marvel) details facial expressions so when there is no text, we are able to feel how the characters feel. These stories will make you reflect and most likely ruin your image of super powered heroes and villains in society. Many of the superpowers have been elevated to celebrity status and act like many of our spoiled celebrities do now days. The difference being, if you have the ability to do almost anything, why would you be subservient to a human authority? Ennis paints a clear picture of how celebrity superpowers could act with illicit substance use, treating naïve new team members, teen superpowers throwing parties, and how they view the normal humans.
I’ve been fortunate enough to nerd out so often now at the movies and turning on the TV to see my favorite characters on screen. But there’s something missing! These stories will someday fizzle out. We could easily end up having Civil War II on the big screen like Marvel is having in the comics right now. Recycled stories with a slightly different spin. The Boys is the perfect work to get picked up by either AMC or a premium cable company. The source material is a masterpiece. It is a completely different viewpoint on how superpowers impact society. The story is 72 issues filled with plenty of sex and violence. There is purpose in having the sex and violence as it depicts a unique telling of the story and not just to sell issues.
Comixology has a “Party On, Garth” sale right now which features The Boys and other of Ennis masterpieces. Humble Bundle is also featuring some of the same works that can be found: https://www.humblebundle.com/books/garth-ennis-dynamite-bundle