While not hard to follow for a new reader, The Boys: Dear Becky serves as an epilogue to the 72 issue series The Boys and is intended for fans of the series.
Set 12 years after the events of the series, the comic follows Hughie as he receives a diary with entries by Billy Butcher. These entries are presented as flashbacks to the timeframe of the series featuring the eponymous boys: Billy Butcher, Mother’s Milk, the Frenchman, the Female, and the Colonel. Thinking his time with them long past, Hughie finds himself slowly falling back into old habits as he reads through Billy’s past.
Writer Garth Ennis penned the entire series, and returns for this 8 issue mini-series. He writes “arsehole” characters well, as he seems to have many of these tough dude archetypes present in works like The Boys and more famously Preacher. However, as this story takes place both before and after the series, we end up getting a reflection on Billy’s brutality and overall demeanor as a character. Ennis writes a story that deconstructs Billy as a character, but unfortunately I think it relies on too much foreknowledge of the character’s actions in the overall narrative. For example, Billy’s violent side is described early on in the mini but we never really see it until near the very end of issue seven. Sure there is a fight scene and a maiming of a superhero early on, but the reckless Billy Butcher everyone is afraid of never appears until too late in the narrative for a new reader to care.
Artist Russ Braun also previously worked on over twenty issues of the series, so his depiction of fan favorite characters like Hughie, Annie, Billy, and the rest of the team will be familiar to longtime readers. Braun likes to make his characters expressive, with Hughie’s underwater face in one panel or the headshot cutaways to Billy after he makes headway on a plan. Interestingly enough, because of the ending of the series, there are not that many superheroes left in the world. This results in the 2020 scenes feeling more grounded in reality than the flashbacks to early 2000s when the celebrity crazed superheroes ran amok.
Overall, I would not recommend this title to libraries who do not already own the entirety of The Boys. Not only is it not a great introduction to the world, it woefully fails to clue in the reader to why any of what is going on matters. If a new reader picked it up off the shelf, they probably wouldn’t know this is actually volume 13 of a series that ended in 2012. Unfortunately, there is also a trans character in the book who feels a little off in the voice they were given. I am not sure if the character is carried over from the series, but I found the handling of Bobbi’s story to be distracting from the overall narrative.
Dynamite suggests this for mature readers, and I definitely agree with the rating. Language, blood and gore, references to genitalia, and even depicted sex acts are all included. If you have ever seen Garth Ennis’ work before, this content warning shouldn’t really shock you, but I’d compare his overall aesthetic to a more vulgar Quentin Tarantino at times. Again, I would not really recommend this title unless your library already owns The Boys.
The Boys: Dear Becky
By Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun
Publisher Age Rating: M
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)