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  • Anvilicious: The comic is quite unbearably preachy about its message that superheroes suck. Of course, this is Garth Ennis we're talking about.
  • Broken Base: Between those who like the series for deconstructing the usual tropes of superhero media and those who detest it for being another attack on superheroes from Garth Ennis and containing the squicky degrees of violence and vulgarity his work is known for.
  • Complete Monster: Even in the twisted word of The Boys, these two distinguish themselves as the most vile:
    • Black Noir, clone of the Homelander, was made to destroy the original, but chafes under never getting the order. Deciding to drive the Homelander insane, Black Noir goes on murderous rampages, killing sprees and rapes where he impersonates the Homelander, even killing and eating babies to take photos and send them to the Homelander to drive him insane and make him become a monster so Noir can receive the kill order. Billy Butcher's wife Becky was also raped by Black Noir, leading to her death. Noir later helps manipulate Homelander into starting a superpowered rebellion to get countless innocents killed, having embraced his own sadism and madness long ago.
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    • John Godolkin is a twisted expy of Charles Xavier. The leader of the G-Men, Godolkin kidnaps children from their parents and turns them into superpowered Child Soldiers that he raises to be loyal to him. Any children who prove troublesome are summarily murdered and stricken from the rosters. Worse, Godolkin is a pedophile who rapes the children after he has abducted them, slowly brainwashing them into helping him rape the younger children later, building an army of fanatical soldiers ready to die for him.
  • Crossing the Line Twice: Constantly in every issue.
  • Genius Bonus: In the last issue, a background character is reading a book by the disgraced superhero Shout-Out, which was co-written by Jayson Blair. The real Blair resigned from the New York Times in 2003 after his stories turned out to be largely fabricated and/or plagiarized. His name on Shout-Out's autobiography is thus a subtle indicator to the reader that the autobiography is at least 99% bullshit.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Even and especially though they're a pair of unhinged, Ax-Crazy nutters, pretty much all the interactions between The Frenchman and The Female are this. He never treats her as anything less than a human being, and never gives up on the hope that one day she can move past her homicidal yearnings. For her part, he is the only one that can touch her without losing body parts, and it's clear she cares deeply for him. One standout is where Frenchie tries to convince The Female to leave the team with him, offering himself as an outlet for the uncontrollable need to maim and kill she is afflicted with. Despite knowing in detail exactly what kind of nauseating, unbelievable damage she can inflict. The Female - who we have seen repatedly rip faces off, eviscerate explosively, and woke from a coma by breaking Hughie's arm - immediately and absolutely refuses, almost looking about to cry. Then she gives Frenchie some of her ice-cream.
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    • Another one overlaps with Tearjerker, but if every Heterosexual Life-Partners met Ax-Crazy...
    "Je suis votre ami. If I cannot be your friend I would as soon be dead. If it must be by your hand, so be it."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Being The Pollyanna, a former member of a youth team, and having light-burst powers and the word "star" in her name, Starlight could be considered an Alternate Company Equivalent of Starfire. At some point, the Vought-American PR folks decide to make her way more sexualized than she was before, because (according to them) that's what sells the merchandise. A few years later DC did exactly the same to Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws.
    • This isn't exactly prescience on Ennis's part; Starfire's sexuality has been seesawing since her introduction, mainly depending on whether DC is marketing her towards younger teens or adult readers.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Queen Maeve can be a genuinely unpleasant person who doesn't seem to care about anything that doesn't involve alcohol, but it turns out she was more or less traumatized by what happened on 9/11 and before then is implied to have genuinely wanted to be heroic. She became a Broken Bird in order to cope with her guilt, and has also been raped thanks to Homelander tricking her into having sex with Black Noir.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Homelander casually kills the Muller family, who had won a car and a dinner with him, by dropping them from the sky, while belittling their beliefs, and telling them that the contest they won was a farce. He's later shown eating babies and hearts, though that turned out to actually be Black Noir.
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  • Narm: Frequently played straight in-universe.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Issue 63: Homelander's face after he kills Queen Maeve and has Annie in his sights as a possible next target
  • Rewatch Bonus: Some scenes with the Homelander really come across in a different light with the knowledge that he is being manipulated by Black Noir, who is actually impersonating him sometimes. For one thing, if you look at the scene where Homelander drops a family and their car from the sky and then addresses the collective supers, you might notice that Black Noir isn't with the other present Seven members or anywhere else in the crowd.
  • Shallow Parody: While some of the satire of corporate sponsorship and their control and manipulation of superhero identities for ugly and nefarious processes is valid, a lot of it does fall flat in the takedown on specific targets.
    • Soldier Boy is a Captain Patriotic a la Steve Rogers, presented by Garth Ennis as a mockery and insult to The Real Heroes of World War II. The problem is that Captain America was a Propaganda Hero created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby before America entered World War II and was in the context a bold anti-fascist gesture. Likewise, Kirby who drew Captain America and later revived him as a soldier out of time in The Avengers, served as a soldier in the US Infantry during the war, as a draftsman for reconaissance maps, and the comics which Ennis mocks were popular with actual American servicemen of the time (specifically Captain Marvel whose Expy he makes into a Nazi hero called Stormfront, was extremely popular among American GI). So in other words, Ennis, a World War II-buff, is merely projecting his own ideas and values on to that of an earlier generation without actually engaging with it.
    • It doesn't help that The Boys are more or less superheroes themselves with Billy Butcher being a British Punisher, and where Marshal Law didn't spare the title character from criticism, Ennis being a Punisher fanboy and fond of the Vigilante Man archetype in general, doesn't actually go as far as Mills and O'Neill did, or for that matter Alan Moore did in Watchmen, which was attack the idea of a hero, and people's need for one, or the desire to be one.
    • The other problem is that most of his takes on superheroes are more or less they are frauds and fakes, celebrity shills, and don't actually deal with threats. This doesn't quite work as a satire or Deconstruction since it doesn't accept the possibility, as even Moore did, that some of these superheroes do have good intentions and do want to do help and even can help in ways regular people can't, and there are genuine problems in society that complicates their basic altruism. Ennis' arguments is mainly that these superheroes are evil, fakes, or pathetic without any variation for 60+ issues. In a way, The Boys come closer to fitting the classic superhero archetype themselves than many of the "heroes" they fight do!
    • The attack on X-Men is more or less Professor X/Godolkin being a pedophile and the rest of the X-Men being his victims and/or brainwashed cultists without any engagement with legitimate avenues to criticize the X-Men, namely the debate on the "Mutant Metaphor" and how the X-Men actually work as a representation of minority rights advocacy. Likewise, the parody also involves Jive Turkey riffs on West Coast-East Coast hip-hop rivalries which makes the whole thing come of as tin-eared and not something that either X-Men fans or critics can really recognize.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Marshal Law and Alan Moore's superhero satires in Miracleman and Watchmen.
  • Squick: Assloads of it. For starters, we have a lot of gruesome violence and one of the characters is a grown man who needs his mother's breast milk to survive.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks!: Some negative responses to the series argue that Marshal Law did it all before.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Thanks to Author Tract by Garth Ennis on superheroes, Starlight and Superduper never got the spotlight that might have acted as a counterpoint to his notions, especially Billy's belief on eliminating Compound V that would prevent people like BlackNoir and the Homelander.
  • Wangst: Played with; many's the time that Wee Hughie's basically been told to shut the fuck up, stop moaning about things and just get over it by the other characters, and he does display a tendency to mope about and wallow in self-pity over the problems in his life. Then again, a lot of the people who are telling him this are themselves homicidal borderline-sociopaths who find it unsettlingly easy to shrug off various atrocities, so they probably aren't the best examples to follow in terms of getting in touch with your emotions.
    • Word of God says that this is intentional, partly because his introspective brooding and doubt is what allows Hughie to retain his humanity and thus ultimately stand out as the good guy amidst a crowd of violently sociopathic monsters, and also because, well, realistically everyone has character flaws that they're just incapable of getting over, and Hughie's just happens to be self-pity.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: So an American, a Brit, a Frenchman and a nostalgic Russian beat the shit out of a Nazi? Nah, I'm sure there's no deeper meaning to it... This was actually lampshaded in the scene itself. The Boys quite cheerfully inform Stormfront that, while yes, they are representing the Allies, they are going to let the beat down be done by a representative of the folks who did it to the Germans in 1945: Cue Love Sausage!
  • The Woobie: All of Superduper. Every other superhero group is made up of assholes, rapists, and murderers, but Superduper is more or less a halfway home for disabled kids. The kicker is that all of them honestly do want to be superheroes and use their powers, limited though they are, to try and help people. And then they get stuck with Malchemical for a leader, who almost rapes Auntie Sis, Stool-Shadow, and Ladyfold before he's killed by Butcher. And then Butcher almost kills them when Klanker, who has Tourette's, screams "Fuckingcunt" at the worst possible moment. It takes Hughie begging Butcher not to in order for him to back off before he hurts one of them. The worst part is, most of them don't understand what's going on except for Auntie Sis. And most everybody either thinks they're a joke (like Malchemical) or will inevitably become just as fucked up as the Seven (like Butcher, who doesn't even really care that Malchemical was going to rape and torture them).
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