The Boys Was Censored by DC (But Not For the Reason You Think)

Originally promised as the series that would "out-Preacher Preacherby writer Garth Ennis, The Boys lived up to the promise from its first issue at DC Comics, packed with blood, sex, and scatological humor to the last issue. But while DC apparently vetoed plenty of Ennis and artist Darick Robertson's ideas prior to cancelling the series with its sixth issue (after which it was snapped up by Dynamite Entertainment), only one cover had to be totally redrawn, and it may be the tamest cover art the creators ever considered.

In The Art of the Boys, series and cover artist Robertson explains the logic that went into The Boys' cover art. Robertson explains that while the covers were always meant to grab the reader and be challenging and intriguing, he was "content to leave the rough stuff presented in THE BOYS for the interiors." Ultimately, it wasn't The Boys' adult themes that got a cover totally rejected by DC (which published The Boys via its Wildstorm imprint), but rather a parody of its own characters.

Related: The Boys' Homelander is Pure Evil in Mutiny Magazine Cover Art

The Boys is rarely subtle in its parodies of mainstream superheroes (and occasionally real-life people), and the Seven - a team of corporate heroes led by the Superman-esque Homelander - is very clearly based on the Justice League. However, Robertson reveals in The Art of the Boys that the third issue's cover had to be totally redrawn as "the powers that be weren't amused by our parody of a classic comic." The art in question recreates the cover to All-Star Comics #3, reimagining an iconic shot of the Justice Society of America seated around a table to feature the Seven.

As parodies go, it's incredibly gentle, but the clear implication that the Seven should be read as an explicit stand-in for the Justice Society (and by implication the Justice League) is likely what got this cover dropped. Other covers were altered, though more subtly. Robertson explains that, "In the case of issue #4, for example, we had to remove the needle plunging into Wee Hughie's neck and replace it with a less treachorous air injector." This at least is a limitation fans might expect The Boys to run up against - images judged too shocking for the comic stands, rather than a bloodless recreation of a comic cover from 1940.

As of issue #7, The Boys was no longer answerable to DC, and Robertson confirms, "Dynamite always let us run free with our ideas." The controversy of The Boys being too extreme for DC helped bring it further attention, clearing the path to 72 issues of the ongoing series - bolstered by spin-off miniseries Herogasm, Highland Laddie, Dear Becky and Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker - and the current ongoing TV adaptation starring Anthony Starr as Homelander and Karl Urban as Billy Butcher.

Given its lasting reputation as a series that, as Ennis promised, wore its often puerile sensibilities as a badge of honor, it makes sense that The Boys art would be rejected by DC Comics for pushing the boundaries of taste, but it turns out that it was the real heart of the series - Billy Butcher's searing disdain for costumed heroes - that resulted in a cover needing to be totally redesigned.

Next: The Boys' Version of Stan Lee Was Too Disrespectful For The Show



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