“Highland Laddie” shows promise. And like most promises in this world, it is broken and leaves you a little less trusting for the future. Wee Hughie has stumbled onto the crime going down in his old hometown and most of his best friends are also converging there for their own reasons. On the sidelines, the exceptional back and forth with Annie gets just a little more panel time.
The bad guys of this mini, the very Scooby Doo nobodies that have done plenty without actually doing anything of importance, are dispatched simply and without enough fanfare to make the five issue set up hardly worth the wait. Though, it must be mentioned, one guy is taken out by rogue seagull vomit. That’s the sort of thing we’re dealing with here. It’s just not great.
Shoehorning Hughie’s poignant and emotional scenes with Annie into this mini is the equivalent of putting "Sophie’s Choice" into a "Naked Gun" sequel. It completely washes the impact away. Whenever you think of this mini you won’t remember Ennis’ nuanced dialogue but instead you’ll be left with Hughie’s ‘zany’ mates and the useless complication they got swept up in that you absolutely didn’t care about.
There is the opportunity for one great secret to be revealed in this comic but it is skipped and left to us. Such a shame, because there was plenty of room to address it rather than concentrate on what happens to a cross dresser when his junk gets lopped off with gardening shears. We do get a secret memory from Hughie’s youth and while it is touching by the time you’ve waded through the other dreck in this issue you’ll barely have the effort to care.
The art from McCrea and Burns isn’t that good. Panels are muddled, and you usually only know who you are looking at because you know it’s them from context or placement, not because they look right. Faces are waxen and dead most of the time and this nullifies what little emotion is trying to be conveyed.
It is still difficult to reconcile this title to what is happening over in “The Boys.” Just as the parent title hits a great stride, its little spin-off shows how bad it can all be. Maybe that’s Ennis’ plan, make us appreciate the sweet because (if you’ve stuck with this one for the full six) you’ve just had a gutful of the sour. This marks this series as 0 for 2 with minis, here’s hoping the Butcher one will redeem them both.