In your face. Gruesome. Over the top. Raw.
That’s how we’d describe the visceral reaction we had to The Boys in its inaugural season on Amazon Prime. We were familiar with the Garth Ennis graphic novel from many years back, and we were eagerly anticipating the adaptation once it was announced.
It did not disappoint.
Opening the story, A-Train, a speedster like Marvel’s Quicksilver, literally runs through protagonist Wee Hughie’s (a phenomenal Jack Quaid) girlfriend Robin accidentally while hopped up on drugs. Him barreling into her at superhuman speed causes her to explode instantly, traumatizing Hughie as he was holding her hands when the collision happened. Hughie can’t find solace in Robin’s death and the aftermath of receiving compensation for his loss. Wandering aimlessly in grief, he finds like-minded individuals starting with Billy Butcher, played by the breathtaking Karl Urban, who advises him to get his hands dirty and get revenge on the Seven because it’s the right thing to do and it’s “diabolical.”
Spreading the diabolical is the omnipresent Homelander, played brilliantly by Antony Starr. If you ever wonder what mixing Superman and Captain America with a side of Bizarro would create, you have Homelander. Homelander, with his all-American good looks and charm is, in reality, one of the most depraved super beings in the history of super beings. In his capacity as the leader of the Seven, a corporate sponsored superhero group, Homelander keeps the subordinates in check but thinks nothing of murdering a plane full of people twice (!) to achieve his own goals or keep the Vought International name clean.
The twists and turns and discovery of Homelander’s devious fakeout of the general population is equal parts engrossing, fun, gruesome and, well, diabolical. Everyone in the Seven has some sort of issue, but Homelander is the cream of the crop. Or so he says. By the end of the season, you will come to love and hate Homelander enough that if you haven’t read the graphic novel, you will hunt it down just to get the unfiltered version of the super menace.
Everyone plays their role to perfection, just nice enough on the surface but nasty enough on the other side that you know the mass marketing appeal of the characters isn’t going to last long. The story moves along at a nice pace, getting you to know the Seven and their impact on the world around them, and their counterparts in Butcher’s gang. It’s a fun, solid ride that makes you question everything you know about superheroes. What if they weren’t benevolent do-gooders and did stuff like participate in an orgy — the upcoming third season Herogasm arc? Who keeps them in check and how is that accomplished when they have powers that can literally change the world but they’re incompetent and amoral? The Boys aims to understand all of that in the goriest way possible. Season 1 ends on a cliffhanger and sets up future goodness in the already-released Season 2 and the coming Season 3. Expect more diabolical fun because this brilliant sendup of comic book follies is fantastic at judging those who save us.
Like the comics: 9
Total: 27/30 or 9
HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.