Amazon’s The Boys Wanna Fight…

Marvel finally confirmed Tatiana Maslany really is playing She-Hulk after two months of confusion, so I got this blog out in the nick of time! Maybe they’ll redesign Abomination to not look like Doomsday? I want less Zombie-Hulk, more Silurian-Hulk! I was expecting a confirmation that we’d finally get Tim Blake Nelson as The Leader instead. Now that this Disney Investor Day (the most banal marketing event name possible) tidbit is out of the way, we can move on to another cold take review.

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This review of The Boys comes to you courtesy of my new patron, Korey Hughes. Out of the blue, she informed me she was gifting me DVDs of the first two seasons because I don’t have Amazon Prime & she wanted to read my review of it. (I would’ve also accepted the latest seasons of The Expanse.) So this review was written for one person only. All other visitors can move along. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you: If you mail me free stuff, I will review it! This even applies to stuff you didn’t make!

Not only is this a big SPOILER alert for the first two seasons, I’ll also throw in a Content Warning! After three paragraphs of me making value judgements of source material I didn’t read, I finally start talking about the TV adaptation. There’s lots to ruminate upon in these sixteen episodes so it’s practically Love Sausage-sized! (Welcome Home, Brother Charles, exactly the wrong title for my brain to remember, beat it to the penile strangulation.) This time there won’t be any metallic lycanthropes to go with the gratuitous genitalia. Supe porn seems pretty tame compared to death by Popclaw’s snu-snu.

A_Train

Exhibit A-Train in inciting incidents.

I didn’t read Dynamite Entertainment’s The Boys because it felt explicitly off-putting. I liked Darick Robertson’s art on Transmetropolitan & Nightcrawler, but this comic book was designed to look disgusting. Garth Ennis hates superheroes. That’s fine, especially as he’s helped repopularize genre that were near extinct in comics like millitary & westerns. On the other hand, he feels compelled to write comics about the violent humiliation of superheroes. (Ennis does genuinely respect Superman, but for some reason insists on being utterly uncharitable to his compatriots.) Ennis’s mean-spirited take on the cape crowd felt questionable when writing for DC & Marvel (it’s less jarring to audiences raised on the petty jerkwads of BVSDOJ & Civil War), but it works much better in his own separate sandbox. The solicitations didn’t make it clear that the supes weren’t genuine superheroes. They made it sound like this normcore quintet were brutally murdering superheroes just for being into kinky sex betwixt saving the world.

Ennis prefers vigilantes like the Punisher, whom he’s elevated to Batman-level ultra-competence to mock ineffectual superheroes around him. (This depiction is both problematic in narrative & the real world.) The titular Boys follow in this vein on their quest to destroy The Seven. Since The Seven are covertly villainous, however, The Boys are arguably the legitimutant superheroes of the piece. So Ennis’s vendetta against superheroes appears to based off aesthetics. The Punisher & The Boys are allowed to act nobly because they dress in conventional dark clothing, which is  just as much a costume even if it’s not unique or flamboyant. If there’s an “appearances are deceiving” message it’s undercut by this being the predominant wardrobe of action heroes in mass media for decades.

The Boys is thinly veiled satire on Marvel & DC. There’s plenty to criticize about corporate comics, but it feels a bit disingenuous when Ennis was probably given more leeway than most creators there. Most of his output was in Mature Readers imprints so he had less restrictions & editorial meddling than the mainline comics. (Before this he had high-profile gigs for 2000 AD.) Some of it’s probably inspired by insider dirt, yet his vitriol would be more authentic if it was coming from someone who was dicked over by the system instead of one who became a superstar. The joke is less about corporations exploiting their employees & customers than fans’ favorite characters secretly being perverted bastards. (There’s probably more of the former in the actual books, but it never came across in covers or preview pages.) It just smacks of punching down at readers with mainstream tastes like his “Muzak Killer.” Ennis may be the superior writer, but he still strikes me as cynical as Mark Millar.

Now let’s talk about the TV adaptation I did see! (There’s too much context if you’ve already seen it, yet the seasons are confusingly blurred together if you haven’t!) Amazon’s The Boys is produced by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, who also oversaw AMC’s Preacher. I liked that even those many readers would’ve preferred a more slavish translation. This has a much bigger cast but is more focused. Most readers of The Boys agree that the televisual deviations by showrunner Eric Kripke (formerly of the era of Supernatural when fans tell me it was good) have been for the best, especially with regards to its women. Although I didn’t like the concept of the comic enough to read it, the cartoonish ultraviolence in the trailers made me want to watch the show. My sensibilities are all outta whack!

The Boys evokes police brutality several times. While that’s not a new phenomenon, I’m not sure Ennis intended that when it rolled out in 2006. That was also prior to the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so its criticism of superhero oversaturation wouldn’t be as relevant to the general public. So either the comic was ahead of its time, or the TV series came out at precisely the right moment these themes would widely resonate. This is a great companion piece to HBO’s Watchmen

 Kripke’s notion that superheroes are inherently fascist tracks with Ennis’s suspicion & disdain for them, but I’m not convinced it’s accurate. It does happen in alternate future & brainwashing arcs, but then it signifies something has gone drastically wrong as a cautionary tale. Ironically Judge Dredd & the Punisher, two characters written by Ennis, often evoke fascism as their norm. (The United States thought Judge Dredd was aspirational instead of satire.) There’s lots of flaws to pick at in typical superhero fare. Presenting the most prominent superheroes as rapey Nazis is inventing a new problem though. Once you get to that point it’s no longer a series about why superheroes are actually bad for society. It becomes a show about why supervillains are obviously bad. It’d be like doing a deconstruction of the mystery genre & having the sleuths eat babies. 

The cast is littered with alumni of various comic book movie & TV shows. It’s a Thor Ragnarok, Dredd, Jessica Jones, Black Lightning, Suicide Squad, DuckTales, Harley Quinn, MODOK, The Batman, Justice League Action!, X-Men, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, Happy!, Agents Of SHIELD, Supergirl, Riverdale, Fear The Walking Dead, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Arrow, iZombie, Heroes, Locke & Key, Titans, Shazam!, V-Wars, The Flash, October Faction, Witchblade, The Phantom, Preacher mega-crossover! (Did I miss any?) I’m not sure if this was intentional as a metanarrative injoke (Casting Iceman as Lamplighter had to be, right?), or whether we’re finally at the point where it’s harder to find thespians that haven’t had comic adaptations on their resumes. Surprisingly this is swole Elisabeth Shue’s first, (Adventures In Babysitting doesn’t count!) but she doesn’t get to flex her non-acting muscles.

Although the comics made superheroes look cheap & sleazy, Amazon Prime invested in decking out Vought’s stable in classy costumes. They look so good that most supes don’t doff them off-duty, a detail I appreciated. It’s rare that an adaptation puts more effort in wardrobe than comics. While the comics put him in a diving helmet, TV’s The Deep looks so much like Namor the Sub-Mariner I’m surprised Marvel didn’t sue. Queen Maeve is also attired much like movie Wonder Woman with her New 52 color scheme.

Its action is also better than Marvel’s shows. The opening where an armored car breaks around Queen Maeve & Homelander melts a rifle into a robber’s hand was awesome! This show delivers all the cool superhero spectacle to people who think they’re too cool for superheroes! The Seven are basically the Thunderbolts disguised as the Justice League. Calling the powered characters “supes” is apt since few could be considered heroes.

Being liquefied by a speedster is absurdly gory. It would’ve been an interesting wrinkle if A-Train (Jessie Usher) was actually responding to a crime when he ran through Robin. (Qualified immunity for police is quickly referenced, although supes aren’t officially law enforcement.) That’s just his alibi while he was literally running Compound V. So the audience is clear to straight-up hate him rather than pondering how many people saved would balance out one innocent life taken. I think they went with the less intriguing option.

Vought International has a monopoly on USA’s 200 superheroes. It also makes fictional movies starring them, which probably save lots on special effects budgets. “Never Truly Vanish,” Starlight’s memorial song for Translucent, & “Faster,” A-Train’s farewell rap anthem, show it does music too. Living among superhumans doesn’t make people eager for more exotic pirate comics. Having conquered every other arena, Vought now wants to get its superhumans into the military industrial complex ala Dr. Manhattan. This sounds like a much more worthwhile use of their powers, just before the murky real world ethics of war & supes often being sociopaths come into play. Homelander dooms a hijacked plane yet still spins this botched rescue as a national defense pitch. (Plane passengers are Homelander’s natural enemies.)

One major flaw in the worldbuilding is that Vought doesn’t seem to have created any supervillains for its heroes to battle. Without supervillains, supes are just monsters. How are there enough violent criminals in this universe to justify so many superheroes? How desperate do you have to be to rob a bank in NYC knowing that the odds The Seven will severely cripple if not kill you? Gunfire is grisly enough, but this escalates it to another level. (The police are explicitly superfluous.) A speedster race is too rapid to provide sustained entertainment. Superheroes completely outclassing human opponents is only entertaining for so long. What is the conflict for all the sequels it churns out? It takes Homelander making super-terrorists decades later to finally get a world that could actually use superheroes. He even has to push to get “supervillain” into the public lexicon.

The_Homelander

Canceling conventions this year was a matter of public safety.

The Homelander makes Zack Snyder’s Superman look like Superman! “What if Superman was evil?” is a tired cliche by this point, especially in DC Comics. (I’d rather see more takes on “What if General Zod was good?”) This example is one of the better ones because Homelander maintains such a charming public persona to mask his nihilistic contempt of humanity. He turned out wrong because he was raised in a sterile lab by Nazi scientists instead of on a farm with loving parents. There’s superficial elements of Captain America, but his name hints he’s not the benign sort of patriot. He bullies his coworkers while demanding constant public validation. He chafes under the command of Vought. His relationship Madelyn Stillwell, Vought’s lactating VP, is borderline Oedipal. This dastard is as cunning as he is sadistic. Antony Starr nails this.

Why did Vought pick total rookie Starlight (Erin Moriarity isn’t Rose McIver?) to replace Lamplighter on The Seven instead of someone from one of its farm teams? They didn’t even give her orientation. Starlight goes off script to avert a date rape. Much like Trish Walker, she is reamed out for using her powers to help someone without advance clearance since she’s not technically a cop. Vought is able to seize victory from the jaws of defeat when the woman she rescued corroborates events. (If Hellcat was an Avenger, Tony Stark’s lawyers could’ve done the same for her.) Her homemade costume is replaced with a skimpier one to shame her into staying in line though. When Starlight opens up about being sexually assaulted by a teammate to the public, Vought co-opts her trauma. Despite being disillusioned by the ugly machinations of the industry, Starlight still strives to be a true superheroine.

All the work Aquaman did to make token amphibians cool by not apologizing for them is flushed by The Deep (Chace Crawford). Being the team’s laughing stock has taken a toll oh him. He sexually assaults Starlight her first day on The Seven. (This arc is handled with surprising maturity & restraint.) He does, however, genuinely care about protecting marine habitats & their inhabitants. The series firmly says sexual assault is wrong without vilifying his environmental concerns. The gratuitous violence toward aquatic animals he tries to rescue is both funny & underlines his point about the cruelty of landlubbers. (The choco-Lucy is epic.) His eventual comeuppance of being exiled to Sandusky, Ohio where he’s fingerbanged in his shameful torso gills was more creative than expected. The Deep talks to his  gills, voiced by Patton Oswalt (He’s everyone’s imaginary pal!), about his body insecurity that fuels his predatory misogyny.

After being ground down as The Seven’s Smurfette for so long, Queen Maeve has become a jaded alcholoic. (Dominique McElligott is a peculiar combination of phonemes yet not as fun to say as Colby Minifie, whom infested television so gradually that nobody noticed until it was too late!) She won’t commit to her girlfriend for fear that her possessive ex-boyfriend, Homelander, will either use Elena as leverage or slaughter her. Even when he pushes her out of the closet on TV, it’s not a relief to Maeve. (Although played by the Afro-Canadian Nathan Mitchell, Homelander insists Black Noir doesn’t identify as any race when grilled out his team’s lack of diversity.) Vought capitalizes on this by marketing her as a lesbian even though Maeve is bisexual because it’s “less confusing.” (DC didn’t even try cross-promoting Batwoman Pride products!) Elena doesn’t want to be stage-managed into a public relationship either. Maeve is also lousy at hiding places for blackmail footage of Homelander.

Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher has so much swagger that he’s able to recruit multiple allies against their better judgement. Letting him use his normal Kiwi accent was the right move. He says “Me & the boys…” just like that meme & does superlative Spice Girls metaphors! Although generally bearded, he conveys Robertson’s art perfectly. His beatdown of Translucent, replacing Jack From Jupiter the emaciated Martian Manhunter expy, was delightfully bloody. While Ennis loves anti-hero protagonists, he’s self-aware enough not to make them role models. Butcher initially appears to be heroic for trying to take down Vought, but he’s slowly reveled to be a poster boy for toxic masculinity. He doesn’t even have empathy for others whose lives have been wrecked by superheroes. (I’m glad being killed in Preacher didn’t preclude Malcolm Barret from appearing here. He plays someone with a grievous penis injury, as is obligatory in Ennis opuses.) This bastard doesn’t even extend his pinky when drinking tea!

Unlike Butcher, “Wee” Hughie Campbell has direct & accurate knowledge of a lover’s demise. Much like me, Hughie is a milquetoast with no oomph. Butcher eggs the nebbish to greater violence & illegality. While Petit Hughie turns out to be “the Rain Man of fucking people over,” he doesn’t let his grief-stricken anger consume him. He’s able to form real bonds with others, particularly Starlight. When he has the chance to watch A-Train die of a heart attack, he instead insists on giving him first aid. Hughie’s hero’s journey isn’t about him going from a weakling to a badass but maintaining his optimistic compassion amidst the chaos.

Hughie is The Boy who looks least like Robinson’s art. Wee Hughie was modeled on Simon Pegg, who plays the character’s dad in this. Jack Quaid is ostensibly Dennis Quaid’s son yet he often looks more like a mini-Michael Shannon. Wee Hughie says his favorite musicians are James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkle, & Billy Joel, yet he frequently wears shirts of harder rock bands. Does this mean Hughie is in denial or wardrobe wasn’t looped in to his musical tastes?

Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) is the team’s moral center despite lying to his wife constantly. I dig that he’s avenging his lawyer dad like a legacy hero. He’s a character who’s simultaneously developed enough that I understand yet not developed enough in terms of story relevance. He’s best in a double act with Frenchie. Tomer Capon gets the more colorful role as the team’s Q with a dash of Howling Mad Murdock. Frenchie has a more unique specialty & a support system outside the group in Cherrie. I’m undecided if his relationship with Kimiko is scuzzy or adorable yet.

Kimiko The Female epitomizes the mute Asian female trope even moreso than Katana in Suicide Squad. I still find this absurd given Karen Fukuhara’s voice over oeuvre in the superb She-Ra & The Princesses Of Power reboot & Kipo & The Age Of Wonderbeasts. Once her mystery is unveiled, her being nonverbal ceases to even be plot relevant. She could just as easily be speaking unsubtitled Japanese. (Why don’t the foreign language scenes come with subtitles?) A major deviation from the trope is that instead of being a master of balletic martial arts, she just demolishes her enemies with ungraceful brute superstrength. (I realize I’d complained about Cassandra Cain speaking & not kicking ass.) While she doesn’ want to be used as a super-terrorist, she eagerly gets a contract killer gig to afford Sasha Banks bling.

It turns out the assorted superhumans weren’t born that way ala mutants. They only developed unique powers because Vought has been dosing assorted babies with Compound V for decades. (Does this count as an origin retcon?) The amount of parents, doctors, & Vought employees needed to keep silent to maintain this conspiracy since WWII is staggering! (Nobody ever thought superhumans only being born stateside & Vought not having competitors for their management was suspicious?) The parents consented & there was no apparent health risks, so it’s unclear how illegal this is. It gave us a diabolical baby with laser eyes! When Starlight leaks Compound V to the press to destroy Vought, Mr. Edgar is still able to use the late Stillwell as a scapegoat. When Vought is on the hook for corporate malfeasance & fraud its bacon is saved by timely head-popping in Congress.

Vought sponsors Believe Expo, a Chrisitian superhero festival. Is this desecrating the personal religious experience by yoking it to commercialism, or is it Vought breaking a secular social contract by foisting religion upon customers? Why not both? (It’s shortsighted the conglomerate hasn’t ingratiated itself into other major religions as well.) Although raised in this environment, Starlight now sees it as hypocritical brainwashing when she becomes one of its headliners. This, combined with The Deep’s assault & the Compound V reveal, drives the devout heroine into agnosticism. It’s an odd leap of unfaith since gaining powers from Compound V instead of birth doesn’t disprove God. Meanwhile The Church of The Collective is a separate Scientology-ish cult favored by supes.

Butcher is obsessed with getting revenge on Homelander for the rape & death of his wife. He’s so myopic about it that he sabotages his mission to get CIA aid against Vought when they can’t promise its top hero will go down. It turns out this Ahab chewed off his own leg. Becca Butcher was alive & raising Homelander’s hybrid baby in secret under Vought oversight. (I kind of wish her extramarital tryst with Homelander had been consensual to make Billy’s manpain completely mistaken.) Homelander outmaneuvers Butcher’s trap by killing Madeline himself & prevents him from dying in the suicidal explosion after. He brings Butcher to see his estranged wife & her son to gleefully mock him. This is an A+ ending!

Giancarlo Esposito appears as an omen of death to Stillwell. He plays the President of Vought, Stan Edgar, that even cows Homelander. Unlike him, Mr. Edgar views Vought as a pharmaceutical company with a sideline in superheroes. (This echoes controversy over whether comic books are the carts or horses of Marvel’s & DC’s media empires.) Ever the businessman, he installs Stormfront on The Seven as public distraction despite personally opposing her ideology.

The Captain Marvel Shazam pastiche Stormfront (Aya Cash) has been genderswapped into a woman. (This is true of many side characters as the comic seems to have been more of a sausage fest.) Since Mary Marvel has existed for decades it isn’t that revolutionary. The Seven’s latest recruit is a openly critical of Vought & Homelander. Her outspokeness makes her seem like a progressive superheroine who can’t be controlled by corporate interests. She’s actually stoking the public’s anger to get them to side with the same rascist agenda Homelander was more stodgy about. The twist that she’s definitely a Nazi would’ve been even better had all the promotional material not declared this in advance. The cat’s out of the bag once she deliberately massacres an apartment complex full of black families on her way to kill Kimiko’s brother.

After being fired for Starlight’s insubordination, Ashley Barrett is surprisingly installed as Vought’s new VP. That makes her akin to a comic book writer. In addition to wearing vibrant clothes, her new initiative is to fill the empty slots on The Seven with more diverse supes to broaden appeal. Homelander, in the role of the title’s editor, violently kiboshes this & makes it clear she’s only to be his puppet. This is also reflective of fans being outraged by “forced” diversity both on & behind the page. (Or perhaps they really do understand that if opportunities aren’t made for more diverse creators & characters there won’t be any.) Executives often prioritize short term sales boost stunts, represented by Mr. Edgar installing Stormfront, to meaningful diversity initiatives. So getting her dream job turns out to be more restrictive, stressful, & hazardous than when she was a lowly publicist. Ashley does get Homelander’s shamebaby into Cats though! Someone get this frazzled ginger a Compound V booster!

TheBoys_season2

I can never unsee Cats. I ain’t mad about it.

While Stillwell & Homelander wanted military contracts for existing supes, Stormfront urges the public to demand soldiers & police be given Compound V to thwart super-terrorists. Rather than expanding the franchise across all demographics (which would still be problematic), her goal is to only dose those who’ll form her Alt-Reich army. Vought has been testing Compound V on asylum inmates to create a version stable enough to use on grown-ups. Stormfront supposedly became the first supe, however, after receiving it as an adult. So haven’t they known since WWII? Why do The Boys never attempt to target Vought’s labs & archives to prevent them from manufacturing more Compound V? 

Season one is superb, but season two is more dour. The issues become more noticeable the longer you spend within a narrative. The cliffhanger was so fantastic that the aftermath struggles to live up to it. The pace is less zippy & the humor more sporadic. Hughie exhausted all his prodigy moments. He’s recklessly naive about not blowing Starlight’s cover as their mole. In fact he’s mostly a liability.

Geography gets really wonky too. How’d The Deep know to go to the Atlantic Ocean & how’d he get there so fast from Ohio? (The No-Prize answer is that The Church of The Collective has clairvoyants & teleporters who helped.) It’s also a much longer ride from Flatbush to Rochester than the finale implies. Queen Maeve comes out of nowhere for the climax.

Vought not being able to easily nab The Boys requires a gargantuan suspension of disbelief. They can’t even apprehend Butcher when he breaks into its compound to see Becca. Surely Black Noir could’ve taken Butcher in alive while its techies puzzled out his blackmail bluff. We know it has at least one blacksite prison in Vought Tower (with terrible security). Since they already poisoned the public against Butcher, they could easily discredit him further.  Even with his health issues, A-Train was able to locate part of the team in a moving vehicle without assistance from Vought’s extensive surveillance team. Surely Vought didn’t get where it is by honoring truces.

When Hughie needs medical attention, Starlight & Butcher flag down a motorist to drive Hughie to a hospital. When Butcher insists on commandeering his car with a flimsy excuse, this Good Samaritan draws his gun on him. Despite pointing out that Pennsylvania’s “stand your ground” doctrine would protect him if he shot them without further ado, the scared driver doesn’t fire. Butcher exacerbates this by drawing his own pistol. Starlight doesn’t even try to deescalate the situation by claiming to be on an undercover mission for The Seven. She zaps the driver, who inadvertently dies by cracking his head on the road. Strangers trying to carjack you is a reasonable moment to brandish a weapon in self defense, especially if one looks like the top of the nation’s most wanted list. (Despite being plastered all over the news, Butcher refuses to go incognito after the second season premiere.) The manslaughtered guy was going to help them until Butcher bollocksed it up! Considering how the show kicked off over Vought covering up civilian casualties, it’s odd how quickly the series & characters shrug this death off. They had a better reason to be in a rush than A-Train, but the dude didn’t need to die.

Stormfront’s observation that many Americans are fine with being racist & xenophobic jingoists so long as they’re not called Nazis is among the series’ most incisive commentary. I wish the series had spent a bit more time on how she made this hatred more memetic since her speeches seem identical to Homelander’s. (A useless “thoughts & prayers” is given after she radicalizes a white shooter.) Was it primarily because she’s an attractive woman with a reputation for “telling it like it is?” I can  see how her publicly dating Homelander would improve his image, but surely it’d make her the target of cancel culture even before her identity was outed.

After revealing that he was a prodigy, Lamplighter pulls a Firefly (the one from Arrow not Gotham)! This time it’s intentionally funny. The girls getting it done by curbstomping Stormfront to Peaches was satisfying. She is slain by Homelander’s hybrid, Ryan. Unfortunately he’s going to be traumatized for accidentally killing his mum too. (In the books, Billy Butcher bashed Becca’s bastard baby’s brains to a bloody pulp with a bedside bludgeon after it burst through her by being born.)

Throughout the second series, characters’ opposed to Vought sporadically pop like water balloons. The finale reveals that it’s Congresswoman Victoria Neuman’s power to explode heads. She was working with the head of the Super-Scientologists, whom she lethally betrays. Is she also working with Mr. Edgar? Neuman isn’t much of a character at this point, so it’s unclear whether her strategy is counterintuitive or not. It’s implied she’ll be a Big Bad next season. Since they just wrapped a “political media darling is secretly a psychotic murderess” arc, it seems too early to repeat this.

After The Deep becomes a Super-Scientologist to get reinstated onto The Seven, Vought un-retires A-Train to replace Stormfront instead. (He stole her file to dox her as a Nazi.) Lucky for him the rival speedster he was going to be replaced by got sploded. This moment is hilarious! Of course we’d seen A-Train kill two women so he may be worse than a sexual predator. It’s funny because he won without even trying to redeem himself.

While Translucent is a misnomer, Black Noir is redundant. Robin Ward is the punniest name. (Kudos to Jess Salgueiro for making her feel real in a limited span.) Billy Butcher sounds like a superhero alter ego. Does The Deep actually live up to his name?

This send-up of a corrupt mega-corporation was funded by the mega-corporations Amazon & Sony. This would be ironic if it wasn’t obvious. Only conglomerates can bankroll entertainment with such high production values. Similar to Stormfront, The Boys provides “edgy authenticity” as a cash cow diversion. Its patrons don’t care about its anti-corporate message so long as they can still profit off it. Now that they’ve got viewers hooked, they can threaten to prematurely cancel it too!

At its core, The Boys is a criticism of monopolies. Even after its Compound V scheme is exposed to federal authorities, Vought is too big to fail since it runs all the supers. Since it’s already at the top of the commercialism game, it’s compelled by capitalism to spread itself into government & religion too. (This is why Marvel Studios shouldn’t be the only ones allowed to make comic book films even if their quality is most consistent currently, Korey!) The Homelander is a further metaphor for this. While the other supers have their specialties, he has a smorgasbord of useful superpowers. There are no effective checks against his atrocities. His narcissistic need for public adulation may be metaphorical Kryptonite, but there is no literal Kryptonite with which to slay him.

Starlight’s sexual assault storyline is sadly applicable to most entertainment fields including comic books. A-Train using drugs to keep his spot on the team despite significant health hazards is straight out of professional sports. Superheroes closing ranks instead of punishing murderers is why the public doesn’t trust police anymore. The real life institutions that parallel Vought need to be reformed, yet resist change by virtue of being institutions. There’s a resulting urge to just destroy them in the spirit of Billy Butcher, yet Stormfront shows outrage can be twisted to serve the staus quo. Folks like Mother’s Milk, Hughie, Starlight, & maybe Ashley are needed to build better replacements to avoid disastrous power vacuums after institutional deconstruction.

The props department mocked up some merch featured in a real faux commercial. The limited edition My Lil’ Laser Baby is not for sale. NECA & Medicom are making real toys you can eventually buy. (There are a more Karl Urban action figures than I expected yet none of them from Xena.)

I ended up enjoying The Boys much more than expected. I knocked it off in four days because it’s that addictive & well paced. Characters that could’ve just been crude jokes are now crude jokes with pathos! Would I also like the source material if I gave it a chance? Was it just a victim of poor marketing? Or is this an example of an adaptation developing its inspiration’s concepts better? If it does get its college spinoff, will it be peddling the same surfeit it mocked? It’s ironic that a parody of superhero overexposure is a prime example of how the “genre” can compellingly address so many real world issues. Huzzah for cognitive dissonance!

6 thoughts on “Amazon’s The Boys Wanna Fight…

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