Despite what I said in my review of Witcher’s first season being the last old review catch up, here is a late review of the first season of The Boys, though in this case it’s not an old review I’ve been sitting on, instead it’s a show I only just got round to watching. I just didn’t feel like it right away, and the worst thing to do with a series is watch it when you’re not in the mood. It’s a good thing too, as this series was a really fun watch, with some top-class dark humour and great characters. Let’s have a closer look!
In a world where the Superheroes at the top of the chain, called The Seven, who are ran by a large corporation known as Vought International, are generally corrupt and arrogant, a small group of regular humans led by Billy Butcher is planning to taking the Supes down. When Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend is accidentally turned to mush by the world’s top Speedster, he’s soon drawn into Billy’s increasingly madder and madder world…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Love at first sight… isn’t a good way of describing Billy and Hughie’s relationship.
The basic premise of a bunch of regular humans trying to take down what is essentially the Justice League is a very interesting one, and given that the League in question is a corrupt version full of arrogance and the want to be famous over all else, it makes it very easy to root for our protagonists. Now I was initially hesitant given I knew it used not only copious amounts of gore but also nudity and other, erm, sexual… things, but thankfully it’s all handled well thanks to the well written dark humour taking the edge off.
Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is our view to this crazy world after his girlfriend is accidentally ran through by the Seven’s Flash equivalent A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) tracks him down and asks him a few things, but one thing leads to another and soon the two capture Seven member Translucent (Alex Hassell), which then in turn leads to Butcher tracking down his old acquaintance Frenchie (Tomer Capon) to help “dispose” of him. Campbell is the perfect “in over his head” wimpy character, Frenchie is a great reluctant and sarcastic ally who loves the job, and Billy Butcher… well, what can you say? Karl Urban nails the Cockney London gangster perfectly, complete with possible over-use of a certain C-word. He’s the proper highlight of the show, in my opinion, and the show has a lot of highlights.
Hughie soon gets “welcomed” to the boys when he explodes Translucent via a bomb Frenchie had… put in him when the “hero’s” diamond-like skin ended up being a problem in the whole killing thing. The trio are soon joined by Marvin, a.k.a. MM (for “Mother’s Milk”) (played by Laz Alonso) the other old member who has a strong dislike for Frenchie and is caught between his addiction to the cause and his family at home, which is a good extra string to the bow. Frenchie also befriends a rabid female killer who has self-healing powers named Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) who had been experimented with a substance called “Compound-V” that turns out is what Vought International inject into babies to create their heroes. Kimiko starts off super-aggressive, but eventually mellows… a bit.
Homelander does his best not to look too smug for new girl Starlight. It doesn’t work.
This all leads to the main villains of the piece: “The Seven” and Vought International. The American hero / icon Homerlander (Antony Starr), who is this universe’s Superman (with a little bit of Captain America) is extremely cold and heartless, only caring about his own needs and throwing a strop when he doesn’t get his way, which when you have Superman-level powers, is a dangerous thing! He also has a rather unsettling son-mother relationship with Vought Vice-President Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) that gets awkward as hell… and then he burns her brains to mush with eye-lasers, so… Yeah. Starr is fantastic in the role, though.
He was once in a relationship with the Wonder Woman equivalent Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), who herself has issues, mostly stemming from being a genuine hero in her youth, but as she rose in fame she took the easy way out and ran with marketing and predicted crimes. There is a great moment with the two where they try and stop a plane high-jacking but Homelander accidentally lasers the controls along with the pilots, so Maeve tries to figure out ways to help the passengers while Homelander just wants to nonchalantly leave the plane and the people to their fate. He eventually convinces Maeve to pop off the plane with him as they view the plane go down, the image of the pleading passengers having a deep effect on her, and having no effect on him.
This brings us to our other lead character, Annie January, otherwise known as “Starlight” (Erin Moriarty). She grew up in a humble town and just wants to help people, so when she becomes the new member of The Seven and has to immediately deal with The Deep (Chace Crawford) telling her to … well, suck him off in order to keep her position, and generally find out that the major crimes The Seven appear in are often planned in advance, she’s heartbroken. She happens to run into Hughie and the two hit it off, which then leads to him having to struggle with being in a group that’s killing off The Seven while dating a member of the same group who seems to be genuinely nice. It’s another great storyline to see play out, especially as Billy is aggressive in his belief that all Supes are evil after, as it turns out, Homelander raped his wife just before she mysteriously disappeared. So… that’s another thing to mix up all these plothreads. They all play off each other extremely well though, so it’s easy to keep up with!
When “Whoops, my bad!” doesn’t cut it.
I’ll also mention The Deep again, as he goes on a downward spiral as we see he’s the butt of everyone’s jokes and his Aquaman-like powers are seen as only useful for sea-based crimes. When his actions with Starlight come out to the public (as well as an unfortunate dolphin-killing incident) he’s transferred to the back of nowhere and is treated even worse. It very nearly makes you feel sorry for him if he wasn’t so scummy.
There are plenty of other great scenes and plot threads across the eight episodes, but I feel I’d be here all day if I wrote them all out. A-Train is seeing a B-list superheroine and is addicted to Compound-V, all which ends with her death and his heart attack (though whether he dies from it is left in the air in the finale). Starlight eventually finds out the truth about Hughie (and is nearly killed by Homelander for it) but the two have also possibly found common ground in the same scene as the A-Train heart attack thanks to the truth about Compound-V getting out to the newest superhero. There was also a homosexual preacher with Mr. Fantastic stretchy powers… Man, for such a short season a lot happened!
The final scene has Homelander find out the Billy’s wife was pregnant due to his … actions, and gave birth to a boy. When Billy and him have a bit of a confrontation, it ends with the revelation that Billy’s wife is alive and well with Homelander’s son, who the corrupt hero meets for the first time. To be continued indeed… Looking forward to it!
Honestly can’t think of anything. Again for eight hours it fits in a lot of story, but it never feels overwhelming. You might not like the dark humour, gore or sexual content, I’d understand that, but you can’t really fault the show itself. At least I can’t, anyway!
Three of the titular Boys… and a load of extras, who may or may not be really important characters going forward! …. Okay, they’re just extras.
The Boys – Season 1 is a great, often disturbing dark comedy drama looking at a more unfortunately realistic set of superheroes, and those that are trying to knock them off their pedestal. Karl Urban is perfect as Billy the Butcher, and his nemesis Homerlander gives him a run for his money in the best character stakes. Top marks all round, basically!