I feel like comic book universes have always been kind of the red-headed step-child of Science Fiction. Well, until The Boys happened. The mainstreaming of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC’s movies and all the current comic book TV shows has definitely made these kinds of stories much more common and widely accepted. More accepted, in some ways, than stuff that is often considered more “true” science fiction. At this point, I might even argue that the Marvel movies are easily more mainstream than Star Wars or Star Trek.
And with that mainstreaming comes parodies. Among others, Star Wars had Spaceballs, Star Trek has The Orville, and now comic book movies and shows have The Boys.
What is The Boys?
For those unindoctrinated, The Boys is a satirical—and somewhat more realistic—take on a world with superheroes. In the world of The Boys, most superheroes are in fact not very good. They’re almost all owned and controlled by the massive corporation Disne—I mean Vought, including their not-quite-Superman, Homelander.
Available on Amazon Prime Video, The Boys’ first season was pretty incredible. I mean, gory, gross, perverse and extraordinarily violent. Oh, and pretty damn awesome. Yeah, The Boys is definitely not a show to watch with anyone underage.
And that’s why I like it, honestly. Not because I have a fetish for the violence, but because it’s about as real as a superhero story can get. We live in a world rife with corporatism and greed. In most comics, that stuff is usually relegated to the villains. But in The Boys—as is often in the real world—corporations are not really seen as the villains by the general public. In fact, they’re pretty much seen as the saviors of the planet.
As you watch the show, it very quickly becomes clear that even though most people don’t see it, the corporatists are still very much the bad guys, utilizing new, unmatchable power to influence the public. See, Vought—the corporate masters of the superheroes in The Boys—basically uses their enhanced employees as private security forces contracted out to individual cities for protection. The premier group in this world are called the Aveng—No, wait… Sorry, they’re called The Seven.
But, of course, there’s no roses here. While The Seven may go around saving people, they’re far from heroes because they don’t do it because it’s right, they do it because they’re being paid to. They’re basically mercenaries. And asshole mercenaries at that.
Like, REALLY assholes. Not to give away any spoilers, but the first season rape, murder, cover-ups and more. And let me tell you, this show does NOT pull any punches.
Currently, The Boys is airing their second season. So far, the first three episodes have come out, and I will say the show has not lost its—well—anything. It’s still just as gross, perverse and violent. I won’t get into the plot and spoilers, but I will say that from the perspective of our heroes—the real heroes, not the supers—things have gone down hill very quickly. They’re on the run, hiding from people who could literally kill them with a blink of the eye.
The leader of The Boys, Billy Butcher, is still a right son of a bitch. I’m hesitant to call him a good guy, because he’s not good. In fact, he’s pretty much only in the whole thing because it’s very personal for him. And by Season 2, it’s far more personal than he’d even imagined.
As for our real main character, Hughie, things aren’t any better. He’s caught in the middle between the not-so-sudden revelation that Butcher is his own brand of selfish monster, and being hunted by Homelander’s crew.
I mean, how do you run and hide from someone who can hear everything and see through walls?
Sidenote… It’s funny because I recently read an article about the current Superman run in which the legendary Kryptonian and his family use their super hearing and super sight to literally spy on the entire city of Metropolis in search of criminals. We, as fans, trust them. Because they’re Superman (and Superboy, etc.). We know Superman is supposed to be pure and good.
But in the real world? Oh, HELLS NO! That’s a ridiculous invasion of privacy. That’s a serious line that should make anyone uncomfortable. Then again, there’s plenty in this show to make you feel uncomfortable. (I’ll just say, that scene in the Ohio hotel room with The Deep? That was some seriously weird, suuuuper uncomfortable shit.)
Anyway, The Boys is something of a train wreck. Not because of the writing or production of the show. No, all of that is top notch. Instead, it’s a train wreck because of the stuff that’s happening. People dying, making bad decisions, being creeps and assholes, joining cults… Almost no one is really a good person. Except maybe Starlight. And all of this is totally within the realm of reality, just with super powers thrown in.
So, I’ll be waiting with baited breath for each Friday as the new episodes come out. I’m eager to see how Hughie keeps from dying, how Butcher continues to try and hunt down and kill what amounts to gods, and—ultimately—how that psycho Homelander gets his comeuppance.
Oh, and P.S. The Boys is something of an apt metaphor for the United States in 2020…Gross, dangerous and full of stupid assholes.