REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1 - 3) | WHERE TO WATCH: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Amazon Prime seem intent on adapting the bulk of Garth Ennis’ back-catalogue of gross-out comic books. The TV version of Preacher is arguably better than the source material, so we were rather excited to see what they did with The Boys.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, The Boys is set in a world where superheroes are real. They have been embraced and monetised by corporate America. The combination of privilege and super powers means those with powers can get away with anything. Enter The Boys, a band of humans looking to swing the balance of power back to mankind.
The series opens in the usually gory manner that we’ve come to expect from an Ennis story. However, the adaptation turns the cartoonish and rather silly approach of the comics into engaging yet bleak comedy. The Boys has been transformed into an action-thriller with dark comic overtones, keeping the core sense and storyline of the comics without descending into exposition and nonsense.The Boys TV show features a strong cast, with Karl Urban in the lead role as Billy Butcher. Urban pulls off the cocksure swagger perfectly, all the while maintaining a sense of menace. Antony Starr turns in a great performance in the swivel-eyed craziness of the super powerful Homelander and Tomer Kapon is appropriately acerbic as the spec-ops lunatic that is Frenchie.
Overall, it’s clear that the direction and acting are top notch. The pacing is steady, darker moments punctuated with even darker comedy. If you’ve seen Preacher, you know the score - swearing, blood and the witty one-liner. Of the episodes we saw, there’s no single standout ‘wacky’ character, though we expect most of the amusing foul-ups will end up in the capable hands of actor Jack Quaid, who plays Hughie (fans of the comic books will remember that Hughie looks a lot like a young Simon Pegg - in the show, Pegg plays Hughie's dad, and it’s a rather lovely bit of attention to detail).
Those looking for meta-commentary on the nature of superheroes, corporate media and the balance of power may be disappointed here. The Boys simply builds on the idea of ‘super powered people in the real world’ and adds a unique style and voice to that idea. A deeper message may be somewhere under the blood, but that’s not really the point. This is a journey into comics books' darker heart with a smirk and a bottle a whiskey, and as such is rather good.