This review is spoiler-free.
Adapted from the comics written by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys breathes some fresh air into the superhero market by giving us a show about a highly-skilled but flawed and dysfunctional team of superheroes called The Seven. It really brings the genre into the real world, giving you a realistic look at what it would be like to live in a world where people among us have special abilities.
‘The Boys’ are a group of vigilantes who are brought together to put an end to The Seven’s reign of destruction. The story kicks off with Hughie (Jack Quaid) who suffers an unfortunate event due to one of our ‘supes’ – A-Train. He’s drawn into a fight for revenge by Billy (Karl Urban). Billy is the complete opposite to the calm, charming Hughie. He’s bold and brash and makes great use of some obscene language. As the season unravels we learn more and more about Billy and the reasons behind his hatred of the supes. He also makes fantastic use of a Spice Girls analogy which really made me chuckle. Completing the group are Frenchie (Tomer Capon) who was a stand out character for me. His devilish personality is portrayed in equal measure to his sensitivity as we see him put himself in constant danger to protect mysterious supe, The Female (Karen Fukuhara). Lastly, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) brings the muscle to the group. His interactions with his wife over the phone break some very tense moments with fantastic comedy.
The Seven consists of seven (obviously) superheroes – a team resembling The Justice League. I liked that there’s no real origin story for them, we’re just thrown straight into the action of an already fully functioning group of crime fighters. However, this does mean we get to know some of them much better than others. They are led by a cooperation called Vought and the whole superhero thing is truly portrayed as a money-making business full of scripts, fake personas and manipulated situations. Homelander (Antony Starr) assumes the role as leader and his character is so complex. With abilities not too different from Superman, he’s adored by the public but deeply feared by the people around him. None more so that Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) who is one of the big powers at Vought and shares a very, very odd relationship with him. Having loved Antony Starr in Banshee, I was excited to see him in this and he really doesn’t disappoint. He plays the role fantastically.
Making up the rest of the team are A-Train (Jessie T Archer), a speedster who falls under the pressure of keeping up appearances. He truly conveys the need to constantly be at the top of his game, no matter what the costs are. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) is easily comparable to Wonder Woman. She battles between doing the right thing and being dragged along with the farce of being part of the team. Translucent (Alex Hassell) can manipulate sunlight to become invisible. There’s a fight scene between him and Billy early on, which plays out fantastically.
Starlight (Erin Moriarty) is the newest member of The Seven and strikes up a relationship with Hughie, unaware of what he’s up to behind closed doors. The excitement of joining the A list of superheroes quickly changes as she’s put in a very awkward situation with The Deep (Chase Crawford). The Deep undoubtedly steals the show. He starts off as a complete chauvinist who feels entitled to anything he wants due to his status. He becomes more and more sidelined by the team and although he wants to actually do good in the world by protecting all sea life, he’s just not taken seriously. Look out for the scene with the dolphin – totally the best moment of the entire season!!! You end up empathising with him as things just go from bad to worse for him. Lastly, we have Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) who unfortunately we just don’t see enough of. What we do see is great – he’s definitely got some mad skills with a knife or two, but I hope that he’s shown off more in Season 2.
The pacing works really well throughout each episode, which mostly gives good time for character development. It’s important that viewers are able to invest in the characters and on the whole, that happens with The Boys. The narrative running throughout is strong. There are twists and turns which keep you excited whilst allowing you to understand certain character’s motives much better. There was no big bad supervillain, although at times the heroes themselves filled that role. I’m fully expecting to see this happen in Season 2 though following events in the final episode.
The Boys really fills a gap in the superhero market. It’s made for adults. It’s full of brutality and dark humour but manages to convey some very heartfelt, emotional moments too. It boasts a fabulous cast and with the cliffhanger at the end, you’ll be desperate to see what happens next.