The Boys Vs. The Boys: A Double-headed Review

THE BOYS (Season 1) 2019 ★★★ (3/5)

THE BOYS (Comic Book Series) ★★★★ (4/5)

The holidays were exactly what God intended: a menopause in work that allows for the introspection that always – in me, at least – leads to a trebling of self-loathing. I managed to quell that to an extent by reading and watching far too much media. And when immersing oneself in the black-and-white of what’s right/wrong with oneself, one – this one at least – finds themselves inevitably drawn to superheroes.

But gone are the halcyon days of only evil or good with a Trumpian-thick wall of ethical proportions dividing them. Age brings grey, not just of hair, but also that blurring of right and wrong.  Let’s get meta, baby!

The universe of “The Boys” no doubt stands firmly on the bricks and rebar of the “Watchmen” and even further back, the meta-sniping initiated by Marvel’s “Squadron Supreme”. (Full disclosure, I’m a baptized Marvelite and, in my youth, never soiled my four-colour-seeking eyes with the likes of DC.)

I’m finding that I’m a sucker for these type of comics: the ones that take DC’s superhero stereotypes – the ultra-powerful superbeing, the tragically-motivated billionaire detective, the cast-out divinity, etc. – and examine them through the lens of humanity. Astro-city, Jupiter’s Legacy, and the seminal Watchmen among them.

So why did I rate the comic a full star over the web/TV version’s first season?

Because I liked it better! Sheesh.

Though both look at what happens when humans gain powers, the comic went darker, more brutal, more super-heroically depraved. The comic-version of Homelander’s twisted back-story is horrifically memorable, which is increasingly difficult to do in this diluvian age of content.

The web/TV series goes the opposite track: making the “supes” into evil dicks because of their upbringing: they want you to feel for them as you do for the protagonist. Jeeze, bring back the black and white! Or at least darken some of the greys, please. Let me hate them, then in future seasons show their motivations and make me hate myself for not understanding. I want that journey!

Maybe comics and books will always be better than movies. They have a smaller audience and will lose less money if they piss people off with the huge chances they take? Or maybe it’s because they don’t pepper us with 24 or more frames per second, allowing our brains to fill in the gaps between the panels with our own Lovecraftian-imaginated tentacles; we meld with them, make them us.

And with the addition of an adventure completed, or new images memorized, or differing perspectives digested, we don’t feel so bad about ourselves. We make it through our momentary, diurnal holidays. Those moments that make black Friday scuffles and Thanksgiving family spats a relief in contrast to the pinprick hells, that, like emotional aneurysms, boil forth in our times of “rest”.