The Boys (2019)

A meta-cynical analysis of the CBM-totalitarianism over pop culture & heavy social themes + Justice League TV-Series set in a hyper-realistic world painting what ‘heroes’ would be like in real life far from our romanticized lens, TB’s a visceral, savage, hard-R masterpiece. 9.7/10

Plot Synopsis: Superheroes are often as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians, and sometimes even as revered as gods. But that’s when they’re using their powers for good. What happens when the heroes go rogue and start abusing their powers? When it’s the powerless against the super powerful, the Boys head out on a heroic quest to expose the truth about the Seven and Vought, the multibillion-dollar conglomerate that manages the superheroes and covers up their dirty secrets. Based on the characters of DC Comics.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

CLC’s Best #TheBoys Episodes: 1. The Name Of The Game, 2. The Female Of The Species, 3. The Self-Preservation Society, 4. Get Some, 5. You Found Me, 6. The Innocents 7. Good For The Soul, 8. Cherry

Official CLC Review – Season 1

The Perfect Anti-Comic Book TV Series

A World Where Every CBM Makes Billions, Studios Get Lazier, & Quality Suffers By Franchises; Cinema In Search Of Kryptonite

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

$100 Billion. That is the next milestone on the horizon for comic book media: one that is comparatively-ludicrous to even contemplate coming from the 10c Action Comics #1 that introduced Superman and started it all back in 1939 and is likely to be reached within the next 5-10 years. Mass-franchising, nine-figure budgets per blockbuster, wide-spread PG13 audience appeal, advanced CGI, nostalgia, and the intoxication-allure of hopeful escapism in the midst of a depressing real-world that surrounds us have only fueled the overgrowth – and it is, unequivocally, the pop culture phenomenon of this era. The films and TV series, though, have been steadily declining – akin to the same evils of franchises where box-office receipts and comfort become the negative reciprocal of quality and effort. Many, like me, now see cookie-cut boredom & fast food where we once saw our favorite caped crusading costumed champions reign – and it makes me sick to my stomach every time a new one gets announced seeing 5+ released per year. The perfect dosage of anti-superheroicism is here to counteract the symptoms of superhero sickness – and the antidote couldn’t have come at a better time; there is life yet to be found in this dead genre, and (bizarrely) it’s a newcomer to the streaming wars and biggest global retail corporation that brings it to us! A meta-analysis of the CBM-totalitarianism over pop culture & heavy social themes plus a Justice League TV-Series set in a hyper-realistic world painting what ‘heroes’ would be like in real life (far from the romanticized lens we expect of their powers), The Boys is a visceral, savage, genre-diverse hard-R masterpiece dosage of anti-comic book cynicism.

A Hyper-Realistic Vision Of Superheroes

The Most Diverse Project Of Its Genre – A Genre-Blending Masterpiece Of Heavy Social Theme Exposition By Comedy/CBM’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

The Boys might be the best comic book TV series ever made. The project is one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen come out of the genre, wildly succeeding in each of the multitude of categories it impossibly-blends into a seamless mercilessly-bingeable mixture; it’s like The Office of CBM’s. If you want hard-R comedy whizzing savage one-liners that make Deadpool comparatively look tame, here you go. If you want blood-splattered ultra-violence straight out of a Tarantino movie painted by top-notch VFX out of a big box-office blockbuster, it has that too. Romance in boy-meets-girl love-story, complex (magnificently-acted) character study, power dynamic-horror, plucky classic-Kansas/John Wayne americana-superheroicism, & anti-capitalism/narcotics crime drama are but only a few of the other modes The Boys takes on – and the finesse required to blend them all into a cocktail smooth and clockwork as it is to watch is pure television wizardry. That’s nothing compared to the thematization of heavy social issues the series ambitiously waxes on through the brilliant lens of our favorite pop culture phenomenon: superheroes. Through this comfortable eyepiece of spandexed crimefighters powing bad guys and flying throughout the sky, the show weaves a rich meta-cynical analysis of the world around us – and how broken our civilization is.. by shockingly painting our modern mythology in a hyper-realistic world wherein they’re just as corrupt and morally-bankrupt as we are. The machine of capitalism is the show’s biggest theme – showcasing by hyper-realism how comprehensively corporations and shareholder conglomerates would stick their claws into superheroes in real-life: theme-parks, movie-contracts, big egos, billions of dollars, and superstardom that would no doubt be prevalent if superheroes were real.

The Action & Breathtaking VFX

A Jaw-Dropping CGI Package & The Best TV Action Of Late-2010’s – Thanks To Clever Cinematography & Deep Pockets Of Bezos

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

A concept lightly-touched on in most other genre-entries, the series builds an elaborate and brilliant world by mixing the idealization of comic book heroes we dream and the reality of movie studios and everything awful about corporatized big business into the scariest product possible. That’s before the series goes further – ripping out our souls by painting our beloved heroes worshipped as gods and benevolent idols.. as more evil and depraved as the rest of us. The fairy tale fantasy of a being as strong/unstoppable as Superman being a goody two-shoes farm boy from Kansas who never once exploits his powers might be good as escapist content (he was created as a boy’s dream-intervention to stop the armed robbers who killed his father and superheroes are majorly popular today, we would argue, because of how broken & dark the world is right now), but not very realistic. The Boys rebukes all the pretense and children’s tales and paints superheroes how they would be: a totalitarian/authoritarian hierarchy wherein they corruptly abuse their powers for fame, $$$, sex, drugs, and a whirlwind of all of the above – and it’s easily the most refreshing subversion of CBM’s. The pure comedy and fun it has with the horror/childhood-ruined-concept: underground casinos where supes can let free of the public image and get into some ‘diabolical sh*t,’ pre-solved crimes scripted for maximum social media engagement, performance enhancing drugs trafficked to create new supes, murder, politicization of plane tragedies for bill gain, and creation of terrorism by juicing up jihadis are jaw-droppingly savage – made even more ultimately-shocking by the fact that we see them through a lens of a plucky farm-girl who actually does want to be a classic superhero and save the world: Starlight.

The Weighty Social Theme Injection

From #MeToo To Racism To Police Brutality To Capitalism To Christianity To Drug Abuse To LGBTQ+ Rights To Gun Control

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

Other heavy social themes explored through the brilliant and wildly-ambitious series are Harvey Weinstein’s terrorizations, #MeToo movement, child-star fame, police brutality and racism, #BlackLivesMatter, the hateful and outdated side of Christianity in modern contexts, religious/atheistic exposition, LGBTQ+ rights, privatization of war, opioid/drug abuse, human trafficking, patriarchy, misogyny/objectification, and gun control. My goodness, any show in general that tackled and conquered so many relevant and dramatic modern themes plaguing our civilizations in today’s world deserves an Emmy – but for a comic book TV series to do so when no one expects superhero products to be anything more than dumb/cheesy escapist hopism blockbuster exploitation is downright breathtakingly-impressive. The show might be one of the most thematically-diverse and heaviest of any in the past few years – something I never thought I’d say given how almost nothing else in its genre tries any of this (besides a couple of more intellectualized DC films like Joker, The Dark Knight, Watchmen, etc.). Make no mistake though: The Boys is far from just an avant-garde intellectual exercise it doesn’t even feel like it is unless you stop & analyze: it sugarcoats them in a package of striking VFX action, soundtrack flair, and hard-R comedy so drenchable, it’s probably the biggest entertainment value I’ve witnessed such a pedigree of weighty themes. The latter will be addressed later, but I want to give singular respect to the VFX & cinematography. The Boys is beautiful visually – from its opening bank-heist truck-smash slow-mo scene, you can feel that Amazon put their [limitless] money where their mouth is and funneled a massive budget you can only dream about seeing on TV never given the financial resources of their blockbuster counterparts. All of the action and wildly-ambitious action scenes from slicing lasers through planes to super-speed race-of-the-century to invisible fist-fights to gut/blood-splatters of running through a girl are breathtakingly-rendered with some of the best CGI available on the small-screen to add visual spectacle to the canvas – as it introduces the stars of the show: The Seven.

The Seven – The Not-So-Justice League

A Brilliant Direct-Subversion & Satirization Of DC’s ‘Big 7’ Twising Each For Maximum Entertainment & Comedy/Horror Value

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

The Seven are clearly a direct satirization of DC’s ‘Big 7’: The Justice League. Homelander is Superman down to the blue texturized suit, red laser vision, clean-cut flying eagle-thematized Americana, and flag cape. Queen Maeve is Wonder Woman down to the Greek Mythological design touches, dark red armor, tiara, high boots, and pantheonic super-strength able to smash trucks with her bare hands. Black Noir is Batman being the badass black-suited vigilante who broods wordless, throws batarang-shaped projectiles, and brutalizes through combat anyone foolish enough to get in his way. A-Train is The Flash down to the super-speed and ‘Fastest Man Alive’ byline and race/athlete aesthetic directly lifted from the comics (the show also makes use of the CW’s Patty actress and synthetic superpower compound from S2’s Zoom), The Deep is Aquaman down to the fish jokes, green-and-orange suit, and litany of aqua-conversations, Lamplighter is Green Lantern utilizing a mystical object in a green suit as superpowers. Translucent is the one non-obvious one: comics veterans will recognize he is roughly-based on Martian Manhunter since MM can become anything by shapeshifting or becoming invisible, but the difference seems more a ploy to avoid copyright infringement since the others are so unequivocally based on DC’s Justice League – a fact even more proven by the fact that the comics-writers worked at Wildstorm, a division of DC Comics. Oh, and their white marble roman-columned base deploying satellites and having sit-down table meetings is the Hall Of Justice if I’ve ever seen it. The other heroes featured are mostly-DC too: Starlight is Supergirl down to the plucky blonde hopeful girl-next-door, Ezekial is Plasticman being able to stretch/contort fantastically, & The Atom featured by super-small stature; There are some Marvel ones featured too for good measure in Doppelganger being Mystique-like, Popclaw being a claw-retractable Wolverine, and Nubian Prince being clearly-based on Black Panther. Each hero is brought to life by magnificent performances owning their character-spin for a career-making cast of strong actors/actresses – but they all bow just as their heroes do hierarchically to Anthony Starr’s Homelander.

The Anti/Protagonists & Performances

A Canvas Of Complex, Multi-Dimensional Characters Brought To Life By Lifetime Performances Led By A.S.’ Epic Homelander

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

The performances and characterization are what elevates the show into altitude rarely-traversed in CBM’s. The complex human characters are just as compelling, multi-dimensional, and richly-scripted as the [not-so]-superheroes: Karl Urban’s tough grit as hilarious (Deathstroke-reminiscent) politically-incorrect Australian supe-hunter Billy Butcher, Jack Quaid’s teddy-bear charm twisted into a dark/bloody journey trying to get justice ironically against the people supposed to be supplying it Hugh, Karen Fukuhara’s forced-terrorist with a good side Kimiko, Frenchie, Mesmer, Mother’s Milk, Ann Cusack’s frigid stage-mother living through her child’s pageantry, Esposito’s strong police captain Raynor, and Elizabeth Shue’s smug corporatized businesswoman Madelyn Stillwell. The antiheroes are mythically-acted as well: J. Usher’s performance-enhanced drug-clinging athlete A-Train, Crawford’s constantly-bullied fake-environmentalist Deep taking out his insecurities on women, Nathan Mitchell’s perfectly-brooding Black Noir somehow getting the character’s nuances & badassness without even saying a single word all-season, Shaun Benson’s hypocritical ‘pray-the-gay-away’ Ezekial while he himself is one, Alex Hassell’s pretentious and pervy-yet-lonely Translucent, Dominque McElligott’s strong morality-torn Queen Maeve packing every bit of feminine firepower that could’ve been a fantastic Wonder Woman as well, Erin Moriarty’s career-making role as wide-eyed Iowa girl-next-door Stargirl whose big dreams to save the world are decimated by reality and thrown to the wolves/fire for a masterclass of character development the entire season cruxes around, and: Anthony Starr’s Homelander. The TV villain-of-the-century and most fascinating and deliciously-evil one I’ve seen since Mads Mikkelsen’s Dr. Hannibal Lecter on the batsh*t-crazy opposite wavelength, Starr’s Homelander packs some of the best duality-acting I’ve ever seen in my life. Playing with kids on the playground or tossing a baseball one scene with a clean-cut John Wayne Americana masculine charm enough to melt the hearts of girls and ranchers across the Midwest then laser-slicing planes with congressman and their children or bragging about juicing jihadis up on superhuman drugs so that they enact carnage on millions of people and only The Seven can stop them, he is Superman-on-acid and balances the ’78 Reeve charm with the horrors of Gunn’s groundbreaking 2019 Brightburn with surgical precision.

Flaws

A Weak Ep. 2, Few Minor Gripes, & The Distraction Of Starlight’s [Omnipotent] Social Justice Cues From A True Self-Arc

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

A god-complexed, neglected, motherless, power-hungry, biolent misfit whose freudianism and visceral need to be in-control of his narrative cements Starr’s Homelander as the TV superhero/villain on top of the leaderboard – a fitting alpha squadron leader for this band of antiheroes/villains to flex. Flaws in The Boys S1 largely-center on Starlight. Maybe they should’ve called her Social-Justice-Girl; every line she even says through the entire first 2/3 of the season is a checkpoint off a political agenda. Now, the difference between these and most of the others (you know how we feel at CLC about forced performative-activism/virtue-signals in cinema where they do not fit, or shelter hateful narratives against any group) is that the whole existential point of the show is to paint the terrors of our real-life society through the lens of how superheroes would be in the real-world. Thus, it makes sense that something as depraved/twisted as Harvey Weinstein allegation-references or corporate corruption-exposition would be on-screen: the show means to shine a mirror on us by hyper-realizing how superheroes would reflect our evils in modern contexts. While it’s completely-understandable thematically and nicely-scripted on ~all of its points tightroping nicely not to offend or vex very often, the sheer frequency of its shotgunned presence almost every other scene is one of the few (if only) detractors from an otherwise-legendary S1 – along with a couple of minor gripes like A-Train’s suit not being red for a color-pop and more accurate Flash-satire, more Martian Manhunter-parallels for Translucent to finalize The Seven’s JL connection, and more superhero-v-superhero showdowns [although there’s plenty of time for that in what will easily go 6+ seasons if the breakout viral success and universal great reviews are any indications].

The Savage, Hard-R Meta-Comedy

One Of The Funniest TV Series I’ve Ever Seen: Genitalia, Gore-Splatters, One-Liners, Meta-Deconstruction, & Competition-Jabs

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

Now, before we wrap up the review: we MUST give special celebration of the comedy. The Boys might be the funniest TV series and comic book projects ever released. Genitalia galore, shrink-heroes jumping miniaturized into panty regions, the inherent lameness of Simon Garfunkel-fanboy/chai latte-jerkoffing/pizza roll-hating Hughie, foot fetishes, The Deep’s fish conversations and therapist meetings of decades of being laughed at as ‘just the fish guy, baby supes (highlight of S1, YES! The definitive baby sidekick; Baby Yoda who?!), and Butcher’s constant one-hit wonder irreverent lines given by godly comedic screenwriting evoke more laughs than I can remember in any modern film or TV show – or CBM’s like Deadpool and Shazam. The show takes jabs at all its competition like The CW, MCU, DCEU, & Snyderverse – while also meta-deconstructing the comic book movie concept as well with hilarious setups like Queen Maeve’s brooding in the rain while hair-flowing-in-wind and The Deep/Starlight’s set-up drug-bust by the docks only to show from behind-the-scenes how awkward and staged both are to create. The soundtrack is also worth consideration on its own packing all the youthful energization of Sex Pistols-era punk rock and grunge that fits the grime overtone of the series well – juxtaposed by a slew of diverse soundscapes from french boom-bap to soft orchestral sequences to k-pop to r&b to match whatever its context is gracefully.

Conclusion

The Best Comic Book TV Series Ever

The Perfect Dosage Of Anti-Superheroicism To Antidote CBM-Sickness; A Wildly-Entertaining, Genre-Diverse, Complex Eschewal Of Pop Culture’s Biggest Obsession

Photograph Courtesy Of: Amazon Originals

Overall, The Boys might be the best comic book TV series ever made. The project is one of the most diverse of its genre, wildly succeeding in each of the multitude of categories it blends into an impossibly seamless smooth and emphatically-bingeable mixture – hard-R comedy whizzing one-liners that make Deadpool look comparatively-tame, blood-splattered ultra-violence straight out of a Tarantino movie painted by top-notch blockbuster VFX on an Amazon budget, romance in boy-meets-girl love-story, complex (magnificently-acted) character studies, power dynamic-horror, plucky classic-Kansas/John Wayne Americana-superheroicism, & anti-capitalism/narcotics crime drama. The series goes beyond the magnificence of comedy, action, and antiheroicism it could’ve absolutely succeeded just from to tackle heavy social themes that elevate it into a new level of intellectualized cinema one could not expect from its premise or dichotomization of tones. Through the comfortable lens of our idolized crimefighters, the show weaves a rich meta-cynical analysis of the corrupt real world around us: the machine of capitalism, Harvey Weinstein’s terrorizations, #MeToo movement, child-star fame, police brutality and racism, #BlackLivesMatter, the hateful and outdated side of Christianity in modern contexts, religious/atheistic exposition, LGBTQ+ rights, privatization of war, opioid/drug abuse, human trafficking, patriarchy, misogyny/objectification, and gun control are all on the docket it paints (though over-frequently as one of its only [minor] gripes) with exceptional poise and execution. The performances are magnificent led by Starr’s villain-of-the-century Homelander and The Seven a direct satirization of DC’s ‘Big 7’ Justice League in all the best and most sadistic/twisted ways. The Boys comes at the perfect time: the antidote to comic book media-sickness from overpopulation and laziness of studio construction to highlight our flaws through the era’s biggest franchise phenomenon it eschews and brings to reality: superheroes. A meta-analysis of the CBM-totalitarianism over pop culture & heavy social themes plus a Justice League TV-Series set in a hyper-realistic world painting what ‘heroes’ would be like in real life (far from the romanticized lens we expect of their powers), The Boys is a visceral, savage, genre-diverse hard-R masterpiece dosage of anti-comic book cynicism.

Official CLC Season 1 Score: 9.6/10