There are times when I hear something is going to be adapted for television that I think will fail because it will never go as far as the source material. Even something as successful as “Game of Thrones” I had concerns because I expected them to not be as brutal as the novels. It was unfounded as the television team stayed true to that aspect faithfully. As I thought of this for getting ready to write this column, I realized in the days of streaming a series can go where it couldn’t if it was being broadcast. It has opened new chances for more extreme visions to find audiences. The one which was my most recent unnecessary worry was “The Boys”.
The comic inspiration ran from 2006-2012 written by Garth Ennis. It was a hysterical premise of what if superheroes were a commodity overseen by a corporation. In the books we meet that corporation Vought. They fund the superheroes in the world and use them to create content. They also send them out on exclusive contracts to be a specific city’s protector. The apex team is called “The Seven” which is run by a hero called Homelander who wears a red, white and blue costume with a star-spangled cape. He is not Captain America. Which is the anarchic fun of the premise. The heroes are marketed to the world, but they live and act way different than their public personas. The comic was packed full of biting social commentary about commercialism and hero worship.
The book follows the titular group as the counterbalance to this. They spend their time trying to expose the hypocrisy and rot underneath the shiny happy façade. As a reader we root for their success.
Now when I heard it was going to be a series on Amazon Prime I thought they will streamline this to its most basic story leaving out the insane things which happen in the margins. It turns out show creator and writer Eric Kripke not only want to include those margins he wanted to write in them too.
The series has been as gloriously unhinged as the comic. Mr. Kripke has shifted some story elements around not because of necessity or making it more accessible. It seems he just want to tell a slightly different story with the same sensibility. Which makes it fun for me as a watcher because the differences are enough that I am never 100% sure where the story is heading even though I generally have a hint or two.
Both comic and tv series are well worth spending some time with.