Loads of TV shows saw postponements due to the pandemic, and with Amazon’s The Boys, the wait for Season 3 has been longer than the gap between the first two seasons, but surely not too bad, right? Hmm, October 2020 still feels like about a century ago, even though that’s not even close approaching Atlanta territory (that wait between seasons will be four years, after all), but still, the masses want more wickedly fun and enormously depraved goodness from this superhero-skewering show.
The good news is that The Boys live-action series will return for Season 3 on June 3. There’s a half-handful of months left to go until we see Antony Starr as Homelander losing his sh*t behind a terrifying smile again, and Amazon knows that this show’s a juggernaut, so they put some spinoffs in motion, including this animated offering, The Boys Presents: Diabolical, that’s partially meant to tide over impatient fans (some of whom have arguably been too impatient). Amazon’s making a name for itself with R-rated animation, too, so this is a win-win scenario even if Diabolical didn’t face this difficult dilemma:
Can a franchise that, in live action, manages to consistently stun — by exploding a room full of heads (during a congressional hearing, no less) and featuring some of the most shocking sex scenes put to screen — possibly be more outrageous in animated form?
Admittedly, I felt skeptical while approaching this one. I had prepared myself to be underwhelmed because it didn’t seem possible for animation to double down on a show that basically already behaves as though it’s an animated show, in terms of outrageous stunts. Fortunately, the answer is “absolutely, hell yes,” and Diabolical is every bit as satisfying (and disgusting) as fans could have hoped it would be.
You can thank-blame a host of depraved minds, including Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who can’t seem to miss as producing partners), Eric Kripke (showrunner of the O.G. series), Justin Roiland (there’s some heavy Rick and Morty flavor), Garth Ennis (who penned the prescient comic book series long before deconstructing superheroes was cool), plus stories from Andy Samberg, Awkwafina, Ilana Glazer, and more. The voice talent here is ridiculous(ly good) as well, including Simon Pegg (as Hughie, which is circular as hell and great), along with Don Cheadle, Kieran Culkin, Kevin Smith, Jason Isaacs, Kumail Nanjiani, Kenan Thompson, Ben Schwartz, and too many more. Several live-action stars pitch in with their same characters here, including Antony Starr, Karl Urban, Chace Crawford, Elisabeth Shue, and Giancarlo Esposito. It’s a high-octane buffet of nerd fuel, all for a show that’s essentially an appetizer.
The stories, as well, deliver more disturbing adventures and insight into characters that fans both love and loathe. A lot of the episodes are standalone stories, but they still inform us on how Compound V affects the world at large, in random ways. Like how superheroes get divorced, or what happens when one of those Billy Butcher-wielded laser babies ends up in the wild. We do, of course, receive a hefty dose of Homelander and learn about his terrible early days (which shine some light on that infamous airplane scene) as a Vought International asset. That, presumably, is one of the canon entries that Eric Kripke talked about, which could factor into what happens in Season 3. And we receive a cameo from The Deep, in an episode that’s even more twisted than his live-action talking-gills and tan-lines scenes would suggest.
The very good news (for the punchier types out there) is that the entire Diabolical season feels like lining up at the bar and doing shots with instant gratification. All eight episodes are lean and mean. They’ll all release simultaneously, so the anger-review bombers can settle the hell down and start binging before hardly any time at all. And it works because the storytelling style is suited to binging (unlike the O.G. series, which is well-suited to the weekly format). As well, the show’s array of animation styles (from Looney Tunes-grade stuff to a more sophisticated anime look and everything in between) is almost dizzying, and Diabolical turns out to be a wonderful little gift for people who love messed-up Supe stories.
There’s a danger, of course, with an anthologized approach to episodes because quality tends to wax and wane with obligatory weak links in the mix. That doesn’t happen here. It’s all nutso and wild, but of course, some episodes will appeal more than others to any given viewer. I, personally, found unprepared for this outcome: some of these stories are surprisingly endearing and even sweet. My favorite story, in fact, is one penned by Awkwafina and it’s just gross and awful and, somehow, ends up being a very heartfelt story involving a piece of Compound V-induced poop. I’m both ashamed and delighted to admit this. (Oh shush. It’s a nice story!) Man, this is one twisted franchise, and Diabolical respectably stacks up to its live-action counterpart.
Amazon Prime’s ‘The Boys Presents: Diabolical’ premieres on March 4, and ‘The Boys’ returns on June 3.