Prime Video’s The Boys Presents: Diabolical is an eight-episode animation anthology spin-off series from the creators behind The Boys. Set in the same universe as the problematic superheroes, it reveals the untold stories of Homelander (Anthony Starr) and Butcher (Jason Isaacs). The series is written and produced by Adam Samberg, Aisha Tyler, Awkwafina, Garth Ennis, Eliot Glazer and Ilana Glazer, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, Simon Racioppa and Justin Roiland and Ben Bayouth.
The second season of The Boys was released in October 2020, and while the fans wait for season three in June, the animated anthology series offers something new. A set of stories that are outside the realm of the usual superhero/villains from the monstrous Vought Corporation. Each episode has a different animation style that has its distinct meaning and design. From classic American style animations to Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland’s aesthetic. The Boys Presents: Diabolical ventures into unchartered territories of unpredictability, harsh violence, satire, and social commentary.
“Laser Baby’s Day Out” is inspired by Looney Tunes’ animation style. It centres around a Vought scientist, who smuggles a baby out of the facility instead of being exterminated. The baby, who shoots lasers when she sneezes, vaporises groups of people, but cannot do it on command. When the scientist escapes with the baby, an army of heavily armed Vought employees hunts them down before things get out of hand. This episode is warm and nostalgic for several reasons taking a nod at Patrick Read Johnson’s Baby’s Day Out. Being set in the universe of The Boys, there are still casualties and violent deaths at the hands of a baby.
The bloodiness of the animated series is ramped up in “An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents.” A group of supes in a foster home seek revenge on the parents that abandoned them. The episode is written by Roiland and Ben Bayouth and features an appearance by Homelander (voiced by Starr). When supes like Human Tongue, The Narrator and Ranch Dressing Cum Squirter, who all have hilariously absurd and terrible superpowers.
When they discover that they were injected with Compound V as a baby, the supes set out to kill their parents. The Boys highlights how parents paid money to Vought to use their babies as subjects. Starlight (Erin Moriarty) happens to be one of them. When Starlight finds out the truth about her powers, they are not born with it, rather manufactured inside a facility. This episode takes the same route but shows how when these supes were babies, they didn’t have bodily autonomy.
“Boyd in 3D” is written by Eliot Glazer and Ilana Glazer, a romantic comedy about a shy nobody named Boyd, who agrees to be the test subject for Vought’s new serum. It allows the subject to change their appearance to however they like but since it’s in the trial stage, the scientists inform Boyd to not use the serum all the time. After applying the serum and changing his looks, he feels confident and introduces himself to his long crush who lives next door.
Soon, they begin a relationship. When the girl discovers the serum, she changes her appearance to look more like a cat. When their relationship becomes public, they begin to drift apart and shortly after, their dependency on the serum makes them destroy themselves in the process. It’s a bit of lighthearted comedy and sets itself apart from the rest of the episodes in the anthology series.
The most memorable episode is “One Plus One Equals Two”. A Homelander origin story that a lot of the fans of The Boys will enjoy. Elizabeth Shue returns as Madelyn Stillwell, as she introduces Homelander to the world. There is a lot of pressure and expectations from him to be the best of the supes Vought has created. The audience can see it on his face. Homelander isn’t a villain in this story. It shows when and how he began interacting with Black Noir and how he was lead down the villainous path.
We’re still a few months away from The Boys season three. But fans of the hit series will be excited to watch the anthology series. Some episodes are much stronger, especially “John and Sun-Hee” written by Andy Samberg. The episode tells the story of an old man who tries to save his wife by stealing Compound V. The episode isn’t played for laughs; rather, a heartfelt portrayal of grief and long-lasting grief, inspired by Korean animation. The Boys Presents: Diabolical is a gross reminder of how corrupted and messed up supes are. Where there is an animation medium, there is always room for creativity.
For more from Nuha check out her review of Juvenile Justice here!
Nuha Hassan is a film and TV writer and reviewer, based in the Maldives. She is a Staff Writer at Film Cred, Off Colour, and Flip Screen. Apart from writing about film, she is a Video Editor at Dead Central. She studied Master of Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for film started with David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Her favourite comfort film is When Harry Met Sally.