The Boys – The Name of the Game review S1 E1
I’ve had enough readers asking my thoughts on it and with a free Amazon Prime trial, this seemed like the perfect time to review The Boys. The fact that the first season is only nine episodes helped pique my interest as well.
The Boys was one of those comic series that I always wanted to get into, but for whatever reason never read. I liked the creative team of writer Garth Ennis (The Punisher) and artist Darick Robinson (New Warriors) so I really should have checked it out.
At least that makes a lot of the reveals in the series premiere The Name of the Game all that much more surprising and effective.
After one episode I can definitely see why The Boys makes for such an easily bingeable series.
The basic premise of the series is that in a real world of marketing and hero worship maybe folks running around as heroes aren’t exactly great guys. Especially if their powers aren’t earned, but given.
Sure it’s a cynical take, but probably more realistic than we’d like to admit. Leading the effort is Vought International, a multi-billionaire conglomerate led by Madelyn Stillwell (Elizabeth Shue). One thing that quickly stood out was The Boys has a strong mix of quality veteran and on the rise stars.
Vought International has the clever tagline that they make heroes super and they’re the sponsor of The Seven, a very obvious homage/riff on the main heroes from The Avengers and Justice League.
In the sticky real world setting of The Seven, sometimes collateral damage gets a little sticky such as when speedster A-Train (Jesse T. Usher, Shaft) inadvertently runs through a random bystander. Her boyfriend, Hughie (Jack Quaid, Plus One), is horrified Vought hopes to pay him off to push it under the rug.
That’s the kind of scuzzy attitude you’d expect from a big corporation. Hughie wants to fight the machine, but he knows he’s not a fighter…or is he? In a not so random encounter, Hughie meets Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, Thor: Ragnarok), a shady seeming guy who wants his help to spank the suits when they get out of line. Urban has a lot of fun playing the rough Billy and he’s already exhibiting the charisma that makes him the ideal frontman for the anti-7 group.
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Billy shows Hughie the underbelly of the supers. Director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) creatively shows some of the depraved and not so PG-friendly ways super-powered individuals would use their powers of invisibility, stretching and size reduction. Trachtenberg does a great job given a TV budget while delivering on the promise of a series featuring supers. There’s some somewhat obvious shortcuts like the hazy CGI backdrops, but those are acceptable compromises considering the quality action sequences and super powered displays we do see in this initial episode.
The other main subplot involves Starlight (Erin Moriarty, Jessica Jones), a young woman who’s longed to make a difference and one day join The 7. Starlight quickly learns sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t exclude The 7 as she’s immediately propositioned by the lecherous “hero” The Deep (Chace Crawford). While Starlight finds the strength to stand up for herself, she’s learning she might be the only member of the team that truly wants to live up to the ideals of being a hero.
If there was a downside to the episode it was the too quick reveal that Superman/Captain America hybrid hero Homelander (Antony Starr) is just as crooked and evil as his teammates. Since Billy is even convinced Homelander is a decent hero that reveal would have been better served later in the season.
As an opening salvo, The Name of the Game proves more than entertaining enough to make running through the rest of the season a breeze.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Amazon