Wednesday, March 02, 2022

The Boys Presents: Diabolical, on Amazon Prime

In this spoof-world of superheroes, great power comes with no accountability. The “Supes” are so powerful, they commit outrageously violent crimes with impunity. However, “The Boys,” the underground vigilante group, tries their best to keep them in check, also with acts of graphic, bloody violence. After two seasons of the live-action show based on Garth Ennis’s comic books, fans get eight subversive Saturday morning-style cartoon misadventures in the animated anthology The Boys Presents: Diabolical, which premieres Friday on Amazon Prime.

“Laser Baby’s Day Out” is a loving homage to Chuck Jones that is exceptionally gory, but only mildly more violent than
Tom & Jerry. It follows a mischievous baby who has trouble controlling her laser eyes, induced by the Vought Corporation’s Compound V. As fans of the series know, Vought never knows what powers Compound V will produce, until they manifest themselves. Sometimes they bring out lame super-abilities, as those we see in the orphans out for revenge in “An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents.” That is definitely an honest title, but the funniest part of the 12-minutes mini-episodes is Christian Slater’s droll narration as “The Narrator,” which refers to his annoying super-power.

Billy Butcher only appears in one episode (voiced by Jason Isaacs rather than Karl Urban), but he causes plenty of carnage in “I’m Your Pusher.” Ruthlessly using the Supes’ hedonism against themselves, Butcher targets their drug dealer. Brace yourself for the blood and viscera. For fans of the series, this is probably the highlight, or the concluding “One Plus One Equals Two,” which follows Homelander on his first assignment. It is nice to see his handler, Madelyn Stillwell, again played by Elizabeth Shue (who didn’t survive season one). Perhaps most notably, it provides some explanation for why Homelander is always so deferential around Black Noir.

“Boyd in 3D,” written by Eliot and Ilana Glazer, sort of slyly breaks format as an O. Henry-esque story about two neighbors who become lovers after using a Compound V derivative, making themselves beautiful social media influencers as a result. However, it is pretty predictable. “Nubian vs. Nubian” has a similar
War of the Roses vibe, wherein a young girl tries to keep her divorcing Supe parents together (Nubia and Prince Nubian), by enlisting the aid of their Vought-employed nemesis, Groundhawk. We can guess the punchline, but John DiMaggio’s vocal performance as the super-villain is hilarious.

"BFFs” written and featuring Awkwafina is as cute as
The Boys gets, but in this case Compound V creates a whimsical creature in the tradition of South Park’s Mr. Hankey. Likewise, Steve Ahn’s “John and Sun-Hee” as stylish as The Boys gets. Evoking the look of high-end anime, it introduces Compound V to a story in the tradition of My Love, Don’t Cross that River. It also boasts an Oscar-winner, Youn Yuh-jung (for Minari) as a terminally ill cancer patient, given a dose by her desperate husband. Artistically (if we can use that term with The Boys), it is probably the best of the show.

Sort of like the
Simpsons couch gag, Butcher’s bulldog Terror does something different but unfailingly disgusting at the beginning of each episode, which is the kind of fan service followers of the series will appreciate. The look of the animation is pretty cool, mostly matching the level of Invincible. It is a bracing antidote to tentpole superhero overload. In fact, the bite-sized samples of Boys mayhem probably work better than the sometimes punishingly brutal live action seasons (of eight episodes, often running over an hour in length). (This comes from someone who stalled out on season two.) Recommended as some extremely adult (plenty of sex and drugs as well as violence) but manageable animation, The Boys Presents: Diabolical starts streaming Friday (3/4) on Amazon Prime.