Amazon Prime Video is getting into the superhero game and bringing The Boys comics to life. The series is about “a world where superheroes embrace the darker side of their massive celebrity and fame,” which sounds like if Captain America suddenly let that “America’s ass” title go to his head and started being a total diva. The Boys is based on a comic book of the same name, and yes, some of it is kinda rooted in a world where the Avengers suddenly become super full of themselves.
The Boys series was written by Garth Ennis and co-created, designed and illustrated by Darick Robertson and ran for 72 issues between 2006 and 2012. The series is actually set between the years 2006 and 2008 and kicks off with Billy Butcher learning that the president has decided to closely monitor superheroes, so he decides to reform his old black ops team, The Boys, to do it himself. All former members rejoin — including Mother's Milk, the Frenchman, and The Female of the Species — but OG member Mallory declines. This leads Butcher to instead recruit a guy named Hughie, whose girlfriend was killed by the superhero team The Seven (sounds like the Justice League or The Avengers? It should). From the looks of it, the Prime Video series will somewhat follow The Boys comic book plot.
But way back when, before it was an upcoming TV show, The Boys was just a comic series with a rocky trajectory. Shortly after it was released, the series was canceled. At the time, it was being published by WildStorm, which used to be an imprint of DC Comics. However, DC wasn’t too thrilled with the “anti-superhero” message of the series, and according to Ennis who told Publisher’s Weekly in 2007, “When you have comics that, even superficially, look a bit too much like the company’s regular output, and the characters in them are doing the most ghastly things and behaving in the most awful way, and blaspheming and swearing and so on, that creates a real problem... That, more than anything else, was what brought an end to The Boys time at DC.”
If you haven’t read the comics, you’ll quickly see on the show that The Boys is very violent and crude and its tone just didn’t align with that of the adventures of Superman. While DC was publishing the dark, violent series Preacher at the same time, the difference there was that “people do awful things to each other… but you can’t have a comic where super people do awful things to each other.”
Shortly after it was canceled, Dynamite Entertainment picked up the series and restarted publishing it, where it then ran until the end of the series. Looking back Ennis explained to Comic Book Resources that the best thing that could have happened to the comic was getting canceled, as “there's no doubt that we benefited from it... We'd have died [at DC]. The book would have been chipped and chipped away at until writing it was pure frustration.”
Now, bringing the new Prime Video series to life is Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen; the latter two also brought Preacher to the small screen on AMC. So clearly, these guys are familiar with adapting comic books that deal with lots of violence which makes them maybe the perfect team to bring The Boys to life on television.
"It started with wanting to take the piss out of the superhero genre a little bit, to turn it over on its head... As we went on, the more we realized it's the perfect show to describe the moment we're living in," Kripke explained during The Boys' recent San Diego Comic-Con panel. "The show is really about what happens when you use celebrity to manipulate people, and use your power to make the common guy play against his own self-interests."
In the comics, The Boys concluded its run on a somewhat happy note at issue #72 in 2012, but we'll have to wait and see just how closely the show follows its source material.