Never did I imagine when growing up reading The Boys that I would one day watch a show where the question “What would Looney Toons look like in a world created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson?” would be answered. So to Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen who wrote “Laser Baby’s Day Out”, the first episode of The Boys: Diabolical, and helped bring The Boys to life, thank you. The Boys: Diabolical is Prime Video’s first spin-off of the gory R-rated superhero show. The 8-episode first season is hit after hit with incredible creative teams, unique styles, and an overwhelmingly stacked roster of voice actors. More so than anything, though, the series is a love letter to the vast ocean of styles there are to comics and animated television.
The first episode that I mentioned above, “Laser Baby’s Day Out”, kicks the show off with the best Looney Toon impression ever animated. It’s the first bucket of ice water splashed over your face that The Boys: Diabolical isn’t going to pull any punches with just how hard it’s going to go with anything. The 12 minute short has a score composed by Julie and Steven Bernstein who scored Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and so many other animation classics. Names like Giancarlo Volpe who worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince, and Green Lantern: The Animated Series litter each episode’s credits. Nothing about the series says that Prime is just cashing in on the success of The Boys but rather bringing the same amount of energy and style to telling stories in the universe.
Without going into each of these shorts, which I very much want to, I wanted to highlight two that are going to be must watches for fans of adult animation and The Boys. The first of which is “An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supers Kill Their Parents” which was co-written by Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites‘ co-creator Justin Roiland and Ben Bayouth. It has that very familiar Roiland comedy to it but set in The Boys‘ no hold bars world. It’s an absolutely hilarious episode with the worst-powered superheroes you can think of. If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty’s Intergalactic cable episodes, you’re going to get to this one first.
The second short I want to highlight is the finale called “One Plus One Equals Two” directed by Jae H. Kim who worked in the animation departments for animation behemoths like The Iron Giant and by Giancarlo Volpe. It’s written by Simon Racioppa who recently wrote some of Invincible also on Prime Video. The reason I want to focus on this one is because it stars Homelander, the head honcho of evil in The Boys who is voiced by his on-screen actor Antony Starr. It’s one of Homelander’s earlier adventures but it gives a glimpse into his mind in a way only animation can do. We get glimpses of trauma that paint Homelander’s psyche and the acts that were done to him to test his abilities. At first, we see a bright-eyed hero who seemingly wants to do good, something fans of the series will know doesn’t stick around. This short shows where the dam broke and all the anger inside of him came rushing out. It’s way less funny than the other episodes but it takes the chance to explore a character amongst all the humor of the other skits. It shows how there is room to tell a serious and weighted story even when there are laughs to be had. Starr gives a wonderful voice performance with some incredibly sincere moments we don’t often get to see with the modern-day Homelander.
The Boys: Diabolical is less of a spin-off but more a logical extension of the show’s universe that lets animators and writers explore stories you couldn’t tell in live-action. Episodes range from cartoons to anime, and everything outside and in between. It’s an incredible 8-part series that is worth the time of any Boys fan or comics fan who hasn’t given the show a chance. It’s still an Ennis property, edgelords.