Monday, July 29, 2019

The Boys - The Name of the Game

I'm not a huge Garth Ennis fan,but with success Wanted and Kick-Ass in theaters and Preacher (also created by Ennis) on television it's hardly a surprise to see The Boys make it to live-action. Adapted from the comic of the same name, the show centers around a group of normal people whose lives have been destroyed by super-hero celebrities and the consumer market which makes them all but untouchable. In the opening episode we meet smart but lazy Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) whose girlfriend is murdered in front of him by a speed-racing hero (Jessie T. Usher). After being offered compensation from the corporation who markets the heroes and sweeps under any mistakes they make along the way, Hughie is offered a second path by a vigilante pretending to be an agent of the FBI (Karl Urban) with his own personal baggage where super-heroes are concerned.

Ennis' goal with The Boys was to "out-Preacher Preacher," and that mindset has continued through to the TV-series. Adolescent fantasy run amok, there's certainly some fun moments to be had (and the premise of corrupt super-heroes put needing to be put down offers some interesting avenues to explore), but there's also a few wince-inducing moments that reminded me why I'm not quicker to pick up Ennis' comics. Along with Hughie's story, "The Name of the Game" introduces us to upcoming hero Starlight (Erin Moriarty) who is chosen to join the most famous (and rich) heroes in the world. Naive and hopeful, Starlight is shocked to discover her Justice League knock-off heroes are morally corrupt individuals including The Deep (Chace Crawford) who uses his position to blackmail Starlight into non-consensual sex to keep her position on the team.

The first episode's biggest asset, aside from Moriarty (who is terrific), is the level of thought and detail into the world where super-heroes are brands bought and sold in board rooms for cities willing to pay for their services. They are also out-of-control narcissists whose level of excess and perversion is allowed to flourish as their misdeeds are hidden from a world which only wants to see the best from them. Although Hughie didn't plan to journey into the dark underbelly of this world, the death of his girlfriend and the encounter with Butcher has changed his life from a unsuspecting electronic store clerk to someone who electrocutes a super-hero and throws him in the trunk of a car by the end of the show's first episode.

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