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‘The Boys’: Comic vs TV Show

'The Boys' is a critically acclaimed show on television and part of the reason may be because of what it decided to adapt and what it decided to leave out....

The Boys is a fantastic show and so I had assumed that the comic it’s based on was too, but after discovering what some of the differences between the two versions are, I’m not so sure anymore. The show has changed several elements significantly and usually that makes fans incredibly mad, just look at The Witcher and the Halo series. But in The Boys, these changes seem overwhelmingly for the better rather than unnecessary.

To understand this better let’s look at some of those differences and examine how and why these changes were made and why they are (for the most part) better than the original.

The Boys

In the comic, the titular Boys are actually fully funded by the CIA in order to keep the Supes in check rather than vigilantes as they are in the show. That part makes sense because in the show, you have to wonder why the U.S. government hasn’t done something about the Supes earlier rather than just keeping tabs on them.

What isn’t as interesting as all that is the crew all having superpowers from the start thanks to taking Compound V regularly. Again, this makes sense because it puts our protagonists on level footing with the superpowered Seven. What you lose though is the ingenuity and creativity the Boys use to achieve their goals in the show. Imagine if in season two when Black Noir has the crew cornered at Butcher’s aunt’s and instead of bluffing a deal with Edgar to call Black Noir off, they just punched their way out. It’s not as interesting, is it?

Granted, season three has introduced a new version of Compound V that is temporary and now the Boys are working for the government, but it’s clear it’s in order to take the series to new places and new possibilities rather than being the basis of the series.

This isn’t the most egregious thing the show has changed but it is a starting point.

The Seven

Credit: Amazon

The Seven are barely even developed in the comic. Really, they’re just mean-spirited parodies of other superheroes. The show’s Seven are parodies as well, but they are given far more depth and ‘human’ moments.

For example, there’s no relationship between A-Train and Popclaw in the comic, something that makes A-Train more interesting by highlighting what his priorities really are. He would rather kill her than risk her exposing his reliance on Compound V. That’s interesting.

Even Homelander, while still being completely awful in the show as his comic counterpart, is given relatable motivation. You understand why he does the things he does even if you don’t agree with him. It’s far more interesting to see why people are bad rather than just assuming they are for the sake of the story.

Homelander in the comic doesn’t have the same relationship with Stillwell as he did in the show because Stillwell was a man in the comic. Gone is that strange yet fascinating Oedipal mummy fascination he has which, while being gross, actually added to his character. Not only do we learn that Homelander had no parents, but we also learn that as a result of this he craves maternal affection, which Stillwell then uses to manipulate him. Isn’t that way more interesting than Homelander just being an evil asshole?

Also, The Deep? Yeah, he gets none of the attention that the show gives him. The Deep is both hilarious and tragic, yet he is also a bad guy. But we know why he’s a bad guy and later in the series he seems to be genuinely making an effort to better himself, but ultimately it’s his stupidity that leads him to being used by others and prevents him from achieving his goals of betterment. It’s also not him that forces Starlight to perform oral sex during her first visit to Seven Tower in the comic, instead it’s Homelander… and A-Train… and Black Noir. That’s just excessive, not to mention gross because why is it necessary? The show at least uses the moment to setup the downfall of The Deep and the rise of Starlight. 

That’s another thing about the women in the comic, they aren’t treated especially great by the comic. They are all either sexually exploited or used as victims. You could argue that this in keeping with the dark tone of the comic, but the show manages to keep a dark tone without resorting to abusing and exploiting its female characters.

Black Noir

Credit: Amazon

This character is an interesting one because he’s got so much mystery surrounding him. While we don’t know what his journey will be in the show just yet, we do know what he got up to in the comic and it’s a doozy.

Black Noir is Homelander’s clone in the comic that was created in order to keep Homelander in check. It was actually Noir who raped and impregnated Butcher’s wife Becca, not Homelander. We already know that Noir didn’t rape Becca, and it seems unlikely that he will be revealed as Homelander’s clone as we saw parts of his face in season two and discovered that he is Black, not White. While that doesn’t rule out the possibility completely, it does seem unlikely given the show’s relationship between Homelander and his son.

Is this better or worse than the show? I think for once this time it’s just different rather than one being an obvious change for the better. It makes sense, it can lead to interesting character dynamics. For once it isn’t just edgy for the sake of it. It’s not bad at all and it makes me wonder if the show will borrow from this storyline in the future.

For more like this, check out why Wanda is the best part of Doctor Strange 2


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