WARNING: This list contains major spoilers for The Boys Season 1
After the success of their adaptation of Garth Ennis’ Preacher, showrunners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg return to adapt another of the writer’s best-known works: The Boys. Originally created by Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys turned the superhero genre on its head by depicting costumed crime-fighters as dangerously narcissistic celebrities with godlike powers. That’s where The Boys come in. When a hero gets out of line, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his crew “spank the bastards” back in line.
While it retains the comics’ bloody sense of humor and satirical wit, Amazon’s newest series is more of a condensation of the source material. This resulted in some big changes, some of which will undoubtedly surprise fans of the original comics. So without further ado, here are 11 spoiler-laden differences between the comic and the series.
To give readers something new, The Boys adds original superheroes into the mix. Some of these newcomers include Ezekiel, Mesmer, and Translucent. They may be new characters, but they’re based on familiar names.
The televangelist Ezekiel is a nicer version of the pedophilic Oh Father while Translucent seems to be the series’ version of the alien-themed Jack From Jupiter – one of the original members of The Seven who also had impervious skin, although not invisible. Mesmer, on the other hand, is a wholly new character.
After failing to save the hijacked Flight 37, The Homelander uses the disaster he caused to advance Vought International’s agenda of contracting superheroes to the military. As unethical and sleazy as this already is, it was much worse in the comics.
Originally, The Seven intercepted one of the planes headed for the Twin Towers during the September 11 attacks. The heroes kill the terrorists but fail miserably at everything else, causing the plane to instead crash into the Brooklyn Bridge. Vought has done everything to cover this up to make sure the catastrophe never stains their top assets.
With the exception of The Female, Butcher and his men don’t have any powers. They may be skilled in black ops missions and weapons handling, but The Boys don’t stand a chance against the heroes in a fair fight. To them, the heroes are nigh unstoppable monsters they have to exterminate.
This is different in the comics because The Boys can go toe-to-toe with any of The Seven thanks to the super-soldier serum Compound V. Without their powers, they lose their original angst of being super-powered humans who hunt down superheroes for the government.
The Seven may be the most powerful superheroes in the world, but they still have to answer to their boss. Their superior in the comics is James Stillwell: an emotionless and sociopathic corporate executive with nothing but Vought’s welfare in his mind.
The series replaces James with Madelyn Stillwell as The Seven’s handler. Unlike her printed counterpart, Madelyn is more human and vulnerable – even dying thanks to the latter. She may prioritize Vought’s dealings but she’s not as inhuman as James, who ordered the massacre of the comics’ version of the X-Men for becoming too uncontrollable and unmarketable.
What could be seen as a foil to Hughie and Starlight is the relationship of the superheroes A-Train and Popclaw. The former Teenage Kix heroes’ love turns into tragedy when A-Train kills her to keep his dependence on Compound V hidden, but this only makes things worse.
This relationship never happened in the comics because the two never even shared a panel together. Everything about them was exclusively made for the series, and the two are considerably more sympathetic than their original selves. By the comics’ end, it’s A-Train who dies while Popclaw is (presumably) still alive.
Much to Starlight’s horror, her idol The Deep – The Seven’s meathead version of Aquaman – turned out to be a terrible person who sexually abused her. While the harassment occurs in the comics, it wasn’t The Deep who was at fault.
What happened to Starlight was actually worse in the source material, where three other heroes (A-Train, Homelander, and Black Noir) pressured her into oral sex. Ironically, the original Deep was the most mature and business savvy of The Seven. His live-action incarnation shares more in common with the original A-Train, who was just as cocky and self-absorbed.
The Boys’ version of Superman is a spoiled brat with the powers of a god and an endless list of vices. Everything he does is motivated by his childish desire to be taken seriously, though half the time he acts impulsively and proves peoples’ fears right.
In the series, he’s cunning and unpredictable, making him more dangerous than ever. Now, he calmly threatens and manipulates people to make things go his way instead of throwing a tantrum. He also has a sexual relationship with Stillwell – something that’d never happen in the comics since he despised the corporate representative.
As a baby, the Female accidentally ate some Compound V and became the most dangerous of The Boys. Save for Frenchie, no one understands what she’s thinking but she can be counted on to rip people’s faces off. She also part-times as a mafia hitman.
Meanwhile, the series gives her an entirely new backstory. Instead, she was a child soldier who was injected with Compound V by her guerilla compatriots. Inadvertently, she was a byproduct of Vought’s plans to create supervillains, as the company shipped the compound to terrorists to bolster the artificial demand for superheroes only they can satisfy.
The Boys opens with The Seven welcoming Starlight into the fold. Though she’s naïve at first, she slowly adapts and figures out how to maneuver her way around the sleazy underbelly of the superhero business.
The series, conversely, presents a more proactive version of her illustrated self. Even if the company pushes back, Starlight doesn’t take too long to stand her ground in the team and she actively fights to keep her idealism and dignity intact. Like in the comics, this earns the respect of Queen Maeve who has since succumbed to her cynicism.
The heart and soul of The Boys is Hughie Campbell: the mild-mannered newcomer who’s brought into Butcher’s team after A-Train accidentally kills his girlfriend Robin. Originally based on Simon Pegg (who now plays his doting father), Hughie is a well-meaning yet spineless kid who Butcher pushes around into compliance.
Like his love interest Starlight, Hughie is more assertive in the series than he used to be. While it takes him eight episodes to defy Butcher’s intimidating nature, this is still faster than the comics where it took him forever to break free from the emotional manipulation.
The biggest change in The Boys is the fate of Butcher’s wife Becca. Previously, she dies after giving birth to The Homelander’s baby. Her rape and death at the hands of The Seven’s leader is the only thing that keeps Butcher alive.
Shockingly, the series keeps her alive. Apparently, Vought hid her survival and more importantly, her super-powered child. It’s implied that superheroes biologically can’t reproduce, possibly making Homelander’s son the first superhero born outside of a laboratory. Her being alive also shatters everything Butcher believed in, making things unpredictable for him and even the comics’ most dedicated fans.