Preacher and The Boys share a lot in common, but Amazon's raucous superhero series manages to avoid an overriding criticism that was aimed at Preacher season 1. Based on the comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis, Preacher was adapted for television by Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and Evan Goldberg and premiered on AMC in 2016. The story revolves around Dominic Cooper's Jesse Custer, the titular preacher who gains the ability to command absolutely anything with the power of his voice alone.
Despite receiving mostly positive reviews from critics, Preacher season 1 wasn't universally popular with readers of the comic series, and was accused of straying too far from the source material. While most live-action comic adaptations would begin by translating issue #1, Preacher opted for a different route. In Garth Ennis' original story, Jesse Custer is already on a road trip searching for God from the very beginning, with Tulip and Cassidy as traveling companions. The protagonist's background in Annville and Angelville is filled in later.
In effect, Preacher season 1 acts as a prequel to the main story, with the comic material beginning in earnest with the season 2 premiere. While some viewers appreciated Jesse's timeline being presented chronologically, allowing non-comic readers to familiarize themselves with the character more readily, those who were already inducted into the weird and wonderful world of Preacher felt somewhat alienated, grimly anticipating that the TV series would disregard the much-loved comics.
Like Preacher, The Boys is based on a no holds barred Garth Ennis comic series and has been produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. When first announcing the superhero project, Ennis claimed he wanted The Boys to "out-Preacher Preacher" and while the success of that mission in the printed world is up for debate, The Boys season 1 certainly finds a more pleasing balance between adhering to the original format and simplifying the story for a TV audience.
Episode 1 of The Boys hits all the major beats as the first volume of the comic books, from the grisly death of Hughie's girlfriend to Starlight being sexually assaulted by a member of the Seven. Both versions of The Boys then go on to follow a similar pattern, with Hughie inducted into the main group and Butcher growing increasingly brash in his superhero-spanking methods. Some story arcs are even accelerated in live-action, such as the romantic relationship between Hughie and Starlight and the reveal of Vought's role in the creation of supes.
However, The Boys still manages to incorporate elements that make season 1 feel partly like an opening act to a bigger story. In the comics, for example, all 4 of the main Boys team members are firm friends, whereas the Amazon series introduces a new origin story for the Female, providing a sense that the group is far from a well-oiled operation.
More significantly, the Boys themselves are presented as close to amateurs on TV, using crude methods of espionage and surveillance and not directly fighting against any of their super-powered targets. Without the CIA to assist him, Butcher is flying by the seat of his violent, British pants and the Seven aren't even aware that his unit exists. In contrast, the comic book iteration of Butcher's team is far better stocked and immediately shuts down an entire team of superheroes by using high-end technology and powerful steroids. Aside from Hughie, the chemistry between the group is seamless and Homelander considers the Boys a viable threat to his position from the outset.
Showcasing this more humble period in the Boys' development, similarly to Preacher, allows the audience a better understanding of the group's dynamic, motives and capabilities and also provides plenty of scope for things to escalate in The Boys season 2.
The Boys season 2 is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives. Preacher season 4 premieres August 2nd on AMC.