The Boys TV Show vs Comic Books


Andrew Parisi, Staff Writer

Warning: This writing has spoilers for the comic book The Boys. 

The Boys TV Show:

The Boys, based on the Garth Ennis comic of the same name, is one of the most successful TV shows on Amazon Prime Video. Starring Jack Quaid (Scream 2022), Anthony Starr, Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Thor Ragnarok), and most recent addition Jensen Ackles (Supernatural). But what makes this show so entertaining to their audiences?

The show stars Jack Quaid as our main protagonist Hughie Campbell, as he joins a group of men called “The Boys” in an attempt to get revenge on corrupt superheroes.

Anthony Starr is, without a doubt, the star of the show (pun definitely intended). Anthony plays Homelander, the all-American superhero and leader of The Seven. The Seven is a group of superheroes equivalent to The Justice League or The Avengers. These superheroes are not the whimsical, day-saving superheroes that we expect them to be, though. These superheroes are corrupt in every way shape and form. They murder innocent civilians, just because they can, then pay off the families so that way they can preserve their image. They do other heinous crimes such as kidnapping, mutilation, etc. The list is extensive, and I won’t go into too much detail here.

Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is your everyday normal man, when suddenly his girlfriend is killed in a freak superhero incident. In the show, Hughie’s girlfriend was murdered by A-Train, the superhero equivalent to The Flash, as he was being reckless when running around. This leads to him joining Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) along with 3 others for a total of 5, who call themselves The Boys. He does all of this while falling in love with a new girl, Starlight, who is the newest member of The Seven.

I will stop my rundown of everything in order to avoid spoilers for incoming fans. The show has many iconic moments that have immediately exploded on social media. Although the show is successful, it changed a lot from the comic books. Some of it for the better, some in my opinion for the worse. 


The Comics:

Now, the comics have a total of 12 trade paperbacks, which to put into simpler terms, means that there are around 12, 100-400 page comic books telling the story of The Boys. Over the summer, I read all 12 of these trade paperback books and they were by far one of my favorite readings, along with some of the most disturbing readings I’ve ever read. Garth Ennis, the writer and creator, is well known for his hatred of superheroes. So it only makes sense that he would write a story about superheroes that are horrible people.

To start with, the first major difference between the TV show and the comic book is the superpowers. Every single member of The Boys is injected with Compound V, a drug that gives anybody superhuman-like abilities. Every single member, except Hughie, was already injected with this drug before the story began. We do get to see Hughie get injected and the immediate result of said injection – he accidentally kills a superhero, which he does not enjoy in the slightest. This becomes a common theme throughout the duration of the story. Hughie always tried to find the good in the superheroes; never choosing to murder a superhero right away. With his newfound powers, he attempts to restrain himself constantly. However, unlike the show, it seems that Hughie enjoys defending himself and murdering the superheroes that have wronged him.

This is an example of something that I think the show does really well. In the comic, Hughie never gets over his fear of murder, and thus, he is viewed as a coward from beginning to end of the series. Some of the murders within the show are also extensively graphic, most times for no reason besides shock value. To evaluate the extent that Garth Ennis went for this unneeded gore fest, he wrote in the character Soldier Boy. Soldier Boy is a perfect replica of Captain America, and is established to be one of the best superheroes in the entire world. Well, within one issue of the series (the equivalent to a chapter in a book), Soldier Boy had been violently dispatched by Billy Butcher.

This is something that the show expands upon a little better. Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, is actually very powerful in the show, and poses a genuine threat to The Boys. The reason why this works so well in the TV show is because The Boys do not have superpowers. This choice of change lets us feel genuine tension when watching a scene where their lives are in danger. But since our protagonists have the same power as our antagonist in the comics, that sense of tension dissipated during any big battle.



The comic book The Boys, honestly feels like a gorefest. There is no sense of tension, and it’s clear that the story was written by Garth Ennis to show his intense hatred for superheroes. However, this does not make the comic uninteresting. The comic is definitely gory, but the elements of story that are present in between dramatic fights are definitely one of my favorite crafted works by Garth Ennis.

The TV show The Boys has a clear emphasis on the plot over the original works that the story was based on. Each character, especially Hughie, grows and develops as the show goes on. We, as an audience, are able to grow with these characters and become more attached to them. With a lack of superpowers present within our protagonists, the show becomes very intense. The action scenes feel genuine, and I fear for the characters’ lives whenever the antagonists appear on the screen.

Overall, both of these works are fun to read/watch, and I strongly recommend this show to anybody who is a fan of corrupt superheroes. Those that enjoy corrupt superheroes should also check out Injustice and Invincible.