It’s been a while since the last season of Amazon’s hit superhero satire The Boys arrived in September 2020, and we still have a few months to go before we catch up with Vought, The Seven and the titular cape-killers in season 3. But never fear – to help bridge the gap Amazon have released this new anthology of animated shorts, telling stories set loosely within the world of the main show but with a twist. Expect gore, sex jokes, dark humour and extreme violence as you enter the world of The Boys presents: Diabolical.


An impressive array of behind-the-scenes talent is involved in this show, with series stars Antony Starr, Elizabeth Shue, Chace Crawford and Giancarlo Esposito joining forces with guests like Ben Schwartz, Andy Samberg, Seth Rogen, Awkwafina, Kumail Nanjiani, Kieran Culkin, Christian Slater, Don Cheadle and Michael Cera to voice characters while the likes of Aisha Tyler, Ilana Glazer, Evan Goldberg and Justin Roiland are on writing duties (Samberg, Awkwafina and Rogen write and perform in their episodes).

With such a team behind the show, fans might be expecting big things… which is not quite what they get. The Boys presents Diabolical is largely just fun and disposable, with no episode clocking over 10 minutes and enough action to keep you entertained. It’s creative, often funny and fills in a few gaps in the main series’ storyline – but some episodes are better than others, and generally speaking the scope feels a little limited over its eight episodes.

Essentially, it’s a little like Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots or (perhaps more pertinently) Disney Plus’ Star Wars: Visions, telling standalone stories in different styles related to a central fictional world. In these eight episodes those styles include classic Tex Avery-style cartoons, French animation, anime, Korean horror, a story based more closely on the original Boys comics and a more modern Invincible-style animation. Oh, and there’s also ‘Justin Roiland’ style, as used by the co-creator of Rick & Morty and Solar Opposites.

Each story is different, but there are some similarities. Most of the shorts involve a person or persons being dosed with Compund V, the glowing blue drug that gives the ‘supes’ of The Boys’ universe their powers, and the immediate fallout as their powers manifest.

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In one case, it’s used in a skin cream that turns a nerd into a super-hunk, in a bleak parable about image consciousness; in another, an elderly man makes a desperate choice to save his wife, while one of the most uncomfortable watches (written by and starring Awkwafina) sees a lonely girl make an unconventional best friend when she ingests some V. Oh, and there’s the Roiland-created episode where a bunch of “pissed-off supes” given dud superpowers track down and murder the parents that allowed them to be dosed.

Other shorts go in a different direction, exploring a superhero marriage, a mission run by the Boys (specifically the versions of Billy and Hughie from the comics, voiced by Jason Isaacs and Simon Pegg instead of Karl Urban and Jack Quaid) and a prequel showing how series antagonist Homelander (Antony Starr) began his hero career.

As with any anthology show, how much you enjoy individual episodes may vary from viewer to viewer. Personally, I most enjoyed the Invincible-style Homelander episode, but I had a soft spot for the dialogue-free ‘Laser Baby’s Day Out’ and original-style comic story I’m Your Pusher. Roiland’s episode has its moments (especially when things get a bit more improvisational) but there’s not a lot to it, while the Awkwafina-penned BFFs was just a little too gross for my taste.

Other episodes sort of fall somewhere in the middle, and there’s a consistence of basic quality that means there aren’t any real clangers. But as an overall product, The Boys presents Diabolical feels like a bit of a shrug. Yes, it’s as dark, gory and nihilistic as the main series, but without a driving plot it feels a bit hollow, and occasionally self-indulgent.

When Star Wars: Visions came out, no-one could deny the level of creativity some of those shorts brought to a familiar fictional world. The Boys presents Diabolical tries to do something similar, but the fictional world it’s playing in just doesn’t have the depth to sustain so many riffs on the source material.

It’s far from diabolical, but this is probably best enjoyed as an amuse-bouche before the main series eventually returns. Only a few months now...

The Boys presents: Diabolical streams on Amazon Prime from Friday 4th March. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.


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