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Review: 'The Boys' are the superheroes 2020 deserves

Amazon's 'The Boys' offers dark perspective on the 'good guys'

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

What if the most powerful man in the world was a narcissistic, amoral monster capable of mass destruction who looked down on mankind but was bewilderingly adored by millions?

No, this is not a political analysis, this is the scary-relevant state of things in the Amazon series “The Boys,” which manages in its second season to be even more boisterously bleak than the first time around.

Antony Starr and Erin Moriarty in "The Boys."

That all-powerful being is Homelander (Antony Starr), stars-and stripes clad leader of a crew of seven variously superpowered “heroes” marketed and controlled by a nefarious corporation. To the outside world these supes are squeaky clean, but in reality they range from self-serving to fabulously awful, with the only pure soul being the group’s newest member, the pixiesh Starlight (Erin Moriarty).

Secretly countering the heroes are the boys, a tight group of (mostly) human commandos aware of the supes’ evil ways, led by the vengeance-seeking Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) who early on recruits Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), a guy whose girlfriend was killed by a drug addled supe.

If things were dark and twisted in the show’s first season, in the second, as with everything in 2020, it’s all far, far worse. The supes take a spectacularly dark turn with the arrival of new member Stormfront (Aya Cash) and our resistance fighters are on the run.

Over the season’s eight episodes the show wrestles with eugenics, a scientology-like cult, gay rights, body issues, perilous parenting, sexual assault, racism and countless other issues. But don’t worry, action fans, there are also plenty of exploding heads, super-battles and mountains of mayhem. This show rarely rests.

It’s also a bit short on optimism. “The good guys don’t win, the bad guys don’t get punished. What we do means nothing,” Starlight realizes at one point. “It’s just all for money.”

Grim truth for a grim year. “The Boys” is a sad mirror indeed.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'The Boys'

GRADE: B+

Amazon Prime