On Friday March 4, Prime Video will release all eight episodes of The Boys Presents: Diabolical, a series of animated shorts that take place in the same universe as The Boys. Each episode will also have a different writer/director team along with distinct animation styles.
Let’s take a mostly spoiler free look at whether or not this series is enough to tide you over until Season 3 of The Boys is released.
First off, every episode is between 12-14 minutes, so if you don’t like one of them, it’s not too painful. Thankfully, none of the eight installments are bad at all. In fact, two or three of them are excellent.
From an animation standpoint, the styles go well beyond just how things are drawn. If you’re a fellow Gen Xer (or a Boomer with really good taste), you’re going to absolutely love “Laser Baby’s Day Out,” which feels like a classic Looney Tunes tale injected with just the right mix of blood and Adderrall. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “John and Sun-Hee” is as heartbreaking as it is gorgeous.
For folks who want more of the main series’ mythology, “One Plus One Equals Two” utilizes standard superhero animation to give us some critical backstory on one of its main characters. If you’re a fan of The Boys‘ comic series, “I’m Your Pusher” provides a stunningly accurate homage to it while carefully sidestepping any canonical conflicts.
The Boys Presents: Diabolical was also full of surprises. If you decide to skip any of the installments simply due to the animation style or subject matter, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.
“Boyd in 3D” was one episode I did not expect to like anywhere near as much as I did. The short took some very well worn narratives (changing for unrequited love, social media toxicity, etc) and still managed to tell a jarringly impactful story.
It also wrapped things up with a gut punch ending that’ll make you laugh while trying to catch your breath.
Even the episodes I didn’t particularly care for had something to appreciate. “BFFs” was a bit too silly/crazy for my taste, but the dialogue (especially some of the biting zingers) made me really hope Awkwafina gets to write for the live action series in the future.
Despite being a big Rick & Morty fan, “An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents” (an episode title that’s not as ironically cool as it thinks it is) used an almost identical animation style to explore a fascinating question about superhero genetics.
Unfortunately, that episode serves as a strong example of why The Boys Presents: Diabolical never goes beyond being just pretty good.
What Didn’t Work
I’m not a huge fan of gore, but I’m not terribly squeamish about it, either. Also, when you’re watching anything involving The Boys, you know things are going to get bloody.
I get that being animated gave this series a unique opportunity to push some boundaries, but those attempts quickly veered into “try hard” territory. There were many times throughout the series when the extreme gore felt like a forced corporate mandate. Instead of eliciting shock, it caused me to roll my eyes.
In the midst this rush to paint blood on everything, many of episode’s already short run times felt robbed of a better story than what we got. Again, none of them were bad, but only three were really good — and none of those were great.
There was also a consistent issue with tone that I wasn’t expecting, but probably should have. One thing that makes The Boys such a superb series is the way it organically mixes comedy and drama. In fact, the comedy often ends up enhancing the drama in ways that are completely unexpected.
Aside from “John and Sun-Hee” (which was played straight the whole way), The Boys Presents: Diabolical never attains that balance. Even the episodes that were clearly meant to be played for laughs try some hamfisted attempts at being serious that never quite land.
All criticisms aside, The Boys Presents: Diabolical is still a lot of fun for fans of the live action series. Each entry of the anthology is so different that you’re bound to like one of them no matter what.
Is it worth a second season? Probably. Maybe with full length episodes or a wrap around narrative to help connect everything together. They could also go back to some of the same stories/characters and use the groundwork to create that missing drama I just complained about.
Even if they stay with the same format, however, the series still serves as a nice appetizer for the main course we’re all waiting to dive into on June 3.
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