'The Boys: Diabolical' Animated Spin-Off Works Where Others Failed
Last weekend saw the release of The Boys Presents: Diabolical, an animated anthology series titled like a high-end perfume whose ad would probably feature Antonio Banderas eye-#@%&ing the camera for two minutes. Diabolical is made out various shorts that are animated in different styles while purportedly being set in the same universe, which is a great idea, if not ...
... a terribly ...
Warner Home Video
... original ...
Warner Home Video
But the innovative part of Diabolical, compared to other animated anthologies, is that it actually feels like it belongs in the universe it's set in while touching on wildly different genres. The show includes a Looney Tunes-style slapstick short (but with more gore), a European animation romp (you know what, go ahead and add "but with more gore" to all of these), a Rick & Morty episode without Rick or Morty ...
... and a touching Korean horror-inspired drama, which is apparently written by Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andy Samberg?! That's like finding out Dracula wrote an episode of Friends or something.
Anyway, as different as these stories are, they still work within the overall framework of The Boys, which is not "What if superheroes were complete psychopaths?" as you might think, but "What if one greedy mega-corporation was behind the creation of superpowers?" So far, both the live-action series and the comic have focused on showing us this idea from the perspective of the superheroes and the non-powered assholes keeping tabs on them, but Diabolical shifts that focus to regular people, from a random schmuck volunteering for trial tests to an old man trying to save his cancer-stricken wife to a loser teen with a psychic connection to sentient poop. (NSFW language and also spoilers in the clip below.)
Because The Boys is meant to be a satirical take on superhero tropes (which are already ridiculous to begin with), even Diabolical's wildest scenes don't feel that far-fetched for this universe. In that sense, The Boys has proved to be a more versatile setting than, say, The Matrix -- we don't think The Animatrix could have convincingly pulled off a comedic short about talking turds without breaking the rules of its reality. Star Wars: Visions was somewhat more adventurous in its tone, but let's face it: not all of those stories needed to be set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Diabolical could even work as a road map for how The Boys' franchise might expand if the producers decided they like money as much as the ones behind Spider-Man's nascent extended universe and Batman's upcoming one. Fans of the original comic might wince at the idea of spin-offs centered on random teens and old people, but Diabolical does throw them a couple of bones: not only does Simon Pegg finally get to play Wee Hughie, but we finally get more scenes with Butcher's dog, Terror, because we guess animated bulldogs are less likely to litter your set with (non-talking) turds.
Top image: Amazon Studios