Prime Video's The Boys has been nothing short of a runaway hit with the series heading into its third season this summer as well as getting two spin-off series, including the animated The Boys Presents: Diabolical. That series, which drops on Prime Video on Friday, March 4th, is an eight-episode anthology series set in the same world as The Boys. It's an interesting approach to the series' canon, with the eight shorts giving unique looks at various aspects of what it's like to live in the same world as Vought's manufactured heroes and, while all eight episodes are very different both from one another and The Boys live-action series, the cumulative result is a spinoff that, while not perfect, serves as a thought-provoking, entertaining, and sometimes even heartfelt companion.
As was noted, The Boys Presents: Diabolical is comprised of eight individual shorts that feature an all-star cast of writers, producers, and voice actors. There are episodes from Rick & Morty's Justin Roiland, Garth Ennis, Seth Rogen, Eliot Glazer, Aisha Tyler, Andy Samberg, and more an,d in a sense, that's one of the major strengths of the series. Each episode has a very different aesthetic and perspective which really helps to flesh out this greater world of The Boys. The only thing that remains consistent through all eight installments is the level of violence and gore. Even the most charming of the eight episodes is a full-on bloodbath, which makes for a nice bit of continuity, though it serves as a strong reminder that these are not cartoons for children.
However, while all the episodes share violence and, overall, the varied creators give a very comprehensive feel, there is a bit of a weakness in just how different each of the eight episodes are. While the variety does offer something for everyone, there are more weak episodes than strong ones and episodes that feel more connected to the larger The Boys universe than others. What works, works well. "Laser Baby's Day Out," written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is a full-on Looney Toons homage that is equal parts delightful and horrifying, giving off Road Runner vibes at every turn. The Garth Ennis-penned "I'm Your Pusher" feels very much like a side scene from the live-action The Boys and matches its brutality beat for beat. Eliot Glazer and Ilana Glazer's "Boyd in 3D" might be the most heartwarming installment, which doubles as a bit of commentary about our social media and image-obsessed culture. Andy Samberg's "John and Sun-Hee" has an old-school anime feel and a story that will break your heart.
Other episodes, however, are not quite as strong. "An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents" feels more like a rejected Rick & Morty episode than something that fits in The Boys universe and Awkafina's very anime-like "BFFS" takes the idea of toilet humor a bit too literally. And then there's "One Plus One Equals Two," which very much serves as a sort of The Boys prequel and, in that vein, functions very well but feels tonally very misfit with the other installments of the anthology. Outside of some of the odd story choices and tonal mismatches, overall, The Boys Presents: Diabolical is a very entertaining watch across all eight episodes and, at a sub-15 minute per episode run time, the installments are just the right length for these little "slice of life" stories.
When The Boys Presents: Diabolical was announced, The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke described the animated anthology series as "unexpected, funny, shocking, gory, moist, emotional episodes" and suggested that they would rival the insanity that is The Boys live-action series. The reality is that Kripke was half right. The Boys Presents: Diabolical is funny and shocking and gory and emotional, but the spinoff is not even close to as insane as its parent series. Aside from a few misfires, the series delivers a solid glance at the larger world Vought's manufactured heroes exist in, offer a few insights into key characters, and delivers something that even the most casual of The Boys viewer can enjoy.
Rating: 4 out of 5
All eight episodes of The Boys Presents: Diabolical drop Friday, March 4th on Prime Video.