Home » The Boys Comic Omnibus (Graphic Audio)

The Boys Comic Omnibus (Graphic Audio)

Back in the Spring of 2023, I bought and listened to Graphic Audio’s adaptation of “The Boys” comic series in preparation for the return of the Amazon Original’s return for season four. I hadn’t even touched the show aside from maybe one or two YouTube videos where they described it as a dark satire on super hero movies. While not a comparative piece, this review will have moments where I compare the audio dramatization with the television show. I’m still roughly halfway through the first season on Amazon after fully listening to the Graphic Audio versions. Obviously this won’t include anything past a certain point in season one and won’t even touch on plot points from seasons two and three.

Possible Spoilers for “The Boys” Season Four and definite spoilers for season one.

Hughie and the Girlfriend Blues

It had been a while since I listened to Graphic Audio’s dramatization of “The Boys” comic book series. One thing is certain, I didn’t remember much of the inciting incident. Because the streaming show is the most recent version I’ve experienced, I had no idea how closely the show follows the audio drama. Thankfully, within the first hour, the opening plot points are the same, save for the setting change of starting in the United States’ rather than Scotland. Hughie loses his girlfriend, Robin in an accident involving a super hero. We’re introduced to Billy in a less “overt” way in the show than the audio drama. The latter involves sex and the CIA.

One thing is certain that’s the show’s rushed plot, but slow pacing. It doesn’t give the Amazon Original series much in the way of garnering and keeping viewer attention. In an age of binge watching, The Boys streaming show takes too long to get to the good stuff. Hughie’s motivation is a simple one — to get revenge against A-Train. This universes version of the Flash or Quicksilver from DC and Marvel respectively. The speedster is a member of the seven. A Justice League/Avengers analog where corporate dealings and PR blitzes have more figurative power than the super heroes themselves.

Brandon Sanderson’s “Reckoners” Novels and “The Boys” Comic

While not a fresh take, there are some similarities in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoner’s series and “The Boys.” They’re both about a group of people whose goal is to take out people with super powers. Of course, saying the tones of the show and the books written for a YA audience are the same is like calling “Star Wars: A New Hope” the “Wizard of Oz” in space. The comparison makes sense if you think about. At least on the surface. What makes Star Wars different from the “Wizard of Oz” film are the characters. Chewbacca and the cowardly lion both share fur, but one is definitely not cowardly. Apply the lion’s timidness with the Tin Man and you get C-3P0. This take I got from a Great Courses series on How to Watch Movies and Television. So credit to Eric Williams for making my head explode with that realization. Hopefully it had the same effect as calling The Lion King, a retelling of “Hamlet” does with non-writers.

Differences: The Good and the Bad Boys in Comic Books

One of things I dislike about the show is the way the show runners handled the romance plot with Annie and Hughie. In the comics, a lot more time is suspense on whether they know about each other’s life. In some ways it’s the main source of personal tension the listener gets. The streaming show, blows right past all the intrigue within the first season. How they handled it was the opposite of how the audio drama tackled their breakup. In the show, they have Annie confront Hughie instead of the other way around. All of Hughie’s rude behavior is put on the shoulders of Annie. It gives her agency, but makes her the “bitchy” girlfriend stereotype.

Making super heroes vile and disgusting is something you don’t see often in stories about people with powers. The closest would be anti-heroes like Punisher and Wolverine from Marvel. Even that doesn’t come close to the level of appalling behavior we see within part 1 of “The Boys.” When listening for the first time, I was sucked back into the story when Starlight was coerced into providing oral sex to Homelander and a few other members of the seven. The streaming show tackles this a bit too quickly and replaces Homelander with The Deepness and omits the involvement of the other members of the team. When going back to listen to the first couple of parts, I swore the r#%e scene happened later in the story. Technically speaking, it happens between the two and three hour marks. The fact I wasn’t engaged with the story until that point says a lot about the pacing.

Parts 3-5: A Scotland Side Quest and Hugh’s a Dick

After Butcher outs Annie as Starlight to Hugh, the lovable demeanor of the Scottish character turns sour. A lot of story real estate deals with Hugh’s home country of Scotland. It seemed like the entire fourth part of “The Boys” audio dramatization was focused on rekindling Hugh and Annie’s relationship. Something Hugh makes impossible with his insufferable behavior toward her. It not only feels out of character, but out of left field for the plot as well. The verbal vitriol Hughie spews against Annie is so frustrating and pigheaded that you want to go in and slap him upside the head. An example of dramatic irony gone too far.

8.5/10+ Stars