The Boys Presents: Diabolical Review – An Animated Appetizer

With season 3 just around the corner, The Boys Presents: Diabolical has come to Amazon Prime. With different directors and animators for each episode, it’s a raucous ride through the delightfully gruesome and grim world of The Boys. Not all episodes are as strong as others, but at roughly 13 minutes a pop you can find some great stories in there.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical Review - An Animated AppetizerIf you can’t wait for The Boys season 3 (coming 3rd June 2022), the new Diabolical animated anthology series has dropped on Amazon Prime. Headed by Invincible writer Simon Racioppa, each episode has different creators and talent. They are distinct from one other, with some likely to feature plot elements of the third season. Depending on your taste though, some are better than others.

With all-star talent and apparently, almost no rules, it’s a blast to get more from The Boys universe. Returning cast members and famous names like Simon Pegg, Justin Roiland, Christian Slater and Don Cheadle star in the series, just to name a few. Even Garth Ennis, the writer of The Boys comics, has created an episode that feels straight out of the series.  From terrible superpowers to the iconic laser baby there’s bound to be an episode you enjoy.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical - Trailer | Prime Video

Story – New and Old Faces

The Boys presents: Diabolical is an anthology of stories in Garth Ennis’ weird and wonderful world. Most episodes are set in the aftermath of the Season 2 reveal of Compound V to the world. With the new knowledge that Supes are made, not born, we see the fallout of this event in all its blood soaked glory. Nevertheless the series remains surprisingly heartfelt in some episodes.

Some episodes fall to the wayside a bit. They are still enjoyable, but just don’t hold up to the other ones. Laser Baby’s Day Out was fine, but nothing special, especially given the carnage we are accustom to in the main series. The usually biting social commentary felt a bit uninspired in Boyd in 3D as well. Not going much beyond social media and social expectations surrounding appearance have negative consequences. It does have a fun twist though.

Other than those minor gripes, the series is dripping with gore and personality. Each episodes story is vastly different in style and tone, but they all feel firmly planted in The Boys crass and unforgiving world. Garth Ennis gives us what we expect from Garth Ennis. Sentient turds and bizarre deaths are abound. I don’t want to spoil too much as they are delightful to watch unfold with varying levels of cheese and grit.

Where are all the Super Grannies?

Where are all the Super Grannies?

Episode 7, John and Sun-Hee, deserves a special mention as well for delivering a legitimately heartfelt tale of an elderly couple dealing with the wife’s terminal cancer. It was a surprise to see it was the episode made by Andy Samberg from the Lonely Island and Brooklyn 99.

The Boys Season 3 Connection to Diabolical

At least 2 episodes will be connected to season 3. One Plus One Equals Two (episode 8), centered around Homelanders first mission with Vaught and his relationship with Black Noir. Also Justin Roiland of Rick and Morty fame’s episode An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill their Parents is linked in some way according to main showrunner Eric Kripke.

Homelanders main appearance in episode 8 is a great story that hammers home the traumatised nature of the Supe. It effectively introduces his relationship with the mute Black Noir and creates some sympathy for the character. I said some, okay, he’s still a violent sociopath. If you watch one episode it should be this one in preparation for Season 3.

All in all, The Boys Presents: Diabolical is well written, with numerous different approaches and styles that will keep you engaged. Each episode has it’s own sense of identity and themes, with the diverse writers coming at the world from different angles. The comedic skills and wit of the writers are on full display. There really is something for everyone (except maybe the squeamish).

Characters and Performances – The Boys are Back in Town (with Friends)

For such a small package, The Boys: Diabolical packs a lot of high tier talent. With such great actors involved all the characters are well performed. Whether its the poop-powered Sky or the superhuman divorce you buy into the characters, at least within their own realm.

Antony Starr and Giancarlo Esposito come back as Homelander and Stan Edgar respectively, and Elisabeth Shue gets to bring the deceased Madelyn Stillwell back to live. Chase Crawford (the Deep) and Colby Minifie (Ashely Barret) also reprise their roles in a mix of episodes.

You’ll recognise many voices such as Don Cheadle and Christian Slater. It’s entertaining just realizing how many Celebs love the show. Simon Pegg gets to play Hughie which is a nice touch, given he is the basis of the character. It’s nice to see him get to do the role as well as being Hughie’s father in main show.

Simon Pegg gets to play a comic accurate Hughie

Simon Pegg gets to play a comic accurate Hughie

Whilst you only get a short time with each set of characters in the anthology, the writers and actors have made the most of the time. With episodes lasting between 12 and 15 minutes there’s not a lot of time to build up the characters but these are seasoned veterans. The characters are funny when they need to be funny, and serious when they need to be serious.

Sky and her budding friendship with the turd Areola is sweet, and I have to praise the episode John and Sun-Hee for great performances. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a supergranny.

Pacing and editing – All aboard the A-Train

As each episode is under 15 minutes, and given the violent and hedonistic world of The Boys, there’s not real time for things to slow down and not be, well, diabolical. Stories are quickly set up and pay off in brutal fashion. The editing keeps it moving at a good pace, and the scenes that connect you to the characters are short but effective.

The iconic laser baby returns to cause havoc

The iconic laser baby returns to cause havoc

Again the creators have made the most of the short time frame and have made a tightly packaged, rapid fire series of stories. Whilst this works for the series, it’s a shame to not get more time to spend with these side characters given the quality of the series.

Cinematography and Sound – Animated Bonanza

The Boys Presents: Diabolical features a different style of animation for each episode. The animation is, by and large, okay. Other than some episodes with real flair a lot of the animation can be a bit bland at times. Some fight scenes feel like they need a bit more detail.

Of course there are stand outs. John and Sun-Hee had a beautiful Korean art design with some really great visuals. The poop wizard episode, BFFs, has a cute anime style. Justin Roiland’s episode as well is done in the Rick and Morty cartoon design. There’s also great use of vivid colours in a number of episodes.

The powerful relationship between a girl and her poop

The powerful relationship between a girl and her poop

It’s also nice to see the episode I’m Your Pusher being done to make the characters look more like the comics. It’s a good touch for long time fans of the comics.

Overall though the variety in animation style has some highs and lows. None of them are bad, just a bit bland at times. It’s a journey through different visual designs with different influences. If one doesn’t catch your eye, your only 12 minutes from something new.

Summary
Overall, the choice to have each episode be its own thing paid off with some cool one off stories. It’s a nice appetizer for the release of season 3 in June. The casts and crews have made the most of the short episode lengths. Given the time constraint it’s not quite on par with the main series, but a lot is achieved with a little. If you’re a fan of the show it’s well worth you time to check this out.
Good
  • Great cast and crew
  • New style of animation for each episode
  • Gruesome, crass and fun, as the Boys should be
  • Get a wider view of the Boys universe
Bad
  • Mix of enjoyability depending on taste
  • Animation is a bit bland in some episodes
8
Great
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