The Boys Presents: Diabolical Review: Bloody Animated Spinoff Is Solid

The Boys Presents: Diabolical Review: Bloody Animated Spinoff Is Solid

Amazon’s Prime Video has quickly become the go-to spot for R-rated animated shows, such as “Invincible” and “The Legend of Vox Machina” — and “The Boys Presents: Diabolical,” a spinoff of the mature superhero parody series “The Boys,” is a welcome addition to that bloody, irreverent family.

“Diabolical” is an animated anthology series with a heroic cast of A-list voice actors and writers. At just 12 to 14 minutes long, the episodes are short and sweet, and there are a few gems that stand out among the crowd. Fans of “The Boys” will certainly be entertained by the easily bingeable series, but the most sterling episodes are the ones that abandon the genre completely and tell a fascinating, human-centered story — albeit with a gory, superhero twist.

All eight episodes are filled with buckets of blood, oozing intestines and some of the most outrageous superhero characters seen on TV — like a talking turd and a “hero” with breasts for eyes. The animation ranges from a kid-friendly “Looney Tunes” style to ultra-gritty anime to a goofy “Rick and Morty” look, and fans of “The Boys” comic series will be in for a treat with one comic-accurate episode. The writing staff is equally diverse, with stories hailing from Seth Rogen, Justin Roiland, Andy Samberg, Awkwafina, Aisha Tyler, Ilana Glazer and more.

Since it’s set in the universe of “The Boys,” nearly every episode has some reference to an existing character, like a poster of Homelander or a cameo by The Deep, and the one near-constant is the slimy, evil corporation Vought. Compound V, a blue serum that transforms regular people into “supes,” is the real villain here. Getting superpowers may seem like it’s the answer to all of life’s problems, but it soon ruins just about everything for the characters involved.

With the best “Diabolical” episodes, superpowers take a backseat to human-focused drama, and the standout story is “Boyd in 3D” by Eliot and Ilana Glazer. Instead of getting powers, a young, image-obsessed couple get their hands on some Vought ointment that changes their physical appearances to whatever their hearts desire. Their noses and waists shrink, but their dependency on the ointment and addiction to social media grows until their love for each other disappears. It’s a “Black Mirror”-esque episode that tackles a real-world topic with nary a superhero involved (though someone’s face does explode at one point).

Other highlights include “BFFs,” written by and starring Awkwafina as a young girl with toxic friends, who drinks some Compound V and soon finds herself pals with a talking piece of poo. Aisha Tyler’s “Nubian vs Nubian” also shows what it’s like to go through a superhero divorce. The rest of the stories are entertaining enough for fans of slick animation, blood and guts and crass humor, but the stories are mostly forgettable.

“Diabolical” mainly serves as a light snack before “The Boys” Season 3 gives fans a full meal on June 3. None of it is required viewing for the main series — though one episode does dive a bit into Homelander’s backstory — and non-fans won’t be converted into full-on devotees with this short spinoff. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see Amazon expand the world of “The Boys,” much like how Star Wars grew with the animated “Star Wars: Visions,” with a short, gory show that perfectly matches the tone of the original.