There’s no ignoring the gore of The Boys. The show is full of laser eyes boring through bodies, faces getting ripped off, and innards exploding everywhere. If anything limits the violence, it might be the constraints of the CGI and practical effects required to create such gruesome scenes. The Boys: Diabolical, the new animated anthology series from Prime Video set within the same universe, has no such resistance.
Like the mothership show, each episode of Diabolical, in its own way, explores how interacting with the Vought Corporation and its Compound V is a Faustian bargain. Whether its helping launch a child to superstardom or dealing out V-infused face cream to give people their best faces, Vought — a stand-in for all corporations and their money-first, people dead-last approach to doing business — is seen as an irredeemable evil. Diabolical takes that as an innate truth, and every 12-minute episode discovers how wrong dealing with the company can go.
That and truly impressive feats of gore. If the gut-churning violence of The Boys was reined in by anything, it’s unleashed in animated form, unconstrained by CGI-budgets or anything else. Each chapter lets its full, bloodstained freak flag fly. If you can’t stomach gore, Diabolical might be a tough one to swallow (and also, what are you doing here?). Not all the episodes end on the crass grisliness as The Boys is wont to do. But suffice it to say they get their horrifying licks in.
In light of that, here’s a warning about the grossest thing encountered in every episode. Turns out it’s not always what you think.
“Laser Baby’s Day Out”
A throwback to the WB cartoons of yore, “Laser Baby” is a wordless, wacky introduction to what the tenor of Diabolical will be: rooted in animation history, and absolutely gut-churning. You can make it through almost half the episode before anybody really starts spilling their guts. But once they do — well, I guess just try to finish your lunch before the halfway mark.
The grossest thing: A disgusting nod to the “That’s all, Folks!” Looney Tunes tag
“An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents”
Who else but Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland could’ve come up with such a title? If you’re familiar with Roiland’s sensibilities, you will immediately recognize them at work here (“Boobie Face” is one of the names here) along with almost every possible bodily fluid. Somehow none of that compares to the supe known as “Human Tongue,” who really just disturbs me to no end. Instantly bumps the rating up half a barf bag.
The grossest thing: The all-muscle “Human Tongue” who’s ironically bone-chilling
“I’m Your Pusher”
The most directly based on the comics of the bunch, Garth Ennis’ chapter is a strange one. Sure we hit the high highs of guts and gore — it’s Garth Ennis’ The Boys folks! — but the pacing makes the build up to it feel glacial compared to the mile-a-minute stylings of “An Animated Short.” So while you won’t want to be eating by the time the final shots set in, it doesn’t feel as gross-out as the others.
The grossest thing: The close-ups on the Great Wide Wonder’s final act, and the accompanying vomit
“Boyd in 3D”
Written by Ilana Glazer (Broad City and The Afterparty), “Boyd in 3D” is surprisingly high-minded, as Boys material goes. A morality tale between two normies who, with the help of some Compound V face cream, become superstars, the short ditches gross-out humor for a more depressing punch to the gut. There’s a bit at the end, but for the most part this is the one to turn on if you’re squeezing in a 12-minute episode on your lunch break.
The grossest thing: When Kumail Nanjiani’s character asks how Mr. Boyd is handling the Compound V
Awkwafina voices a young girl who has and befriends a sentient Compound V poop. What more do we want from animated stories?
Your mileage may vary on this one — maybe you’re the sort of person who’s innately disgusted by a sentient poop, who am I to judge — but if you can stomach that shit then you’re in the clear for this episode. Probably one of the few poop-based episodes of TV that is a cinch to eat through.
The grossest thing: A sea of anthropomorphized poop that can’t quite distract from the shit of it all
“Nubian vs. Nubian”
Following the daughter of two Black superheroes in a flailing marriage, “Nubian vs. Nubian” is another one that tinges more into the morality tale than the fighting ring. There’s certainly uneasy violence (again: it’s The Boys, it’s the whole deal), but almost all of the brutal stuff happens off-screen.
The grossest thing: Watching a girl’s dreams get ... splattered
“John and Sun-Hee”
Penned by Andy Samberg, you might expect this one to be filled with smart but risqué humor. But instead, “John and Sun-Hee” mostly eschews gore, making your stomach churn instead from the quiet, desperately sad situation we find the elderly John (Randall Duk Kim, of Matrix and John Wick fame) in as he tries to cure his wife’s inoperable cancer. Director Steve In Chang Ahn lets delicate animation paint a story that — while it has its violent moments — is the most melancholy chapter of The Boys yet.
The grossest thing: Technically a stray shot of body parts littering a hotel room. But the close runner up is Andy Samberg doing us like this.
“One Plus One Equals Two”
Without spoiling anything: The final chapter of The Boys: Diabolical is about Homelander’s first foray into the field alongside Black Noir. Next to “An Animated Short,” this is the most brutal chapter, and certainly one of the ones that relishes closeups of body parts sliding apart.
The grossest thing: One of the several dozen deaths on the mission; pick your poison.
All eight episodes of The Boys: Diabolical are available now on Prime Video.