Catch up with Amazon’s bloody hit The Boys, character by character

Catch up with Amazon’s bloody hit The Boys, character by character

The Boys (Photo: Amazon Prime Video/Jasper Savage)
The Boys (Photo: Amazon Prime Video/Jasper Savage)
Graphic: Karl Gustafon

Spider-Man taught us that with great power comes great responsibility, but the caped crimefighters of Amazon’s The Boys are here to teach a different lesson: With great power comes the great likelihood that someone will turn into a superpowered asshole. The members of The Seven, America’s legion of elite superheroes sponsored and stage-managed by the rapacious multinational Vought corporation, have almost all become sadistic monsters drunk on the power and impunity that comes with their vaunted position. Some, like speedster A-Train, are thoughtlessly cruel, while others, like Superman-esque team leader Homelander, are pure narcissistic malevolence personified. Thank goodness there’s at least one group of citizens hell-bent on taking them down—though at the moment, they’re highly wanted fugitives, thanks to their efforts to expose Vought and The Seven’s evil blowing up in their faces.

Season one of the series (based on Garth Ennis’ pulpy and violent comic book deconstruction of superpowered individuals) found the ragtag group of titular protagonists rallying around an effort to expose wrongdoing of both the corporate and superhero variety, while an idealistic and newly minted member of The Seven quickly learned just how dysfunctional and disturbing her new teammates’ beliefs and practices really were. After kidnapping and killing a member of The Seven, the Boys learned the truth: Superheroes aren’t born, they’re made—from Compound-V, an experimental serum that Vought has been injecting in untold numbers of infants throughout the country, with an extremely poor success (read: survival) rate. Showrunner Eric Kripke kept things lively and moving, and by season’s end, the new mission—expose what Vought has been doing, and bring down the financial backers of The Seven—was in full swing. Unfortunately, the group also fractured under the pressure of differing goals, so as the new season begins on September 4, we’ve put together this handy guide to bring you up to (super-)speed on where all the major players stand, whether in league with The Seven or fighting valiantly against them. But don’t worry—there’s enough swearing and brutality from both sides to make a sailor blush.

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The Boys

The Boys

Billy Butcher

Karl Urban as Billy Butcher in The Boys
Karl Urban as Billy Butcher in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

As the leader of The Boys, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) drives much of the action in season one. A former CIA operative, Billy initially appears to have very little in common with his newest recruit, Hughie. He’s calculating and battle-tested, and hell-bent on taking down The Seven, especially Homelander, whom he taunts with a message hidden in Translucent’s remains. Though Billy is able to rally his old comrades, Frenchie and M.M., to his side after an altercation with Lamplighter sent them all on separate paths, he continues to withhold important info from them, which creates fractures in the group. He’s just as evasive with Hughie at first, but he eventually reveals their shared trauma: They’ve both lost loved ones to a supe. Billy remains committed to his mission, seeking out alliances wherever he can find them—including with his old employer, the CIA—all in an effort to destroy Homelander. He also repeatedly warns Hughie against falling for Starlight/Annie January, the newest member of The Seven. His determination almost pays off, as he uncovers Homelander’s one ostensible weakness—his “complicated” relationship with Vought executive Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). But it’s Billy who finds himself slack-jawed in the final moments of “You Found Me,” the season-one finale. His presumed-dead wife, Becca (Shantel VanSanten), whom Billy’s been trying to avenge this whole time after learning she was sexually assaulted by Homelander, is alive, relatively well, and raising Homelander’s son. No wonder Billy’s M.I.A. at the start of season two.

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Hughie Campbell

Hughie Campbell

Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in The Boys
Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

When we first meet Hughie (Jack Quaid), he’s a pretty regular guy who works at an electronic store, is happily in love with his girlfriend, Robin, and is too timid to ask his boss for a raise. That all changes in an instant, though, when Robin accidentally gets in the way of speedster superhero A-Train, who completely obliterates her while supposedly chasing a bank robber (he wasn’t). Noting that Robin had stepped into the street (and therefore A-Train wasn’t technically responsible for her death), a Vought lawyer offers Hughie a meager settlement in exchange for signing an NDA, but Hughie refuses. That’s when he meets Billy Butcher, who invites him to help take down A-Train and the rest of The Seven, starting with trying to plant a bug in their meeting room. That doesn’t work, since Seven member Translucent has a bad habit of using his invisibility powers to creep on everyone, leading Hughie to join up with Butcher and The Boys to kill him. Hughie also starts a relationship with newest Seven member Annie, a.k.a. Starlight, forcing him to choose: Avenge Robin or start fresh with Annie? He chooses both, keeping his vigilante actions from her as their intimacy grows—which blows up in his face when she learns the truth. Still, Starlight shows up to save him from A-Train at the end of the season, even though he’s now a wanted fugitive, thanks to Vought’s deceitful PR campaign against The Boys.

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Frenchie

Frenchie

Tomer Capon as Frenchie in The Boys
Tomer Capon as Frenchie in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

Every vigilante or covert ops group needs a weapons expert, but Frenchie (Tomer Capon) also brings culinary skills and an interest in specialized chemistry to The Boys. He’s the first member of the team to re-enter into the fray with Billy Butcher, though he hardly has a choice once he learns that Translucent (Alex Hassell), a member of The Seven, is their hostage. Though he has some doubts about Billy’s motives, once he’s back, Frenchie is back; he even figures out how to get around Translucent’s diamond-tough skin (with an “ass bomb”). The munitions expert waxes philosophically about non-monogamy not long before he bonds with Kimiko, who has her fair share of trauma after being forced to fight for a terrorist group, trafficked into the U.S., and tested on by Vought. This, he learns after bringing in another supe, Mesmer, to look into her mind and past, a decision that has dire consequences (mostly for Mesmer). Frenchie has a strained relationship with M.M., who believes Frenchie’s tendency to deviate from the plan is a liability—one that even led to the deaths of the grandchildren of Grace Mallory, the founder of the Boys. Frenchie shows himself to be more of a team player over the course of the season, which might be why M.M. risks life and limb to rescue Kimiko when they’re all (briefly) imprisoned at a black ops site.

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Kimiko

Kimiko

Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko in The Boys
Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

The newest addition to Butcher’s crew of toughs isn’t exactly there to make friends. While investigating a tip about a gangland hideout, the Boys stumble upon a woman (Karen Fukuhara) imprisoned in the basement, and Frenchie frees her, at which point she brutally massacres her captors. Evidence (and their own eyes) quickly conveys the reality of the situation—that she’s one of Vought’s Compound-V test subjects, with super-strength and quick-healing, regenerative abilities. However, she’s also mute, leading the Boys to seek out a telepath to reveal her identity: Kimiko, a Japanese woman kidnapped by the Shining Light Liberation Army terrorist group. That’s also when they learn the source of her powers, and it’s not reassuring. Vought is intentionally creating super-terrorists to sway public opinion in favor of militarizing The Seven, and before they freed her, Kimiko was going to be unleashed on the world. Despite her seemingly feral nature, Kimiko eventually bonds with the protective Frenchie, and begins to assist the Boys with their work, even fighting off Black Noir (and temporarily dying, before her powers bring her back) to allow Frenchie to escape. Soon, she’s joining their missions and even brutally crippling A-Train. She’s briefly recaptured by Vought, but after M.M., Frenchie, and Hughie return to save her (with a little assist from Starlight), it looks like she’s here to stay—and fight.

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M.M.

M.M.

Laz Alonso as Marvin T. Milk in The Boys
Laz Alonso as Marvin T. Milk in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

An old associate of Butcher’s, Marvin T. Milk (Laz Alonso)—or “Mother’s Milk,” though everyone just calls him M.M.—is the member of the Boys arguably least thrilled to be there. And understandably so: He has a family, a wife and daughter, who he is struggling to take care of by staying on the straight and narrow. But his loyalty to Butcher runs deep, and after Billy assures him that “this time it’ll be different,” he starts working with the team, initially to surveill A-Train’s secret super-powered girlfriend until they can blackmail her into cooperation by betraying her beau. Soon, he’s working fervently alongside Butcher, digging into Vought’s machinations, and even breaking into a hospital where he and Butcher learn of Vought’s history of experimenting on infant test subjects with Compound-V. M.M. does all this while keeping it a secret from his spouse, but that only lasts so long—after the telepath Mesmer betrays them to Homelander, he goes into hiding with his family and has to reveal what the Boys have been up to. As the season ends, his family is protected thanks to Butcher’s deal with the CIA Deputy Director; but M.M. himself, just like the others, is a wanted fugitive. At least he’s together with Hughie, Frenchie, and The Woman, even if Butcher is M.I.A.

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The Seven (er, Six)

The Seven (er, Six)

Homelander, a.k.a. John

Antony Starr as Homelander in The Boys
Antony Starr as Homelander in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

At first, it seems like Homelander, a.k.a. “John” (Antony Starr), might be one of the good guys, unaware of the depravity of some of his fellow team members. That’s soon put to rest, however, as by the end of the first episode he’s downed the plane of the mayor of Baltimore. And it’s quickly revealed that Homelander’s disturbing issues run deep: Raised in a lab by unfeeling Vought scientists studying his powers in an attempt to create the perfect soldier, he instead became an amoral, unfeeling monster, utterly narcissistic and consumed by his own need for power and control. It’s not long before he’s letting a plane full of people crash and die, then blaming his failure to act on the government’s refusal to militarize The Seven. His one weakness, however, is a pathological attachment to Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), Vought’s cold and smart vice president, who tries to control the Super through an unsettling combination of sex and motherly nurturing. However, after learning that his rape of Butcher’s wife, Becca, actually resulted in her becoming pregnant and giving birth to a super-powered son, he lashes out: When Butcher takes Stillwell hostage and threatens to blow her up if Homelander doesn’t give himself up, John kills her himself, using his laser vision to blast a hole through her head. As the season ends, he flies his new hostage Butcher to the remote home where Becca has been raising the boy—and John would like to meet his son now, please.

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Starlight, a.k.a. Annie January

Starlight, a.k.a. Annie January

Erin Moriarty as Starlight in The Boys
Erin Moriarty as Starlight in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

The newest member of The Seven, Starlight, a.k.a. Annie January (Erin Moriarty), is also the least cynical member of the team—though she grows disillusioned with the superhero business once she realizes how much of a “business” it really is. Annie came up through the young superhero pageant circuit, which is also where she developed her religious beliefs, albeit with some nudging from her mom, Donna (Ann Cusack). Her naiveté, along with her ability to manipulate electricity—she can light up a room and blast enemies—is what made her stand out from all the other supes-in-training eager to join The Seven. But Starlight regularly challenges the narrative laid out by Vought’s PR team; she fights solo at times, and refuses to stay silent about her sexual assault at the hands of The Deep. Starlight eventually sort of bonds with Queen Maeve, though they have vastly different perspectives on life. And she gains some strength from her relationship with Hughie, who encourages her to be herself. Of course, once she learns that he’s been using her to infiltrate the supes to get revenge for Robin’s death, she briefly spirals, leading her to try to keep up with Maeve’s drinking. But she still comes to The Boys’ (minus Billy) aid in the season finale, even squaring off with A-Train to protect Hughie.

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A-Train, a.k.a. Reggie Franklin

A-Train, a.k.a. Reggie Franklin

Jessie T. Usher as A-Train in The Boys
Jessie T. Usher as A-Train in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

A speedster who prides himself on being the fastest hero on the planet, A-Train’s (Jessie T. Usher) need to always be the best has led him down a dark path of abusing Compound V, the chemical Vought developed to create superheroes. He’s also very obsessed with himself and his personal brand, to the point where he seems to care about little more than putting his name and likeness on beers and breakfast cereals. A-Train’s growing dependency on Compound V is what led him to collide with Hughie’s girlfriend, Robin, in the first episode of the series, running at super-speed and killing her instantly—and sending Hughie down the path to Billy Butcher and The Boys. Reggie’s also in a secret relationship with the former B-list hero Popclaw, and it’s his refusal to publicly acknowledge their relationship that leads her to betray A-Train to The Boys, by revealing his reliance on Compound V. After learning of her betrayal, Homelander tells A-Train to take care of the problem—which he does by murdering her with via a heroin overdose. After an attack by Kimiko that leaves him temporarily crippled, A-Train returns to his abuse of Compound V, recovering impossibly quickly. Unfortunately, that decision puts such a strain on his body that he has a heart attack while fighting Starlight and Hughie, and ends the season lying in the hospital.

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Queen Maeve, a.k.a. Maggie

Queen Maeve, a.k.a. Maggie

Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve in The Boys
Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

Though technically one of the only members of The Seven who isn’t an outright monster, Queen Maeve, a.k.a. Maggie (Dominique McElligott), still isn’t much of a hero. After years of silently tolerating and looking away from the misbehavior of Vought and the other members of The Seven—an approach that she dismissively suggests to Starlight after the latter gets assaulted by The Deep right after joining. As it turns out, though, Maeve isn’t quite as careless as she may appear, later explaining to Starlight that she was once also idealistic and hopeful about her career as a hero. Unfortunately, working for Vought hammered those notions out of her, particularly when she and Homelander decide not to rescue the passengers of a hijacked plane. Maeve begrudgingly lets the plane crash, which Homelander uses to support the argument that the heroes should be allowed into the military. Racked with guilt over the deaths and furious about how they’re being used, Maeve—who had been sober—starts drinking again and tries to go back to her ex-girlfriend, Elena, but is rebuffed. Maeve effectively becomes a shell of a person, giving in to her apathy while telling Starlight not to do the same.

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The Deep, a.k.a. Kevin

The Deep, a.k.a. Kevin

Chace Crawford as The Deep in The Boys
Chace Crawford as The Deep in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

The least useful member of The Boys, Kevin, a.k.a. The Deep (Chace Crawford), resents the fact that he’s basically just on the team to be a handsome face for PR purposes—save for the rare occasion when the team needs to do something water-related or talk to fish, given his very specific set of abilities. Still, he’s no less of an asshole than the other members of The Seven, sexually-assaulting Starlight in the team’s meeting room on her first day, and then telling her to shake it off when they’re paired up for a PR-friendly mission. When Starlight not-so-subtly calls him out in public, though, Vought puts him on a forced “sabbatical” to try and avoid a hit to its stock prices. Now stationed in a small town in Ohio, The Deep is left bored, rudderless, and mostly forgotten. After trying and failing to rescue some poor sea creatures—like a lonely dolphin and a lobster in a tank at a grocery store—Deep gives in to self-hatred and tries to address his uselessness by… dramatically shaving all of the hair on his body. At least he’ll be more aerodynamic in the water.

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Black Noir

Black Noir

Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir in The Boys
Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir in The Boys
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

The most enigmatic member of The Seven is also the most unknown. A hero with the powers of strength and agility, not to mention increased invulnerability, Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) is also completely silent, making him a cypher even to his own teammates. He’s the closest thing The Seven have to their own ninja assassin, and while the others are often given to petty and vainglorious squabbling, Black Noir, in his dark full-body costume, remains a steadfast soldier for Vought. (Even Homelander has no beef with him, and Homelander doesn’t seem to like hardly anyone. When he dresses down The Seven for their failures and weaknesses, he quickly reassures his mute colleague, “Not you, Noir. You’ve been great.”) He begins hunting The Boys after learning of their existence following Translucent’s death, and seems to kill Kimiko in his pursuit, before she heals. We don’t spend much time with the character in season one, but we do learn that he also has an oddly sensitive side: During a fancy evening dinner to seal the deal for The Seven joining the military, Black Noir is shown seated at the piano, playing his heart out. No word yet on his favorite music artists.

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