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Gen V Review: A Raucous And Immediately Addictive Successor To The Boys

  • Immediately endearing cast of characters with new superpowers
  • Gruesome, off-the-wall sense of humor
  • Fast-paced energy that keeps audiences engaged
  • Some on-the-nose superpowers as reflections of mental health issues

If anyone was worried about a spinoff of "The Boys" not being able to live up to the original, their fears should be put to rest. "Gen V" has the same irreverent, iconoclastic sense of humor as "The Boys," and introduces a new cast of superheroes with creatively designed powers that capture the audience's attention right off the bat. Where "The Boys" took place in the full adult world of superheroing as a job, "Gen V" tackles it from a college perspective, where aspiring supes are still learning how to use their powers and what their place in the world will be. The result is that the show falls into more coming-of-age territory — albeit with all of the crudeness and gross-out humor that fans have come to expect. Still, though, there's a surprising emotional heart at its center, as young, vulnerable superheroes navigate a landscape where they are simultaneously put on a pedestal and surrounded by people who want to tear them down, all while the powers that be are determined to keep a tight leash on them by any means necessary. Is "Gen V" subtle? Nope! But to be fair, at no point does it claim to be.

For many young people with powers, Godolkin University (a school reserved exclusively for supes) is just a stop on the way to future greatness, a place that they're expected to go to hone their skills before becoming global superstars. But for Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair), a young woman with the unique ability to control blood, it goes further than that — it's a chance for her to get a fresh start at life, to prove to the world that she's so much more than the worst thing she's ever done. While her classmates are partying and giddily exploiting their superpowers, Marie is determined to keep her head down and focus on carving out a path for herself as one of the most promising supes of her generation. But just because she's not looking for trouble doesn't mean that it won't find her. Almost immediately upon arriving at campus, she and a group of her classmates become embroiled in a mystery, one that involves whispers of a place called "The Woods."

A new crop of supes

One of the biggest selling points of "The Boys" is that its large ensemble cast of characters is interesting and likable, even when they're behaving in thoroughly repugnant ways. The same is true of "Gen V," which has not only the earnest and empathetic Marie as its lead protagonist, but a swath of other college students who quickly become her circle of friends (and sometimes adversaries, depending on the episode). 

There's her energetic and outgoing roommate Emma (Lizze Broadway), who can shrink down just a few inches tall, Ant-Man-style; Andre (Chance Perdomo), who can control and manipulate metal; Cate (Maddie Phillips), who has unique powers of persuasion; Jordan (Derek Luh and London Thor), a non-binary classmate who can switch between male and female at will; and Luke (Patrick Schwarzenegger), appropriately named Golden Boy, who can turn his entire body into a ball of fire. They're all fascinating in their own ways, and even if some of their powers are a little on the nose, it takes barely an episode for audiences to become emotionally invested in their stories. "Gen V" doesn't really have that warming-up period that a lot of spinoffs require, where it takes a little bit of time for viewers to get used to the fact that they're not watching the characters they've grown to love.

Picking up where The Boys left off

In fact, "Gen V" feels like a natural extension of "The Boys" in many ways. Although it deals with superheroes earlier on in their careers, so much of the narrative revolves around the fallout of one of the biggest revelations on "The Boys" — that superheroes are created through the administration of Compound V to infants. Vought has made these all-powerful beings, and now they need to figure out a way to keep them in line. But that's hardly the end of the ramifications of Compound V. All of these young adults, already trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, have to grapple with the fact that when they were vulnerable little babies, their parents purposely injected them with a serum that changed the trajectory of their lives. Now they're on a set path filled with unrealistic expectations and surrounded by people trying to exploit them at every turn. The limitations of their paths are made clear by Godolkin's recruitment video — they highlight the School of Crimefighting and the School of Performing Arts, and there's no reference to any other potential career aside from a brief mention of the superhero management major.

"Gen V" offers a different perspective on the world of superheroes, one that is given a burst of energy by focusing on younger college students just starting out. It remains as creative as "The Boys" in terms of its determination to come up with as many different unique (and sometimes gross) superpowers as it can, and the entire first season moves fast, never giving the audience a chance to get bored. The main characters work well together, each with their own dynamics as they meld into a team. The more we learn about them and the experiences that have led them to Godolkin, the more we're just as emotionally attached as we were to anyone on "The Boys." Equal parts raucous and surprisingly introspective, "Gen V" is a more than worthy successor to the popular Amazon series.

"Gen V" will be available to stream on Prime Video on September 29.