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We’re a little more than a week away from Billy Butcher’s return to the small screen, where he’ll be back to drag Hughie, Mother’s Milk, and the rest of The Boys' ragtag gang of good guys through another impossible-odds gauntlet. Standing up to corrupt superheroes left fan favorites like Butcher and Starlight stuck in character limbo with the surprises that closed out Season 1, and anticipation is high to see how they'll get by as the world changes around them.
Showrunner Eric Kripke has already teased that Season 2 will take everything fans loved about the show’s hard-hitting yet hilarious first season and magnify it — even if it traumatizes them. But now the critics are starting to weigh in, as early reviews trickle in. Do reviewers think Amazon’s anti-hero celebration of superhero storytelling delivers in its sophomore outing? And can anybody — we mean anybody — stop Homelander?
We'll just have to see for ourselves about Homelander. But when it comes to Season 2 itself, for the most part, the answer is a resounding yes. With few exceptions, the folks who get paid to write about watching TV largely agree that everything that made The Boys great from the start is back and then some, with intriguing new storylines and character pairings that tease at the latent tensions within both Billy’s gang and The Seven — mega-company Vought’s corrupt and cynical take on The Avengers or the Justice League.
Don’t worry about spoilers in any of these critical samplings; we’ve taken care to make sure not to ruin the fun. Here, in descending order from highest praise to highest skepticism, is a handful of (mostly) hyped reviewer reactions.
Check out what the critics had to say below:
"[T]he big question going into Season 2 is, can The Boys keep its edge keen and sustain the show’s previous levels of f***in’ diabolicality? The answer is, hell yes…Sustaining the first season’s peak levels of violence and dark comedy, Season 2 pulls none of its satirical jabs. Antony Starr’s Homelander, meanwhile, further proves himself the perfect superhero for our trash-fire times." — Dan Jolin, Empire
"The Boys’ abject disdain for traditional superheroes is palpable, which is one of the things that makes it so enjoyable to watch. One can’t help but realize that the creative minds behind Amazon’s adaptation of the comics really have a deep love for the genre they’re continuing to brutally lampoon in season two…The Boys sophomore season doesn’t try to pull its punches and really ends up feeling like something special. The imagery is every bit as messed up gore-wise as its predecessor and if blood isn’t really your thing, it might be something to skip or watch with the remote at the ready." — Charles Pulliam-Moore, Gizmodo
"As a whole, the second season of The Boys is a solid improvement on the first: Smarter, sharper, and more engaged with its stories and characters—not to mention [Aya] Cash swooping in and pulling off a sneak MVP performance with her devilishly dry turn as Stormfront…If season one was mostly empty spectacle—a bunch of super-powered a**holes unleashing heat-vision blasts and concrete-shattering punches—now we’ve got a reason to care, a retort to the bleak nihilism that previously drove things along." — Alex McLevy, AV Club
"Showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) kicks off Season 2 with even more of the irreverent, gratuitous, and stylized drama that made us all fall in love with Season 1. And while the over-the-top action is a joy to behold, like The Boys ramming a high-speed boat through the belly of a whale, Kripke never forgets to take time to develop his characters. Where Season 1 focused a bit more on the profound effect superheroes have on ordinary people, Season 2 begins by lasering in on how having superpowers affects you as a person…[I]f you loved the over-the-top action sequences from Season 1, then rest assured that you’re going to get even more bonkers spectacle this time around." — David Griffin, IGN
"The Boys delights as a stark departure from the expected norms of comic book content right up until the point it doesn’t. Highly entertaining but grossly flawed, The Boys envisions itself as the bad boy of superhero stories. To a degree, it is. But let’s not act as if its the long-awaited mash-up of Shakespeare and Stan Lee." — Brandon Katz, Observer
Created by Kripke, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg, and co-produced with Amazon and Sony Pictures Television, The Boys premieres the first three episodes of Season 2 at Amazon on Sept. 4. Prime Rewind: Inside The Boys, a new aftershow hosted by Aisha Tyler, debuts on Aug. 28 with a look back at Season 1, with more episodes arriving along with each new weekly installment in the main series.