While the ultraviolent, hypersexual superhero series The Boys satirizes the archetypes of DC’s Justice League with The Seven and Marvel’s Avengers with Payback, its spinoff series Gen V pays homage to the school setting of the X-Men, the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with Godolkin University or God U. Unlike the former’s noble faculty, however, God U’s academe hides deep secrets that could potentially harm the next generation of superheroes.
The story centers on Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair), a bloodbender who is seeking redemption for accidentally destroying her family, both in a literal and figurative sense. Bent on being admitted to God U’s School of Crimefighting, her dream is then sidetracked when she gets involved in a mystery on campus, all the while dealing with her surging popularity and her schoolmates’ jealousy.
It is not hard to fall for Marie as she is also painted to be self-serving, albeit with moments of hesitation - typical of young adults who find themselves confused between the ideal and the practical. Without any parent to guide her, it is inevitable for the character to do things that she thinks best at the time and learn by making mistakes first.
The powers of the students are also allegories to the challenges faced by the youth. Marie’s self-mutilation is a way of coping with pain. The shrinking powers of her roommate, Emma Meyer (Lizze Broadway), depend on her eating disorder. Jordan Li (Derek Luh and London Thor), a super-strong gender-shifter, experiences his father’s biphobia in a much more pronounced way.
Marie’s banters with metal bender Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo) feel natural, most probably because the two actors have worked together in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Emma, meanwhile, seems to have chemistry with almost anyone she is paired with.
Gen V also pokes fun at the smartphone generation. Expect the same buffoonery from The Boys series, which may or may not be limited to kicking prostates during kinky sex or still hitting prostates with a baseball bat, while shouting "Jumanji."
Actors from The Boys series make a cameo, adding depth to its world-building. The fun easter eggs clue viewers in where Gen V happens in the timeline, without distracting us from the main story. The early episodes take their time to reveal each character’s backstory. Adrenaline junkies need not worry as they will enjoy the action sequences at a break-neck pace. Empath Cate Dunlap's (Maddie Phillips) suggestions might blow your mind, pun intended.
The series also bluntly addresses the aftermath of the Compound V revelation from The Boys Season 1, where parents consented to having their infants experimented to become supes. In one episode, the students’ relationships (or non-relationships) with their folks take the spotlight. There’s the Magneto archetype, Polarity (Sean Patrick Thomas), who is a stage father to Andre, willing to do everything to ensure his son’s future. A difficult scene involving Jordan and his parents may also ring a bell to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
What sets Gen V apart from The Boys is that the reckless young characters are bound to make mistakes, fight over petty things, and be impulsive in their decisions. That makes a different yet interesting dynamic compared to the militaristic Butcher (Karl Urban) and his revenge squad.
With a great combination of dark comedy, teenage drama, and an eclectic mix of the cast, Gen V starts off solid enough to warrant watching where this series goes. The first three episodes prove it is not a lazy cash-in. The new, skillfully crafted characters even bolster The Boys universe more.
Gen V is streaming on Prime Video. Watch the trailer below.