The Boys’ Best Herogasm Joke is A Secret Only Comic Fans Will Get

One of the most shocking arcs of The Boys’ might have developed a reputation for its graphic content, but the comic reveals that there’s a secret meaning behind the supes’ most infamous orgy.

Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys is a mature deconstruction of the superhero genre that isn’t afraid to showcase the lurid nature of costumed heroes. While the characters of DC and Marvel comics are as straitlaced as they come, the ‘heroes’ of The Boys engage in behavior that’s unbefitting of noble archetypes. Few arcs in the series showcase the wanton behavior of its heroes more than The Boys’ “Herogasm” storyline, which featured a giant superhero orgy that all of the comics’ heroes attended. The arc was adapted briefly in the Amazon adaptation of The Boys, though the event wasn’t the episode’s focus and, amazingly enough, wasn’t anywhere near as graphic as the comic.

But before the supes of the world could attend the event of the season, they had to prepare the Earth for the sudden departure of every major hero from the planet. In The Boys: Herogasm #1 by Garth Ennis and John McCrea, Homelander (the most lauded supe in The Boys) calls for a press conference. The hero informs the public that a hostile alien race known as the Battelite of the Marith’rai system have entered the solar system and that every supe is heading to space to stop them. Of course, this is just a cover story for the public while the heroes attend Herogasm. But, it’s clear from the speech that this isn’t the first time they’ve pulled this stunt, especially once Homelander mentions the names of other events that have served as covers for previous Herogasms.

“Civil Dispute,” “Downcount,” “Final Fracas.”—if these names sound familiar it’s because they’re all riffs on comic book events such as Civil War and Final Crisis. While The Boys has always worn its comic book influences on its sleeves, this is perhaps one of its most pointed ribs towards the comic book industry yet. The barely-changed names and the entire concept of Herogasm is meant to do one thing and one thing only: skewer the beloved tradition of comic book events.

The Boys receives a lot of attention for its dark and depraved spin on superheroes, portraying them as jackasses at best and at worst, cruel monsters. For all the depictions of violence and sexuality, The Boys is a parody of comics. While the Amazon show embraced Herogasm’s shocking portrayal of superhuman debauchery, it misses one of the key aspects for what worked with the comics. Giant comic book events are one of the genre’s most notable storytelling conventions. They’re usually meant to be giant game-changing arcs that set up bold new directions for superheroes. But The Boys mocks the entire idea by having it just be PR so that the heroes can indulge in their most base behavior. Herogasm is just another part of The Boys’ overall roasting of the comic book industry and its best joke proves it.

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