This article contains spoilers for The Boys season 3 episode 6.
Although no one will ever accuse The Boys of showing restraint when it comes to its over-the-top violence and kinky sex scenes, its source material was even less inhibited by any sense of propriety, and by the time the “Herogasm” miniseries appeared in 2009, comics readers had already experienced thirty issues of sheer depravity. The same could be said of the Prime Video series now that the episode of the same name has aired, but viewers may be surprised that the allusion goes beyond a simple nod to the original.
The comics, for example, introduced Herogasm as a much more massive event than the annual gathering seen in the show. The weeklong orgy necessitated an entire Pacific island and a cover story involving the participating superheroes supposedly fighting in space against an alien invasion as an explanation for their extended absence. In the comics, both The Seven, led by Homelander, and Payback, led by Soldier Boy, were in attendance, but the story really had very little to do with a confrontation between the two leaders the way it does in The Boys season 3.
Although the smaller setting may seem less grand than the tropical island of the comics, some similarities between the two interpretations highlight the greater nuance of the show. For instance, Marvin tells Starlight that the sex workers hired for the soiree endure rough treatment at the hands of superpowered clients, and the Herogasm comic certainly alludes to these physical challenges as well. But whereas the comic presents the punishment merely as an occupational hazard, The Boys creates a sense of urgency in rescuing abused innocents from the coming confrontation.
The television series also brings in a Russian superhero from earlier in the comics run that didn’t actually appear at Herogasm: the one Marvin cleverly nicknamed “Love Sausage.” In the show, the man with the prehensile member answers the door at the TNT twins’ humble abode, welcoming Starlight and accepting the impromptu moniker from Marvin. In the comics, Love Sausage is the hero’s actual name, but he provides an equal amount of levity with his unusual superpower and seems perfectly at home in the sex party of The Boys season 3.
Oddly enough, the best moment that The Boys improved upon from the Herogasm comic is one that was already reinterpreted in an earlier episode. The Homelander of the comics has a mid-orgy epiphany, realizing that he could pretty much do anything and get away with it, and to prove it to himself, he flies above the Pacific — completely nude — and laser-eyes a passenger plane out of the sky. The superhero then plans on announcing his newfound liberation from the PR lackeys at Vought during an awards show called the Supies.
Sound familiar? This is exactly the realization that Homelander came to in the opening three episodes of The Boys, and it set off a subsequent takeover of Vought by the leader of The Seven. Interestingly, the Homelander of the Herogasm comic is unable to successfully distract his Vought handler and is stopped from making his announcement to the assembled supes, creating immense frustration of a different sort than what is seen in the show.
So yes, Herogasm is a much more subdued affair in The Boys season 3, but in some ways it’s made more successful by acting as a climactic confrontation between Vought’s two top dogs along with the newly powered Butcher and Hughie. The comic provided the inspiration for some thematic elements that the TV show was able to deepen, adding complexity to a storyline that on the page was essentially a sidebar to the political ascension of Vought-controlled presidential hopefuls.
In fact, it’s entirely possible The Boys still has even more to pull from the Herogasm miniseries besides a few dick jokes and some octopus sex. Stay tuned!