Spider-Man taught us that with great power comes great responsibility, but the caped crimefighters of Amazon’s The Boys are here to teach a different lesson: With great power comes the great likelihood that someone will turn into a superpowered asshole. The members of The Seven, America’s legion of elite superheroes sponsored and stage-managed by the rapacious multinational Vought corporation, have almost all become sadistic monsters drunk on the power and impunity that comes with their vaunted position. Some, like speedster A-Train, are thoughtlessly cruel, while others, like Superman-esque team leader Homelander, are pure narcissistic malevolence personified. Thank goodness there’s at least one group of citizens hell-bent on taking them down—though at the moment, they’re highly wanted fugitives, thanks to their efforts to expose Vought and The Seven’s evil blowing up in their faces.
Season one of the series (based on Garth Ennis’ pulpy and violent comic book deconstruction of superpowered individuals) found the ragtag group of titular protagonists rallying around an effort to expose wrongdoing of both the corporate and superhero variety, while an idealistic and newly minted member of The Seven quickly learned just how dysfunctional and disturbing her new teammates’ beliefs and practices really were. After kidnapping and killing a member of The Seven, the Boys learned the truth: Superheroes aren’t born, they’re made—from Compound-V, an experimental serum that Vought has been injecting in untold numbers of infants throughout the country, with an extremely poor success (read: survival) rate. Showrunner Eric Kripke kept things lively and moving, and by season’s end, the new mission—expose what Vought has been doing, and bring down the financial backers of The Seven—was in full swing. Unfortunately, the group also fractured under the pressure of differing goals, so as the new season begins on September 4, we’ve put together this handy guide to bring you up to (super-)speed on where all the major players stand, whether in league with The Seven or fighting valiantly against them. But don’t worry—there’s enough swearing and brutality from both sides to make a sailor blush.