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Could The Boys' Billy Butcher Defeat DC Comics' Manchester Black?

Just as fans obsess over superheroes in real life, hero worship is prevalent in many comics and stories based on comics. It's understandable: the exciting costumes, the flashy powers, the world-saving heroics — what's not to love? Well, ask that question to Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) of The Boys and DC Comics' Manchester Black, and they'll give the same answer: "A lot."

Both men have it out for the preeminent superheroes of their respective universes: Homelander (Antony Starr) and Superman. Their exact reasoning may differ and their morals may be questionable at best, but they'd surely agree that heroes' conception of justice is skewed, and the way heroes execute that justice even more so.

If the two men ever met, they'd almost certainly get off on the right foot, but in all likelihood, their strong convictions would eventually cause them to lock horns. Which Brit would come out on top of the hypothetical melee, though? Let's take a closer look at their strengths and weaknesses to come to the answer that makes the most sense.

Some spoilers for The Boys and Action Comics ahead!

Billy Butcher stands up to the best of them

In the world of The Boys, superpowered people — or "Supes," as Butcher and the titular Boys call them — get their powers from a substance called Compound V. The miracle drug has different effects on each user, but it at least grants enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and durability — making Supes tough opponents even without additional powers. In the comics, Butcher fights fire with fire and injects himself with Compound V, while on the show, opportunities for nabbing the stuff are few and far between. That's right: Butcher fights Supes as a normal man.

Well, "normal" isn't giving him quite enough credit. As a former member of the British Special Air Service — a specialized subsection of the British Army — Butcher is more than proficient in small- and large-caliber firearms of all kinds, as well as close-quarters combat. He demonstrates that proficiency quite often on The Boys, pushing forward even when he's technically outmatched, like when he fights the Compound-V-enhanced Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell).

For as dangerous as he is head-on, Butcher also knows how to play the shadows to his advantage. Not unlike Batman, he can sneak in without being noticed and sneak back out in the blink of an eye. Most importantly, Butcher is more intelligent than he lets on — he has to be when facing opponents who could crush him, burn him, or run through him. His charismatic leadership and endless bank of ideas wins the Boys many a victory; he never hesitates and never gives up.

Impressive as he is, though, the Compound-V-less show version of Butcher is still flesh and blood. He knows he's not invincible, as do his enemies. Close calls are the name of the game when Butcher faces off against Supes as powerful as the members of the Seven; it'd only take one slip-up to ruin everything. His willpower could also be taken advantage of, since a person who keeps chugging along is sure to run out of steam at some point. And despite his hard exterior, Butcher has a soft spot for those he cares about, and is willing to put his life at risk for their sake.

Manchester Black backs conviction with power

Whether or not you believe Superman is the most powerful being in the DC Comics universe, he's still a powerhouse's powerhouse in nearly every continuity he appears in. His Kryptonian physiology allows him to fly at unimaginable speeds, makes him way more powerful than a locomotive, and grants him a plethora of additional powers, from heat vision to ice breath. That being said, any character who poses a threat to Superman is no joke. And, between his powers and his ideology, Manchester Black is absolutely one of them.

Unlike Superman, Manchester Black's powers augment him mentally rather than physically. As a telekinetic, Manchester Black can either be forceful, lifting and manipulating objects that far outsize him, or extraordinarily precise. Indeed, he once employed telekinesis to squeeze the blood vessels in Superman's brain, causing the hero to essentially suffer a stroke. His telekinesis also allows him a limited degree of flight, and the ability to set up force fields that can withstand Superman-level attacks for a time.

Manchester Black is a telepath as well, granting him leeway to read and even control others' minds. The power isn't limited to one-on-one encounters, either: Manchester Black can extend his influence to crowds numbering in the thousands, or bring a group of super-powered beings to their knees simultaneously. Add on his abilities to cast illusions and project psionic waves of force, and it's hard to imagine him being easily beaten. In a pinch, Manchester Black can always count on the super-powered team behind him: the Elite.

He doesn't have any specific weaknesses, but, as mentioned, Manchester Black's powers don't affect his body. When push comes to shove, he's as killable as any regular man; catching him off guard wouldn't be easy, but it wouldn't be impossible either. His over-reliance on his powers could be taken as a sore point as well; indeed, he breaks down when convinced Superman neutralized his powers. And while Manchester Black believes killing supervillains is the best way to protect society, he refuses to believe he himself is a villain — an emotional vulnerability if there ever was one.

Butcher vs. Black: Which Brit bests the other?

Given a chance encounter between Billy Butcher and Manchester Black, a Butcher victory seems unlikely. No matter how many guns or fellow members of the Boys Butcher has on hand, Manchester Black could negate the attacks with a force field and push back with psionic energy. 

But assuming Butcher and Manchester Black know about each other and each come prepared, what then? 

Butcher has plenty of experience dealing with Supes, but the results are varied. Against Translucent (Alex Hassell), Butcher comes out on top because he manages to get the Supe in a cage, figures out his weakness thanks to Frechie (Tomer Kapon), and executes an intelligent plan. Against Black Noir, however, Butcher only escapes with his life because the Supe's superiors tell him to stop. And against Homelander, Butcher's only weapon is his quick wit — not counting the Compound V he uses in the comics.

Even with Compound V and a plan, though, Manchester Black is like no Supe Butcher has ever dealt with. Kimiko's (Karen Fukuhara) brother Kenji (Abraham Lim) may have had telekinesis, but it was far less polished than Manchester Black's and not backed by any of Manchester Black's other mental powers. Plus, it's Stormfront (Aya Cash), not Butcher or the Boys, who eventually defeats Kenji. That doesn't guarantee failure for Butcher against Manchester Black, but how easily could Manchester Black turn the Boys against one another with a touch of mind control? Or set up illusions to fool them? Or pinch the blood vessels in their brains like he did to Superman?

Butcher's only chance at victory would be to attack Manchester Black emotionally, which would require knowing the kind of person his opponent is. Even then, Butcher doesn't have any convenient way of convincing Manchester Black that he's lost his powers or is really a villain — tricks that probably wouldn't work twice anyway. Billy Butcher certainly isn't a man to be underestimated, but breaking through Manchester Black's many defenses would be a Herculean task even for him.