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What Only Comic Fans Know About Robin's Death In The Boys

Nearly every story has an inciting incident — an event that irrevocably kicks things off for the characters and is designed to hook the audience in. The best inciting incidents are excellent indicators of the things to come. The worst have the ability to single-handedly turn people off to whatever follows. Based on viewers' and critics' reception of the show, The Boys' inciting incident works like a charm.

As with most superhero tales, The Boys' inciting incident is also an origin story — only this time, the protagonist, Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), doesn't become a superhero. Quite the opposite, in fact: Hughie's life is absolutely ruined by a superhero (or "Supe" in series parlance). The incident, and the show as a whole, is based on the comics version of events by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, but the showrunners didn't use tracing paper when adapting it. So, let's play a little game of "spot the differences" with the beginning of The Boys.

Spoilers for The Boys show and comics from here on out!

The consequences of besmirching Billy Joel

On the show, Hughie is introduced as your average twenty-something, working a dead-end job and laughing it off as best he can. Out for a stroll with his girlfriend Robin (Jess Salgueiro), she surprises him with the prospect of moving in together. He stops her on the curb, confirming that he just heard what he thought he heard. She mocks him about how tired she is of staring at the Billy Joel poster in his room. Hughie stuffs out her words with a passionate kiss, and follows up by saying, "Hey, don't you ever besmirch Billy Jo—"

A sound. Like a train rushing by. Robin disappears. Hughie's face contorts as if hit with a sonic wave. Then ... blood splashes on his face. The camera slowly turns, revealing more blood, along with bones, falling to the ground in slow motion. It's barely visible, but it looks like a man is standing behind the descending gore. Things return to real time, and viewers get a full view of A-Train (Jessie Usher), the super-speedy member of the Seven, covered in blood, repeating the phrase "I can't stop" with exasperated breath. He runs off. A confused Hughie turns to where Robin was standing just moments ago, only to find her hands — her detached hands — in his. Heartbroken, he screams for a girl who is no more.

Viewers later learn that A-Train was high on Compound V, the miracle drug whipped up by Vought International to create Supes. Not an evil act, then, but one of carelessness — which makes it harder to come to terms with. Indeed, Robin's spectre haunts Hughie, her eyes seemingly asking, "Why?" This makes him joining up with the Boys feel personal, and furthers the plotline about A-Train's addiction later on.

Not so fair at the fair

The comics see Hughie and Robin on a date at the fair, enjoying each other's company. Robin declares her love for Hughie, admitting that she's known her feelings for him were true for quite some time. "Even with everything that happened afterwards," the narration reads, "Hughie always remembered: that kiss was like none he'd ever had before." Robertson's art alone says that much. They let go, still holding hands when —

A massive figure appears on the next page, seemingly flung into a nearby wall. He's dressed in what looks like a costume, torn up as if he was in a fight. Hughie stands just out of range, Robin's severed hands still in his. Shocked, Hughie nearly stumbles as another man in another costume passes by behind him, blurred lines implying super speed. It's A-Train. The Supe yells "Out of the f***ing way —" as he barrels past Hughie. Finally regaining his balance, Hughie holds fast to the remnants of his girlfriend, gazing at her crushed body against the wall as emergency responders tend to him. As Hughie begins screaming, A-Train asks a nearby cop, "You have people to deal with this, right? Cool." He runs off. The paramedics try to contain Hughie as he shouts Robin's name at the uncaring sky.

So, while A-Train is still responsible for Robin's death, there are a few key differences, the first of which is the location: Glasgow, Scotland. The show takes place in America, but comic book Hughie is Scottish. Location aside, A-Train throwing an unnamed supervillain into Robin and crushing her against the wall is gruesome in its own right, compared to the show. Most importantly, A-Train is completely clearheaded, so the mistake wasn't drug-induced in any way — just his fault entirely.

Show or comic, Robin still dies. One could argue that A-Train's more direct killing in the show is harder on Hughie, or that the Supe's ambivalent attitude in the comic makes his actions twice as deplorable. Either way, Hughie joins the Boys because he loses the woman he loves, and that's enough.