The Boys‘ spinoff series Gen V is doing its own thing with a slowly unraveling mystery at Godolkin University. But that doesn’t mean these shows aren’t closely intertwined. For college supes like Marie Moreau, the impact of the Seven looms large over their lives. In fact, the deification of superheroes led some parents to inject their babies with Compound V in hopes that they’d gain powers. This drug is a big part of The Boys’ overall history and future storylines. So, let’s dig into all things Compound V, its different forms, and what it means for the characters of Gen V and The Boys.
The History of Compound V and Compound V24 in The Boys, Explained
The first season of The Boys introduces us to Compound V. It is a blue serum that can give both humans and animals extraordinary abilities. Nazi scientist Frederick Vought created it during WWII to turn adult soldiers into supes. Over the years, Vought International continued to make and manipulate his formula. The abilities a person can get are random and, if there are multiple doses, the powers can change based on how it mutates in the body. Interestingly, Compound V has a better survival and success rate with babies and young children versus adults. It is not a guarantee that anyone who takes Compound V will develop powers at any point in their lives. And, as expected, higher doses for those who can successfully process Compound V makes them stronger/faster/etc. This is why Queen Maeve and Homelander are so wildly strong.
In The Boys, we see an adult and already superpowered A-Train and his then-girlfriend Popclaw take Compound V. They use it in regular, small doses to enhance their abilities, much like a steroid does for normal human athletes. Unfortunately, it can cause the opposite effect and weaken their powers or cause major damage to their organs. That’s what happens to the speedster A-Train, who ends up needing a heart transplant.
The Boys season three gives us a different form of the serum with Compound V24, which is also known as Temp V. Compound V24 is a green super serum that allows a regular person to be a supe for 24 hours with just one dose. It is expensive—two million dollars, to be exact—and doesn’t seem to be addictive. Well, unless you count a person’s ego boost as addictive. Butcher gets his initial dose from Queen Maeve in hopes of being able to fight Soldier Boy and the Payback collective. Hughie also takes some of it so he can gain powers and feel more useful in general.
Like any drug, Compound V24 has side effects. It made Butcher vomit green blood, drizzle goo out of his ears, and eventually led to such severe sickness that he only has months to live (allegedly). Starlight reveals that Compound V24 is fatal after three doses and Butcher has hit that mark.
Compound V24 will surely come into play in The Boys season four as we learn more about Butcher’s fate.
Compound V in Gen V, Explained
It’s pretty obvious that Compound V plays a role in Gen V. It is right there in the show’s name. According to Indira Shetty’s conversation with Ashely Barrett in episode two, 400 kids (including Marie) found out that they weren’t born special but were drugged with Compound V as babies. Luke and Sam further discuss this in an episode three flashback. Sam is understandably furious when he finds out but Luke tries to defend his parents, saying they just thought they were giving them powers.
Why would a parent give their child a dangerous and potentially fatal drug? We assume most parents did this in hopes of making their kids wealthy/famous like the Seven. That is the case with Emma’s mom for sure. As we discover in Gen V, many of these young supes don’t know how to control their abilities when they first activate. Like Marie, some of their powers don’t kick in until puberty or another life-altering event and they are completely shocked.
They often end up in places like the Red River Institute, which is a supe orphanage. After a certain age/timeframe, they “transition” to a facility like Sage Grove psychiatric hospital or Elmira Adult rehab center where they are locked up or killed. Some supes like Sam have to grapple with mental health hurdles, too.
Marie’s power may not be as “marketable” as being a speedster or having super strength; however, she’s still one of the lucky ones. Landing at God U seemed like the best fate given her traumatic past. But we now know that the school is a front for gruesome experiments. Interestingly, we discover more about Marie’s powers, including her ability to suss out Compound V in a person’s bloodstream.
With the mysteries of that weird facility known as “the woods,” we may discover something new about Compound V soon. Vought is always “refining” the process of creating Compound V and there are probably science researchers at this university. How will it affect this generation as they come fully into adulthood? The answers could be lurking in the shadows of God U.
Originally published September 29, 2023.