The Big Difference Between Hughie's Powers In The Boys Show And Comic Explained

​​This article contains spoilers through episode 4 of "The Boys" season 3.

Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) never wanted to be part of a superhero-killing crusade, but sometimes life just happens. And after the first time you find yourself thoroughly traumatized and covered in whale guts, taking control of your life becomes a big priority — which is exactly why Hughie was so thrilled to take a job at the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, where he could spend the season filing papers and busting supes with the law, instead of using butt-bombs. 

Unfortunately, Hughie exists in the cruel and nasty world of "The Boys," where such ease is only temporary. By the time "Glorious Five Year Plan" comes along (the fourth episode of the third season), Hughie's suit and tie days are behind him and he's officially back in the chaos of Butcher's reckless crusade to take out supes by any means necessary. As it turns out, this means becoming supes themselves.

Thanks to the newly acquired Compound V-24 (aka Temp V), any idiot willing to inject themselves with the experimental drug can get superhuman abilities for 24 hours, which helps the Boys level the playing field a little. While Frenchie and MM charge into battle wielding guns, Butcher and Hughie are secretly wielding the power of V: during the fight to find the weapon that "killed" Soldier Boy, the duo unleash their powers in front of the team. While it definitely takes their fellow Boys by surprise, fans of the comics have seen this coming for a while. Hughie's powers are actually a big part of his character from the get-go, but with the Prime Video adaptation, there comes a couple of big changes.

Hughie's supe era: the comics vs the show

First off, the actual power Hughie possesses is a little different than comic readers will remember, but superhuman strength and durability carry over in both iterations. After being injected with Temp V, Hughie becomes strong enough to punch a hole in a man's chest. In the show, the unlucky victim is a lab guard in the Russian-controlled facility that hides Soldier Boy, whereas in the comics Hughie takes down an actual supe with his punch — Teenage Kix member Blarney Cock.

Other than whose abdomen he puts his arm through, what else is different about Hughie's power? In the show, he also has the ability to teleport. Hughie can now disappear from one place and appear in another, with the minor caveat of losing his clothes in the process. The irony of this bonus power is hilarious — before being sucked into Butcher's orbit, Hughie's first instinct has always been to run away from danger. Now he has a power that lets him either dart the hell out of a bad situation or leap into battle.

There's also another layer of intrigue: Hughie's power resembles A-Train's, the very supe who put him on this path in the first place by killing his girlfriend. Similarly, Butcher's tangle with the V gives him laser eyes that are a lot like Homelander's, making him a mirror of the supe who ruined and continuously haunts his life. It's almost like there's a lesson to be learned about not becoming the thing you hate. Mother's Milk even tries to point this out to them ("the whole point of what we do is that no one should have that kind of power"), but it might be a while before Hughie and Butcher hear logic.

The origin of Hughie's power

The most interesting difference between Hughie's powers in the comics vs. the show is the circumstances of the V injection. In the comics, Butcher forces the drug on him, catching Hughie by surprise and injecting him on their first mission. The results are permanent and Hughie is upset — partially because he had a needle jammed into his neck without permission, but even more so when he discovers why. Initially, his powers are difficult to control and when he kills Blarney with a punch, it's very upsetting. But this isn't quite the case for Prime Video's iteration of Hughie.

While punching through the Russian certainly catches Hughie off-guard (he follows it up with a reflexive "sorry!"), he isn't very torn up about it. When he pushes the corpse to the ground and examines his blood-soaked arm, Hughie is ecstatic to discover his power. It's a little troubling that he gets over the accidental death so quickly, but in all fairness, show Hughie has been at this for quite some time. In the comics this superpowered kill was his first, but onscreen Hughie has seen much worse. In the show, taking the V is Hughie's own choice. It helps that the effects are only temporary, but all things considered he is still thrilled to have powers. After a season spent worrying about his ability to protect Starlight and feeling inadequate in the presence of supes, he now has a fighting chance.

Is Hughie heading down a dark path?

In the comic world, Hughie punching through Blarney also signals another change in his character: he's horrified by his strength and resents Butcher for thrusting power on him. This sparks tension between the two that slowly intensifies. In the show, Butcher and Hughie are heading down a dark path together, both embracing the effects of the Temp V despite their comrades disapproving. Frenchie and MM are horrified, while Kimiko takes it personally: why would they do this to themselves willingly? She's hated her powers every day of her life. Odds are Starlight won't be a fan either, so if Hughie keeps it up, there's no telling how it might alter the relationships in his life.

When Hughie first discovered what Butcher was up to, he was warned: "It's not power. It's punishment." But Hughie has another perspective: having power is intoxicating, especially when you have the face and general demeanor of a kicked puppy. But if the V and the allure of power eclipse Hughie's better judgment, it won't be long before he loses his status as the team's "canary" and becomes just another Butcher that needs to be reigned in.

The first four episodes of "The Boys" season 3 are currently streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes coming every Friday.