Pesky ghost haunting you? Demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives

The new Netflix series brings to life the comics characters created by Neil Gaiman for eight episodes of supernatural mystery. The show follows Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), two ghosts-turned best friends-turned supernatural investigators. Along with their new not-dead friends Crystal (Kassius Nelson) and Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), the Dead Boy Detective Agency works to solve paranormal cases.

Dead Boy Detectives officially takes place in Netflix’s Sandman universe. But outside of a couple fun connections to The Sandman series sprinkled throughout, Dead Boy Detectives stands entirely on its own. This feels like the right decision, because the shows each thrive on very different tones. While the fantasy world of The Sandman is intense and dark, Dead Boy Detectives brings more campy fun.

Dead Boy Detectives creates a rich supernatural world in its own right. Each episode sees Edwin, Charles, and Crystal investigate a new case, and each case brings them in contact with different creatures, magic, and supernatural challenges to face. One thing I really enjoyed about the series is its balance between the “case of the week” structure and its overarching plots. While the team opens and closes a new mystery each episode, every installment also creates momentum in its character stories and emotional arcs. 

Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland and George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES

What’s more, the characters in Dead Boy Detectives instantly draw you in. Edwin and Charles are a classic “opposites attract” duo, whose different but complementary personalities mesh perfectly to help them sleuth their way through a variety of supernatural cases. Edwin, dead since the early 1900s, is brainy and buttoned-up, inclined towards reading and researching and carefully thought out plans; Charles, who died in the ‘80s, is more emotional and action-driven, ready to pick fights and make things up as he goes along. After Charles and Edwin exorcize her demon ex-boyfriend, Crystal and her psychic abilities (and regular, not-dead status) add another layer to their investigations. 

Outside of our core detective trio, Dead Boy Detectives assembles one of the best secondary ensembles I’ve seen in a while. Jenn Lyon is completely delightful as Esther, a conniving, child-snatching witch the DBD gang accidentally make an enemy of. I’d watch an Esther spinoff series in a heartbeat. I also loved Jenny (Briana Cuoco), the queer goth owner of the butcher shop the teens make their temporary home, who tries very hard to act like she doesn’t care about them while actually caring a lot. The horny Cat King, the heckling Dandelion Sprites, the rules-stickler Night Nurse, the formerly-a-walrus-shopowner — all excellent. No notes.

I also appreciated how the show found ways to create stakes for Edwin and Charles; that can be tough to do when your characters are already dead. But between hiding from Death herself (hello, Sandman crossover!), dodging the Night Nurse, avoiding Esther’s magical wrath (and iron cane), and trying to keep their new human friends alive, it always feels like things could go south for our Dead Boys at any moment. 

While the stakes matter, Dead Boy Detectives really leans into the magic and fun of its supernatural world. The Netflix budget definitely went to work here. Dead Boy Detectives gives us some very fun supernatural and fantasy effects that bolster the magic and mystery. But the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s all the better for it. The Sandman definitely aimed to be “high-brow” television; Dead Boy Detectives just wants to have a good time – and it does.

As for its drawbacks, it should be acknowledged that Dead Boy Detectives is at its core a campy teen supernatural drama. It definitely falls victim to some cringey dialogue at times; if you’ve ever watched a CW series, you’ll know the kind of exchanges I’m talking about. The show also plays a little fast and loose with its characters’ powers and abilities, which can selectively appear and be conveniently forgotten as the plot sees fit. Finally, generally speaking the episodes aren’t head-scratching whodunnits. Don’t expect to be blown away by any twisty cases here. That’s just not really the vibe for this show.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Boy Detectives! The supernatural world offers up plenty to explore, the characters are fun and compelling, and the tone of the series feels distinct and matches what I want from the show. Put simply, I had a lot of fun watching this one! I’m really hoping Netflix keeps the Dead Boy Detective Agency up and running for a while.

Dead Boy Detectives begins streaming on Netflix April 25.