The Supes are a race of powerful superhumans who have been medically diagnosed as "super-abled" by mainstream science.
Contrary to popular belief, most Supers are not born with their abilities, but are instead the results of children who, with the permission of their parents, were heavily medicated with Compound V; an alchemical super serum known to produce permanent superpowers in human subjects.
These children are the legal property of Vought International and are often marketed by the company to perform public services such as rescue missions in order to win popularity, love and admiration from the general public as a means for the company to capitalize upon. Due to the fact that, until recently, Compound V was contained within the borders of the United States, it was widely believed that America was "the chosen land of God" since every Supe for the last 70+ years were red-blooded Americans. It was also believed that Supes, much like the prophets and messiahs of ancient times, were chosen by God to inherit their abilities and were subsequently revered by many different temples and churches.
To perpetuate these lies, the parents of these children were often compensated with financial hush money and forced to sign a series of non-disclosure agreements. However, since the discovery of "super terrorists" from other regions of the world, the belief that America was divinely favored has been irrevocably debunked. Soon thereafter, with the public revelation of Compound V, the belief that all superheroes were the result of divine selection has also been debunked.
For reasons unknown, the modern Compound V formula showcases its best results in children, with adult subjects being at a much higher risk for disaster. However, according to Stan Edgar, Fredrick Vought, the creator of Compound V and founder of Vought International, initially tested his original formula on adult subjects, with Stormfront being his first successful patient.
Furthermore, the children that were selected to receive the serum were always chosen by amoral doctors with contracts to Vought. These individuals were seemingly chosen at random, however, it was revealed that 92% of the babies selected were Caucasian, whereas only 6% were African American and the last 2% were divided between Asians and Latinos, indicating a strong racial bias from the company. Ryan Butcher is the only known child to have inherited his superpowers from his father and is believed to be the first natural-born Supe in human history.
It was also revealed that while some children develop their superpowers immediately after their injections, other children might not manifest their abilities until later in life. According to Starlight, her powers were present from the time she was a toddler, whereas the Deep claimed that his abilities and biological transformation did not occur until he was around nine years old. Furthermore, whilst the specific abilities that the subject will develop are often random and completely unpredictable, almost all Supes seem to exhibit varying degrees of superhuman strength, speed, and durability. The very few exceptions to this are Mesmer and the TNT Twins.
Note: According to showrunner Eric Kripke, the amount of Compound V that is prescribed to the patient will determine the strength of their superpowers. While some Supes such as Queen Maeve, Homelander, and Black Noir were given high doses of Compound V and are immensely powerful as a result, other Supes such as Mesmer and Eagle the Archer were given low doses of Compound V and are significantly weaker than their fellow colleagues. Eric Kripke claims that because Compound V is so expensive to produce, different subjects are prescribed with different doses.
Whilst any individual who is injected with Compound V and survives the mutation process is guaranteed to develop superpowers, these powers are often random and completely unpredictable.
Additionally, based on the dialogue between Hughie Campbell and Annie January, where Hughie explained how he intuitively knew what his abilities were and also that if he clenched his buttcheeks together and jumped that he would be able to teleport, this seemingly indicates that all Supes have an inherent understanding of what their superpowers are and more importantly what specific gestures and/or physical requirements might be necessary in order to activate them. However, based on the genuine surprise that Hughie expressed when he realized that he could not teleport his clothing with him, this also indicates that Supes are ignorant of what the limitations of their super-abilities might entail.
Furthermore, as seen with A-Train and Popclaw, the recreational use of certain drugs, such as Compound V, can temporarily enhance their abilities. However, the abusive use of such drugs can ultimately have adverse effects on the Supe that will ironically weaken their superpowers.
Similar to their human counterparts, Supes are entirely capable of sexual reproduction. However, the children that are born from Supes will not necessarily inherit any super-abilities from their parent(s). Ryan Butcher is believed to be the first child to have manifested superpowers as a biological endowment from his father. Ryan is not, however, the first child to have been born from a superhero parent. Translucent was said to have fathered a son named Maverick, whom has currently shown no signs of superhuman potential. Similarly, Victoria Neuman also had a daughter named Zoe who did not inherit her abilities and was forced to inject her daughter with Compound V in order to develop superpowers of her own.
Due to the flaws in the current Compound V formula, Vought International established The Sage Grove Center, a psychiatric hospital located in Philadelphia. There, Vought had been secretly - and illegally - injecting their patients with updated recipes of the Compound V formula. Lamplighter claimed that the company was trying to perfect the serum so that it was capable of working on adults as well as children with minimal negative side effects. These experiments would ultimately result in the creation of V24, a temporary version of Compound V that lasts 24 hours per dose.
- After its creation in the 1940s, Compound V has been contained within the borders of the United States and has only been administered by Vought to American children. However, with Homelander's master plan of creating worldwide supervillains as a way for American politicians to allow superheroes in the United States military, Compound V has now been released all over the world and is currently being prescribed to both adults and children.
- It appears that some Supes develop superpowers that resemble their personality. For example, Billy Butcher, who demonstrates many of the same prejudices and extreme beliefs as Homelander, ironically manifested superpowers almost identical to the latter's. Hughie Campbell also explained how his cowardice would always compel him to run away from any sign of trouble, and fittingly manifested the power to teleport.
- Much like their comic book counterparts, almost every Supe has been given an iconic backstory that was fabricated by the Vought International PR Team. This was done as a means to cover-up the illegal injections of children with an illicit drug that was being hidden from the general public, as well to improve their overall imagine to better promote and profit from. For example, Homelander is believed to be an all-American golden boy from the Midwest who grew up with a loving family who cherished the game of baseball. In reality, Homelander was raised in a laboratory where he rarely saw sunlight and was perpetually tortured and experimented on by Vought International scientists. Stormfront, formerly known as Liberty, was also given a false background to hide the fact that she was raised as a Nazi in the 1940s.