Following the success of movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, and TV hits like Arrow and The Walking Dead, we're suddenly seeing a host of comic-book-based shows in development for the upcoming television seasons.
Whether it's the sure bet of Gotham (which takes a backward glance at Batman's famous city) or more-obscure fodder like iZombie (in which a young Veronica Mars-type character eats brains), many cable and broadcast networks are getting into the act.
We're lucky to live in what's truly a golden age of comic book media. Here are the upcoming comic book shows we're looking forward to most.
The Flash is a direct spinoff from The CW’s surprisingly better-than-expected Arrow (which is based on DC Comics character Green Arrow). The Flash will focus on the fastest man alive and his struggles to control his mystical Speed Force powers, plus the guy from Ed is in it — yes!
There’s nothing better in comics than a good origin story, and The Flash's is pretty fun. The show debuts Oct. 7 on The CW.
Constantine is based on the long-running Vertigo comics series Hellblazer. First appearing in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing back in 1985, the character of John Constantine has evolved over a stellar print run, with a huge cast of authors and illustrators leaving their own marks on the character.
We’re hoping the television version of JC will retain much of the character's arrogance, sarcasm and substance abuse. Constantine debuts Oct. 24 on NBC.
Brian Michael Bendis' Powers is one of our favorite comics to read, as it offers a fresh perspective on the superhero genre. Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are quintessential homicide detectives, only they investigate crimes committed by people with extra-human abilities. It's like Law & Order: Superpowers.
Here’s hoping Sony Pictures Television takes this one seriously and really digs into the grime of the comic book's storylines when it streams the show on PlayStation Network his December (it's slated to be PlayStation’s first original series).
It's 1946, and Strategic Scientific Reserve agent Peggy Carter must balance her office work with the secret stuff she does for Iron Man's dad Howard Stark. This spinoff of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got started as a one-shot special that came bundled with the Iron Man 3 home movie release.
Agent Carter garnered enough interest to warrant its own show, which will air on ABC starting in January 2015 and be helmed by some of the big Marvel movie directors.
Another safe bet here is Fox’s Gotham, a look at the city that birthed the Batman. This is a prequel of sorts, with a focus on Detective Gordon long before he becomes police commissioner.
Gotham looks to be cut from the same cloth as Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with most of the superhero stuff on the sidelines (making things much more television-friendly in terms of budget). While we're kind of over all things Bat, this could turn out to be the sleeper hit of the season — we’re willing to keep an open mind until it debuts Sept. 22 on Fox.
Preacher, based on the ultra-violent and incredibly profane comic book series from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon at Vertigo, is a not-so-safe bet. That’s why we’re super-glad that AMC (The Walking Dead) has picked up this amazing look at American culture and its obsession with big guns, Christianity and hyper-masculinity, all filtered through a Texas setting. The show reportedly will debut in 2015.
Veronica Mars' Rob Thomas has taken on another powerful teen female show with iZombie, loosely based on the Vertigo imprint of the same name. Starring Tinkerbell from ABC's Once Upon a Time, the show will look at what it takes to be a young zombie. The Eisner Award-winning comic should prove to be a great live-action show, if the CW doesn’t totally soft-focus everything. The show is expected to debut during the 2014-15 season.
Daredevil (and other Netflix entries)
Thank the gods for Netflix, which has corralled a bunch of Marvel characters — including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders — to create original programming. While many of these are second- or third-tier characters, Daredevil is a personal favorite of mine; a good TV show could go a long way toward rinsing out the bad taste left in our mouths by that Affleck-powered movie a while back.
Daredevil is penciled in for a May 2015 release, with all 13 episodes being unleashed by the streaming service at once like a gang of Hell's Kitchen hoods.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie put us to sleep when it came out in 2003. Alan Moore's comic book, which began in 1999 and continues to this day, should be a fantastic story engine, since it ties into many fictional heroes and villains from the past, like Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and Captain Nemo.
As huge Superman and Batman fans, no-one is more excited than we are. With that in mind, here are the 9 things we hope more than anything that director Zack Snyder is able to get right for history's most eagerly-anticipated team-up. Check out the gallery to find out what they are.
Give us a good Batman villain
While The Joker is, without a doubt, the ultimate Batman villain, we’ve seen him too recently thanks to Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Instead, I’d like to see the filmmakers revisit the Batman antagonist with the most promise yet to be given the proper big screen treatment.
By this, I refer to Mr. Freeze, who was last brought to unconvincing life by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1997’s dreadful Batman & Robin. Since then we’ve had a superb New 52remix of Freeze’s origin, downplaying the character’s tragic origins in favor of an added dose of insanity.
Play Freeze as a (no pun intended) coolly calculating criminal mastermind, like Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Se7en, and you have a character who could mentally torture both Batman and Superman equally. Freeze’s love for cold would even tie into Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude.
Get Superman's villain right
We’ve already heard that we’re getting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The last thing this movie needs is an overload of villains, so hopefully Zack Snyder will concentrate on getting Luthor right, as opposed to adding more enemies from Superman’s rogues gallery.
Although Bryan Cranston and Bruce Willis would’ve been picks more in line with the Lex Luthor of the comic series, Eisenberg has the makings of a great Lex Luther reimagining, particularly if he can channel some of his Mark Zuckerberg character from The Social Network. Since The Man of Steel was all about Superman being challenged physically, this could be a perfect inversion of that concept.
Besides, forget industrialists -- the real power brokers today are the billionaire techies from Silicon Valley.
Let Batman be a detective
Chris Nolan ticked off a lot of the Batman characteristics in his landmark Dark Knight trilogy, but very rarely did Batman venture into the Dark Knight Detective persona he is presented as in the comics. In a movie that looks like it’ll be filled with super powered heroes, Batman is going to be very quickly outshone if he doesn’t have something to set him apart.
That "something" should be his intelligence, which was presented so well on paper by Grant Morrison in his classic run on JLA. Zack Snyder’s films are sometimes singled out for being more about surface than about substance. By making Batman into the thinking man’s hero, a lot of that criticism could be allayed.
Get the dynamic between Batman and Superman right
This point cannot be stressed enough. The Batman movies especially have always focused on the duality of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and this is the opportunity to take that idea one step further. Batman and Superman are polar opposites, and this could have the makings of a great on-screen chemistry provided the two lead actors are up to it..
Yes, everyone wants to see the heroes fight (more on that later) but Bruce and Clark’s opposite ways of looking at the world could give us the best back-and-forth dialogue this side of Captain America and Iron Man.
Highlight the difference between Gotham and Metropolis
It’s not just Batman and Superman who need to have the right dynamic: the two heroes’ respective home towns also need to emphasize the differences between both. The closest we’ve come to the right architecture for Gotham was in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, while Snyder’s The Man of Steel offered a perfectly acceptable Metropolis.
Where Batman’s city is full of rain, gargoyles, and perpetual nighttime, Superman’s Metropolis should be sunny, gleaming and brimming with skyscrapers. Batman is more at home in Gotham, while Superman feels more comfortable in the Big M. Hopefully Snyder has a plan for taking both heroes out of their comfort zone at one point in the flick.
Give us a Batman vs. Superman fight
Let’s be honest: if a movie called Batman V Superman doesn’t feature a slugfest between our two titular heroes, fanboys are going to riot. The San Diego Comic-Con already hinted at this confrontation by invoking the image of Frank Miller’s legendary graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, which ends with an all-out slugfest between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
The challenge with Batman V Superman is going to be having the two clash in such a way that it neither weakens the heroes for future standalone movies, or makes it nonsensical that they’d team up for the sequel. There are plenty of ways to do this: we just hope the writers pick the right one.
Make it a film that stands on its own
Easier said than done, given that the movie’s title alone sets this up as essentially an extended preview for a Justice League flick. But fans have waited more than 70 years to see Batman and Superman together on screen, so it’s vital that this film feels like its own animal rather than just a stepping stone to a bigger team-up.
It’s one thing to want to see the sequel the moment the credits roll; another one entirely to feel like the producers are already tugging at your wallet.
Give us Robin
In a post-Kickass world, the idea of a Hit-Girl style sidekick is no longer unrealistic. Why not set Batman V Superman apart from the Nolanverse, then, by featuring Batman’s crime fighting partner, Robin? To continue the Dark Knight Returns vibe, perhaps even make Robin the female Carrie Kelley incarnation for good measure.
...And give us a proper Batmobile while you're at it!
Yeah, we get it: the Dark Knight's Tumbler was how the Batmobile could conceivably look in the real world. But can we please have one that looks somewhat like a bat this time? I don’t think too many fans would complain if we got Tim Burton’s sleek Batmobile back.
It’s definitely trailer week, especially for comic book and other genre movies, but here’s one for an upcoming DC television show based on the Vertigo property, Hellblazer. The show will cover the exploits of a certain John Constantine, supernaturally sensitive wizard-type who wears a trench coat, smokes incessantly (in the comics, at least) and does smart-ass battle with the angels and demons who plague us mere mortals.
The trailer really brings on the horror tropes: the creepy bugs on the wall revealing a scary message, the creepy flat-affect kid with the sharp knife, the broken-neck demon in a human body shot. You know, all the hits.
Check out the trailer below for all the creepy footage from what could be the best comic book show of the upcoming season.
If you’ve been wary of joining the digital comics revolution because of digital rights management (DRM) concerns, Comixology, a comics portal and mobile app, is creating a solution.
Announced Thursday at the company’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, the new DRM-free backup service will let you keep a local copy of your purchased digital comics from the likes of Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. You’ll be able to save a local copy in PDF or CBZ (a comic-book archiving format) right on your iPad.
“For those out there who have not joined the comic reading community because of DRM – you have no excuse now,” said ComiXology’s John D. Roberts in a statement. “We’re excited about the launch of DRM-free backups today and look forward to announcing more innovative features as we move ahead with our mission of making everyone on the face of the planet a comic book fan!”
Sure, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a movie that became a TV show that ended up as a comic book, but it’s a fine example of the cross-media value of certain nerdy properties. Comic book movies and television shows are all the rage right now, with Marvel and DC superheroes packing the theaters and shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow filling the little screen.
But there are plenty of comic books that don’t feature superheroes, and we think they’d be a great match for the home television market, as they have less reliance on big-budget special effects and can sustain longer story arcs than a movie can. With that, then, here are our picks for the best non-superhero comics we’d really like to see come to a television screen near you. Or us.
Forget the insipid Once Upon A Time: We’d love to see Bill Willingham’s opus Fables fill the “fairy tales come to the real world” niche. It’s a highly charged story based on characters from fairy tales come to the real world of New York, hidden in plain sight thanks to some magical glamour.
There are smaller stories to be told about Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Prince Charming and Pinocchio, as well as a larger story arc about the adversary, a great threat from back in the land of fairy tales that's out to conquer our own mundane reality. It’s ripe for a cable outfit that could handle both the larger-than-life characters and sets that such an undertaking would require as well as the smaller, character-driven focus that makes the book such a hit.
There is some superhero meta-fiction at play here, but we're hoping for a truly mainstream Powers television show on the strength of its non-metahuman storylines, with the aging detective and his young, newly assigned partner as the focus of the show. It could be a nice alternative to shows like Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D., which are getting along just fine, thank you, with very little big-budget superhero effects.
Saga is one of our favorite current comics, and hoping for a television show is pretty far-fetched, especially given the little screen time true sci-fi shows are getting outside of Syfy channel these days.
That said, this is a delightfully funny and poignant story that uses the trappings of sci-fi to tell a truly human tale of love across racial lines, like Romeo and Juliet in space (if Juliet was a badass soldier with angel wings and Romeo sported a set of ram’s horns on his philosophical head). It’s a fun romp with some serious themes, and if it were to show up on television, maybe even as a TV miniseries, we’d be all over it.
We’re certain TV execs are all looking for the next Game of Thrones, and Neil Gaiman’s seminal series The Sandman is the iconic comic book title they should turn to. It’s got a fully realized supernatural world based on all sorts of myths, fairy tales and horror stories from the world’s cultures, all blended together and powered by a masterpiece of a storytelling engine.
The TV show could focus on Morpheus, the emo god of dreams, and spend time fleshing out the memorable stories and characters that made this Vertigo-published book a huge hit in the late '80s and '90s.
Transmetropolitan is a sure bet for any comics nerd’s heart, with its irreverent take on politics and journalism, set in a near-future tech dystopia where privacy is a thing of the past and body modification is rampant.
This one has it all — sex, drugs, violence and a whip-smart take on our own cultural mistakes — making it perfect for one of the cable outfits like HBO or AMC. Spider Jerusalem is one of the most enduring characters in modern comics, like a post-cyberpunk Hunter S. Thompson come to monologue on the evils of society while he gets it on with your hot wife. This is one comic book property that could really take the sci-fi craze to its highest satirical potential.
For a comic book character that’s been around since 1941, it’s surprising how few women (five) have written DC Comic’s biggest female protagonist. The character is as least as popular and visible as DC’s other superstars, Batman and Superman, but it’s not until recently that we’ve seen her potentially coming to the big screen, while the other two have dominated DC’s movie output in recent years.
It’s exciting, then, to hear that the comic book itself is getting some new creative energy: Meredith and David Finch, a husband and wife writer/illustrator. While David has some serious comic book cred, from Ultimate X-Men (with Brian Michael Bendis) and Batman: The Dark Knight, Meredith Finch has some chops as well, as seen in her short stories for Zenescope Entertainment. This will be her first lead comic writing gig.
Meredith reminds us that having a female writer for one of the most iconic female superheroes is important. “It makes sense if you’re going to try to attract that female market that you appeal to them on every level,” she told USA Today, “– your writing demographic reflects the demographic of your readership.”
Everyone knows that a hero is defined by the villains they go up against. Or to put it another way, every great comic book needs an equally great antagonist to truly kick it into high gear.
Scouring through the pages of our favorite print and digital back issues, we've assembled a list of the meanest, the nastiest, and the most compellingly evil four-color baddies to ever walk the face of, well, a flat sheet of paper. We've purposely left out the undisputed greats -- The Joker, Magneto, Lex Luthor, Steve Ballmer -- to make room for a few of the more interesting choices.
Who made the grade? Click through the gallery above to find out.
Mr. Freeze has been an enduringly chilly presence in the Batman universe since his first appearance (as Mr. Zero) in Batman #121, back in February 1959. The most famous take on the character was the one engineered by Paul Dini in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice.” That story introduced us to Freeze’s terminally ill, cryogenically frozen wife Nora, which both explained Freeze’s obsession with cold and turned him into a tragic character in the process.
But while Dini’s animated version of Freeze was good enough to become the standard portrayal of the character in most forms of media, more recently I’ve been loving the reinvention of Mr. Freeze seen in DC’s New 52. (SPOILERS) You see, in this universe it turns out that Nora was never Freeze's wife at all, but rather a woman born in 1943, who was put into cryogenic stasis at the age of 23 after being diagnosed with an incurable heart condition.
Writing his doctoral thesis on Nora, Freeze fell in love with her, and became obsessed with finding a way to bring her back to life. One cryonic chemical accident later, and the already unhinged Dr. Victor Fries is transformed into Mr. Freeze. It’s a clever re-imagining of Freeze’s origin which makes him less sympathetic, but a whole lot creepier.
The main antagonist of Steve Niles’ tremendous 30 Days of Night, Vicente is an ancient vampire several centuries old, who may or may not be the parent to all vampires.
In a series full of vicious vampires, Vicente takes the (presumably blood-soaked) biscuit: not only torturing, murdering and eating people, but also planning to blow up the Alaskan pipeline — something that would result in a whole lot more slaughter than you’d normally expect from a vamp.
Oh, and his wife Lilith is pretty damn crazy, too.
A once silly comic book villain, Doctor Light was instantly transformed into a perverse and sickening antagonist with DC's 2004 miniseries Identity Crisis — celebrating its tenth birthday this year. Exposed as a serial rapist (most controversially of Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man), Doctor Light was eventually given an equally brutal death: turned into a candle by the Spectre and melted alive.
Post-New 52, Doctor Light has been rethought somewhat, with DC shying away from the more horrific aspects of his character incorporated over the past decade. Why does Doctor Light make this list? Because whatever you thought of Identity Crisis, it marked a high (or low) point for super villain nastiness in comics’ darkest and most nihilistic era.
Unlike a lot of the other villains featured here, Brainiac’s not a sadistic super villain who gets off on being bad, but rather a cold, calculating mind who represents the perfect brainy counter to Superman’s brawn.
An artificial intelligence created by the Computer Tyrants of Colu, an alien world which prizes logic and knowledge above all else, Brainiac has an almost indestructible body and a brain that is constantly hungry for knowledge and power. In a long and storied career, he’s perhaps still best known for taking the Kryptonian city of Kandor — one of the last surviving relics of Superman’s home world — and shrinking it down to the size of a bottle.
Saint of Killers
I’m a massive fan of Preacher, Garth Ennis’ 75-issue Vertigo series, that is equal parts spaghetti western and religious thriller. Picking a most memorable character from that series is a bit like choosing your favorite quip from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
If I had to choose one, however, it would likely be the series’ premier antagonist, the Saint of Killers. Picture Javier Bardem’s cold-blooded character Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men, and then take it up several levels of badass. A grim killing machine charged by God to be a killer for hire, the Saint is a murder machine with a mullet: someone so vicious he even manages to kill (SPOILERS) both God and the Devil.
His tragic backstory (his family were killed, which brought about his fall from grace) just makes him a more interesting, multifaceted character.
Having been around just 28 years (hardly a drop in the ocean when you consider that Batman himself has been in print for 75 years) Black Mask has nonetheless risen to become one of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes — with much of that good (?) work having been done over the past decade.
In a grisly inversion of Batman’s origin, Black Mask murdered his own super-wealthy parents by burning down their mansion with them inside. Becoming one of Gotham City’s major crime boss players, Black Mask has proven utterly ruthless and totally sadistic. Oh yes, and he once tortured Catwoman's brother-in-law to death with power tools, and then did some horrible things with the remains. Yum yum!
One of The Walking Dead’s most grotesque characters in a series that’s full of them, the Governor is the ruler of the town of Woodbury. After initially appearing hospitable, the Governor turned out to be bat-guano crazy: a Jim Jones-type leader who keeps his own zombified daughter alive by feeding people from his own town to her — along with the severed hand of protagonist Rick Grimes, which he first lops off.
The Governor does far more than that, too — torturing several characters, while killing the daughter of Rick and Lori. The fact that he does this without any apparent sense of remorse just makes him all the more terrifying. On the plus side, he does find himself on the receiving end of a suitably unpleasant death.
Who would have thought that the nastiest character in Robert Kirkman's zombie epic would turn out to be a flesh-and-blood human?
In the real world, you make a name for yourself by working hard, pursuing goals and steadily gaining recognition among your peers. In super villain land you make a name for yourself by kidnapping 16 super-powered Marvel teenagers and then pitting them against each other in a Hunger Games-style Murderworld. By forcing teen superheroes to kill teen superheroes, Arcade became one of the most reviled villains out there. Even after being beaten, Arcade got the last laugh by uploading footage of the Murderworld battles to YouTube, ruining a few reputations in the process.
To be extra evil he probably upvoted a few Justin Bieber videos while he was there, too.
When your nickname is "The God Butcher" it’s hardly a surprise when you turn out to be a less than upstanding citizen. The newest character on this list, first appearing in January 2013’s Thor: God of Thunder #2, Gorr has wasted no time in establishing his super villain credentials. In his case this meant a genocidal rampage across the cosmos, battling gods left and right like Christopher Hitchens in the body of a super-powered agnostic murderer. After killing literally thousands of gods, Gorr finally faced off with Thor, who barely managed to defeat him.
Tentative excitement about Michael Bay's upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie made me revisit the original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Along with a refresher course in just how much I love the art and overall tone of that original series was a reminder of what a great villain Shredder can be.
If you’ve only ever seen one of the Turtles cartoon series, be prepared for a wake-up call at the hands of a razor-gauntleted crime syndicate boss who's got his fingers in everything from drug smuggling to assassinations. Far more revenge-minded than in the cartoon, the comic book Shredder is a highly skilled strategist and master of ninjistu. Oh, and he once bounced back from decapitation by being resurrected as a shark. When did the Joker ever manage that?
Who’s the baddest of the bad?
Got your own favorite underappreciated supervillain? Let us know in the comments below.
As a huge fan of Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer, about hard-bitten wise-cracking paranormal detective John Constantine, I’m warily excited about the upcoming TV series on NBC. Wary because of the totally off-base movie of the same name. Excited because, well, it looks like they got a bunch of things about the character and universe in which he lives “right.”
“I think as with the source material,” says series lead Matt Ryan in an interview with IGN, “there’s so much to draw from in terms of the character and the balance of humor and wit and dark and gritty. It’s great, because John has this kind of real sarcastic, ironic British wit. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s serious and dark and gritty. It’s got it all, I think.”
At first glance, the trailer (below) looks like the show creators understand more of the character than the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves ever did, including emo angels, a world-weary John Constantine and his famous trench coat.
Capullo’s art continues to shine. And make you scratch your head. And shine.
Never in its many incarnations has the Animal Man mythos been this fascinating.
Refreshing in its choices. Miles Morales is not Peter Parker.
Hickman is in pure form. A science-fiction Western? YES. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse running around and kicking semi-righteous ass? Also YES.
It keeps getting more bizarre and funny and Rob Guillory’s art continues to shine. Also, you can’t argue with a comic that continues to make up increasingly awesome food-related superpowers.
Arguably the best title in Robert Kirkman’s Skybound sub-label, this gem tells the “untold” tale of what Lewis & Clark REALLY found. Imaginative and nuts.
A worthy follow-up to Origin. A pre-Wolverine Logan is sooooo ANGRY. And sad. And tragic. There’s a spread in Issue #4 that made some of us go “NO!” AND “YES!” at the same time.
Cyclops is INTERESTING. #whatnoway
In the future, powerful families rule instead of governments or corporations. One genetically engineered member of the family kicks the asses of anyone the family decides needs it. Awesome.
It’s still hilarious. Like they say, it’s “The Hobbit meets The Hangover.”
We know this is more than 10, but we added this cuz she is bad ass. Period.
When we’re looking for comics in our local nerd den, we’re often overwhelmed by the quantity of new titles each week. That’s not even counting the back issues and collected series in trade paperback format.
So we asked some of the most alpha nerds we know: the folks at Industrial Toys, a game development team (Midnight Star) with a who’s-who pedigree in geek. There’s CEO Alex Seropian, the co-founder of Bungie games (Marathon, Halo), Tim Harris, part owner of Alley Cat Comics in Chicago, John Scalzi, best-selling science fiction author, and Mike Choi, a veteran comic book artist in his own right.
Harris and Seropian, along with art director Aaron Marroquin and senior graphic designer Sarah Chiappetta, chimed in to our request with the comic books that they think are the best in the bin.
It was an anti-consumer move that made the app infinitely less appealing for digital comic readers, but Amazon has now announced something that might take some of the sting out: they’re releasing a free comic a day for the next three weeks. That means 19 free comics, which should be enough to tempt anyone who lovers comics to at least download the app.