The PoP! Stars narrow it down to the cream of the crop in categories ranging from (but not limited to) Comics, Movies, Toys and Geek Culture in general. This is the PoP! Top 6-Pack.
Comic books have been prime targets for movie adaptations for over a decade, but the past few years have also seen a renewed interest for comic properties on Television as well. AMC’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on the air right now, and the CW’s Arrow has become so popular that a spinoff has been optioned featuring DC’s legendary speedster The Flash. This month will also bring us the premiere of ABC’s highly-anticipated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which will tie directly into the Marvel Studios films. Here now are six shows that this writer feels could be quite successful in the current climate of comics adapted for TV.
This popular and acclaimed Vertigo series by Mike Carey and Peter Gross follows the adventures of a young man named Tommy Taylor whose father made a fortune on a series of Harry Potter - esque fantasy novels featuring a character modeled after him. After his father’s death, Tommy spends his time dealing with obsessive fans and strange characters claiming to be actual characters from his father’s books. In the comic, Tommy encounters several literary figures both real and fictional as he tries to make sense of the bizarre events that have sprung from his late father’s legacy. The comic’s blending of realistic and fantasy elements and countless literary references could potentially make a television adaptation a big hit with fans of shows like ABC’s Once Upon a Time that offer modern spins on well-known literary characters, and in the hands of the right showrunner, a weekly hourlong adaptation of The Unwritten would retain the dark, sophisticated charm of the original Vertigo comic while successfully hooking in new viewers eager for something both new and somewhat familiar.
Heroes For Hire
If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. turns into the ratings monster that ABC hopes it will be, perhaps its success will spawn a number of spinoffs bringing some of Marvel’s lesser-known characters to TV. One property that would be especially effective on the small screen would be Heroes for Hire, featuring the classic lineup of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Colleen Wing, and Misty Knight. The show would follow these four noble mercenaries as they face weekly threats within the Marvel Universe that are somewhat less global than Loki and Thanos. Heroes for Hire could offer a potent balance of street-level superhero action with sharp, witty dialogue between the four principal characters (especially if Joss Whedon is in any way involved). The show would also be a great opportunity for Marvel Studios to reintroduce some of their newly-acquired characters like Daredevil and The Punisher who may not be ready for a new movie but could make frequent guest appearances. A show like Heroes For Hire could greatly expand the world established by the Marvel Studios films and possibly help to prime other characters for their own solo films down the line.
On a more realistic slant, the gritty Image series Pigs by Nate Cosby, Ben McCool, and Bruno Temura would make a thrilling weekly cable series in the vein of FX’s The Americans and Sons of Anarchy. The book centers on a group of second-generation KGB agents assigned by an unknown source to try to overthrow the U.S. government decades after the official end of the Cold War and features enough sex, violence, and intrigue to entice any TV viewer looking for the next addictive ongoing cable program. A show based on this acclaimed book could up the intensity for HBO or Showtime or tone it down slightly in favor of mood and suspense for AMC or FX, but either way the creators choose to adapt the book for the screen, the results would likely make for prime water-cooler discussion among general audiences.
Justice League International
One complaint many people have about the most recent crop of adaptations based on DC heroes is that they are almost completely devoid of humor, so what better way to remedy that stigma than to produce a show based on one of the funniest mainstream superhero comics in history? Justice League International was a surprise hit for DC in the late Eighties thanks to the lighthearted scripts by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen and the inimitable art of Kevin Maguire, and a TV show loosely based on those original stories would ideally offer the same perfect balance of wit, humor, and old-school superhero action. A JLI show would also be a great way to introduce general viewers to fan-favorite DC characters like Booster Gold and the Martian Manhunter that more than likely will never get a chance to appear in a movie. If the writers of this show stay true to the spirit of the original title, JLI could add some much-needed levity to the superhero landscape.
A weekly hour-long series featuring unconventional superhero Buddy Baker, who can adopt the abilities of any animal he comes into contact with, seems more suited to the cheesy science fiction shows of the Seventies and Eighties than in today’s more refined and sophisticated age of TV. However, if you look at the current Animal Man series published by DC, you’ll find an endearing and relatable protagonist at the heart of an admittedly silly premise. If faithfully adapted from the current book, an Animal Man series would balance its fantasy / horror elements with a compelling family drama as Buddy struggles to keep his wife and children safe from the threats he is compelled to use his powers against. Now that Arrow has brought a second-tier DC hero to national prominence, Animal Man might be a prominent candidate for prime time nowadays.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga is one of the best and most talked-about comics currently on the stands, and its unique blend of science-fiction, romance, comedy, and flat-out bizarre imagery could make it a quirky TV phenomenon. While a live-action series may be difficult to pull off, a weekly animated adaptation done in the style of old Ralph Bakshi films or Heavy Metal could work just fine for this type of story. The balance of the central romance between the two protagonists with the countless whacked-out creatures and concepts introduced by the original comic could make this an Adventure Time – style hit for an adult audience, and just as the case has been with the comic, any controversy the content would raise would only result in more press for the show. With the right people involved, Saga could be just as big a sensation on television as it has been in the world of comics.