It's official: The most exciting new genre shows on network TV are based on comics. iZombie, Constantine, Flash, Gotham... But the networks are just scratching the surface of what's out there. Here are 10 comics that are crying out to become television shows right now.
The comics on this list have a few things in common: They're science fiction or fantasy oriented. They aren't already carrying big movie series, or in development for TV. And they have "realistic" enough characters and settings that you wouldn't need to spend an insane amount on VFX in every scene.
Also, we're only leaving out Global Frequency and Locke and Key because they were already turned into TV shows — which should have been aired, dammit. Also, DMZ and Powers are already in the TV pipeline.
This is one property that could require too much VFX — but considering that they were seriously trying to make an Incredible Hulk TV show a while back, it doesn't seem crazy to think they could give Bruce's cousin a shot. And we would kill for a show loosely based on Dan Slott's early run on the character. Jennifer Walters is another gamma-enhanced badass... but she's also an attorney, who defends supervillains and assorted others. It could be L.A. Law with superpowers.
9. Morning Glories
This comic about supersmart kids at a prep school that hides sinister secrets — including occult and supernatural weirdness — is pretty much crying out to be a TV show. It was even pitched as being similar to Lost. And honestly, our only misgiving might be the fact that it could be a smidge similar to Tower Prep, the "evil boarding school" show that we loved and lost a few years ago.
8. Black Hole
This is one of a couple of comics on this list that's in development as a movie — but we really, really want this to be a TV show instead. It wouldn't be as low-budget in terms of VFX as some of the other stuff on this list, but we could see Showtime or HBO acing a Black Hole series. In Black Hole, a weird virus infects kids in the northwest and causes weird mutations, including one kid who grows a second mouth that always speaks the truth.
7. The Unwritten
Vertigo's Fables comic is apparently going to be a movie — but this comic book about a man whose father used him as the basis for a boy wizard in his novels is absolutely perfect for television. Tom Taylor struggles with fame and celebrity, and all the weird ways people project their own longing onto a fantasy character — and are disappointed when they meet the real-life inspiration. But also, the fantasies from Tom's father's novels begin to bleed into real life, making Tom wonder if he isn't actually more connected than he realized.
6. Kurt Busiek's Astro City
Here's another one which could be more big budget, depending on which arcs you chose — but a lot of the best arcs of Astro City focus on an ordinary person, living his or her life, with superheroes as the backdrop. Or superheroes who have to cope with everyday life in the big city, in between fighting giant robots or monsters. Much like Busiek's Marvels, this series often provided a unique solution to the challenge of portraying superheroes in a down-to-earth fashion. Which could translate really well to television.
5. The Punisher
There have been three movies about Marvel's skull-chested vigilante, who goes around blowing away mobsters and occasionally punching bears and stuff. But the Punisher is way better suited for television, and it would be great to get him on a cable network that could show a certain amount of carnage every week. The Punisher's world is similar to that of Green Arrow — there's a costume, but no superpowers, and he mostly faces people who are normal except for some superscience in the mix. He could be the vicious anti-hero we've been waiting for.
4. Y: The Last Man
This is the other project that is supposedly going to be a movie at some point — but would be way, way better off as a television show. In Y: The Last Man, a mysterious disaster wipes out all the men except for Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. So it's kind of a post-apocalyptic world and kind of a fascinating political study as women rebuild the world without any men in it. The stories in the comic deserve the breathing room a TV show would give, and you could explore the world without men for 100 episodes without running out of places to go.
This would probably also have to be on Showtime or HBO — but this comic about a preacher who gains the power to control people with his voice and teams up with an Irish vampire and his ex-girlfriend to find God is destined to become a great TV show. There is destiny at work, and we are not going to let the television industry stand in its way. Seriously, this profane, bizarre series would be the most entertaining TV show ever. Update: Forgot this was already becoming a TV show. Sorry!
2. Secret Six
In Secret Six, some of the DC Universe's biggest villains team up to pull off heists and deal with their issues. Depending on which lineup of the team you included on television, this could require some VFX — but most of the members are at least human-looking. And a lot of this show is at the level of Arrow in terms of the action and special effects requirements. These characters are badasses, but they don't fight gods in space — they steal things on Earth. And their complicated, intense emotional lives would be amazing on television. In the right hands, this could be the best show ever.
1. Ex Machina
It's not even hard to pick the most fitting comic to become a big TV series — also created by Brian K. Vaughan, who gave us Y: The Last Man (and Saga.) This tale of a former superhero who becomes mayor of New York is the prefect blend of West Wing-style politics and superpowered soul-searching. Make this series happen now, please.
Thanks to Rob, Meredith and Ed for the input!