3 non superhero comic book titles that would make amazing TV shows
I hate to say it, but it feels like we’re drowning in superhero related TV shows.
And I get it. I really do. Superheroes are hot right now.
But let’s not kid ourselves, the superhero revival happens every few decades and the latest resurrection simply happens to be in the middle of an era where the audience is shifting away from traditional forms of television and into a new streamable space.
We’ve been here before – Superman, The Hulk and Wonder Woman in the 70’s and 80’s, Batman in the 90’s and now Iron Man in the mid 00’s.
However our sudden situational awareness of comic franchises this time around has had an unexpected development; we’ve remembered that comics can be about more than superheroes and we’ve started turning them into interesting pieces of television.
Some of those shows have been ho-hum, like Powerless, Gotham and Lucifer.
A few have been pretty rad like Constantine and Outcast.
And of course a few have been exceptional – Preacher and The Walking Dead spring to mind.
But interesting non-superhero comics are a dime a dozen and often it seems like really interesting and original franchises are overlooked because networks don’t want to take the risk spending money on something that could potentially end up as a dud.
That’s fair enough I suppose, but sadly it means that really amazing concepts that deserve to see the light of day will never surface and we’ll likely forever be swamped with middle of the road light dramas that are nothing more than ‘safe’ money making pits aimed at fulfilling comic related quotas.
So here are my picks for other non-superhero comic book titles that I think would make amazing TV shows:
Low (Image Comics)
Oh man. What a comic book series. Written by Rick Remender and beautifully, I mean BEAUTIFULLY, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, Low is a far-future science fiction family drama set on a distant dystopian Earth. After the sun inexplicably began to expand and increase its levels of deadly solar radiation, humanity was forced to live underwater in a number of sprawling cities called ‘Domes’.
Thousands of years later the air is growing toxic and the citizens of Salus know their days are numbered. As they orgy themselves to nothingness and wait to die, a rumour that a long forgotten inter-planetary NASA probe has been detected is circulating the city and it gives our protagonist hope that humanity can be saved.
Our humble hero Stel must reunite her family (scattered across the various cities) and venture across the radiated surface of the planet to search for something that may not even exist, all in an effort to cling onto the vain hope that all is not lost. It’s a story about coming back from nothing and about not letting go of the important things.
It’s emotional, it’s incredibly unique and it’s sci-fi to the core. If it’s done right, it could easily be the Game of Thrones of the comic book world.
Fight Club 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Chuck Palahniuk’s FC2 seemed to invoke a varying response from comic book critics. While not everyone loved it, it’s fair to say that not many people hated it. I know that’s not exactly a rock solid foundation that networks can build a successful TV franchise off, but there is a lot to glean from the comic that would make for absolutely riveting television.
As the name suggests FC2 is the direct sequel to Palahniuk’s novel (and subsequent movie) Fight Club and it picks up 10 years after the aftermath of Project Mayhem.
The story is pretty simple - To rekindle her and Sebastian’s love affair, bored housewife Marla begins to swap out her husband’s medication so she can bring bring Tyler Durden to the surface once more. Of course this has disastrous results and as Tyler begins to rebuild his army he ups the ante on Project Mayhem and plans to unleash a nuclear apocalypse upon the world called The Tranquillity Gambit.
The Tranquillity Gambit. What a rad name.
That’s where the beauty of this series really lies – just like the original novel/movie we’re seeing the unravelling of the world through the eyes of the people that a traditional narrative would label as the antagonists. We’d get to talk about society and discuss the ridiculousness of modernity, the vacuousness of celebrity and the sheer stupidity of politics. It’s the show we yearn to see that gives us the topics that we love to talk about – The USA Network’s Mr Robot laid down the foundation for a similar premise, except replace hacktivism with nuclear fire and you’ll see where I’m coming from when I say this show could totally work and would be exceedingly interesting.
Wytches (Image Comics)
“Pledged is pledged”.
Scott Snyder is one of my favourite comic book writers right now. These days he’s immortalized as the man that helped re-invent the Batman comic series when he and Greg Capullo (along with Jonathon Glapion and FCO) kicked off DC’s New 52 era with the Batman series The Court of Owls.
People love to fawn themselves over the Court of Owls, a series that’s absolutely wonderful btw, but in my mind I’ll always remember Snyder’s interpretation of Batman for his Zero Year story line more than The Court of Owls. It’s difficult to write a good story about Riddler at the best of times, yet, he did it. Gloriously.
Aside from his work at DC, Snyder has written several awesome non-batman related franchises – American Vampire, The Wake and in 2014 Image Comics also gave us his rural horror story Wytches.
So what is Wytches all about? Well as the name implies there are definitely witches afoot here, however a large part of the comic also revolves around the interplay of a fractured all-American family in an isolated rural township. As the story evolves we’re slowly introduced to our titular wytches through a series of bizarre happenings and awesomely stylized human sacrifices.
To be honest I don’t think this is Scott Snyder writing at his best, but I honestly do believe if the narrative is framed right it has the makings of an amazing horror story.
You see, the horror feels genuine. It reminds me more of the movie The Descent than it does a slasher movie or a supernatural thriller. The witches themselves feel like a natural part of the environment as opposed to a paranormal force or a spiritual antagonist. As the reader thumbs their way through the 6 issue arc it soon becomes clear that the witches have been around for a long time, to be honest it feels like humanity is the interloper in their world and not the other way around.
In all, this is real horror. While it didn’t always hit the mark with its dialogue, the makings of something great was definitely there.
To add validity to my campaign to get this made into a TV show, there was rumblings of a Wytches movie, something that had come from the mouth of Snyder himself. Of course whether or not that actually sees the light of day is another thing entirely.
It is however a reminder that producers are finally looking farther afield than superheroes for content, something that should excite us all.
- Andrew Archer