Comics Collective Splash Page!: Comic Indies on TV
In this week's Comics Collective Splash Page! I want to take some time to spotlight and celebrate some of the new comic adaptations coming (or returning) to television. We all know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DCEU, both of which have, to varying degrees, dominated the live-action comic book adaptation landscape. The series I want to focus on now, both in their original iterations and these new adaptations, push the medium of comics in different directions while directly rewarding the creators responsible for them.
Deadly Class (Season 1 - currently airing)
Creators: Rick Remender/Wes Craig/Lee Loughridge/Rus Wooten
Publisher: Image Comics
Available on: Syfy
Starring: Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, Luke Tennie, María Gabriela de Faría, Liam James, and Benedict Wong
Summary: A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of late 1980s counterculture, which follows a disillusioned teen recruited into a storied high school for assassins. (IMDb)
Thoughts: Deadly Class (the comic) is one of my favorite current comics. It's a bit punk rock, a bit Harry Potter (minus the magic), a bit John Wick, beautiful, and gut-wrenching. The art by Wes Craig (with colors by Lee Loughridge) is outstanding, able to convey action and emotion in unexpected ways. My biggest concern going into the adaptation is that the translation to live-action would mean that visual inventiveness would be lost, but based on the first episode there's no worries in that regard. Along with that, the characters look like they stepped off the page, and each captures the essence of their comic book counterparts perfectly.
Happy! (Season 1)
Creators: Grant Morrison/Darick Robertson/Richard P. Clark/Simon Bowland
Publisher: Image Comics
Available on: Netflix (originally aired on Syfy)
Starring: Christopher Meloni, Lili Mirojnick, Patton Oswalt, Medina Senghore, and Bryce Lorenzo
Summary: An injured hitman befriends his kidnapped daughter's imaginary friend - a perky blue flying unicorn. (IMDb)
Thoughts: Morrison (The Invisibles, Arkham Asylum) and Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan) are legitimately legendary comic creators and they teamed up to produce a strange comic. I'm a huge fan of both creators and this comic definitely makes an impression. It's dark and funny and the first episode of the adaptation captures that perfectly. Christopher Meloni, best known as the uber-serious sex crimes detective for several seasons of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit gives a brilliantly crazed performance (which should come as no surprise to fans of the Wet Hot American Summer franchise).
The Boys (Summer 2019)
Creators: Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson et al.
Publisher: Wildstorm Comics/Dynamite Entertainment
Available on: Amazon Prime
Starring: Karl Urban, Elisabeth Shue, Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, Jesse Usher, Chace Crawford
Summary: An action story centered on a CIA squad tasked with keeping superheroes in line, by any means necessary. (IMDb)
Thoughts: I actually haven't read The Boys but the TV series has attracted some big talent that has me interested in checking it out. The adaptation is produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who previously brought Ennis' Preacher to live-action, and Eric Kripke, responsible for the short-lived and long-forgotten CW series, Supernatural. Oh, and Simon Pegg is also set to appear. If you're into superhero stories for mature audiences and full of dark comedy, this might be right up your alley.
The Umbrella Academy (Season 1 premieres on February 15th)
Creators: Gerard Way/Gabriel Bá/Dave Stewart/Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Available on: Netflix
Starring: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Robert Sheehan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore
Summary: A disbanded group of superheroes reunite after their adoptive father, who trained them to save the world, dies. (IMDb)
Thoughts: That summary does not do the series justice. Imagine the recent The Haunting of Hill House if one of the kids had the body of a Martian gorilla and you added spontaneous immaculate conception and birth, supervillains, and just general weirdness on top of the dysfunction. As with Deadly Class, I'm hoping they're able to translate the tone that Bá's art conveys, because it's a huge part of what makes it all work.