The golden age of comic book TV
If you've switched on a TV or paid a visit to your local multiplex recently, you'll know that the golden age of comic book adaptations is here. It's been here for years, in fact, but only in the last decade has it barged into the mainstream, guns blazing and capes flapping. This is a lucrative market after all, racking up billions of dollars in revenue, and it's a trend that's showing no signs of slowing down.
Take The Walking Dead, Daredevil and Arrow for example. Three comics that have made the transition to TV, long-form storytelling proving to be a far more effective way to tell a story that originally rolled out over multiple issues. But here's the thing: not every comic book is about a superhero. There's comics out there that deal with all sorts; both the supernatural and the mundane, and plenty of those are bypassing the big screen and making their way to television. Here's your one-stop shop for all the new comic book adaptations en route to the small screen.
20. Wynonna Earp
Release date: April 1, 2016 (US - No UK date confirmed)
The comic book: A western-sci-fi blend that works, Wynonna Earp repurposes the unexpected genre mesh to deliver a rollickin' good yarn. Created by Beau Smith and artists Joyce Chin and Pat Lee, this IDW comic tells the tale of Wynonna Earp, the great-granddaughter of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. Part of a special team deep within the U.S. Marshals, she uses her set of skills to wipe out supernatural nasties.
The TV show: SyFy snatched up this series, developed by Emily Andras, that's been described as Justified meets Buffy. Not convinced? Follow a witty and wild modern day gunslinger, using her unique abilities and a dysfunctional posse of allies to bring the paranormal to justice." Melanie Scrofano (2014's Robocop) bagged the lead role, and by the looks of this first teaser, she's gonna be a huge star.
Release date: May 2016 (US)
The comic book: Vertigo's R-rated comic book defies the traditional good vs. bad moralising of the superhero set. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's nineties riff follows the experiences of Jesse Custer, a preacher with a troubled past who becomes fused with a half-angel, half-devil beast that descends from heaven. With God absent, and Custer in dire need of answers, he enlists his girlfriend Tulip and foul-mouthed vampire friend Cassidy to track him down. If you like your comics bloody and depraved, Preacher is it.
The TV show: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg championed an adaptation for years, eventually scoring a home at the comic-book friendly network, AMC. Dominic Cooper plays Jesse, with Ruth Negga cast as Tulip and Joseph Gilgun in the role of Cassidy. From the first footage released, it's uncertain if Jesse's supernatural abilities will come to the fore - but it looks to include a large dose of the comic's violence. Those lucky attendees at SXSW will be the first ones to see the show when it premieres at the festival in March.
18. Luke Cage
Release date: November 2016 (US, UK)
The comic book: Luke Cage first appeared in his own dedicated title, Luke Cage, Hero For Hire back in 1972, created by Marvel legend John Romita, Sr. and Archie Goodwin. That first run took place in a down-trodden, crime-infested New York, and saw Cage go up against a gallery of thugs and low lifes - and win. He is an ex-con blessed with indestructible skin and superhuman strength who frequently teams up with martial arts vigilante Iron Fist.
The TV show: If you've devoured the first two Marvel Netflix shows, then you'll already be familiar with Cage's onscreen persona. He debuted with a large supporting role in Jessica Jones, and will receive his own solo stint later this year with Mike Colter back as the burly bartender. Cheo Hodari Coker serves as showrunner on the series, that recently wrapped in New York City. The action is relocated from Hell's Kitchen to Harlem, where Cage will face a new threat. Joining him are Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillane, Theo Rossi as Shades, Mahershala Ali as Cottonmouth and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. Sweet Christmas!
Release date: 2016
The comic book: Another title from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, this supernatural comic deals with demonic possessions and is described by him as "an epic horror story." First published in 2014 - and currently at 17 issues - the storyline centers around Kyle Barnes, a young man beset by problems when demons possess his family and friends. Turning to Reverend Anderson for guidance, he attempts to discover why he was chosen and how he can put an end to the madness.
The TV show: Kirkman's reputation saw interest in this adaptation sparked before the first issue even hit stands. The series was picked up by Cinemax who issued a 10-episode order for its first season. Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous) stars as Kyle Barnes with Philip Glenister (Life On Mars) tackling the juicy role of the preacher.
Release date: 2016
The comic book: Legion is an antihero introduced in New Mutants. Born David Haller, the mutant son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller, he is committed to a facility to treat a mental illness that has plagued him since his abilities first manifested. He hears voices and experiences hallucinations as a result of a terrorist leader whose soul he absorbed, causing David's own self to fracture into many personalities. He's appeared across many X-Men titles.
The TV show: The show has yet to officially land a series order - that means it's only been greenlit for a pilot - but FX is currently in pre-production with Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley at the helm. "We're already in active prep, FX chief John Landgraf told press earlier this year. "We're building sets, and our writers room has already been assembled..... The scripts are extraordinary." Even in this early stages, it's already attracted a cast of recognisable faces. Dan Stevens (The Guest) plays David Haller, with Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart and Rachel Keller also attached. Landgraf confirms that it takes place in a parallel world where the U.S. government is just becoming aware of mutants - it won't cross over with Fox's X-Men movies.
Release date: 2016
The comic book: It's Archie! That quintessential slice of apple-pie Americana focuses on the life of Archie Andrews, a wholesome small-town teenager who debuted back in the 1940s. The stories tend to follow his wholesome hijinks that include his best pal Jughead as well as pining after Betty and Veronica.
The TV show: Comic book TV maestro Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl) is producing this "subversive" take on the material with Archie Comics' creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on board to write the pilot. Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica are part of the pilot - that recently entered production - that's set to explore "the surrealism of small town life the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdales wholesome faade." Sound a little Lynchian?
14. Iron Fist
Release date: 2017
The comic book: Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, is a supernaturally-powered martial arts expert, who embraces mystical forces that transform his fists into a forceful weapon. He first debuted in the early '70s in a solo title before reaching greater success in a team-up with Luke Cage, that eventually led to his joining The Avengers.
The TV show: The fourth and final solo series in Marvel's Netflix roster is due to arrive sometime in 2017, after Daredevil season 2 and the first Luke Cage season. There's not been a great deal of movement on the show, except for the addition of Scott Buck (Dexter) as showrunner, but judging by the official synopsis it will hew closely to the comics: "Returning to New York City after being missing for years, Daniel Rand fights against the criminal element corrupting New York City with his incredible kung-fu mastery and ability to summon the awesome power of the fiery Iron Fist."
13. The Defenders
Release date: 2017
The comic book: Like The Avengers, The Defenders refers to a switching roster of typically-solo heroes who come together under the banner to fight a greater threat. Their rotating membership began with Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor and Silver Surfer, and at one point included Luke Cage.
The TV show: The culmination of Marvel's Netflix shows plans to unite the four superheroes - Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist - in a concluding miniseries. No word yet on what threat the quartet will face, or what it might mean for future seasons of their individual shows. Despite rumors about a potential big screen crossover with The Avengers, that idea was shot down by Infinity War director Anthony Russo.
Release date: 2017
The comic book: The Hellfire Club are a superhero group disguised as a prestigious club for the elite, with Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost in charge. They're often at odds with the X-Men, until a recent begrudging alliance formed between the two. Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, (Uncanny X-Men) the club played a major role in The Dark Phoenix Saga.
The TV show: 20th Century Fox and Marvel Television are behind the series with X-Men stalwarts Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner producing. Early reports state that the story will follow a Special Agent who learns of a power hungry woman with superpowers. She belongs to a secret group known as the Hellfire Club - yes, the same one that appears in First Class consisting of ambitious, super-powered millionaires. Sounds a trifle dangerous. After Evan Katz and Manny Coto exited the show to work on the upcoming 24 reboot, the hunt is now on for two new showrunners.