What a year for comics on television! I thought I’d do a little round-up, since it’s so hard to keep up with all the various subscription channels, etc.
I’m not including cartoons because, frankly, most of them are pretty bad. The Cartoon Network reboot of Teen Titans Go! is in its fourth season, but it hasn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original. Their Justice League Action show is somewhat better, but still not great. And there’s Disney XD’s various Marvel ‘toons, which are fine but not worth adult watching. Next year we’ll get Donald Glover’s Deadpool, but that’s not here yet, so let’s just stick with live-action, from worst to best….
DARK HORSE. They don’t own a big piece of the publishing market, and they’re not getting a lot on the little screen, either. They’ve got season three of Dark Matter currently airing on Syfy. I haven’t watched it, so I can’t comment on the quality.
ARCHIE. Sorry, but Riverdale just didn’t do it for me. I have no problem with it getting a second season, I just don’t care.
IDW. The boutique publisher has just one show on TV: Wynonna Earp, with season two running on Syfy. It’s not a bad show, but it’s certainly not a very good one, either.
NEW ENGLAND COMICS. I’ll admit its unfair to rate this one here. Coming in August to Amazon will be a new, live action version of The Tick. The Tick’s original cartoon was one of the best of all time. The Tick’s Fox TV show was much better than you remember-and shouldn’t have been cancelled so fast. I saw Amazon’s test pilot of its reboot, and I wasn’t impressed. But I really, really, really want to like it. I’m rooting for this one, big time.
IMAGE. Image is dominating in terms of non-fan awareness, and The Walking Dead is probably the best comic book show of all time in terms of quality. But there are two Walking Dead shows on AMC, plus the “Talking Dead” shows that follow them, and it’s a bit of overkill. Outcast is running on Cinemax, and it’s been underwhelming as well.
DC (including Vertigo). DC is certainly prolific. Fox has Lucifer, currently on season two and a third season has been ordered. The WB has a slew of shows coming in October: Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. And at some point, Black Lightning will join the fray. Also, from Vertigo, iZombie continues to run on CW. It’s like most CW shows: You won’t hate it, but it won’t keep you from playing with your phone.
None of those are bad shows, but they’re not great. What’s great is…Preacher on AMC. And believe me, I was a doubter that this would work. But it really did. And Fox’s Gotham show just keeps getting better-a rare thing for any TV show, especially one that’s based on comics. A fantastic program-I hope they allow Bruce to become Batman there. Trust me, we’ll all still go see the movies, too. We won’t get confused.
It’s hard to rate the mediocre CW stable alongside two truly innovative and amazing shows. If DC just had Gotham and Preacher, they would be a titan of quality.
MARVEL. Why is Marvel #1?
(1) Because of Netflix. I’ll be the first to say that Iron Fist was huge misstep, but other than that the Netflix shows have been nothing short of groundbreaking: They are essentially true to the comics. Jessica Jones didn’t dumb down anything. Luke Cage was terrific. We’ll see if Iron Fist is a signal that the studio is losing its luster when The Defenders comics out in August.
(2) Because of Legion. You’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s high art. Really. It’s put away all distractions and watch carefully because you’ll miss something if you blink. And every scene is meticulously designed and directed. A huge home run for FX that has left me eager as hell for the X-Men show, The Gifted, coming soon to Fox.
And while Agents of SHEILD could bring Marvel’s rating on this list down a bit, it’s not a terrible show. Compare it to the DC CW shows, for example, and it’s about as good. We’ll see how their 8-episode miniseries The Inhumans does on ABC. If it, and The Defenders, aren’t really good, then Marvel should slip down a notch below DC. Hell, two notches to below Image.
Be warned, Marvel: You got to get better to keep up the winning streak.
AND COMING NEXT YEAR:
More than a few new shows to look forward to in 2018: New Warriors (Freeform), Runaways (Hulu), Krypton (Syfy), Titans (DC digital), Cloak & Dagger (Freeform), Hilda (Netflix), Damage Control (ABC), Heroes & Villains: The History of Comic Books (AMC), Happy! (Syfy), Scalped (WGN), and Snowpiercer (TNT).