With the outstanding success of AMC’s The Walking Dead TV series and whispers of the long rumoured TV adaptation of The Punisher resurfacing recently, What Culture began to wonder which other comic book series could also be adapted effectively for the small screen. After flicking through our comic book collection – situated deep in our own Bat-Cave like vault – we think we have found the 5 titles whose adaptation would work best as television shows rather than as movies.
The first (and most obvious) choice. The massively successful Vertigo title about a down and out holy man who becomes empowered with the Voice of God, sits comfortably atop many a geek’s all time greatest lists and has been crying out for a live action adaptation for years. Originally optioned back in 1998 by Miramax, Preacher has long languished in developmental hell with several names attached to develop at various stages, including Kevin Smith and Sam Mendes. HBO eventually picked up on the idea that Preacher would be better suited as a mini-series but abandoned it in 2008. Since then it has occasionally been discussed as a movie project once more but little information has been released for quite some time.
Preacher has everything a TV audience could wish for – sex, violence, vampires – it’s Buffy with balls … and Arseface. The sooner someone realises just how good a mini-series this comic book could make and actually bothers to make it the sooner we can all begin to worry about how TV execs will ruin its legacy!
Sam and Twitch
Hands up if you remember the Spawn movie from a few years ago? Now, keep your hands up if you actually enjoyed it. I bet there’s not many of you left are there? One of the main reasons (and there were many) why that movie sucked so much was the overexposure of Al Simmons’ alter ego. Spawn should exist in the shadows, seldom seen but always present. So how do you bridge the gap when your main character is used so sparingly on screen? Throw in two of the most popular characters from the McFarlane Universe and make it about them.
Sam Burke and Twitch’ William’s self-titled series was everything you’d expect from a comic based in the Spawn-iverse. Its dark and gritty appeal would feel right at home alongside such shows as Homicide or NYPD Blue. Also, Simmons was not an integral character in their comics so the supernatural element could be removed or kept for key story lines. The animated Spawn series was executed very well. A live action, understated spin-off with Sam and Twitch could be just as good – especially if Gary Oldman played Twitch, complete with Commissioner Gordon moustache!
Picked up by Columbia Pictures back in 2009 but recently declared a cancelled project, Garth Ennis’ The Boys is the mega violent, award winning, smash hit series about a crack group of super powered CIA agents who help keep the worlds superheroes (a bunch of corrupt prima donna’s by all accounts) in line. With the mixed success of shows like Heroes and No Ordinary Family a series about superheroes that is as dark, violent and sexy as this could be just the right antidote for audiences who find TV’s current crop of caped crusaders a little difficult to swallow. If talk of a live action movie dies down then this would be the perfect series to option for a network like HBO or AMC.
There’s one other superhero comic that many people would love to see adapted for television – J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars. It’s one part Watchmen, one part 4400 and another part AWESOME. Plus it’s J. Michael Straczynski! Y’know, the man whos name is forever linked to all your favourite things ever! He-Man, Babylon 5 – this guy knows how to write good television. Set in a world where a select group of individuals are suddenly granted superpowers, Rising Stars is as much about the way society would deal with real life ‘heroes’ as it is about anything else.
Narrated from the future by the last remaining hero the story does bare several similarities with Heroes in that ‘Specials’ as they’re known in this are being murdered and their abilities harvested by an unknown assailant. The big difference between Rising Stars and NBC’s cancelled effort is the existence of an established story arc that would guarantee the audience a worthwhile and sensible conclusion, it would also have a wider appeal and could easily be marketed at a less adult audience than say The Boys. Plus, now that Smallville has flown off into Earth’s Yellow Sun there’s room in the schedule for your new favourite hero. Also, did I mention it was J. Michael Straczynski?
If you’ve never read Sam Kieth’s opus about a homeless bum who just so happens to be the protector of the beloved Jungle Queen in an alternate reality that runs parallel to ours, then you’ll probably hate this were it ever to be adapted for television. There has already been an animated series a couple of decades ago on MTV but sadly it never even came close to mainstream success which probably had as much to do with its late night time slot as it did the difficult to follow, acid trip-like narrative. In the right hands with the right cast The Maxx could be transformed into a cult hit. HBO has shown us time and time again that audiences like to be challenged, what’s more challenging than The Maxx? C’mon HBO, make it happen.
So there you have it, 5 titles that could and should be adapted for TV. Sure there are other elements that have contributed to the success of The Walking Dead, not just the excellent source material, but given the right mix of cast and crew any of these could be just as successful if not more so. Comics it seems are back in vogue – good news for us geeks – and after years of sitting through badly adapted drivel it’s about time we had such a selection of great comics just waiting for the right guiding hand to turn them into your next favourite TV show.
Which comics would you like to see adapted for television?