Primetime heroes: A look at all the new comic book-inspired TV showsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After the success of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Arrow,” it stood to reason that Hollywood’s obsession with comic book heroes would expand even further in prime time. Five more shows with roots in graphic novels will make a splash on network television next season. Here’s a quick rundown.
Based On: DC’s “Batman”
Concept: The early days of the Dark Knight have been mined for dramatic inspiration in countless comic stories and on film, so prime time TV might as well take a turn. Created by “Rome” and “Mentalist” head Bruno Heller, this series focuses on a young Detective Jim Gordon (Benjamin MacKenzie of “The O.C.”) in his early days on Gotham City’s police force.
The Positives: The trailer’s hard edge and modern aesthetic certainly owes more to Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy than to other depictions of the Dark Knight, and focusing on Jim Gordon — one of the most underappreciated characters in the “Batman” canon — is a great idea.
Unanswered Questions: The creator has taken pains to explain how the show will have plenty of stories to tell, even without Batman at their center. But how long can the show spin prequel tales before fans get restless? Hey, “Smallville” survived for 10 years! About half of them good ones!
“The Flash,” CW
Based on: DC’s “The Flash” comics
Concept: He’s really, really fast. “Arrow”‘s creators laid the seeds for this spin-off by introducing Barry Allen as a recurring character in the show’s second season, leading to this series starring Grant Gustin (formerly of “Glee”) as the masked red speedster.
The Positives: The show’s development team includes Geoff Johns, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer, so reverence for the source material shouldn’t be a problem. And in a nifty touch, John Wesley Shipp — who played Flash in a great-but-short-lived CBS series — will have a role in the pilot.
Unanswered Questions: The fact that the character had a chance at prime time before and failed — the 1990s “Flash” lasted only one season — is enough to give pause. With the backing of an already successful franchise to launch off of, will this last or be just a — wait for it — flash in the pan?
Based on: “iZOMBIE” DC/Vertigo comic series
Concept: A med student (Rose McIver) who is infected with a zombie virus must eat brains once a month in order to stay human, so she gets a job in a morgue. When she consumes the grey matter, she gains the memories of her meal, and then tries to solve mysteries based on what she learns. So it’s basically “Pushing Daisies” if it had been directed by George Romero.
The Positives: The concept is certainly intriguing, if more than a little illogical (wait, so she eats brains to keep from becoming a zombie?). The show was co-developed by Rob Thomas, the mind behind “Veronica Mars,” so it has cult-favorite pedigree.
Unanswered Questions: The show’s premise fits well into the “case a week” genre that is so popular on networks right now, which may be the biggest problem. Can the series find the freedom to mine the truly interesting questions its story raises without getting bogged down by its formula?
Based on: DC Comics’ “Hellblazer” series
Concept: Remember that Keanu Reeves movie from a few years back? Of course you don’t. Well, that was based on the same series that inspired this. A smart-mouthed con man and occult investigator seeks to save his own soul by fighting demons. Welsh actor Matt Ryan wears the trademark trenchcoat.
The Positives: The show’s trailer is totally bad-ass. It feels like the series’ creators will be given reign to take the mythology a bit more seriously than the film did, while preserving the main character’s distinctive feel.
Unanswered Questions: Honestly, the biggest question of all is with the show’s network. NBC has had a rocky few years, where creative shows can either hit or go completely unnoticed. Getting paired with “Grimm” on Fridays may help, but will “Constantine” be given a chance to find its audience?
“Agent Carter,” ABC
Based on: The character of Peggy Carter, a supporting player in Marvel Comics
Concept: They’ve been toying with the idea of giving Hayley Atwell a spin-off for a while — ever since she debuted in “Captain America: The First Avenger” — and here it is. Atwell reprises her role as the titular agent in a series set after the Second World War.
The Positives: Viewers will have garnered quite a bit of affinity for the lead character, since she’s been in both “Cap” flicks and a one-shot mini-movie on the “Iron Man 3″ DVD. It’ll also get a boost in scheduling: “Carter” will premiere in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”‘s time slot when that series goes on mid-season break.
Unanswered Questions: Even with the Marvel name behind it, the idea of a period piece can be tricky with modern audiences — it either really works, or it really doesn’t. Also, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” took a while to gain momentum in its first season — will “Carter,” with its 13-episode run, have that luxury?