The world has entered a new golden age of television. Budgets have ballooned to unequaled proportions, long-form storytelling is the norm, and networks are taking chances on riskier IPs. The world of comics is filled with stories waiting to be told to a broader audience.
Comic fans are spoiled with choices of new and recurring television shows to watch. However, there are only so many hours in a day, and just so much to fit in. The remainder of 2018 and all of 2019 finds a plethora of comic-based properties flooding our screens. Here are the shows gaining steam among fans and worth investing your time in.
8) The Punisher: Season Two (Netflix)
The Punisher is on par with Marvel’s best Netflix series. The series would be higher on the list, but an ambiguous launch date hurt its position. According to cast member Jason R. Moore, filming has wrapped on season 2. Rumors have spread that the second season could debut before the end of 2018. One can hope.
Frank Castle is Marvel’s resident anti-hero. Unlike other heroes, there is no debate about Frank’s stance on murder. The price of crime is one’s life. The Punisher is a one-man army in a personal war against the criminal underworld.
Jon Bernthal reprises his role in season two for what looks to be another violent season. Last we saw, Frank Castle remains a wanted man. Keep expectations low, however, as showrunner Steve Lightfoot hasn’t confirmed the villain. If season two continues the series signature style of gunplay, action, and intense character development, fans have plenty to look forward to on… whatever day The Punisher makes his return.
Start Date: TBA
7) Deadly Class: Season One (Syfy)
Throw in one-part John Hughes film, a pinch of John Wick’s underworld of assassins, and the imagination of prolific comic writer Rick Remender, and you get Deadly Class. In a secret high school in San Francisco, students train to become the new generation deadly assassins for crime families around the world. The story follows Marcus Lopez as he navigates the lethal world of assassins and the convoluted landscape now as high school.
If the intriguing premise isn’t enough to garner attention, Anthony and Joe Russo are producing the television show. They are just the two brothers behind a small indie film you may have heard of; Avengers: Infinity War. On the outset, the franchise appears to be in good hands.
The obvious concern that comes to mind is Deadly Class‘s television home: Syfy. The comic series doesn’t hold back. Teenage sex, drug abuse, murder, rape, and intense violence riddle the pages of Rick Remender’s twisted take on the eighties. Recent trailers for the show should alleviate some fear, however. It looks amazing, and the characters appear to have leapt off the pages of the comic. Fingers are crossed that Deadly Class lives up to its graphic novel counterpart.
Start Date: January 16, 2019
6) Watchmen: Season One (HBO)
Little is known about HBO’s upcoming Watchmen series, besides that it’s an upcoming drama television series based on the comic book limited series of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Set to premiere in 2019, there is only so much to glean from the information that has been provided thus far.
Watchmen is Alan Moore’s pivotal comic series. It has been proclaimed one of the greatest literary works ever created and was the only comic book to be featured in Time Magazine’s best 100 English-language novels. Watchmen is set in a gritty alternate 1985; a time where the glory days of costumed vigilantes have been ended by a government crackdown. The world of superheroes was never the same after the series hit store shelves. 2009’s film adaptation was met with critical praise, but audiences were divided.
With so little to go on, what is there to look forward to? It’s simple: Damon Lindelof and HBO. Lindelof is one of the minds behind Lost, and is a master storyteller with an ability to weave mystery, nuance, and cliffhangers into every episode. Placing a property like Watchmen into his hands is a match made in heaven. Secondly, there’s HBO. Does HBO ever fail? Yes, but you never remember the failures, and it rarely happens. HBO is recognized for large budgets and allowing its creators to let loose on the page and on the screen. Expect Watchmen to be on par with some of HBO’s biggest shows.
Start Date: 2019
5) Harley Quinn: Season One (DC Universe)
“Mister J’s” favorite partner-in-crime is striking out on her own in the form of a new animated series. Initially created by Bruce Timm and Pual Dini for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn has become a pop culture icon in her own right. She has made her way into her own comic series, live action movies, adorns t-shirts at every Hot Topic, is the source of plenty tattoos, and now she has her own animated series.
Harley Quinn follows Harley’s adventures after she breaks up with The Joker, including receiving help from Poison Ivy and others to become a member of the Legion of Doom. The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco voices the anti-hero in what appears to be near-perfect casting.
The early trailer is irreverent, humorous, and sets the stage for what to expect. Similar to Harley’s various comic books, Harley appears to break the fourth wall, not unlike a certain “Merc with a Mouth,” — who, by the way, is name-dropped. The new series looks to be fun departure from the heavy, somber tone of DC’s other film/TV properties.
Start Date: 2019
4) Umbrella Academy: Season One (Netflix)
Umbrella Academy is the story surrounding a group of super-powered individuals who were all born at the same exact moment, from different mothers who showed no signs of pregnancy. They were raised by Reginald Hargreeves for the sole purpose of saving the world from a threat he never named. The comic was created by Gerard Way, Eisner award winner and lead singer of My Chemical Romance.
Umbrella Academy‘s charm stems from its absurd stories, engrossing plot, and relatable characters. Way somehow manages to imbue the feeling of coming back home after having struck out on your own to a surreal take on superheroes. Way has noted that the most significant influence on his work is Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Pat McEown’s Zombieworld.
If the show can capture the essence of what makes Way’s graphic novels so appealing, then fans might have a new favorite binge on Netflix.
Start Date: February 15, 2019
3) Titans: Season One (DC Universe)
“F--k Batman.” Titans’ first trailer was filled with plenty of action and nods to excite fans, yet media outlets clung to one line. Based on the comics of the same name, Titans is set to comprise twelve episodes on DC’s streaming service, DC Universe.
DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns notes that the series was heavily inspired by the Teen Titans comics of the 1960s. According to Johns, the run “had so much drama” and “was so revolutionary for its time.” Every Titan is meant to represent a different genre — for example, Raven would signify the supernatural.
The show has been released as of this writing and is receiving mixed reviews. Is it dark for the sake of being dark? Or does the tone complement the story being told?
As one of the main draws to DC’s new streaming service, a lot is riding on Titans‘ success. One episode of one show shouldn’t be used a broad sweeping indication of things to come, but audiences can easily be dismayed. Fans of the genre should hope that the show does well; a good reception means DC can take more chances on future endeavors.
Start Date: October 12, 2018
2) Daredevil: Season 3 (Netflix)
Marvel’s Netflix shows have been met with critical praise — save for Iron Fist, but that is a rant for another day. However, Daredevil has continued to thrill audiences and critics alike. The key to Daredevil’s success has been its street-level storytelling, character development, and brutal action choreography. If there’s a hallway brimming with thugs, Daredevil will plow through them with graceful, yet fierce aplomb.
The new season takes a deep dive into the psyche of Hell’s Kitchen’s shadowy vigilante. Trailers have provided hints to the season’s new direction. Returning to his original black aesthetic, Matt Murdock is tapping into a darker part of himself. This begs the question as to where he will be mentally and physically by season’s end, or how this will affect his tumultuous relationships with Foggie Nelson and Karen Page.
Compounding Matt’s struggles is the return of Kingpin, the former ruler of New York’s underworld. Fans should also be delighted to discover that iconic supervillain Bullseye makes his Marvel television debut this season; played by Wilson Bethel. Some liberties have been taken in regards to Bullseyes origin, but if past seasons are any indication, fans are in for a treat.
Start Date: October 19, 2018
1) Young Justice: Outsiders: Season Three (DC Universe)
Young Justice follows the lives of teenage superheroes and sidekicks. They are members of a covert operation group that acts like a young counterpart to their adult analogs, the Justice League. With two seasons under its belt, a binge-session to catch up on what has transpired isn’t beyond reason. Few shows live up to their hype, but Young Justice is an exception.
For the uninitiated, Young Justice is what happens when Warner Bros. Animation and the DC universe comes together to create a cartoon worthy of the source material. Young Justice elicits fan fervor like few other shows have been able to, and for a good reason. The pacing of the episodes forgoes the “villain of the week” tropes most animation can fall prey too. Granted, you have a villain to be dealt with, but storylines are threaded throughout the entirety of a season, with B, C, and D storylines rising to the surface with subtlety and panache. Characters are three dimensional. Viewers are along for the ride as they witness the protagonists’ personal growth from angsty teens to full-fledged heroes.
New episodes are set to arrive in 2019. Following a fan campaign and high viewership ratings on Netflix, Young Justice has returned from cancellation. The team behind the show has provided some insight on how to ensure Young Justice returns for a fourth season: subscribe to DC Universe and watch the show. Here’s hoping for a fun third season and beyond.
Start Date: 2019