TV News

UPDATED: The State of Comic Books on TV – 3 Returning Shows, 5 Set to Debut & 18 More In Development

UPDATED 9/19/14 – I updated the part about Supergirl (it’s been ordered to series at CBS), and added in the shows I missed the first time around: Clone, Letter 44, Outcast, and Ronin

As pointed out by Seth Meyers at the Emmys this year, there was once a time several decades ago when four out of the top five programs on American television were cop shows.  Well, cut to the present and three out of the five most-anticipated shows of the Fall are based on comic books – Constantine, The Flash, and Gotham.  It’s a copycat business meaning there have been periods in relatively recent TV history where it seemed like every new show was a NYPD clone or a ER clone or a Friends clone.  Well, today it’s not so much that there is one comic book show or film everyone is ripping off.  Instead, networks are chasing AMC’s humongous Walking Dead ratings, or looking to leverage superheroes that don’t quite justify a big budget movie but make perfect sense on TV.  Plus, TV is turning into an avenue where the studios can try a do-over on a property whose feature film debut they seriously botched.

So, in this, the age of the comic book film and TV show, let’s take a moment to all get on the same page by looking at just which comic books shows are returning and premiering and which are in development:

The Returning Comic Book Shows: 

Agents of Shield 

Shield Season 2

  • Network: ABC
  • Brand: Marvel
  • Premiere Date: 9/23

Somewhat improbably returning after a very shaky first season, Agents of Shield is coming back with a much, much bigger cast, adding [deep breath] Lucy Lawless as Agent Isabelle Hartley, Nick Blood & Henry Simmons as Lance Hunter and Alphonso “Mac” Mackenzie, Reed Diamond as Daniel “Kraken” Whitehall, Simon Kassianides as Sunil Bakshi, Brian Patrick Wade as Crusher Creel, Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse and Kyle MacLachlan as Skye’s father.  Translation: they heard all the jokes we made about their somewhat bland, non-comic book-based cast last season.



  • Network: CW
  • Brand: DC
  • Premiere Date: 10/8

Since I wrote this round-up of everything we knew about season 3, the show has re-cast the new character Katana, added a love interest for Thea as well as someone to play Felicity’s college boyfriend in flashbacks, and announced the addition of a bunch of new villains, the most recent being Captain Boomerang, who will appear on both Arrow and The Flash.

The Walking Dead 

Walking Dead s5

  • Network: AMC
  • Brand: Image Comics
  • Premiere Date: 10/12

It seems like every other headline you hear about Walking Dead alternates between detailing the latest character to be killed off to the latest showrunner to leave the show under shady circumstances to the latest ratings record it sets for AMC.   So, let’s see what happens when it returns for its fifth season on 10/12.

The Debuting Comic Book Shows:

Agent Carter

Agent Carter Agents Shield

  • Network: ABC
  • Brand: Marvel
  • Premiere Date: January 2015

Focused on Captain America’s old flame Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) as she works with the likes of Howard Stark and maybe even The Howling Commandos to create what will become SHIELD, this will be a bridge show airing a truncated first season during the mid-season/January break of Agents of SHIELD.  They are still filling in the cast, just adding James D’Arcy to play Edwin Jarvis, eventual butler to Tony Stark.  The behind the scenes talent is mighty impressive, with people who’ve directed (The Russo Brothers, Joe Johnston) or written (Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely) for the two Captain America movies serving in the same capacity on Agent Carter.



  • Network: NBC
  • Brand: DC
  • Premiere Date: 10/24

DC’s second attempt to get John Constantine right after the better-left-forgotten 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves, this new TV version will feature Welsh actor Matt Ryan in the title role.  The pilot leaked over the summer and was met with mixed reviews, and since that time they’ve completely dropped a key character (Lucy Griffiths’ Liv)  who was mean to be a series regular.  Its most notable additional headline is that fellow DC character The Spectre will show up, played by Emmett Scanlan.

The Flash 

  • Network: CW
  • Brand: DC
  • Premiere Date: 10/7

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, the producers revealed that the idea to do a Flash show first occurred to them several episodes into the first season of Arrow, and that when it came to finally cast the part  of Barry “Flash” Allen Grant Gustin was actually the first (though not necessarily the only) person who auditioned.  They also teased that Barry won’t zoom through his love life quite as fast as Oliver Queen on Arrow, but they won’t be able to hold back as much as they’d like simply because everyone tells stories so darn fast on modern TV these days.


  • Network: FOX
  • Brand: DC
  • Premiere Date: 9/22

With the premiere of this Batman-minus-Batman prequel right around the corner, the official reviews are starting to pour in, and even those annoyed with the explosion of comic books on TV seem to be conceding that at the very least Gotham doesn’t suck.   The biggest test may be getting audiences to fully understand that this is a show about the rise of Detective Jim Gordon in the Gotham City Police Department while the city and police force deteriorate around him thus creating the need for Batman.  In fact, for all the ads showing off, “Look, we’ve got young Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler, etc.” the primary villain of the first season will actually be a character created specifically for the show, Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney.



  • Network: CW
  • Brand: DC Vertigo
  • Premiere Date: Early 2015

Coming to us from Veronica Mars‘ Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, iZombie is officially described as a “supernatural crime procedural centering on Liv (Rose McIver), a medical student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the Coroner’s Office in order to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat so that she can maintain her humanity. However, with every brain she eats, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head.”  So, basically, take Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, and Dead Like Me, mix them together, and throw in maybe a bit of Shaun of the Dead and you’ve got iZombie.  I am freakin’ in because I love every show or film I just mentioned.

The Comic Book Shows in Active Development:

First Daredevil, Then Jessica Jones, Followed By Iron Fist, Leading Into Luke Cage, All Culminating with The Defenders


  • Network: Netflix
  • Brand: Marvel
  • Premiere Date: Daredevil drops May 2015

Netflix doled out 13-episode orders to each one of these characters with the intent for all 4 to ultimately join together in an Avengers-like 4-8 episode mini-series called The Defenders.  First out of the gate will be Daredevil, with show creator Drew Goddard acting as a consultant to show-runner Steven DeKnight and Stardust/Boardwalk Empire star Charlie Cox hoping as the new Daredevil to put right what Ben Affleck once put wrong.  The rest of the cast to this point includes Vince D’Onofrio as the villainous Kingpin, Elden Hensen as best bud Foggy, True Blood‘s Deborah Ann Woll as the extremely beleaguered girlfriend Karen, and Scott Glenn as a martial arts mentor who goes by “Stick.”   Next up will be Jessica Jones, which has Twilight/Dexter writer Melissa Rosenberg aboard to write and executive produce.  They only just started the casting process for the lead role last month.



  • Network: FOX
  • Brand: DC Vertigo

What if the devil simply got tired of being the Lord of Hell?  He’d probably be a lot like DC’s Lucifer, a supporting character in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman who eventually got his own spin-off written by Mike Carey. Lucifer basically abandons his job ruling over Hell, choosing to instead have many supernaturally-tinged adventures and misadventures on Earth and in other realms.  According to Deadline, the approach to the TV adaptation is thus far sticking pretty close to the comics:

“[The series] centers on Lucifer who, bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the gorgeous, shimmering insanity of Los Angeles, where he opens an exclusive piano bar called Lux.”

Fox gave it a put-pilot commitment which means they agree to produce and air the pilot episode, and if for whatever reason they decline to air the pilot they have to pay out a substantial fee.  In TV lingo, this is the strongest commitment a network can make to a new TV show during the pilot process without simply ordering it straight-to-series and thus completely skipping the pilot process.  Californication creator and executive producer Tom Kapinos will write and produce the show.



  • Network: Cinemax
  • Brand: Image

Walking Dead is such a massive hit that a bidding war broke out over the TV rights for Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s new comic before it even debuted.  The comic “centesr on Kyle Barnes, who has been plagued by possession since he was a child. Now an adult, he embarks on a spiritual journey to find answers, but what he uncovers could mean the end of life on Earth as we know it.”  Cinemax first landed the rights in November 2013, and announced at San Diego Comic-Con this summer that they’d ordered a pilot to be written by Kirkman.


Powers Promo Pic

  • Network: Sony Playstation Network
  • Brand: Image/Marvel
  • Premiere Date: Sometime in 2015

The Brian Michael Bendis-authored comic centers on Christian Walker ( Sharlto Copley) and Deena Pilgrim ( Susan Heyward), two homicide detectives who focus on cases involving individuals with superpowers.  Christian is the untrained one who used to actually have superpowers and thus brings a unique viewpoint to the cases; Deena is a fantastic detective who knows very little about dealing with people with superpowers.  It was originally set up at FX, making it as far as producing a pilot.  However, after the network passed they re-started from scratch, and received a 10-episode order from Sony, becoming the first original program in Sony Playstation Network history.  They are currently in week 4 of filming, but we still don’t really know when Sony intends to put this up for Playstation owners to enjoy.


Seth Rogen Preacher AMC

  • Network: AMC
  • Brand: DC Vertigo
  • Premiere Date: Mid-to-Late 2015

Devin at BadAssDigest summarized this pretty nicely:

In the comic Jesse Custer is a small town preacher who is torn by booze and sin and who finds himself the vessel for a strange entity – the child of a mating between an angel and a demon. Filled with immense power, including The Word of God, which makes anyone do whatever he says, Jesse goes hunting for the Lord Almighty, who has abandoned creation. He aims to make him pay for leaving his children behind. Joining Jesse on his journey is his ex-girlfriend Tulip, who is now a hit woman, and a hundred year old Irish vampire named Cassidy. Along the way they battle secret religious commandoes, the retarded descendent of Christ, a guy who fucks meat and even each other.

The likes of Kevin Smith, Rachel Talaly, and Sam Mendes have all tried in the past to get this made as a film, but it was ultimately Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg who got it done, penning series the pilot, which AMC liked enough to order straight to series.  Rogen will not, however, star in the series; he’s just writing.

Supergirl (Updated 9/19/14)


  • Network: CBS
  • Brand: DC

Somewhere, Laura Vandervoort is punching the air in frustration, looking up at the news that Warner Bros.-TV is finally moving forward with a Supergirl show when they so easily could have spun her version of Supergirl off of Smallville a decade ago.  Fairly soon, she’s going to have look over at the parade of young, (probably) blonde actresses audition for the part because CBS just gave Supergirl a series commitment, by-passing the pilot stage entirely.  Arrow/Flash‘s co-creator Greg Berlanti is working with Ali Adler, Sarah Schechterr, and Geoff Johns to develop the show.


Teen_Titans (1)

  • Network: TNT
  • Brand: DC

An adaptation of The New Teen Titans 1980s era of the long-running team-up of DC sidekicks and also-rans, TNT is reportedly close to ordering a pilot, with Akiva “Yes, the guy who wrote Batman & Robin” Goldsman attached to write and produce.  Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg are reportedly in the mix for the cast, with no mention of Beast Boy yet.

The Comic Book Shows We Haven’t Heard About in a While



  • Network: SyFy
  • Label: Image

First announced at the 2013 Comic-Con, this adaptation of David Schulner’s comic revolves such intriguing questions as Clone “What if there were more of you? And what if you could save those versions of yourself from being killed?” It’s being executive produced by Robert Kirkman.  Orphan Black and XBox Studios’ Humans explore similar themes and are much further along in their life cycle than Clone appears to be right now.



  • Network: SyFy
  • Brand: DC Vertigo

This 2005-2012 comic focused on a photojournalist stuck in a Manhattan that’s become a demilitarized zone due to a second American Civil War.  The TV adaptation was first announced in February, with Mad Men writers and executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton at the helm and David Heyman (Gravity) assisting in the producing duties.  The last update I’ve seen is that the pilot went into production in May.


Hourman WIkipedia

  • Network: The CW
  • Brand: DC

Hourman centers on a brilliant-yet-troubled pharmaceutical analyst who discovers that the visions that have plagued him since childhood are actually glimpses of tragic events occurring one hour in the future. Determined to win back his ex-wife and son, he heroically prevents these tragedies from unfolding, finding both purpose and redemption along the way.  That immediately draws to mind comparisons to shows like Journeyman, Flash Forward, Awake, and Angel.  Michael Caleo (Ironside, The Sopranos) is attached to write and executive produce alongside Dan Lin and Jennifer Gwartz.  However, there seem to be absolutely zero updates since this was first unofficially announced by The Hollywood Reporter in late 2011, which is not a good sign.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


  • Network: FOX
  • Brand: DC Vertigo

Like Constantine and Daredevil, this is another case of, “If you can’t make the property work on film why not try TV?”  Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic novel series League of Extraordinary Gentlemen follows a group of Victorian age literary characters, including Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who team up to fight a common enemy.  This was made into a 2003 movie so bad it forced Sean Connery to retire from acting, but Moore and O’Neill had little to nothing to do with the film, other than being allowed to read the scripts during the development process.  They, again, will apparently have minimal involvement in this new TV version, coming form Michael Green (Green Lantern, Kings, The River, Heroes, Smallville) and Erwin Stoff, the former of which will serve as showrunner should the project go to series.  Fox is obligated to make a pilot and air it or else pay a substantial fee, but this is not guaranteed to receive a series order.  In fact, this project was first announced over a year ago, and we’ve heard very little about it since then.

Letter 44


  • Network: SyFy
  • Brand: Oni Press

The comic is a monthly series which Charles Soule’s just launched last October, and revolves around “around Stephen Blades, the new president of the U.S. who learns, via a letter from his predecessor, that seven years earlier, NASA discovered an alien construction project in the asteroid belt. A crew of heroic astronauts was sent to investigate and they’re nearing the conclusion of their epic journey.”  Terminator 3‘sJonathan Mostow is attached to write, produce, and direct the pilot with Eric Gitter (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Peter Schwerin (The Flock), and Rene Echevarria (Terra Nova) also producing.  I haven’t seen anything new about this since it was first announced in April, and its plot does kind of overlap with SyFy’s upcoming series Ascension.



  • Network: SyFy
  • Brand: DC

This was a six-issue comic series written and drawn by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), published every six weeks between 1983-84.  It centers “on a legendary warrior — the Ronin, a dishonored, masterless 13th century samurai — who is mystically given a second chance to avenge his master’s death. He finds himself suddenly reborn in a futuristic and corrupt 21st century New York where he must defeat ancient demon Agat, the reincarnation of his master’s killer.”  Darren Aronofsky attempted to turn it into a film, but when that fizzled SyFy scooped in to try it out as a mini-series, altering the premise a tad:

“Syfy’s takes place eight centuries after a Japanese Ronin samurai failed to protect his master from a demon. He awakens in a futuristic, nihilistic New York in the body of Billy, a medical experiment. Now Billy/Ronin is chasing the demon, which has reawakened. Both parties want control of a sword with magical properties and will stop at nothing to get it back.”

I haven’t seen anything new about this since it was first announced in April.



  • Network: WGN America
  • Brand: DC Vertigo

Based on Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s comic of the same name, the TV Scalped is set to be a crime noir set on a Native American reservation with Banshee‘s Doug Jung writing and producing.  If it’s true to the comics, it will be focus on a South Dakota Indian Reservation, and “chronicles the Indians’ struggles to grapple with organized crime, poverty, drug and alcohol addiction and local politics while trying to preserve their cultural identity.”  Apparently, Aaron and Guera took their inspiration from a Native American activist (Leonard Peltier) who was arrested for gunning down two FBI agents on a reservation in 1975.  There don’t appear to be any new updates about the show since it was first unofficially announced in April.

Is that it?  Did I miss anything?  If I didn’t, which of the “in-development” shows are you most excited about?  Which do you not care about?  Just wondering how exactly I added it up to get to there being 18 different comic book shows in development (hint: I counted the Marvel titles at Netflix as 5 different shows)?  Let me know in the comments.


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