Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 5 Comic Books That Should Be TV Shows

September 18, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Resurrection Man

The Top 5 Comic Books That Should Be TV Shows

We’re still in the midst of “peak TV,” where a good portion of the excitement in the world of pop culture is focused on TV. And with cable and streaming outfits and, to a lesser extent, broadcast TV networks, looking for content that is designed to be for “long form storytelling,” which is what “peak TV” is all about, comic books are a major source for new and old TV shows (think about all of the DC Comics shows on the CW network). And it makes sense, since comic books, by design, are long form storytelling, with stories taking place over several issues. So what comic books should be looked at next for potential TV shows?

There are tons of them. I managed to come up with five (and a few honorable mentions). Some are somewhat old, and some are newer. I think I came up with a good mix of books that could make pretty good TV shows.

And so, without any further what have you, here are my Top 5 Comic Books That Should Be TV Shows.

Honorable Mentions

Eclipse: This nifty post-apocalyptic sci-fi comic from Image and Top Cow is about a world where the survivors of a major solar event are forced to live in underground cities and anyone who tries to walk on the surface will be set on fire. There’s also a bit of a murder mystery story, at least at the beginning.

Xero: This comic was published by DC and lasted for twelve issues back in the late 1990’s. It was about a black guy secret agent that suited up as a white guy as part of his secret agent identity. The racism angle inherent in the story could be something a “prestige” cable outfit like HBO could do well. I’m surprised DC never tried to bring this character back. It had tons of potential.

Just a Pilgrim: This was a cool as hell post-apocalyptic western that Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra did back in the early 2000’s. There were two series. The main character, Pilgrim, is a badass ex-Green Beret that’s also a religious fanatic and a cannibal. Gory and weird. If Preacher could get turned into a TV show there’s no reason Just a Pilgrim can’t be a TV show, too.

Jack Cross: This was a comic book that came out in 2005 about an anti-war activist who also worked as an “anti-terrorist” for the American government. Jack Cross was incredibly violent and, to a degree, funny, and it would probably make for a great limited series of some sort.

Savage Dragon: I’m shocked that this comic book, which has been around for decades, has never been made into a movie. There was that short lived cartoon that aired on the USA network in the mid-1990’s, but that’s it. That’s insane. And since the comic is still being published, why not try to make it into a live action show of some sort? Sure, it would probably be expensive, but I bet people would watch.


5- Copperhead: I had no idea this book, published by Image comics, existed until I saw a graphic novel trade paperback of it at my local comic book shop. Essentially, Copperhead is a space western, where a badass single mom, Clara Bronson, is the new sheriff of a mining town on a distant planet in the 24th century. No one wants her there, including her main deputy, an alien that eventually just works with her (what sort of animal is he supposed to be?). There’s a great mix of western cliché stuff and science fiction stuff, and while it’s weird, it isn’t so weird that it’s unbelievable. I know that description sounds weird, especially when talking about a comic book, but there’s a real sense of reality here. The whole set up seems almost plausible. The best part about the book, at least for me, is the Bronson kid isn’t annoying. That happens far too often in just about everything. I bet people would watch this as a TV show.


4-. Resurrection Man: This great book from DC Comics featured a character named Mitch Shelley who was a quasi-superhero that gets a new/different super power after each time he dies. As I remember it, Shelley spends the entire run of the book (I read the first run, which lasted like two years. I have the second run but haven’t read it yet) trying to figure out why he has the powers he has and, ultimately, what the hell happened to him. A Resurrection Man TV show could be structured like the Cinemax action show Strike Back, where you have the overarching story for the season plus multiple smaller stories inside of that larger story, where you get to see Shelley in action using different powers every couple of episodes. You could do so much with this concept. I mean, Shelley’s new powers could be practically omnipotent in one episode, and absolutely ridiculous in the next. Why the hell isn’t Resurrection Man a bigger deal?


3- Spread: This awesome post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror comic from Image Comics is incredibly messed up. It takes place in a world where just about everything has been taken over/destroyed by “the spread,” which is some sort of tentacle organism that kills everything. There are still people/survivors, and they go through the sort of typical post-apocalyptic kind of stuff, but it somehow seems fresh and new. The main character is No, a guy that doesn’t talk, is a deadly, badass killer, and he’s in charge of a baby named Hope. No sort of looks like Logan, but he isn’t an invincible superhero. He’s just a guy. And that’s what makes him so damn cool. There’s so much fucked up, nasty gore in this book that it would probably have to be toned down for TV (even for cable), but I think horror fans would dig it. And that overall weirdness factor when it comes to the actual “spread” could make this a winner.


2-. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Danger : The premise of Mike Danger is probably a little lame now, considering Futurama and Idiocracy have the same essential set up: a guy gets cryogenically frozen, then wakes up in the future where absolutely everything has changed and he has to figure out how to adapt to those changes (“fish out of water” and all that). In the case of Danger 1950’s private eye Mike Danger, while tracking down Nazis or something, ends up trapped inside a freezer (next to a frozen Hitler, as I recall it), and he gets thawed out one hundred years in the future (I think it would have to be changed to like two or three hundred years later). Danger doesn’t adapt all that well to the future, but then that was the fun of the book and it would no doubt lead to plenty of funny “fish out of water” set pieces. The villain, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t be a returned Hitler, but I bet the TV show producers could create some kind of frozen Nazi psycho for Danger to fight. Again, the premise has been done multiple times now but I think Mike Danger would work. Man, I really miss Tekno Comix. They had so many great comics. Primortals!


1- Criminal Macabre: The great Steve Niles created this comic book series for Dark Horse Comics, and it involves a private eye named Cal McDonald that deals with the supernatural. Monsters, vampires, demons, McDonald deals with them all. The book has a nice mix of action, horror, and detective fiction and could easily be adapted into a TV show. Each series (there are almost twenty series and one shot stories so it’s not like potential producers don’t have enough material to adapt) tends to deal with one monster/demon/whatever, so it already has that “standard peak TV series” structure. And since people love occult/monster hunting shows like Supernatural and, to a lesser extent, Constantine (Cal McDonald is apparently considered a knock off of John Constantine), it’s not like there isn’t an audience out there for this kind of show. So why the hell hasn’t this happened? Why hasn’t Netflix done this as a show? Why isn’t Shudder trying to turn this property into a TV show? It’s all there!


Thanks for reading. Agree? Disagree? Sign up with disqus and comment. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Please “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column on Facebook!

Oh, and B-movies rule. Always remember that.