Fifty years from now, when we’re all flying around in our rocket cars and taking an elevator up to Mars, historians will look back on 2014 as a banner year for seeing comic books in other media besides comic books.
It’s especially been a banner year for DC Comics on the smallish screen. For the fall season, it’s got four shows on the air: Arrow, The Flash, Constantine, and Gotham. From what I hear, they’re doing gangbusters. While Marvel has a stranglehold on the multiplex, it does have one show on TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with several more in development. I guess I should mention that 100-pound zombie in the room, The Walking Dead, but I’m not a zombie kind of guy. Sorry.
As much as I would love to watch every single one of these shows, most of them air when my kids are heading off to the realm of Dream. Thankfully, since we live in THE FUTURE, I can watch them later online with limited commercial interruption (usually the same ads over and over).
When the fall season began, I knew I had to see The Flash, with Gotham lurking in the shadows for a tie. I was a big fan of Batman and the Flash’s earlier TV incarnations. One was a bit silly, the other had a mix of comedy, drama and action. All these years later, we would get another look at these characters.
The Flash would take on the Barry Allen version with some revisions to the origin story. It’s serious, but there’s a sense of fun among the characters. It’s not all doom and gloom. With Gotham, this would be more Batman: Year Minus One, giving the origins of some of Batman’s rogues gallery as well as the Gotham Police. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to catch any episodes of Gotham. I guess I’ll wait for the DVDs.
I drop in occasionally on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., mainly because “it all fits” but I haven’t seen a Marvel movie since Iron Man. Some of it is good, but I feel like I’m missing something. I saw a few episodes of Arrow last season and liked it once I figured out the scenes on the island were flashbacks and not scenes from the future. Nice, moody stuff borrowing a lot from Batman’s world. Sadly, I’ve fallen behind this season, the one where Ra’s al Ghul is primed for an appearance.
Then there’s John Constantine.
I’m not much of a horror fan, so I have stayed away from Constantine’s DC/Vertigo comic book adventures. But whenever he did pop up in comics I was reading at the time (mostly by some bloke named Neil Gaiman), it was always entertaining. Thankfully, I never did see Keanu Reeves’ cinematic turn as the character.
Out of all the shows DC was bringing out, this was the one I was waffling on seeing. Did I want to have nightmares every day and wonder if there’s some hellspawn masquerading as a lamppost?
The hell with it, I thought. I watched the pilot, and it was great. It had just enough horror to not give me fits at night, and actor Matt Ryan fits Constantine’s character like a well-worn glove.
I, for one, am glad to see the comics world on TV. It helps that the special effects have grown to the point of being able to re-create someone running at the speed of light or people turning into demons. But the biggest thing is that the stories don’t play down on the material. And above all, they’ve made me ask, “What happens next?”
Now I just have to carve out time to find out what does happen next, and pray that they don’t get cancelled.