Somebody in Hollywood has been eating brains. That was our first thought when we heard that Robert Kirkman's epic "surviving a zombie apocalypse" comic book series The Walking Dead was close to being developed as a television series by AMC. Add that to the fact that the Vertigo title Fables, about storybook characters living in New York, is in development at ABC, and it almost kinda looks like a trend. We started thinking about other comic book series that we'd like to see on the small screen, and were able to come up with ten off the top of our heads that barely even touch on the tights-and-capes crowd.
1. Preacher (Vertigo)
For 66 issues, this epic story followed Jesse Custer, a small-town preacher granted the power of the Word, so that when he spoke, people did as he asked. With his hitwoman girlfriend Tulip and his vampire drinking buddy Cassidy, Custer criss-crossed the globe hunting for an absent God, meeting a host of unsavory characters and avoiding the unstoppable Saint of Killers, even as they learned more and more about each other's sordid histories. Originally pitched as a TV series, it is currently in development as a feature film, which means that we'll only see a small chunk of the story, with no guarantee we'll get more. We'd rather see it as a slow-burn shock-fest, a la True Blood, with Jeffrey Donovan Burn Notice in the role of Jesse.
2. Gotham Central (DC)
What are the police doing while Batman is off solving crimes? How do they deal with a super-powered or technologically advanced criminal when the Caped Crusader is otherwise occupied? This comic series focused on the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department, including their love-hate relationship with Batman and the hazards that came with the job. Batman hardly ever appeared, although the Bat-Signal was practically a supporting character, and most of the Bat-villains they dealt with were ordinary lunatics with a penchant for costumes. Commissioner Gordon would need to be a regular presence, so start looking for an older actor who can grow a mustache. What's Martin Sheen up to?
3. Ex Machina (Wildstorm)
In an alternate reality, one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was saved, spared from the plane's impact by a jet-pack-wearing vigilante named the Great Machine. Becoming a New York City hero, the costumed adventurer was easily elected to the office of Mayor, and the series follows Mayor Mitchell Hundred as he and his staff deal with various crises that pop up, from gay rights protests to blackouts to serial killers. Occasionally, we flash back to see what his life was like as a superhero, as well as how he gained his ability to talk to mechanical and electronic devices. If Spin City can be a series, then surely this can. We can see Ron Livingston making a great mayor, if/when Defying Gravity doesn't work out.
4. 100 Bullets (Vertigo)
Across the country, people are given guns and untraceable bullets, to be used to get revenge on someone who has wronged them. The connection between the recipients is unclear, but the man who gives the guns out, one Agent Graves, has chosen these people to re-form the Minutemen, a group of stone-cold killers that has existed in one form or another for centuries. The long-term plans of Agent Graves play out over the course of the series' 100 issues, and would make for a twisty crime drama akin to The Wire or The Sopranos. We can see John Mahoney as a good Graves type (he pretty much played him on Burn Notice) and maybe Alicia Keys as Dizzy Cordova?
5. Sleeper (Wildstorm)
Imagine if everyone on Dark Blue had super powers. Not only would that show be more interesting, it would also be a lot like Sleeper, which is about a government agent named Holden Carver who gets super powers from an alien artifact and is sent undercover in an organization of super-criminals. However, once he's inserted undercover, his boss -- the only person who knows of his status as a double agent -- is put in a coma, which means that he's out in the cold, with no way to return to his loved ones. Having to simultaneously do what his boss says and keep him from accomplishing too much, Carver strikes up relationships with his fellow gang members, but is always trying to figure out a way home. A Vic Mackey type would be great to play Carver, but maybe someone with a bit more hair than Michael Chiklis?
6. Constantine (Vertigo)
Supposedly, Keanu Reeves is willing to reprise his role in a Constantine movie sequel, but if that doesn't happen soon, we'd much rather see the paranormal investigator on our TV screen on a weekly basis. And hey, maybe we can bring him a little closer to the comic book version? In other words, make him blonde, British and a total jerkwad. Heck, why not see if Paul Blackthorne would be willing to bleach his hair and play a slightly more obnoxious version of his character on The Dresden Files?
7. Y the Last Man (Vertigo)
Another comic currently being developed as a movie, this epic story would be much more successful as a TV series chronicling the adventures of Yorick, the last man alive in a world full of women. Less a fantasy and more a horrible, horrible nightmare, Yorick has to make his way halfway around the technologically crippled world to Australia to find his girlfriend, often pretending to be a woman himself while being guarded by a government agent and hunted by his own brainwashed cultist sister. Shia LaBeouf has said he won't play the role in the movie, but perhaps Kyle XY's Matt Dallas could be convinced?
8. The Pulse (Marvel)
In the Marvel Universe, superheroes are celebrities, so when Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson creates a weekly section in his newspaper about them, who better to act as consultant for it than a former superhero herself? Jessica Jones used to be the vigilante known as Jewel, although her powers have since waned, and when one of the Bugle's reporters is killed, she helps the journalists track down the supervillain responsible and expose his true identity. Kristen Bell is probably tired of playing superheroes and reporter/detectives, but we'd love to see her back on TV, and maybe wearing a purple wig in flashbacks to Jessica's days as Jewel.
9. Concrete (Dark Horse)
Abducted by aliens, speechwriter Ron Lithgow wakes up to find his brain encased in a massive, stone body. Escaping from the ship before it leaves Earth, Concrete turns himself in to the government, who allow him to live on his own as long as a scientist can study him. Of course, the scientist is beautiful and smart, and Ron falls in love, but there isn't much he can do about it in his current state. He can only type with a pencil, so he hires an assistant to take dictation about his many adventures, including climbing a mountain, walking across the ocean floor, playing a monster in a movie and protesting a logging company. The Concrete costume might pose a special effects challenge, but they made a movie about dinosaurs, so anything is possible. We imagine his voice is kind of gravelly (no pun intended), so Ron Perlman would be ideal to voice him.
10. Transmetropolitan (Vertigo)
In the distant future, technology has turned urban America into a permeating web of advertisements, body modifications, information streams and alternate forms of existence. Living in self-imposed exile in the mountains, the famous journalist Spider Jerusalem (a tattooed, pill-popping homage to Hunter S. Thompson) returns to the city after a long absence to gather material for two books that he owes his publisher, or he'll have to give back the advance. Getting his old job back writing columns for one of the main news outlets, Jerusalem finds himself at the center of genetically modified alien-human riots, police brutality allegations and political grandstanding, and he has to take on an assistant and a bodyguard in order to bring down a presidential candidate who is not what he seems. We have no idea who can play Spider Jerusalem, since Hunter S. Thompson is dead, but his frequent vacillations between wicked grins and frenzied shouting makes us think of Alan Tudyk, he of Dollhouse and Firefly fame.
For more from Television Without Pity: