As you may have realized, comic book adaptations currently rule the airwaves. While the big budgets and the bold headlines go to the major feature films, the small screen has seen quite the uptick in comic series in recent years. Some, like Fox’s Gotham, NBC’s Constantine, and The CW’s The Flash are enjoying their premieres in 2014, while others like Arrow, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Walking Dead are back for yet another round of supernatural storytelling.
Hopefully you’re a fan of this TV transition, otherwise the coming years are going to be rather upsetting for you since this trend shows no sign of slowing down. But before we’re absolutely drowning in comic book shows, we thought we’d take a look at the current slate of comic book adaptations on TV today, in order to pit them against each other, of course. Hit the jump to view the rankings.
While I’m sure you might disagree with the following rankings (and please feel free to do so in the comments section), my take on 2014’s comic book shows follow below, from worst to first. Enjoy!
Fox’s Batman prequel series could be considered a first-place show … if we were talking about the year’s biggest disappointments. I was impressed with the pilot, and gave the show plenty of time to work out the bat-kinks throughout my recaps, but it’s squandered any good will I had since the debut. I’m fine with showing the transition from Bruce Wayne to Batman, just as I’m on board with exploring the infamous villains’ origins, but do they really have to create new antagonists from whole cloth? Are there not enough fringe villains in Batman’s decades-long history to pull from? Other shows manage to feed fanboys with plenty of Easter eggs while delivering shows with a solid storytelling foundation. Gotham does neither.
It has a good cast peppered with some try-hards and scene-chewers, but it’s ultimately the disjointed and uninteresting plots that sap the potential out of this noir-soaked series. Audiences disagree, however, if Nielsen ratings and DVR numbers are considered, since Gotham was the #2-rated debut drama for adults. To each their own, but these are the same people who made CBS’ Scorpion a hit…
NBC’s trip into the dark recesses of the occult anti-hero from the Hellblazer comics came as a pleasant surprise. Not surprising, however, were the poor ratings and difficulty in finding an audience for this late-Friday-night hour of powers. Matt Ryan has fully taken on the mantle of his title character, and his supporting cast members do just enough to round out John Constantine’s rather rough personality. The storytelling is solid as the big question of the “Rising Darkness” has been chipped away at bit by bit in each of the successive “Demon of the Week” episodes.
Constantine does suffer from a bit of the procedural malaise, but it’s heads above Gotham and the Gothic tinge to the weekly mysteries add much-needed flavor to the network television landscape. Unfortunately the news has already come down that NBC halted production on the show at 13 episodes, and remains unclear on whether it will return for a second season.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
And now we get to our first returning series, albeit only in its sophomore season. If it wasn’t for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. entertaining mid-season finale (and the big boost from the MCU’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier), I probably would have placed this one just under Constantine. As it was, with help from big-screen brothers, S.H.I.E.L.D. made things much more interesting in its second season as more superpowers made their way into episodes cast with an air of tension thanks to all the fallout from HYDRA. Evan certainly seems to enjoy this season better than last, though he makes solid points in his recaps that the cast remains rather unwieldy and top-heavy. I’ve just had a hard time caring about anyone other than Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, even if they are revealed to be Life Model Decoys, Inhumans, or any other such non-humanoid. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has definitely gotten better, but it remains an unnecessary side dish to the main course that is Marvel’s movies.