Comics On TV

Comic Book Television Titles in Development That Could Rival Netflix's Now-Crumbling Marvel Empire

Gethe latest on Jupiter's Legacy, Locke & Key, Y, and more.

by | February 11, 2019 | Comments

Jupiter's Legacy (Image Comics)
(Photo by Image Comics)

Netflix purchased Millarworld, the comic book publishing company of Kick-Ass co-creator Mark Millar, in August 2017. From the get-go, the plan was to convert his library of work into short-form and long-form content for the streaming service. In hindsight, it seems pretty clear that Netflix wanted a comic book company of its own to prepare for the eventual split with Disney and its comic book assets. But unlike Marvel, Millar’s work spans just about every genre once can think of — except perhaps the sort of black-and-white autobiographical comics Eddie Campbell use to make — offering Netflix a deeper vein of intellectual property to mine.

In late January, word broke The LEGO Batman Movie’s Chris McKay will direct an adaptation of Millar’s sci-fi/fantasy tale Reborn. Sandra Bullock is set to produce and possibly even star in the feature. It joins the company’s previously announced feature adaptations of Millar comics Empress, Huck, and Sharkey the Bounty Hunter. But what of Netflix’s television plans for the rest of Millarworld? And what’s the deal with the other in-development projects based on comic books, such as Y and Lazarus? The CW recently ordered a pilot for a potential Batwoman series, but that is just one of many comic book television shows on the horizon.

While 2019 will be stuffed with a diverse array of content from Stargirl to The Boys, the future of comic books on television looks to be an even wider field of genres and characters. Let’s take a look at some of these live-action projects and their current status.

UPDATE 2/4/19: FX has officially ordered a series based on the comic Y: The Last Man that is set to debut in 2020. Titled simply Y, the series stars Diane Lane, Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Juliana Canfield, Marin Ireland, and Amber Tamblyn, and was co-created and written by Michael Green and Aïda Mashaka Croal. According to FX, Y takes place in a “post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event has decimated every male save for one lone human. The new world order of women will explore gender, race, class and survival.” Keep reading to find out more about this title and others.


Jupiter’s Legacy

Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Andrew Horton, Elena Kampouris, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter

Premise: While a generation of superheroes who came to prominence in the 1930s embrace their twilight years, their children find taking up their legacies far more difficult than they ever imagined. Based on the comic book by Millar and Frank Quitely.

Status: One of the two Millarworld television shows Netflix announced in July 2018. Steven S. DeKnight, who produced the first season of Daredevil, will adapt the comic book into an eight-episode series. In February of 2019, the streaming service announced the primary cast, which includes Josh Duhamel as The Utopian — aka Sheldon Sampson — the leader of a superhero team known as The Union who finds himself disconnected from his family and, increasingly, the modern world. Leslie Bibb will play his wife Grace. She is one of the most powerful people on the planet, but regulates that power while trying her best to balance Sheldon’s ideals with the difficult modern world. Ben Daniels will play Sheldon’s brother Walter— aka Brain-Wave — a smart man, as his superhero name suggests, who is willing to use the sort of violence Sheldon avoids. Other cast members include Elena Kampouris as Sheldon and Grace’s rebellious daughter Chloe, Andrew Horton as their son Brandon, who is trying his best to become the next Utopian, Mike Wade as Fitz Small, a former hero who keeps The Union running, and Matt Lanter as George Hutchence, The Utopian’s former friend and principle antagonist who goes by the name Skyfox.


American Jesus

American Jesus, cover art (Image Comics)
(Photo by Image Comics)

Premise: When a 12-year-old boy discovers he is the Second Coming of Christ, he is forced to grow up very quickly and deal with the fate of the world. Y’know, the typical pre-teen problems. Based on Millar’s ongoing comic book with artist Peter Gross.

Status: The second of the Millarworld shows for Netflix. Luke Cage veteran Everardo Gout and brother Leopoldo Gout will executive produce the six-episode series.


Katy Keene

Katy Keene cover art (Archie Comics)
(Photo by Archie Comics)

Premise: Based on Archie Comics characters, the potential series will follow Katy Keene (who has yet to appear on Riverdale) and three others as they pursue big, exciting lives in New York City. While Riverdale only gets to be a musical once a year, this spin-off will be a musical dramedy.

Status: The CW ordered a pilot written by Riverdale mastermind Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa and Michael Grassi.


Secret Six

Premise: Based on the popular early-2000s DC title by Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham (for the most part) and an earlier DC Comics concept, Secret Six centers on six criminals forced to work together under the direction of the mysterious Mockingbird. Though their personalities initially chafe, they become a lovable ersatz family.

Status: Announced in October, CBS plans to develop the series with Rick Muirragui set to write and executive produce.


Y

Y -- CR: Macall Polay/FX
(Photo by Macall Polay/FX)

Premise: Following a devastating event, Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand are the last mammals on Earth with the Y chromosome. Alongside a former government agent and a geneticist, they set out on a journey across the partially collapsed United States to secure the future of the species. Based on the DC/Vertigo series Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra.

Status: FX announced on Feb. 4 that a series, called simply Y and starring Barry Keoghan as Yorick alongside Diane Lane, Imogen Poots, and Lashana Lynch, will debut in 2020.


American Flagg!

Premise: Taking its cues from the Howard Chaykin comic book, the series will follow Reuben Flagg, a former TV star turned policeman who witnesses widespread corruption in mall the size of Chicago run by an exiled US government and various corporate sponsors. Believe it or not, it is meant to be a satire.

Status: The television distribution arm of EuropaCorp’s (producers of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) obtained the rights to Flagg! in 2017, but little has changed since then except the production company’s own financial woes. In December, it announced $101 million loss and 42 percent drop in revenue and a renewed focus on core business in feature films. The company also sold its French TV division, so Flagg!‘s fate may not be good.


Locke & Key

Premise: Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez’s great comic book centers on the family of a slain San Francisco man who move to his ancestral home in Massachusetts. There, his youngest son discovers the house confers special abilities to the residents by unlocking certain rooms with specially designed keys. But a demon hiding in the nearby well wants those powers for itself.

Status: After two pilots — one for Fox in 2011 and one for Hulu last year — the series is finally coming to fruition in a 10-episode Netflix series. While Jackson Robert Scott returns as younger son Bode, many of the actors from the earlier pilots have been replaced. Carlton Cuse, who executive produced the Hulu pilot, will remain as showrunner with Haunting of Hill House‘s Meredith Averill joining him for the Netflix version.


Astro City

Premise: Based on Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross’ expansive series of comic book stories, the series will center on the lives of ordinary people and the super-powered individuals flying above them. All of them will face Earth-shattering calamities and human-sized versions of great comic book upheavals. They also have to figure out to make a living in this crazy men-in-tights world.

Status: FremantleMedia North America, the company that produces American Gods, acquired the rights in March of last year. Busiek is set to write the pilot with Rick Alexander, while Gregory Noveck is executive producer.


Dylan Dog

Premise: Don’t let his resemblance to Rupert Everett fool you, Dylan Dog is not a film star, but a fantastic paranormal detective. Granted, he gets personally involved with his clients and the paranormal often gets the best of him, but the important thing is that he means well. Also, his best friend may or may not be Groucho Marx. Based on comics by Tiziano Sclavi and a number of other writers and artists.

Status: In August of last year, Dylan Dog publisher Sergio Bonelli Editore announced plans to form its own entertainment arm and develop an English-language Dylan Dog television show. The 10-episode series is expected to also launch a number of other Bonelli characters into television — provided the company ever finds production partners and an outlet willing to air or stream the show.


Survivors Club

Premise: Many years after a demon possessed twins Jason and Jennifer and killed their mother, the siblings join a support group for the ex-possessed. But then a new evil arises, forcing the group to become a demon-hunting team. Based on the DC/Vertigo series by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halverson, and Ryan Kelly.

Status: Because apparently six series based on DC Comics properties isn’t enough, The CW announced plans to develop Survivors Club back in November with Sweet/Vicious’s Jared Frieder writing the pilot.


MIND MGMT

Premise: Based on Matt Kindt’s comic book, true crime writer Meru’s attempts to understand a mysterious plane flight leads to a world of powers and secret organizations. She’s joined on her journey by Henry Lyme, a rogue agent looking to destroy his former employers.

Status: Universal Cable Productions optioned the television rights in 2017, acquiring other Dark Horse Comics titles like Jennie Wood’s Flutter at the same time. The production company and Dark Horse’s partnership also includes titles like Harrow County and Concrete. With their first collaboration, The Umbrella Academy, about to debut on Netflix, it is possible any of those titles could prove to be a worthy follow-up.


Lazarus

Image Comics

Premise: The Greg Rucka and Michael Lark comic book takes place in a near future controlled by 16 rival families attempting to gain more power, territory, and resources. To combat various threats to their status quo, each family has a chosen defender known as a Lazarus. One such Lazarus is Forever Carlyle, protector of the family in control of much of the world’s food supply, who is starting to doubt her place in the world.

Status: Amazon picked up the rights during a spending spree in 2017 that included options on the science fiction novels Ringworld and Snow Crash. Rucka was said to be writing the script, but considering Amazon’s commitment to a massive The Lord of the Rings TV universe, it is unclear if there is still money for these sci-fi ideas.


Quantum and Woody

Premise: Brothers Eric and Woody Henderson have fantastic superpowers, but they must “klang” their power bands together once a day or the energies they contain will kill them. Eric is a traditional buttoned-down hero while, Woody is something of a slacker. Also, there’s a goat. Based on the Valiant comic book created by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright.

Status: Back in 2017, Joel McHale was said to be in talks to play Woody, but this never came to fruition and McHale found himself a hero role on the upcoming DC Universe series Stargirl. Quantum and Woody appeared to slink back into development hell without securing lead actors.


Sex Criminals

Premise: When Suzie and Jon discover they can both stop time when they orgasm, they decide to rob a bank. It only gets weirder from there. Based on the comic book by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

Status: Fraction and wife Kelly Sue DeConnick signed an overall deal with Universal Cable Productions in 2015 through their production company, Milkfed Criminal Masterminds. The option to develop Sex Criminals into a TV show was part of the deal, but there has been no movement since.


Dreadstar

Epic/Marvel Comics

Premise: Jim Starlin’s sci-fi/fantasy epic follows Dreadstar, last survivor of the Milky Way galaxy, as he attempts to end an eons-old conflict between the Church of Instrumentality and an ancient monarchy. But whichever group wins, the kind-hearted people of the cosmos will lose.

Status: Universal Cable Productions optioned Dreadstar in 2015.


The Wicked + The Divine

Premise: Every 90 years, the gods return. For two years, they live and are worshipped. Then they die. This time around, they look and act like pop stars. But their cycle of death and rebirth may be coming to an end. Based on the comic book by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

Status: Like Sex Criminals, rights to “WicDiv” were scooped up in a deal with Universal Cable Productions and Milkfed Criminal Masterminds. But like most of the comic books UCP optioned in the last few years, there has been no news since. Considering it took four years for UCP to get Umbrella Academy to series, there is hope yet.

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