Comic Book TV: A Brief Look Back on the 2014-2015 Season

I love my #geek life right now. (Happy Dance)

Disclaimer:  The only show I didn’t really watch last season was the CW’s “iZombie” series which is loosely based on the DC Comic of the same name.  I watched the first episode and it felt too much like the zombie version of Veronica Mars and I was never really a fan of that show.  Then I found out the creator of Veronica Mars was the creator of this show and it made sense. 

Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC):  Season One

Peggy Carter has been a staple in the Marvel phased projects since Captain America:  The First Avenger and has shown up in flashbacks in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  In this limited series, we get to see that regardless of her fighting spirit and intelligence, she’s still relegated to the times in which she lives in where women are still second class citizens in the post-World War II late 40’s.  Coming up the ranks in the S.S.R. (the precursor to SHIELD), she teams up with Edwin Jarvis and Howard Stark to stop the spread of Howard’s cache of deadly inventions by the underworld group, Leviathan.  This throwback series introduces historical elements that we have come to know and love in the MCU, including the beginnings of the Soviet program that spawned Black Widow.

Having been greenlit for a second season, we will continue the adventures of the dashing heroine from New York City to Los Angeles, and personally – I can’t wait.

Gotham (FOX):  Season One

I really wanted to like this series more than I do.  I always knew that this series centered on Gotham without Batman was going to be a hard to keep interesting.  I’m not saying that it’s the worst show I’ve ever seen, but the elements that I thought would elevate this show, don’t.  The elements that I felt would diminish the show, don’t.  In fact, it’s the quite the opposite.

Detective James Gordon is on a crusade to clean up Gotham and expose the corrupt infiltration into the GCPD, that also means dealing with his wise-cracking, brutish and dubious partner, Detective Harvey Bullock, as well.  The series centers around his rise to power; the organized crime power struggle between the cunning Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot , Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone ; and odd triangular relationship between the young, Master Bruce Wayne, Butler Alfred Pennyworth and Selina Kyle.  We also see the odd and disturbing turn they’ve taken with Jim’s fiancé, Barbara Kean’s character as she’s supposed to become Jim’s wife in canon.

With that said, they’ve introduced some staple (origin-ish) characters from Batman’s rogue’s gallery and have completely thrown the mythology of Batman under the bus.  So in turn, I’ve found that the organized crime aspect of the story was 10x’s more interesting than anything to do with Jim, Bruce or the GCPD.  In effect, they’ve created an alternate reality where the Batman story is almost completely irrelevant and I’m not sure if I’m really interested in a second helping since some principal (and more interesting) characters from season 1 won’t be returning.  However, we’ll see.

Powers (Sony PlayStation):  Season One

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really enjoyed this series.  I never read the comic (currently reading) but I was always aware of it, so I have no real framework to judge the series other than what I experienced from the series.

Powers are people that have developed superhuman capabilities of varying degrees.  Some Powers are immensely strong, can fly, teleport, and invulnerable, while others can only levitate a few feet off the ground or have powers that are basically useless.  Powers Division is the enforcement agency that is charged with apprehending and containing Powers that go rogue.  Christian Walker is a former Power (Diamond) whose powers were drained from him by his former mentor and mass murderer, Wolfe.  Teamed up with his witty and “rough around the edges” partner Deena Pilgrim, they are in a race against time to stop the spread of a new drug called “Sway” that enhances Powers abilities for a short time, but kills normal human beings.  Also there is another hidden effect of Sway that makes it even more important to have it eradicated, but you’ll find that out as the season goes along.

This is one of the best, adult-themed comic book adaptation series on TV.  I know not everyone has a Sony PlayStation so access to the series is limited, but if you can find a way to watch the series – do yourself a favor.  Out of all of the series that have aired in the 2014-2015 season, this is my NUMBER TWO series of them all – you’ll understand whose number one later on in this post.

Arrow (CW):  Season Three

Now onto its 4th season, this series has put its fans through the ringer.  Oliver Queen/Arrow and team are up against the most deadly foe they’ve ever faced – The Demon’s Head, Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins.  Having survived his last encounter with Ra’s, Oliver is given the opportunity of several lifetimes.  The offer extended to him by Ra’s is one that could change the game forever, but it comes at a steep and terrible price.

At the climax of this season, we see the shifting of the guard and the introduction of new characters, like Ray Palmer/ATOM.  We see that Oliver and his sister have to come to terms with their familial lineage, the sins of the past and the hope for the future.  At the very end of this season, I truly feel justified jumping off this train and ending my ride – that is said with much love and appreciation.  My fear for this series is that it’ll be a repeat of season 3 through 5 of the ABC series “Alias” where it completely lost its way and when it ended, no one cared.

I hope I’m wrong.

Constantine (NBC):  Season One

Another one bites the dust.  I’ve never been a big fan of the “Hellblazer” comic book series, nor have I been a big fan of John Constantine as a character.  I totally understand why the series and character has so many fans, but my feelings were muted at best.  Forgetting the entertaining, but divisive “Constantine” (2005) movie, I found a renewed desire to see this series when I got a chance to preview the first episode months before it aired.  My biggest fear for this show turned out to be warranted though, it was on the wrong network.  This was a series that was too dark and too niche for NBC audiences.  I know they also had “Hannibal” on NBC, but that series has been cancelled as well – so that argument is now invalid.

While I had slim hopes that CW or Syfy, even Netflix would pick this series up after it was cancelled, I’m just resigned to accept that another really good show is gone – VIVA LA FIRELFLY!!!!

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC):  Season Two

Let the haters hate.  There were some rightful rumblings about the tone and direction of the show the first half of the season 1.  However, post-Winter Soldier, about mid-way through season 1, this series just took off!  When DC fanboys complain that it’s made for kids, I have to chuckle because I know they aren’t actually watching the show where people are getting double-tapped in the skull on a regular basis.  Yeah, kids programming.

Agent Coulson and his crew are still reeling from the events of first season where not only did Ward turn out to be a double-agent working for HYDRA, but Tripp was killed in the line of duty as well.  Fitz and Simmons (who were previously inseparable) are now in conflict, if not on hostile terms.  We’re introduced to Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird), the Kree and the discovery of elusive race called The Inhumans.  On top of that, we finally find out Skye’s origin and the shocking revelation of who and what she is.

Season 2 didn’t let up at all.  I am so happy that I stuck with the show after the first few episodes because I was ready to drop it as well.  While it’s obvious who the “big bad” will be for season 3, what I don’t know and am excited for is to see what surprises they have in store for us going forward.

The Walking Dead (AMC):  Season Five

Rick Grimes and crew are a mess; literally and figuratively.  While there are bonafide and legitimate threats in the world populated by walkers, cannibals and warlords, this season posed an interesting question:  When do the hunted become the hunter?  Quite frankly, people should be less afraid of Walkers and more afraid of Rick and his team.  They’ve killed so many people; defended themselves against so many threats; lost so many loved ones; seen so many horrors that they are now as twisted as the world they strive to survive.

Having successful escaped Terminus, Rick and crew find “The Safe Zone”.  Really?  If nothing else, season 5 of this series has shown me that if they killed Rick Grimes, this show could survive on with his son, Carl.  Unlike Rick, Carl has almost been raised in the madness of this world.  Carl, while still young and naïve, is lethal and calculating – the type of individual that could survive in a world where laws don’t really matter, even your life doesn’t matter because your death doesn’t matter.  A world where the strong truly do survive and the weak are culled.

No matter what, either this is a story of redemption or this is a story of the worst in humanity.

The Flash (CW):  Season One

I was an instant fan of this show.

Grant Gustin is the perfect Barry Allen.  He plays the character almost exactly how I would have expected him to be played;  youthful, whimsical, longing, hopeful, determined, sarcastic, excited and burdened.  We saw that Barry was struck by lightning in the Arrow series when he was introduced season 2, but the first episode of the new series goes deeper into the events that led up to that night and the series delves into the significance and meaning of that event.  Dr. Harrison Wells and his team, Caitlyn Snow and Cisco Ramon develop a particle accelerator that unfortunately explodes and releases a shockwave that creates the electricity that strikes Barry, but also affects other humans in its wake creating “metahumans”.  Metahumans are DC Comics version of “mutants”, in the show they are people that have been altered by the particle wave and now exhibit fantastic and terrible powers.

Along with getting to know Iris West , her father Detective Joe West, and his partner Detective Eddie Thawne we get to know Barry and his father Harry Allen (played by John Wesley Ship, who played Barry Allen in the 90’s version of the series).  We get to see how this unlikely family bonded and how the struggle of love, affection and desire affect them all.  We also are introduced to The Flash’s most notorious and deadly arch nemesis, The Reverse Flash.  As Barry learns to use his newfound powers with the help of Dr. Wells and team, he begins to learn the relationship between him and The Reverse Flash and how he coincides with the murder of his mother as a child that his father was framed for.

The very last scene this season was pure comic book joy.  All I could see once the scene faded away was “To be continued…” that usually appear at the end of every comic book story as they rolled to credits.  It was literally standing ovation worthy and I so can’t wait for season 2.

Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix):  Season One

Forget that dreadful Daredevil (2003) movie; even the Director’s Cut doesn’t really help that pile of steaming poo.  THIS is the quintessential Daredevil story.  THIS is what we as comic book fans, fans of good stories, or fans of great characters long for; a story that is filled with a great cast, awesome characterizations, a worthy antagonist and troubled protagonist.  The fight for the soul of Hell’s Kitchen begins here and it was one hell of a thrilling and chilling spectacle to watch.

Matthew Murdock is blind.  As the Daredevil, he’ll kick your teeth in.  After a freak accident that blinded him as a young boy, Matt and his boxer father Jack have to look out for themselves.  Matt, used to having to patch up his father and living a difficult life, his future is uncertain when his father is killed after not throwing a fight he was paid to throw.   Over the course of the season, you get to see glimpses of what life was like growing up to becoming an advocate lawyer with his best friend and partner, Foggy Nelson and ultimately the crime-fighter crusader.

In the shadows lurks a malevolent threat to Matt and Foggy’s crusade to protect the vulnerable residents of Hell’s Kitchen.  Wilson Fisk is a towering and imposing corporate machine that intends to protect Hell’s Kitchen in his own way.  While using the system, subterfuge, murder and organized crime to achieve his goals, this show looks at two men who love their city try to save in polar opposite ways.  This could be a tale of two brothers were they not from different families.

The Netflix series is on another level.  The choreography of the fight scenes are on a Bourne Identity level.  The writing is crisp and not convoluted.  The plot is not so much intricate as it is relevant to the chaos that came out of the events of the first Avengers movie.  Thus, it’s connected but very much apart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe more so than Agents of SHIELD or Agent Carter.

This is what I’ve personally been waiting for in this genre for years; a series that brings heroes to the human level with wit, humor, depth and deft, but doesn’t sacrifice the soul of the character for product placement and trying to make room too many repressed sensibilities.

In season 2 we’re supposed to get The Punisher and this just makes me happy to no end.  Bring on the other Marvel Knights series and characters planned for Netflix.  Bring on Jessica Jones.  Bring on Luke Cage. Bring on Iron Fist.  Bring on The DefendersThis is by far my favorite series and new show of them all.

We are in the Golden Age of Comicdom.  Rejoice!

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