If you find yourself with some extra time now that a lot of states are implementing a shelter in place/stay home order, I'm sure you are looking for shows to watch. Good news for you! I have watched everything. I love streaming while I work (I am a graphic/web designer) so I put together my list of 10 shows based off Comic Books to binge while we are all under quarantine. Shows like The Mandalorian, Westworld, Altered Carbon, and other amazing shows that are not based off comics will not be on this list.
Over the next couple weeks, I will also post more in depth break downs that go into references to the original comics, what keys get brought up, and some really cool underline themes inside these shows that will make you love them even more.
1. The Boys
First, let's talk about Amazon's The Boys. This dark, gritty underdog of an ultra-violent show came out of no where. Honestly I wasn't even aware of the Comic Series before I started the first episode of The Boys and then binged the rest in two days.
There are a lot of super hero shows on every streaming service and we all know the common tropes. They follow the heroes journey, they are reluctant to step up and use their power to do good, or they are learning how to use their new found power. This show takes everything you knew about superhero (sups in the show) stories and turns it on it's head and asks- What if Superheroes were bad. The main protagonists are a misfit group of regular people who try to fight and dismantle a huge corporate group of super heroes who abuse their powers. The first person we are introduced to is Hughie (and his girl who is quickly and horrifically killed in-front of him by a superhero running through her flash style). No phasing here I guess. Hughie then meets the shows main protagonist Butcher who has been fighting back against the super heroes reign of fear and disregard for anyone other than themselves since the Superman like character Homelander murdered his wife. They also hid a Romeo and Juliet love story through out this complex story of revenge, betrayal, and copious amounts of violence. This show is crazy and I loved every minute of it.
There is one season available to stream on Prime with a new season on the way.
2. The Witcher
Toss a coin to your Netflix account, because your going to watch this show more than once. How many movies and shows have been made based off video games? How many worked? Well, this one killed it. As soon as I saw they slated Henry Cavil for the lead role and saw him in the full Geralt of Rivia costume, I was sold. Henry Cavil was born to play this role. It makes sense after I read that he is a huge fan of the game and had a real passion for the role. The Witcher is based in a fantasy world where magic is real and Witchers fight monsters for bounty.
The timeline jumps around a bit, which can be confusing at times because several of the main characters don't really age, but you catch on a few episodes in. This show is dark, funny, deep, and has some amazing fight scenes. Definitely give it a try. I may or may not be on my third viewing. The comics are awesome too.
The first season is available on Netflix.
3. Locke and Key
I did not know what to expect when I started Locke and Key, but after watching the entire series twice, I put anything Locke and Key coming out in the future on my Pull List. I'm all in on the back story and history and can't wait for season 2!
This teenage drama opens up a world full of Keys that open magical locks in the ancestral home of the main characters, the Locke Family. Through out the series we get introduced to several keys including the Mind Key that lets you enter someones mind where you can add or take away things or learn something you didn't know about yourself, the Face Key that lets you change your face to any one you can think of, and the Anywhere Key that lets you open doors to anywhere you have seen. The main characters go on a story that winds around through time unlocking the truth about their Dad's past and the true power behind the keys. I was worried this was going to be too YA for me but it was great and can not wait for another season.
The first season is available on Netflix.
Who watches the Watchmen? You, you should. This was easily one of the best shows in the last few years. This show thought of everything. The show runners intently put in details from the comics as well as the movie tying everything together to give us a new Watchmen story set 30 years after the movie. There is even a website named Peteypedia that has even more easter eggs like pages from Rorschache's journal, advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs in the show, and other amazing little documents. Through out the series, which covers over 100 years, we follow an investigation into the murder of the Sheriff in a world where the cops have started wearing mask to protect themselves, a rouge terrorist group emulates Rorschach and his radical ideals, and a head strong detective who digs into her past as well as everyone else to find the truth. Be prepared to pay attention to everything because this show doesn't do anything half way!
The first and only season is available on HBO's Streaming add-on.
This show is badass. This was the first Netflix comic adaptation where they took a mature approach and Daredevil and it was the perfect choice. Season 2 will always live at the top of my favorite series of all time but season one sets up the whole world for the future seasons as well as ground work for other shows like Jessica Jones, Punisher, Iron First, The Defenders, and Luke Cage. Sweet Christmas is it well done. Like the comics, our main character Matt Murdock is a struggling lawyer from New York and after seeing how broken the judicial system is, decides to take matters into his own hands. He doesn't start out in the classic red suit ( the actual red suit doesn't come till later and is more "real world" based ) but in everyday stuff anyone can buy and a black bandana. In fact, I think I have the tac gloves he uses. Every episode of this series builds on the last and gets better and better. We get to watch the struggle only Matt Murdock can go through being deeply catholic and deeply violent at the same time. Daredevil is one of the most human Marvel superhero and they pack this show with plot, heart, and the absolute best one-shot fight scenes. There are only three seasons because Disney canceled the series when they started to promote Disney+ but don't worry. I read that in Spider-man 3, Peter's lawyer is from New York, blind, and will be played by Charley Cox who plays Matt Murdock in this series! A cross over with this story arc will open up future Marvel Movies to be more mature and hopefully give us a Rated R Punisher movie.
The first three seasons are available on Netflix.
Speaking of Punisher. Punished come down to great casting. Casting will make or break any show. Jon Bernhal is the absolute best choice to play a modern day Frank Castle. Set in the Daredevilverse, Punisher is way darker than the comics and season 1 of Daredevil. We meet Frank Castle in season 2 of Daredevil as an antihero tracking down the people who killed his family. Season 1 of Punisher gives you more backstory for Castle and fleshes out his military background and really draws you in with Bernhal's honest and venerable performance while he uncovers a conspiracy that involves everyone in his life. This show is brutal and over delivers on everything it promises. The story is deep and complex, the acting is top shelf, and the fight choreography is honestly as good or better than most blockbuster action movies. There is intense anger through out the show but because of Berthal's performance, you find yourself right there with him through all the highs and lows. Highly Recommended.
The first two seasons are available on Netflix.
Now for a lighter show. Would you guess it would be something about the Devil? I was not going to watch this but Netflix kept telling me I'd like it and my algorithm was not wrong. Straight out of the Sandman Universe from Vertigo, Lucifer was adapted from its comic form into a CW show but don't worry, it is not overly CW-y. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of melodrama and cheese lines like, instead of saying "oh my god" Lucifer will say "oh my dad". Cringe worthy, yes, but the main character played by Tom Ellis is acted with such conviction, you believe in everything he says. Tom Ellis is perfect for this role, I can not state that enough. Season 1 starts off in LA a few years after the Devil decides to leave Hell and never return. Only accompanied by his demon companion Maze, Lucifer spends his days much as you'd expect him to being a high profile club owner named Lucifer Morningstar. Yes, a bit on the nose but it is a CW show. Lucifer quickly finds out solving crimes gives him a rush he hasn't felt in a long time and combined with an infatuation for a LAPD detective, he becomes their full time crime consultant. On the surface, this show is a fun buddy cop show with biblical references and themes but behind all of that, there is a show about a man who continually tries to either fight his true nature or accept it and deal with the consequences of either choice. Trust me. Get through season 1 and by season 3 your going to find yourself watching three episodes at a time. The show really picks up when the CW canceled it and Netflix picked it up.
The first 4 seasons are available on Netflix with a 5th on the way!
8. Doom Patrol
The dark horse on this list is Doom Patrol. One of the premier shows on the new DC Universe streaming service, DC had to have had a great deal of confidence in starting with this group of virtual unknowns and it is clear why.
The Doom Patrol is a group of downtrodden superheroes who all have a traumatic back story of horrific accidents that alienate them from the world. These broken individuals all live in the home of their leader and in many ways creator, Chief. They never leave until one day, they can not help but venture out to feel normal again. This show is hilarious, vulgar, and completely unexpected at every turn. A few episodes into the series, the main characters start to show an emotional depth you never get with superhero tv shows. An example is Negative Man's story arc. Negative man has been hiding behind bandages, afraid of what the world will think of him for decades. His pain gives this character a tangible anchor in a reality that all of us have felt at one point or another and through out the arc, you learn about his past double life and snaps you into a jarring realization of how some peoples struggle effects them internally as it unfolds through his emotionally complex evolution. Robot man, played by Brenden Fraiser, has an equally relatable story path. This is easily Fraiser's best performance and he is straight up playing a brain that was integrated into a rutamenery mechanical body that barely works. Even without the benefit of having a face that conveys the emotional duality of his character, Fraiser paints a full picture of a broken, guilt stricken man who ends up being the backbone of the entire group. I am now hunting Doom Patrol Comics when ever I get to dig through a dollar bin. Get ready for a ride that will make you laugh, cry, and ask why, why did you choose a donkey for that plot point.
The first season is available on the DC Universe App
This may be the most gritty show DC has ever done, at least since The Killing Joke. The preview promised a Robin we had never seen before and did they ever give us that. Set in a time frame I have always wanted to know more about, between the time Dick Grayson and Jason Todd wore the Boy Wonder cape, Titans opens with the team broken and Dick working as a police detective. Dick still wears his Robin armor but has completely abandoned Batman and is acting alone in a new city. This is where we meet Raven, a troubled teen who pulls on Dick's empathy and who is being tracked by an amnesia stricken Starfire who has no memory of who she is or what she is. Throughout Dick and Starfire's investigating who Raven is, and why people are after her, we get to meet members of the old team including Dove and Hawk and some new members like Gar the Beast Boy. There is an amazing backstory for Hawk that shapes his entire psyche and really informs his decistions and actions later in the series. It was one of the tougher episodes to get through but gave Hawk the depth he needed for you to care about him and his arc. This brutal real world based show takes these characters, much like Doom Patrol, deep into their cores and forces them to confront aspects of their personalities they are not necessarily ready to deal with all while drawing this group of misfits into a family unit that sparks the birth of a new Titans Team. The series builds to one of the best season finales in the last ten years. It is definitely worth the wait because you get to meet Batman and the Joker in some small, but awesome, cameos.
The first two seasons are available on the DC Universe App
10. Umbrella Academy
One clandestine day in 1989, 43 babies are born spontaneously in random places to random women who were no where near their due date sparking an eccentric billionaire named Sir Reginald Hargreeves to make a mad dash to adopt as many as he can. Seemingly knowing these kids would develop super power, Hargreeves opens The Umbrella Academy with his 7 adopted children. Oh, and the comics were written by Gerald Way, the singer for My Chemical Romance.
Umbrella Academy might be the first comics based show I took a leap on with out knowing a thing about the source material. I finished the whole series in a couple days then started ranting and raving about it with all my family and friends much to their chagrin. I wanted to know more about Hargreeves, more about the time travel in this world, more about all of it.
After the backstory intro, we jump to present time and learn one of the kids hasn't shown any powers, one has died, and one has disappeared. The remaining kids are scattered acting as a vigilante, one is stationed on the moon doing research, one is a super model, and the last is floating around as a burn out. The sudden news of their father, Hargreeves' death brings them back together to their childhood home for the funeral where we meet their, well, butler I guess named Pogo, a planet of the apes style chimp Hargreeves has created. Side note, he is awesome and the CGI makes me want a Justice League Dark movie, just saying. The groups leader, #1 (Hargreeves named them after the order they were born in) starts to see some inconsistencies and tries to convince his siblings there was something off about their father’s death. A full circle story starts to unfold tying in the disappeared sibling, the apocalypse, a love story, jealously, and an impressively complex series of events that lead each of these gifted characters into some pretty serious introspectional character development and some great super hero style fight scenes. One of the kids has a Krackin that comes out of his chest. It's pretty crazy. If you are looking for an original new take on a superhero team story, this is your show.
The first season is available on Netflix.
Listen, you are going to binge a ton of shows in the next few weeks. Why not make it a series based off some comics. These new series like Locke and Key, Umbrella Academy, and Doom Patrol are amazing intros into some comics that you may not have been aware of. Now more than ever, our Local Comic Book stores are going to need our support so finding some new books to put on your pull list will go a long way.
Happy Streaming comic fam!