Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | DC TV 4 U N Me

Not much of a risk, considering the CW's ratings

Not much of a risk, considering The CW’s ratings

What do we want out of a comic-based television series?

At this point in pop-culture history the corporate synergies are so closely aligned, and the fans so plugged in, that we can all come up with various ways to adapt our favorite comics into TV shows or movies. I mean, when I heard about the proposed Gotham drama — lots of Gordon, no Batman, some supervillains — it got me thinking about a half-dozen other DC features that would make passable TV series.

For example …

• Martian Manhunter: that detective’s really an alien shapeshifter with all of Superman’s powers, but he doesn’t know his version of General Zod is also on Earth and looking for him!

• Challengers of the Unknown:  living on borrowed time after inexplicably surviving a plane crash, four adventurers solve the world’s weirdest mysteries!

Adam Strange:  it’s Indiana Jones with a jetpack, as an Earth archaeologist finds himself on another planet!

• Checkmate:  in a world of superheroes, this United Nations agency handles the threats no one else can!

• Elongated Man:  He’s got super-stretchy powers, she’s an heiress, and his twitchy nose leads them into lighthearted adventure!

• Zatanna:  World-famous magician by night, superhero by day!

Basically, if there’s a way to adapt even a mildly familiar DC comic into a budget-conscious TV show, I’m sure someone at Warner Bros. has thought of it. In fact, I’m sure it’s the job of at least one person at the studio to keep thinking of such ideas. The Futon Critic has several such concepts on its “based on a comic book” series-in-development list — including 100 Bullets, Booster Gold, Deadman, Fables, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Midnight Mass, Preacher, Raven, The Spectre and Starman — but most are dead and none is any further along than “stuck in limbo.” Some higher-profile prospects have sputtered out more visibly, like David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman pilot, the Aquaman pilot also known as Mercy Reef, the young-Diana series Amazon, and the even-younger-Robin series The Graysons.

Still, successes like Smallville and Arrow have certainly emboldened Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment executives, so now we’re hearing about Gotham and Constantine. And why not? Putting familiar names on boilerplate genre shows is something of a trend. There are two “modern-day Sherlock Holmes” series, NBC will have a Dracula series (premiering Oct. 25) to go along with Hannibal, A&E has Bates Motel, and ABC has Once Upon a Time (speaking of Fables) and its spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Therefore, I don’t think fans need to worry about a dearth of such adaptations anytime soon. However, the question remains, what do we want out of such shows? I preferred Lois & Clark to Smallville because the former was a more proper Superman show, what with the costume and the flying and the glasses-based alter ego; but the latter ran three times as long and eventually featured the world’s shortest Doctor Fate. (Still wish it had turned Lana into a proper Insect Queen, though.) I hear Arrow is a decent series, but I’d be happier if it featured Old Lefty Ollie muttering about “corporate fat cats.”

However, I’ll be sure to check out the three episodes of Arrow introducing Central City police scientist Barry Allen, because I’m curious to see how they treat the future Flash. For almost 30 years, Barry Allen’s adventures had a Silver Age foundation that wasn’t exactly whimsical, but never went entirely into “gritty realism,” even in the accused-of-murder years. Wally West spent much of his quarter-century as headliner reacting to Barry’s legacy — either directly, in trying to honor his uncle, or indirectly, by showing how venerable characters and institutions had been updated. After Barry returned to the top spot, the updates remained but the tone tried to stay light. (Artist Francis Manapul’s distinctive style has been a big help in this regard.)

The point is, for 50-plus years The Flash has been one of the more “comic-booky” superheroes, in the sense that the character works a lot better on the page than on the screen. No, scratch that — what I mean to say is that the stories the comics used to tell work better in print. A Flash series that spins out of Arrow isn’t going to give its hero a giant head one week and turn him into a puppet the next. The 1990-91 Flash TV series took away Captain Cold and Mirror Master’s costumes, and made the Trickster into a proto-Joker (foreshadowing actor Mark Hamill’s voice work on the latter). Otherwise it emphasized mad scientists and gangsters, and its only time-travel episode sent The Flash into a near-future dystopia, as opposed to the 25th century of Professor Zoom or the 64th century of Abra Kadabra. While that series’ history doesn’t necessarily determine the tone of whatever comes out of Arrow, I’d be very surprised if a new Flash featured the Scarlet Speedster fighting the traditionally costumed Rogues Gallery in the daytime.

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That sounds like I’m judging a series based on its fidelity to the comics, which isn’t entirely fair, considering the practical restrictions that come with television. The old Superboy series had plenty of goofy, Silver Age-y episodes, and Smallville prided itself on its faithful adaptations of familiar DC characters, but that doesn’t mean they were consistently good. Indeed, for years many fans sneered at the old Batman series because it got laughs out of adapting old comics stories — so one might say it was faithful to a fault.

Accordingly, taking details like tone, continuity, and production design out of the mix leaves the feature’s fundamental setup. With The Flash, it’s “police scientist with super-speed has red-suited alter ego.” With Gotham, I suppose it’s “honest cop fights corrupt colleagues as well as theme-using criminals.” Constantine might be “misanthropic Brit fights demons, possibly with American magician girlfriend.” (Yes, I’m still hoping for more Zatanna on TV.) In each case, we are asking why am I watching this show? Is it because we want to see these characters specifically, or their setups generally?

I suspect it’s more of the former, mostly because using the familiar elements triggers certain fan expectations. I grew up frustrated that the Saturday-morning Shazam! show never featured Black Adam or Mister Mind, and that the prime-time Incredible Hulk had none of the comics’ anarchic energy. I wish I could say this was preparation for the liberties taken by the Birds Of Prey TV series, where the Huntress had cat-powers (because Catwoman had cat-powers…?) and Dinah Lance was a telepathic teenager, not a proper Black Canary … but I didn’t even make it through all thirteen episodes. Likewise, these days there are probably fans out there who want the new SHIELD series to dive deep into Marvel lore, fighting HYDRA and AIM and flying to Wundagore Mountain or to the Starcore space station.  Every adaptation seems to bring with it this sense of opportunity, like “why did you send Coulson and crew to Peru when you could have used Costa Verde,” which I think comes from the fact that these kinds of touches appear pretty simple to pull off. Given its pre-Batman era, Gotham probably won’t use the Joker or Two-Face, because their origins both depend on the Darknight Detective, but you have to think the Penguin and maybe the Riddler will make up for that, along with more obscure villains like Hugo Strange or the gangster Lew Moxon. Their successful portrayals will depend on writing and acting, not effects or even costumes. At heart TV hasn’t gotten that far past that basic “let’s put on a show” ethos, even with all the advances in technology which have made superhero shows more feasible.

Therefore, again I ask, why am I watching this show? Is it enough to have a police procedural where the characters are named Gordon and Dent and Cobblepot, who act nominally like their four-color counterparts, and who are (hopefully) compelling enough apart from the regular Bat-setup? Will a Flash show satisfy whatever urge I may have for TV to depict a super-speedster for an hour every week? Are these characters sufficient in themselves to justify their own series, regardless of their comic-book origins? In other words, would I watch them if they hadn’t come out of the comics?

Those kinds of questions tend to separate the success of an adaptation from the merits of its source material, even if that separation may be hard for fans to accept. The simple fact is that the comics can do infinitely more than any TV series can, but TV conveys a certain mass-market legitimacy to which comics have perpetually aspired. I’d want to see a Checkmate or Zatanna series, and I’m eager to see how The Flash turns out, because I like those characters and I think they should have more exposure.

Ultimately, then, the answer to what do we want does boil down to fidelity, but in a general sense rather than a specific one. If a show manages to capture the spirit of a comic book, that should be enough. While TV has done too little in this respect, occasionally I have asked too much.

That said, though, a Zatanna series really wouldn’t be so hard …



• Martian Manhunter: Expensive to produce (J’Onn has a million confusing powers) and zero name recognition. Hard to justify a series when the character hasn’t even sustained a successful comic, though the Ostrander series was solid it sold nothing.

• Challengers of the Unknown: Not super-heroic enough to merit the high production costs. Might as well reboot Tales of the Gold Monkey.

• Adam Strange: Again, not super-heroic enough to merit the high production costs. Would come off like a Stargate ripoff.

• Checkmate: This is called Agents of SHIELD.

• Elongated Man: Stretchy powers always come off more creepy than lighthearted in live-action, and rarely look good. A TV budget wouldn’t help.

• Zatanna: This already sounds like a boring pilot that the CW declined to pick up.

I’ve never wanted to see ANY super-heroes on TV. I prefer my super-heroes in comic book form. Imagined by one writer and one artist.

I believe comic books are superior to TV and movies.

Not sure I agree with the whole comics versus tv point of view put out in this comic. There are some aspects of TV show writing/aesthetic that I like and wished comics would emulate. But at the same time, when I read a standard super hero comic book, I expect to see the standard super hero comic book tropes. If I wanted to watch an action/drama on TV, I would watch that. When you get a comic book series/character adapted to TV or film, you are accepting the possibilities and limitations of that medium. You can’t go into it, expecting to see a live action reproduction of your comic. Just like when you have anything else adapted to comic book form– the comic book adaption is its own beast.

The Shield tv show is going to stand or fall based on its own merits not on how faithfully it replicates/mimics a comic book. Its cool that it uses a comic book universe as its back drop but its a totally different beast. Talking about mainstream appeal muddies the subject in my opinion. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

RegularSyzed Wayne

October 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Comics are only really being adapted for film because studios are desperate for ideas. There is little love for the source material as is obvious in all the recent TV attempts. They just want the names and basic backstories so they don’t have to make new ones.

Ideal candidates for TV adaptations for me have the following attributes:
1. A long (60+ issue), continuous run at some point in their history.
2. A cast composed almost exclusively of normal looking humans.
3. A premise that can fit traditional TV genres and doesn’t require frequent use of powers.
4. A core setting that is cool, can be built once and can occupy much of the action every week.

SMALLVILLE ran forever because Superman has a deep history from which to draw, he has a big supporting cast of normal looking people, the Superboy premise was easy to re-work into a teen soap and the Kent Farm could be used every week.

Of the properties that you mentioned, Challengers of the Unknown fits the model very well. They have a long history, they are all regular people, it could easily be adapted into sci-fi show and they have the Mountain that could easily host bottle episodes.

@ Dean

I was about to say the same thing about Challengers; do it like a Star Trek show, in that you have a main set that much of the episode can take place in, then use sort of generic sets for the adventure of the week that, with a little bit of reworking, be made into a different location set. Also, stage a lot of the outside the Mountain stuff in vehicle sets you can reuse. It wouldn’t be that hard to pull off.

Another one I think could be made into a show is Sea Devils. I know, it’s not really in the public consciousness. but I used to love these old underwater adventure shows I would watch as a kid, plus you have the boat and base where you can have much of the action take place. Plus, it’s perfect if you want to set up Aquaman for a Justice League movie. If they could pull off Challengers, they could do this show as a spin-off after a team-up, NCIS/NCIS:LA style

I can think of lots of DC properties that would adapt well to the screen.

The Question – an absolute no-brainer. Strong male character, mysterious, and a great premise.

Jonah Hex – HBO series. Make it happen!

OMAC – central male character who is able to turn into massive machine of pure power every episode, on the run from Checkmate and trying to find his true identity.

Unknown Soldier – i’d love to see a show in which the central character could often be played by other actors. The Human Target was a good attempt, but it didn’t use this facet of the character to distinguish it from other shows. The Unknown Soldier would be great.

Dial H for Heroes – love to see it.

i don’t believe that comics and TV/ film are better or worse than each other – they are their own medium and can be enjoyed equally by fans of both genres. I cant stand limiting my enjoyment of things by creating artificial constrainsts that serve no purpose. That’s elitist drivel. Comics have been adapted exceptionally well across prose novels, films, TV, and film. I love reading Shakespeare – i also like seeing it performed on the stage and screen.

Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing run is tailor-made fora TV show. The first arc is a terrific pilot. Tone down what Blockbuster looks like and it could be pulled off. Though , its hard to imagine how they can do backward-headed Soames, but I’d love to see it.

I’ve been thinking Metamorpho could work too as an action-adventure series, sort of like Indiana Jones, mixed with industrial espionage.

How about the Creeper? Muckraking TV journalist by day, Freakazoid by night, breaking up the mob and the burgeoning supervillain populace. Team him up with Blue Beetle and the Question and have a Ditko-love fest and pay the man for it. I can see either of these characters spun off from Arrow, even more easily than the Flash, as much as I’m excited to see that.

I think a Wildcat TV series would be pretty awesome. You could do it super realistic and just have a former boxer who helps keep kids off the streets like Selina Kyle or you could play up the nine lives thing and make it kind of Highlander-ish with a 100 year old Ted fighting supervvillains and the sons of villains he fought in WW2.

Also, Arrow shows glimpses of the leftist Ollie, I think he’ll get there but they’re trying to make it a little more subtle, Denny O’Neil is one of my all time favorite comic writers but his GA laid it on a little thick.

The Question wouldn’t happen as a series only because the lead doesn’t have a face, and in Hollywood it’s all about the face recognition. That’s why Spidey’s always losing his mask in the movies — if the studio is paying for a great actor, they want to get the most bang for their buck.

But that Wildcat pitch sounds awesome! Rocky meets Captain America!

There hasn’t been a good live action superhero show since Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

How about some comic book series that are are HBO, AMC, or Showtime ? Not on the regular networks where they’ll be water down. Can you imagine Matt Wagners Grendel on HBO ? First season would focus on Hunter Rose , 2nd season on Christine Spar ect… How about a Moon Knight series on Showtime ? That would be awesome ! With all the interest in comics right now I’m surprised this hasn’t been done yet.

Most of the TV viewing public have no idea what a comic book is. So, if one were to be adapted faithfully to television, they might be shocked at what they were missing. They may also revolt against what has been foisted on them as adaptations thus far. If the Legion of Super Heroes “Great Darkness Saga” were adapted without regard to introduction or origin story, TV execs may well have to start actually READING comics instead of taking David Goyer’s word for what one is.

Brian from Canada

October 5, 2013 at 9:17 am

It’s not a dearth of ideas nor the chicness of comicbooks that drives WB to adaptations at the moment: it’s the fact that the characters already chosen ARE adaptable to television.

Clark Kent doesn’t need his powers to ask questions as a reporter, get romantically tangled with Lois Lane, or deal with family and friends. Even when confronting Lex Luthor, most of the time he’s just standing there in a costume. The powers come in at rare times, and are the climax of the story, for Lois & Clark and Smallville. Superboy, too, has a lot less flying and hitting and more talking and being an icon.

And the same goes for Arrow. When you watch the show, Tom, please note how Ollie’s time firing arrows is far less than his discussing the ramifications of what he does or the flashbacks to how he got there. Ollie’s threats are organized crime and drug pushers.

More over, Smallville and Arrow both realized the real lesson from The Flash and Birds Of Prey: make the villains fit the reality of the show, not the show the villains. Zod in Smallville wasn’t throwing his superpowers around, he was busy building an army and talking about destinies for most of it. Count Vertigo in Arrow is not a madman with the power to make people off balance, he’s a man pushing the drug Vertigo which causes problems. And neither had flashy costumes.

The Flash used the flash and failed.

Birds Of Prey used the flash and failed. Batman showing up in flashbacks with odd angles in plastic sets doesn’t help. Neither did the fact that the relationship between women wasn’t strong enough to suggest camaraderie the way it should. And the powers put it over the top. (Had the series been just Huntress and Oracle, it might have stood a chance.)

But it’s a lesson learned. Mercy Reef and Wonder Woman both offered the same approach that Smallville and Arrow use(d). I’ve seen both.

The reason Mercy Reef failed is because it offered nothing new to the network. It’s Smallville for the first half, then suddenly becomes Supernatural at the end. CW already had both in its first season, and with the network coming together because of a lack of attraction as both WB and UPN, offering more of the same was just a no go. (Vampire Diaries and Arrow echo previous successes while Hellcats, Heart Of Dixie and even The Ringer moved into newer territory for the network.)

The reason Wonder Woman failed is because it just didn’t fit NBC. NBC *still* has no place for it on its network. It’s not gritty crime drama realism. It’s not light comedy. It’s old style adventure, like ABC is doing with Once Upon A Time and S.H.I.E.L.D. Where this show should have ended up was CW, but that network had one slot and it was given to The Ringer, since the parent network passed on it and the investment was in. A little more charm in the pilot and it might have made a difference, but the show isn’t as flawed as made out to be.

Which is why I think Constantine and Gotham can work where offered. Both’s combination of realism and fantastical echo Grimm and Sleepy Hollow on those respective networks. You can imagine an evening of Grimm and Constantine (just as the network had hoped to have the Munsters realistic remake with Grimm). You can imagine a pairing of Gotham and Sleepy Hollow.

But you can’t envision Wonder Woman followed by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Nor Wonder Woman and Hannibal. Wonder Woman and Grimm just doesn’t work either.

The only networks DC aren’t looking at are CBS and ABC. CBS is #1, and DC’s parent is overloaded with show ideas for that network. (Don’t believe me? CBS turned down Beverly Hills Cop last year, and is already prepping another NCIS spinoff for when Harmon leaves.) ABC owns their competition.

Yet I wouldn’t say ABC is mimicking the comics either. S.H.I.E.L.D. is a cheesier, lighter version of the movies that Marvel is marketing as its brand. The realism it offers is the same as the movies, albeit with less quality sets and action pieces.

And Once Upon A Time… for as close as the central concept is to Fables, it’s nowhere as smart in its presentation. There are just waaaaaay too many plot holes, not to mention the poor characterization to simplify things for children and the acceptance of Disney reality as true reality, to say that. (Fables would never make their mermaid Ariel or add Mulan, for instance.)

Brian from Canada

October 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

@ Kelly:

Cable needs to shock people in order to succeed. HBO shows in particular push the envelope with nudity, swearing and violence.

Cable also needs arc structure, not episodal. HBO, in particular, uses the British model of dealing with one story in less episodes rather than the US network concept of 22 episodes based on theme. Each season of the cable shows has a definitive begin and end — even The Walking Dead — with some set up for a potential next season if it needs it. (Even USA and TNT shows have that: summer successes Covert Affairs and Rizzoli & Isles both have one plot to drive the season that it resolved in the end.)

Comicbooks are traditionally episodic in nature. Mini-series would be far more adaptable.

To me, the best cable offerings would be shows that aren’t superheroes but capable of mixing in grittiness with a tight, small plot. The Unknown Soldier, for example, would match the Strike Back or Homeland audience if done right. Jonah Hex could go after the Deadwood audience.

It all depends on approach. Which is what I think the real issue here is. The Walking Dead has understood the cable network model. Smallville and Arrow have modified themselves for the basic network episodal model.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is the one question because it hasn’t decided yet. It’s trying to be a blockbuster movie in each episode, but they haven’t really set out if they’re going to do a combination model (like Once Upon A Time) or just try to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Only time will tell.

House of Mystery – Horror anthology with Cain the caretaker as the host. Not unlike HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.

Time to reboot the Birds of Prey. Do a “pilot” as an episode of “Gotham”, then spin it off.

What I want is a well made, engaging series. If they take liberties with the characters, fine. Arrow is a great example, sure the fact it’s called Starling City still bugs me, and i’m sure the sudden existence of super powers when they introduce The Flash is gonna be odd, but it’s still one of the most frequently enjoyable shows on tv.

But, Agents of Shield kinda crushed it. Sure, that second episode was a little weak, what with it being a “we’ve got to learn to work together” episode, but that pilot was great. Now if only DC would learn from it, not bother with a Flash movie and have the TV Green Arrow and Flash become members of the Justice League flick, and Warners might finally pull off their super hero flicks.

I just started watching Arrow on DVD last week. The first three episodes are fine, but very CW. After that? HOLYMOLY!!! Almost the entire cast really steps up their game (apart from soon to be Black Canary, who is even more horrible than Kristin Kreuks Lana), and the story really gets going good! I just finished episode 10 and they had more development in those episodes than Smallville in the first 4 seasons! Nothing gets dragged out, the action is really top notch (especially for TV) and you get DC references and proper characters each episode. Sure, there is a lot of “nolanizing” going on and they lift a lot of stuff from Batman Begins, but overall its a way better show than I even expected! Ollie even starts to become more like comic Ollie as the show progresses. In my opinion, a way better show than S.H.I.E.L.D. so far and good enough to be added to the official DC cinematic universe. The actor who plays Ollie is really good after a few episodes and would do well in a feature film as well. Man, I am really falling in love with the show.

If WB is very clever, they could use these TV shows to really flesh out the DC cinema-verse.

imagine if Gotham was actually in the same continuity as Man of Steel. It would give a history of Gotham and Gordon without encroaching on Batman vs Superman.

or if Arrow and Flash built towards the Flash movie without stealing it’s thunder. Hell, Ollie could get caught at the end of Arrow and WB could end the series on a cliff hanger before producing the SUPERMAX script they already own as a continuation of Ollie’s story.

and the kicker, Constantine could serve as a rough history of the character for Del Toro’s JLD film.

@Claude: having met a few producers connected with film and TV, I can tell you that few TV execs read anything. They have assistants who that for them. One writer I know has a producer interested in his book series. But made it clear that he hasn’t read it. And doesn’t plan to anytime soon.

Lance Roger Axt
The AudioComics Company

And that should be, “who do that FOR them.”

I really am surprised DC / WB haven’t got off the backsides and done Captain Marvel. I mean if “Harry Potter” can make them millions, then should be able to do the same with Cap.

I remember watching Lois and Clark when I was younger, but really haven’t watched much comic tv series. I agree that comics are typically better as comics. You can do and go wherever you want and don’t have to worry about budget constraints. Movies get a better budget and can swing for the fences, which let the imagination go farther. Theres a reason why a lot of the worlds in Star Trek look like the same desert hills…
Whoever said the mostly if not all human cast above nails it. TV series would seem to be a better fit for non or less superheroic material to be translated. Jonah Hex would be an interesting choice and give a variety of locations and fairly low budget, though Westerns don’t seem to looked on too favorably..

But I would kill to see Zooey Deschanel as Zatanna whether it be in a movie or series…

Brian from Canada

October 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm

@Marius: CBR already reported that another character will become Black Canary in season 2. Season 1, if you’ve gotten that far, already introduced Roy Harper to the mix too.

@Brave Dave: you’re partly right. WB is actually using the DC TV shows to build recognition for when the characters/actors are added to the movie Justice League (if that happens). If you saw the Arrow finale, it mentions Ferris Air — and the producers made wanting Ryan Reynolds to guest a public statement. If they do get Reynolds, then the series connects to the movies. :-D

@Steven Morrell: Captain Marvel requires feature film money for the transformation scene, the flying and some of his powers. The problem, though, is that it would be campy and light… and WB’s failed in those areas every time. For WB, it has to be “dark and gritty,” as evident by the Nolan/Nolan-produced/Goyer-written films of the Dark Knight and now Man Of Steel succeeding where Green Lantern didn’t.

@Astrozac: please no Deschanels. I want someone who can ACT. How about the actress who played her on Smallville? She was a dead ringer for the comic — and a true knockout who could make the fishnets work on TV!

Laurence J Sinclair

October 6, 2013 at 1:25 am

Wasn’t the old ‘Champions’ TV series ( ) basically Challengers of the Unknown?

“The point is, for 50-plus years The Flash has been one of the more “comic-booky” superheroes, in the sense that the character works a lot better on the page than on the screen. No, scratch that — what I mean to say is that the stories the comics used to tell work better in print. A Flash series that spins out of Arrow isn’t going to give its hero a giant head one week and turn him into a puppet the next.

Indeed, for years many fans sneered at the old Batman series because it got laughs out of adapting old comics stories — so one might say it was faithful to a fault”.

You will have to do a cached selection in Goodsearch or, but these will come up and support your assertions.

Some Batman fans have developed an intense hatred for Burt Ward’s portrayal of the first Robin Dick Grayson. One of the reasons is because of the Robin costume that was worn by Burt Ward. The costume that he wore wasn’t created for the series, but some people still refer to it as the 60′s Robin costume. The holy sayings that Burt Ward’s Robin uses, and the fact that he was frequently captured and had to be saved by Batman, are just some of the other examples of why they hate his portrayal of the character. But all of those things were elements of the comic book version of the first Robin Dick Grayson.

@Laurence J Sinclair

How did I not know about The Champions? Thanks for the link. Was the series any good? (It does differ a bit from the Challengers in that the Champions appear to have effectively super-powers, while the Challengers are just the best in the fields.

I love the “borrowed time” theme of Challengers, but it really is a Silver age comic book concept. It’s as if you survive a horrible car crash without a scratch – so you dedicate the rest of your life to doing dangerous stunts.

I kinda hope we get Martian Manhunter or Spectre at some point in Gotham series (since Both are/were officers). Plus both have both a white and black guy human form (so have extra casting options).

There are a number of properties that would make a good TV show.
But first, I have to correct a misconception.
Adam Strange, is not an Indiana Jones variable. Adam Strange, is 100% John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
The entire premise, including the Zeta Beam Travel is John Carter.
It would make a great TV series There are ways to show the action on earth and on Rann.

Dial H for Hero. X-Files with Superheroes. Maybe have a couple of Agents trying to recover this lost tech that grants people superhuman powers, and show how it changes them.

Dr. Fate. Treat it like The Dresden Files, and it could work.

Nightwing. It is already a TV Show the way the comic is done.

Martian Manhunter could work. Especially if you set it during the 50’s. It would fit the sci-fi craze and the paranoia of the times. Make him a cop and you could do it. His powers could all work very well on TV.

Checkmate. Use it as a central show that others can spin out of and whose presence is felt in the other shows.

I’ve always thought Hawkman would make a great tv show. Make it part Indiana Jones, part Angel/Highlander: make it about a team of archaeologists in the 40s and frequently showcase flashbacks to Carter and Shiera’s past lives. The team could also include people like Dan Garrett and Rex Mason. They can travel the world and uncover a lot of DC’s history, from Vandal Savage and the Viking Prince to the Golden Gladiator and Castle Revolving.

After two seasons of that, switch it up and reincarnate the Hawks as spies in the 60s.The flashbacks can stay, but the main parts of the episodes would deal with things like Checkmate, SHADE, J’onn J’onnz, the Sea Devils, and so forth. There’d also be connections to the previous season in various ways (recurring villains, previous allies showing up twenty years older, etc).

After two more seasons, they’re reincarnated again in the 80s or 90s as full-blown superheroes and things set up in the earlier seasons (such as the Blue Beetle scarab or the helmet of Nabu or Project: Cadmus) get pay offs in the form of superheroes. That could stay the status quo for the remainder of the show, or they could eventually get reincarnated again into some point in the future and continue that way.

The popularity of a character in the comics isn’t really relevant to whether a TV show would work. There are plenty of TV shows that are adapted from obscure sources (or no sources!) and go on to become successful.

The majority of the audience didn’t know who Green Arrow was, so there’s no reason to think that Character X couldn’t support a series.

Something golden/silver age, Dan Garret Blue Beetle, the Spirit, Green Hornet, Question.

or Nightwing / Arrow mini series.

Resurrection Man and the Jack Knight Starman would make good choices too I think.

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