Netflix’s continues to impress animation fans with the likes of Voltron: Legendary Defender and Castlevania garnering large amounts of praise. Voltron isn’t losing momentum anytime soon, with three seasons down and a fourth due in October, while Castlevania, which has been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, has been renewed for a second season. It’s probably a safe assumption, then, that the service’s original animation train isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Thanks to the company’s historic acquisition of Millarworld, Netflix’s animation division finds itself with a virtual embarrassment of riches to work with. Mark Millar and company’s comic books are ideal for cartoon adaptation. The Scottish writer has seen quite a few of his works, like Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman made into movie franchises, and now it’s time to see the rest of the library brought to life, and what better way than as a series of animated shows?
Netflix has already explored the vast deepness of space with the anime series Knights of Sidonia, and Millarworld offers an avenue for similar cosmic stories. It’s no secret that making the next live-action space saga is quite challenging; it’s expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll end up with the next Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy. We’ve seen a few notable misses lately, such as Jupiter Ascending and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but just like we saw with the Voltron reboot, animated space epics could find success with the Netflix audience. Luckily for everyone involved, Millarworld boasts more than one solid story that can be made into a rollicking space sagas.
Empress (drawn by Stuart Immonen) is one such example. It feels like Flash Gordon a bit, as it details a family space-drama on the run. The story revolves around Empress Emporia fleeing from her husband, the ruthless King Morax, with her kids in hand. What makes this special is the concept of a mother trying to protect her kids from their tyrant father, while falling in love with her bodyguard. It’s a tension-filled, sentimental ride that’s packed with tons of emotions.
Then there’s Starlight (drawn by Goran Parlov) which deals with the concept of how we treat our parents in their old age, and the fact that they may have lived adventures that kids could only dream about.
Duke McQueen is an action hero who has to come out of retirement and embark on a road trip to save the galaxy. What makes it so intriguing is that he did this once before when he was young, but no one believed him when he came back to Earth. Now, while grieving his dead wife, he has to save the cosmos again! Think John Carter of Mars meets Buck Rogers.
However, Millarworld isn’t just about telling outer space epics; sometimes, it gets more introspective, though not without spectacle, which is what you get with Reborn. Drawn by Greg Capullo, the comic deals with what happens in the afterlife. It’s built around a young lady, Bonnie, exploring her new surroundings, which readers quickly realize is Purgatory. Here, she battles avatars of death while trying to find the souls of loved ones who have passed on in the hopes that they are at peace — including her own father and husband.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, but despite its highly personal story, it’s not unlike the medieval epics found in franchises such as the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones or Chronicles of Narnia. The story rolls out like an episodic video game, with Bonnie cutting her way to a final level boss that has caused pain, not just in the kingdom she has entered into, the real world where the repercussions of his actions are felt back as people die.
Then, there’s the world of time-travel, essentially a sci-fi genre of its own. Chrononauts was conceived as a challenge from Ridley Scott, and while Universal is developing as a film, movement has been glacially slow. Should Netflix now have the rights to the Sean Gordon Murphy-illustrated series, we’d love to see the animated adventures of Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly.
Two hot-headed scientific geniuses, with the whole world watching, the pair embark on the world’s first time-travel experiment. They succeed, but temporal war erupts with the plot taking us to places like ancient Rome, feudal Japan, the 1920’s, ancient Egypt and even to primitive times as well. The duo wreak havoc with the time stream as they score front-row seats to the world’s wildest events, all while rubbing shoulders with some crazy villains. Think of stories like Jumper and Looper, but with a sense of adventure like Jurassic Park.
That’s just a sampling of the wild and ballistic stories the Millarworld acquisition has placed in Netflix’s care. And while it’s a virtual certainty that we’ll be seeing Millarworld series imagined as movies and live-action series, the idea of seeing these — or any of the rest — brought to life as state of the art animated shows is simply too exciting to ignore.
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