In addition to cold weather, winter also delivers plenty of cliffhangers when it comes to television as the networks take some time off for the holidays. Midseason finales have seen some of TV’s best and brightest comic-based TV shows drop midseason finales featuring deaths, reveals and plenty of questions left unanswered. In other words, 2016 and its midseason premieres can’t get here soon enough! In addition to those returning shows, the new year will also see a few new comic-based shows debut. Hope there’s room on our DVRs!
Since comic book shows are based on, you know, comics, there’s always source material to go back to when your favorite show goes on hiatus. And in the case of soon-to-debut shows like “Lucifer” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” now’s the chance to get in on the ground floor of fandom. But we know finding the most pertinent picks can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with long-running characters like Supergirl and the “Legends” cast. Last week we listed picks for shows like “The Flash” and “Jessica Jones,” and this week we’re focusing on the rest of 2016’s returning series, as well as a few new ones. Here are this week’s reading recommendations inspired by the current TV season.
Supergirl has a surprisingly complicated history in comic books, especially compared to the streamlined, breezy approach of the current CBS series. While DC Comics has no current monthly “Supergirl” comic book — though a digital-first series set in the world of the TV show, written by Sterling Gates and illustrated by a variety of artists, is set to debut next month — those looking to get on the ground floor of the character’s most recent comic book adventures can start with “Supergirl Vol. 1: Last Daughter of Krypton,” written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson and illustrated by Mahmud Asrar. If you can’t wait until January for the Gates-written TV show tie-in comic, the writer’s previous run on “Supergirl” can be found in collected editions such as “Supergirl: Death and the Family” — that one includes a story co-written by Helen Slater, the ’80s movie Supergirl who plays Eliza Danvers on the new show.
And while the “Supergirl” of the acclaimed ’90s run by Peter David and Gary Frank is a radical shift from the TV show in plot and tone, it’s also one of the more compelling superhero stories of its era — for those looking for an alternate take on “Supergirl,” a new collected edition of the first issues of that run is scheduled for release in May, just in time for those eager for a post-season finale fix.
- Supergirl Vol. 1: Last Daughter of Krypton
- Supergirl: Death and the Family
- Supergirl by Peter David & Gary Frank
Fans of the CW series might be surprised to learn that the show and the comic are pretty different. For one thing, the show stars Liv of Seattle and the comic stars Gwen of Eugene, Oregon. The supporting casts are different (the comic also stars a were-terrier and a ghost!) and the focus on the mythology is as well. So while you won’t be able to read new adventures of Liv, Ravi and Clive during “iZombie’s” hiatus, you could get a crash course in the stylish source material. Making this easy is the newly released “iZombie Omnibus” that collects all 28 issues of Chris Roberson and Mike and Laura Allred’s offbeat zombie epic from Vertigo. This is the first time all two-dozen-plus issues have been wrangled together, thus making embarking on a totally new — but strangely familiar — zombie adventure easier than ever. Of course, if you just want a little taste, you can always check out the value-priced volume 1 TPB as an appetizer.
- iZombie Omnibus
- iZombie Volume 1 TPB: Dead to the World
- iZombie Volume 2 TPB: uVampire
- iZombie Volume 3 TPB: Six Feet Under & Rising
- iZombie Volume 4 TPB: Reposession
Prior to Hayley Atwell’s star turn as Peggy Carter in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the Marvel Comics version of the World War II-era heroi was mostly known as just a relative of Sharon Carter and past love of Steve Rogers. That all changed once Atwell’s Carter became one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the live-action Peggy Carter a runaway hit, Marvel’s turned their attention towards the spy’s comic book counterpart and given her retro-flavored storylines of her own. “Operation: S.I.N.: Agent Carter” collects Peggy’s first solo limited series, which comes from writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Rich Ellis and finds the secret agent teaming up with Howard Stark to track down an alien energy source in hostile Russian territory. And while it hasn’t been collected in a trade paperback just yet, you could track down Immonen and Ellis’ follow-up one-shot, “Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary,” which pairs Peggy up with Lady Sif of Asgard.
And if you want a crash course in Madame Masque, the villain of “Agent Carter” Season Two, then check out the “Hawkeye: L.A. Woman” trade by Matt Fraction, Javier Pulido and Annie Wu. This story pits the cunning and ruthless Masque up against the sassy and savvy Kate Bishop (AKA Hawkeye).
Fox’s take on “Lucifer” isn’t exactly hewing too closely to the source material, opting more for the “iZombie” approach of taking some aspects and characters from the Vertigo comics and dressing them up in somewhat different clothing. The key thing is, the show appears to have tapped into the charm and wit writer Mike Carey imbued the first of the Fallen with over the course of his Eisner Award-nominated, 75-issue run with Peter Gross. An overlooked and underrated series, the first collection explores what happens when the King of Hell decides he no longer wants to rule, voluntarily exiling himself to Los Angeles where he spends his time running Lux, a high-scale piano bar. But when God himself comes calling with a job only the Devil can handle, Lucifer’s dreams of rest and relaxation come to an end.
In case you haven’t noticed, a certain prominent member of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is coming to “Gotham” when it returns. Yep, Mr. Freeze (played by Nathan Darrow) is going to play a major role in “Gotham” when the police drama comes back from its winter hiatus, and the first promos for the show’s return have been appropriately frostbitten. Mr. Freeze’s appearance echoes the first arc of DC Comics’ “Gotham Central,” titled “In the Line of Duty,” which featured members of the GCPD going up against the chilling villain. The story by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Gaydos proves that human flesh does not hold up against Freeze’s cold gun, and you might see that play out on Fox in 2016.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the Order of St. Dumas, which played a major role in the episodes leading up to “Gotham’s” midseason finale, you can check out their first appearance in “Batman: Sword of Azrael.” The story, by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada, introduces computer science student Jean-Paul Valley and reveals him to be the latest in the Order’s line of assassins.
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW
Because The CW’s upcoming “Arrow”/”Flash” spinoff mashes together characters from all corners of the DC Universe, there’s no single book that will bring fans up to speed. However, many of these heroes have appeared in comics since the ’40s, which means there’s plenty of reading material available.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl: To describe the history of Hawkman and Hawkgirl as “complicated” would be a serious understatement — they’ve been portrayed both as reincarnated Egyptian warriors and space cops — but James Robinson and Geoff Johns admirably untangled the characters’ continuity, first in “JSA” and then in “Hawkman.” Key issues of “JSA” are collected with Johns’ 25-issue run on “Hawkman” in the 688-page “Hawkman Omnibus.”
Vandal Savage: Like the Hawks, the immortal Vandal Savage has a complicated history, as he’s menaced the Earth under a variety of names since before recorded history. Originally a foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern, Savage played a central role in the 1998 crossover “DC One Million.” The publisher has collected the core miniseries by Grant Morrison and Val Semeiks, but if you’re really ambitious, there’s a 1,080-page omnibus edition that also includes most of the tie-in issues.
Captain Cold and Heat Wave: Johns was also key in re-establishing the Scarlet Speedster’s Rogues as a force to be reckoned with during his lengthy tenure as writer of “The Flash.” There are many trade paperbacks to choose from Johns’ run on the series, but Vol. 7, “Rogue War,” puts the villains — including Captain Cold and Heat Wave — front and center.
Rip Hunter: A time traveler whose adventures predate the Doctor by more than four years, Rip Hunter has headlined his own comic on a handful of occasions, but he’s spent most of his history as a supporting player. Fans can go back to the roots of the character with the black and white “Showcase Presents: Rip Hunter, Time Master” Vol. 1, but the version we see in “Legends of Tomorrow” will likely have more in common with the Rip Hunter who appeared, alongside Booster Gold, Superman and Green Lantern, in the 2011 miniseries “Time Masters” Vanishing Point,” by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund.
Firestorm: Jefferson Jackson made his debut in 1982’s “Firestorm” #1 as Ronnie Raymond’s best friend, but was never more than a supporting character. Martin Stein, however, has been directly linked to the hero since the beginning, serving as part of the Firestorm matrix first with Ronnie and then, years later, with Jason Rausch. Your best bets for getting up to speed are probably 2012’s “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men,” Vol. 1, by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone and Yildiray Cinar, and 2013’s Vol. 2, by Joe Harris, Van Sciver and Cinar.
- The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men, Vol. 1: God Particle
- The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men Vol. 2: The Firestorm Protocols (The New 52)
The Atom and White Canary: These two characters are so ingrained in “Arrow” continuity, and so different from their comic-book counterparts, that it’s difficult to think of analogous reading material (TV’s Atom seems to be as much Ted Kord/Blue Beetle as he is Ray Palmer, and no White Canary exists in comics). However, there are plenty of entertaining reads to recommend, including “Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell” by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones, and Ray Palmer’s early adventures “Showcase Presents: The Atom,” Vol. 1, by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane.
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