CBR's Guide to In-Development Comic Book-Based TV Shows

Fri, November 22nd, 2013 at 7:58am PST | Updated: November 22nd, 2013 at 9:36am

TV/Film
Albert Ching, Senior Editor
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Comic book-based TV shows are the new comic book-based movies.

For years, there was pretty much just "Smallville," with shows like "Witchblade" and "Blade" and "Painkiller Jane" popping up for a season or two before disappearing into the mists of time.

Today, however, thanks to the steadily increasing popularity of AMC's "The Walking Dead" and the ongoing success of "Arrow" on The CW, there are over a dozen comic book-based TV shows confirmed to be in active development on networks and cable, with a few more in the still-unconfirmed rumor stage.

RELATED: The CW Upgrades "The Flash" to Standalone Pilot

In fact, there's been so much comic book-to-TV news lately, it can be hard to stay on top of it all! For example, if you were busy this past weekend, you might have missed reports that Seth Rogen may be bringing "Preacher" to AMC, which is pretty big news.

Well, Comic Book Resources is here to help, with an index of each comic book-based, live-action (with the exception of "Chew") TV show currently known (or suspected to be) in current development. While looking through our list, it's important to keep in mind that just because a show may be in development at a network, there's a long path just to getting a pilot made, to say nothing of securing an actual series order. None of the following shows -- except for Marvel's upcoming Netflix series -- are a done deal at this point, though some are closer than others.

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DC Comics

THE SHOW: "Gotham"
THE NETWORK: Fox
THE PROPERTY: A Batman show without Batman, "Gotham" is said to focus on the early, pre-Commissioner days of James Gordon and Gotham City's villains. Though it sounds similar in premise to acclaimed 2003-2006 DC Comics series "Gotham Central," any possible connection has been downplayed by the book's co-writers, Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker.
CURRENT STATUS: "Gotham" was picked up by Fox with a "series commitment," described by Variety as "not quite an on-air order but a hefty down payment." Bruno Heller, creator of "The Mentalist" and co-creator of "Rome," is set to write and executive produce, and Deadline calls the show "one of the two hottest drama projects this season," along with CBS' "Extant."

THE SHOW: "Constantine"
THE NETWORK: NBC
THE PROPERTY: Acerbic DC Comics magician John Constantine, star of the long-running Vertigo series "Hellblazer" and its current DC Universe follow-up, "Constantine." Last seen in live-action in the "Constantine" film starring Keanu Reeves, which made noticeable departures from the character's comic book roots.
CURRENT STATUS: Announced in late September, the series is set to be written and executive produced by Daniel Cerone and DC films go-to-guy David S. Goyer (screenwriter of "Batman Begins" and "Man of Steel," among others). "Constantine" was sold to NBC with "penalty," meaning if a pilot isn't produced and aired, the network will have to pay a fee to Warner Bros.

THE SHOW: "The Flash"
THE NETWORK: The CW
THE PROPERTY: A Justice League staple and one of DC's most recognizable heroes, if picked up, "The Flash" will be the second live-action TV series starring the character, having already run across television screens on CBS for a single season in 1990-1991.
CURRENT STATUS: The Flash will first be introduced in civilian mode as Barry Allen (played by Grant Gustin) in episodes eight and nine of the current season of "Arrow," starting on Dec. 4. As revealed earlier this week, the character will then star in a standalone pilot, as opposed to the backdoor pilot originally planned. DC Entertainment chief creative officer (and former long-time "Flash" comic book writer) Geoff Johns has already praised Gustin's work, calling him, "not just another square jawed, broad-shouldered superhero." No word yet on whether original live-action Flash actor John Wesley-Shipp has been approached to play a part in this incarnation of the character.

THE SHOW: "Hourman"
THE NETWORK: The CW
THE PROPERTY: One of DC's oldest superheroes, Hourman debuted in 1940 and is best known as a member of the Justice Society of America. The classic version of the character has never been featured in a solo series, though a comic based on the android version of Hourman lasted for 25 issues, between 1999 and 2001. "I call it our dark horse, because he's such an obscure character, but the concept of the show is really great, and the writer's really great," Johns says.
CURRENT STATUS: The prospective "Hourman" plot was described by The Hollywood Reporter as "a brilliant-yet-troubled pharmaceutical analyst who discovers that the visions that have plagued him since childhood are actually glimpses of tragic events occurring one hour in the future." "The Sopranos" writer Michael Caleo is attached to write and executive produce, with Dan Lin and Jennifer Gwartz.

THE SHOW: "iZombie"
THE NETWORK: The CW
THE PROPERTY: The third DC Comics-based TV show to be announced as in development at The CW for the 2014-2015 season, "iZombie" was a lighthearted Vertigo horror series starring Gwendolyn Price, a zombie who needs to maintain a monthly brain-eating schedule in order to maintain her intelligence. The book, from writer Chris Roberson and artist Mike Allred, ran for 28 issues from 2010 to 2012.
CURRENT STATUS: "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas and his frequent collaborator Diane Ruggiero attached to write and executive produce "iZombie" as a supernatural crime procedural.

THE SHOW: "Preacher"
THE NETWORK: AMC?
THE PROPERTY: One of the most celebrated comic book series of the 1990s, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's genre-melding epic "Preacher" ran for 66 issues and helped define DC's mature readers imprint, Vertigo. The series stars Jesse Custer, a minister armed with The Word of God, along with his girlfriend Tulip O'Hare and his vampire friend Cassidy. A live-action adaptation has been mused for years, both in film and on TV.
CURRENT STATUS: In mid-November, an unconfirmed report appeared on film site Badass Digest, stating AMC had ordered a "Preacher" pilot, with no further details offered. Later that same day, comedy star Seth Rogen tweeted, "Looks like about seven of years of hard work are about to pay off. I may get to bring one of my favourite stories ever to life." In a subsequent tweet, he listed, "Arseface. John Wayne, The Saint of Killers" -- a reference to "Preacher" characters. Still, no official announcement has been made, and the news has yet to surface on the most prominent Hollywood industry news sites.

THE SHOW: "Amazon"
THE NETWORK: The CW
THE PROPERTY: Much like "Smallville" was for Superman, "Amazon" is stated to be an expanded origin story for pop culture icon Wonder Woman, who saw previous television fame from 1975 to 1979 in a series starring Lynda Carter, and a failed (and infamous) 2011 pilot starring Adrianne Palicki. TV veteran -- and former "Wonder Woman" comic book writer -- Allan Heinberg is attached to write.
CURRENT STATUS: First reported in September 2012, "Amazon" wasn't picked up as a pilot for the 2013-2014 season, but was stated to be "still in development" in May of this year. In late July, amid word of "The Flash" plans, "Amazon" was declared to be put on hold, with no news since then.

IDW Publishing

THE SHOW: "Pantheon"
THE NETWORK: None (yet)
THE PROPERTY: A 2010 five-issue IDW miniseries co-created by "The Shield" star Michael Chiklis with Anny Simon Beck and comic book writer Marc Andreyko, telling the story of Greek gods returning to a ruined, "near-future" Earth.
CURRENT STATUS: Recently announced to be in development, with Chiklis on board as a producer, by IDW's newly formed in-house TV department, IDW Entertainment. Following the development process, IDW plans to shop "Pantheon" to networks. (Also in the very early stages from IDW Entertainment: "Life Undead," "Brooklyn Animal Control" and "V Wars.")

Image Comics

THE SHOW: "The Walking Dead" spinoff
THE NETWORK: AMC
THE PROPERTY: With the TV adaptation of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" firmly cemented as one of the most popular things on TV, regardless of channel or genre, AMC announced this past September that a spinoff was " in the initial stages" of development, slated for 2015. "I'm working on the spinoff now on the TV side, and I think there's going to be some really cool stuff coming out of that," Kirkman told CBR in October. "I think it's going to be awesome."
CURRENT STATUS: "The Walking Dead" spinoff has no title, but plans are for it to feature an "entirely new story and cast of characters." A recent TV Line report cited "increasing buzz" that the show may be a prequel, taking place during the early days of the "walker" epidemic.

THE SHOW: "Thief of Thieves"
THE NETWORK: AMC
THE PROPERTY: Another Robert Kirkman-created Image Comics series, "Thief of Thieves" stars master thief Redmond, who, as the title, implies, steals from other thieves in an attempt to make amends. The comic uses a TV writers' room-type approach, with Kirkman overseeing the series, and Nick Spencer, James Asmus and Andy Diggle contributing on different arcs.
CURRENT STATUS: An adaptation was announced to be in development at AMC in April 2012, two months after the first issue was released. Despite Kirkman's massive success at the network with "The Walking Dead," movement on the "Thief of Thieves" TV show has been slow, though Kirkman stated at Comic-Con International in July 2013 that the show was still in development.

THE SHOW: "Outcast"
THE NETWORK: Cinemax
THE PROPERTY: The third Robert Kirkman property on this list, "Outcast" is a recently announced exorcism-themed comic book series, illustrated by Paul Azaceta and starring a main character named Kyle Barnes, looking to figure out the roots of his ongoing demonic possession.
CURRENT STATUS: "Outcast" was reported to be in development as a television series seven months before the comic book was officially announced. The project landed at Cinemax earlier this month, with Kirkman executive producing along with Circle of Confusion's David Alpert, who he's worked with on "The Walking Dead."

THE SHOW: "Chew" animated series
THE NETWORK: None (yet)
THE PROPERTY: An Eisner-winning Image Comics series from writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory, "Chew" tell the story of Cibopathic detective Tony Chu, who solves crimes by eating things (including, sometimes, people parts).
CURRENT STATUS: "Chew" spent two-and-a-half years in development at Showtime before Layman declared in February of this year that the show wasn't going forward. Around six months later, news surfaced that "Chew" has new life as a potential animated project for digital and DVD release, with a potential live-action TV series following.

Marvel Comics

THE SHOW(S): "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," "Luke Cage," "Iron Fist," "The Defenders"
THE NETWORK: Netflix
THE PROPERTY: Four of Marvel's most popular street-level heroes and a superteam that has taken on many different iterations over the years. With the notable exception of Daredevil, the titular character in the maligned 2003 film, they are all characters that have never been depicted in live action before. There have long been efforts to adapt the others -- Luke Cage and Iron Fist movie pitches have floated around Hollywood for years, and "AKA Jessica Jones" was at one time in development at ABC.
CURRENT STATUS: Unlike the other shows on this list, these Marvel shows are at this point a solid "go" at Netflix, with Disney and the online streaming service announcing that the roll-out will start with "Daredevil" in 2015, with "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist" and "Luke Cage" following, culminating with "The Defenders" as a "miniseries event." The solo series are said to be 13-episodes each, and "Daredevil" reportedly already has Joss Whedon production veteran Drew Goddard attached, with "Twilight" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg said to be on board "Jessica Jones," a character she's been involved with since "AKA Jessica Jones" was first announced to be in development in 2010.

THE SHOW: "Agent Carter" spinoff
THE NETWORK: None (yet)
THE PROPERTY: Hayley Atwell played Peggy Carter, a British military agent and Steve Rogers' World War II love interest, in 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger." She reprised the character in the "Agent Carter" "Marvel One-Shot" short, released as an "Iron Man 3" Blu-ray extra.
CURRENT STATUS: Days before the ABC debut of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," industry trade publications reported that Marvel was in the early stages of development on an "Agent Carter" TV series, with no further details available at the time. No more news has surfaced, other than Atwell indicating she'd "definitely" be up for reprising the role in a TV show, given the chance.

THE SHOW: "Powers"
THE NETWORK: FX
THE PROPERTY: Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming's creator-owned series debuted in 2000 at Image Comics, eventually making the move to Marvel's Icon line. The book revolves around Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, detectives investigating superpower-related murders and other fatalities.
CURRENT STATUS: Bendis first confirmed a "Powers" TV series to be in development at FX in February 2009, with Jason Patric and Lucy Punch (Christian and Deena, respectively) eventually cast in the lead roles. A pilot was produced in 2011, but it didn't go forward, and the actors moved on to other projects. Bendis has made clear that the show isn't dead, and has pointed out that it was a long process before "Game of Thrones" got to HBO. Earlier this year, Bendis revealed crime novelist and comic book writer Charlie Huston was working on a new version of the pilot.

BOOM! Studios

THE SHOW: "Unthinkable"
THE NETWORK: Fox
THE PROPERTY: Five-issue 2009 miniseries by Mark Sable and Julian Totino Tedesco about a writer employed by a government think tank to devise worst-case terrorism scenarios, only to find them coming true.
CURRENT STATUS: In mid-September, Fox ordered an "Unthinkable" put pilot, meaning the network will pay significant penalties if a pilot does not eventually air. Howard Gordon, a "Homeland" and "24" veteran, is development with "Cars 2" writer Ben Queen, who also co-created the short-lived Fox series "Drive."

Top Shelf Productions

THE SHOW: "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"
THE NETWORK: Fox
THE PROPERTY: Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's acclaimed literary character team-up series "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" first was adapted to live-action as a critically reviled 2003 film starring Sean Connery. The comic has taken place over several decades, starring characters including "Dracula's" Mina Harker, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea's" Captain Nemo, "King Solomon's Mines'" Allan Quatermain and more.
CURRENT STATUS: Another "'put pilot" from Fox, with former "Heroes" writer Michael Green set to serve as a showrunner if the series is picked up. Whether or not the prospective show is more faithful than the 2003 film, it's unlikely to have a fan in Moore, who's distanced himself from all live-action adaptations of his work.

Dynamite Entertainment

THE SHOW: "Chastity"
THE NETWORK: None (yet)
THE PROPERTY: "Chastity" was one of the pillars of the original Chaos! Comics characters, now part of Dynamite Entertainment. The character is a runaway-turned-vampire, with the added benefit of being undetectable to other vampires.
CURRENT STATUS: Announced in July as under development from visual effects company Rhythm & Hues for both film and TV, with Scott Winant -- who's worked on "My So-Called Life," "thirtysomething," "Californication" and more -- attached as potential showrunner on the small-screen side.

Oni Press

THE SHOW: "Ghost Projekt"
THE NETWORK: NBC
THE PROPERTY: 2010 miniseries by Joe Harris and Steve Rolston, about American weapons inspector Will Haley and Russian detective Anya Romanova teaming for a supernaturally tinged investigation.
CURRENT STATUS: Announced in mid-September to be in development at NBC, written by John Glenn and "Troll Hunter" writer/director André Øvredal. NBC produced a pilot based on Oni's "The Sixth Gun" last year, which did not get picked up as a series.

THE SHOW: "Letter 44"
THE NETWORK: None (yet)
THE PROPERTY: Freshly launched series from increasingly ubiquitous writer Charles Soule and artist Alberto Alburquerque, about a newly elected president discovering a secret plot to confront an impending alien invasion.
CURRENT STATUS: With just one issue on stands, Bleeding Cool reported a "Letter 44" TV series to be in development with "a major showrunner and director attached," though no further news has surfaced, and Oni Press has declined comment on the subject.

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TAGS:  the walking dead, amazon, gotham, batman, daredevil, izombie, chew, league of extraordinary gentlemen, ghost projekt, thief of thieves, outcast, preacher, hourman, the flash, luke cage, iron fist, aka jessica jones, the defenders

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