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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Back in my day, comic-book stories stayed on comic-book pages. Yes, there were Batman movies—the best still being 1997’s Batman and Robin, naysayers be damned—but superheroes were mostly relegated to print. A live-action Hulk could fucking not be done.

I’m still right on that one, but the rest of the Marvel, DC and other comic-brand universes are now inescapable on all the screens all the time. TV has been more prolific and creative with its adaptations—Netflix (Marvel) and The CW (DC) in particular. But you already know about those, so they won’t be covered here.

Instead, here are 10 comics-based TV series ranging from, “Hey, I’ve heard of that!” to “Huh?” status to stream while you’re waiting for Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Aquaman v. Magic Mike: Dawn of Thrust-Us.

Deadly Class (Season 1 on Syfy.com and Syfy app): Based on the same-named Image Comics series, Deadly Class is an ‘80s-set action-snarker about a secret academy that trains good-looking teens to kill elegantly—“Harry Potter Assassin School” will do. Deadly Class is smart enough to go toe-to-knife-tipped-toe with Syfy cousin The Magicians, but with a gonzo-goth edge all its own and a killer Reagan-era soundtrack.

Blade: The Series (Season 1 on CW Seed): The original 1998 Blade was the first “real” Marvel movie, effectively wiping away the foul/fowl aftertaste of ’80s bomb Howard the Duck. To replace vampire hunter Wesley Snipes, 2006’s Blade: The Series cast Onyx rapper Sticky Fingaz and cranked out 13 solid-to-superb episodes before cancelation by Spike TV. Netflix’s gritty Daredevil and Luke Cage owe this Blade.

Painkiller Jane (Season 1 on Hoopla, Tubi and Roku Channel; pictured upper right): A ‘90s Event/Icon Comics title that became a 2005 TV movie and a 2007 Syfy series, Painkiller Jane (Kristanna Loken) is The Punisher and Wolverine wrapped into an Instagram model. She’s a vigilante crime-fighter with brutal combat skills and an indestructible body (though Jane can still feel pain). A forgotten series that’s soon to be a Marvel flick starring Jessica Chastain.

Black Scorpion (Season 1 on Prime Video): Moving backward, ridiculous 2001 Syfy series Black Scorpion, which was preceded by a couple of equally ridiculous movies in the ‘90s, was a TV show that later became a less-ridiculous comic book. The series, starring Michelle Lintel as barely-leather-clad vigilante Black Scorpion, is ‘60s Batman camp crossed with softcore fetish porn—kinky superhero cosplayers, take note.

Preacher (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): A disillusioned drunk of a small-town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper and his gravity-defying hair) suddenly has the power to bend people’s will—so he sets out to find God with his trigger-happy ex, Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Irish vampire bud Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) in tow. The Vertigo comic Preacher is fantastically, mind-fuckingly weird; TV Preacher doesn’t disappoint.

Lucifer (Seasons 1-3 on Netflix): Another hell-larious Vertigo import, Fox-to-Netflix series Lucifer follows the exploits of a “retired” Devil (Tom Ellis) opening a Los Angeles nightclub and helping local police solve crimes—it helps if you don’t think about it too hard. Despite its cop-show trappings, Lucifer mixes devilish comedy and heavy drama seamlessly, and Ellis plays the best Satan since South Park.

Mutant X (Seasons 1-3 on Roku Channel): A year after X-Men cracked the superhero code in 2000, Marvel and Canada produced a blatant rip-off, er, “unrelated property,” syndicated TV series Mutant X. Super-powered beings who look great in leather—what’s the deal with all the leather, anyway?—fight evil and search for fellow mutants while avoiding government capture and 20th Century Fox lawsuits.

The Gifted (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): A better, and more legal, TV take on X-Men arrived in 2017 with Fox’s The Gifted, which focuses on younger mutants struggling to control their powers and a normie society that’s determined to snuff them out. The Gifted only dabbles in action and flash, focusing more on characters like Polaris (Emma Dumont) who get little play in the X-Men screen universe.

Legion (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu) Showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, the TV version) took an already-surreal Marvel Comics X-Men series about the psychologically-damaged mutant son of Charles Xavier (Dan Stevens) and turned it into a Pink Floyd acid trip of a TV show. Yet somehow, it’s the most intimate and heartbreaking corner of X-World. Legion is the ultimate cure for superhero burnout.

Night Man (Seasons 1-2 on Roku Channel, pictured below): No, not the enemy of the Dayman from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; this Night Man is a Malibu Comics character who got his own TV series that lasted for two stoopid years in the ‘90s. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Domino (Matt McColm) is struck by lightning and suddenly has the power to “hear” evil—like Daredevil, but with shitty musical taste. So bad it’s … still bad.

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If you think adapting Stephen King’s The Mist (series debut Thursday, June 22, Spike) for TV is bad idea, know that ABC is launching a reboot of The Gong Show and a boy-band reality-competition show on the same night as the premiere of The Mist to compete with the summer filler stinking up Fox and NBC—there’s nothin’ else on. King’s Under the Dome, which was essentially the same story—a small town is isolated by a supernatural event—ran for three whole seasons on CBS, one of which didn’t suck. The Mist doesn’t have the luxury of known actors, just a crew of nobodies with zero lead-in assist from Lip Sync Battle, the only thing anyone ever watches on Spike besides Bar Rescue and off-brand MMA. But, as I said, there’s nothin’ else on.

Alison Brie has had memorable supporting roles on Community and Mad Men, but GLOW (series debut Friday, June 23, Netflix) is her show, all the way. In GLOW, she plays Ruth Wilder, an unemployed actress in ’80s Los Angeles who’s desperate enough to try anything that isn’t porn—even a low-budget/high-cheese all-female pro-wrestling TV show, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (which was a real thing), being launched by a failed film producer (Marc Maron). Like a lighter Orange Is the New Black (Jenji Kohan is a producer here, and wrote one episode), GLOW is a tale of very different women bonding in a “man’s” world that does surprisingly emotional heavy lifting when it needs to. All this, and some of the worst ’80s fashions ev-er. Wooo!

The last of Playing House (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 23, USA)? Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham’s cozy comedy about almost-uncomfortably close girlfriends and a new baby has barely survived to see a third season on USA, a cable net that’s concentrating more on gritty hour-long dramas after failing to launch a string of smart half-hour comedies. Since USA is blowing out new episodes back-to-back on Friday nights, it’s obvious they’re done with the show, because it doesn’t appeal to the Chrisley Knows Best idiocracy. This could be your last chance to see a genuinely funny and sweet comedy that deserves a shot somewhere else. TV Land? Hulu? Netflix? Ugh … Crackle? Step up.

Like Into the Badlands, Preacher (Season 2 premiere Sunday, June 25, AMC) is an American Movie Classics (’member those cable days?) gem that just doesn’t get the buzz it deserves—the same could be said of Halt and Catch Fire and Humans, but they’re pretty much goners at this point. Preacher, on the other hand, is poised to blow up—in every sense—in its expanded second season, a wild ride that sees preacher Jesse (Dominic Cooper), badass Tulip (Ruth Negga) and vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) hitting the highway in search of an absentee God, as ordained in the original Vertigo comic, only to find more trouble/violence/black comedy in New Orleans. Preacher: It’s hell-arious! (Quote me, AMC.)

Why networks continue to produce reality shows wherein horny fuckwits are herded together in front of cameras 24/7 and fed gallons of alcohol is beyond me—did we learn nothing from Rape Island, I mean, Bachelor in Paradise? Anyway: Summer staple Big Brother (Season 19 premiere Wednesday, June 28, CBS) introduces a new gaggle of vile stereotypes for your viewing … pleasure? … and tacks on the subtitle Over the Top because who knows/cares why. I also didn’t understand why a seemingly classy lady like Julie Chen continues to host this Axe-soaked cockfight year after year, but then I remembered that she’s a former homewrecker mistress now married to the president of CBS. Makes total sense.

When it debuted in 2015, Younger (Season 4 premiere Wednesday, June 28, TV Land) didn’t seem like a series with legs—unless you count the legs on star Sutton Foster, a fantastic set of stems that, as they say, go all the way to the ground. Forty-something Liza (Foster) posing as a 20-something to land a job in the cutthroat millennial world of book publishing (?) was a cute idea, but how long could she keep the secret? Three seasons, apparently; she finally revealed the truth to her co-worker BFF Kelsey (Hilary Duff), causing a shitstorm that will allow Younger to lean more heavily than ever on the drama side of dramedy. Meanwhile, I still want a spin-off series about power hipster Lauren (Molly Bernard).

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After a fall-winter-spring blur of Too Many Shows, you’re thinking to yourself, “Summer is finally here—I can take a break from TV. Praise the Lord!”

Sorry. Your god has abandoned you: Here are 32 new and returning series you’re going to have to watch this summer, because peak TV knows no season.

In the unexpected return of Flaked (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 2; Netflix), Chip (Will Arnett) heads back to Venice to rehab his ruined Local Hero status, if not his booze problem. Matters are even more dire for the gang on Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, June 4; AMC), as vigilante Build the Zombie Wall border patrollers won’t allow them to cross back over from Mexico. It could be worse; they could be struggling comedians in 1970s Hollywood—which is the setting for I’m Dying Up Here (series debut; Sunday, June 4; Showtime).

Tim Heidecker re-ups for more ultra-violent spy action in Decker: Unclassified (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), while Aussie comic Jim Jefferies takes another stab at ’Merican TV with late-night talker The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut; Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). Latina heroine (?) Teresa (Alice Braga) continues her quest to rule the drug trade in Queen of the South (Season 2 premiere; Thursday, June 8; USA), and the ladies of Litchfield are still doing time in Orange Is the New Black (Season 5 premiere; Friday, June 9; Netflix), hackers be damned.

The ragtag crew of ridiculously good-looking intergalactic criminals remain lost in space in Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy), and TV’s coolest demon hunter is back and gunning for souls in Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy). Meanwhile, the end is near for the Clone Club in the final run of Orphan Black (Season 5 premiere; Saturday, June 10, BBC America), and even nearer for frenemies Billie and Gene in the two-weekend burn-off of Idiotsitter (Season 2 premiere; Saturday, June 10; Comedy Central).

An all-star cast chews scenery and buffs cuticles in new Florida nail-salon dramedy Claws (series debut; Sunday, June 11; TNT), and primetime goes grindhouse with Blood Drive (series debut; Wednesday, June 14, Syfy), about a cross-country death race where the cars run on—what else?—blood. The Mist (series debut; Thursday, June 22; Spike) rolls out more subtle Stephen King-y scares, and the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling finally get their ’80s-spandexed due in the Alison Brie-led docu-comedy GLOW (series debut; Friday, June 23; Netflix).

Fiddy Cent’s nightclubs ’n’ drugs drama Power (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, June 25; Starz) finds kingpin Ghost (Omari Hardwick) caught in the middle of a, yep, power struggle, while Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy finally hit the road looking for God in Preacher (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 25; AMC). Liza (Sutton Foster) deals with the fallout of her bestie Kelsey (Hilary Duff) learning her dark, old secret in Younger (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, June 28; TV Land), and everybody’s favorite ragtag trio of ridiculously good-looking interplanetary bounty hunters gear up to fight the good-ish fight in Killjoys (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 30; Syfy).

John Singleton’s Snowfall (series debut; Wednesday, July 5; FX) dramatizes the crack-cocaine epidemic of ’80s Los Angeles, while modernized period piece Will (series debut; Monday, July 10; TNT) juices the legend of a young William Shakespeare as he arrives in the, wait for it, “punk-rock theatre scene of 16th century London.” Back in the present, a pair of college eggheads break it to the White House that an asteroid is six months away from mercifully colliding with Earth in Salvation (series debut; Wednesday, July 12; CBS).

Game of Thrones … yeah, nothing more needs to be said here (Season 7 premiere; Sunday, July 16; HBO). In the final stretch of The Strain (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, July 16; FX), nuclear winter is in full effect; the Strigoi vampires have seized the planet; and our heroes are down for the count—but are they, really? Meanwhile, Ballers (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) and Insecure (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) are paired up for the most incongruent HBO hour ever, while Midnight, Texas (series debut; Monday, July 24; NBC) takes Charlaine Harris’ supernatural novels for a TV spin.

Would you believe … Sharknado 5 (movie premiere; Sunday, Aug. 6; Syfy)? Marvel’s The Defenders (series debut; Friday, Aug. 18; Netflix) finally brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for a dysfunctional superhero team-up, while the 21st go-round of South Park (season 21 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central) attempts to find the funny in Trump’s America—if he’s still in office at that point. Fortunately, Abbi and Ilana drop the long-long-long-awaited comeback of Broad City (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central), and the new take on The Tick (series debut; Friday, Aug. 25; Amazon Prime) may reunify the country, after all. Spoon!

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Preacher (Sunday, May 22, AMC), series debut: The uninitiated have no idea what the hell Preacher is, while the fanboys are convinced that the 1995-2000 Vertigo comic-book series can’t be adapted for any screen, let alone basic-cable TV. And then there are the concerns about stoner-comedy duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as exec-producers, as well as how an epic heaven-and-hell struggle will be received as a weekly series (even though The CW’s Supernatural has already been mining that territory for a decade). While I can’t speak to the fanboys’ worries—I’ve only skimmed the comics—Preacher will definitely blow some newbies’ minds with its 90-minute premiere, a violent and funny explosion of sharply written characters (including Dominic Cooper in the title role, nearly obliterating his beloved Howard Stark from the Marvel Universe) and slow-burn exposition (Breaking Bad vet Sam Catlin is running the show here, not Rogen and Goldberg). Is the story of a touched-by-God boozehound Texas minister, his berserk ex-girlfriend, his sarcastic vampire pal and a kid named “Arseface” the Next Big Thing for AMC? Let’s pray it is—we don’t need another Walking Dead spin-off.

The Bachelorette (Monday, May 23, ABC), season premiere: You do realize that you’ve been watching the same show for 12 seasons now, right? “Bachelorette _____ gets a second chance at true love after her shocking rejection by _____ on the previous season of The Bachelor. With 20 new men (and one quickly ejected psychopath) to choose from, this (blonde/brunette/redhead/vaguely ethnic) beauty is ready find her soul mate and write her own happily-after-after!” ABC has been using this stock press release form since 2003.

Wayward Pines (Wednesday, May 25, Fox), season premiere: Fox Under the Dome-d us. Wayward Pines was supposed to be a one-and-done, closed-end story told in a single season last summer—but then you all actually watched it, probably because I told you to, so this all-powerful TV column is at least partially to blame. Anyway: Season 2 picks up where the first left off, with the residents of small mountain town Wayward Pines now aware that they’re the last people on planet (but has anyone heard from Phil, Fox’s other Last Man on Earth?); flesh-hungry mutants roam the wasteland beyond the forest; and sketchy scientists run their lives—naturally, they’re pissed. Jason Patric takes over the Earnest Newcomer role from Matt Dillon; dead Piners Carla Gugino and Terrence Howard appear in flashbacks; and Hope Davis continues to shape/manipulate the upcoming generation with a Master Race-ish bent. As with all things connected to Idaho, proceed with caution.

Powers (Tuesday, May 31, PSN), season premiere: Yes, errybody’s in the original-programming game—even your PlayStation. Powers, which debuted in 2015 (Season 1 is currently available on freebie-streaming Sony cousin Crackle), was the first offering from the PlayStation Network (PSN), and it’s based on the graphic novel of the same name. The “Powers” are superheroes, though not all them are heroic, hence the need for detectives to investigate crimes and murders associated with them. (This universe’s superheroes parallel professional athletes and celebrities who think they’re above—waaay above—the law.) Sharlto Copely, Eddie Izzard and Michelle Forbes return from the first season; Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen and Wil Wheaton join for S2—that’s some serious actor-ly weight for a series streaming through a game console. Now Powers needs to step-up its scripting and action games to match.

Maya and Marty in Manhattan (Tuesday, May 31, NBC), series debut: Remember The Maya Rudolph Show from 2014? A one-off sketch/variety hour that did surprisingly well with viewers and critics alike? Naturally, the geniuses at NBC said, “People liked it, so let’s do more of that … in two years, with a couple of co-hosts, because we can’t trust a woman to carry this thing, even though she’s already proven she can. How’s that Taxi Brooklyn show coming along?” Maya and Marty in Manhattan adds fellow Saturday Night Live-rs Martin Short and an unbilled Keenan Thompson to the mix, so it already instills more confidence than the network’s previous brain-dead-on-arrival variety attempt, Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris. Like SNL, Maya and Marty will air live; unlike SNL, there won’t be an extra 30 minutes of filler no one can explain or justify.

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