OK, we’ll admit it. When it comes to comic book movies, Hollywood needs to make one more like it needs another vampire flick. With a new Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy due out this year (plus Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Batman/Superman on the way), the market is, er, pretty much covered.
Except that it isn’t.
We’ll be devoting a little more space in these pages in the coming months to what’s happening to your favourite costumed pals in print. But in the meantime, in case anyone in Hollywood is listening, we thought it’d be fun to take a look at 10 titles – all available at your favourite neighbourhood comic book store or comiXology – that deserve the big screen treatment.
1. Saga (Image) – If you haven’t read this sci-fi epic, drop what you’re doing and pick up the first two trades (a third is on the way next month). Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost) and drawn by Canadian Fiona Staples, the moving story follows star-crossed lovers from warring planets, and their newborn, as they are hunted by intergalactic assassins. It’s Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars, sorta. And the cast of villains, which includes a ‘Lying Cat,’ is a bunch that deserves its own spinoff. Forget the Sinister Six.
2. 100 Bullets (Vertigo) – Someone shows up with a gun, 100 bullets and the promise that if you seek revenge you’ll never be caught. It’s an intriguing storyline that was played out over the course of 100 issues. It might be a little much for a 110-minute film, but the next best thing to a hit movie is… a sequel.
3. 1602 (Marvel) – This eight-issue limited series transplanted the popular Marvel characters we all know and love – Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Professor X, Daredevil and more – to the year 1602 just as fears of the apocalypse threaten to destabilize Europe. Sir Nicholas Fury advises the Queen of England, mutants have been targeted by the Spanish Inquisition, and Peter Parquagh has an unhealthy fascination with spiders. This is a fantastic spin on the Marvel universe, and after X-Men: Days of Future Past, time travelling superheroes might suddenly be coming back in vogue.
4. Hawkeye (Marvel) – I know what you’re going to say, ‘Isn’t that the second-tier guy in the Avengers?’ And I hear you. But Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals) and David Aja have breathed new life into the character with no cosmic powers reimagining him away from his ‘day job’ with the Avengers living in Brooklyn. If you have a non-comic loving partner, leave this one casually on the coffee table. They'll be hooked.
5. Revival (Image) – The walking dead isn’t as played out as you think. In this ‘rural noir’ the dead come back to life not as zombies, but as themselves. No one knows why they are back or what they want.
6. Lazarus (Image) – Maybe it’s too early to declare this ‘ready for the big screen,’ but I’ve loved what I’ve seen in the first six issues. In a post-apocalyptic world, wealthy families are protected by genetically enhanced bodyguards/assassins. But just what happens when one of them starts to question her job as a killing machine?
7. Joker (DC) – This dark tale stars Batman’s arch nemesis, with the Caped Crusader not appearing until the book’s closing scenes. A nifty spin in which the villain hogs almost all of the spotlight.
8. Sandman (Vertigo) – It looks like this one is already happening with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but if there’s one title that deserves your attention, look no further. Neil Gaiman’s horror-fantasy spin follows Morpheus, the rock star-like personification of dreams themselves who is released back into the world after being held captive for 70 years. It’s the most literary of the bunch and lucky for you, a prequel series that aims to show us how Morpheus got captured.
9. Y: The Last Man (Vertigo) - Saga’s Brian K. Vaughan dreamt up this horrific scenario in which a global pandemic kills everything with a Y chromosome except for one smart-lipped New Yorker and his pet monkey. Incredibly touching - it involves, in part, main character Yorick Brown’s journey to reunite with his girlfriend Beth - the series ran for 60 issues before ending in 2008.
10. The Dark Knight Returns (DC) - Scott Snyder’s current reboot on the Caped Crusader’s origins with Zero Year might prove to be the most definitive Batman tale yet. But this 1986 limited series by Frank Miller, which was given a two-part animated treatment in 2012 and 2013, is unmatched. Cartoons are nice, but let's see Batfleck try this one on for size.
Runners-up: Superman: Red Son; Happy!; Wolverine: Old Man Logan; Elektra: Assassin.