What Comic Books Would You Like to See Adapted by HBO?

For years, we at HBOWatch have speculated on the possibility of seeing our favorite channel adapt a comic book property (remember Watchmen is in, Monster is out). As other networks have added comic series from the Big Two, we began to wonder if there were any smaller, lesser-known series that would be a good fit for HBO’s brand. For the purposes of this post, we have decided to stay away from DC and Marvel (Sorry, Fables and Swamp Thing, we love ya; we really do!), and focus on that oft-ignored 3rd (or 4th, depending on the month) publisher, Image Comics.

Title: SEXImageComics_Sex-195x300
Author: Joe Casey
Simon Cooke is a billionaire playboy, who has returned home to Saturn City after a prolonged absence. Unbeknownst to most people, Simon used to patrol the streets of Saturn City as The Armored Saint. Now that he has retired as a masked vigilante, Simon must ask himself: who is Simon Cooke? As the absentee CEO of his own corporation, Simon never really invested much energy into forging his civilian persona, and he finds that becoming a real person is infinitely harder for him than being a hero. The situation is made all the more challenging for Simon once he realizes that “his” city is plunging into corruption, and that his former aides and associates are continuing his mission- at great personal risk- without him.

Why it Would be a Good Fit for HBO:
What if Batman retired? What if Robin decided to go off and do his own thing in Batman’s absence? What if Alfred were a woman? Could Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne make it work if they both retired from their masked personae? Joe Casey’s SEX is the best Batman comic that is not a Batman comic, at all. First off, it takes a lot of moxie to make a comic that is a distinct response to, distillation of, and reflection on the most successful comic book character of all time. To then name it SEX is to run the risk of alienating a whole lot of people. In SEX, Casey has created a dark and disturbing reality for his hero to navigate, as well as one of the most disturbing villains I’ve seen in a comic (or anywhere), but the series stands out for the questions it asks about the genre as a whole. It’s also notable for highlighting the violence and sex that is often toned down in The Big Two. As a huge Batman fan, I can tell you that Batman gets it on often, but not graphically. SEX, as its title implies, is very graphic, and it would be at home only on a network like HBO. At the same time, its slow-burn story-telling and world-building benefits from the patience that HBO devotes to its series. Saturn City could be explored in the way Baltimore was explored in The Wire. It is that rich in story-telling potential. It would make a unique, revisionist take on the comic book shows offered on other networks.


Title: Fatale
Author: Ed BrubakerImageComics_Fatale-242x300
A woman named Jo lives through the 20th Century without aging. She also has the uncanny and unnerving ability to make men fall for her, to the point of obsession. As she flees from a mysterious and menacing group that exists to hunt her, Jo must also adapt to an ever-changing world, and the loss that time brings when it catches up to everyone but her.

Why it Would be a Good Fit for HBO:
Brubaker is the genius mind behind Gotham Central (the Fox show Gotham, while also centered on the GCPD, shares no similarities with the Gotham Central comic) and Marvel’s Winter Soldier. One of the most interesting voices in comics today, Brubaker’s noir-Lovecraftian hybrid Fatale would be right at home on the network that brought us Carnivale and Boardwalk Empire. Its mix of urban pulp drama, combined with its various historical settings and other supernatural elements would benefit from the budget and the spectacle that HBO has done on a great scale. (Bonus: If HBO were disinclined to go with Fatale, it could produce Brubaker’s equally marvelous book: Criminal)


Title: Bedlam
Author: Nick SpencerImageComics_Bedlam-195x300
The city of Bedlam has seen a host of horrors over the years: murders, bombings, child molestation. The most depraved of these perpetrators was Fillmore Press, who murdered dozens of people as Madder Red. But that was years ago. The public never learned Madder Red’s true identity, which was mysteriously covered up once Fillmore was captured. In a secret “hospital” run by people as depraved as himself, Fillmore has been through a long and torturous rehabilitation. Now, his doctors deem him healthy enough to return to the outside world. The city of Bedlam calls to Fillmore once more.

Why it Would be a Good Fit for HBO:
Bedlam, currently on hiatus, is a suspenseful and beautifully hideous series. I mean “beautifully” in the literal sense: the colors and art are gorgeous. It plays with pinks and reds, when most series go for oranges and blues. It looks like a Valentine to the serial killer genre. In the style of NBC’s Hannibal re-boot (another series that finds aesthetic beauty in depravity), the Bedlam comic likes to have killers interact with one another, to ask what makes them tick. Furthermore, it poses one of the most difficult questions a society can ask itself: what rights do serial killers have? What do they deserve? If we torture and mistreat them, are we not equally heinous? I could see this series on HBO, modeled in the style of True Detective meets Oz, with a bit of the aforementioned Hannibal and thrown in. The suspense of the series stems from the fact that Fillmore is now free. Who imprisoned him? Why? Has he been playing a long con in order to escape, or is he really rehabilitated? If Fillmore means well, does that change anything, given that so many families lost loved ones to his reign of terror? HBO’s nurturing of long-form storytelling, as well as its capacity to show what other networks can’t, would make Bedlam a unique addition to the TV landscape, given that its unsettling protagonist has committed unspeakable acts. Fillmore is the anti-hero to blow away all anti-heroes. (Bonus: Nick Spencer authored a much more successful series for Image-Morning Glories– and this tale of sinister secrets hiding in a prestigious boarding school would be great fun, though it would skew a little younger than Bedlam)


Title: Saga
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
ImageComics_Saga-300x169Two soldiers from different alien races struggle to raise their newborn daughter in the midst of the war that is raging between their peoples. As they flee for their lives, they try to navigate their new experiences as a family, in a tale that is both intimate and galactic in scope.

Why it Would be a Good Fit for HBO:
What can I say? If you’re familiar with comics, you know that Saga is one of the most critically acclaimed titles ever released by any publisher. Winner of Eisners, Hugos, and scores of critical praise, it would be a sought-after property for any network. Since it was described in solicitations as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones,” its epic scope would be well served by an HBO-style treatment. Even that description fails to capture how the series evokes material that ranges from Romeo and Juliet to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Its scope, its rich storytelling and compelling characterizations would make for a quality TV show.

What about you? What comics would you like to see adapted by HBO? These are just a small sampling from one publisher. What if HBO could receive properties from DC due to its WB connection? Perhaps you’re a Marvel fan? Perhaps you’ve discovered some of the outstanding web comics that are out there? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.


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