As an adjunct to our Best of the Year Awards, Comicon would like to also recognize the best in television based on comic books. Plenty of shows take their inspiration from comics, but which best reflected the source or took the material in surprising new directions? Like comic books themselves, the following shows illustrate the breadth of creativity in the medium and the types of stories either can tell.
The following are Comicon’s 5 Best Comic Book Television Shows of 2020.
5. Hilda, executive produced by Stephanie Simpson, Kurt Mueller, and Luke Pearson; starring Bella Ramsey, Daisy Haggard, Ameerah Falzon-Ojo, Oliver Nelson, John Hopkins, and Lucy Montgomery; available on Netflix.
Although Hilda (Ramsey) faced an ongoing antagonist this season (Hopkins’ Erik Ahlberg), the overall charm and chill of the series is its greatest asset. Handsomely produced in the style of comic creator Luke Pearson, the series continues to mix northern European folk ideas with some Studio Ghibli influence and Pearson’s own wonderful imagination. Also, it has a kick-ass soundtrack reminiscent of 1990s European indie rock. And even when Hilda’s adventures approach the sort of drama of the other shows on this list, it still winds itself back to being the most comforting comic book show available.
4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, executive produced by Jed Whedon, Marissa Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell; starring Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennett, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Jeff Ward; aired on ABC, available on Hulu and Netflix
A satisfying conclusion to the little Marvel show that could. Although the final year never produced a best-of-series episode like Season 6’s “Fear and Loathing on Planet Kitson,” it did give Agent Carter‘s Dnaiel Souza (Enver Gjokaj) the best return he could possibly receive and an out for Philip Coulson (Gregg) should Marvel Studios ever want to use the character again. Beyond that, it also gave each of the core S.H.I.E.L.D. members a spotlight as it said goodbye to the fans who kept it alive despite all odds. It’s hard to say if we’ll ever see these characters again, but we sure enjoyed traveling with them.
3. Doom Patrol, executive produced by Jeremy Carver; starring Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Joivan Wade, Diane Guerrero, Abigail Shapiro, and Timothy Dalton; available on HBO Max.
A shorter season meant a great focus for Doom Patrol. Its explorations of the characters’ traumas took on great depth even as Dorothy (Shapiro) both won our hearts and broke them once it became clear why Niles (Dalton) hid her away for a century. The emphasis on things like Larry’s (Bomer) broken family, his friendship with Rita (Bowlby), her attempt to re-enter the world, and Cliff (Fraser) finally getting to know his daughter made the storylines a treat to watch. Also, we have to give the show proper credit for giving its only (present day) romantic storyline to Cyborg (Wade), especially if it maintains its apparent end into next season. That hard and sad cut makes his time with Roni (Karen Obilom) more poignant. Then again, it always possible that heartache will be used against him when the series resumes.
2. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, executive produced by Phil Klemmer and Keto Shimizu; starring Caity Lotz, Jes Macallan, Tala Ashe, Nick Zano, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Brandon Routh, and Matt Ryan; airs on The CW, available on Netflix
Legends continues to do zany like no other show even while incorporating more complex dramatic material this past season. Lotz, Macallan and Ashe, meanwhile, continue to lead with incredible talent. In the fourth season, it was a treat watching antagonists like Astra (Olivia Swann) melt under the chiller vibe of the Legends and switch sides. That said, Astra also gave us a chance to see John Constantine (Ryan) both confront his greatest mistake and make amends. In fact, Astra’s whole storyline — right down to her brief time with the Fates — proved the show could mix more tragic happenings and rawer emotions into the fun. See also: Behrad’s (Shayan Sobhian) second death and the emotional toll it took on both Zaris (both Ashe) by season’s end.
1. The Boys, executive produced by Eric Kripke; starring Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Karl Urban, Laz Alonso, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, Jesse T. Usher, and Chace Crawford; available on Amazon Prime Video
Make no mistake, The Boys could be a rough watch this year with recurring Nazi Stormfront (Aya Cash) and too-close-to-real depictions of protests, hate crimes, and cable news commentary — to say nothing of Homelander’s (Starr) increasing instability or all the exploding heads. Nevertheless, those anxiety-inducing elements — and its thoughtfully realized world and characters — push the show past its obvious Justice League pastiche to make some real comments about corporatization, weakened governments, and the veneration of the superhero as celebrity currency. Remarkable, then, that it is made by a company with more than a passing resemblance to Vought. Beyond the Big Ideas, though, are the sweet interactions between Annie (Moriarty) and Hughie (Quaid), Frenchie (Capon) and Kimiko (Fukuhara), and Billy (Urban) and Becca (Shantel VanSanten). But perhaps sweeter than all the cis-het couples is the bond between Hughie and Billy, which often defies their own self-preservation instincts and proves some forms of brotherhood are worth wadding through whale guts for.