By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

July 31, 2014 -- The annual geekfest known as Comic-Con International: San Diego wrapped up July 28, and as usual there was plenty of eye-popping, head-bursting news about comics and movies. But what stood out this year were the comics properties coming to, or already on, television.

Here’s a quick guide of the most-anticipated shows. (All trailers here.)



Premiere: First season, Sept. 22, 8/7c, FOX

In the comics: Gotham City and “The Bat-Man” first appeared 75 years ago in DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27. Batman appears in a great many comic books every month.You may have heard of him.

In the trailer: The show follows police Det. (and future commissioner) James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he arrives in Gotham City, partners with Det. Harvey Bullock and is assigned to investigate the murder of prominent citizens Thomas and Martha Wayne. We see very young versions of Bruce Wayne (the future Batman), Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin) and Edward Nygma (Riddler). Most of these characters had different origins and first appearances in the comics, and what little print has shown of Gotham in this period has a different history, but the tone of the trailer is very in keeping with the successful Bat-movies of Christopher Nolan. Plus there are police dirigibles, which is very Gotham City.

Fun Facts: Jada Pinkett Smith plays a character created for the show, gang boss Fish Mooney, who favors a baseball bat as her weapon of choice.



Premiere: Second season, Sept. 23, 8/7c, ABC

In the comics: S.H.I.E.L.D. was introduced in 1965 at Marvel Comics as an international espionage organization with WWII hero Nick Fury as director. It is still a huge part of the Marvel Universe foundation and background, especially in titles like Secret Avengers.

In the trailer: Comedian Patton Oswalt reprises his role as Billy Koenig, twin brother of the deceased Eric Koenig, now joined by a third identical brother, Sam. They confirm that Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) will now be the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which crippled the organization. The Koenigs also announced that long-time Marvel spy/superhero Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse will join the cast.

Fun Facts: In the comics, Eric Koenig was a member of the Howling Commandos of World War II, a group that appeared in the movie Captain America (without Koenig). The fact that Oswalt keeps appearing in identical roles with different first names suggests that he may be a Life Model Decoy. LMDs are android duplicates that have been part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. mythos since 1965.



Premiere: First season, Oct. 7, 8/7c, The CW

In the comics: DC’s first Flash appeared in 1940, but it is the second Flash, who debuted in 1956, who is the most famous and is the star of the TV show. Barry Allen is a forensic scientist with the Central City Police Department, and also the Fastest Man Alive, thanks to being connected to the mysterious “Speed Force.” The Scarlet Speedster appears monthly in Flash and Justice League.

In the trailer: Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who first appeared on CW’s Arrow, seems very similar to his counterpart in the comics. Some elements of the third Flash (Wally West) are included, in the form of a group of scientists helping the Crimson Comet explore his powers. Also included is a recently added element to the Flash origin, that of Barry’s obsession with finding his mother’s killer. The Arrow cameos in the premiere.

Fun Facts: In the comics, it is a super-speedster villain from the future who kills Mrs. Allen, and in the trailer it is clearly a super-speedster villain who does the deed.



Premiere: Third season, Oct. 8, 8/7c, The CW

In the comics: DC’s Green Arrow debuted in 1941 as a Batman clone with a Robin Hood motif. He is usually portrayed as Oliver Queen, sometimes wealthy playboy, sometimes destitute urban vigilante, with a passion for helping the little guy. He appears monthly in Green Arrow and Justice League United.

In the trailer: The first half sums up the ending of the second season, which climaxed with a showdown between Arrow (Stephen Amell) and uber-killer Deathstroke. The second half features Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul (“Head of the Demon” in Arabic), leader of the League of Assassins, who on the TV show is revealed as a major figure in the past of both Oliver “Arrow” Queen and Sara “Canary” Lance. We also see sidekick Roy Harper in full gear as the character “Arsenal” (as he is in the comics), Arrow benching created-for-the-show sidekick John Diggle, the arrival of Ray Palmer (who is the shrinking hero “The Atom” in the comics) and possibly a name change for Starling City to Star City (which is Green Arrow’s home in print).

Fun Facts: This is the second CW show, following Smallville, wherein Green Arrow fills the Batman niche in DC’s food chain (since the Dark Knight’s TV rights are tied up elsewhere).



Premiere: Fifth season, Oct. 12, 9/8c, AMC

In the comics: The Walking Dead comic book, following a group of survivors in rural Georgia in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, launched at Image Comics in 2003, and is published monthly.

In the trailer:  Season Five will pick up right where Season Four left off, with the bulk of our heroes locked up in a boxcar awaiting execution by the occupants of Terminus (a railway station), who appear to be cannibals. The trailer suggests Rick’s gang will convince the Termites to accompany them to Washington D.C., as one of Rick’s group claims he knows the cure for the zombie plague but has to get to the capital to implement it.

Fun Facts (Spoiler): In the comics, the guy who says he has the cure is lying.



Premiere: First season, Oct. 24, 10/9c, NBC

In the comics: DC’s John Constantine, introduced in 1985, is a wise-cracking, blue-collar Englishman whose “super-powers” are fast-talking and extensive knowledge of the occult. Constantine doesn’t befriend many people, because he has a habit of getting his friends killed. The character appears monthly in Constantine and Justice League Dark.

In the trailer: It appears that much of Constantine’s comic-book backstory is included, mainly a terrible mistake he made in a town named Newcastle that sent an innocent soul to Hell – which damns Constantine also. He was locked up in a looney bin for a while after Newcastle, which is included here. Bonus: In the Comic-Con version of the trailer, we see the Helmet of (Dr.) Fate, a sorcerer hero in the comics, and Constantine’s only pal, taxi-driver Frank “Chas” Chandler.

Fun Facts: Constantine, the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves, was also based on the DC comics, but failed to deliver much of what made the character popular.

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I'm curious to see how Catwoman will be developed in the show, but while I see a lot of comic book shows I don't see a lot of costumes really. Then again Constantine never wore one and it's too early to see Bruce wearing one.

I recently posted this Gotham 22-minute promo show.

It's in four segments, which on TV were commercial breaks.

I've been watching Agents of SHIELD since it started. I find it surprisingly different while still staying inside the continuity of the Iron Man/Avengers/Capt.America movies (I refuse to call it a 'universe').
GOTHAM, I have doubts, but I will check it out. Too many times (Birds of Prey, Smallville), we get villian-of-the-week fare with a cast designed for the 18-24 modern MTV viewing 'audience', if they actually do watch actual televisions & not Hulu/YouTube/Amazon/ect.
ARROW, I passed on & will continue to avoid like the proverbial OMAC virus. Same with this new Flash. I keep expecting the programming to vomit more unwatchable garbage.
I did watch the first seaosn of The Walking Dead, and just could NOT get into it.
CONSTANTINE. At least they brought in SOMEONE who has a HINT of a Brit accent this time! I'll check out the first episode, but if something else I like is on at the same time, at least I have an option.

Point of fact-the Keanu Reeves 'Constantine' may have been LOOSELY based on the comic, but like Sly Stallone's Judge Dredd, that's where any & all connection starts & ends.

If the Fall TV season were starting to look like a spinner rack, we'd have FAR worse coming out just to counter the above.

I still think Birds of Prey could have succeeded with a good set of scripts and a better concept. I thought the original Flash Series was good for the time too.

The original Flash series would have done better, IMO, if Captain Cold and the Mirror Master had worn their costumes. The Trickster did but by that time the show was on its way out.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

I still think Birds of Prey could have succeeded with a good set of scripts and a better concept. I thought the original Flash Series was good for the time too.

Mark: I found that it held together not badly but in my area they gave it the god awfulest time slot. The local Fox station at 10 P.M. Wednesday night and they did NO publicity. The Canadian Sci-fi channel, Space, aired it but by the time they had the rights, the writing was on the wall.

Richard: I don't necessarily think that the costumes were the big thing but more the competition at the time. It was an hour long show facing The Simpsons from 8 to 8:30 on Fox ( I wonder whatever happened to them? LMAO) and NBC was running Cosby at that same time and don't quote me on this but I THINK Cheers from 8:30 to 9:00 even with that just before the show was actually cancelled, there was discussion of a second season with DC guests. I think Batman was discussed due to the movies dying down and they wanted to boost the following for the franchise while giving Flash an event they could promote.

I've been watching Arrow and The Strain (based on a comic based on a novel), and am enjoying both. The trick, I've discovered, is to not try to relate them to similar stories in other media -- Arrow isn't Green Arrow, it's a show about people with similar names and hobbies. However, not even that trick got me to like the Constantine movie!

I'm really enjoying The Strain, but I'm not familiar with the comic or the novel, so there's nothing to compare it to. I like Arrow, too, but I'm not especially attached to the Green Arrow character from the comics. I think I've actually read more Connor Hawke stories than Oliver Queen ones! I'm in the minority on the Constantine movie, even though I'm a long-time Hellblazer fan. I agree that it's barely a Constantine story, they changed so much. But it's a pretty good horror movie, so I just took it as that.

I liked some of the bits in Constantine -- several scenes with insects were pretty creepy -- but Keanu Reeves was a huge void in the center of the movie for me. I didn't need an Englishman in the role, but I did need an actor who did some acting.

As to The Strain,  haven't read anything else either, although I have the first trade (I'm waiting for the TV show to catch up before I read it). Have you figured out how the Hispanic boxer will get involved with the main crew? They all started out individually, of course, but we all knew that we were watching the team come together -- and now they all have, except for the boxer. His scenes still seem completely unrelated.

And I've enjoyed Arrow mostly where it deviates from comics. They've given this Oliver Queen a stronger grounding and better motivations than his comic-book counterpart ever had. Plus, except for a few scenes here and there, he seems more plausible. Also, Black Canary makes more sense, too, having been trained by the League of Assassins instead of ... say, how did the comic-book Black Canary get trained?

I enjoy Arrow, as I did Smallville, as different takes on familiar characters. At this point I've watched the first five episodes of The Strain and have the others in the DVR. I'm enjoying it a lot. The production values of all of these are sky-high. Anyone who isn't watching them is losing out.

As for the original Flash show, this was back in days before DVRs. Most of the public didn't seem to even be able to set the clocks on their VCRs and only used them to watch prerecorded movies. I was able, using two VCRs, to record two programs at the same time. I seldom watched, and still seldom watch, anything when it's actually broadcast. Half of the Trial of the Trickster was preempted in my area for some earthshaking news bulletin. Didn't see the whole two-parter for years,

IN the original continuity, her dad was a cop and he trained her to become a cop. She applied to become a policewoman but as it was the mid-40s she was turned down. Dad got the letter in the mail and it basically killed him. After COIE, her Mom was in the JSA and she was a JSA brat who was trained by Ted (Wildcat) Grant.

Captain Comics said:

I Also, Black Canary makes more sense, too, having been trained by the League of Assassins instead of ... say, how did the comic-book Black Canary get trained?

I've also been watching the The Strain, and it has been really good. I knew of the existence of the books and comics, but never sampled any of it.

I've seen exactly one episode of Arrow, and it was okay. It just isn't anything I ever think about watching.

I loved the original Flash TV show, it just had a terrible time slot. I used to have all of the episodes on tape. Like Richard I recorded them all. I knew it was going to be short-lived pretty early.

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