Dave, Joanna, and Neil argue their respective picks for the best TV series adapted from a comic book on the latest episode of Trial by Content. This week’s debate is inspired by the slew of recent and upcoming comic book adaptations: Harley Quinn, Paper Girls, Sandman, and She-Hulk.
This week, the pretrial dismissals are five interesting shows based on comic books not (directly) published by Marvel or DC. These include iZombie (Vertigo Comics), Snowpiercer (Le Transperceneige), Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Riverdale (Archie Comics), Tales from the Crypt (EC Comics), and Wynonna Earp (Image Comics/IDW Publishing).
Also, the Category Crown is awarded to Batman—a newly minted Trial by Content Hall of Famer—for consistently dominating the small screen (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, etc.). The Category Clown goes to Inhumans for failing so terribly that it forced Marvel to make significant changes to Ms. Marvel’s origin story.
Neil not only took home last week’s win—Worst Character Decision in a Horror Movie—but he did so in dramatic fashion, sweeping all three polls and ending the reign of the listeners.
And because of that, Neil gets to kick off the opening statements.
He starts by laying out what made the first season of Daredevil so compelling.
“I’m here to stump for the show that delivered the MCU’s reigning best villain, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. A show that delivered production quality unlike anything we’ve seen previously and a show that—in one badass hallway scene—elevated the very concept of the superhero TV show. My choice, of course, is Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil.”
Neil then goes straight into describing his clip from Daredevil.
“My clip is from the Season 1 finale, in which Kingpin has been arrested and he’s being transported by the police. He tells a story inside the armored van from the Bible about a Samaritan who comes upon a man who’s been beaten on the side of the road. He’s been ignored by a priest and some religious leaders,” he says. “What does all this have to do with Wilson Fisk and Hell’s Kitchen? Let’s give it a listen and find out.”
“Ol’ Vincent D’Onofrio. His voice just gives me chills. What a great first season of television that was,” he concludes.
Joanna: X-Men: The Animated Series
Joanna follows up with an animated classic.
“I’m here to spread the good word about a little 1992 animated series called X-Men: The Animated Series. If you take a long lens on the MCU I would say X-Men: The Animated Series is one of the reasons that it exists in the first place,” she says. “This was an early TV experiment that clued Marvel publishing into the idea that they can make a lot of money off of toys.”
She then elaborates on more of the series’ foundational aspects.
“Let me tell you what makes it a great show—the fact that X-Men: The Animated Series for my generation was there before comic book shows were around every corner,” she explains. “This is the show that got so many kids into the world of comic books. Kids who did not read comic books at all, but they could name their favorite X-Men from the series, from the trading cards, from the action figures. It really broke open something in the culture in terms of making comic books mainstream.”
Joanna argues that the live-action films took heavy inspiration from the animated series and would not have existed without it.
“The Bryan Singer movies exist because X-Men was such a recognizable property based off the back of this animated series. It is something that holds so much potent nostalgia that just a few bars from the theme song in recent MCU properties have gotten people excited.”
Dave appeals to the listeners and opts for the most modern choice of the week: WandaVision.
“Last week’s shark outlier notwithstanding, I’ve learned you—the audience—like things from the recent past. If superhero TV has been around since the dawn of the medium, why wouldn’t something in the past few years be able to iterate successfully on that much history both in comics and in television storytelling?” he asks. “That’s why I’m picking WandaVision.”
He starts his argument by giving reasons for how the Disney+ show is designed specifically for the medium of television.
“WandaVision does multiple smart things for its characters and for a comic book series taking place in a well-established universe. It’s a television show first, with a plot that is dependent on being episodic.”
He bolsters his stance by delving into the actual storytelling decisions and character development that WandaVision revolves around.
“It develops the main characters of Vision and Wanda without them having to be superheroes. We’ve seen what a mess both of these characters can be, shunted into movies not concerned with them. WandaVision opened them both up not just through non-superhero nonsense but also through the domestic aspects of the characters.”
Be sure to check out the podcast below for more from Dave, Joanna, and Neil, including their full opening statements, cross-examinations, listener submissions, and closing arguments!
Don’t forget to vote for what you think is the worst character decision in a horror movie after you’ve listened to the episode! You can vote below, on The Ringer’s Twitter feed, and in the Spotify app, where you’ll find Trial by Content. The winner will be announced next week!
This excerpt was lightly edited for clarity.
What is the best TV series adapted from a comic book?
This poll is closed
Listener (Joanna): ‘Watchmen’
Hosts: Dave Gonzales, Joanna Robinson, and Neil Miller
Associate Producer: Carlos Chiriboga
Additional Production Supervision: Arjuna Ramgopal
Theme Song and Other Music Credits: Devon Renaldo
Blog Post: Kai Grady