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Kevin Harkins’ Top 10 Comic Book TV Shows

For the next list I’m doing my top 10 favourite comic book TV shows. In a way TV is the closer to comics than movies since it is a weekly show and a continuing story which makes it no wonder that there are some who would argue that the comic book TV shows are better than their movie counterparts since they inherently have more time to develop the characters more. 

Here I will be listing my top ten favourite comic book TV shows. Again this is my own personal opinion and feel free to disagree but have a reason why you think I am wrong and not just asking what about this show or that show as chances are I like that show just not enough to put on my list. Also I am just interested to see what people think. With that on to the list.

10. Spider-Man: The Animated Series

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This Fox Kids animated series is how I was introduced to Spider-Man as a kid. I remember even then relating to Peter the geek who never could seem to get things right or always had setbacks as he dealt with work and the super villains. It also was a great way to introduce the Marvel universe to a new generation of kids as S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America, Blade, Fantastic Four, and Doctor Strange among others would guest star from time to time on the show and in a lot of ways this show is why I am a Marvel zombie. 

I’ll admit that seeing it now the animation sometimes was not the best and it lacks the polish of some other shows at the time, but it was still a lot of fun and I have a lot to thank this show for who I am.

9. Superman: The Animated Series3429025-superman-the-animated-series-feeding-time

Hot off the success of the Batman animated series a spinoff was made centred around Superman and gave birth to the DCAU. Featuring strong characters, a wonderful tone that updates the characters while keeping them true to their roots, and great use of Superman’s rogue gallery, this is one of the greatest adaptations of the Man of Steel. 

I mention the villains because a main thing when I think of this show is the villains from Brainiac to the iconic performance of Michael Ironside as Darkseid to the comedic greatness of the Mr. Mxyzptlk episodes this was the best versions of Superman’s villains. Tim Daly is also wonderful as Superman and is so ingrained in my mind as Supes that when he was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as a guest all I could hear was Superman talking. The DCAU is responsible for some amazing adaptations of characters and this is among their best work.

8. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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What a difference one important change to a show can make. When S.H.I.E.L.D. first started I liked the show but it could be slow and it felt like something was missing. Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out and with the reveal of Hydra the show completely changed and became a great show. The twist that one of the main characters was a Hydra agent created a wonderful tension as the team reeled from the betrayal and the organisation was forced to go underground and become a more secretive group. 

Later seasons would introduce Inhumans and deal with issues like fate, family, and genocide in ways that entertain but not in a corny or melodramatic way. This current season’s adaptation of Ghost Rider also has finally done justice to such a beloved character. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stands as the ultimate proof that sometimes TV shows need a little time to find their footing and, given the opportunity, can rise and become amazing.

7. Batman

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Yes this version of the character is obviously campy and goes against everything we know about Batman as The Dark Knight but taking the show for what it is it is a ton of fun even if the humour isn’t always intended. This show is a product of its time and perfectly represents the campiness, the colour, and the feel of comics at that time. 

The cast is terrific and it’s no wonder that Adam West and Burt Ward are beloved by fans to this day while the rotating guest cast of villains are obviously having great fun getting to ham it up playing some of the greatest villains of all time. Some would argue this version of Batman is detrimental to the character but for those of us who are fans we can love our dark and serious Batman while also loving this more fun take on the character.

6. The Flash

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The Flash is what made me a fan of the Flash. Now I should say I have always liked the character but he was not one I really got into until I watched this show and now I am a regular reader of the comics. The performance of Grant Gustin is fantastic and the supporting cast is equally wonderful. I love the sense of family created among the team and Reverse Flash is one of the greatest villains in any TV show I have seen. 

The visual effects are also well done for the series and I am amazed how well Grodd and King Shark are done in the show, and that they were even attempted at all. I most also give a special shout out to the season one finale entitled “Fast Enough”. It is one of the greatest episodes of TV I have ever seen and to me is a gold standard for anything comic book related.

5. Marvel’s Jessica Jones

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JESSICA! For Marvel’s second Netflix show they took on the former superhero turned private detective and created a modern noir classic. What makes Jessica stand out from the other shows is how it deals with more mature and adult themes such as PTSD, survivor guilt, rape, and assault. Grounding all of this is Krysten Ritter‘s wonderful performance as Jessica, being able to mix up the vulnerable, sarcasm, and tough sides of the character she gives a truly three-dimensional performance. 

The other standout is David Tennant who gives one of the creepiness performances I have ever seen as Kilgrave and you can tell he is having a ball playing up the more evil side of the character. He is without a doubt one of the greatest MCU villains. By combining a more mature tone with great performances Jessica Jones is a true standout.

4. Justice League Unlimited

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After the success of Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series the next logical step was a Justice League cartoon. A delight for fans and newbies alike the show perfectly balanced the team and was able to shed the light on some lesser known DC characters such as Martian Manhunter and John Stewart.  The relationships were strong and every episode was a DC fan’s dream with each episode full of Easter eggs and characters never seen before or since outside of the comics. By telling fantastic stories while juggling a large group of characters Justice League Unlimited showed how to do a massive team show and set the standard for all future Justice League projects.

3. X-Men

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As a child growing up with a family that moved a lot I took a lot of comfort in this show. The X-Men have always been a metaphor for anybody who feels different and alienated and this show was a great comfort as a child seeing superheroes treated with fear and hate and knowing that even the best of us can be treated unfairly and even hated by those around them. It was also something new for a child as I, and I’m sure many others, were use to seeing heroes celebrated so to see some heroes treated unjustly and unfairly was a revelation. 

The show also did an excellent job adapting classic stories from the comics such as “Dark Phoenix” and “Days of Future Past”, finding a way to make them work for the show while also staying true to the original stories. One must also mention how awesome the theme song was for this show. I can still hum it to this day.

2. Marvel’s Daredevil/h2>
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When Marvel announced the deal with Netflix to make TV shows for the service it was also announced that Daredevil would be the first one. While some were worried about this prospect because of the Daredevil movie, I for one looked forward to the show putting my faith in Marvel and the MCU and did it deliver. Leagues about the movie this is the Daredevil story fans have been waiting to see. 

Showing how Matt struggles with the physical strain of his double life and the morality of what he is doing. There is also Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as Kingpin that is so good he steals the show creating a vulnerable and relatable villain despite the horrible things he does. The second season of the show also gave us the best version of the Punisher yet and continue to  show why Daredevil is the best live action comic book show ever.

1. Batman: The Animated Series

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The best version of Batman outside the comics, this was the perfect show. From design, writing, acting, and animation perspectives everyone was at the top of their game and it shows in the final product. More sophisticated than most cartoons were at the time it was able to speak to children and adults and show a very noir version of Batman. 

Of course one can not also overlook the effect the show has had on the DC universe as a whole from the introduction of Harley Quinn to the new origin for Mister Freeze it was the rear show that had impact outside of it immediate series. Incredible storytelling, a lasting legacy, and the best versions of some iconic character come together to make this my favourite comic book TV show.

So what do you think of my list?  Do you agree or do you have other opinions on what are the greatest comic book TV shows of all time? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

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Kevin Harkins

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