DC’s Vertigo Comics imprint began when a handful of titles like Swamp Thing Saga and hellblazer were a little too adult-oriented to fit nicely into the larger world of superheroes. Supervised by Karine Bergerthe line quickly became something of a proving ground for new writers working on experimental material, helping to launch the careers of writers like Grant Morrison and Pierre Milligan while highlighting unique works by long-time industry professionals like Annie Nocenti.
To say that Vertigo was hugely influential both in the comics industry and outside of it is to say the water is wet, with headliners like Preacher, sweet tooth, and Y: The Last Man see recent TV adaptations and more on the way. With by Neil Gaiman massively successful Sand seller finally premiering as Netflix after years of starts and stops, there are still a number of excellent Vertigo stories that would make A+ TV shows.
Michael Smith tries to live a boring life. He has things mapped out with a job and a relationship that he’s not particularly passionate about, but they provide him with stability. Naturally, this all gets thrown into disarray when he encounters a villain who sucks people’s brains out and is saved by the hero Enigma, an obscure favorite from his childhood. His quest is to find the creator of the comic, a man named Titus Bird, and uncover the truth about his own past.
Enigma is a bit of a hidden gem, even among classic Vertigo fans, but it features one of DC’s first queer story arcs with Michael finding out he’s gay amid his Enigma hunt and mentorship with Titus, also gay. Bringing this surreal, offbeat coming-out story to life through a TV show would give it a chance to find a wider audience than the mainstream comics offered to gay characters of the early ’90s. Written by Pierre Milligan with the art of Duncan Fegredo and Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh and lettering by John CostanzaDC recently re-released this series for anyone wanting to experience the story first-hand.
‘Shade the Changing Man’ (1993)
Created in the late 70s by Spider Man co-creator Steve Ditko, Shade never really took off (apart from a stint on The Suicide Squad) until the character was revamped, officially becoming a Vertigo title with its thirty-third issue and often touted as one of the first line success. Transforming Shade into a semi-immortal resurrection-based space entity working to stabilize Earth, the series ran for seventy issues.
As Enigmathis series was also written by Peter Milligan, with a number of artists including early career Chris Bachalo.Shadow has been collected in various editions and had a semi-recent reboot with the highly entertaining Shade the changing girl.
‘Sandman Mystery Theatre’ (1993)
The sand man was never afraid to pull references from classic DC Comics, and there was no shortage of past superheroes who took on the name “The Sandman” before the series arrived. Indeed, one of the first members of the publisher’s JSA was called The Sandman and wore a fedora and a gas mask to protect himself from his own sleeping gas during his crime-fighting exploits.
Combine classic film noir elements with the pulp heroes who inspired characters like Batman, Sandman Mystery Theater remains a hidden gem that fleshed out Wesley Dodds’ character and revived his girlfriend Dian as a leading woman in her own right. Using a classic format to tackle several progressive issues through a modern lens, this series even featured a crossover with none other than Dream of the Endless (aka Netflix’s The sand man).
‘Kid Eternity’ (1993)
Created by the underrated legend Otto Binder and artist Sheldon Moldoff in the early 1940s, Kid Eternity was acquired by DC and joined the Shazam family in the 1980s. Rebooted in the 1990s by Grant Morrison through a three-issue run, the character underwent significant changes in its continuity to have them changed again by the Vertigo-era creative team. Annie Nocenti and Sean Phillips.
Nocenti and Phillips’ vision for the character involved embracing all the things that made him a typical teenage boy who had just died and come back while putting him in the position to play a key role in the next phase of evolution. of humanity. The wild art of Phillips and Nocenti’s creative progressiveness made for a compelling take on the teenage superhero trope that would benefit from a modernized reboot in any medium.
“Clean Room” (2015)
Journalist Chloe Pierce loses her fiancé forever when he joins a creepy cult and dies by suicide soon after. She immediately embarks on an obsessive hunt to find cult leader Astrid and hold her accountable for the pain she has caused him. However, once she finds Astrid, she realizes that the woman is susceptible to the ability to see the invisible demons that haunt humanity and builds an army to fight back.
Perhaps best known for her work on Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Birds of preywriter Gail Simonetook a classic horror setup and flipped it to create clean room with the artist Jon Davis Hunt. Combining ancient folklore, genre tropes, sci-fi settings, and Simone’s talent for dialogue-perfect, clean room is an unforgettable story that could only get better if given several seasons of space to explore its captivating premise.
‘Grip: The Strange World of Men’ (2002)
Mike Chang wakes up with no memory, his face smeared with lipstick. Attempting to figure out how he got into such a predicament, he soon uncovers a convoluted sci-fi story involving cults, shady government organizations, crime fighters, and girl gangs. There’s no way to quickly sum up the twists and turns of this story, so the best thing to do is check out the comic for yourself.
Creator Gilbert Hernández is best known for being part of the team that brought the groundbreaking Love and Rockets in the world, but he’s done a lot of absolutely crazy comics beyond this series. Perhaps none are as strange as To inputwhich could easily top mind-blowing series like black mirror and Twin Peaks: The Return in the “simply weird” department. As with all of Hernandez’s work, what makes everything click is the compelling character work, which makes him an excellent candidate for a television series.
Finals is an undeniable success in the Vertigo canon, but it’s pretty hard to see why given the massive appeal of a college overrun with genre tropes that require students to put their lives on the line to succeed. Centered around the slacker Wally, the series features a number of top notch characters who would be great subjects for further development in a TV series. This includes, but is not limited to, his girlfriend, a comparative religions major who is starting her own cult as part of her dissertation.
Created by writer Will Pfeifer and the big one Jill Thompson, Finals only ran four issues and saw no sequels, making it ripe for re-examination. A corrupt school board and a number of misguided, morally bankrupt fellow students alongside the comically useless Wally make for a dark comedy for the ages that would only be more relevant in 2022.
‘Hex Wives’ (2018)
Isadora is a suburban housewife who has no knowledge of her life as a former witch, her clan, her lost soulmate, or the group of evil men known as the Architects Who Wage War. against her and her people for centuries. As the facade begins to fade and she reunites with her clan, Isadora swears to arrest those who would subjugate them.
Hex Wives is one of Vertigo’s last entries before it turned things around and became the Black Label imprint that is still running. Creators Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo made a compelling series that pulled references from classic TV shows like Delighted to modern feminist horror stories like The Vitch. Its reincarnation cast would make for a top-notch horror series in which traveling through the ages could build a deeper narrative than this six-issue series had space for.
“Children of Twilight” (2015)
The peace of a remote fishing village in Latin America is disrupted when a glowing orb explodes and blinds many while simultaneously granting them psychic powers. The CIA comes to investigate as a scientist struggling to uncover the truth falls in love with the mysterious and dangerous stranger, Ela.
Written by Gilbert Hernandez and featuring the stellar art of the late Darwyn Cooke, children of twilight draws Hernandez’s talent for surreal tragedy and offbeat characters with unbeatable styling. Creating the perfect blend of horror, romance, and sci-fi intrigue, this series provides the perfect setup for a spooky limited series.
“The Unknown Soldier” (2008)
Another rebooted classic DC character, The unknown Soldier centers on the pacifist Doctor Moses, who is caught in the middle of a war in which child soldiers terrorize civilians and where organized violence reigns. Merging with an unexplained voice in his head, he struggles to choose between acting in a violent world and following his own more peaceful path.
Full of moral ambiguity and questions about who can be “good” in the face of relentless evil, The unknown Soldier was a complex character study that could easily be expanded. Introducing one of DC’s great, mostly forgotten characters in Moses, the series has found its ethical center while operating in an unethical world that creates monsters out of innocents, making it just as fertile ground for storytelling today as it was fourteen years ago.
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