(In ominous voice)
In this blog, dear reader, I tempt vilification by geekdom. Should I leave out a beloved favourite, I will no doubt suffer the wrath of comic book fanatics everywhere. And yet it would be remiss of me indeed not to at least attempt a short compendium of comic books which should have their own movie.
Some of the creations listed below may have already had their own movies, but these were either so bad they have been entirely forgotten, or so low budget as to demand a proper blockbuster version. You decide…
10. HEROES FOR HIRE
Created at the height of the Kung-Fu/Blaxploitation movie genre craze in the 1970s, the Heroes for Hire became major fixtures in the Marvel Universe. Comprising Iron Fist — a Westerner trained in mystical kung-fu arts by interdimensional monks — and Luke Cage aka Power Man — a street fighter given a second chance by an experiment that made him virtually indestructible, the Heroes for Hire were just that. Motivated by dollar bills rather than altruism, they usually managed to stay on the side of good. Actor Nicholas Cage was so taken with Power Man that he adopted the character’s second name as his own. Surely worth a movie?
9. POWER PACK
Invented by Marvel in the 1980s, this is the story of four ordinary children who receive super-powers from a dying alien, Power Pack faced the menace of the alien Snarks, who were hell bent on Earth’s destruction. Tasked with rescuing their inventor father from the Snark mothership, these kids behaved like real kids – squabbling, crying, and discovering their inner heroes. This one has Disney stamped all over it. A terrible TV pilot made in the 1990s is best forgotten.
An unfairly maligned character, Hourman was a Golden Age superhero who appeared in All Star comics before being revamped in DC comics by supergenius comic book creator Gardner Fox (Flash, Green Lantern etc etc). Chemist Rex Tyler discovers a miracle pill (Miraclo) that gives him superpowers… but only for one hour. The twist was that Miraclo was addictive, which gave this character a greater psychological realism than others of his era.
7. THE MAN CALLED NOVA
Richard Ryder was Marvel’s 1970s version of Peter Parker — a weedy loser who was given incredible powers and became “the human rocket” when he was zapped by a spaceship and given the powers of a Centurian Nova Prime, guardian of the planet Xandar. Ryder had a popular comic book, teaming up with other heroes such as Spider-Man, before finally relinquishing his powers. An awesome-looking new version of the superhero was launched for the Annihilation: Conquest storyline in the 2010s, proving that Nova can still attract the fans.6. SLAINE
Pat Mills’ extraordinary Celtic barbarian warrior first graced the pages of 2000AD at the turn of the 1980s. Since then his popularity has endured. A rather “earthy” hero, Slaine is accompanied on his journeys across time by the disgusting dwarf Ukko, and has faced off against both aliens and dinosaurs. But Slaine’s most unique feature is his “warping” power, in which he channels the energy of ley-lines to became a monstrous, Hulk-like behemoth!
Created by Stan Lee in the 1960s, Stephen Strange was a gifted surgeon with a drink problem. After crashing his car, he was found by the Ancient One and schooled in the mystic arts to become Earth’s sorceror supreme. A classic, old-school superhero, Dr. Strange’s adventures took him to all manner of fantastic and bizarre dimensions thanks to legendary comics artist Steve Ditko. A TV movie was made in the early 1980s with John Mills that actually wasn’t all that bad. Time for another try, methinks.
4. THE SUB-MARINER
Originally a villainous foe of The Fantastic Four, Prince Namor of Atlantis grew to become much more than that. Namor’s supreme pride and arrogance makes him the perfect anti-hero. He’s had his own comic book on and off since the 1960s. But a movie? Well, it would be better than “Aquaman”. If only they could get rid of those nutty wings…
3. THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES
Before Watchmen, Alan Moore created a host of genius characters, many for British comic 2000AD. Halo Jones is an Everyman, or rather, an “Everygirl”. Born into an overpopulated Earth in the far future, she seeks escape and adventure beyond the stars, only to find abject misery, cruelty, and exploitation at every turn as both a scantily-dressed hostess and a battle-hardened warrior in a horrific future war. Gloriously pessimistic.
2. WONDER WOMAN
The archetypal female superhero — so why has she never had her own movie? Played by Linda Carter on TV in the 1970s in a series that was far too campy for its own good,and invented by psychologist William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman exemplified the fighting spirit of America in WWII. This is a superhero with a history as long as Batman and Superman. An attempt was made to revitalize the character recently but proved a misfire. But who could step into Wonder Woman’s boots and lasso?
1. SWAMP THING
When Alan Moore was lured to America by DC comics in the 1980s, he reimagined this floundering comic book property. From his humdrum origins as yet another product of a scientific experiment gone wrong, Swamp Thing was transformed into one of the finest comic books ever written. Moore’s magnificent “American Gothic” cycle sees Swamp Thing encounter all manner of staple horror monsters, all wonderfully reinvented to reflect modern America…. menstrual werewolves, water-dwelling vampires, radioactive zombies, haunted houses filled with the victims of gun crime. Swamp Thing journeys across the multiverse, from Heaven to a Hell that is the most completely imagined vision of the afterlife in the history of comics. During this we are also introduced to a British psychic called John Constantine. Swamp Thing was made into two attrociously bad movies in the 1980s as well as a TV series. None of them have (thankfully) anything to do with Moore’s work. This is a comic book that is ripe for the big screen (pun intended). Forget the other big green guy. Swamp Thing is where it’s at!