It’s no secret that comic books are all the rage in both television and cinema, with “Guardians of the Galaxy” just the latest example of the seemingly unlimited appetite for characters leaping off the page and onto the screen. Marvel and DC are in a race to get the most content and the most eyeballs right now, and while there are plenty of popular choices already rumored, many of those characters that are beloved and will cost a pretty penny to produce. But for those looking to cash in on the comic frenzy on the cheap using characters even less known than Groot was a few months ago, gaze upon The New Universe.
The New Universe was a Marvel imprint that launched in 1986 to celebrate the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The Boob Tube Dude vividly remembers being told that I had the chance to collect the equivalent of “Fantastic Four #1” when each of the eight original launch titles hit newsstands. This eleven-year old believed a whole lot of things, and thus gobbled up each issue of these comics, which took place in a completely separate, nominally more realistic, world than the rest of Marvel’s characters. The New Universe was “our” universe, right up until The White Event, a blinding flash of light that bathed the Earth on the day the imprint was launched and started to mutate some people both physically and psychically.
It was ultimately a huge disaster, critically panned and all but ignored by consumers. Most titles underwent huge changes behind the scenes, and concepts laid out in issue one were often jettisoned by issue eight. I still have a fondness for the New Universe titles, however. Sure, most of them were terrible. But as someone who was collecting “X-Men” comics already in the 200’s, it was pretty amazing to hold the very first issue of a comic book in my hands. There was something about the possibility therein that imprinted itself upon me, and while most of them faded into obscurity, I still remember the endeavor quite distinctly.
In fact, while in New York recently, I dropped a New Universe reference on someone I fully expected to know what I was talking about. To my surprise, he didn’t have a clue. And if he didn’t, perhaps I’m more alone than I thought. That’s all the more reason to bring people up to date by launching these titles as television series. Some are decent concepts that might work in the right hands. Some are so terrible that it might be almost awesome to see in three dimensions. In all cases, I’ll lay out the title of the comic, the premise, the network that should air it, and what talent I’d like to see in it.
The title: DP 7
The premise: A group of newly gifted humans band together and fight an evil clinic that wants to exploit them and others.
The network: SyFy, since this has an “Alphas”-like potential with less Professor X and more Hugo Strange.
The Talent: You’re probably going to get no big names on this, since the group is made up like characters such as “Friction,” a dancer whose talent is to make anyone she touches friction-free.
The title: Justice
The premise: Oh boy. What started out as a strip about an alien from a medieval world transported to our planet and starts going all “Judge Dredd” on folks got retconned into a DEA agent who was in a coma struggling to deal with the effects of The White Event.
The network: TNT, who isn’t afraid to go genre (“Falling Skies”)
The talent: Kyle Killen, who can take his premise for “Awake” and feature two realities featuring the same central actor. Have Neal McDonough play both. Come on: look at him!
The title: Kickers, Inc.
The premise: A group of ex-football players become heroes-for-hire. So, “The A-Team,” but with a lot more linebackers. I told you: The New Universe was awesome.
The network: NFL Network
The talent: Like you wouldn’t watch the train wreck that would be Deion Sanders, Brian Bosworth, and Kurt Warner fighting crime. I’d want that randomly interspersed with my NFL RedZone coverage. Every time RedZone goes Quad Box, we get to see Warren Sapp karate chop a thug in one of the four screens.
The title: Mark Hazzard: Merc.
The premise: Basically “The Punisher.” I mean.
The network: The History Channel, who could use Hazzard’s time in Vietnam to great use.
The talent: Which of “The Expendables” is free to film this? All of them? Cool. One of them, then.
The title: Nightmask
The premise: A counselor develops the ability to enter people’s dreams and fix their trauma via his alter ego. No, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing.
The network: The Lifetime Network, which could do a series of TV movies with titles like “What Does Mary Dream About?” and “Every Father’s Worst Wet Dream”.
The talent: There’s no reason to keep the title character male, so let’s have Jennie Garth go wild. She’d look great in this outfit.
The title: Psi-Force
The premise: Kinda like “DP 7,” although this group can create the psychic equivalent of Voltron called “The Psi-Hawk”. Also, the leader of this group all but mentally abuses them into sticking together as a group, which is FANTASTIC, and by FANTASTIC I mean TOTES CREEPY.
The network: Cartoon Network
The talent: Remove the mental fuckery, make this animated, and let Pendleton Ward (“Adventure Time”) take this young group of psionically gifted teens into the wide world of weird. Mostly I want to see “The Psi-Hawk” realized in all its glory, and moving away from any form of realism seems like the best route.
The title: Spitfire and the Troubleshooters
The premise: Think “Iron Man,” but with a less magical suit, and a female professor inside it, and a ragtag group of students that help her use that heap of metal to fight evil.
The network: CBS
The talent: Come on: the network might have Katharine McPhee in a mech suit by episode six of “Scorpion” anyways. This is a no brainer.
The title: Star Brand
The premise: Not unlike “Green Lantern,” although with a tattoo instead of a ring giving Kenneth Connell essentially unlimited power. There’s a little bit of “The Greatest American Hero” at play as well, as Connell has no idea what do with his power or how to wield it. Eventually, Marvel used the brand to try and explain then reboot all of New Universe. That effort failed as spectacularly as almost everything else related to the New Universe.
The network: Later issues revealed that the Old Man that gave Connell the tattoo is also Connell’s son, The Star Baby, who emerged from the womb fully formed and ultimately imprisoned Connell to avoid a time paradox, and…oh who cares. FX, this is all yours. Have fun.
The talent: I don’t know about you, but I want to see Walton Goggins play his own Star Baby.