Four Comics for People Missing Marvel’s Netflix Shows
Dave Richards suggests comic books for fans of Marvel’s Netflix Shows, some of which are being pulled from Netflix or canceled.
Marvel Comics prides itself as being “the world outside your window,” which means it’s a place where the grittiness of the real world collides with the fantastic elements, like superpowers. It’s especially interesting at the street level where super-powered heroes deal with hardcore and career criminals. That’s something long-time fans of Marvel Comics already knew, and something that television viewers started to discover in 2015 with the premiere of Daredevil, the first Marvel inspired Netflix show.
Over the course of now three seasons, viewers of Daredevil watched the titular costumed vigilante balance a career as a lawyer while using his super senses and martial art skills to battle both street and organized crime. Other Marvel Netflix shows gave fans different cocktails of fantastic crime fiction like Jessica Jones, which combined the P.I. archetype with superpowers; Luke Cage showed viewers what kind of trouble a bulletproof blaxploitation style hero could get into while cleaning up the streets of Harlem; and The Punisher took a look at the classic archetype of the highly trained vigilante soldier. Some elements of those shows worked better than others, and some Marvel Netflix shows didn’t work at all (I’m looking at you Iron Fist and The Defenders. You know what you did!), but there’s no denying that these shows created some real interest in their title characters.
Sadly though, the Marvel Netflix shows appear to be an endangered species. The first casualty was Iron Fist, which was canceled after an improved (but still flawed) second season. Luke Cage was next to get the axe, and then to the surprise of many, Daredevil was canceled by Netflix after an amazing third season. The second season of The Punisher is set to bow on January 18th, but Netflix is hardly promoting it at all. After The Punisher airs, the only upcoming Marvel Netflix series will be the premiere of the third season of Jessica Jones.
It’s believed that Disney’s (Marvel’s parent company) decision to launch their own streaming service is the reason behind Netflix purging it’s original Marvel inspired shows. There hasn’t been any news about the Marvel Netflix shows relocating to the Disney streaming service though. So soon fans of these characters won’t have a place to see any new adventures.
I have some good news though! The stars of Marvel’s Netflix shows have decades worth of comic adventures! And they’re all out there waiting for you to discover. We’re here to help by giving you some fun places to start.
Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection-Book 1; published by Marvel
A variety of creative teams have had stellar runs on Daredevil, but this book is the kick off to one of my favorite runs ever. You’ll get plenty of court room action as well as lots of stories featuring the comic counterparts of many prominent Daredevil TV characters like Wilson Fisk. You’ll also get the added bonus of seeing Matt Murdock react to his secret identity being outed to the public and plenty of familiar characters.
Jessica Jones: Blind Spot by Kelly Thompson; art by Mattia de Iulis; published by Marvel
Jessica Jones was introduced in 2001 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos, and since then the world-weary superpowered private eye’s adventures were written exclusively by her creator. That changed last year when Bendis left Marvel for DC. Before he left though he chose writer Kelly Thompson as his handpicked successor for writing Jessica’s adventures. Jessica couldn’t be in better hands either! Thompson loves both the character and the P.I. genre, and it shows! Plus her collaborator, Mattia de Iulis, brings her story to life in a fantastic way.
Blindspot, Thompson and de Iulis’ first Jessica Jones story, is available in collected edition now and you only need minimal background information to jump right in: the comic book version of Jess is a little older and managed to find a bit of happiness by marrying Luke Cage, and she started a family with him. The two have an adorable baby daughter named Danielle. She’s still the same snarky P.I. fans know and love though, and having a family means her cases often become more personal and the stakes are often higher.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist
Power Man & Iron Fist Volume 1: The Boys Are Back In Town by David Walker; art by Sanford Greene; published by Marvel
The only time Netflix’s version of Danny Rand ever clicked with me was the one episode of Luke Cage Season Two where he and Luke teamed up. That episode and Cage and Rand’s comic history together as friends had fans hoping for a Power Man (the comic book incarnation of Cage’s old identity) and Iron Fist TV show. I would have liked to have seen it. It could have been a lot of fun.
If you want to see how enjoyable it could have been there are a lot of Power Man & Iron Fist comics out there. A good place to start would be the most recent and sadly short-lived series by the creative dream team of David Walker and Sanford Greene. In The Boys Are Back In Town, the kickoff story to that series, Cage and Rand decide to work together for the first time in a long time. They then become embroiled in a fantastic and fun action-comedy that involves colorful organized crime figures (many of who will be familiar to fans of the Luke Cage Netflix series) and a blaxploitation style supernatural artifact known as the Supersoul Stone.
Punisher MAX Volume 1: In the Beginning written by Garth Ennis; art by Lewis Larosa; published by Marvel
The first season of Netflix’s Punisher show focused on trauma and how much of an unrelenting bad-ass Frank Castle is. So fans of the show will certainly want to take a look at the comic adventures of the Punisher that were written by Garth Ennis. Ennis’ early work on the character was pretty much a dark comedy. It was a lot of fun, but I’m guessing show fans will prefer the work he did that was a little more serious and hard-edged.
The best place to start for that is the graphic novel Punisher MAX Volume 1: In the Beginning. In that book, Ennis and his fantastic collaborator Lewis Larosa kick off a series that follows the exploits of an older Castle whose been waging a one-man war against crime since he returned home from Vietnam. The book was published by Marvel Comics’ MAX imprint, which is for mature readers. So the stories are brutal, violent, and incredibly powerful. The series exists in its own universe which means the Punisher doesn’t interact with any other Marvel heroes, but fans of the Netflix show will recognize some familiar faces like this world’s version of Linus Lieberman (AKA Microchip).