Best of Comic TV 2021: The Rankings!

Alright. Here we go. The full rankings. Maybe you have some theories about what’s near the top, based on who kept getting mentioned, and who might be closer to the bottom, based on who hasn’t been mentioned at all. Will this be the first year a freshman series doesn’t win, or will the Disney+ era of Marvel keep the tradition going? Let’s find out together! Well, not together, I already know… anyway.

But first…

In Memorium

Farewell to some shows that have left us this season, for good or ill…

Agents of SHIELD. First in and very nearly last out of the pre-Disney+ Marvel TV era. It took work to make this show as reliably charming as it was for so long. They had a show with no recognizable characters except Phil Coulson, that claimed to be in the MCU but could almost never get permission to use major Marvel characters, that had to wait 16 episodes to be allowed to have a plot, that got no love or recognition from any other live-action Marvel property, even f**king Inhumans… and it was perhaps the most consistently entertaining and most loved pre-Feige Marvel TV show. Maybe season five was the stronger “final season,” but this adorable band of scrappy misfits/leading experts in their fields kept me invested to the end, even though the last handful of episodes made that super tough. I’m gonna miss the core cast for a while, because whatever the die-hard “it’s all connected” fans think, we won’t be seeing them again. (Seriously, stop speculating that such-and-such SHIELD character is turning up on so-and-so Marvel project, it likely ain’t happening.)

Black Lightning: Honestly this one was a surprise. It’s the first CW superhero show to end after less than six years. Maybe shooting in Georgia made it harder, I don’t know, I just know that it felt like the Pierce family, gadgeteer/tailor/ex-black ops agent Gambi, and albino crime lord Tobias Whale still had some mileage in them.

Jupiter’s Legacy: Are we surprised this one’s cancelled? It had no buzz. Almost nobody was talking about it, and the ones who were weren’t being complimentary.

Stumptown: Damn it, I thought I was getting more of this. Damn COVID for derailing the entire entertainment industry and damn you ABC for giving me hope and taking it away. We all deserved much more of Dex, Grey, Tookie, and the gang. I’m confident I’ll see Cobie Smulders and Jake Johnson in something before long, but less confident it’ll be this good.

WandaVision: Like Watchmen before it, they had one story to tell, told it very well, and left it there. Honestly I don’t know how you even could do that show a second time.

That melancholy business complete, time for the rankings, and capsule reviews that vary wildly in length based on whether I’ve discussed this show already. Let’s begin!

(Falcon and the Winter Soldier isn’t cancelled, Falcon and the Winter Soldier got called up to the majors, instead of a second season they get to be Captain America 4 in Phase Five.)

Next Page: The participation trophies

Best of Comic TV 2021: The Characters!

This part gets tougher every year. More prestige shows drawing top talents, more top talents being discovered on smaller shows… on my spreadsheet (of course I have a spreadsheet, we went over this at the end of Art Vs Commerce, I am absolutely that geek), I used to flag people as green (top performances), yellow (decent but less exceptional), or red (uninspiring), but it’s been ages since I had fewer than six people flagged as green in the most categories. I basically gave up on any other colour, each year has at least one category that’s a game of inches between five to eight amazing performances.

So here’s the results of some tough, sometimes nigh impossible choices.

(Yes, I still have these categories split by gender. When comic book TV has enby, genderqueer, or genderfluid characters other than the sentient teleporting street, I’ll add a category for them as well. For some reason I love adding categories.)

The Support Staff
Guests and Newbies
Teams and Schemes
Our Heroes

Next Page: The Scene Stealers

Best of Comic TV 2021: Let’s Begin!

And here we go again. The best characters, best scenes, it’s the annual not-quite-comprehensive ranking of Comic Book TV. A little late this year because COVID delayed everything, so a) I tried to give at least some of the network shows a chance to wrap up their seasons, and b) six months watching mostly just vintage Oscar movies and their box office counterparts meant I kind of forgot how to watch serialized TV and fell behind on some stuff. But it’s okay, we’re here now, and ready to rock!

For six years running, the top show has been a freshman series. Will the MCU proper’s official entry into television keep that going? Let’s find out!

But first, a few shows not included, other than any show not ending its season before fall (sorry, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, I stalled as long as I could, see you next year)…

  • Helstrom: Come on, none of us actually cares about Helstrom, it only made it onto screens because they’d signed too many contracts for Kevin Feige to shut it down when he pulled the plug on the rest of pre-Disney+ Marvel TV. It is to Jeph Loeb-era Marvel TV what New Mutants was to the Fox X-Men franchise: an embarrassing epilogue that the new management got stuck with.
  • Pennyworth: When I finally found a way to watch the second season of Young Hot Alfred and Friends, I made it ten minutes before the story of right-wing fascists the Raven Society gradually conquering England and being cheered for making the Empire great again became a bit much. Read the goddamn room, Pennyworth. Your first season was okay but I’m not dealing with right wing fascist dystopias right now, and I happily watched a show on this list about a world-ending plague, that’s how dark Sexy Alfred decided to get. Hard pass.
  • Riverdale: The Riverdale empire seems to have collapsed, with both Sabrina and Katy Keene over, but I’m too far behind on the Last Riverdale Standing to meaningfully include it here.
  • The Walking Dead: How the hell is it possible that this show is still going after 11 years and Preacher ended after four. How are there two of them. No justice in this world.

And now, here are the shows we will be ranking, with links to blogs where appropriate. Some stalwarts, some new kids, some returning favourites that missed a year for various reasons.

I maintain my “No cartoons” rule, but I really must take a moment to endorse Invincible. It’s a good blend of laughs and gasps, funny and horrifying, but it mostly mixes the comedy and the darkness well. Mostly. It’s an excellent show with a great cast and great animation whose only flaws are a) the fact that nearly every villain is more invincible than the title character, if Invincible has super strength then maybe sometimes his opponents could at least look like they’ve been in a fight; b) it’s made us notice that bald billionaire Jeff Bezos sure likes to greenlight shows about how Superman is Bad, Actually. Kinda… kinda doing the Lex Luthor out loud these days, isn’t he…

Also MODOK’s pretty good, maybe give MODOK a watch.

Best Fights
Biggest Heartbreaks
Best Stories
Best Musical Numbers

(I added Best Opening Titles last year, but this year it’s nothing but title cards, save for Pennyworth, so there goes that.)

Next Page:

Image: Universal

Comic TV With Dan: Speed Round 2021!

Like everything else, Best of Comic TV 2021 has been delayed by COVID… I gave some CW shows a chance to wrap up and also forgot how to watch things other than vintage Oscar movies for a while… but now it’s coming up, and there are a few shows with just too much to unpack for a capsule review in the final rankings.

So I’m gonna quickly talk about a few. Also the Snyder Cut post has been on top long enough, wouldn’t you say?

Here’s a handy table on contents in case you want to pick one in specific to hear about.

Sweet Tooth
Superman and Lois
Black Lightning requiem
Marvel TV 2.0

But not Jupiter’s Legacy. It’s not even bad in a way that’s interesting to talk about.

Next Page: Kid Venison and the World’s End