Best Comic TV 2019: Characters!

Best Ensemble!

New category! Because for some reason I keep coming up with them because I don’t know, maybe I hate myself, maybe I think I deserve to die, I don’t know! Also every other page has two categories, so what the hell.

Anyway, some shows have such strong ensembles that picking out one or even two people is super hard. Some shows have such perfect casts through and through that they deserve a quick shout-out, and so here they come.

(Honourable mention: this category would exist to celebrate the Legends of Tomorrow if they hadn’t spent so damn much time on their one weak link. And there were shows without a weak link, sooooo…..)

Bronze: The Tick

I’m gonna miss these goobs.
Image: Amazon

Highlight reel: Peter Serafinowicz continued to kill it as the title character, even if his importance diminished; Griffin Newman was great as Arthur, who finds himself on the brink of achieving his lifelong dream (but at what cost?); Valorie Curry stepped up as Dot began her own hero’s journey; Yara Martinez was super fun as Miss Lint, juggling hero and villain life; Scott Speiser’s Punisher parody Overkill was kinda better than the actual Punisher; Brendan Hines was hilarious spoofing some classic Richard Donner Superman moments, as Superian had an existential crisis after losing the love of the people; plus Alan Tudyk as the voice of Danger Boat, John Hodgeman as Doctor Agent Hobbes (whose title only gets wonderfully sillier towards the end), previous Tick show vet Liz Vassey as the voice of Lobstercules… look, watch the show if you want to know what that means.

Great bunch, just nailing it.

Silver: The Umbrella Academy

I can’t wait for the return of these goobs.
Image: Netflix

Highlight reel: Misfits’ Robert Sheehan continues his streak of making me like characters I instantly hate; Aidan Gallagher was so good as Number Five that I’d occasionally forget he was an actual teenager and not a digitally de-aged Jason Schwartzman; Cameron Britton made me actually like time-assassin Hazel; do I have to say Ellen Page was great as Vanya? That seems like a given; Diego was a jerk, but David CastaƱeda made him a fun jerk; despite their characters’ screw-ups, Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman were good enough I found myself rooting for their forbidden love (is there a good portmanteau for “they aren’t blood-related so it’s not technically incest but they were raised as siblings so it’s still kinda squicky?” Adopcest? Foster-cest?); and let’s not forget Canada’s Colm Feore as Worst Father Ever Desmond Hargreeves.

Wonderful ensemble.

Gold: Doom Patrol

The very best goobs.
Image: DC Universe

A lot of this cast show up in other categories. Does that not say it all? Every member of this cast, from the leads to Curtis Armstrong as the voice of Ezekiel the Cockroach to Tommy Snider as Beard Hunter (not a typo) to James goddamn Bond himself Timothy Dalton as the Chief did amazing work as TV’s most delightful weirdos.

Look, I’m on new ground here with this category, so maybe this feels redundant, but all I know is that it feels wrong to rule out a show for best overall cast because the cast was so good a bunch of them picked up individual trophies (there are no trophies, unless Melissa Benoist or Katherine McNamara or Tom Ellis are interested in collecting them in which case yes there are trophies).

Also Cyborg definitely looks cheaper than the Justice League version, but also better. I was going to do a bit where that’s confusing but we know why that is… practical is better than digital.

Okay. On to the big money.

Best Villain!

The Kingpin of it All: Okay. Real talk. The one great mistake I’ve made in five years of doing this was not including Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk on the year one Best Villain podium. He definitely should have been ranked over Gotham’s Oswald Cobblepot and Agents of SHIELD’s Cal Zebo… whether he should have beaten out the Reverse-Flash remains in question… but somehow I left him out. My bad. Screwed that one up.

So is he on the podium this year? No, and I’m happy to tell you why.

As good as Vincent D’Onofrio is in the role, the way Kingpin was written on Daredevil this season was not good. The more powerful he got, the less interesting he became. So as it stands, he’s not even the best bald criminal mastermind trying to erase their crimes and retake their place at the top of high society. Even by that very specific metric, he’s only third, behind Supergirl’s Lex Luthor and Black Lighting’s Tobias Whale.

Anyway, here are the actual winners, none of them are Kingpin, FIGHT ME.

(Honourable mention: It’s very strange to me that any category should involve a close race between The Punisher and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, two shows that do not mesh well in the same sentence, but damned if Michelle Gomez and Richard Coyle ain’t trying their best over in Greendale.)

Bronze: Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, The Punisher

Poor bastard thought he was doing bad things for better people, at least, but no.
Image: Netflix

Once upon a time, the man we knew as John Pilgrim was a white pride thug, but then came a day when he found God, turned his life around, found love and family… but somehow ended up the brutal enforcer for a different, more high-society hate gang… a wealthy family out to keep their son’s homosexuality a secret so he can be President someday. Pilgrim is often stoic, frequently spooky, and every bit Frank Castle’s equal in doling out violence, meaning their final duel only barely missed the Best Fight podium. Plus, in just a couple of scenes that let us into his head and his past, they managed to make him more sympathetic than the other main villain, Billy Russo, who seemed to have half of every other episode devoted to “But is Billy worse than Frank?” Yes he was.

At the start of the season, sure I disliked Pilgrim, but by the end, I authentically didn’t want him to die, something I’ve rarely thought about any Marvel Netflix villain, let alone a Punisher villain. By contrast, I was downright giddy when Hardly Quinn got thrown out of a window the previous episode.

I’ve said it before and hopefully I won’t have to say it much more after this, but Punisher’s second and, to their surprise, final season would have been much better if they’d focused on Pilgrim instead of Billy and his godawful therapist.

Silver: Sam Witwer as Agent Liberty, Supergirl

The season’s most depressingly relevant nemesis.
Image: CW

He may not have been the brains behind it all, but Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty is the villain we spent the year with, and the one doing the real damage.

Sam Witwer would have been in the running for this based just on his first episode without his mask, “Man of Steel,” in which we see how the events of seasons one through three… and more notably his angry, bitter father who refused to adapt to the times… turned mild-mannered history professor Ben Lockwood into an anti-alien domestic terrorist, leading an army of “economically anxious” thugs against anything non-human. From there? He’s pretty riveting as he portrays Lockwood’s spiral into greater and greater darkness, his growing difficulty in keeping his public persona separate from Agent Liberty, and how personal losses drive him over the edge, consumed by rage and grief.

You’re never asked to like Ben Lockwood, but he’ll never bore you, and Sam Witwer makes him hard not to watch.

Gold: Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, Doom Patrol

If you thought “Nobody could top Wilson Fisk,” you were right. He can.
Image: DC Universe

Well, this one was just wonderful.

That Alan Tudyk is both the Big Bad and the fourth-wall-breaking narrator is already fun; that he is both at the same time makes Mr. Nobody a unique menace among all the villains this year. He exists outside of the story, he tells the story to us as it’s happening, so the question becomes: how do you fight the narrator? How do you combat someone who has access to your entire past, and influence over your present? His schemes against the nascent Doom Patrol range from hilarious (see the twist of “Therapy Patrol”) to subtle (“Flex Patrol”) to crushing (that would be “Cyborg Patrol”). And Alan Tudyk is amazing throughout, his breaks of the fourth wall always amusing, and he sells the menace. Between this, The Tick, and the sadly final season of The Santa Clarita Diet, what a great season it’s been for Alan Tudyk characters.

Next up: bringing it home with the full* rankings!

(*Full-ISH. There’s… there so much, you guys…)

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