Best of Comic TV 2021: The Characters!

Yes I’m going to keep the full names of these categories. My blog my rules, you say Wentworth and Tricia’s names with respect.

The Wentworth Miller Award for Best Guest Star

Some characters don’t need to be part of the whole show to have an impact. For instance, a great villain-of-the-week can make the difference between a dull filler episode and a fantastic one-off. Much like Wentworth Miller as The Flash’s Captain Cold.

Who managed that this year?

(Yes I know Don Cheadle got an Emmy nomination for his few minutes of screen time in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but you know what Emmys, that was a very basic choice and some of us did the leg work.)

Honourable Mention: Yeah I loved Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki as much as anyone, but like I said, these things are competitive this year.

Bronze: Jeremiah Berkett as Mr. Said-Out-Bitch, Lucifer

A beloved running gag pays off.
Images: Netflix

Ever since season two, each premiere of Lucifer has opened with our titular devil running into petty criminal Lee Garner, who due to a dad-joke in season three was best known as “Mr. Said-Out-Bitch.” The first couple encounters did not go in Mr. S-O-B’s favour, and neither did this one… see, at the top of this season, Lucifer’s back in Hell, and that’s where he comes across Lee. Lee’d been doing well for himself since season four, right up until he wasn’t.

Which means this is his biggest appearance yet, as a homesick Lucifer decides to adjust Lee’s Hell-loop in order to try to solve his murder… which Lucifer’s star-crossed love/ex-partner Chloe is trying to do up on the surface. Lee gives Lucifer a chance to work through where he is and what he’s lost, setting up his inevitable return to LA, while also building a real person out of what had been a simple running gag.

But maybe don’t bet that was the last we see of ol’ Said-Out-Bitch.

Silver: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The very definition of scene-stealing
Image: Marvel Studios

Sure she’s credited as a regular but so is Don Cheadle despite having just a few minutes of screen time over the whole series, just because The Falcon and the Winter Soldier doesn’t understand what “guest stars” are doesn’t mean we don’t.

Anyway, has anyone ever strutted into a franchise and utterly dominated a scene the way Julia Louis-Dreyfuss did when we first meet Val? I don’t know what she’s up to or if she can be trusted, but my gut says “Who cares, I’m dying to see it play out.” Val is a huge add to the MCU, and I can’t wait to see where she goes next, and she managed to invest me that hard with two short scenes. That’s got to be the very definition of a great guest star.

But one person also utterly nailed their debut, and made me even more intrigued about what they’ll do next.

Gold: Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains, Loki

When your fan theory is right but better than you expected
Image: Marvel Studios

Loki and his alternate self’s Sylvie’s quest to find the true head of the Time Variance Authority brings them to one man, known by the TVA’s AI Miss Minutes as He Who Remains, played by Jonathan Majors, known to be playing a kind of significant character from the comics in… if you’re not as remorselessly online as me, let’s just say he’s probably gonna be important later, keep an eye on the end-credits scenes.

The important thing is, in lesser hands, ending Loki’s first season with like 20 minutes of exposition on the true reason for the TVA and the dangers of shutting it down might have sunk the show. But Majors makes every second of He Who Remains’ history lesson riveting, and absolutely sells the menace that might shape the next five to ten years of MCU even more than Val sells her little black-ops-Avengers project. Majors’ performance is a tour-de-force, and also a down-payment on performances to come.

Because nothing was as chilling, nor as filled with “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative” promise as He Who Remains saying “If you think I’m evil, well, just wait till you meet my Variants.”

Yes, okay, I see it too, two out of three of my Best Guest Stars are characters Marvel is introducing to be Big Things in the post-Thanos MCU. But isn’t that good? Wouldn’t we prefer Nick Fury But Bad and New Thanos have great debuts that make us excited to see them again?

Bonus: Best Guest Voice-Overs!

Sometimes a fun guest star turns up in just a voice-over role. And while it takes less work and it’s less splashy, I just want to shout out these two unexpected but brilliant cameo appearances limited to voice-work.

(Look I can’t open it up to all voice-overs, then it becomes one of the tougher calls given Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, and Tara Strong are all in the mix.)

Let’s start with the one we’d never have known to expect.

Bonus Award #1: Patton Oswalt as The Deep’s Gills

The Deep, trying to turn his life around and get back to the A-list, has taken a psychedelic as part of a cleansing ritual, leading to an unexpected and unexpectable heart-to-heart… between himself and his secret shame, his gills. Deep’s gills think he needs to confront his issues with women, and that he deserves to be loved. Leading to what should have been an honourable mention for Best Musical Number, my bad.

Bonus Award #2: Nathan Fillion as the Octopus, Resident Alien

Millenia ago, our protagonist Harry’s species seeded the Earth, leading to the rise of one of the world’s cleverest species… the octopus. Harry encounters one such octopus in a sushi restaurant, and it makes contact through the voice of Alan Tudyk’s old buddy/castmate Nathan Fillion. But it soon learns this is not the best time for Harry to be helpful.

The Tricia Helfer Award for Rookie of the Year

Ensembles grow, characters leave and get replaced, and sometimes the new kid kicks the show up to a whole new level, like Tricia Helfer did as the Goddess Charlotte on Lucifer. Who pulled that off this year?

Honourable Mentions: Obviously it feels like this category should be Javica Leslie’s to lose, being the new Batwoman. And like I explained, her taking over as lead did open whole new doors of extremely timely social commentary… but it also dragged the show back to square one and they had to spend a lot of time justifying her taking over. So… net positive for the show, sure, but not quite on the podium. Elsewhere, I’m not sure bringing Agent Carter’s Daniel Sousa into Agents of SHIELD was a big add to the show, but it was fun and I’m glad they did it.

Bronze: Ritu Arya as Lila Pitts, The Umbrella Academy

Oh just so many layers here.
Image: Netflix

Lila Pitts is so many things in Umbrella’s Academy’s second season. Lover to Diego, rival to Number Five, right hand to the season’s villain The Handler, possible threat to the entire Umbrella Academy… and the thing I’ve been wanting to see since the beginning. See, the Academy’s shared origin is that they were all born on the same day, same minute, to women who moments earlier hadn’t even been pregnant. But these seven were not the only kids born that way, just the only kids Reginald Hargreeves could acquire. I admit to having been extremely curious what exactly happened with the other 36. Now we know what happened to one… and boy golly there’s some twists.

And as a bonus, Ritu Arya is really fun in the role. Even when she’s at her most difficult to root for, she’s still kinda fun to watch in action. Looking forward to what she gets up to next season, now that some truths have come to light.

Silver: Dennis Haysbert as God, Lucifer

[Sips from cup of racists’ tears] Ahhhh. Salty.
Image: Netflix

Lucifer has brought us demons, angels famous and otherwise, Cain, Eve, a rejection of monotheism in the Goddess Charlotte… and for what they thought would be their final season, they decided it was time for the Big Guy himself to make an appearance. After all, there’s only so far you can explore Lucifer’s daddy issues when said daddy is an unseen, unknowable entity. And what an appearance it was!

Haysbert sold God’s reliance on mysterious ways, always slightly ineffable, but also sold him as a father trying his best with complicated children. His smile spoke of love, the occasional edge to his voice speaks of authority not to be questioned, his attempts to bond with Lucifer on Earth are sweet and funny, and his obvious concern for Ella’s internal struggles show that whatever Lucifer’s been telling us for five seasons, he does care. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Haysbert’s deep, bass voice is, put simply, very God-like.

Haysbert was basically perfect in the role, and his presence allowed for some of the season’s most powerful emotional beats.

Gold: Aya Cash as Stormfront, The Boys

When we first met Stormfront, she seemed to just be a brash, confident social media influencer supe, but she gradually turned out to be something much, much darker. Stormfront, a literal Nazi supersoldier who hasn’t aged since she was given powers in the 1940s, acts as a cautionary tale of how white supremacy is having a resurgence: white supremacists are very social media savvy, knowing how to work the internet to recruit and radicalize, how to prey on fears to grow their ranks. How to make people distrust and hate the “right” sort of people. Stormfront works perfectly as a personification of the threat of modern white supremacy, and Aya Cash plays her perfectly, ensuring we know she’s the bad guy.

Next Page: The tough guys, like it really rough guys, just can’t enough guys

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