First there was the Deadpool movie, and now we have another R-rated comic book movie with Logan. The berserker’s latest movie is already getting rave reviews. Toronto Sun’s Mark Daniell says “Hugh Jackman isn’t just giving us the definitive X-Men movie; it could just be the definitive comic book movie.” USA Today’s Brian Truitt in his review says “Easily the best Wolverine outing, Logan is The Dark Knight of the mutant-filled X-franchise, a gripping film that transcends the comic-book genre by saying something important.” So needless to say, DIS GON BE GUD.
Though we’ve had crap-tastic movies on mature comics in the past (we’re looking at you, LXG. Holy hell did that movie suck.), the massive success and positive reception of Deadpool and Logan can pave the way for more mature-themed books to be made into movies.
As we’ve discussed in the first part, here are more R-rated comics that deserve a shot at the big screen, in no particular order:
Written by Brian K. Vaughan (of Y: The Last Man fame) and with the gorgeous art of Fiona Staples, Saga is an epic sci-fi fantasy series that you simply MUST read. Vaughan says the series is heavily influenced by Star Wars and is based on concepts he thought of when he was a child and when he became a parent. Saga tells the story of Alana and Marko, two lovers from warring extra-terrestrial races, Wreath and Landfall. They flee from the war as they struggle to take care of their newborn daughter Hazel. The problem? Their races aren’t exactly cool with their union and they are hot on their trail. Can’t a couple raise a child without an alien race trying to kill them? Damn.
This book has everything. An armless bounty hunter with the lower torso of a spider? Check. A babysitter who’s actually a ghost who’s missing her lower body because she stepped on a landmine and now her intestines peek out of her shirt? Check. A giant triclops with his balls hanging out? Sadly, check. An epic, action-packed love story? Double-check.
Saga is space soap opera masterpiece. You get characters that feel very real and authentic. There are no clear-cut villains, there are no caricatures. Think of it as Star Wars meets Game of Thrones, albeit funnier and more romantic. Though Vaughan has said he wouldn’t want Saga to turn into a movie or series, let’s hope he changes his mind.
2. Doom Patrol
Doom Patrol was published in the 60s, just a few months prior to when the Uncanny X-Men made their debut. Both teams were made up of misunderstood super-powered misfits. Doom Patrol and the X-Men were both feared and viewed as outcasts. Both teams were led by a brilliant man confined to a wheelchair. As such, Doom Patrol was always compared to its Marvel counterpart. After fading into the shadows, writer and goddamned legend Grant Morrison took over writing duties for the series decades later and turned the comics and the superhero genre in general to bat-shit outlandish places it hasn’t been before.
The group was organized by a researcher to combat evil. The founding member, Robotman, is a brain possessing a mechanical body and has superhuman strength, speed, and endurance as well as having electromagnetic feet. He fights alongside Dorothy Spinner, a woman with an ape for a face and has the power to bring her imaginary friends to life. Crazy Jane suffers from severe personality disorder, with each of her 64 personalities possessing a specific superpower. Then there’s Danny the Street, a teleporting street with the personality of a transvestite. Are you still with us? Together, they fight horrifying beings that threaten our existence. It’s a book filled with genius and borderline WTF ideas. I mean, they have an enemy called the Beard Hunter who wages war against facial hair. Doom Patrol isn’t just about heroes versus villains, bad versus good, it’s about how we perceive heroes and opening them up to journeys you could never imagine them in, down a rabbit hole that keeps getting stranger, and stranger, and stranger.
Simply put, Doom Patrol is one of the weirdest and most surreal comic books you’ll ever read. If done right, Doom Patrol on film will be one of the wildest, strangest you’ll ever see. Maybe it’ll need Alejandro Jodorowsky or Terry Gilliam to unleash an acid-trip of epic superhero proportions on the big screen. Oh, and do yourself a favour and pick up a collected edition of Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol. You’ll thank yourself later.
Speaking of Grant Morrison,
3. The Invisibles
Are aliens among us? Is the world really ruled by the Illuminatti? Are lizard people really deciding how the world runs? If you’re a conspiracy nut, The Invisibles is for you.
Written by Grant Morrison, the series chronicles the battle between The Invisible College, a secret group of anarchists dedicated to fighting the Archons of the Outer Church, inter-dimensional alien gods who have already enslaved most of humanity. We don’t even know it.
The protagonists aren’t the traditional heroes you’d expect. We have a man with a penchant for ultra-violence, a transvestite who’s also a shaman, a telepath, and a young man who may be the next Buddha. Because if you’re going to go head-on against aliens that have already made mankind its bitch, it helps to have Buddha in your team.
Similar to Doom Patrol, The Invisibles bathes itself in weird. It’s filled with magic and conspiracies, with a healthy, HEALTHY dose of sex, drugs, and grotesque violence. At one point, the heroes get trapped in the banned movie Salo: or 120 Days of Sodom. Do not watch or even Google that movie if you don’t want to feel filthy. Morrison says that much of the comics’ story was told to him by aliens when he was abducted in Kathmandu because THAT MAKES TOTAL SENSE. The book reads like a bizarre psychedelic trip, and not necessarily the good kind. The Invisibles is a challenging but rewarding read. It’s the type of book that will violently dry-hump your brain and gives you a hard slap in the face and forces us to examine what is real and what is important in this crazy world of ours.
Art Spiegelman’s Maus is an award-winning masterpiece. It’s also one of the most painful, harrowing books you’ll ever read.
Maus tells the story of Spiegelman’s father Vladek, a Polish Jew who also survived in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. The book portrays the characters in the story as animals: Jews are mice, Germans as cats, British as dolphins, Americans as dogs, and non-Jewish Polish as pigs. Despite the cartoonish portrayal of its cast, the constant barrage of violence and abuse is very real. Maus pulls no punches. It will constantly rip your heart out in a story about surviving a difficult life marred by tragedy after tragedy and persecution after persecution, abuse after abuse in one of history’s darkest chapters. It all feels very real, because it is.
Maus is the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer and is simply one of THE pieces of literature you have to read in your life. Given the racially-charged environment we’re currently living in, reading Maus is relevant in these times, and maybe even turning it into film may just be what the world needs now.
Providence is written by comics legend Alan Moore. If you don’t know who he is, go jump off a cliff. Just kidding. With the man behind such awesome titles such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke and more, you know Providence is going to be awesome.
In the series, Moore creates a story revolving around the world horror legend HP Lovecraft created and is being called the “Watchmen of horror.” It follows queer Jewish man and writer Robert Black, as he navigates through New England in 1919 while trying to survive such an intolerant time rife with prejudice. He plans to write the Great American Novel, where he’s planning to use “the Outsiders” as a metaphor for social outsiders. He meets characters and creatures from the world Lovecraft created, all the while the world around him descends into horrifying territory. What lurks beneath the “real” world, and would you able to stomach the secrets that it hides? The book has layer after layer, and it would take a keen eye and open mind to digest everything. The question is, if you can handle it.
With so many references and clues to Lovecraft’s creations in the book, it is refreshing to read over and over until you have uncovered everything. It is a terrifying mindfuck, and if executed right, it may be one of the most horrifying things to hit the big screen.
Pro-tip: Pick up Moore’s Neonomicon and The Courtyard as well, to which Providence acts as a prequel and sequel to respectively.
Invincible is written by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame. If that’s any indication, get ready for a lot of blood, guts, and SWEET BABY JEEBUS moments.
Invincible follows the story of teenager Mark Grayson (also as the titular hero), son of superhero Omni-Man, as he juggles between dealing with his new-found powers, super-powered threats to our planet, and the awkward life of a teenager. How does he deal with said super-powered threats? With extreme violence.
It appears that Grayson isn’t really that much “invincible,” considering he’s always a bloody, horrible mess after each battle (there’s one instance where Invincible’s entrails are hanging out after a battle). The action scenes are sheer gratuitous ultra-violence. Guts are literally ripped off, limbs get torn, and punches literally punch a hole through bodies, and so on. Some fans have actually criticized the series for being too violent, while some argued that Invincible depicts a more realistic scenario when super-powered beings try to crack each other’s skulls. It’s not just the violence that makes the book work, but the writing is top-notch. Invincible takes popular devices in the superhero genre while also overthrowing them, to hilarious, jaw-dropping, and bloody results.
Invincible will make you laugh and puke, and a super-violent take on the superhero genre might be an interesting watch on the big screen.
7. The Authority
The Authority, like Doom Patrol, is a grown-up book about superheroes who aren’t your typical good guys. Some of them have a questionable moral compass, while some are just downright assholes. They are a team of super-powered individuals to fight the threats to our planet, by any means necessary.
Civilians are killed and entire cities are destroyed. Though The Authority aren’t exactly the picture-perfect idea of a team with an objective to save people’s lives, they have to do whatever it takes because the threats they have to deal with are exponentially worse than they are. They view their methods as necessary means of self-defense against horrifying threats to our planet.
It’s one of the more intelligent superhero books out there and it deals with a lot of existentialist and mature themes. For one, members Apollo and the Midnighter are one of the first openly gay couples in comics. Would you risk destroying a city to the ground and its inhabitants for the sake of the greater good? If you’re tired of the usual heroes versus villains stories common in comics, The Authority is a good bet. The Authority takes popular superhero tropes and gives it the middle finger.
Picture the world we live in now. Facts hardly matter. A politician’s word and propaganda is taken more seriously than actual facts. Politicians and corporations care more about themselves while they continuously screw the people they’ve promised to serve just to fuel their own selfish agendas. Worst of all? People don’t even know they’re being force-fed with enemas and they look at these people as anti-establishment saviors. That’s where Spider Jerusalem comes in.
Spider Jerusalem is the protagonist in Transmetropolitan, a grim political sci-fi satire that is funny and downright offensive. We follow the cynical gonzo journalist in his epic crusade against government corruption and injustice with the thing that’s sorely overlooked in today’s times: facts. Transmetropolitan chronicles Spider’s profane, uphill battle to stick it to the man in a world filled with rampant ignorance and consumerism, while taking the occasional drugs along the way. The book makes fun of everybody, with every issue roasting the wilfully and intentionally complacent. It shows its disappointment with how we humans have turned into.
While Spider’s profane and sardonic rants on the environment he lives in speaks volumes, ultimately he believes that the truth will come out and turn things around for the people around him. He hopes the truth will inspire people to take responsibility for their actions and to take the powers-that-be to task for how miserably they’ve treated the people they promised to serve. Oh, and Spider also has a bowel disruptor. It’s exactly what you think it is, only it comes with settings such as “loose”, “watery”, “rectal volcano” to “fatal intestinal maelstrom.”
Given today’s “post-fact” world we live in, Transmetropolitan is an important read. Truth and facts matter, no matter how ugly and unsettling they may be.
What other R-rated comic books should be made into a movie? Share us your list below!