Will meta-humans rescue the new television season?

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After dominating the big screen for the past several years, it was only a matter of time before comic book-inspired stories made their mark on television. And while such shows have already established a toehold on the small screen with series like Smallville, Arrow, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this TV season will see a quantum leap in the number of superheroes getting their own network time slots.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the comic book franchises that will come to life in your living room this year.

Gotham (FOX)

Gotham City may be a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there, what with all the bizarre super-villains waiting to wreck havoc on its innocent citizens and all. This series tells the story of Detective (destined to become Police Commissioner) James Gordon, who, in the first episode, is assigned to solve the highest-profile murder the city has ever seen: that of Thomas and Martha Wayne. You know the Waynes. Nice people. Very wealthy. One kid, name of Bruce. Now that you mention it, though, the kid’s a little weird. Seems like the kind of boy who might eventually grow up to become a costumed vigilante, lurking around town dressed as a giant bat and pummeling the dickens out of criminals. As Detective Gordon peels away the layers of Gotham’s criminal underworld, he’ll encounter such odd characters as Selina Kyle (meow!) and penguin-y looking fellow named Oswald Cobblepot. Gotham is a show that promises a dark night of viewing.

The Flash (The CW Network)

This is the great thing about comic books. In our world, if you get struck by lightening, it pretty much always ends badly. But in the world of comics, a fortuitous lightening strike (along with a snazzy red outfit) turns you into the Fastest Man Alive. In this highly anticipated series, Barry Allen, a forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, is obsessed with the murder of his mother—a crime he witnessed in his youth and for which his father was wrongly accused. One bolt of lightning later (well, there were a few mysterious chemicals in the mix), and he’s the Flash, a hero with the power to move at mind-blowingly super-human speed. Allen vows to use his new gift to protect Central City and solve his mother’s murder. The Flash takes place in the same universe as the CW Network’s Arrow, and fanboys and girls are geeking out over potential crossover episodes to come.

Constantine (NBC)

We’ve got our garden-variety criminals covered, and we even have heroes to combat the occasional super-villain. But what about supernatural beings that pose a threat to humanity? Taking care of those will be the job of John Constantine, a dark magician struggling with his past (I sense a theme here—to be a superhero, you have to have a lot of baggage) as he wards off various ghostly and paranormal bad guys. Producers of the show promise to be faithful to the source material (the character appears in the DC/Vertigo comic Hellblazer), although TV’s Constantine, unlike his comic-book counterpart, won’t be a chain-smoker. Broadcast television rules have forced the mystical hero to kick the habit.

Agent Carter (ABC)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe proves to be the gift that keeps on giving. A supporting role in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, along with the short “One-Shot” film Agent Carter (available as an extra on the Blu-Ray release of Iron Man 3) has led to this series, in which Cap’s dance partner helps build the ultra-secret spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Set in 1946, the series follows the adventures of Carter (played by Hayley Atwell, reprising the role) who, to paraphrase Ginger Rogers, kicks ass just as well as any man does, except she does it in high heels. Working with her is genius scientist Howard Stark, father of Tony (another genius scientist, who eventually becomes the armored Avenger Iron Man). Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of last summer’s phenomenally successful Captain America: The Winter Soldier, have signed on to direct episodes two and three of Agent Carter, and Joe Johnston, director of The First Avenger, is reportedly interested in directing an episode, as well. The series is set to premiere during the mid-season break of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.

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