The end of the year always brings about a time for reflection. There was a time when the dominance of comic book adaptations across multiple mediums was met with surprise. And yet it’s come to pass on both the big screen and the small. 2018’s crop of comics-based television programming felt like the culmination of a years long build that was made possible by what came before.
Where there once were sporadic options now stands multiple networks and platforms propped up by their slate of superpowered programming. Reinventions of Archie classics, translations of DC’s altruistic philosophy entering the real world, multiple amalgams of heroes, and the logical conclusion of Marvel-style storytelling coming to life. The output is plentiful and so very good. That’s not even mentioning the lesser known series that got the green light, giving us all our own special fever dream to slip into.
An honorable mention goes out to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. A lot of comic book adaptations showcase high concept motifs that allow for the incorporation of copious explosions of imagination. Some are able to juggle a large cast of diverse characters that fluidly with one another. Others rely on whimsy and camp to maintain a tone comparable to the Silver Age of comics. But only Legends of Tomorrow packages these elements in a fashion that feels like it’s going to burst at the seams at any moment. The show is the television equivalent of bubble gum, but it just barely missed the cut.
Now, let’s take one more look back before continuing the revelry into 2019. Here are Superhero Hype’s top 10 TV shows of 2018. Now, share your picks in the comment section below!
Best TV Shows of 2018
10. The Walking Dead
Accusations of formulaic season structure and wavering focus have plagued The Walking Dead for years. Parts of the show’s latest season aren’t exempt from such critiques, especially following Andrew Lincoln’s much-hyped exit from the show. But it' s hard to deny how heavy the consequences feel within this universe once tragedy occurs. 2018 saw its share of these tipping points, helping The Walking Dead claw its way onto this list.
The Walking Dead's year can be summed up by three major events: Negan’s defeat, Lincoln’s exit and the arrival of The Whisperers. Say what you will about the rest of the season, but no program celebrated its past, present and future more effectively.
9. The Flash
The Flash is that illuminating force that offers a needed respite from the drudge of daily life. Even at its darkest moments, Barry Allen and the STAR Labs crew still bring a distinct levity to any situation.
Additionally, The Flash builds upon its colorful conflicts with interesting subplots such as Caitlin’s search for her father and the mystery surround Nora’s presence in the past. This show understands what it wants to be and it does so with an impressive clarity.
The CW’s DC slate has always carried a certain level of campiness and cheese. Needless to say there was doubt when Supergirl’s fourth season decided to inject a healthy dose of reality into a rather happy-go-lucky program. Fortunately, the experiment has worked well.
Supergirl’s fourth season has explored the xenophobic, anti-immigration messaging perpetrated by the new villain, Agent Liberty. This metaphor has made for the show’s heaviest plotlines to date, complete with Supergirl leaving the DEO amid strained relations with a president obsessed with approval polls. Is this starting to sound familiar?
There's a real power to this season's stories, and Supergirl has displayed the ability to wield it justly.
There’s a certain charm about the unbridled insanity that constitutes Preacher . No other show dares to go where Preacher does. From an escaped HItler reigniting the Nazi party while working at a diner to a pond coffin serving as a tool of punishment, the show has no issue pushing the boundaries of taste.
Preacher isn't all headline-grabbing plot points. It uses its more outlandish qualities to tell a story rooted in volatile emotion. Love, anger and vengeance are pushed to the extreme, causing bonds to bend and battles to become inevitable. One thing is for sure: the show hasn’t met its limit just yet.
Happy! stands as the one of year’s most welcome surprises. This tale of a disgraced ex-cop and his estranged daughter’s imaginary friend’s quest to rescue her from a menacing Santa Claus absolutely sucked us in.
Yes, the show is zany, but it meshes such wackiness with a world that is darkly humorous. What truly makes the show are its two leads: Christopher Meloni and Patton Oswalt. Happy! is the perfect vehicle for Meloni, and Oswalt serves as the perfect counterbalance as the voice of the titular character. His delivery brings the animated unicorn to life while cutting the dark nature of the show just enough to keep it fully palatable.
5. Black Lightning
Black Lightning has every element needed to make a superhero series work. The trials of the Pierce family remain the most engrossing story currently being told across all of The CW’s DC TV series. It’s truly an example of a ground-level, humanist superhero story.
What separates Black Lightning from similar shows is the Pierce family dynamic and the voice it gives to black culture within the superhero landscape. It has some pacing issues, but that does little to impede its journey.
We had our doubts about DC’s ability to produce content interesting enough to warrant its own subscription service. Fortunately, we were wrong, and Titans rounded into one of the better offerings of the year.
Once the show got over its purposeful, yet cringe worthy edginess, Titans showcased a story about companionship, support and self-determination. Dick, Kory, Rachel and Gar grew into the family, while exploring and coming to terms with past trauma along the way.
Mind-numbing dance fighting, hallucinogenic desert journeys, and robots manifesting as mustached men in unitards hardly begin to pierce the veil of madness that fuels Legion . David’s continuing adventures as potentially the most destructive force in the multiverse inspired scene after scene of unique visuals that consistently built upon one another.
The true beauty of the show manifests in the exploration of David’s humanity while popping in and out of countless realities.
Problematic decisions made during the season finale cast a large blemish on the show heading into its third season, but bringing David face-to-face with a reality crafted by his own actions gives Legion plenty of roads to explore going forward.
2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Few shows were more genuinely pleasing to watch than Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina . The re-imagining of the famed teenage witch balanced the lighter side of dark humor with moody atmosphere and stunning visuals, creating two distinct sides of Greendale that popped off the screen.
Most of all, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina overflows with heart. Sure, it has its fair share of camp, but it rarely detracts from the effectiveness of the show’s storytelling and messaging. This one has you covered on both the feel good friendship and satanic ritual fronts. Hail the Dark Lord!
’s Daredevil third season was nothing less than outstanding. The writing, cinematography, and performances outdid previous seasons at multiple points despite outside tension over the show’s creative direction.
Daredevil's attention to detail is what initially set it apart and kept it remaining strong until its premature cancellation. It's painful to let this show go. Daredevil set a high bar for superhero TV shows, and it will remain the benchmark long after its exit. At least we know that Nelson, Murdock & Page went out together and victorious.