The biggest story about comics in 2014 wasn't in comic books, or even in comic shops. It was on TV.
Three new shows based on comics debuted in the fall, joining three already on the screen. If you count "Marvel's Agent Carter" — which runs for eight episodes during the "Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." midwinter break — that's seven comics-related shows.
The weak sister of the bunch is "Constantine," based on the long-running con man-cum-wizard from DC Comics. NBC had to make a call on whether the show would continue based on very little ratings information, due to its late October premiere. Worse, the network was seen publicly mulling the smart-mouthed Englishman's future.
But ratings were on the uptick for "Constantine" as it aired the midseason finale Dec. 12, which was the first of a two-parter that left the fast-talking Brit (played by Matt Ryan) shot in a Mexican sewer. His solution to this dilemma, as the previews indicate, is not going to be pretty.
But the show's future might be. NBC has promised the show will return Jan. 16 for the remaining five episodes at a new time — 7 p.m. Fridays instead of 9 p.m. Most analysts see the new time slot as an indication of network confidence.
On the opposite end of the scale is "Gotham." It's Fox's No. 1 show, according to vulture.com, a top 10 hit and the only scripted series at Fox to average more than 10 million viewers.
The midseason finale Nov. 24 could have been titled "The Fall of James Gordon," as our intrepid detective (played by Ben McKenzie) has annoyed sufficient people in high places (he tried to arrest the mayor once) to be transferred to Arkham Asylum. You don't have to be an expert in Bat-trivia to know that Arkham is no place for a decent person to be.
The third new show is "The Flash," and while not boasting "Gotham" numbers, its ratings have been solid, and grew in the last two episodes before the midseason finale Dec. 9. And that show left us a lot to ponder before "Flash" returns Jan. 20.
"Marvel's Agent Carter" debuted Tuesday on ABC and runs through Feb. 24 in the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." time slot. Those who watched the first "Captain America" movie will remember Carter as a no-nonsense intelligence agent who was sort-of Cap's girlfriend. (They never got around to actually dating. There was a war on!) Played by Hayley Atwell, Carter returned in a short film on "Iron Man 3" and for a few cameos on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
"Agent Carter" takes place in 1946, with the Strategic Service Reserve agent (the Marvel version of the Office of Strategic Services) tasked with tracking down weapons of mass destruction stolen from Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) before they're used and he's held accountable. We know Carter and Stark will found S.H.I.E.L.D. in this time frame, so perhaps this is the vehicle to explain how.
Meanwhile, "S.H.I.E.L.D." will return March 3 and pick up where it left off Dec. 9, with characters on both sides of the S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra divide now transformed into superpowered Inhumans.
The remaining two comics-to-TV shows are "Arrow" and "The Walking Dead," in their third and fifth seasons, respectively. Both ended their 2014 runs with the death of a major character, but only one will stick.
On "Arrow," Oliver Queen was stabbed with a sword by Ra's al Ghul and thrown off a mountain. Since the show is named for him, he's likely not quite dead and will be nursed back to health. "Arrow" returns Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, "Walking Dead" continues with boffo ratings, which will likely continue despite the death Nov. 30 of a long-running character. "Walking Dead," which returns Feb. 8, is averaging 19 million viewers per episode.