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Adapt This: “Absolution” by Christos Gage and Roberto Viacava

absolution

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Absolution by Christos Gage and Roberto Viacava

The Premise: In a world where superheroes are part of a sanctioned law-enforcement unit, John Dusk is a veteran good guy with amazing powers.

After years of putting down society’s most heinous criminals, Dusk encounters one too many repeat offenders and kills a murderer during an encounter. Instead of feeling remorse about it, he feels good — so good that he begins taking down more of the city’s most sadistic perps… permanently. As his new “hobby” finds its way into the headlines, he’s forced to keep his extracurricular activities a secret from his fellow policemen, his super-powered partners, and his detective girlfriend.

But how far is too far when it comes to ridding the world of evil?

The Pitch: Absolution writer Christos Gage has already made a name for himself scripting episodes of the hit crime drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” as well as celebrated runs on “G.I. Joe: Cobra,” “Stormwatch: Post-Human Division,” and “Avengers: The Initiative” — so it’s no surprise that his work lends itself well to the screen. A procedural fan who knows his way around real-world law enforcement and investigation, Gage has crafted an excellent story in Absolution that manages to balance both superhero elements and crime drama masterfully.

In many ways, Absolution is exactly what one might expect to see if super-powered characters were introduced to the world of “Law & Order.” John Dusk is what “S.V.U.” mainstay Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) could indeed become if he was given similar abilities and finally reached that ever-present breaking point that he often nears, but never crosses.

With the exception of a few characters, Absolution also manages to keep many of the powers wielded by the world’s superheroes and superhuman villains fairly manageable (from an effects perspective), though the most difficult one to bring to the screen could be Dusk’s ability. In the series, he’s able to manifest a field of blue energy that he can manipulate however he wants — forming a shield, a weapon, or a form of transportation if he so desires. Dusk’s power is similar to that of DC superhero Green Lantern, though it operates on a much smaller scale in the world Gage has created for Absolution.

And while Absolution is stocked with graphic, violent action sequences, it remains a drama at heart, and a study of the criminal justice system and the people who work within its structures. When I spoke to Gage about the book several years ago, he indicated that the concept for the series came from a conversation he had with a real-world police officer who worked in a department not unlike “S.V.U.” and dealt with the sort of terrible crimes perpetrated by the worst criminals society has to offer. Faced with one atrocity after another, some law-enforcement personnel lose their ability to separate themselves from their professional life — and Absolution explores one of the many potential outcomes of their traumatic day-to-day routines.

Absolution would probably work best as a movie or television miniseries, as the narrative has a well-defined set of acts that explore the story’s theme and offer some — if not many — conclusions about the consequences of John Dusk’s actions. To extend it beyond the narrative of the original comic would likely dilute the powerful message it conveys, though the right writer could certainly find new avenues to explore.

The Closing Argument: Much like Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers comic book series — which follows a branch of law enforcement charged with investigating superpower-related crimes — Absolution manages to have that rare hit potential for both procedural drama audiences and fans of science-fiction or other, more fantastic fare. Gage’s work in television clearly factored into the story’s structure and pacing, so it’s not difficult to look at the collected edition of Absolution as a storyboard for a potential film or television project.

In the end, it really comes down to one question: Do we want to see a superhero version of “Law & Order: SVU”? If the answer is yes, then look no further than Absolution.


Would “Absolution” make a good movie or television project? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.