Vertigo’s ‘Survivors’ Club’ Heads to the CW

The comics imprint has certainly served The CW well in the past with a gem like 'iZombie.'
Survivors Club Comic Cover

If you’re a fan of maladjusted team-ups and 1980s horror tropes, The CW’s latest acquisition is sure to pique fascination. Deadline announced that a new show titled Survivors’ Club is currently in development at the network. It takes inspiration from the characters found in the eponymous nine-issue comic book by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halverson, and Ryan Kelly published on DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint from 2015 to 2016. The series will be written by Jared Frieder (MTV’s Sweet/Vicious).

Survivors’ Club is a whirlwind mash-up of thrilling characters and tons of promising narrative potential. The plot goes as follows: back in 1987, a slew of horrors — iconic imagery with origins in popular scary stories — affected six locales around the world. The monster, the haunted house, the vengeful spirit, the murderous doll, the cursed object, and the evil imaginary friend wreaked havoc on scared children, their families, and their communities, leaving scars both physical and psychological. Now, 30 years later, a mysterious email suddenly connects six survivors of these incidences. Teo, Simon, Kiri, Alice, Chenzira, and Harvey link up in Los Angeles to confront the fears that have persistently followed them from childhood.

In what has been described by Beukes and Halverson as a “love letter to horror” that unpacks the genre archetypes it simultaneously indulges in, the Survivors’ Club comic book primarily explores trauma through the lens of the supernatural. The artwork is vibrant and evocative, delivering on the story’s frightening premise admirably. And despite the fact that there are so many protagonists, we get to know each of them and their unique fears to some extent before they eventually congregate.

The diverse make-up of the core group is an added bonus; with characters coming from Japan to South Africa to Puerto Rico, Survivors’ Club is truly a global trot of a story. Overall, the comic serves as a remarkable basis for a TV show. There are clearly so many subplots and narrative threads in Survivors’ Club that can be given appropriate-paced attention over the course of, let’s say 10-plus episodes.

Besides what’s already on the page, though, expanding the comic’s mythology teased out is imperative, too. The source material had an unfortunately short run before its untimely cancelation and a collection of nine issues simply does not provide enough room to fully flesh out a consistent and fulfilling story. The biggest criticism of Survivors’ Club is that it sports a noticeably rushed ending, which isn’t befitting of the narrative’s ambitious engrossing plot or well-conceived characters at all. Furthermore, excellent as these characters even are, not all of them are given an equal amount of focus in the comic, making some arcs generally confusing. Survivors’ Club has the fixings of a great, inventive, wild horror ride, but couldn’t fully prosper in print.

That’s where The CW could come in and save the day. Considering the success of the one other Vertigo property on the network’s roster so far, a high standard of production and creativity could be expected from the Survivors’ Club adaptation. iZombie, the loose but highly entertaining adaptation of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s 28-issue comic series of the same name, is a total delight. Created by Veronica Mars‘ Rob Thomas and writer Diane Ruggiero-Wright, iZombie stands out as one of the best shows currently airing on The CW. I’d further argue that it’s one of their greatest achievements across the board.

iZombie has figured out the perfect formula of impeccably mixing disparate story categories to form a truly cohesive series, traversing horror, comedy, drama, and the serialized police procedural. Its killer (no pun intended) cast, headlined by the chameleonic Rose McIver, coupled with the strong writing and characterization in the show’s scripts combine to buck all sorts of storytelling expectations. The seemingly least interesting side characters on the show get to thoroughly evolve through engaging subplots, but the focus on McIver’s protagonist Liv Moore never diminishes. It puts us in the shoes of one of the most unconventional “good” zombies on TV today.

I’m sure the magic of the mind behind a cultural icon like Veronica Mars brings a lot of clout to iZombie anyway. Nevertheless, having Sweet/Vicious on Freider’s résumé is a noteworthy success. The show was one of MTV’s most nuanced offerings before it sadly got axed after merely a season. Granted, Sweet/Vicious does tend to suffer from MTV’s usual cheesy schtick of musical interludes and the occasional cringe-worthy dialogue meant to represent the youth of today. However, the series pointedly tackles rape culture head-on as the vigilante heroines at its core let their brand of justice rain on perpetrators of sexual assault. Hopefully, Freider remembers to incorporate that boldness into Survivors’ Club as well.

The CW and DC have had a noteworthy working relationship for years. In the past, they ensured that Clark Kent’s coming-of-age adventures could carry on in Smallville. Subsequently, they built up a shared fictional universe across four TV series based on DC heroes, which only continues to grow with new revolutionary character additions. The entire roster of Arrowverse notwithstanding, one of the properties of the grittier Vertigo banner has actually been transformed into a smart, absorbing series on the network, too. Hence, it’s not a stretch to say that there’s hope for Survivors’ Club.

Sheryl Oh: Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)