THE STORY: "Strikeforce: Morituri" by Peter B. Gillis (W) and Brent Anderson (A) — Marvel Comics
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A savage alien race has invaded Earth, and the planet stands on the brink of being conquered. Desperate to save humanity, Earth's scientists create a process for granting superhuman powers to test subjects — but the abilities come with a hefty sacrifice. Anyone who receives the "Morituri Process" (from the Latin phrase "Morituri te salutamus," meaning "We who are about to die salute you!") dies within a year's time.
Heroes are born and die in a matter of moments as humanity sacrifices its best and brightest to stop the aliens' invasion.
WHY IT WORKS: As is the case with many of today's most popular television series, the creators of "Strikeforce: Morituri" never shied away from reminding fans of their characters' mortality and the very real danger to each and every one of them in the war against The Horde. Characters you grew to love through several issues faced imminent death at any moment, with no amount of heroics ensuring their survival. However, instead of distancing readers from their lives, this peril made you that much more intent to learn about them before they're snatched away.
"Strikeforce: Morituri" featured a varied cast of characters with fancy powers, forced to make tough decisions, and an enemy that was equal parts savage and repulsive. (The alien soldiers are frequently seen wearing the finger bones of children around their necks.)
WHY IT DOESN'T: Unlike a show like "V," the aliens that arrive on Earth in "Strikeforce: Morituri" couldn't stand a chance of passing for human. This, combined with the nature of the Morituri team's powers and the alien technology, could put a significant price tag on the special effects required for a faithful adaptation.
Also, while the story's main characters had a nasty habit of dying off when you least expected it, there's some question whether audiences would look kindly on a series that disposes of its cast this freely. Sure, characters in "Lost," "Heroes" and other television series with heavy fantastic elements occasionally make a bloody exit, but when you're averaging one death per episode, some viewers might get sick of the series' turnover rate.
HOW TO DO IT: Kick off "Strikeforce: Morituri" as a television miniseries, much in the same way shows like "V" or "Battlestar Galactica" began their runs. If audiences aren't fazed by a few major deaths in such a short project, the chances are good that they'll understand why characters' mortality is such an important element in "Strikeforce: Morituri."
FINAL WORD: "Strikeforce: Morituri" is (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest comic book series ever created, with infinite potential as a television series. With the aforementioned "Lost," "Heroes" and "V" grooming audiences for science-fiction drama, testing the limits of special effects, and proving that audiences can handle mature subject matter mixed with fantastic elements, "Morituri" feels like an obvious call for adaptation.
Here's hoping the series gets its due.
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