With a slew of comic-book characters heading to the small screen, we offer up a cheat sheet on the season's heroes (and one very big bad)

By Natalie Abrams
Updated September 26, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

Barry Allen
The Flash, The CW
Comics Backstory A lightning bolt strikes a shelf of chemicals, dousing the forensic scientist and turning him into the Flash.
TV Turn Introduced on Arrow, Barry (Grant Gustin) grew up obsessed with the unknown after his mother was killed by a mysterious flash of light. ”What really drives him, as much as finding his mother’s killer and freeing his father from prison, is not wanting anyone to suffer the way he did,” exec producer Andrew Kreisberg says. Barry’s determined to use his powers for good — which means he can be selfless to a fault.
Recommended Reading Kreisberg suggests anything from DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns, including Rebirth, Flashpoint, and Rogues.

Peggy Carter
Marvel’s Agent Carter, ABC
Comics Backstory Peggy (Hayley Atwell) was a WWII freedom fighter before becoming one of Captain America’s love interests.
TV Turn ”We pick up with her in 1946, it’s postwar, and the world has changed,” exec producer Tara Butters says of the midseason series. ”One of the themes is, How does someone so capable and so well respected deal with the changes of her position in her job and in her personal life?” Certainly not by becoming a damsel in distress. ”Her superpower is the fact that people underestimate her,” says exec producer Michele Fazekas.
Recommended Reading Much like the movies, Carter derives from the Ed Brubaker run of Captain America.

John Constantine
Constantine, NBC
Comics Backstory The con man-turned-occult detective begrudgingly keeps dark forces at bay.
TV Turn Constantine is adapted directly from Hellblazer, meaning the pragmatic antihero (Matt Ryan) is a terrible role model. ”He still drinks too much and — within the framework of FCC limitations — he still smokes and curses,” exec producer David S. Goyer says. In short, Constantine is far from a spandex-clad hero. ”Our roots are much more in horror, the supernatural, and The Exorcist.”
Recommended Reading Goyer says Alan Moore’s ”American Gothic” arc from Swamp Thing and Jamie Delano’s initial Hellblazer run are a great place to start.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC
Comics Backstory Barbara ”Bobbi” Morse (a.k.a. Mockingbird) is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who looks to expose corruption within the agency.
TV Turn S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s version will keep in line with the comics — with Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) portrayed as an intelligent and very competent superspy. Producers do promise a little twist on the character (though they’re loath to spill details). So will she be friend or foe to Director Coulson? ”When she comes in, it’s not necessarily what you’d expect,” EP Jed Whedon hints.
Recommended Reading Though mum on which arcs inspired them, producers cite Jim McCann’s Hawkeye & Mockingbird miniseries as a fave.

Olivia ”Liv” Moore
iZombie, The CW
Comics Backstory Grave-digging zombie Gwen Dylan eats brains to maintain a semblance of her humanity.
TV Turn After being caught in a zombie attack, former med student Liv (Rose McIver) takes a job at the coroner’s office to gain access to gray matter. But in eating parts of the corpses, ”Liv gets some of their abilities, proclivities, and also some of their memories,” EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright says. She uses those memories to help solve murders.
Recommended Reading Chris Roberson penned the 28-issue iZombie that loosely inspires the show — though you won’t see any were-terriers on the CW series (which debuts midseason).

Ra’s Al Ghul
Arrow, The CW
Comics Backstory Batman’s greatest foe seeks to bring peace by eliminating most of the world’s population.
TV Turn The show hews closely to the comics’ portrayal (though this marks his first major arc with Arrow). Even more dastardly than baddies Merlyn and Deathstroke, Ra’s al Ghul (who will be played by Matt Nable) ”has people who have sworn their lives to him,” EP Kreisberg says. ”It’s a lot more of a threat and a lot greater of an enemy to overcome when people are willing to fight and die for their cause.”
Recommended Reading ”There’s one book in particular, but if I said it, I’d be ruining a lot of the season,” Kreisberg teases. You can learn about the origins of Ra’s in Dennis O’Neil’s Batman: Birth of the Demon.