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Rebel Heist Hughes cover 1

Back in the 1970s Marvel Comics released the first new entry in the Star Wars universe for the franchise which then consisted of the original movie alone.  With Star Wars Issue #7, Marvel followed Han Solo and Chewbacca beyond the movie adaptation, as they explored the seedier elements of society–the kinds of places a Corellian would roam with fellow smugglers and other dregs.  When Disney recently announced the coming continuation of Star Wars in a third trilogy, everyone knew it had to take place in the far away galaxy decades away from the events in Return of the Jedi.  Then Disney hinted at other movies in the Star Wars universe, and possibly a Han Solo story.

A Han Solo movie is intriguing.  Although the filmmakers are likely to target a younger audience with a young actor for Han Solo, I can’t help think how much fun it would be to see Firefly’s Nathan Fillion play our favorite scoundrel.  Comic book writer Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) is now writing one of the last of Dark Horse Comics’s Star Wars stories before Disney pulls the franchise away at year end, and Issue #1 follows Han Solo almost from the view of a modern fanboy googly-eyed as he meets Han Solo in person.  And the Han that is admired could easily be a Han played by Fillion.  Think Fillion playing Han Solo in a Blade Runner noir vibe.

Rebel Heist Adam Hughes 2 cover Hughes Rebel Heist Luke cover

Coming next Wednesday, Kindt plus penciller Marco Castiello, inker Dan Parsons, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb take us back to the days before The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars: Rebel Heist.  After the break take a look at these preview pages from Dark Horse Comics:

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Kick-Ass 2 banner

If you like edgy superhero flicks and missed Kick-Ass 2 in theaters, it’s now available on Blu-ray and DVD.  If you liked the original, you’ll love the sequel.  Kick-Ass 2 pretty much requires you’ve seen the original Kick-Ass, a truly novel, unique, and interesting piece of filmmaking.  It’s a good film that takes an idea from a Mark Millar comic book series and propels it into a big-time action movie.  But Kick-Ass 2 does something rare–its success is being better than both the original film and Millar’s source material.  It’s a great superhero flick and a fun, awesome, over-the-top action movie, with villains you’ll want to see crushed and downtrodden heroes you’ll want to see persevere.

The caveat for the Kick-Ass franchise is you can’t be offended by a teen or pre-teen with a thorough and eloquent knowledge and use of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.  You’ll hear all of them.  Many times.  And if you can’t tolerate a big dose of over-the-top violence, pick another film to watch.  This probably rules out a big segment of the adult audience.  In another director’s hands, this would be a gimmick, even an annoyance, but Jeff Wadlow knows his characters and audience and deftly moves beyond the Whedon-Buffyverseworthy dialogue to a superhero film that can be both gritty and tongue-in-cheek, and manages to be on par with Stan Lee’s original Spider-man, only juxtaposing innocence against the worst of society to an in-your-face extreme.

Kick-Ass 2 movie poster

The only missing piece in Kick-Ass 2 is Nicolas Cage, who played Damon Macready, alias Batman-esque Big Daddy, in the original film.  Father to Chloë Grace Moretz’s Mindy, aka Hit Girl, events in the original explain his absence in this sequel.  But Kick-Ass 2 makes up for his absence with some other great performances from new additions.  One is Jim Carrey’s almost unrecognizable performance as an ex-mob enforcer turned superhero called Captain Stars and Stripes.  Carrey completely embraces the role of the leader of a league of good guys trying to take back their streets, and the result is one of his best performances–up there with his shape-shifting Ace Ventura, and zany Stanley Ipkiss aka The Mask.  The always superb John Leguizamo turns in a similarly good performance as a majordomo for the show’s villain, the returning Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as Chris D’Amico.  Mintz-Plasse plays the evil villain bit for all it’s worth–he’ll make you cringe while you cheer for his imminent demise.

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24 cover 1

Previously on 24

Four years ago, CTU agent Jack Bauer became a fugitive from justice.  Soon he will risk his life and freedom to avert yet another global disaster and LIVE ANOTHER DAY.

Jack spent the intervening years in exile, and now we reveal what happened during his time in the European UNDERGROUND…

Written by Ed Brisson (Secret Avengers), with art by Michael Gaydos (Alias), 24: Underground, is a new comic book series that provides backstory for the return of the live-action series 24: Live Another Day coming to Fox next month.  24: Underground takes off where the original series last left Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, as a man on the run.

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Manhattan screencap

A brief trailer premiered this weekend on WGN America during the unfortunately abysmal premiere of Brannon Braga’s new series Salem, for another production coming to the network this summer.  That new series is Manhattan, and it follows Salem as the second original scripted series for WGN America.  Both series are billed as historical fiction, but Manhattan appears to fit the genre better than could be gleaned from episode one of Salem, at least based on our first look.  The sets for Manhattan look great, and the actors look like real people from the era.

Manhattan

Manhattan will star John Benjamin Hickey (Law & Order, In Plain Sight), Daniel Stern (Home Alone, City Slickers), and Olivia Williams.  The series focuses on the lives of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project who secretly developed the first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico, between 1942 and 1946.  The big selling point is Olivia Williams, an actress whose work stands out in all her film and TV appearances, often one of the only things worth seeing about the production (Rushmore, Dollhouse).  Williams has headlined movies big and small, from The Postman to The Sixth Sense.  And she can be seen in Spaced, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Sabotage.

Here’s the first trailer for Manhattan:

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X-Files Millie Ohio and Bing Ellinson

The X-Files, that classic TV series that took off recently with its The X-Files Season 10 monthly comic book series, will be expanding The X-Files universe even further.  IDW Publishing revealed some details about the new series Sunday at WonderCon in Anaheim, California.

Writer Karl Kesel (Marvel’s FF, Superboy), artists Vic Malhotra (The X-Files: Conspiracy, The Crow) and Greg Scott (The X-Files Season 10) are teaming up to tell the secret origins with The X-Files: Year Zero, a five-issue miniseries debuting in July.  The artists will split duties with Malhotra drawing the 1940s story following two agents that go by Bing and Millie, and Scott drawing present-day Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as they tackle a mystery with ties that date back to the beginning of the FBI’s X-Files unit.

Cover art will be created by The X-Files Season 10 artist Carlos Valenzuela, with retro/pulp novel cover variants by Robert Hack (Doctor Who).  Even borg.com favorite cover artist Francesco Francavilla will be supplying a cover variant for the first issue.

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Sentinels

Were I Joe Hollywood, that puppet master that controls the destiny of all things in Entertainmentland, who has infinite resources and influence and what he says goes, I’d put Bryan Singer forward as the next director of the next movie release for Star Trek, Star Wars, or any DC Comics property.  The guy behind the X-Men movies, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, House, M.D., and The Usual Suspects could make magic out of any mega-franchise.  And yes, I do believe his Superman Returns dances circles around last year’s feeble attempt at rebooting the Superman mythos.

Were I Bryan Singer, I’d use the new X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer as my business card, as page one of my portfolio for the new mega-franchise gig.  Unlike the earlier Days of Future Past trailers released, this new preview gives us a major glimpse of the scope of this new story, and some brilliantly designed sets and character interactions.  Not to mention more of that 1970s retro that moviemakers can’t seem to get enough of recently.  As a child of the 1970s, I am all for that (although it would be nice to see a real view of the decade at some point and not just what the 1970s looked like in New York City and Los Angeles over and over again).

1970s Days of Future Past

But it’s all really about bringing Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey back for a Phoenix movie, right?  Why else go to all this trouble to change “this” timeline?

You can definitely get the feel that this new time travel story could get the “fixing the past” concept right.  There’s not much better for a sci-fi aficionado than a killer time travel story, so here’s hoping Days of Future Past is as good as it looks.  Maybe even good enough to propel Singer into some other big franchises.

Here’s the latest trailer for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past:

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These_are_the_voyages_TOS_season_two_first_edition_cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Marc Cushman’s second volume of These Are the Voyages, his unprecedented treatise on Star Trek, the original series, is an improvement on his first volume, reviewed last year here at borg.com, which was a thorough history of the landmark series’ first season.  But where Volume 1 was a good read–an assemblage of facts from multiple sources not easily obtainable otherwise and an accounting of television history from 1966–Volume 2 qualifies a great read.  With more in-depth stories, anecdotes and interviews, from original sources as well as recent reminiscences from actors and production staff, Volume 2 provides a superb history of the production of Season Two and the world of American TV studios in 1967-68.

Highlights of Season Two recounted by Cushman include key changes to the show, such as the introduction of Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov, which often led to the reduction in the roles of Sulu and Uhura.  James Doohan’s Scotty was made third in command in Season Two, based on the writers’ efforts to keep Spock and Kirk together and expand the show to strange new worlds away from the Enterprise.  The book includes modern accounts from the actors as they reflect back on their interpersonal relationships during production–everyone from George Takei to William Shatner seems surprised in retrospect by each other’s reported dismay during the series.

Shatner on set

Volume 2 reveals Star Trek in its prime form—after a year of world-building in Season One, the first half of Season Two includes some of the best Star Trek episodes the series had to offer.  Much of this was thanks to writer Gene L. Coon, whose selection of material lightened up the tone of the show, broadening appeal to viewers.  Coon created the Klingons and the Prime Directive and the humorous relationship of Spock and McCoy.  His influence can be seen in Season One’s “Space Seed” as well as Season Two’s classics “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “The Trouble With Tribbles.”  Sadly his mid-season departure led to more campy elements seeping into the series toward the end of the season.

Many components spice up what could otherwise have been a bland, encyclopedic offering.  The seemingly endless writing process during production that is recounted by Cushman is simply… fascinating.  Robert Justman’s hilarious (but always spot-on) script notes alone make the book worth reading.  The often eloquent and usually contentious back and forth battle on paper between Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana and Gene Coon and Robert Justman and Gene Roddenberry would make modern email battles seem lightweight.

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orphan-black-season-2-poster9 orphan-black-season-2-poster6

Who needs a Clone Army?   Set your DVRs now.  You won’t want to miss the return of BBC America’s Orphan Black and star Tatiana Maslany, featuring the best TV series, and best actor, of 2013.

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Here is a trailer for Season 2, while you’re waiting for Saturday:

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grimm below the surface

Last week’s episode of Grimm may have been one of the best on TV this year, bringing together threads formed since the beginning of the show.  The result proved the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and pitted the “good” guys together with the “bad” guys against the “even worse” guys.  The most unlikely of pairings occurred in nearly every scene.  It was brilliant TV, and we can likely expect even more fun on this Friday’s episode.

Previously we reviewed The Official Companion to Supernatural Season Seven, a well-formatted look-back for fans of the series, with previous editions released annually.  The Official Companion serves as both a souvenir book and behind the scenes look at the creators of the show.  Many series have released works that were similar.  Doctor Who has done this in magazine form, for example.  Movies like The Hobbit released different variations of behind the scenes books, with different price points and trade or hardbound editions targeted at different audiences.  The first behind the scenes look at NBC’s hit TV series Grimm is now at bookstores, and it follows a format similar to the Official Companion concept Supernatural uses, except it contains glossy, full color images, which will be a plus for diehard fans of the show.

Looking back from the end of Season Two of NBC’s hit series, Grimm: Below the Surface–The Insider’s Guide to the Show provides plenty of information not available elsewhere.  It includes stories and interviews from the series executive producers and showrunner, each of the actors playing main characters (Nick, Monroe, Juliette, Hank, Rosalee, Renard, Adalind, and Sergeant Wu), writers, production designers, the make-up and special effects team, casting, the stunt team, and the props and costume creators.

Grimm - Season 2

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Hawkeye issue 11

The 2014 Eisner Award nominations were released today.  Not a lot of surprises again this year.  The nominations tend toward more serious subjects in the year’s comic book offerings as opposed to action-packed superhero titles, sci-fi, fantasy, humor, or popular works.  But there are exceptions, and some can be found this year.  And should you think the books reviewed and lauded here at borg.com might be out of touch with the Eisner nomination committee, actually some of our favorite books from 2013 can be found throughout this year’s nominees.

The ringer of course is Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye series.  Not only do we like it, everyone seems to agree this is the best book around, two years running.  And it’s up for multiple awards again this year.

But no Afterlife With Archie?  Where are all the Dynamite Comics nominees?  Where is recognition for the jaw-dropping visuals on Dark Horse Comics’ landmark series, The Star Wars?  Why not more from IDW and Dark Horse?  How about some variety?

So… congratulations to all the nominees, and extra snaps to some of our favorites (the full nomination list is after the break):

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Hawkeye #11: “Pizza Is My Business,” by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel).  This made the borg.com Best of 2013 for Best Single Issue.  I even bought extra copies of this one.  It’s that good.

Best Continuing Series
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)

I read books this year from other nominations in this category: Saga, East of West, and Nowhere Men (we weren’t fans, but reviewed Issue #1 here), and the others just didn’t make our review list.

Black Beetle poster

Best Limited Series
The Black Beetle: No Way Out, by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse).

We reviewed this series here at borg.com this year and decided it should have made our Best of 2013 list had we reviewed it earlier.

I also read nominee Mike Richardson’s 47 Ronin–a good read, which I may review here later this year.  I had a review copy of The Wake from DC Comics, but didn’t find the story or art as gripping as others.

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Itty Bitty Hellboy, by Art Baltazar and Franco (Dark Horse).  Reviewed here, I’m glad this wasn’t passed up for consideration.

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