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Archive for April, 2012


You have several choices for getting psyched up for Thursday’s U.S. premiere of The Avengers.  You can either stay at home and watch any number of the marathons running on cable, like Superhero Sunday on FX, you can grab your DVDs or Blu-Rays and invite over a few friends with your mega-sized HD or 3D TV, or if you’re up for it, you can take Thursday, May 3rd off work or school and run to your nearest AMC Theater for The Ultimate Marvel Marathon.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. local time on May 3, the day before the May 4 premiere, get set for 12 hours of the Marvel films that set the stage for the new film, and watch the premiere at midnight.  For $40 you get a ticket to all the showings and, on a first come, first served basis, get one of four character themed 3D glasses to watch Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers and take home with you.

At least one staff writer for borg.com plans to take the 14+ hour plunge and hopefully he’ll share some thoughts on the experience one he comes up for air. 

It all kicks off at 11:30 a.m. and the films will show in this order: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, then The Avengers premiere at midnight.

The movie marathon will be held in the following metro areas: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, NYC/New Jersey, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Rockford (IL), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Springfield (IL), St. Louis, Tallahassee, Tampa, Toronto, Tucson, Tulsa, and Washington, DC.

Seating is limited so if you plan to go get your tickets online early.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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The producers of the Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art series of books will be holding a three-day convention in Kansas City in May, featuring some of the top American and international fantasy artists.

“Spectrum Fantastic Art Live!” will showcase 200 exhibitor booths featuring leading painters, sculptors, and digital illustrators, ongoing live art demonstrations, educational panels, guest interviews, a documentary film program, and portfolio reviews by art directors for Tor Books, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and other firms who will be scouting for new talent.

The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess

The five headliners for the show are Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy), Andrew Jones (Industrial Light and Magic, Nintendo), Ian McCaig (designer for Star Wars: Episode 1, Terminator 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Brom (World of Warcraft, Van Helsing, Galaxy Quest), and Phil Hale (world-renowned fine artist).

This is a rare opportunity for burgeoning artists and fans of fantasy art to interract with successful artists, illustrators and creators, including some of the people who have brought Batman, Harry Potter, Darth Maul, Conan the Barbarian, Alien, and John Carter of Mars to life on book covers, in comics, video games, and on TV and film.

Obi-Wan Kenobi by Dave Dorman

By advance sign-up, artists will be having portfolio reviews by talent scouts from various publishers, including Mark Chiarello (DC Comics), Irene Gallo (Tor Books), Jeremy Cranford (Blizzard Entertainment), Jon Schindehette (Wizards of the Coast), Lauren Panepinto (Orbit Books), Daren Bader (Rockstar Games), Zoë Robinson (Fantasy Flight Games), Sarah Robinson (Paizo Publishing), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (Walt Disney Animation Studio).

Joan of Arc by Donato Giancola

The list of artists selected to appear in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art Volume 19 will be announced at the awards ceremony at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri on May 19th, 2012 as part of the show, the first time.

Memberships are $20 for one day and $40 for all three days.  The event is focused on adult audiences, including artists and art retailers and distributors, however, anyone may attend the show, including panel discussions by the featured artists listed above, as well as Charles Vess, Gregory Manchess, and James Gurney.  Several films will screen during the event, including including Doctor Rossum’s Prodigal Son, the directorial debut of artist Frank Cho, who has work featured in the new Spectrum 19 book.  Artists selling works at the show include Donato Giancola (myriad works), Dave Dorman (Dark Empire), Julie Bell (Conan), and Craig Elliott (Hercules, Mulan) (all featured in the new Spectrum 19 book), as well as Boris Vallejo (myriad works), Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales), Gary Gianni (Batman: Black and White), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jason Palmer (Star Trek, Lost in Space), and hundreds more.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

You can be anything you want to be.

It’s a phrase I heard over and over growing up, and is probably the best thing you can share with someone, especially someone who dreams big.

Kevin Clash is one of those kids that dreamed big.  Kevin is the man, and the hand and voice (and heart and soul), behind Elmo, the ticklish red furry kid from Sesame Street that hit TVs and toy stores in a really big way more than a decade ago now.  A Special Jury Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, is a thoughtful, inspiring and poignant look into the desire, preparation, planning, practice, and work, creating the magic of puppets, and specifically one of the most successful members of the most famous bands of puppets ever–the Muppets.

The healing power of make-believe is revealed in a way that viewers probably have never had access to before.  Entertainment is often viewed by society as trivial.  The enormity of the value of making people laugh and teaching basic principles of kindness is palpable, and the eyes of the young and old as they watch Elmo and his puppeteer is pretty incredible.  Even with a man standing and obviously holding this red floppy fellow who is all smile and giggles, people ignore the man as if he is not there.  It’s truly a magician in action, but more than that this documentary reveals a creator who is clearly kind himself, clearly thoughtful and cognizant of the importance of what he is doing.  The gravity of this comes through with a visit from a young girl who is part of a Kids with a Wish experience.

What Clash does is make his work look so simple.  As another puppeteer in the film says, Clash makes a piece of fabric with a human head, react like a human being would.  Elmo became so big, yet only now do we learn all that went behind that fame, and that it was primarily the vision of one very busy man.  And it resulted in the highest paid puppeteer ever.

With numerous puppeteers and entertainers commenting on Clash’s work and personal traits, and narration by Whoopi Goldberg, a real-life “wizard behind the curtain” emerges.  We get to walk along with someone’s journey of discovery of a field we might not all have thought about, yet maybe secretly wish we know more about, and learn how you can grow up on Sesame Street, and dream about becoming a part of it, and making that dream come true.

Several themes permeate this documentary–the importance of shows like Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo and public television to education and younger learning and personal growth for more than one generation, the value of mentoring and apprentice-type relationships, especially in ensuring the survival of more obscure forms of art, identifying the creative spark in someone and helping to encourage creative abilities, and the “blood, sweat, and tears” required to fulfill a dream.

Look also for Clash’s link to Jim Henson and The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth before he was 25 years old, and the iconic presence and impact of Jim Henson on him and others.  Not covered are the other things Clash has done, like serve as the voice of Splinter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie series, as well as several public appearances and puppet work.

I’ve heard of several friends who are struggling with their Netflix subscriptions because they are running out of things–it’s the old story of having 300 channels on cable with nothing to watch.   Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey is an example of something you might otherwise miss while trolling for something to watch, and it’s well worth your time.  Note that it’s not a documentary for kids–little ones should probably wait a bit before seeing that their furry TV friends are made with rods and have hands up their backs.

By C.J. Bunce

There be SPOILERS here…

Let it be known that we here at borg.com will never pass up an opportunity to talk about borgs, from wherever they may originate, be it the 1960s or 1970s or 1980s or even the 2010s, or some future century.  As filming wraps next week in San Francisco for the next Star Trek movie, the release of the new Trek/Doctor Who crossover is getting closer.  And borgs from two franchises and several time periods will finally collide.

Just as we previewed the covers for the coming Issue #1 and Issue #2 of the IDW Publishing mash-up series with the long title, Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation,² the comic industry Previews catalog published the cover to Issue #3 this week.  And it doesn’t take much of a discerning eye to notice some cool… cosmic anomalies:

If you can get past the smirk-inducing, albeit true to the original series, belly button shot of Captain James T. Kirk (cleverly included by artist Elena Casagrande), there is something amiss here… this is a Next Generation spin-off series, right?  And isn’t that the fourth Doctor?  And isn’t that the older version of the borg Cybermen?  What’s going on here?

It turns out that the Writers Tipton have some tricks up their sleeves for us, in the realm of some time travel between the 24th century of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise-D and the 23rd century of Captain Kirk’s original Enterprise (“with no bloody A, B, C, or D,” as Scotty would say), including an appearance by the shuttle Galileo (currently rotting somewhere in a yard in Ohio, if recent reports are accurate).  And a visit from the Fourth Doctor, to boot.  That’s a lot to bring together, but we Trekkiewhovians (WhovaTrekians???) are up for it.

And there’s one more bit of fun–color art for an alternate cover for Issue #1 by artist Tony Lee:

And this adds one more twist to the fun, with an appearance by The Borg from Star Trek Voyager, specifically Seven of Nine before she was separated from the Collective.

This is a further variant, a retailer edition signed by artist Tony Lee, available only from UK comics retailer Forbidden Planet:

Can’t wait?  Issue #1 will be released May 30, 2012.

With the DC New 52 graphic novels beginning to be released next month, and the release schedule included in the 8th issue of the New 52 comics released this month, the big question is:  Which graphic novels should you buy?  Some of the most popular DC Comics titles are scheduled for a May release.  These include Animal Man, Batman, Catwoman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Justice League International, Justice League, Stormwatch and Wonder Woman.

If you’ve been reading the ongoing series then the answer is easy.  None.  If you’ve read a series, you’ve read it, so unless there are some big extras, $22.99 for a hardcover doesn’t make much sense.  The real value in the trade paperback/hardcover releases will be gift books–series you loved that you want to share with others, since giving a stack of comics, although its sounds good to me, is admittedly a little odd.  As gifts go, one of the collected editions I am on the fence on is the Wonder Woman book.

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood collects the first six issues of the New 52 series.  The series was written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Cliff Chiang on Issues #1-4 and Tony Akins for Issues #5 and 6.

Wonder Woman got off to a great start last fall.  Azzarello expertly crafted an origin tale of Wonder Woman from a standpoint of her Greek roots, myriad family problems, and in particular the story of her struggle to know thyself in light of her strange family of gods, coupled with the almost buddy-like story of Diana protecting a human named Zola from the wrath of mother goddess Hera.  The story is at its best in Issues #1-4, which happens to correspond with Chiang’s work on the series.  When Tony Akins took over the artwork, it’s not the abrupt change in style that is the biggest fault of Issues #5 and #6, but the Azzarello’s more convoluted story that seems to drift  away from the expected focus on Wonder Woman as the lead character of the series.  After re-reading Issues #5 and 6, I am not sure I follow the plot resolution completely, and the story problems stand out even more so in light of the brilliant storytelling Azzarello returns to in Issues #7 and #8.

Because Issues #7 and #8 are the best of the series so far, I wish that the collected edition compiled Issues #1 through #8 instead of #1 through #6.  From a story standpoint I think Issue 8 has a better ending for a single collected work, too.  But regardless of whether you opt for the new hardcover edition or hold out for Volumes 1 and 2 together, what Wonder Woman does right is worth highlighting.

First, Cliff Chiang’s art has set a new standard for Wonder Woman, separate from the past versions of the Amazon warrior.  Chiang’s renderings of the superheroine show her in the style the artist has managed to make his own–this unique Chiang art deco-inspired world view made from big, bold, clean lines.  His balance of beautiful with tough is right on the mark.  His storytelling panel-to-panel stands out as well–a lot of artists rest on their laurels with great covers and splash pages, yet his page-by-page work on Issue #8 is one of the best beginning to end comics I’ve ever seen.  (If only Issue #8 was in the Volume 1 hardcover!).

Azzarello’s story takes one of the big three of the Justice League and puts her in a world apart from the rest of the DCU and that is refreshing.  Wonder Woman’s story stands on its own–no need for partnerships with Superman and Batman.  If long-time Wonder Woman fans hang on to the current issues, the reward is a pretty good payoff.  It’s the fans of the traditional storytelling for Wonder Woman that may be put off a bit by this story.

The team-up of Diana and Zola mimic two great TV series pairings.  First, Xena and Gabrielle of Xena: Warrior Princess is a pretty good parallel to Azzarello’s banter between the characters.  With this comic book series readers are reminded at how easily Xena could have been re-named Diana and resulted in a solid Wonder Woman series accepted by DC fans.  Strong heroines in fantasy are well served by a good sidekick, for lack of a better term.  More recently the pairing of Bo and Kenzi in the Canadian supernatural TV series Lost Girl also matches that of Diana and Zola.  These are modern women who know who they are, whether their stories yet reveal that fact or not.  What DC has really excelled at in the New 52 are the authenticity of their women, not as typical comic book archetypes, but with deep relationships and good dialogue.  This can be found not only with Wonder Woman, but also in the pages of Batgirl and Batwoman.

The supporting cast is interesting.  The gaunt and strange Hermes reminds me of Abe Sapien from the Dark Horse Hellboy series.  He’s a good man to have in the trenches for Diana.  Diana’s sister Strife is strange and creepy, yet real in a post-Goth, modern way.  Hades is grotesque, yet pleasantly meddling.  Zeus, Hera, and Hippolyta appear very noble and regal, and Hera’s bizarre peacock cloak is a nice touch.  The character Lennox reminds me of John Constantine in the Justice League Dark series, and in later issues Wonder Woman gets very dark like that series, but in a good way, without the ghoulishness a trip to the Hellenistic hell might otherwise reflect in the hands of other creators.

Collecting issues #1-6, Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (144 pages/$22.99) will be available this May and is available for pre-order now online.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

No matter how an artist draws Ashley J. Williams–Ash–from the low-budget horror/dark comedy/zombie Evil Dead series, the character is impossible to see as anyone other than Bruce Campbell.  Publishers like Dark Horse and Dynamite Comics have released prior series featuring Ash, but if you missed those and are after a new ongoing series you might check out the new Army of Darkness from Dynamite.  With Issue #3 released at comic book stores today, you can still easily track down Issues #1 and 2 or, even quicker, download the back issues from comixology.com for a lot less than the print price.

If you don’t know Ash, he’s the character made famous by cult favorite actor Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead (1981), The Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1991), as well as three video games: Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000), Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003) and Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005).  ASh is both funny and wise-cracking, a mirror image of the character Bruce Campbell seems to personify wherever he shows up.  The shows were directed by Campbell’s long-time creative partner Sam Raimi, known for everything from Hercules to Xena: Warrior Princess to Legend of the Seeker, all great fantasy TV series filmed in New Zealand, land of Middle Earth before it was Middle Earth.  And he also directed the first three Spider-man movies.  Bruce Campbell can be seen weekly in the successful spy series Burn Notice as cool-with-his-mojito, ex-spy in Miami, Sam Axe.

Fans of Campbell will pretty much tell you there is no one out there cooler than this guy.  And fans of Evil Dead may be interested that Raimi is in production right now of a remake of the original Evil Dead, with a new young cast, and instead of the tongue in cheek humor of the original comedy horror series, the new film will be a more serious supernatural thriller–probably not what a lot of diehard fans will be after.

But if you want more of the original Ash, then the place to look is this new comic book effort.  But there’s a twist with the new series.  You may find yourself puzzled throughout Issue #1 of the new Army of Darkness, as the “voice”–comments and word choice–of the character is all Bruce Campbell, yet the new Ash is a woman.   And Ash is a man.  And Ash is a woman.  It will all make sense, trust me.  The hero of Issue #1 turns out not to be Ashley J. Williams but new heroine Ashley K. Williams, Ash of a parallel universe that happens to be a butt-kicking woman with the personality and schtick of Bruce Campbell.

And we get the back story of Ash and her/his abilities not through yet another Ash origin story but through this parallel Ash.  And it works well.  The story itself is peppered with both pop culture references everyone should get and, for the diehard fans, references back to the original series only serious fans will likely get.

Ashley K. meets up with some well-timed aliens that prompt her to arrive at a nexus point, that just so happens to be where Ashley J. Williams also turns up.  On first read readers may get the feeling like I did with the New 52 Issue #1 of Green Lantern, hoping for Hal Jordan but getting Sinestro instead.  But what this story sets up is the opportunity for twice the Ash–if one Ash is good, two must be double the fun.  And Ashley J. turns up in full force for Issue #2.

Army of Darkness is written by Elliott R. Serrano with pencils by Marat Mychaels and inks by Chris Ivy.  Some of the best writers and artists today are creating for Dynamite Comics, so if you’re looking for something off the mainstream Marvel Comics and DC Comics, Dynamite has a lot of choices, along with this title there is Bionic Man, Bionic Woman, Green Hornet, Kato, Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, all discussed here at borg.com previously, and lots more to check out.

Hype schmype

We’ve all been there… your friends, co-workers, boss, agent, and big brother can’t stop talking about some hot new “must watch” (or read) film, TV show, book, whatever.  They are aghast, sympathetic, and even evangelical when you admit you’ve never seen Highlander or read Harry Potter.  Thus convinced by people whose opinion you respect, you jump on the bandwagon, eager for a great ride.  When the ride comes to a stop, however, you wander off, vaguely nonplussed.  Did I see the same movie?  Is my brother on drugs?  What’s happening here?  Yep: You’ve become the victim of hype that fell flat.

With the theory that intelligent pop culture consumers can have different but equally valid opinions, we’ve asked the borg.com contributors to sound off about their single biggest hype failures.  What highly-anticipated, universally-praised properties didn’t work for us, at all?

Elizabeth Bunce:  This one was easy: The Matrix.  I consider myself an intelligent fan of intelligent science fiction (Gattaca, The Adjustment Bureau), and can appreciate the fun the genre has to offer, too (who doesn’t love Total Recall or Tron?).  Heck, I even thought  Inception was OK!  But, man, did I ever miss the boat on The Matrix.  Admittedly, I was handicapped coming in, as I’m not usually a big Keanu Reeves fan, although I thought he was perfectly cast in Bill & Ted and Speed.  I know the super-slow-mo, bullet-dodging SFX are much admired (not to mention imitated), but I found them just plain silly.  Any minute, I expected them to start spouting stilted, dubbed-in English like some vintage Kung-fu send-up.  But my biggest problem with the film is a thematic one.  I just can’t get behind the premise.

Ok, I can believe that our world is just a virtual reality recreation foisted upon us by energy-hungry robots.  That’s not my problem.  What I can’t get around is everyone’s eagerness to shed that illusion and return to the drudgery of real life.  Sure, freedom fighting is all very noble, and 150 years of fantasy have convinced us there’s no place like home, but come on!  If I have to choose between riding a motorcycle with Carrie Ann Moss or slurping rations in some dingy 23rd century version of your mom’s basement, along with the other gamer geeks who haven’t showered in three days… Yeah.  I’m gonna let those metal squids suck out my brain.

Art Schmidt:  The first thing that popped into my head was a movie I saw last year.  I had been reading about this movie for a year.  The director had directed three of my favorite movies from the last ten years, and this time he was writing the screenplay, too!  Bonus!!!  The early hype on this movie was phenomenal, and the trailers that trickled out onto Facebook were mind-blowing.  This movie was going to absolutely R-U-L-E!!!  And then it didn’t rule.  In fact, the movie was a certifiable train wreck.  The director was Zack Snyder, and the movie was, of course, Sucker Punch.  However, I can’t list this as my pick for the thing that I hated that everyone else liked, because no one liked it.  The studio “suckered” me into giving them my money, so I have no close friends to conveniently lay the blame for that lost ten dollars on.  Now for my real pick.  The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels).

Critics said it was cutting-edge, gritty and brilliant.  My neighbors who read it said it was awesome (I have one neighbor who is from Ireland, and he said they were “brilliant”).  My favorite entertainment magazine said the novels were better than anything being written out there.  They were going to make a movie out of them, even though movies had already been made out of them in Europe.  I read all three, and I’m still confused about why everyone is so gaga over them.  I mean, all I really got from those books was that men are pigs, Europeans think women cheating on their husbands is just fine, and Swedes drink a lot of coffee.  I mean, really, what’s with all the coffee?  I like coffee, I drink coffee every day, but seriously, all anyone ever drinks in those novels is coffee (okay, twice someone drank mineral water and I think I recall a couple of scenes where someone had a beer but wished they were drinking coffee).  The majority of scenes are literally defined by the presence or lack of a coffee maker, whether someone turns it off when they leave the room, and by what type of coffee cup the people in the scene are drinking their coffee out of.  And the first book, seriously?  The climax is the discovery that the ‘murder’ being investigated never actually happened, but no worries, there is a murderer to be apprehended anyway.  I give up.

Jason McClain:  I have to agree with Elizabeth: hype is the most dangerous thing to my possible enjoyment of a movie. I often wonder how my opinion of The Blair Witch Project would have changed if I would have seen it three weeks later.  It goes beyond hype, though. If I know I want to see a movie, I avoid everything about it.  I learned this trait from Entertainment Weekly when Seven came out. I had no clue Kevin Spacey was going to be in the movie until I read an Entertainment Weekly article.  I still remember how upset I was when he came on the screen and that moment of surprise had been ruined.  So, I avoid trailers. (Yes, I will put my head down and hum to myself while in a theater.)  I avoid commercials.  I avoid everything if it is a movie that I know I want to see.  If it isn’t, I don’t care.  If it isn’t, I will listen to people, watch all the funny moments in a trailer, get excited when a commercial comes on the TV and probably try to go opening weekend.  I may as well cover the movie in bacon grease and throw it in a pen of tigers, because at that point the movie is doomed to fail in my eyes.  When I started to think about the movies I remember being ruined by hype, I thought about movies that I don’t find funny (Shrek 2, Old School or The Hangover) but comedy is subjective and it is possible I was in a bad mood the day I saw these.  (A bad mood, after hype, is the second most dangerous filter with which to view a movie.)  I could mention an overly long nature documentary that anthropomorphizes animals that live in the furthest south region possible, but these aquatic birds can’t defend themselves.  Only one movie made me throw things in anger and yell at the TV screen during the Academy Awards, Gladiator.

That movie still makes me angry to this day.  Sure, it was a crappy year for movies when it won (except for Almost Famous), but that doesn’t excuse it.  I have no clue how anyone ever in the history of all recorded time found this movie to be anything but awful.  Because my jaw is clenching right now and I want to punch a CGI tiger in the mouth, I think I’m going to sign off.  I’ll just say this one last thing: Gladiator made me laugh more than Shrek 2, Old School and The Hangover combined.  I’m not too sure which side that reflects poorly on (or if it is on me) but only one of those things won Best Freaking Picture of the year.

C.J. Bunce:  There are so many over-hyped films that grate on me to this day that I’ve mentioned here before, like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), then there are so-so movies that critics rave about, like almost all the Coen Brothers movies (Raising Arizona excluded).  I have wanted to like The Big Lebowski, but I don’t know what it is supposed to be.  Funny?  Nope.  Serious?  Nope.   But to force myself to choose one big hit that everyone liked except me–I ultimately land at the Coen Brothers’ Fargo as my biggest hype disappointment.  Why?  Some background on how I think:  Part of the test the U.S. courts used to determine whether something qualified as obscene included a test referred to as the Miller test.  Basically, the work would be shown to have no socially redeeming value if it lacked “any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (I’m leaving out a bit but this is the main part).  Fargo has none of this, at least for me.

Is it supposed to be funny?  I’ve known people from Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas and they never talked with such an overdone, obnoxious accent as the actors in this movie.  Innocent people in a wood chipper as entertaining?  Bad acting, bad story, absurd antics, preposterous murder plot, a film that left me wanting my money back.  And the movie claims it is based on a true story, but that’s nonsense other than a guy once really put his his wife in a woodchipper.  Macy and McDormand have done better.  Seven Academy Award nominations and a win for McDormand for her acting in this film?  The National Film Registry and American Film Institute Lists?  Oh, Coen Brothers, make a film I like, please.  At least Wes Anderson had The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and I have never seen this much activity and opportunities to get involved.  Maybe more and more people are getting with “being Green.”  My local hardware store was giving away spruce tree saplings.  They only took ten minutes to plant.  I’ve done this at past homes I’ve lived in across the country and the result was tall, beautiful trees that still stand strong decades later, the giveaways part of the Arbor Day tree giveaway projects.  Arbor Day is April 27, only five days away, so you have plenty of time to get a new tree started in your yard.

The National Wildlife Federation sent around a link yesterday to a classic public service announcement from Earth Days past, which indicates we’re OK here with an observance of Earth Day the day after the fact, or, for that matter, any day after that.

It’s from the Muppets and its about being Green “before Green became the new black” as the fashionistas might say:

And while we’re looking back at retro PSAs from TV commercials past, check out this classic, with a certain ex-Replicant actress from Blade Runner:

Back in 1973 I would have had no idea who Joanna Cassidy was.  But they played this PCA years later and it definitely draws you in to think about good ol’ Smokey Bear and his message.  Smokey Bear was said to be the Ad Council’s longest running campaign, running from 1950 to the latest ad created in 2011 .  Even up until the late 1980s you could go to some park rangers across the U.S. and get a copy of this classic comic book from the 1960s:

It tells the real-life story of the American black bear that inspired the campaign.  And we can’t mention Smokey without Woodsy Owl:

All great messages, all using classic characters to try to get everyone to pay attention.  Consider planting a tree this Arbor Day!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

This is not an eye-catching lede or a crazy supposition, this is a fact: the only way that Batman could beat Superman would be if Superman didn’t try.  If you read the first six pages of the first issue of writer/creator Mark Waid and artist Peter Krause’s comic Irredeemable (or the first six pages of the trade paperback, which tends to be what I collect these days) you would see that basic scenario laid out in graphic detail as the Plutonian faces the Hornet.  (You can see a free digital preview of these six pages now at comixology.com).

Of course, I’m biased.  I’m one of the rare Superman fans as opposed to Bats.  I like Green Lantern over Green Arrow.  (The obvious parallels break down when I try to shift to Marvel heroes.  Captain America?  A favorite, but not quite in the power realm of GL and Supes).  I obviously have a thing for the ultimate Boy Scouts.  I like the characters that have to hold back, that can’t give it their all, because if they did, someone would die.  (Don’t bother trying to make me think Kryptonite and the color yellow make a difference in stopping Big Blue and Lantern.  They only exist because no one knows what to do with characters this powerful.  Lex Luthor?  As Douglas Adams would say, “Mostly Harmless,” with Lex’s only good plan being the one he devised in Kingdom Come.  That’s not a coincidence that Mark Waid wrote it and that it’s my favorite Superman story).

Supes and Lantern vs. Batman = overkill?

That’s why the first trade paperback of Irredeemable is so refreshing.  What would happen if one of the ultimate heroes lost his ever-loving mind?  (We saw glimpses of it when Hal Jordan became Parallax and I probably need to go back to read that to see if it needs to be added to my list of great stories).  When all a hero has is his (or her) sense of right and wrong to guide them, when all they have are the rules of society and the rules they make for themselves (right, Doctor?¹) to keep from doing harm, it’s a tenuous link.  When a hero is the nearest thing to a living God, the only thing that can stop the hero is another God, a hell of a lot of luck, or themselves.

Batman? Who is Batman?

I think the same is true of the great sports heroes and why I love to root for them.  It’s amazing to watch a truly skilled athlete do what he does best.  To watch Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols hit in their prime is a kind of living masterpiece.  To watch Tiger Woods make a golf course seem obsolete is a thrill of human achievement.  Well, it’s true while they are young.  Unfortunately, like all humans, sports heroes have to grow old.  It eventually ends.  It always ends.

Those tears are tears of joy, aren't they Supes? Batman is dead... long live Superman!

But, again, I’m in the minority.  How do I know this for certain?  Well, I have the great guys at Radiolab to thank for that information.  We, as humans, root, root, root for the underdog 80% of the time and if they don’t win it’s a shame.  We generally like to see the 15 seeds beat 2 seeds.  We generally like to see upsets in the Super Bowl or college bowl games.  We generally like to see the Yankees or the Red Sox and all their piles of money lose.  We like to think that Batman, the ultimate in human intellect and training could beat the Kryptonian Superman like in The Dark Knight Returns that C.J. Bunce and Art Schmidt mentioned in their favorites worthy of adaptation

Most people like the underdog.

So, when athletes age, when they pass 30 and the leap out of bed in the morning gradually changes into swinging your legs over the side and pausing, taking that moment, before rising.  The moment becomes longer.  The hands move to the edge of the mattress to give that little extra push.  The body bends forward so that the momentum of straightening helps to propel the body into space.  The body that used to rush headlong into the day now stands before it in repose, knowing it will be there when the time comes to make the forward push into the stream of activity.  Part of that pause comes from experience, from the idea that savoring those moments of calm and serenity helps to make the frantic moments acceptable, but part is that little voice in the back of the head that knows that one day the body won’t respond because as much as the mind won’t want to admit to growing old, it notices.  It always notices.

Carried off the field = good. Helped off the field = bad.

We grow old.  We watch our athletic heroes grow old and have to leave the game.  We watch our intellectual and artistic heroes do the same, but the curve isn’t as dramatic and those heroes continue to amaze us and give us hope that we can stay amazing ourselves.  Our fictional heroes remain the same though.  They are immortal.  But, of the immortals, only a couple of them are Gods.  If they ever break that trust that we have in them, that’s when they become “Irredeemable.”

1.  I think this is one of the reasons that I can’t get behind Rory Williams and his relationship with Amy Pond.  I root for the Doctor.  I root for him to be happy.  The relationship with Amy Pond seemed like it could have been the one.  But, that’s because I’m finite.  There can never be a true human “one” for a Gallifreyan.  Still, boo Rory.

To quote Nathan Petrelli to brother Peter in "Heroes"--"The world needs nurses, too."

2.  I always think C.J. and I get along so well because our interests intersect so much, but are so different.  He’s a Green Arrow guy and I’m a Green Lantern dude.  We obviously differ on Alan Moore.  We still have to discuss The Shawshank Redemption vs. The Green Mile.

Since we just passed our 200,000th visit yesterday, I wanted to send a out a quick thank you to all of our readers, on behalf of the writing staff of borg.com.  Thanks for helping borg.com get to this benchmark so quickly!

Because of the positive response via comments and via your direct emails it makes it that much more fun for us to continue to provide daily updates of what we think is new and interesting in the world of science fiction, fantasy, pop culture, comics, movies, TV… but you already know what we’re all about.  If you haven’t given us feedback yet we’d love to hear from you–check out the comments linked at the top of each article and give your own public comment by completing the box at the the bottom of any article.  Recent comments are listed in the right column of our home page.  Or email us directly at borgeditor[at]gmail.com.

And by “you” we really mean YOU because you’re here checking up on the latest and greatest previews, artists and writers, commentaries and reviews, whether you’re from the USA or one of more than 75 countries around the globe that regularly visit borg.com, including (cracking knuckles): the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain, the Russian Federation, the Phillippines, India, the Netherlands, Argentina, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia, Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Malaysia, Japan, Ireland, New Zealand, Thailand, Portugal, Norway, the Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Romania, Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Austria, Ukraine, Singapore, Serbia, Hong Kong, Finland, Israel, South Africa, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Peru, Viet Nam, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Ecuador, Lithuania, Slovenia, Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Estonia, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Georgia, Guatemala, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Jamaica, Jordan, Iraq, Belarus, Bangladesh, Albania, Panama, Uruguay, Barbados, Syrian Arab Republic, Nigeria, Moldova, Paraguay, Armenia, Guam, Azerbaijan, Qatar, El Salvador, Maldives, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Kenya, Mauritius, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Oman, China, Mongolia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Yemen, Cambodia, Dominica, Gibraltar, Jersey, Aruba, Honduras, Macao, Mozambique, Uganda, Belize, Grenada, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, and where the big-time climbers climb, Nepal… it’s like a Fandom Olympics here! 

If you’ve ever been to Comic-Con in San Diego, you know what can happen when more than 100,000 like-minded people get together to do something positive–have a great time!  It may sound a bit hokey, but it ties into part of our mission that we stated here last June… to pull together all science fiction, fantasy, entertainment–all pop culture–and certainly all fans of these things, in one place.  Here’s all of you on a map:

A special shout-out goes to our dozens of subscribers who read our updates each day (and if you don’t yet and want to join in and get daily updates check out the right column of the home page any time).  And a personal thanks to Elizabeth, Art and Jason for all the great ideas, input, and all-out work.

Thanks again!

And… because we know you didn’t come here to read about us, we’re sharing the trailer for the highly anticipated time travel cop flick Looper, starring the great Bruce Willis, Joe Gordon-Levitt (a fan favorite actor who not only ushered us all into New Years’ this year, but is likely to be the busiest working actor of 2012, with key roles this year in The Dark Knight Rises and the biopic Lincoln) and Emily Blunt (who we loved in The Adjustment Bureau and The Muppets).  And did I say it has time travel?

Looper opens in September.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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