About these ads

Archive for June, 2012


Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.  Now the auction house has announced the first part of the Dreier collection will be auctioned off, scheduled for July 28, 2012.

Chad Dreier and son Doug amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  There is not a lot of focus to the collection–the Dreiers seemed to acquire several mid-range pieces from movies as opposed to going for the key hero piece from any particular film.  For whatever reason they stopped midstream, and the result is that many buyers will be able to fill in their collections from a wide range of productions.

The key pieces?

First off there is an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  I could be wrong but it looks just like one that circulated the Planet Hollywood theme restaurant chain before they went bankrupt and sold off their collection via Profiles and other outlets.  It has an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expect this will sell for at least triple that.  Profiles calls this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  I’d guess George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch has one or two just as nice, but the statement is probably not far from the truth.  For everyone’s favorite lovable Star Wars hero, some folks with big pockets will duke it out for this crown jewel.  Some background original series weapons and prequel lightsabers are up for auction, too.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971.  Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera.  Annoyingly his hat and costume are being auctioned separately; the hat is expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.  An Oompa Loompa costume has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  If you’re like me you grew up with Keeshan in his nearly 40 year run as Captain Kangaroo.  No Mr. Green Jeans?

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carries an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  More interesting than one of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000 is the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando.

Although the estimate for the silver blingy Brando costume is the same as for Reeve’s supersuit, if legend status is any indication, expect the Brando to go the way of contemporary Marilyn Monroe’s costumes last summer.  Despite some four-figure estimates, expect some Christopher Reeve Clark Kent suits and kryptonite to reach five figures–screen-matched kryptonite doesn’t come up for auction every day.

The cover piece is an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  Whether or not you liked the original series, you cannot deny how neat the original cylons looked in 1979.  The suit carries an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  Equally cool, and a nice jewel for some sci-fi TV fan, will be the Colonial Warrior costume from that series.

In particular, the helmet is a great looking piece, and if you watch the TV series Psych, you’ll have seen a colonial helmet as a story element in the entertainment memorabilia episode starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s real-life hubby Freddie Prinz, Jr. as a mega-sci-fi collector.

Iconic for sure.  The lot carries an estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  (Profiles is also auctioning off a Geordi LaForge visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation!).

Many of the items are familiar, having sold in other recent Profiles auctions.  Look for a quarter scale Batmobile from Batman Returns as well as a deteriorating Batsuit worn by Michael Keaton. The auction includes several X-Men outfits and props, including Wolverine and his claws, Magneto, Cyclops, Storm, and Rogue.  For recent films they carry pretty hefty five-figure estimates (except Rogue), but I’d expect the Wolverine to sell for a high amount as the standout of the franchise.  Other costumes and props have been seen recently at auction but may be interesting to some bidders (and are certainly just fun to browse through in the catalog), including pieces from Star Trek, such as familar borgs Seven of Nine, Data in First Contact-style uniform, and a Next Generation member of The Borg as well as a Klingon warrior, also pieces from the Indiana Jones movies, Austin Powers, The Hunt for Red October, G.I. Joe, Gladiator and Dances with Wolves.

One sleeper item of note is the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book.  With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, expect this full color beauty to easily exceed $10,000.  This comic book is likely to tug at the nostalgia of many a kid from the 1970s.  Every other kid I knew had this comic book–it was published and reprinted several times–and who wouldn’t want to own the original cover art now?

For those with smaller budgets, some great toy lots from Star Wars, Pez, and G.I. Joe are being auctioned, too.

Happy bidding!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

About these ads

Disney Television Animation has announced a mega-panel at Comic-Con for Friday, July 13, 2012, featuring the creators and voice actors from the new Disney XD series Tron: Uprising.

Bruce Boxleitner, the voice of Tron, headlines the panel along with series star, Elijah Wood, who plays the young Grid cycle repair technician turned rebel named Beck.   Former Battlestar Galactica star Tricia Helfer, the voice of The Grid, is also scheduled to appear, along with Emmanuelle Chriqui (Paige), and creative staff Charlie Bean (executive producer/director), Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (consulting producers), Alberto Mielgo (art director), and Robert Valley (lead character designer).

Disney also released the rest of its animation panel schedule:

Saturday, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. —  Phineas and Ferb Q&A Panel (Room 6A) featuring a clip from a coming two-part cliffhanger episode “Where’s Perry?”  Panelists include Dan Povenmire (creator/executive producer & Dr. Doofenshmirtz), Swampy Marsh, creator/executive producer & (Major Monogram), Vincent Martella (Phineas), Alyson Stoner (Isabella), and Dee Bradley Baker (Perry).

Saturday, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. — Disney Channel Television Animation Q&A Panel: (Room: 5AB), featuring footage and clips from upcoming Disney Channel’s Fish Hooks and Gravity Falls series, plus a first look at the upcoming series Wander Over Yonder.  Scheduled panelists include: Noah Z. Jones (Fish Hooks creator/executive producer), Maxwell Atoms (Fish Hooks executive producer), Justin Roiland (Oscar on Fish Hooks), Kari Wahlgren (Shellsea on Fish Hooks), Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls creator/executive producer), Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls creative director), Jason Morgan Ritter (Dipper on Gravity Falls), Craig McCracken (Wander Over Yonder creator), and Lauren Faust (Wander Over Yonder co-producer).

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Although San Diego Comic-Con International hasn’t posted its programming list for this year’s convention, production companies and publishers are now locking in panels and notifying Accredited Comic-Con press badge holders (including borg.com writers Jason McClain and C.J. Bunce).  The Discovery Communications channel Science just announced that it will reunite the cast of Firefly for the TV series 10th anniversary, which should be a pretty successful panel.  Some of the actors for the series appeared in San Diego last year at the Nerd HQ event hosted by Zachary Levi in the Gaslight District (we’ll release more information on this year’s Nerd HQ line-up as information becomes available).

The Firefly reunion event will take place Friday July 13, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. in Room 20.

Series creator, executive producer and writer Joss Whedon is scheduled to appear along with executive producer and writer Tim Minear and cast members Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Michael Fairman and other actors yet to be announced.

Science also announced that Fringe, Dark Matters, and Lord of the Rings actor John Noble will be signing autographs at the Con on Saturday, July 15, 2012, between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.  Noble will also be on a panel hosted by Warner Brothers on Sunday July 15.  Every Fringe event last year had a huge following, so plan to line-up early if you want to see any of the above events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

As Navin Johnson said, “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!”

OK, not a phone book, but something much better.  Pretty much on schedule, Frank Cho’s new hardcover Liberty Meadows: The Collected Sundays Book One has been released and it is a great collection of early Frank Cho art and humor.  You can find it at comic book stores, but I have not seen it released elsewhere yet.  As you might know from reading past reviews at borg.com, the world can always use more Frank Cho art.  What you might not know is how brilliantly funny Cho is at writing quick-witted, humorous shorts.

His very best humor can be found in University², and now in this compilation that collects Cho’s college newspaper strips while he was in nursing school.  Some of the best laugh out loud humor around is in that book.

So how is this new compilation?  It’s the kind of humor you used to get from the Sunday funnies.  So it has the feel of a toned down version of University².  After all, these appeared alongside Cathy and Peanuts and Family Circus (in one strip a character practically reaches across the newsprint to take on Cathy Guisewite’s character Cathy from the comic strip of the same name).

It’s definitely cute, slightly irreverent, and just plain good humor that was perfected and refined in the later Liberty Meadows comic book series, where Cho’s writing, and art, really shined.  You’ll find Brandy and Frank and the animal crew here as well as stories you might compare to early Charles Schultz strips.  And interspersed are pieces of true fine art–days when Frank got new pens he would draw Brandy as a modern Pre-Raphaelite lounging on a fainting couch or resisting the affections of Frank’s own representation–a funny monkey.

As format is concerned this bright and shiny hardcover edition is big and pretty.  The interior design has one negative: The pages open with a giant “Strip 001″, etc. legend to the left of each two-page spread, taking up a strangely large amount of space.  As a reader you wonder whether this could have been avoided with a slightly larger but thinner paged-volume.

The interior design quirk aside, the content is what you’d expect from Cho and will stand nicely along with your Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts hardcovers on your bookshelf.  Look for an excellent forward by Cho’s college friend, Mike McSwiggin, too.

Liberty Meadows: The Collected Sundays Book One is available in bookstores with a publication price of $24.99, (pretty cheap considering DC’s trade paperbacks sell at that price), and a discounted version is available online (and still at the discounted pre-order price as of June 27, 2012).

Karl Urban will star in the new film Dredd, taking over the role last played on the screen by Sylvester Stallone in the film Judge Dredd.  It’s hard to tell who is playing Dredd in this trailer, but it’s Karl Urban, sounding a bit like Stallone.  Urban has had a huge career so far, with his biggest roles as Eomer in Lord of the Rings and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek 2009.  Here is the trailer for Dredd:

Dredd hits theaters September 21, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

I haven’t seen any of the Resident Evil movies–the films based on the long-standing horror survival series, but this trailer is the closest I have seen to a preview for the series that might get me interested.  I like the set-up as if you are going to see an entirely diferent movie.  Here is the trailer:

Resident Evil: Retribution has a September 1, 2012 release date.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

Don Hillenbrand is what you would call a diehard science fiction fan and entertainment memorabilia collector.  In particular he is a rabid Star Trek fanboy, a true Trekkie, and he’s one of my oldest Trek collector pals. He recently launched his new website WrathofDhan.com, an online museum of sorts where he shares some of his sense of humor and allows fans to get a closer look at his amazing collection of screenused costumes and props from the show and movies that featured the original Star Trek crew—Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and the rest.

Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) about to board the USS Enterprise shuttlecraft Galileo.

As part of his passion for Star Trek, Don has spent some time over the years trying to track down the original shuttle Galileo—the actual ship that was used by Kirk & Co. in the original 1960s TV Star Trek series.  For years rumors persisted about the ship being in Don’s vicinity.  Trekkies posted photos of Google satellite images showing the vessel existed, somewhere in Ohio.  But no one seemed to know where it was stored.  It had undergone extensive restoration over the years.  One owner obtained it from the studio and (rumor has it) let their kids play in it in their yard for some time, somewhere in California.  The current owner acquired it and supposedly poured tens of thousands of dollars into a restoration effort, only to run short on money or otherwise decide to hold off, resulting in further weathering from storing it outside.  This is, after all, a 45-year-old piece of set dressing that was never intended to survive production of the series.  Recently the current owner put it up for sale and it is being auctioned off.  This week, after much persistence, Don (pictured above) was able to get in to see the Galileo in person.  I asked him here today to share his reactions with everyone involving this unique opportunity.

Front view of the shuttlecraft Galileo taken this week.

CB:  Don, what was your reaction to finally being able to see in person and walk through the actual shuttle Galileo, the only item that could be called an actual full-sized ship from the original Star Trek TV series?

DH:  Seeing the Galileo was a truly amazing thing.  On one hand, this is THE prop that we’ve all seen for decades and the emotions of joy that wash over you – well you can imagine.  Kirk and Spock actually hopped in and out of this piece!  But even as that feeling overtakes you the reality sets in – this thing is in TERRIBLE condition.  If you think it looks bad in the photos, that’s nothing compared to seeing it in person.  So you’re simultaneously hit with profound amazement and profound sadness.  It’s an odd experience.

Detail of Galileo exterior panel damage.

CB:  So how much is left of the original ship?

DH:  Of the main structure, I’d say AT THE MOST, there’s 25% of the original material in place, and of that, very little is salvageable, in my opinion.  The vast majority of the structure and surfaces have been replaced.  But then THAT was left to go to hell.  The owner kept saying how upset she was about all the bad online comments concerning the condition and how it wasn’t that bad.  At one point she abruptly turned to me and asked “It’s not as bad as you thought it was going to be, is it?”  To which I replied “Yes, I’m afraid it is.  Maybe worse.”  I didn’t want to be cruel, but this was a piece of crap.  It never ceases to amaze me how people can delude themselves when they have something on the line.

Aft view of Galileo.

CB:  I see from photos some of the weathered iconic logo on the side of the ship and the Enterprise ship identifer NCC 1701 across the back.  None of the paint or logos are original, correct?

DH:  Not a bit, unfortunately.  This has gone through at least two rounds of “restoration,” neither of which did much actual restoring in the long run.  Apparently every time progress was made, it was left out in the weather.  The lettering that you can see is from one of those rounds.  From what I can tell there’s not a molecule of original paint on the piece.  Or if there is, it’s so deteriorated that it can’t be identified.  This was originally made from a combination of materials.  From what I could tell, the skin is/was masonite with fiberglass used to blend the curved surfaces into each other.  The top “quarter round” pieces were metal, again blended with the glass.  Now it is mostly plywood and Bondo.  Lots and lots of Bondo.

Remnants of Bondo work from previous restoration efforts that took place nearly 20 years ago.

CB:  Can you tell what parts were original and what was replaced in the last restoration?

DH:  One of my goals (beyond acting like a Trekkie fanboy) was to specifically try to ascertain what was original and what was replaced.  I tried asking the owner but got rather vague information.  At one point she would say that an entire side was original.  But when I pointed out the obvious use of the plywood that the “restorers” had used, she’d say, “well, except for that.”  Of course “that” was a third of the side.  But through a lot of study and comparison, I was finally able to break it down.  Here’s what I know:

  • Steel frame is original and in good condition
  • Engines are mostly original and in good condition
  • Rear landing strut is original and in good condition
  • Interior wood frame has all been replaced
  • Sheathing on port side is about half original/half replaced
  • Sheathing on starboard side is all replacement
  • Aft – impulse engine nook has been totally replaced; lower section is original
  • Roof – totally replaced due to cave-in
  • Front – mostly original and in bad shape
  • Door – original
  • Detail pieces –grills – original
  • Bottom – no idea

Interior front view of Galileo.

The best thing about it are the engines – they are almost entirely intact.  They have no domes, unfortunately, but the rest is original except for one rear cowling that the owner had fabricated by one of the guys that worked on the original.  And I was amazed at how big that rear landing strut was in-person.  Big and beefy.  Unfortunately for me, the engines were stored in a garage and I was not able to get far enough away to take a good shot.  But they were impressive.

Galileo nacelle detail angle.

CB:  Someone will be forking over tens of thousands of dollars if they want to take on another (maybe the last) effort to finally restore this ship.  What is your take on that?

DH:  Let’s bottom line this: Is it worth restoring?  Is there enough left that it could be considered a “restoration” at all?  This is about opinion, since there’s no magic formula to determine which way to go.  I say “yes, there is.”  If it didn’t have the engines, I’d say forget it.  After all, whatever outer sheathing that is still original is in such poor condition that it will have to be replaced.  But I think there’s enough to justify restoring it and still being able to call it the “True Galileo.”  Just barely, but it’s there.

Water damage inside aft section of Galileo.

That said, it will take a Herculean task to fix this puppy up.  A year ago when I first heard about it resurfacing – practically in my own backyard – I fantasized about buying it and restoring it myself.  I’m a very handy guy and I can learn how to do just about anything.  But when I saw the poor girl in person, I knew it was good that I had put that dream aside.  You’d need a significant facility to house it in and work on it – this is no “garage kit” after all.  And you’d have to make it your extended hobby and be willing to spend hundreds of hours AND thousands of dollars (tens of thousands? I don’t know, frankly).  I’m not up to it.  And anyone thinking of bidding needs to know this going into it – it’s a BIG job!

Kirk exits Galileo, followed by Spock, in the season two episode “Metamorphosis.”

CB:  So what were your thoughts on being able to touch that actual ship from your favorite series as a kid (and still today)?

DH:  Regardless of her condition, I got to spend a great afternoon looking into every nook and cranny of the old girl.  A good friend and fellow Trek fan was with me (hey Mike!), and for a little while we were 7-year-olds stranded on a desolate planet (that bore a striking resemblance to a warehouse) with Spock and McCoy and the rest of the crew.  Kid in the candy store moment, for sure, and one I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.So I want to help make sure she ends up in a good home – with someone who will restore her to her former glory and put her proudly on display for the world to see.  I hope it comes to pass.  She deserves it.

Screencap of Hillenbrand’s online screenused costume and prop museum.

CB:  About your own collection of original Star Trek costumes and props, what made you put it all together to share on the Internet?

DH:  Well, I think you said it best when you referred to my site as “an online museum of sorts”.  That’s exactly what I want it to be – a virtual museum where fellow fans can see these amazing pieces of Star Trek history that we all love so much.

As a collector, I collect for myself, period.  I don’t buy things to impress others, just myself.  That said, a collector likes nothing better than to show off their collection to fellow fans and see theirs in return.  And since I can’t afford to build a facility and open my own museum (every collector’s dream, I think) I decided to go online.  Since web design and photography are what I do on a daily basis, it was a natural progression.  My friends had to endure countless iterations (sorry, Chris!) but I finally got something that I could be proud of and that reflected my collecting sensibilities.  I tried to have fun and tell a story.

CB:  Any future plans for WrathofDhan.com or new pieces you are looking to acquire for your collection?

DH:  I already have so many amazing pieces – stuff that is frankly beyond anything I could have dreamed of a few years ago.  But like any collector, I’m always on the hunt for new stuff, new information, and new insight into the Trek experience that has meant so much to me throughout my life.  As a matter of fact, I have a number of pieces that I need to add to the site even now.  In that way, I hope my site will never be finished.  And I’d like to thank all the great friends I’ve made over the years that have helped me make my collection what it is.  They’ve helped me in so many ways, beyond just the collection.  I wish all of you could have joined me on the Galileo for the trip of a lifetime.  As usual, Captain Kirk said it best:

“Course heading, Captain?”

“Second star on the right… and straight on ‘til morning.”

CB:  Thanks for talking with us today, Don!

DH:  My pleasure.

In real life Don runs New World Design (www.neworldesign.net) and NEOWORX Studio (www.neoworxstudio.com) where he creates design and illustration work for clients around the world. His work was recently featured in the Star Trek “Ships of the Line” calendar, a collection of new outer space imagery in the expanded Star Trek universe.

Hillenbrand designed this beautiful image for the Star Trek Ships of the Line calendar.

For anyone interested in bidding on the Galileo, you’ll have to act fast as the auction ends this week.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Jason McClain is a big fan of Ed Brubaker’s writing.  He’s mentioned his appreciation for Brubaker’s Sleeper books here at borg.com more than once.  So when I saw the enticing noir cover art on the first issues of the new series Fatale, I figured this was a good place to start.  I picked up Issues 1 and 3-5 and it took me awhile to track down #2 so I only this week could read the first story arc straight through.  The new story arc starts with the next issue, coming out soon.

Based on the noir covers I was looking forward to what I have found in my favorite film noir–Otto Preminger’s Laura, Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Dial “M” for Murder and Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart in Call Northside 777, also Sorry, Wrong Number, Elizabeth C. Bunce’s fantasy noir Liar’s Moon, and in a strange way, even the voiceover version of Blade Runner.  For the most part these are all crime noir stories.  A dangerous damsel–the Femme Fatale as in Double Indemnity–plus a Dana Andrews-looking character in a gray fedora who is usually a cop or newspaper reporter, and a dangerous city full of secrets and dark, wet streets–all of this is the stuff of noir.  But I was thinking about this all wrong.  I had no idea Ed Brubaker and artist partner Sean Phillips were creating a supernatural 1950s pulp horror/thriller, not a noir pulp crime novel.  None of my favorite film noir has anything supernatural so from only a few pages in I was thrown a bit.  Fatale is noir, but it is just as much supernatural horror.  So I read the story once and was confused a bit.  Then I figured out what genre I was reading and read it again.

If you like supernatural horror and you like the 1950s underworld as your setting, Fatale is a very interesting read–almost like revisiting a lost story type.  The supernatural bits remind me of the TV series Medium, which often contained surprisingly dark and gory crime moments juxtaposed with the lives of good, caring people.  Same goes here.  Like the movie Skeleton Key, where a man and woman use voodoo to switch bodies and live forever, and like Rosemary’s Baby and The OthersFatale’s characters are sucked into shocking and frightening situations and as readers we aren’t supposed to know all that is going on until the end.

Fatale has the requisite fascination of an otherwise boring man with an attractive, inaccessible, mysterious woman.  Nicolas Lash meets Josephine at the funeral of his godfather, Hank Raines.  Raines once knew Josephine back in the 1950s.  She’s blackmailed by a detective in the 1950s world of the story, Walt Booker, and both Josephine and Walt have this unnatural power over each other.  Is Josephine a “pusher” in the X-Files sense or does she just bring out something in others innocently?  What are these occult priestly fellows in red showing up dead everywhere and this fanged beast who kills Raines’ wife?  I’d need a few more re-reads to really catch the complexity of what happened here.  Each issue from #2 on has a lead-in paragraph at the beginning to explain what happened in the prior issue.  I found myself puzzled by these summaries, as in “oh, is that what happened last issue?”  Since I read these through in one sitting, I’d think I shouldn’t be surprised by a summary of what I just read, yet I was.  Usually if stories suffer it’s through too much “telling” and not enough “showing.”  Here I think this story has the reverse problem, but only a bit, and could stand to explain a little more plainly what the heck is going on with the mass suicide, magic dagger, old novel script and some pile of papers that need translating.  At times I felt I was totally in sync with the story–there was a 1960s James Bond aura at different points along the way that created a cool vibe.  Then with the symbology and strange beast who was also a leader that looked like Hitler, I was out of sync again.

Without question, the best part of Fatale is Sean Phillips’ 1950s style art.  If I wasn’t following a scene from the dialogue then I could usually get there with the visual storytelling.  Fatale looks like the noir I’d expect to see, for most of the scenes.  Dave Stewart’s coloring creates a world familiar to fans of Edward Hopper’s paintings.  I think the storytelling has some jarring moments, however.  Things like expletives that seem out-of-place and -time bothered me here.  It could be because, even if people used expletives in the real 1950s, 1950s movies never did, and so the aura of 1950s drama seems more accessible to me than what might have been real-life lingo (although I refuse to believe folks in 1950s swear as much as, and with the exact same colorful metaphors as, we have today as this work reflects).  So I love the look of Fatale, but am not sure of how much I like the story and whether I would recommend it to others not familiar with this genre.  The “voiceover” parts were quite good (the “it was a dark night in the city when I first met her” kind of thing).  Are Brubaker and Phillips’ other works supernatural horror like this?  I’d be willing to try more of their works to find out.

Fatale did make me think a lot about characterization, mood, and what makes something a crime novel vs a horror novel vs a supernatural thriller.  In a different kind of way, it made me think about complexity of story much as I did reading and watching the Watchmen graphic novel and film adaptation.  Anything that makes you think like that is probably a good thing.

Fatale is available at Amazon.com for pre-order in a trade edition titled Death Chases Me.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Tron is one of those franchises that has barely been tapped for its universe of potential stories about the Grid.  The original movie Tron followed Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn as he became sucked into the computer sphere, into the video game, Tron.  The graphic novel Tron: Betrayal smartly covered the events after the original film, to provide a segue into the new Grid universe in Tron: Legacy, a strange, cool, new world of the Grid on the big screen.  Tron: Legacy met Flynn again, this time an aged hermit-slash-guru, trapped for years as an outcast rebel leader, and his son, who enters the computer world to find him.  We got a brief glimpse of Tron’s real-world equivalent (Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), but didn’t see much of Tron himself.  The excellent updated role play video game Tron: Evolution features even more of the new world, but not until now do we get what we’ve wanted all along, more Tron, and specifically more Boxleitner as Tron.  Unfortunately Tron isn’t the lead of the new animated weekly half-hour TV series on Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, but he gets an important key role as Jedi-like mentor to Elijah Wood’s young Padawan-esque character, Beck, years after the events of Tron: Legacy.  The story is one of persecution and revolution, and the whispered message across the Grid is “Tron lives.”

You’ll find plenty of parallels to Star Wars and other good science fantasy and science fiction, even cool references back to the original Tron movie itself, like the little floating diamond that repeated the word “yes” with nice comic timing.  And you’ll be hard pressed not to try to compare it to the Clone Wars animated series.  I think the art, sound, story, music, color, depth, movement and vibe leaves not only Clone Wars behind, but any other animated series that comes to mind, after watching the first three episodes broadcast yesterday and last Tuesday.  If there is any drawback it may be characters and producers still getting comfortable with the dialogue and techno-babble, but this may just get ironed out over the course of the series.  The other drawback is getting used to the string-bean thin and tall hero characters of this universe.  But those items are easily dismissed for all that is very cool in this series.

The best part may very well be the band Daft Punk’s soulful, hopeful, sometime dark, sometimes bright techno music that is borrowed from their unique and stunning score for the film Tron: Legacy and carefully and expertly edited into this series.  The thumping base line and synthesized strings at the right movements take you into this new world to the point you find the art direction and sound together creating a complete universe–and you will question whether this is a movie or a video game or an animated series.  Imagery of a classic Encom light cycle has glass-like mirror reflections of animated characters that looks like it could exist in the real world.  Water flows like real water, yet nicely done with a computerized edge to it as in the original Tron film.

And then you have Bruce Boxleitner as not an elder Tron so much as a mature Tron, leader and icon of this new uprising.  His character looks a bit like Boxleitner without the need for motion capture technology.  Elijah Wood’s Beck is young and impulsive.  Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Paige and Kate Mara’s Perl are cool, tough villains.  Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) provides the perfect voice for the voiceover introductions as well as the voice of the Grid.  Lance Henriksen’s (Alien) Tesler is a slicker villain than Jeff Bridges’ motion capture computer-generated character Clu from Tron: Legacy.  And Paul Reubens’ voice is perfect for Tesler’s henchman.

You can’t forget the animation itself, and Disney has outdone itself here.  it looks like it must have taken years to developed this type of imagery.  Some scenes look they come from the best of Pixar’s achievements, including some that just establish setting, with little or no action, although the light cycle chase scenes are seemless and exciting as you’d hope for.

A great start for a great franchise!

Review by C.J. Bunce

Waiting and waiting for IDW Publishing’s extraordinary crossover of Star Trek and Doctor Who, Assimilation², I actually missed the release and finally picked up my copy, which was already in its second printing.  Everything seems to go to second printing these days because it’s a pretty predictable task for the distributor to know how much of what will sell based on comic store orders.  Still–an initial sell-out and in-demand second printing reflects the big fan bases out there that are Star Trek and Doctor Who, the Trekkies and the Whovians, as stated on our member badges.

If you love the current Matt Smith and Amy Pond Doctor Who, you will love Assimilation².  If you are a Trekkie, Issue #1 will have you adding Issue #2 to your comic book pull list.

To get it right, any adaptation of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who must have his banter right.  It must show Amy Pond as curious and inquisitive and hesitant.  It must show husband Rory as protective and cautious.  And it must break out of the comics page with a crazy opening action sequence, closing out some prior grand, epic, historic adventure.  And include the ludicrous blue phone box called the TARDIS and those evil, stilted cyborgs called the Cybermen.

Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  And… check.

This is the crossover to rival all crossovers.  Believe the hype.  And it is pretty much perfect.  Actually I’d call it perfect but I’m sure there is something not perfect and I am just ecstatic they got it so right–I guess they have two of the big three genre franchises and adding a Star Wars element may just cause the world to explode.  Someone who gets Trek and Who?  They’re writers Scott Tipton, David Tipton and Tony Lee and artist J.K. Woodward.

Let’s start with the writing.  First, since this is an ongoing series focusing on Doctor Who’s 11th Doctor and Star Trek: The Next Generation, there will be a lot to cover, and so Issue #1 features only minimal Next Generation content.   But where the Doctor will meet Lieutenant Commander Data and Commander Riker is one of the best lead-ins/cliffhangers to a next issue I have seen in years.  If you have seen the Emmy Award winning Next Generation episode “The Big Goodbye” you’ll have an idea of what I am talking about.

The series opens with a visit to a place Star Trek: The Motion Picture fans, and specifically fans of the Deltan named Ilia, will find a refreshing place to start–Delta IV.  Bombarded by The Borg of Next Generation, Voyager, and First Contact fame, a Federation officer realizes they have partnered with another cyborg entity, and unlike past visits from The Borg, these borg aren’t just assimilating, they are annihilating.  A Cybermen partnership with The Borg?  Perfect.

Next we land smack dab in the middle of an ancient Egyptian adventure with rip-roaring action, the Doctor, Amy, Rory, a pharaoh, and an alien visitor.  Team Tipton and Lee do exactly what they need to and get the personalities and banter just right.  They leave for their next adventure, which will pick up in a very familiar place for Next Generation fans in Issue #2.  And look for a few “Easter eggs.”  Bravo!

Now to artist J.K. Woodward.  If you’re going to have a breakout work this is the place to do it, and I will go so far as to say his work on Issue #1 rivals Alex Ross’s painted art in his Uncle Sam series.  It may even be better than the paint work on Ross’s Marvels series.  It’s not as detailed to be sure, but his renderings of actors gives us more than enough to let us slide right back into watching old Next Generation episodes and the next season of Doctor Who.  Woodward also does something you don’t see every day–action sequences in a completely painted tale that are beautiful and interesting.  His Delta IV looks how you might have imagined it.  His 1940s era San Francisco seems so, so familiar you’ll feel like you’ve been there before.

Tipton, Tipton, Lee and Woodward make it look easy.  But if you’ve read a lot of genre property spin-offs, you know that Star Wars writers cannot get away from having Luke and Han repeat ad nauseam “I have a bad feeling about this.”  Look for none of that in Assimilation² Issue #1.   These guys got it right.  Let’s hope these guys keep up the momentum in Issue #2 and the rest of the series.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 539 other followers

%d bloggers like this: