Category: Comics & Books

Ships of the Line posters cover 2015

Star Trek: Ships of the Line is a series of calendars first begun in 2000 for the 2001 calendar year, featuring starships from all series and even ships created specifically for the calendars.  The idea was the brainchild of Adam Lebowitz, a computer graphics animation supervisor on Star Trek Voyager who wanted fans to be able to see highly detailed images of some of the work created for the franchise.  The 2016 calendar is available now here.  Well-known Star Trek graphic designer Mike Okuda released a compilation book of cropped images from most of the calendars through 2006 called Ships of the Line, still available from here.

For the Star Trek 50th anniversary, Universe Publishing is releasing a new version of the Ships of the Line series, Star Trek: Ships of the Line Posters, featuring 24 “posters” of images formerly included in the calendar series or as novel cover artwork, but never released previously in this format.  The posters are images shown with a white matte border and can be easily pulled from the boxed flip cover book and mounted in 11×17 inch frames.  Each photographic image is approximately 7×14 inches and includes the printed artist’s name and title of the work.

SOL Scott

You’ll find images of various versions of the Enterprise, as well as images from Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Enterprise, and alien worlds including Vulcan, Romulan and Klingon environments.  The best?  Probably Robert Bonchune’s Assignment: Earth (shown on the cover) and It Would Have Been Glorious, and Pierre Drolet’s Wind Tunnel and None Too Soon, The Skies of Home, each a striking, standout image, featuring the original Enterprise, a Romulan battle, a Romulus homeworld scene, and an experimental craft.

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Badass women Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Thus begins Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.  But wait.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

That’s the beginning of Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 horror adaptation “parody” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

P P and Z

One is an awesome classic about early 19th century class and society.  The other… sounds like fun, and if the movie adapted from Grahame-Smith’s other well-known novel, 2010’s Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, is any indication, this next flick is going to be a heckuva lot of fun.  And forget about the horror and zombies, the first trailer out of the gates makes this flick look like Jane Austen meets Hit Girl from Kick-Ass.

Just check out the trailer for yourself:

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Chris Tucker Fifth Element

What would you wear to a dinner party at the edge of the galaxy in the 28th century?

Now everyone has a chance to answer that question, as a costume designer for a major science fiction movie release.  Director Luc Besson, best known for his outlandish style in the 1997 Bruce Willis/Milla Jovovich sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, is looking for a few good outfits to feature in a dinner party scene in a city of millions and a myriad of humanoid alien races.  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is scheduled for release in 2017, now in pre-production.

Besson, who also directed La Femme Nikita, The Professional, and Lucy, made a long-lasting statement in sci-fi fashion with his characters from The Fifth Element.  From Milla Jovovich’s body-taped Leeloo, to Bruce Willis’s understated everyman Korben Dallas, to the over-the-top Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod, from the striking opera singer Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn), to Gary Oldman’s creepy and villainous Zorg, the movie was a visual spectacle.

Diva Plavalaguna

How do you enter the contest?

All you need to know is in this video presentation with Luc Besson:

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New Speedy Willa Hollans on Arrow

Time flies when you’re having fun.  Seems like yesterday we were up all night on the street in San Diego waiting to see the world premiere of the pilot for CW’s Arrow.  It’s hard to believe Season 4 begins tonight.  Arrow has done something pretty amazing–taking a 70-year-old character and upending his backstory and surrounding characters in a way that stays true to the spirit of the original.  This season the story of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is getting even closer to his roots.

Tonight Oliver’s sister, Thea (Willa Holland), will take over the Speedy mantle, donning the above slick new supersuit.  Some credit is due to my pal and fellow Iowa boy Phil Hester and Kevin Smith, co-creators as writer and artist, respectively of Mia Dearden, the first woman Speedy in the pages of DC Comics’ second long-running Green Arrow monthly.  This new look borrows much from their original.  It’s not the first time CW’s Arrow has dipped back into the archives to bring out good ideas from the past, and that is what helps make the series so well-received by fans of the superhero genre.

What can we expect from Season 4?


For one, Starling City will be renamed Star City, one of the comic book homes of Oliver Queen throughout the years.

John Barrowman will return but now as the new Ra’s Al Ghul.  The power will undoubtedly go to his head, but how far, and will he take Thea down into the darkness with him?

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Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best non-fiction look at Star Trek in years is now available at book stores and online retailers.  Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann will serve as a companion book to The Art of Star Trek, The Continuing Mission, and Star Trek: The Art of the Film, all previously reviewed here and here at  Together these four books represent the best visual looks at the history of Star Trek.  This new volume includes beautiful, clear, full-color photographs in a colorful hardcover, coffee table edition.

General fans of Hollywood costumes will learn plenty about the variety of major costumes used in the Star Trek universe throughout the past 50 years, and Star Trek diehards will find many interesting tidbits, too.  Highlights include recollections of costume designer Robert Fletcher about his creations for the movies and photos of several of his original costume designs, including his sketches for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk Class B uniform, Scotty’s engineering radiological suit used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the maroon, naval-style officer and crewman uniforms first appearing in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


William Ware Theiss’s era-defining costumes from the original series receive plenty of coverage, including images of some of Theiss’s often quickly rendered costume designs.  The original hand-drawn artwork from past and present is worth its weight in gold press latinum, including original costume designs for Star Trek: The Next Generation by Durinda Rice Wood (like Counselor Troi’s beautiful, form-fitting, burgundy jumpsuit), costume designs for Star Trek: First Contact by Deborah Everton (like Lily’s 2063 civilian garb worn by Alfre Woodard), Robert Blackman’s original concept art for Star Trek Generations (like the British Naval uniforms), and Sanja Milkovich Hays’ original concept sketches for Star Trek: Insurrection (like the female Tarlac nurse bodysuits) many including photos of corresponding fabric swatches.  While Star Trek Costumes provides only a brief look at the costumes of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise, it provides a nice overview of the revisited designs and variants of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, including a focus on the Klingon costumes.

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The X-files trailer 2016

We were getting along fine, reading our issues of one of the best tie-in series around, The X-Files Season 10 and The X-Files Season 11 from IDW Publishing.  For the record, these series are considered canon, and the truth is they’ve earned it.  The writers and artists know the characters and the story.  Following right after the events in the second big screen follow-up to the TV series, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the comic books are as good as the original series and even better than the movies.  But wait, The X-Files is coming back to TV?  What’s next?  A Firefly series?

The first full trailer from Fox (the network, not Mulder) has all the best feel from the original.  It’s David Duchovny’s same craggy Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson’s same inquisitive Dana Scully, and the cool, calm, and collected Mitch Pileggi as Skinner.  Finally, something to be excited about that is not Star Wars Episode VII!

X-Files series 2016

Plus, the series, which is slated for only six episodes, draws in genre favorites Robbie Amell (The Flash) and Lauren Ambrose (Coma) as new agents.  And even Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) has a main role in the series.

Enough waiting!  Check out the trailer:

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Jessica Jones Krysten Ritter

The first teaser has been released for the new Netflix series, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, based on one of the more obscure Marvel Comics characters.  That’s right, in the Renaissance of superhero shows, Jessica Jones beat Wonder Woman to get her own television series.  Veronica Mars’s Krysten Ritter has the title role.  Alone, that makes it worth giving the series a try, but several other genre actors in supporting cast roles will give us even more to look forward to.  This includes Doctor Who’s David Tennant (Kilgrave), The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss (Harper), Men in Black 3’s Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Transformers’ Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), and True Detective’s Erin Moriarty (Hope).

The Netflix original series is the second of four Marvel series, Marvel’s Daredevil launched earlier this year, plus Marvel’s Luke Cage and Marvel’s Iron Fist are on the way, leading up to Marvel’s The Defenders, all to be released only on Netflix.  Behind Marvel’s Jessica Jones are creators of the Twilight movies, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Elementary.

David Tennant in Jessica Jones

Here are two teaser trailers for Marvel’s Jessica Jones, one a mood piece and the other a brief hint at the nature of humor in the series:

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Chewbacca 1 cover Phil Noto

If the first images out of the gate are any indication, Star Wars fans are in for a real treat.  Black Widow artist Phil Noto will be illustrating interior and cover work on a new limited series featuring Chewbacca in Marvel Comic’s Star Wars: Chewbacca.  He’s really captured the look and feel of our favorite, furry rogue turned Rebel.

Deadpool and Uncanny Avengers writer Gerry Duggan will serve as writer of the new spin-off series.  In Issue #1, after the Battle of Yavin, Chewie crashes a ship on loan from the Rebellion, and meets up with a young woman who aims to take on the Empire.

Chewbacca interiors  Chewie and friend

The series is slated for five issues.  Check out these superb future covers:

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Star Wars 107   Shattered Empire Phil Noto 1 cover

Back in the 1970s it was pretty exciting to anticipate what was going to happen after the original Star Wars aired and Marvel Comics was going to take us on a journey into the further adventures of Luke Skywalker.  With the end of the movie adaptation in Issue #6 of the comic book series, this meant Issue #7 was going who-knows-where in this rich new universe.  The surprise was that once we got the issue in our hands we learned it was to be a Han Solo and Chewbacca adventure, beginning with a Seven Samurai-inspired Western story.  This was before we knew what would happen in The Empire Strikes Back, so the writers and artists could use their imaginations to take the characters anywhere.  The writers proved prescient, creating the title The Empire Strikes for one early issue.

In January 2013 Dark Horse Comics went back to the same time period in the Star Wars saga and gave us a new look at our favorite characters, written by Brian Wood.  It was a good run and a fun story if you thought of it as a separate possible storyline.  The struggle with addressing this time period?  We know specific benchmarks in the future.  We just know without being told anywhere that Luke does not confront certain characters, like say Darth Vader or Boba Fett, between Episode IV and Episode V.  Yet with comic books you can intersperse different story elements, have different encounters, between the bookends of the stories we know.  It is up to the reader to decide which of these encounters work and which don’t.  We discussed the Dark Horse effort back here at back in 2013.

Star Wars 7 Marvel    Star Wars issue 7

This year with a brand new Star Wars monthly comic book series, Marvel writer Jason Aaron has taken on the same time period again–those days, months, and years between the destruction of the first Death Star and the Rebellion being discovered in the Hoth System.  Like Brian Wood, Aaron has written a fun story, full of those main characters fans know and love.  He introduced surprising encounters between main characters we never would have imagined, and even introduced a wife for Han Solo we never knew about.  But the struggle with the concept is the same.  Readers need to see their main characters intermingling–it’s almost a requirement that a Star Wars book include everyone or fans won’t buy it.  And this new series fulfills that need.  Yet maybe readers don’t need that so much, as the best issue and story in this year’s run can be found in a standalone story in Issue #7.  It addresses Obi-Wan Kenobi as he watched over Luke as a boy on Tatooine–something new and different and not dependent on surprising confrontations with old characters–and gives us a hint at the great potential the Marvel Star Wars universe can create for readers.

Enter a new series beginning this month, Star Wars: Shattered Empire, Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, written by Greg Rucka with interior art by Marco Checchetto and a fabulous cover by Phil Noto (who interestingly provides a cover for Issue #1 which is similar to the last of the original Marvel monthly issues–like a jumping off and on point).  Shattered Empire is set immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi.  Now we are back in a world like Issue #7 of the original Marvel Comics Star Wars spin-off.  It really is unchartered territory, and Rucka must have more freedom than writers have with the time between Episode IV and Episode V.

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Jungle Book clip Baloo Mowgli

I consider myself a big-time fan of Disney’s 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 work The Jungle Book.  To me, it has always been Disney’s #1 animated movie–from the perfect George Bruns score and memorable songs by Terry Glikyson and the Sherman brothers, including The Bare Necessities, Colonel Hathi’s March, Trust in Me, and Abba Dabba Honeymoon.  Back in 2012 here at I named it in my top five favorite fantasy movies.  (Quick trivia: It’s even one of Clint Howard’s earliest projects).  I even named one of my beautiful bear-cub looking dogs Baloo after the incredibly friendly best pal of Mowgli (and unsuccessfully petitioned the powers-that-be to name his sister after the protective panther Bagheera).  Although the animation itself isn’t Disney’s best, it doesn’t take away from the fun of the movie.  The animated version of The Jungle Book is a gem and a true classic.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched the first live-action adaptation of the story with Disney’s 1994 version of The Jungle Book.  This time the jolly, sing-along music and talking animals were gone.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  Solid direction by Stephen Sommers (Catch Me If You Can, The Mummy, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) plus excellent acting and faithful characterizations allowed Jason Scott Lee, Lena Headey, Sam Neill, Cary Elwes, and John Cleese to make a truly enjoyable dramatic movie.


In 2016 Disney is trying again with another live-action version of The Jungle Book, this time directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) with a different twist: voice-over actors for the animals, including Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Lupita Nyong’0 as Raksha, and young actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli.  Expect this version to be heavy on special effects.  How will it compare to the prior versions?  One plus is that the original songs from the 1967 animated movie will be back, as hinted at the end of the first trailer just released for the movie.

Check it out here:

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