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Category: Comics & Books


Green Arrow Volume 2 Here There be Dragons trade cover

At long last DC Comics has released a trade edition of the 1980s Green Arrow monthly comic book series.  The series that sprang out of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters is some of the best storytelling work by Grell on the relationship between Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance.  We previously reviewed the first trade edition re-released by DC, Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon, last December here at borg.com.  When borg.com readers have requested recommendations for the best of Green Arrow, I’ve pointed them to back issues of this series along with the classic O’Neill/Adams “Hard-Travelling Heroes” books as a starting point.

Unlike the events of Volume 1, which piled on heavy issues ranging from sexual assault, to child abuse, to gay-bashing, prostitution, armed robbery, and biogenic weapons, Volume 2 is a more intimate look at Green Arrow and Black Canary behind the scenes, very similar to the approach taken by writer Matt Fraction in the successful modern Hawkeye series from Marvel Comics.

Green Arrow 9 cover

Green Arrow Volume 2: Here There Be Dragons, which reprints Green Arrow, Issues #7-12 from 1988, finds Dinah continuing to try to forge ahead on her own and move beyond her violent attack in The Longbow Hunters.  She and Oliver have issues to work out, Dinah with determining what she wants from life and Oliver being haunted by his past.  Together they make the perfect team, like any couple living in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying their town, Oliver perfecting his chili recipe, both commenting on the fact that PNW residents don’t use umbrellas despite the seemingly constant rain.  Dinah is focused on her business at the floral shop, Oliver uses his resources to ward off criminals in Seattle one thug at a time.

This period of the Green Arrow series hit its stride without your typical superheroism, and although Oliver dons his costume a few times, finely crafted storytelling without the over-the-top action is why Green Arrow’s stories are unique among the medium.  Oliver heads to Alaska to pursue a lead and inadvertently tracks a drug smuggling and car theft ring.  Dinah, much like Laurel Lance in the current Arrow TV series, is feeling the pull to help others in the city outside the law.

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Black Panther

In a press briefing in Los Angeles today, Marvel Studios laid out the release dates and titles for the next eleven movies in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” what they are referring to as Phase 3.  While rumors continue to circulate that Benedict Cumberbatch will be tapped to play Doctor Strange, the studio introduced the actor who will play Black Panther on the big screen, Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in last year’s film 42.  We’ll see Boseman first don the Panther suit in the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, coming in 2016.

And in the past hour Marvel released a new scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron, previewed below after the break.

The studio also revealed the costume design for Black Panther (above) in a poster released at the press event, attended by Boseman, Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. and Captain America Chris Evans.

Iron Man Black Panther Cap

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Dead Mans Hand cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who would have thought we’d be discussing a book in the second decade of the 21st century featuring new stories of the Old West?  Titan Books has released such a work with Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, bringing together short stories from 23 authors that mash-up the Old West with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and horror.

The Dead Man’s Hand is of course the legendary card hand last held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota back in 1876.  The superstitions carried forward by those cards–believed to be black aces and eights–fuels the magic and “weird” behind the stories in this compilation.

Fans of Louis L’Amour who may have open minds for the extremes of what might qualify as an Old West story should find at least a few good tales in Dead Man’s Hand.  Like Mike Resnick’s story “The Hell-bound Stagecoach,” set in Arizona Territory circa 1885, it chronicles riders in a stagecoach who don’t quite remember how they ended up on the road bound for somewhere, as they encounter a proper lady who happens to be a good cook along the way.  Resnick’s story is steeped in classic lore of the Old West era.

Jeff Bridges as Wild Bill Hickok

Editor John Joseph Adams attempts to summarize the genre in his introduction as having its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard, Gene Autry’s serial The Phantom Empire, and the 1970s series The Wild, Wild, West, but Adams could look back farther to cowboy lore–stories created and shared by those stranded in desert storms, creations of the lost, hungry and thirsty, like those seeing mirages.  Like the story that would become Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones in 1948.  Jones recalled the story was first told to him back around 1926, and certainly that story was among many Old West tomes of the oral tradition circulating back to even before the Civil War.  Regardless of the earliest sources for such stories, they still entertain audiences in a world of cell phones, space travel, and the Internet.

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Star Wars Tarkin novel cover Nov 2014 release

Review by C.J. Bunce

Governor Tarkin possessed the power to direct Darth Vader to stop choking a man, to command the first Death Star and to use it to destroy Princess Leia’s home world. Yet for all that, he gets very little screen time.  Who was this character?  A new novel asks that question and provides an interesting insight into the life of a man revered by his peers, his planet, and ultimately the Empire for his intellect, cunning and decisiveness.  It’s a Machiavellian account of a man born far away from the city centers of Coruscant whose pursuit of power would be nearly unstoppable, and whose political skill would thrust him into a triumvirate of power shared with Darth Vader and the Emperor himself.

In its first releases of canon-designated novel tie-ins for the Star Wars franchise after the recently announced move away from the past 20 years of expanded universe stories (now referred to as the sidelined “Legends” stories), LucasBooks has honed in on two sides of the rise of rebellion against the Empire.  Taking place in the years following the events of the Star Wars prequels but before the original Star Wars films, John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: A New Dawn, reviewed previously here at borg.com, recalls the plans of a band of rebels to sabotage Imperial efforts to acquire resources needed for its great space fleet.  Next week, LucasBooks presents a view from the other side of the battle when it releases James Luceno’s Tarkin, a deep dive into the inner sanctum of the Emperor following the fall of the Jedi, and the political rise of the Death Star commander who we would meet as Peter Cushing’s Governor Tarkin in A New Hope.

Tarkin scene from Star Wars

The character of Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is not incredibly complex–he stayed true to a course early in life established by his ancestors on the planet Eriadu, which gave him the benefits of military academy-style training yet provided by a band of men not unlike Scottish highlanders.  He is a man who was not born of privilege.  Yet good mentoring forged a soldier who would attain predictable societal ranks and achieve much more.

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Constantine playing with fire

He is a key character in DC Comics Justice League Dark for a reason.  Stress on the word “dark”.  He’s Constantine–John Constantine–possibly the least likely character to emerge from the pages of the DCU and make it to the small screen.  Yet NBC has pulled out all the stops lately with promotions to get new viewers to check out this new series following Grimm on Friday nights beginning tomorrow.

We’ve collected all the promotional videos here for Constantine so you can judge for yourself whether this new series is one for you.  He’s been summed up as “A man struggling with his faith is haunted by the sins of his past but is suddenly thrust into the role of defending humanity from the gathering forces of darkness.”  And there’s plenty of horror and gore, as revealed in the recent previews released.  Will the suspense grab and retain viewers in this onslaught of DC Comics-based TV shows?

Constantine screencap

Unlike CW’s successful DCU spin-off TV series Arrow and the new series Flash and Gotham, don’t expect to see lots of familiar genre actors in this series, but plenty of new faces.  Star Matt Ryan has shown up before in Criminal Minds-Suspect Behavior as well as stints on Vikings, Torchwood, The Tudors, and one of our faves, the Brit film Layer Cake.  And you might recognize Angelica Celaya from her role on the (recently prematurely cancelled!) Dallas.  Lost fans will recognize Harold Perrineau here who played Michael on that series.

After the break, check out all the promotional trailers and previews for Constantine:

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Ultron from Avengers Age of Ultron

Earlier than planned, Marvel Entertainment has just released the trailer for the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron.  All your favorites are back: Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, Hawkeye… plus Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch!

Better yet, we get our first look at borg.com Hall of Fame inductee and living automaton Ultron, who looks great in this first preview for the movie.

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch from Avengers Age of Ultron

After the break, check out the full nearly 2.5 minute-long preview:

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AfterlifeWithArchieMagazine_01-0

Archie Comics is expanding its reach today as its successful dark zombie mash-up monthly Afterlife with Archie is reproduced in a new magazine format.  Bundled with previews of the newest dark tie-in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and some classic horror comics, its sure to be a hit with readers of horror and those who grew up with Archie and his friends.

And what’s better than laying your mitts on an over-sized edition of Francesco Francavilla’s powerful illustrations from one of this year’s best series?  It’s a great series to start up during the Halloween season for everyone from teens on up.

Contributors to the new Afterlife with Archie Magazine, include writers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Vicente Alcazar, and artists Francesco Francavilla, Jack Morelli, Robert Hack, Vicente Alcazar, Jim Mooney, and Gray Morrow.

Archie clip

After the break, check out a preview of the new magazine, courtesy of Archie Comics:

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Memetic_001_coverB   TMNT Ghostbusters issue 1

It’s a big week of comic book releases from IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios so we have pulled together several previews, including Issue #1 of a new Edward Scissorhands series, Issue #1 of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mash-up with the Ghostbusters, Issue #1 of a new Dungeons & Dragons series, and Issue #4 of The X-Files: Year Zero. 

From BOOM! Studios we have previews of Issue #1 of an intriguing new series called Memetic, and Issue #1 of 3 Guns–the sequel to 2 Guns, the comic book that became this summer’s Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington action movie we reviewed previously here at borg.com.

Legend of Baldur's Gate   Edward Scissorhands issue 1 cover art

And don’t forget to pick up Dark Horse Comics’ new Predator: Fire and Stone, Issue #1, previewed here earlier.

After the break, check out these great previews.

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Dark Matter logo

You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty good title.  And a decent premise.

Dark Horse Comics’ announced the purchase by Syfy Channel of the rights to the 2012 comic book release Dark Matter, a story about a group of space travelers who awaken from stasis on a spaceship with no memory of how they got there.

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who wrote the Dark Horse series, will also run the new TV series.  Prodigy Pictures, who produced the Vancouver-based Lost Girls, will produce Dark Matter for Syfy.   Bringing some past talent from proven shows gives us hope for this series.

The crew of the Raza are known by numbers one through six: three men, two women, and a kid.  One of the men was drawn to look like Djimon Hounsou.   By the looks of the comic book art, the cargo-looking ship could exist in the same world as Firefly’s Serenity.  Here’s the description from the comic book: When the six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awaken from stasis in the farthest reaches of space, their memories of their pasts have been wiped clean.  The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination–a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone.

Dark Matter

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It’s October finally and after another hot summer the trees are turning red and orange and it couldn’t be setting up for a more perfect autumn, and Halloween is almost here. If you’re looking for a ghost story to get you into the mood of the season, check out borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and E-book editions from Amazon.com and other booksellers, first reviewed here back in 2011.

A Curse Dark as Gold takes place in the Gold Valley in that far away land where all fairy tales reside. Charlotte Miller is a girl in her late teens whose father dies and leaves her the town of Shearings’s woolen mill, which serves as workplace for most of her community, along with the care of Charlotte’s younger sister Rosie. Unwanted responsibilities are quickly thrust upon this young woman from page one. From a framework standpoint A Curse Dark as Gold is a spin on Rumpelstitskin-type helper tales of the past, but this story takes on its own life. Shearing is at once lovely and pastoral, yet dark and creepy doings begin to pierce through the landscape. A mysterious uncle appears and begins to interject himself into the girls’ lives. As if sick from a good friend’s death, the mill itself begins to respond to the death of Charlotte’s father, with boards crashing down on an employee, things not working quite like they should, and everything seeming to fall apart at once.

ACDAG audio

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