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Category: Comics & Books


McClain panel 2

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

I got to drive 125 miles south and east yesterday to visit the horde of awesome that is Comic-Con.  As usual, it was a blast and I wish I had the mutant ability of Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man to see every panel, hang out at every booth, visit every place outside the Con and then at the end of the day, try every dessert at Café Zucchero.  However, I am just one man in one place at one time in this universe.  So, let me break down my small piece of Saturday in San Diego.

The Great

- As a Los Angeleno, the two banes of my existence in this metropolitan monstrosity are traffic and parking.  Driving down took only two hours and I found a lot that only charged $5 for 12 hours.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

- At forty minutes before high noon, I made my way to room nine and the line forming outside.  The line kept on filling and filling and soon I was glad to have foregone any extra time on the floor, for I got to see “Berkeley Breathed: The Last Comic-Con Panel!”  The whole session consisted of Breathed joking about himself, his love of merchandising and his “tiff” with Bill Watterson.  Sitting in the room laughing made evident the comic quickness of the mind behind Opus and Bill the Cat.  It made me miss “Bloom County,” “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” all bits of my past that now only show up in collections (like the future upcoming collection of Breathed’s work “Academia Waltz” from his time at the University of Texas.)  The bit of the panel that will stick with me the most is about how times have changed and how the comic pages have begun to fade.  Pieces of art, comedy and commentary that were in 100 million newspapers on kitchen tables 30 years ago, now barely make it out of the tin boxes in the vestibules of IHOPs.

McClain panel 1

- I may have missed the “Saga” panel at 1 pm, but I caught Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples during the “Strong Female Characters” panel two hours later in the same room.  June Brigman, Colleen Coover, Sara Mayhew, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Paul Tobin, Vaughn and Staples talked about what it takes to make strong female characters, how they approach it and listed some of their current favorites.  The story that will last with me though came from the moderator, Maggie Thompson.  She told the story of her husband reading to their daughter a run of “Fantastic Four” every night before bed.  As a gift for their daughter when she was away in college they gave her a bound collection of a great many of those same stories.  When she received them and started to read the stories, she angrily called her mom and yelled that these were not the stories her father had read to her.  It turns out that her father had read her all of Reed Richard’s lines as the words said by Sue Storm.  He didn’t want the only female superhero in the story to be the one that fades and hides.

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Sesame Street at NerdHQ

Nerd HQ offered up a great variety of panels from the best of TV Saturday.  Here are some great panels to check out.  After four years of 45 minute panels offered just yards from San Diego Comic-Con, many of these have become a source for stand-up comedy from the actors.  See for yourself.

First up what may be the best panel idea ever, the voices and muppets themselves, from Sesame Street, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert, and Murray.  And Grover reveals the true identity of Super Grover.  This one can’t be missed.

A Conversation with Sesame Street

Intruders TV Series Panel with John Simm, Mira Sorvino & Glen Morgan

Orphan Black Panel with Tatiana Maslany and Other Cast Members

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Gal Gadot Wonder Woman SDCC 2014 reveal

More big news emerged from San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.  A new comic book series for Haven and Galaxy Quest… a sneak peek at Arrow Season 3, a Star Trek crossover with Planet of the Apes… details and art from Marvel’s new line of Star Wars comic books…  new actors to star in Marvel’s Ant-man… more content from Avengers 2… and new giant monster movies are coming soon from Legendary Pictures.

But the biggest news that almost “broke the Internet” was from DC Entertainment: the first look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and her new costume from the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  It’s a nice Cliff Chiang-inspired pose for the Amazon warrior.  So we now have three images of the DC Comics trinity:

Trinity Dawn of Justice

We’ve got a pretty dark superhero movie in our future.

The next big news came from a Marvel Comics panel–the creative line-up for Star Wars comic books under Disney:

Marvel Star Wars 1 Cassaday cover art

Marvel Comics announced that January 2015 will see the first of Marvel taking over the Star Wars comic book line from Dark Horse with three initial series.  Kansas City’s Jason Aaron will write and John Cassaday will serve as artist on a series taking place just after A New Hope, where the original 1978 Marvel Comics line began and the current main Dark Horse title takes place.  Above is the cover art by Cassaday for Issue #1.

Star Wars Darth Vader Granov cover SDCC 2014

A series beginning in February 2015 will follow Darth Vader after his TIE Fighter is knocked away by Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, to be created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca.

Star Wars Princess Leia Marvel Dodson cover art SDCC 2014

And March 2015 will see a series following Princess Leia after the destruction of the Death Star, from writer Mark Waid, artist Terry Dodson, and colorist Rachel Dodson.

Here are four pages of early stage art for the main Star Wars series:

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New Ben Affleck as Batman SDCC 2014

Whether or not major genre properties are hosting panels or booths at Comic-Con 2014, studios released some great images on Wednesday preview night and the first full day of the show yesterday.  The biggest is probably the above photo of Ben Affleck as Batman from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, not coming to theaters until 2016.  The image was nicely timed to the DC Comics celebration week for the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance.

Mad Max Fury Road poster SDCC 2014

Warner Bros. also released the first poster for the latest movie in the Mad Max series, to star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.  It’s called Max Max: Fury Road, and won’t hit theaters until next year, but that didn’t stop releasing some advance images from the film, including this image of Theron:

Charlize Theron Mad Max Fury Road SDCC 2014

and this image of some post-apocalyptic recycling of cars:

Max Max Fury Road screencap

The Amblin Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Universal sequel to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic World, netted us a teaser poster for the June 2015 release:

SDCC 2014 Jurassic World poster reveal

Jurassic World will star Chris Pratt, star of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which also had a new poster reveal for its IMAX 3D version:

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Hobbit booth Weta SDCC 2014 Azog

We thought we’d share some of the best exclusives and other offerings scheduled to be available at San Diego Comic-Con International this weekend for those of you who just can’t decide what to spend your money on.  There’s too much to be able to see everything at the big Con, so we’ve listed booth numbers so you can make sure you don’t miss out on those toys, posters, and comic books that you simply must have.

But first, how about some early SDCC reveals, like this image of Roy Harper’s new Arsenal costume from CW’s Arrow:

Arsenal reveal at SDCC 2014

and this great new SDCC 2014 exclusive poster for the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies:

The Hobbit Battle of Five Armies SDCC 2014 poster

And what’s better than news of a new comic book series tie-in from IDW Publishing for Orphan Black?

IDW reveal SDCC 2014 Orphan Black comic book series

Now on to the exclusives:

From the Weta Workshop (Booth #3613) you can get this Smaug scales T-shirt inspired by The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies:

Smaug scales T-shirt Weta SDCC 2014

and a pre-release copy of the new book The Art of Film Magic, signed edition:

Art of Film Magic SDCC 2014 WETA booth

From Alex Ross Art (Booth #2419) pick up original comic book art or limited prints, or this great 10-print edition portfolio of some of Alex Ross’s Marvel Comics work:

Alex Ross Art Portfolio - 10 prints

BOOM! Studios (Booth #2229) will be selling several exclusive cover variant comic books, including RoboCop #1:

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LifeWithArchie_36-0Hughes   LifeWithArchie_36-0Perez

Today Archie Comics finally does the unthinkable.  In its future series Life With Archie, Archie Andrews will die.  But he dies heroically, taking a bullet from a stalker to save the life of fellow Riverdale pal Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie universe.  The freckle-faced kid known for his Happy Days lifestyle as the perpetual teenager–with pal Reggie and on-and-off girlfriend Betty for nearly 75 years in comic books–finally meets his end in Issue #36, the final issue of the series.

His death is accompanied by some of the best homage covers we’ve seen, from the likes of Adam Hughes, Francesco Francavilla, Mike Allred, Ramón Pérez, and Fiona Staples.

LifeWithArchie_36-0FF   LifeWithArchie_36-0FS

After the break check out a preview to Life With Archie Issue #36, and a preview of the ongoing series Archie Comics Digest, where Archie continues on.

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comic-con-logo-image

It’s less than two weeks until 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International will host more than 150,000 fans of sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes and other pop culture, and SDCC has now released the entire panel schedule for this year’s big show.  If you haven’t been to the modern-day Greatest Show on Earth, it should at least be on your bucket list, but beware:  if you attend the show once you’ll want to keep going back.

Tickets as usual were sold out months ago, but for those attending this year’s show, we have some quick links to the event list so you can start planning your days now.

This year’s panels prove yet again that you shouldn’t listen to the naysayers who claim SDCC doesn’t focus on comic book artists and writers.  Even more events are occurring this year focused on the comic book medium, including benchmarks like Batman’s 75th anniversary.  Yet there are also all of those big panels planned full of this summer’s movie blockbusters and big-name casts and the casts and creators of your favorite television series.

Comic-Con image b

First and most importantly you’ll want to download to your smart phone the SDCC handy My Schedule app here.  We’ve used it before and it’s a great help when you’re in the crowd and can’t get into one panel but you want to try the dash for another one or you just get tired of walking the main hall with Artists’ Alley and the dealer booths and you want to sit down and see something new for an hour.

Having trouble choosing from all the panels?  We think the biggest event and best bang for your buck will be the Warner Bros. panel we previewed a few days ago here with pilots and previews of DC Entertainment series The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, and Arrow.  After the break we pulled some other panels you might like if you follow borg.com regularly.

Here are the quick links to each day’s panel events for SDCC 2014:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Preview Night

Thursday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

Friday, July 25, 2014 Panel Schedule

Saturday, July 26, 2014 Panel Schedule

Sunday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

SDCC 2014 banner

Here are some panels to consider (after the break):

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Django Unchained trade paperback cover

He’s a unique, visionary filmmaker of his generation.  And he really likes Western comic books.

In the foreword to the graphic novel adaptation of his Academy Award winning film Django Unchained, Quentin Tarentino gives credit where credit is due, and why the comic book format is squarely appropriate for a director’s cut of his screenplay–the screenplay that won him a second Oscar for a screenplay after his win for Pulp Fiction.

Vertigo Comics’ Django Unchained was originally released last year as a six-part comic book adaptation of Tarentino’s four-hour long, first draft of the screenplay, later spread out over seven issues.  It’s a long narrative and by the end of part seven you will understand why editors exist.  That said, it’s a good tool for story writers, as his opening scene, measured pacing, and character development provide a window into the creative process of this singular screenwriter.  It features an adaptation of Tarentino’s work for the medium by Reginald Hudlin and most of the interior art was rendered by Serbian artist R.M. Guéra (who also served as artist on Jason Aaron’s Scalped) providing his own Western style.  Plenty of covers are featured, too, including one of Alex Ross’s best, Django walking from the burning house, which served as the cover to the final issue.

Alex Ross Django Unchained

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Mal and Inara Leaves on the Wind

In the Firefly universe tie-ins are few and far between.  Where other franchises may have had several novels by now, fans wanting more Firefly must turn to Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of the Firefly “expanded universe.”  With the very unlikely hope of more live-action shows, the new stories may very well be considered “canon” one day.  We previously reviewed here at borg.com each of the graphic novels featuring the crew of the Firefly class vessel Serenity,Those Left Behind (2006), Better Days (2008), and The Shepherd’s Tale (2010) featuring scripts by Joss Whedon himself, as well as writers Brett Mathews and Zack Whedon and artists Will Conrad and Chris Samnee.  All are good stories that should satisfy any fan’s need for more Firefly.

Writer Zack Whedon returned to Serenity this year after four years without a new Firefly tale, with his six-issue mini-series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  More so than the earlier comic book series, Whedon has captured the relationships of the characters in his story, which takes place after the events in the movie Serenity.

Zoe Leaves on the Wind

We meet up with the crew in hiding, with Zoe pregnant, Mal and Inara are finally a couple, as are Simon and Kaylee.  Jayne Cobb, still wearing his mom’s hat, is off doing his own thing, and River keeps company with Zoe.

Mal & Company are heroes to some, fugitives to others.  When a group wanting Mal to lead them solicits the help of Jayne with a bribe of gold, what can he do but help them?  From the opposite faction a bounty hunter is recruited, and we’re reintroduced to the vilest of original series villains, Jubal Early.  Nathan Fillion’s dialect and inflections for Mal are immediately realized by the reader due to Zack Whedon’s writing, as is the odd sentence construction of Jubal Early.  These characters form just the right bookends to convince you you’re back in a world with Firefly still playing weekly episodes.

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Amell oliver queen emcee

CW Network’s Oliver Queen, Arrow star Stephen Amell will be the emcee for the big Warner Bros./DC Entertainment crossover event at San Diego Comic-Con International, only two weeks away.  Warner Bros. announced their line-up for their Saturday night event and it looks to be a great show.

As master of ceremonies, Amell will be presenting three hours of content in Hall H between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. July 26, 2014.  Called “A Night of DC Entertainment,” Amell will reveal content from three new DC Comics-based TV series and his own Arrow.  Sure to share some of Oliver Queen’s billionaire playboy image, first Amell will present a screening of the world premiere of the new Fall 2014 TV series Gotham for thousands of SDCC attendees in the big hall.

Gotham TV series

Next up will be the complete pilot screening of The Flash starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.  The Flash will be followed by exclusive footage from Constantine.

Flash at SDCC 2014

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