Category: Comics & Books


prideprejudiceszombies

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a classic story in possession of fans must be in want of retelling.  Likewise, that if that story is a novel, it should also thence be made into a film.  And if you can find a way to put zombies in, wins all around.

Thus, writer/director Burr Steers’ new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on the eponymous 2005 novel “co-written” by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) and Jane Austen.  Cleverly packaged to release in time for Valentine’s Day, the film is a sure winner for date night: costumes; romance; actors in various states of fetching undress; violence; girls with swords; shambling, oozing undead in fetching period costumes; and powerful women with estates and eyepatches.  And Matt Smith.  Need I say more, really?

As a version of Pride and Prejudice, PPZ is probably below average, and relies on the viewer’s familiarity with the story, since much of the film’s 108-minute runtime must be given over to worldbuilding and action sequences (although fans of the 1995 A&E adaptation will be rewarded with plenty of homages, especially with respect to Mr. Darcy).  Prideful Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Cinderella) and disdainful Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) have even less onscreen chemistry than Austen’s off-again, off-again lovers normally display–but they more than make up for it with their zombie-fighting prowess.  Lizzie’s intolerable-yet-lovable family is neither interesting enough nor loathsome enough to inspire much response from the viewer; thank goodness for the zombies to give us something to care about.

PPZ zombie

As a zombie film, it’s probably also less than what the average zombie flick fan is looking for.  There are the requisite scenes of shambling hordes, rotting flesh, and brain-eating, but it’s somewhat tame thanks to the PG-13 rating, and in comparison to so many other recent zombie properties.  In fact, it’s actually a credit to the filmmakers that they didn’t try to outdo the competition with their zombie horde, and instead showed a certain 19th century refinement and restraint in the presentation.

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James-Bond-SPECTRE-The-Complete-Comic-Strip-Collection

Daniel Craig’s modern James Bond inspired by classic comic strip versions of Bond?

According to the foreword in James Bond: Spectre – The Complete Comic Strip Collection by John Logan, screenwriter for Gladiator, Star Trek Nemesis, The Last Samurai, The Aviator, Skyfall, and the latest James Bond film, SPECTRE, it’s the original Bond from Ian Fleming’s novels–the Bond before anyone viewed him as Sean Connery, and the same Bond revealed in the British comic book strips–that guided the writers to form Craig’s Bond in the last two movie installments.

After reading the comic strip adaptations of Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, and The Spy Who Loved Me, it’s easy to see it.  This less superheroic and more human, worn down, aging Bond is the Bond of the modern films.  Titan Books’ James Bond: Spectre – The Complete Comic Strip Collection, is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, pulling from the rich archive of Bond strips those stories that dig into the origins of SPECTRE, that evil organization that Blofeld manipulated so well, and that was the focus of last year’s blockbuster.

Bond comic

You’ll find digitally remastered, original black and white versions of the iconic 1960s cartoon strips in an edition similar to the Flash Gordon series reviewed here previously at borg.com–a size that is ideal for reading these old comic strips easily, cover to cover.  Each story is based on Fleming’s novels, selected from the 52 comic strips that appeared between 1958 and 1983 syndicated in British newspapers.  The illustrations of the strip were rendered by John McLusky who would illustrate thirteen James Bond comic strips along with writer Henry Gammidge until 1966.

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Foster Star Wars The Force Awakens hardcover cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

In a parallel universe where Star Wars: A New Hope might have been snubbed by moviegoers and gone the way of obscurity like Logan’s Run and The Black Hole, another sequel to the original Star Wars was already penned.  Alan Dean Foster had access to George Lucas’s scripts and original story treatment from 1973, titled The Journal of the Whills.  Foster was commissioned to write the follow-on story, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, in case Star Wars did not make it as a hit at the box office.  But Star Wars would have a different fate: more money and a bigger budget was available for a scriptwriter for The Empire Strikes Back, and Splinter would never see the screen.

Along with so many good decisions for the Episode VII release based on nostalgia (like a poster commission from classic Star Wars poster artist Drew Struzan) sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster was tapped to return to Star Wars and has adapted the film into the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization.  Fans of Splinter will no doubt rush to read Foster taking on the galaxy of Star Wars again, and he has even brought the title of the original George Lucas 1973 story Journal of the Whills into the post-Disney Star Wars canon by referencing that work in his prologue, just as he referenced it in Splinter.  If you missed Splinter, you can still pick up a copy here, but it’s not for fans who would cringe at the thought of a Luke vs. Darth Vader confrontation before the critical confrontation in The Empire Strikes Back.  But the nostalgia factor will be high for fans of Splinter, which was published in 1978 as the first expanded universe Star Wars novel.

Splinter_of_the_Minds_Eye

In the days before DVDs a fan’s primary source to revisit favorite films was the novel or comic book adaptation.  Today fans are seeing The Force Awakens multiple times in the theater and the film has broken all the meaningful box office records.  But the DVDs and Blu-rays aren’t available yet, so this novelization is still another way to access the story in-depth.  Better yet, as with many adaptations, Foster expands upon concepts only touched upon in the movie, and lends some insight into backstory fans can otherwise only speculate about.

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Venus_002_A_Main    Munchkin_013_A_Main

It’s Comic Shop Wednesday!  Haven’t been to your comic book shop lately?  We have six hi-res previews for borg.com readers courtesy of BOOM! Studios of what you’ll find in stores today–so you can see what you’re missing.

Look for Venus from writer Rick Loverd and artist Huang Danlan.  Pauline and the rest of the survivors from the Mayflower take stock of the base on Venus, but there’s a saboteur in their midst who’s sowing tension in the ranks.

We love writer Dan Abnett and artist I.N.J. Culbard’s Wild’s End: The Enemy Within.  The group of anthropomorphic townspeople is scattered in the woods of Lower Crowchurch as an alien threat returns.

EFNY_014_A_Main    Spire_006_A_Main

In The Spire from writer Simon Spurrier and artist Jeff Stokely, Meera is held by the Zoarim at their camp as part of the Pax proceedings.  But she’s not alone.

In the ongoing sequel to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Maxim Simic, Snake Plisskin prepares to defend his property from the government.  At any cost.

BOOM! Box, the BOOM! Studios imprint for kids titles, has two great issues out today from Peanuts and Munchkin. 

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XFiless11_06_cvr

If you’re catching this week’s reunion of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully on The X-Files, don’t forget that the story of these agents of the unexplained has been going strong each month in the pages of IDW Publishing’s The X-Files: Season 11.  Below we have a preview of the next installment available in comic book stores everywhere tomorrow.

For the record, the comic book series is considered canon, and the truth is they’ve earned it.  Show creator Chris Carter is executive producer of the series.  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 and the first of this new TV series.  What does modern technology, a world of the Android phones, and the political climate resurfacing Cold War Era issues mean for Mulder and Scully’s quest for the truth?  What new secrets will be behind all the unexplained events they encounter and all the conspiracies?

Writer Joe Harris, artist Matthew Dow Smith, and colorist Jordie Bellaire provide a familiar look and feel for both the actors behind the characters (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) and the often dark and mysterious settings for the series that fans will appreciate.  Look for a photo cover variant and fun alternate cover to Issue #6, also (pictured below).

the_x_files_season_11__6_variant_by_roberthack

Below check out a borg.com preview of the first five pages of Issue #6 before its release in comic book stores tomorrow, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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mic a    mic c

Derived from a licensed Japanese line of toys called the Micromen, which themselves were small-sized versions of a 12-inch action figure called Henshin Cyborg, Micronauts toys took America by storm in the late 1970s.  A Microverse of humanoids, borgs, and robotoids, a civilization of 3.75-inch retro-Kenner sized action figures, ships, and accessories from the Mego toy company before there were Kenner action figures, were loved by a generation of kids.  That is, before Kenner drove Mego out of the market.

But not before Micronauts became two classic Marvel comic book series.  Featuring stories by Bill Mantlo and art by Michael Golden, over time the series would include art by the likes of plenty of comic book greats: Howard Chaykin, Steve Ditko, Rich Buckler, Pat Broderick, Val Mayerik, Keith Giffen, Greg LaRocque, Gil Kane, Luke McDonnell, Mike Vosburg, Jackson Butch Guice and Kelley Jones.  Micronauts and their characters would be woven into the rest of the Marvel Universe in other series, interacting with Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy, the Wasp, Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four, Nightcrawler, Alpha Flight, Cable, the X-Men, and Thanos.  As recently as last year its Microverse concept was included in the screenplay for the Ant-Man movie, renamed the Quantum Realm for the final cut of the film.

mic e    mic f

Uncanny X-Men writer Cullen Bunn will be scripting the series with artwork by David Baldeón.  Check out six covers offered for issue #1 (above and below) drawn by Baldéon, J.H. Williams III, Butch Guice, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Michael Golden.  The sixth cover features the classic action figure of Baron Karza.  If you think he looks like a copy of Darth Vader, think again.  Karza was created before Star Wars was released.

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rip-hunter-arthur-darville-legends-of-tomorrow

If you missed the pilot for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow this week you can still catch it now.  Bringing together nine characters from the CW’s Arrow and The Flash, plus the new time traveler Rip Hunter, the CW has provided a venue for a very comic book concept–the weekly team-up.  And other than the Arrow and The Flash themselves, this new series has pulled together probably the best of the secondary characters from those shows.

Doctor Who’s other last companion Arthur Darville leads up this new team.  It’s as if we get to see Darville portray the Doctor himself, at least an American view of the British series.  The Comic Con crowd audience is provided plenty of familiar encounters and situations that reflect classic tropes and scenes.  Seattle’s Space Needle aka Star City is the launch point for this new team composed of Brandon Routh’s Atom, Caity Lotz’s ex-Black Canary now the White Canary, the one-two punch of Victor Garber and Franz Drameh as Firestorm, Falk Hentschel as Hawkman and Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl.  And bad guys Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) play the good side with Arrow and The Flash’s Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) as the series villain.

DC Legends

After about 20 minutes of world building, recruiting and meeting all the players, the show kicks in when the team finds itself in 1975.  Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and White Canary end up in a bar where Canary goes on her own punching spree.  It’s a great play to see the bad guys team-up with a good guy against… anyone else.

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Suicide Squad

After some ho-hum teasers for the 2016 movie release Suicide Squad, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment released a new full-length trailer for the DC Universe movie (set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”) Tuesday during the DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League special on The CW Network.  This time we get a good look at each of the Worst Heroes Ever.

And for a motley group of villains, they’re looking pretty good.

Adam Beach (Everwood, Hawaii Five-0), is Slipknot, Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Terminator: Genisys) is Captain Boomerang, Cara Delevingne is Enchantress, Karen Fukuhara is Katana, Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop) is Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie (Pan Am, The Wolf of Wall Street) is Harley Quinn, Will Smith (Men in Black, I, Robot) is Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Thor: The Dark World) is Killer Croc,  and they star along with Jared Leto as The Joker in the comic book take on The Dirty Dozen, as a group of super villains are released from prison to complete a hero’s mission.  And look for Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana aka El Diablo, a character created by our pals Jai Nitz, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks in 2008’s excellent six-issue series El Diablo: The Haunted Horseman (be sure to check it out at Amazon.com here if you haven’t read it yet).

Suicide Squad posters

Check out this entertaining trailer for DC’s Suicide Squad, and you couldn’t have a better tune to back it up:

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Aslan

Amazingly in these days of low box office receipts stopping genre franchises in their tracks–often for even good starts like Ender’s Game or great starts like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and The Golden Compassit’s an incredible feat that The Chronicles of Narnia will soon be continuing forward to its fourth episode, The Silver Chair.  David Magee, who was nominated for Academy Awards for his writing work on Life of Pi and Finding Neverland, has completed the screenplay for the new film, which does has not yet begun production.

This week producer Mark Gordon, whose production company acquired the film rights partnering with the C.S. Lewis Company in 2013 from The Walden Group, revealed the direction he expects the next journeys through Narnia will take.  “It’s all going to be a brand new franchise, all original… different directors, and an entire new team.”

So expect more of a reboot than a continuation, with little continuity between the first films and future films.  Will a complete rework rejuvenate the franchise?

Silver Chair paperback

It’s no surprise to fans of the seven book series that few if any appearances will be seen again from the first three books turned movies, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from 2005, Prince Caspian from 2008, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from 2010.  Lewis’s The Silver Chair, first published in 1953, continues the adventures in Narnia decades after the events in Dawn Treader, yet only a year later back in the world of England.

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Orphan Black Season 4 Four

Hello, artist friends! (You know who you are).  It’s time for your to bring it.

Whether or not you’re a member of Clone Club–the fans of BBC America’s Orphan Black–a new contest announced this weekend may be something for you.  One artist’s work will be selected as the new season’s official poster for the show’s international release.  It’s one way to get international fame fast.

Artwork submitted could become Orphan Black’s Season 4 advertising poster.  It’s a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000 and a private screening of the Season 4 premiere for you and your friends.

The selected winning artwork will be featured as part of Orphan Black’s Season 4 marketing campaign, with a print ad in Entertainment Weekly, featured on billboards, and featured on-air and online.

Orphan Black art Bunce

Twenty finalists will also receive a custom print of their artwork signed by the Orphan Black cast.

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