Category: Comics & Books

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Last month we offered our review of Guillermo del Toro’s new gothic film, Crimson Peak, raving over its atmosphere and performances.  Since it won’t be released in a home-viewing format for a while yet, how are we supposed to refresh our Crimson Peak fix until then?

Read the movie tie-in novel, of course!

crimson peak cover

Crimson Peak by veteran horror author Nancy Holder is a dead ringer for its onscreen counterpart, offering a scene-by-scene text recreation of the film.  But Holder often goes deeper, offering perspectives from characters not fully expressed on screen, elaborating on the story’s emotional arc, and adding to the haunting atmosphere with her own nuanced, sometimes surprising voice.

If you’ve seen the film, there’s nothing new here.  At times the book feels flat, as if the words alone can’t live up to the actors’ performances, and the author was required to give as close a blow-by-blow account as possible.  But in other moments, Holder’s own prose shines:

It watched the house’s breath scatter the dry leaves that drifted in, drifted by.  The walls were bleeding from fissures in the wallpaper.  Stab wounds, or a razor blade drawn across a vein? Moths flew out; maggots fed.  The mad head of the house was rotting, and night was dragging her wings across the moon, tracing filigree on the floor.  In the attic, more black moths were dancing because it was cold, because it was dark. Because they were hungry.

For the butterfly.

Oooh, shivery!

The biggest challenge here is the same minor plot weakness that caused the film to stumble a bit at the end.  With so much glorious setup, with the fantastic otherworldly intervention of the supernatural–which is what drew us to this story, after all!–Crimson Peak deserves a bigger payoff, a less predictable and mundane explanation for all the horror.  But Holder actually manages the material a little more deftly than it appeared on screen; the pacing is more dread-inducing as she doles it out piecemeal.  We already know what’s happening, and yet the book’s buildup is better than the film’s letdown.  Whatever Holder can’t render as stunningly via prose (del Toro’s visionary ghosts), she makes up for in suspense.

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"Red Faced" -- Personal and professional stress get the better of Kara when she goes too far during a training exercise against Red Tornado, a military cyborg commissioned by Lucy Lane's father, General Sam Lane, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Nov. 30 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Melissa Benoist and Iddo Goldberg as Red Tornado Photo: Darren Michaels/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

One of our favorite members of the Justice League will appear on Supergirl later this month.  We discussed the pantheon of DC Comics’ classic superhero team earlier this week here at, noting Red Tornado was yet to make an appearance.  Ask and ye shall receive, as they say.

Red Tornado is an android with enormous power.  In the comic books, Red Tornado was originally a villain, who turned hero and ended up for several years with the Justice League.  As with the comics, it appears that Supergirl’s version of Red Tornado will start as a key villain, but may yet turn from bad to good.  CBS refers to Red Tornado as “a military cyborg commissioned by Lucy Lane’s father, General Sam Lane”.

Red Tornado costume supergirl

Iddo Goldberg will don the Red Tornado costume in the series.  Here are some artist’s versions of the red superhero:

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Flash Arrow crossover

With the above photo released Tuesday by Arrow executive producer Mark Guggenheim, DC Entertainment is finally filling in the stray gaps of the Justice League.  Who would you rather watch?  Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in one two-hour flick, or most of the Justice League every week on three TV series?  Both Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have now established themselves as the real thing with their Arrow and The Flash series.  We already know Henry Cavill was a bust as Superman and early looks at Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot aren’t too exciting.  The answer should be easy.

If you haven’t been keeping track, along with Amell’s Green Arrow and The Flash (Gustin’s Barry Allen, Teddy Sears’ Jay Garrick, and Keiynan Lonsdale‘s Wally West on the way), we’ve seen two versions of Black Canary (played by Caity Lotz and Katie Cassidy), two versions of Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal (played by Colton Haynes and Willa Holland), The Atom (played by Brandon Routh), Firestorm (played by three actors: Robbie Amell, Victor Garber, and Franz Drameh), Huntress (Jessica de Gouw), classic Justice League staple Jean Loring (Teryl Rothery), Vibe (Carlos Valdes), and an Earth-2 version of Doctor Light (Malese Jow).  Each of these were featured in at least one version of the League over the years.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

And now we have a first look at Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), coming in three weeks as part of an Arrow/The Flash crossover event and lead-in to the next DC Entertainment/CW Network series Legends of Tomorrow.  Still no view of the hawk wings yet.  The other guy in the mask above is CW creation John Diggle (David Ramsey).

So who is still AWOL from the League?

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Developed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Sam Catlin for AMC, Preacher is an adaptation of the comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint.  The full trailer premiered Sunday during The Walking Dead and we have it below in case you missed it. 

Preacher is a series of 81 comic books that wrapped in 2000, available since then in nine trade editions available at your local comic book stores or here from  It’s a Western for the most part, and there’s plenty of John Ford influence in the comic book.  The books and TV series follows Jesse Custer, a conflicted preacher in a small Texas town who combines with a powerful supernatural creature that has escaped from heaven.  Along with his ex-girlfriend, Tulip (played by Ruth Negga), and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (played by Joe Gilgun), the three embark on a journey to find God.

Here’s the first trailer released for AMC’s Preacher:

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Walken Poe The Raven

The Witching Hour of All Hallow’s Eve has just passed.  It is time to pick your poison, so to speak.

It is time to listen to the many readings by celebrities of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.”  The poem actually takes place in December, so there’s no wrong time to listen to the poem again and again.  Thanks to a new audio version uploaded this weekend by Sean Astin, we were prompted to search for other famous voices, and we found many interesting celebrities to choose from, many from long ago.  Oddly, we found no famous actresses voicing the creepy story–if you know of any please add them to the comments above.

So which do you want to hear first?  Why not give an ear to all?  As you listen try thinking of the actor, or of that actor’s many roles, from Samwise Gamgee to Gomez Addams, from Saruman to Dracula or Sherlock Holmes, the Headless Horseman or Johnny Smith, Max Schreck or Lucius Fox, and from Darth Vader to Captain Kirk or the alien known simply as Q…

The Raven

Have a listen to one or all.  Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”


Sean Astin


John Astin


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A Curse Dark as Gold cover Elizabeth C Bunce

October is winding down 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 writer Elizabeth C. Bunce’s novel A Curse Dark as Gold, available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and E-book editions from 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 Rumpelstiltskin-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.

A Curse Dark as Gold audio Elizabeth C Bunce told by Charlotte Parry

The story is set at the dawn of the industrial revolution.  Water wheels are becoming replaced with steam power and the big industrial cities that come along with that new technology.  Charlotte quickly finds she has inherited her father’s acumen as a smart businessperson, yet real life pressures including competition from big city wool firms, and unfair attempts to squeeze Shearing’s mill out of the marketplace, cause the mill to lose workers.  The real-life economic issues are only the beginning of Charlotte’s problems.  A strange neighbor lady is a follower of old world ways, superstitions and magic, and Rosie attempts to fix things by dabbling into this world.  Charlotte, a non-believer, weighs her options and soon a helper appears with an impractical solution to her problems.  Charlotte makes a bargain with this man and Shearing is safe for a time, but as more problems hit the town and the stakes are raised, Charlotte is left to make further bargains, including a deal she’s not even aware she made that results in the man walking away with someone dear to her. Charlotte is steadfast and stubborn, relying only upon her own intuition she turns away from everyone near her, including sister Rosie and her new husband.

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Jessica Jones Krysten Ritter

Netflix just released the first full-length trailer for its new series, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, based on one of the more obscure Marvel Comics characters–and it looks pretty grim.  Veronica Mars’s Krysten Ritter has the title role, and so far this looks like a knock-off except this heroine detective has superpowers.  Several other genre actors in supporting cast roles co-star in the series, including 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 is the first full-length trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones, showing that despite the teaser released earlier, there’s apparently not a lot of humor in the series:

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BTTF banner IDW

Tomorrow–on Back to the Future Day–IDW Publishing is releasing the first issue of a new Back to the Future comic book series, spinning off of the films and written by trilogy writer/creator Bob Gale.  Below we have a preview of the series courtesy of IDW as well as several variant covers from Issue #1 and next month’s Issue #2.  All-in, the publisher is releasing 34 retailer incentive variant covers for the premiere issue.  The standard covers for Issues #1-4 will form the above image.

Issue #1 provides two stories of Marty and Doc’s past.  The first story in the series takes us back to October 1982, where we get to witness Marty McFly’s first encounter with Doc Brown and his dog Einstein.  It’s a lighthearted and believable tale–consistent with the characters we know so well.  The second story takes us farther back to Doc Brown’s past–to World War II and Doc Brown’s encounter with another famous scientist and his big project.

BTTF var 6   BTTF var 1

It’s hard to beat the black-and-white, original art style, retro-cover variant.  And is offering its own great variant of Marty seeing Marty at the Twin Pines Mall (later Lone Pine Mall).  Enough waiting!  Click this link to download the preview to Issue #1:

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Man in High Castle Rushmore drop

Good news for you fans of Philip K. Dick novel film adaptations, or those who, like me, thought the pilot was not too shabby, as reviewed previously here at  Amazon Studio’s The Man in the High Castle got picked up for a season–at least ten episodes–and it’s coming your way next month.

The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history story where Nazi Germany and Japan defeat the Allies in the second World War.  The acting really carried the pilot.  Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (The Librarians, Heroes, Alien Nation, License to Kill, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Big Trouble in Little China) plays Nobusuke Tagomi, a Japanese official who must warn Japan that Hitler is dying and will soon be replaced with one of his even less amiable lieutenants (Goebbels, etc.) who is likely to drop an Atomic bomb or two on Japan.


Alexa Davalos (Angel, The Chronicles of Riddick, Defiance) plays Juliana Crain, a judo/Aikido instructor who receives a strange movie reel (in the novel, a book) titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy from her activist sister before she is gunned down by Japanese officials.  Her boyfriend in the TV series (and ex-husband in the novel) is played by Rupert Evans (Hellboy, Fingersmith).  He is taken prisoner at the end of the pilot, for his association with Juliana and her sister’s apparent treasonous acts.  Rufus Sewell (Zen, A Knight’s Tale, Eleventh Hour) makes an appearance as the ultimate villain–like many of his past roles–this time an unsympathetic Nazi military officer who tortures a rebel civilian without a glimmer of emotion.

Check out this preview then take a look at the first episode:

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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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