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Category: Comics & Books


Six Million Dollar Man Season Six trade paperback

Following on the heels of the exciting espionage and intrigue-filled series The Bionic Man, this year’s The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six unfortunately didn’t pack the same punch needed to continue the series beyond its first six issues.  It begs the question of whether five seasons really was enough, or whether it’s just too difficult to grab a modern audience with the story of a cybernetic human from the 1970s and 1980s when technology has moved so far past that era.

The reboot via Dynamite Comics’ license for Steve Austin began with a script by Kevin Smith that was then taken over by Phil Hester and wrapped with Aaron Gillespie.  Their series retold Steve Austin’s story of a test pilot crashing and being saved from death via cybernetics in the modern day.  It was a great read that blended the best of the TV series with technology of today.  The mistake may have been discontinuing that series for a reboot aimed to leverage the current marketing hook that worked so well for other TV series continuing in comic book form, the best being Dark Horse Comics’ multi-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons Eight through Ten, and IDW Publishing’s The X-Files Season Ten.

SMDM6 interior A   SMDM6 interior B

Why weren’t readers pulled in for the Bionic retro-fix?  The fact the story was necessarily planted in the past?  The lack of photo-real interior artwork?  With a new Bionic Man movie in the works with Mark Wahlberg, it may be the next time we see a Steve Austin comic book series is an adaptation of that movie.

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Star Wars issue 1

With the official change over really coming to fruition in January of the return of the Star Wars comic book license to Marvel Comics after its successful run at Dark Horse Comics–and several months before the full magnitude of what it will mean to have Star Wars under the Disney empire–already word is out about re-releases of the original trilogy.

Forget about Greedo shooting first, the ghost of a young Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, a skinny Jabba at Mos Eisley, and strange circular bursts emitting from destroyed Death Stars.  Forget about a cringe-worthy singsong “Celebrate the Love” over “Lapti Nek.”  It took Disney to give fans what they have wanted all along: the one and only original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, with no special edition edits, on Blu-ray.  That’s right, all three films are undergoing conversions to Blu-ray for a to-be-announced release date in 2015.

Original Death Star 2 destruction

The original destruction of the second Death Star.

So you’ll again get to upgrade your home version of the trilogy, the one that already replaced you VHS, Beta, Laser Disc, DVD, and countless digital upgrade and boxed set releases–one more time.  That is, until they release the 3D version.  No word yet on that upgrade.

updated Death Star 2 destruction from special edition

Destruction of second Death Star, after the special edition update.

Along with the films, the original Star Wars: A New Hope comic book adaptation created by legendary writer Roy Thomas and illustrated by our favorite comic book artist, Howard Chaykin, will get a facelift of sorts.  Colorist Chris Sotomayor is going to update the four-color standard 1970s style used by Marvel to a more modern color set.  Like the special edition update for the movies, this will give us a new take on the classic book.  Well-known artists Marie Severin, Steve Leialoha and Glynis Wein provided the original color work now being replaced.

Here’s a comparison of the new vs. the old:

Marvel 1977 Star Wars color update

Check back for release dates here at borg.com throughout 2015.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Green Arrow issue 100 cover   Green Arrow 101 cover

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

It’s a line by Alexander Pope in his 1709 poem, and Oliver Queen played out the saying fully in Arrow’s mid-season finale.  Unwisely confronting the League of Assassin’s far more powerful Ra’s Al Ghul and covering for sister Thea by posing as the killer of Sara Lance, Oliver met his end.  “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is also the title of the story arc that took the original run of DC Comics’s Green Arrow one hundred issues to get to–the original fall of the Emerald Archer.  In the mid-season TV finale it was literally a fall–off a cliff after a pretty undeniable death via Ra’s Al Ghul’s sword.

But we all know that the death of a superhero is short-lived 99 percent of the time.  In Issue #101 of DC Comics’ long-running Green Arrow monthly series Ollie met an untimely death in an exploding airplane, and yet the series continued for 36 more issues–without Oliver Queen.  Series star Stephen Amell may have given a clue to a similar direction for the return of the series in January via a Facebook post after the show:

“Despite the title, our show is bigger than any one character.  We’re going to prove that to you.”

Death of Green Arrow

The original, explosive death of Oliver Queen.

So we may see a period during the last half of Season 3 without Ollie.  But a note to the show writers: just don’t take it too far.

It feels like the series has barely begun and the writers have taken the big leap.  Where can we go from here?  Taking a superhero book forward without the title superhero in the 1990s comic book series was a risk, and split those fans who were loyal to the classic Green Arrow and those willing to accept a second Green Arrow–Connor Hawke, Oliver Queen’s son, as a new Green Arrow.  Three years was a surprisingly long run without Ollie, but ultimately the series was cancelled.  Oliver was to be resurrected years later by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks in a second successful Green Arrow series.

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Garfield_V5_coverA   Peanuts24_coverA

With all the focus on teen and adult readers, you might not know that several popular comic book and comic strip characters are still going strong, and available each week for kids of all ages in your local comic book store.  With the annual re-airing of the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, why not see what the Peanuts gang is up to today?  BOOM! Studios’ KaBOOM! line has several series catering to the demographic that may not be ready for Revival and Rachel Rising.

This week KaBOOM! is releasing new issues of Garfield, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and yes, Peanuts.  And for a slightly older set of readers, BOOM! Studios’ BOOM!Box is releasing the next issue of the 2014 breakout hit series Lumberjanes. 

After the break, check out previews for all these titles, courtesy of BOOM! Studios.  All these issues hit comic book stores tomorrow.

Lumberjanes_009_coverA   AT_BananaGuard06_coverA

First up is that lasagna-loving cat Garfield in the trade paperback edition of Garfield, Volume 5.  Whether you’ve read the prior books or not, it’s a cinch to get caught up on Garfield, Jon, and Odie.

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Woodward Black Canary commission close-up 2014

One of our favorite artists is J.K. Woodward, known for his vibrant and life-like painting style, and his work on several successful series including Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation–Assimilation² reviewed here and Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever reviewed here.

We haven’t featured any new original comic art lately so what better time than now to share borg.com’s recent commission of a Woodward painting, done as part of his donation to the Toe Tag Riot crowdfunding project (we reviewed Toe Tag Riot Issue #1 here).

Woodward commission Green Arrow close-up

Adding to our gallery of awesome Green Arrow and Black Canary original art, Woodward placed the Alex Ross era costumed duo on the streets of Star City.  Green Arrow, sporting his classic look and Van Dyke beard, is ready to take out some vile foe off-screen, as Black Canary soars into the picture overhead on her trusty bike.  Based on her facial expression, this superheroine means business.

Check out the full image, after the break…

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Black Widow Noto

Review by C.J. Bunce

The one-two punch of Nathan Edmondson’s creative storytelling and Phil Noto’s stunning painted covers and panels have yielded twelve issues of a great comic book series this year.  Black Widow gives us an entirely new look at the assassin turned Avenger.  She’s decisive and merciless when she needs to be.  Yet, troubled by her past, she’s on a quest to atone for past sins even if she doesn’t collect all her bounty along the way.

Accompanied by her lawyer-handler Isaiah, an adept operative in his own right, and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill, Natasha Romanova aka Black Widow is a powerhouse superheroine–without the need for any superpowers in a banner year for kick-ass women genre characters.  In the past year she has partnered with Director Hill, The Punisher, the wolverine/mutant X-23, and even Bucky Barnes–the Winter Soldier, and taken on both Hawkeye and Daredevil.  All the while she has bested the bad guys on every continent, even if at first she can’t determine who to trust.

Noto Black Widow promo poster

You often encounter series that are weighted toward a stronger writer or stronger artist, but here the balance is perfect.  Edmondson presents the coolest version of Black Widow yet with an engrossing story.  Noto’s painted panels, his 1960s color palette, his realistic Natasha and other recurring characters, and his city scenes from San Francisco to Prague are memorable.  His Natasha is every bit as cool as James Bond on film–a spy you’d both love to be and love to be with.

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DM Guide

Review by Art Schmidt

Every gaming nerd in the world has stories about their first D&D game, their first (and usually favorite) edition played, their first character, first group, etc.  I won’t bore you with any of mine (I’ve got some pretty awesome ones, though!) but suffice to say I have been playing D&D since before the hardbound books, so it’s been a long time.  My first Dungeon Master’s Guide was the 1st Edition book, all two hundred and thirty-two glorious, black and white, densely packed pages of it.  It opened up worlds of possibility for my friends and me.  We spent endless hours exploring magical realms of perilous danger and heroic adventure.

I ran most of the games, as I had the Dungeon Master’s Guide (or “DMG” in gamer parlance) and a burning desire to create my own worlds.  We played the printed adventures, or modules, and then I created my own.  The DMG was a great help in this, chock full of tables, charts, and endless descriptions of magical items, weapons, ancient relics and fearsome villains.  I do not know how many tablets of graph paper I went through in my teenage years, but I always had some pages tucked in my text books, my folders, or folded up in my pockets, covered in lines and boxes representing mines dark and deep, full of orcs and dragons and swords of flame.

First Ed DMG

Remember 1979? We didn’t even have Atari back then. This was the BOMB!!!

Having spent the majority of my gaming years running games, versus playing characters, I have owned and used every edition of the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide (except for 4th Edition, and to be honest that’s not out of any dislike for that system but due to a lack of desire of any of my gaming group at the time to make the move from 3.5).  And I’ve loved them all, though at varying levels of love.  The original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) Dungeon Masters Guide (note the lack of the possessive apostrophe; this was 1981 for sure) was a genuine first love, wide-eyed and unjudging and incapable of believing we’d even been blessed with such a magnificent gift.  It literally opened up worlds of imagination for millions of gamers world-wide.  Never mind that the book itself was a jumbled mess of disparate information, random thoughts shoveled into a solid form so quickly that no thought was given to organization or flow.  It didn’t even have chapters, but did we notice or really care?  Heck no!

2nd Edition was more like Puppy Love; it all looked good on the outside and added in a lot of things we thought we wanted, and we knew we were supposed to love it because we loved the game.  But the mechanics weren’t completely sewn together and there were some issues with over-powered spell casting classes.

DMG version 3 dot 5

If they made a Guide to all of the 3.5 Edition rule books, it would be thicker than the DMG.

3rd Edition was a nostalgic love; it was a brave new departure from the old standard but the system was broken from the get-go.  The wildly popular Edition 3.5 was a rebound love;  3rd Edition was dysfunctional and a rough break-up, and 3.5 was a welcome bowl of ice cream and a warm blanket.  And it worked very well.  But after years of fluff and bloat, the system became unwieldy and overly complicated.  Especially so for players and DMs who wanted to focus on story, but had to acquiesce to players who wanted to min-max their way to a War Hulk or Shadowcraft Mage build which everyone knew would eventually break the campaign (and the story!).

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SWIsh 1 E Midtown Comics by Mark Brooks    SWIsh 1 P Comixposure by John Tyler Christopher

It hasn’t been released yet, and it is already the #1 best selling comic of 2015.  Forecasted with advance sale numbers at more than one million copies already, Marvel Comics is re-entering the world of Star Wars comics like it’s 1977 all over again.  Written by our friend Jason Aaron with artwork by John Cassaday and colorist Laura Martin, the story continues the adventures of Luke Skywalker after the end of the original Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. 

Marvel Comics is pulling out all the stops with the variety of cover variants readers can choose from.  Most comic book stores will get one of a half dozen basic covers, but those who dig around on the Web will find plenty more available.  More than 30 basic full-color covers will be released in January 2015, plus black and white versions and sketch variants of many of those covers.  And that’s not all, several collectible comic book websites will be releasing signature editions signed by everyone up to Stan Lee, and sketch covers by several artists including Dynamite Comics’ Chris Caniano.  And you can get a logo-only cover to take to your next Con and commission an artist of your choice to sketch you a character.

star-wars-1

Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Mike Mayhew, Frank Cho, David Petersen, Jenny Frison, Stephanie Han, Amanda Connor, Alex Maleev… everyone but Dave Dorman seems to have been pulled into this project.  Click on each image to see the artist and whether the book is only available at a special store.  A few variant images have not yet been released.

SWIsh 1 Y Heroes Haven by Mike Perkins      SWIsh1 R Heroes and Fantasies Daniel Acuna

So check out even more great covers to Marvel’s Star Wars, Issue #1, after the break:

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AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0   copperhead04_cover

If you’re wondering what some of the best comic book series are from 2014, you need look no further than your local comic book store right now.  Three of the top ten series of the year have new issues released today.  With Afterlife with Archie, Issue #7, a new story arc begins, featuring the classic Riverdale gang in the aftermath of an encounter with zombies.  Image Comics’ Copperhead, Issue #4, continues its standout story of newly-arrived sheriff Clara Bronson and her son in a sci-fi Western town of aliens and mischief.  And from BOOM! Studios, Wild’s End, Issue #4, continues what could be described as what would happen if neighbors of Winnie the Pooh and the gang have a War of the Worlds encounter, and if that story was directed by Quentin Tarentino.

WildsEnd04_coverA    AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0V

Afterlife with Archie is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with that fantastic artwork we’ve come to expect from Francesco Francavilla.  Copperhead is from the minds of writer Jay Faerber and artists Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley.  And Wild’s End is written deftly by Dan Abnett, with artwork by I.N.J. Culbard.

Check out previews for the new issues of each series, after the break:

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Syfy Krypton logo

Syfy Channel is jumping on the superhero series bandwagon and teaming up with DC Entertainment to launch a new series in 2015 about the family of one of DC Comics’ most popular characters.  Krypton will key in on Superman’s grandparents on his father’s side, with Jor-El’s father–Superman’s granddad–as the lead character.  One can quickly see a young Jor-El, twin brother Nim-El, and other brother Zor-El (Supergirl’s dad), and perhaps an Eddie Haskell-inspired neighbor kid Zod, as likely key characters in this new prequel story to the classic Superman tale.

Depending on the series you’re following, the grandfather of Superman (known at birth as Kal-El) was Jor-El the First or Seyg-El, son of Var-El and husband of Nimda An-Dor.  Will they select one of these names or start from scratch for the series?  It’s all being developed now.

The good part?  Other than Constantine, recent TV series featuring superheroes Arrow, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and Gotham have proven to be critical successes.  The not-so-good?  Krypton is being developed by the scriptwriter (David S. Goyer) for the disappointing big-screen reboot Man of Steel (reviewed previously here at borg.com).

Superman 1978 Krypton

The 1978 Superman movie featured Marlon Brando and Julie Christie on an interesting, technologically advanced planet Krypton.

Here’s the studio description for the project:

Years before the Superman legend we know, the House of El was shamed and ostracized. This series follows The Man of Steel’s grandfather as he brings hope and equality to Krypton, turning a planet in disarray into one worthy of giving birth to the greatest Super Hero ever known.

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