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Category: Comics & Books


grimm below the surface

Last week’s episode of Grimm may have been one of the best on TV this year, bringing together threads formed since the beginning of the show.  The result proved the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and pitted the “good” guys together with the “bad” guys against the “even worse” guys.  The most unlikely of pairings occurred in nearly every scene.  It was brilliant TV, and we can likely expect even more fun on this Friday’s episode.

Previously we reviewed The Official Companion to Supernatural Season Seven, a well-formatted look-back for fans of the series, with previous editions released annually.  The Official Companion serves as both a souvenir book and behind the scenes look at the creators of the show.  Many series have released works that were similar.  Doctor Who has done this in magazine form, for example.  Movies like The Hobbit released different variations of behind the scenes books, with different price points and trade or hardbound editions targeted at different audiences.  The first behind the scenes look at NBC’s hit TV series Grimm is now at bookstores, and it follows a format similar to the Official Companion concept Supernatural uses, except it contains glossy, full color images, which will be a plus for diehard fans of the show.

Looking back from the end of Season Two of NBC’s hit series, Grimm: Below the Surface–The Insider’s Guide to the Show provides plenty of information not available elsewhere.  It includes stories and interviews from the series executive producers and showrunner, each of the actors playing main characters (Nick, Monroe, Juliette, Hank, Rosalee, Renard, Adalind, and Sergeant Wu), writers, production designers, the make-up and special effects team, casting, the stunt team, and the props and costume creators.

Grimm - Season 2

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Hawkeye issue 11

The 2014 Eisner Award nominations were released today.  Not a lot of surprises again this year.  The nominations tend toward more serious subjects in the year’s comic book offerings as opposed to action-packed superhero titles, sci-fi, fantasy, humor, or popular works.  But there are exceptions, and some can be found this year.  And should you think the books reviewed and lauded here at borg.com might be out of touch with the Eisner nomination committee, actually some of our favorite books from 2013 can be found throughout this year’s nominees.

The ringer of course is Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye series.  Not only do we like it, everyone seems to agree this is the best book around, two years running.  And it’s up for multiple awards again this year.

But no Afterlife With Archie?  Where are all the Dynamite Comics nominees?  Where is recognition for the jaw-dropping visuals on Dark Horse Comics’ landmark series, The Star Wars?  Why not more from IDW and Dark Horse?  How about some variety?

So… congratulations to all the nominees, and extra snaps to some of our favorites (the full nomination list is after the break):

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Hawkeye #11: “Pizza Is My Business,” by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel).  This made the borg.com Best of 2013 for Best Single Issue.  I even bought extra copies of this one.  It’s that good.

Best Continuing Series
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)

I read books this year from other nominations in this category: Saga, East of West, and Nowhere Men (we weren’t fans, but reviewed Issue #1 here), and the others just didn’t make our review list.

Black Beetle poster

Best Limited Series
The Black Beetle: No Way Out, by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse).

We reviewed this series here at borg.com this year and decided it should have made our Best of 2013 list had we reviewed it earlier.

I also read nominee Mike Richardson’s 47 Ronin–a good read, which I may review here later this year.  I had a review copy of The Wake from DC Comics, but didn’t find the story or art as gripping as others.

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Itty Bitty Hellboy, by Art Baltazar and Franco (Dark Horse).  Reviewed here, I’m glad this wasn’t passed up for consideration.

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SMDMS6 2 cover Ross

Season Two of The Six Million Dollar Man is in full gear.  Issue #2 of Dynamite Comics’ newest monthly series is in comic book stores tomorrow.  Oscar Goldman must tell Steve Austin that O.S.I.’s bionics division is closing its doors.  What will this mean for Steve and Jamie?

An alien organism has made it to Earth’s surface.

Who is the new face-changing Steve Austin doppelganger?  The menace Maskatron is back from the toy shelves of the 1970s to the ongoing story of Colonel Steve Austin.

Issue #2 includes a classic cover design by Alex Ross, with ongoing story by Jim Kuhoric and interior art by Juan Antonio Ramirez.

After the break, check out a preview for The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue #2, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Black-Widow-5-by-Phil-Noto

In the same way that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series took us by surprise as the best new series of 2012 (and hasn’t let up in 2014), Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow monthly comic book series is proving to be at the top of the 2014 titles.  Strange that the duo is known to be partners with Avengers missions.

This is the story of Natasha Romanova and her attempt to atone for her past sins as a mercenary, assassin, general all-around “bad guy.”  She selects missions these days very carefully.  Her goal is making money but not hurting good guys.  And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing for profit.

blackwidow001018

That doesn’t mean she won’t be tapped for S.H.I.E.L.D. or Avengers projects from time to time.  Former agent and now director Maria Hill (played by Cobie Smulders in the film series and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series) brings her in on a few missions in the pages of this new Black Widow series.  They make a great team.  Edmondson has a great feel for Romanova.  In the same way Fraction was able to show the personal side of Hawkeye, Edmondson scratches the surface of what makes this lethal heroine tick.  But as she says at the beginning of her series “my full story will never be told”.

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Detective Comics 30 cover

With so many on-going monthly series in the DC Comics New 52 universe, it’s sometimes difficult to find an entry point into the DC Comics titles because of continuing story arcs.  If you’ve dumped one or more titles and want to get back in, where do you start?

One entry point for you may be Detective Comics, Issue #30, the beginning of a new story arc titled “Icarus.”  In this first chapter we don’t learn what Icarus is, but we do meet up with an interesting Batman, moving on past the death of son Damian.  We also meet Elena Aguila and her daughter Annie, a motorbike daredevil who looks like she’s cut out to be the next Robin.  Similar to one of the main story threads in the Arrow TV series, Elena and Bruce Wayne are forging an alliance to restore the welfare of the citizens in the community of Gotham’s East End Waterfront District.

Detective Comics 30 Manipul

Replacing Wayne’s plans to commercially develop that area of town, and the likely deals with businessmen in Gotham City that he is going to need to cancel to do it, will no doubt create some enemies for Wayne in the process.

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Karen Gillan as Nebula

From the previews of the 2014 theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy, we get the feel we’re dealing with the motley crew of a Firefly class-inspired vessel, Marvel universe style.  Along with that we see plenty of “bounty hunters” or assassin types previewed.  Fans of the Eleventh Doctor on the Doctor Who TV series are particularly eager to watch the actress who played the beloved Amelia Pond—Karen Gillan—as the very futuristic looking alien assassin Nebula.  Gillan even shaved her head for the role.

We don’t know how great Nebula’s role will be in the film, but she gets center spotlight in the first of two “prelude” comic book issues from Marvel Comics.

Nebula GotG Prelude 1

Like Darth Vader, Mara Jade, and Anakin Skywalker were subjects of the Emperor, we meet up first with Nebula as she is being guided by the villainous Thanos.  And similar to the plot the previews have promised us for the new Tom Cruise summer release Edge of Tomorrow, this warrior fights and loses and is somehow recycled to live and fight on another day.  Like Vader and Skywalker, Nebula, too, is part cybernetic.

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Flash01-Cov-Laming

If you’re missing the Flash Gordon of the 1980 movie then a new monthly comic book series beginning today may be for you.  Following the original story elements from Alex Raymond’s original stories first laid down in 1930s comic book strips discussed previously at borg.com here and here, but updating elements to the present day, Dynamite Comics is rebooting Flash Gordon for a new audience.

Issue #1 of the new series finds Flash Gordon and sci-journalist Dale Arden a year ago, with Arden covering the last space shuttle’s decommissioning, and Flash bungee jumping.  One year later at they are about to encounter the planet Mongo, and the dreaded Emperor Ming, for the first time.  That is, after a slight detour to the planet Arboria, and an encounter with Prince Barin.

Like the 1980 movie, this Flash Gordon series has a confident, cocky and a bit foolhardy Flash, and a no-nonsense, sharp, and attractive Dale.  It’s just brought forward a bit with the starting point–34 years updated from the film.  Jeff Parker is the series writer, with art by Evan Shaner.

After the break, we have a preview of Flash Gordon, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Grimm book banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

Grimm the TV series is “grim” to the extent of its various Wesen creatures—some stars of the show like Monroe and Rosalie and the villainous Adalind—as they woge into the faces of a horror movie special effects artist’s dream project.  Strange murders and other crimes from their dark fantasy world come across weekly on NBC with a footing in the reality of a Portland, Oregon police precinct.  But there is an equal balance of humor that can often make you forget the show is so dark.  The comic book spin-off of the series, reviewed here at borg.com last year, allows Nick, Hank, and Monroe to venture off to locations too expensive for a network TV series.  The tie-in Book of Lore highlights the fictional monster culture behind the series stories.  Now a new tie-in novel takes the darkest elements of the TV series even further, to more horrific places that could never make it to network TV.

Bram Stoker Award winning horror author John Passarella takes on the Grimm universe with a new criminal element in Grimm: The Chopping Block, a new paperback novel just released. It’s The Freshman meets Silence of the Lambs meets Fat Tuesday. The remnants of boiled human bones are turning up in multiple places around Portland.  And the victims have nothing in common.  It’s not long before Detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin, along with Captain Renard and Sergeant Wu, discover that what the victims don’t have in common says all they need to know about the true nature of the crime.

Grimm The Chopping Block

Humans become livestock under the knives of a Wesen butcher.  Any reader may go along with our favorite character Monroe by book’s end and go Vegan.  Be prepared for descriptions you’d find in any meat-packing plant or Food Network series, only with an unusual meat substitute.  Food prep takes on new meaning.  And the story features a dinner event that The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover only scratched the surface with.

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ST Archives 1

IDW Publishing is bring back a series of volumes reprinting the original classic Star Trek series originally published by Gold Key Comics, including the memorable photo covers of the Star Trek crew that you might remember from nearly 50 years ago.  The first volume hits the shelves of comic book stores tomorrow and features the first six issues that were originally sold between 1967 and 1969.

If you lost your original issues to time, this new volume will bring back some good ol’ Trek nostalgia for you.  It includes Issue #1 from July 1967, “The Planet of No Return,” and Issue #2 from March 1968, “The Devil’s Isle of Space,” both written by Dick Wood with art by Nevio Zaccara.  You’ll also get Issue #3 from December 1968, “Invasion of the City Builders,” Issue #4 from June 1969, “The Peril of Planet Quick Change,” Issue #5 from September 1969, “The Ghost Planet,” and Issue #6 from December 1969 “When Planets Collide,” all written by Wood with art by Alberto Giolitti.

ST Archives 2 ST Archives 3

Plenty of modern Star Trek comics have done all kinds of things with storytelling and artwork.  But there is something fun about the simplicity of these old stories that will appeal to fans of 1960s comics and the creators’ vision for the future from long ago.

After the break, we’re previewing the first several pages of Star Trek–Gold Key Archives, Volume 1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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thousand dollar tan line rob thomas jennifer graham veronica mars novel

Fresh on the heels of the theatrical release of the Veronica Mars movie (reviewed last week here at borg.com), series creator and movie director Rob Thomas (along with writer Jennifer Graham) have just released its sequel, Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line We’re reviewed several franchise tie-ins and this new novel is among the best.  All that you think you’d need, the familiar characters, setting, and mood are here, but the most important is that inner monologue of Veronica.  Who better to scribe the next story, the immediate aftermath of the events of the movie, and Veronica’s voice than Thomas?

If you’re not already a Veronica Mars fan, the novel has enough of a standalone detective story to make for a good entry point for the series that genre king Joss Whedon referred to as “Best. Show. Ever.  Seriously, I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making, and maybe even more than those… These guys know what they’re doing on a level that intimidates me.  It’s the Harry Potter of shows.”

Veronica back at Mars Investigations

Picking up in the days after the events of the movie and taking place literally in March 2014, the novel allows Veronica and hacker pal Mac to use all the resources of social media and modern technologies to sleuth out two missing young women who vanished on Spring break in the seedy beach town of Neptune, California (as Piz says in the movie, there really is a Hellmouth under there).  Veronica’s dad Keith is slowly recovering from his car wreck injuries.  Logan is off on an aircraft carrier in the Navy.  And Veronica is dead serious about partnering with her dad full-time at Mars Investigations, to his disappointment.

We get to catch up with a character from the series from Veronica’s distant past, as well as a new character that will likely play a key role in future stories for both Veronica and Keith.

Hacker Mac Veronica Mars

Just as true to life as the original series was, Veronica’s relationship with her dad couldn’t be more believable.  She really isn’t going back to New York to become a lawyer.  And she lives at home again.  As much as we’ve cheered Veronica on, as successful as she could be, like Michael Corleone they keep pulling her back to Neptune.  And it turns out the success we hoped to see Mac achieve (shouldn’t she be CEO of a Google or Facebook by now?) is also on a backtrack, as she quits her prestigious job at Kane Software to work for Veronica as hacker and researcher.  How could all of this have gone so wrong for these two?  Rob Thomas’s choices, if disappointing for all who have cheered on these characters, does something important:  it creates the possibility of future movies and novels.

If the Veronica Mars movie and this first Veronica Mars novel is any indication, then fans will be begging for even more Veronica Mars, no matter the format.

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