Category: Comics & Books


Gentle Giant Ant-Man SDCC 2015

As we find every year, Gentle Giant is back again next week with several great exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015–something for everyone.  The finest pieces come from Marvel Studios’ new Ant-Man film and classic Star Wars characters.  The Ant-Man sculpt, shown above, is a top-notch rendering of Paul Rudd’s character in costume.  This statue is limited to only 500 pieces.  It is 4.25 inches tall–not ant sized but big enough to appreciate.

Gentle Giant prototype Boba Fett SDCC 2015

Next is this stunning bust of the prototype for Boba Fett.  Every version of Boba Fett that gets turned into a toy or collectible simply amazes, and this all white version just makes us all want to see this character in action.

Deadpool Gentle Giant SDCC 2015

Deadpool fans will appreciate this interpretation of Deadpool by Gentle Giant artists.  It’s Deadpool as he may have looked in Secret Wars.  This figure stands 12 inches tall.

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Jaws-paperback

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

For the Fourth of July that is arriving on the heels of the fortieth anniversary of the premiere of the blockbuster movie Jaws, what better time for a summer reading of Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel that the movie is based on?

Well it was a good notion.

And it’s the notion in the novel Jaws–the premise–that fortunately inspired scriptwriter Carl Gottlieb, and Benchley himself–to both expand the novel, and more importantly, whittle it down, into such a finely executed, classic film.

But wait, Jaws was a bestseller!  A book that was on everyone’s bookshelf in the early 1970s!  Who doesn’t remember that book cover, and who didn’t sing the praises of that book?

The first third of the novel is quite good, exciting reading that fans of the film will be familiar with:  The death of a young woman at night swimming with her boyfriend in the northwest beach community of Amity, the politics of Chief Brody and the Mayor keeping the beaches open, and the subsequent death of a boy and lambasting of Brody by the boy’s mother for not closing down the beaches after the first death.  The introductory chapters really set up the reader for a wild ride.

Jaws_novel_cover

Unfortunately from there the story drifts off course and never returns to the excitement of the set-up.

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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Wizard World Des Moines 2015 from above

It must be one of the best-attended Comic Cons for a first-time event:  More than 25,000 fans of print and film superheroes and celebrities attended this weekend’s Wizard World Des Moines comic book and pop culture convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.  And the show’s management believes the attendance assures Wizard World will return to Des Moines next summer, establishing the next major annual Midwest comic book fan convention.

Fans from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo op room, many in cosplay garb.  The highlights include a premiere slate of comic book creators in Artists Alley and celebrity appearances that gave everyone something to be excited about.

Michael Golden Wizard World Des Moines 2015

Star Trek fans barely had to wait in line to meet sci-fi icon William Shatner, who also spoke to a crowded house of fans Saturday afternoon.  If you like superheroes, you could meet the two most popular Green Arrow creators of all time: artist Neal Adams and writer/artist Mike Grell, Superman actors Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark) (Routh also appears as The Atom on CW’s The Flash), DC Bombshells creator Ant Lucia, Rogue creator and long-time Marvel artist Michael Golden (above), and Mike Zeck, artist for Marvel Comics classics like the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series:

Mike Zeck Wizard World Des Moines 2015

The Walking Dead fans met series star Michael Cudlitz, and received an exclusive variant Issue #1 from the comic book series, drawn by Iowa artist Phil Hester.  And horror fans got to cross off their list one of the modern Big 3 of horror icons, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund.  Fans of the cult film Boondock Saints met up with star Sean Patrick Flannery.

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Nerd HQ 2015 logo

The staff at borg.com have made it to several of the Nerd HQ celebrations in San Diego, including the first event back in 2011 where we met Zachary Levi and Scott Bakula.  We’ve been able to see panels since then with some of our favorites, like the Doctor Who panel featuring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Steven Moffat.  Nerd HQ takes place each year during San Diego Comic-Con International weekend.  Each year it has been hosted at a facility within close walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center, and this year it will open its doors directly across the street at the New Children’s Museum.  It marks the fifth year for the event.

Don’t confuse Comic-Con with Nerd HQ–Nerd HQ is not affiliated with Comic-Con.  The crew that runs the show–Chuck’s Zachary Levi and his friends–are a bit like party crashers, yet they offer an opportunity for those who missed out on tickets to the Big Show to still have a close-up experience with celebrities in the same town on the same weekend.  It’s convenient for everyone since the celebrities typically have engagements for Comic-Con, so they can just divert some time to Nerd HQ, where for $22 per person per panel Nerd HQ piles up a fair amount of cash for charity.

Flip through the “back-issues” of borg.com here to find several videos of past Nerd HQ panels.  Then check out this preview of this year’s panels with Zachary Levi:

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Everest movie

Twelve climbers died on Mt. Everest in 1996, but the harrowing story of the events that occurred on May 10-11, 1996, have created the most exciting story of human endurance and survival yet documented.  More than 300 hundred documented climbers have died on the mountain, many whose bodies line the road to this day and still are used as checkpoints or mile markers for future climbers.  We don’t know all the details of their stories like we do of the May 1996 disaster.  And that’s thanks primarily to the fact that a master storyteller was on the mountain to be part of what happened.

That storyteller is Jon Krakauer, a journalist who would later document the events in the bestselling account Into Thin Air, one of the most exciting, jaw-dropping books ever written.  Without Krakauer so many people around the world would not know so much about these peoples’ lives we’d otherwise have no reason to know about:  Beck Weathers, Rob Hall, Scott Fischer, Anatoli Boukreev, Doug Hansen, Andrew Harris, Yasuko Namba.  The crossroads where they would all meet is finally coming to the big screen this year in director Baltasar Kormákur‘s Everest.  It will be difficult to screw up this story.  Millions of dollars went into the production.

Josh Brolin is Beck Weathers

Just look at the major league cast alone.  Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac, Source Code, Homicide) plays Fischer, Josh Brolin (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jonah Hex, Men in Black III, Milk, No Country for old Men, The Goonies) is Beck Weathers, Michael Kelly (House of Cards, Fringe, Law & Order, Unbreakable) is Krakauer, John Hawkes (Deadwood, Lost, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is Hansen, Jason Clarke (Terminator: Genisys, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) is Hall, Martin Henderson (The Ring, House, M.D.) is Harris, Icelander Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson is Boukreev, and Naoko Mori (Humans, Torchwood, Doctor Who) is Namba.

Check out this first, full-length trailer for Everest:

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World is holding its first pop culture convention in Iowa this weekend, introducing Midwest genre fans to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, Arrow), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), comic book writer/artist Mike Grell (Green Arrow), Iowa’s own Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, The Flash) and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow -- Image AR315C_ATOM_0001 -- Pictured: -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Brandon Routh as The Atom and Superman

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Alex Kingston River Song Doctor Who

Alex Kingston, River Song from Doctor Who, and Dinah Lance from CW’s Arrow.

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley in addition to Mr. Grell: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), our pal Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo), and many others.

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Munchkin_05_A_Main    Sabrina_03-0

It’s another big week for comic book releases.  This week we’re featuring previews from some titles from Archie Comics, Dynamite Comics, and BOOM! Studios that we think you’ll be interested in.  We’ve kept our tabs on many books this year, especially from the independent publishers.  The best reads this year have been produced by writers and artists from the independents.  Let’s take a look at previews from six issues coming to comic book stores everywhere tomorrow, Comic Book Wednesday, May 27.

Munchkin is based on the popular fantasy card game, and the series has kept up with the spirit of the game, and offers something for everyone.  It’s now up to Issue #5, written by Tom Siddell and Shannon Campbell, with art by Ian McGinty and Rian Sygh.  Published by the BOOM! Box imprint of BOOM! Studios.

Like Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of those series from Archie Comics you just can’t pass up.  From its new Archie Horror imprint, the series is now on Issue #3, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, with artwork by Robert Hack.

SS-Masq-Kato-Cov-A-Tan    RSv2-16-Cov-Stagg

From Dynamite Comics we have the next tie-in to the Swords of Sorrow event series, Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade & Kato, a one-shot issue.  Written by G. Willow Wilson and Erica Schultz with art by Noah Salonga, this will be a must-have if you’re following the big mash-up series of the year.

Also from Dynamite Comics is the next issue of Red Sonja, Issue #16.  In addition to the classic fantasy art cover art with each issue, Red Sonja has some of the best interior work being published, thanks to artist Walter Geovani.  Gail Simone is writer on this series.

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Sorrow01-Cov-D-Sub-Hack    Sorrow01-Cov-G-Incen10-Lotay

Nothing in the past five years has been more fun as far as comic book events are concerned than Dynamite Comics’ ever-growing crossovers incorporating their huge roster of licensed characters.  The New 52 and Convergence events from DC Comics and the Secret Wars event from Marvel Comics are so much more of the same–pulling in dozens of titles and character crossovers over the course of several months.  All of these publisher events attempt to reinvigorate their brands–to bring more people in to try out the regular monthly series featuring their stock of characters, whether you’re looking at the Avengers or the X-Men or the Justice League.  Dynamite’s events also pull from their stock of characters, yet the publisher has managed to unleash something very new in the way these characters come together.

Dynamite’s Masks limited series introduced a pantheon of superheroes from the literary past: Green Hornet and Kato, The Shadow, Miss Fury, Spider, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Green Lama, Black Terror and The Black Bat (a second limited monthly follow-on series, Masks 2, is underway now).  Then Bill Willingham expanded and amped up the Dynamite characters with his Legenderry steampunk adventures.  Another limited series, this one introduced the Six Thousand Dollar Man, teaming up with a parallel world, steampunk era Red Sonja, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Green Hornet, the Phantom, and more.  It now has its own expanded event series of sorts with Legenderry universe monthly series featuring each of Vampirella, Red Sonja, and Green Hornet.

SwordsSorrow03-Cov-A-Lotay    STK673857

But Dynamite’s best crossover event series may have just arrived with writer Gail Simone and artist Sergio Davila’s new Swords of Sorrow.  A dark prince has enlisted an arsenal of women warriors to defend his interests, including the well-known red, horned villainess Purgatori.  But a mysterious and beautiful otherworld woman called the Traveller has assigned various swords to her own select group of women warriors via the Courier, across time and space–from Everywhere and Everywhen to Nowhen–to defend worlds menaced by this prince.  Her heroines include Red Sonja, Vampirella, Irene Adler, Dejah Thoris, Jennifer Blood, Jane Porter, Lady Zorro, Milan Kato, Masquerade, Black Sparrow, Miss Fury, Pantha, Lady Rawhide, and Jana the Jungle Girl.

Leading a select team of women writers in nine Swords of Sorrow tie-in series and one-shots, Gail Simone has her challenges here, required to pull together more than a dozen main characters quickly, explaining enough to let us know who they are for those unfamiliar with them all, and set up enough world-building to let us understand how they all fit together.  This may be the best we’ve read of any series from Simone so far, as Issue #1 of the six backbone issues gives us all we need to get excited to see what comes next.  Sergio Davila’s artwork is as detailed and interesting as his work on Legenderry, sure to keep us interested to come back for more each month.  Check out the full checklist of the crossover series below.

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Jessica Barden Far from the Madding Crowd

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Anyone familiar with Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd knows that the story begins when an impetuous young sheepdog accidentally herds his flock over a cliff, killing them all… and then things rather go downhill (ahem) from there.  That’s Thomas Hardy, after all.  But Far From the Madding Crowd is widely considered one of Hardy’s “happier” stories, a happy-ending (except for the sheep) romance about another impetuous youngster, farm heiress Bathsheba Everdene, and her stubborn attempts to hang on to her independence, despite the attentions of three (three!) suitors.  It all takes place in the bucolic English countryside, at the height of the Victorian era, with Social Consequences and Brooding Heroes, Headstrong Heroines, Disastrous Misunderstandings, Crimes of Passion, and Anonymous Love Letters. What’s not to love?

Well, in Thomas Vinterberg’s new adaptation of the story, pretty much everything.  Okay, to be fair–there is actually a lot not to love about the novel.  Heroine Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan, Doctor Who “Blink”, Never Let Me Go, The Great Gatsby), for one; she is at times thoughtless, clueless, senselessly cruel, and relentlessly bullheaded.  But Hardy also meant her to be sympathetic and inspiring, driving forward in a man’s world that thinks little of a woman’s independence.  Along the way, she wins the affections of no fewer than three men–men who see her for much more than her valuable land.  But the latest film version brings none of Bathsheba’s passion, conviction, and nuance to screen, relying only on Mulligan’s befuddlement and tousled tresses, and a confused wardrobe (by designer Janet Patterson) that looks like clothing from a Soviet propaganda poster.  She’s a better actor, and we’ve seen it.

Michael Sheen and Carey Mulligan Far From the Madding Crowd

Somewhere along the way, the love quadrangle of the tale gets muddled, and one can’t quite figure out how itinerant soldier Frank Troy (Thomas Sturridge, The Hollow Crown, Pirate Radio) fits in–let alone manages what devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak (Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, from the upcoming Lewis & Clark) has continually failed at: securing Bathsheba’s hand in marriage.  But by that time, the only thing we’re sure of is that Bathsheba has poor judgement… so we just sort of go with it.  Perhaps because we’re still hanging on for gorgeous glimpses of the English countryside (which never arrive).

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