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Category: Comics & Books


LifeWithArchie_36-0Hughes   LifeWithArchie_36-0Perez

Today Archie Comics finally does the unthinkable.  In its future series Life With Archie, Archie Andrews will die.  But he dies heroically, taking a bullet from a stalker to save the life of fellow Riverdale pal Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie universe.  The freckle-faced kid known for his Happy Days lifestyle as the perpetual teenager–with pal Reggie and on-and-off girlfriend Betty for nearly 75 years in comic books–finally meets his end in Issue #36, the final issue of the series.

His death is accompanied by some of the best homage covers we’ve seen, from the likes of Adam Hughes, Francesco Francavilla, Mike Allred, Ramón Pérez, and Fiona Staples.

LifeWithArchie_36-0FF   LifeWithArchie_36-0FS

After the break check out a preview to Life With Archie Issue #36, and a preview of the ongoing series Archie Comics Digest, where Archie continues on.

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comic-con-logo-image

It’s less than two weeks until 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International will host more than 150,000 fans of sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes and other pop culture, and SDCC has now released the entire panel schedule for this year’s big show.  If you haven’t been to the modern-day Greatest Show on Earth, it should at least be on your bucket list, but beware:  if you attend the show once you’ll want to keep going back.

Tickets as usual were sold out months ago, but for those attending this year’s show, we have some quick links to the event list so you can start planning your days now.

This year’s panels prove yet again that you shouldn’t listen to the naysayers who claim SDCC doesn’t focus on comic book artists and writers.  Even more events are occurring this year focused on the comic book medium, including benchmarks like Batman’s 75th anniversary.  Yet there are also all of those big panels planned full of this summer’s movie blockbusters and big-name casts and the casts and creators of your favorite television series.

Comic-Con image b

First and most importantly you’ll want to download to your smart phone the SDCC handy My Schedule app here.  We’ve used it before and it’s a great help when you’re in the crowd and can’t get into one panel but you want to try the dash for another one or you just get tired of walking the main hall with Artists’ Alley and the dealer booths and you want to sit down and see something new for an hour.

Having trouble choosing from all the panels?  We think the biggest event and best bang for your buck will be the Warner Bros. panel we previewed a few days ago here with pilots and previews of DC Entertainment series The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, and Arrow.  After the break we pulled some other panels you might like if you follow borg.com regularly.

Here are the quick links to each day’s panel events for SDCC 2014:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Preview Night

Thursday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

Friday, July 25, 2014 Panel Schedule

Saturday, July 26, 2014 Panel Schedule

Sunday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

SDCC 2014 banner

Here are some panels to consider (after the break):

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Django Unchained trade paperback cover

He’s a unique, visionary filmmaker of his generation.  And he really likes Western comic books.

In the foreword to the graphic novel adaptation of his Academy Award winning film Django Unchained, Quentin Tarentino gives credit where credit is due, and why the comic book format is squarely appropriate for a director’s cut of his screenplay–the screenplay that won him a second Oscar for a screenplay after his win for Pulp Fiction.

Vertigo Comics’ Django Unchained was originally released last year as a six-part comic book adaptation of Tarentino’s four-hour long, first draft of the screenplay, later spread out over seven issues.  It’s a long narrative and by the end of part seven you will understand why editors exist.  That said, it’s a good tool for story writers, as his opening scene, measured pacing, and character development provide a window into the creative process of this singular screenwriter.  It features an adaptation of Tarentino’s work for the medium by Reginald Hudlin and most of the interior art was rendered by Serbian artist R.M. Guéra (who also served as artist on Jason Aaron’s Scalped) providing his own Western style.  Plenty of covers are featured, too, including one of Alex Ross’s best, Django walking from the burning house, which served as the cover to the final issue.

Alex Ross Django Unchained

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Mal and Inara Leaves on the Wind

In the Firefly universe tie-ins are few and far between.  Where other franchises may have had several novels by now, fans wanting more Firefly must turn to Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of the Firefly “expanded universe.”  With the very unlikely hope of more live-action shows, the new stories may very well be considered “canon” one day.  We previously reviewed here at borg.com each of the graphic novels featuring the crew of the Firefly class vessel Serenity,Those Left Behind (2006), Better Days (2008), and The Shepherd’s Tale (2010) featuring scripts by Joss Whedon himself, as well as writers Brett Mathews and Zack Whedon and artists Will Conrad and Chris Samnee.  All are good stories that should satisfy any fan’s need for more Firefly.

Writer Zack Whedon returned to Serenity this year after four years without a new Firefly tale, with his six-issue mini-series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  More so than the earlier comic book series, Whedon has captured the relationships of the characters in his story, which takes place after the events in the movie Serenity.

Zoe Leaves on the Wind

We meet up with the crew in hiding, with Zoe pregnant, Mal and Inara are finally a couple, as are Simon and Kaylee.  Jayne Cobb, still wearing his mom’s hat, is off doing his own thing, and River keeps company with Zoe.

Mal & Company are heroes to some, fugitives to others.  When a group wanting Mal to lead them solicits the help of Jayne with a bribe of gold, what can he do but help them?  From the opposite faction a bounty hunter is recruited, and we’re reintroduced to the vilest of original series villains, Jubal Early.  Nathan Fillion’s dialect and inflections for Mal are immediately realized by the reader due to Zack Whedon’s writing, as is the odd sentence construction of Jubal Early.  These characters form just the right bookends to convince you you’re back in a world with Firefly still playing weekly episodes.

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Amell oliver queen emcee

CW Network’s Oliver Queen, Arrow star Stephen Amell will be the emcee for the big Warner Bros./DC Entertainment crossover event at San Diego Comic-Con International, only two weeks away.  Warner Bros. announced their line-up for their Saturday night event and it looks to be a great show.

As master of ceremonies, Amell will be presenting three hours of content in Hall H between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. July 26, 2014.  Called “A Night of DC Entertainment,” Amell will reveal content from three new DC Comics-based TV series and his own Arrow.  Sure to share some of Oliver Queen’s billionaire playboy image, first Amell will present a screening of the world premiere of the new Fall 2014 TV series Gotham for thousands of SDCC attendees in the big hall.

Gotham TV series

Next up will be the complete pilot screening of The Flash starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.  The Flash will be followed by exclusive footage from Constantine.

Flash at SDCC 2014

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Mauro Cascioli Ray Palmer The Atom

DC Entertainment released yesterday the news that Brandon Routh will be portraying Ray Palmer, and his alter ego The Atom, in season three of CW Network’s Arrow TV series, adding one more Justice Leaguer into the current live-action DC universe.  Since Routh previously played Superman in Superman Returns, the continuation of Christopher Reeves’ 1970s Superman role, it also seems unlikely The Atom will appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice two summers from now.

But it’s not the first time a movie star has played two roles in the same superhero universe.  Chris Evans played Fantastic Four member Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch in Marvel’s two Fantastic Four films, then came back to headline The Avengers as Steve Rogers AKA Captain America in three big-budget Marvel Universe movies.  He was great in both roles.  Fans accepted it and never even questioned Evans playing both roles.

Chris Evans Human Torch Captain America

DC Entertainment previously released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice casting decisions for the Justice League with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman from Man of Steel, Ben Affleck will dawn the cowl as Batman, Gal Gadot will handle the golden lasso as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa will wield the scepter as Aquaman AKA Arthur Curry, and Ray Fisher will play the next live-action borg as Justice Leaguer Cyborg.

CW Network already features Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen aka the (Green) Arrow, and introduced Grant Gustin as Barry Allen aka The Flash to be spun off in a Fall 2014 TV series.

Brandon Routh in Chuck

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Masters Spike Into the Light TPB cover

The vampire William the Bloody or “Spike” as he became known on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of those characters in television history that could have fizzled depending on the casting of the role.  Spike could have been one of those characters killed off after a few episodes, but James Marsters’ unique voice for the character and his own take on the dark and brooding opposite David Boreanaz’s own dark and brooding character Angel was a standout that allowed him to survive all seven seasons of the series, and reprise the role on Angel.  Plus, Spike’s Brit-punk style was always just plain cool.

Dark Horse Comics signed Marsters to pen his own take on Spike and the result is Spike: Into the Light, a graphic novel to be released July 16, 2014.  With nicely rendered images of Marsters as Spike by artist Derlis Santacruz, inks by Andy Owens and colors by Dan Jackson, Spike fans will find Spike: Into the Light as a lost episode that never otherwise could have been–since no single episode told a solo story with no other cast members.  Marsters and Santacruz paint a trip through familiar lanscape during the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Marsters gives us a voice and story only he could provide, considering he spent more time than anyone literally in the boots of the character.  The problem?  Vampire Spike has a soul, and he’s trying to make good on it by being a good guy, despite the pull toward killing to get blood or to break into an old store where he once buried loot from a past heist.  Spike also wants a girlfriend, but can he keep from turning vampire long enough to get to know her?

Here’s a preview of Spike: Into the Light courtesy of Dark Horse Comics:

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Cavill in new Superman Batman

We now have had a first look at director Zack Snyder’s Batman, and as of this weekend, his Superman, above, from the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Beginning with its wordy, clunky title, SvBDoJ has the cards stacked against it, if Snyder’s Man of Steel is any indication.  Man of Steel proved a cast of distinguished character actors can’t save a movie from a bad idea and bad direction.  We know Ben Affleck, the new Batman, can be very good, and we all hope Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred can save this film, or at least give us some fun scenes to pass the time.  But fans should demand more from DC Entertainment.

It starts with Snyder.  It’s difficult to list all the reasons Man of Steel was such a horrible superhero movie.  But we can sure try.  Maybe Snyder will review what he did with Man of Steel and realize that superhero movies can do so much better.  We can hope.  The elements of a good superhero flick?  Heart and gravity.  Heroism and compassion.  Passion and perseverance.  Man of Steel had none of this.  Even the poorly miscast Ryan Reynolds’ vehicle Green Lantern ran circles around Man of Steel.  It can’t be that hard to make a good movie for the DC Comics universe.  If Snyder is going to do better with the first big budget Justice League movie, he must learn from his mistakes with Man of Steel.

Affleck as Batman and new Batmobile

So let’s get it all out in the open, why Man of Steel is on my worst movies list, and should be on yours, too.

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Noto Sleepy Hollow

One independent comic book publisher drew our attention this week more than the others.  BOOM! Comics has two new comic issues out tomorrow for sequel stories to classic films–Big Trouble in Little China and RoboCop–and it made an announcement about a new series coming our way based on the television show Sleepy Hollow.  We’ve got previews of Big Trouble and RoboCop after the break and first images from Sleepy Hollow.

John Carpenter and BOOM! Comics’ Big Trouble in Little China monthly is so much fun you’ve got to be adding it to your pull list at your local comic book store.  Following the adventures of Jack Burton after the events of the original 1980s film, it’s a sequel that might as well be titled “The Sequel” with the same spirit, humor, and visuals as the original.  Big Trouble is co-written by the great John Carpenter with Eric Powell and art by Brian Churilla of (the awesome) The Secret History of D.B. Cooper fame.

BigTroubleLittleChina_02_coverA    Robocop_001_coverA

The other sequel-that-might-as-well-just-be-called-a-sequel is BOOM!’s new RoboCop series.  Written by Joshua Williamson with art by Carlos Magno, the new series is far different from other recent RoboCop monthlies including Frank Miller’s version, and will be a welcome relief for fans of the classic movie who couldn’t or wouldn’t check out the reboot.  That means look for plenty of the ugliest view of Detroit you’ve ever seen, lots of violence, crime, and over-the-top bullets flying.  Too bad all the big baddies were killed in the original movie as they’d feel right at home here.

Robocop_001_coverB    BigTroubleLittleChina_02_coverB

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Star Wars Storyboards The Original Trilogy book cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

A new collection of artwork upon which the original Star Wars trilogy was built will have fans who have seen the films hundreds of times delving back in again, this time to match memory to history.  Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy is the second archive of selected storyboards edited by J.W. Rinzler revealing the works of a variety of artists hand selected by George Lucas and his visual design team to share ideas about what the movies would become.  The first was Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy, released last year.

Rinzler, known for several books on Lucasfilm, including his work on The Making of the Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Frames, reviewed previously at borg.com, also partnered with artist Mike Mayhew and colorist Rain Beredo this year to write The Star Wars–an eight-issue mini-series based on Lucas’s original draft screenplay of Star Wars.  Now that fans can examine the original film Episode IV: A New Hope, The Star Wars, and Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy, they can have a complete view of what is, what was, and what might have been, for the Force, the characters, the Rebellion, and the Empire.

SW Storyboards excerpt 2

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