Category: Pop Culture


Star Wars Issue 7 variant Elite KCCC exclusive    EFNY_08_A_Main

Today we have a smorgasbord of comic book previews for books hitting comic book stores everywhere on this Comic Book Wednesday.  Topping the list, guest artist Simone Bianchi joins writer Jason Aaron for Marvel’s Star Wars #7, a standalone issue featuring Ben Kenobi.  You can only get the rare Elite Comics cover with Chewie and C-3PO (shown above) at Elite beginning today and at Kansas City Comic Con August 7-9, 2015.

We have previews today with truly something for anyone and everyone, from Star Wars to The X-Files, to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jungle Girl, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to Deep State and Escape from New York, from Hacktivist to the latest Red Sonja, to Munchkin, Skylanders, and Transformers.  Even Donald Duck and Betty and Veronica.

ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_04-0    JGSea3-04-Cov-A-Cho

And don’t miss out on the preview for the first issue of the new Shrinking Man, adapted from the story that inspired the classic film The Incredible Shrinking Man–inspiration for this month’s big screen release Ant-Man.

Without further adieu, here are this week’s previews:

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Loot Crate Comic Con Box display

Ever thought about checking out what is in those monthly surprise boxes that have become more and more popular in the past few years?  Some of our friends have been buying Loot Crate and Nerd Block for several months, and when our friends at Wizard World dropped us a note about their new Comic Con Box we decided it was time to check these out.  We got in on the first three Wizard World Comic Con Boxes and three boxes from Loot Crate (we haven’t checked out any other companies’ boxes yet).  So what did we learn?

Loot Crates run about $20 including shipping per month per box, and Comic Con Boxes roughly $37 including shipping.  Each contain coupon opportunities, some with downloads, app opportunities, and similar items in addition to the main draw of the boxes–the shirts, comics, and collectibles.  You can sign up for one or multiple months and can terminate membership so long as you do so before the next box ships.  Customer service for these is very easy-going and helpful to explain if you think you messed up your ordering.  Themes are pre-announced, so you can skip months with themes that don’t interest you.

Cyber Loot Crate skull

The companies each insert random bonus items in boxes and have a deluxe box opportunity worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars that some lucky subscriber will get.  And if you film your “unboxing” and upload it to YouTube you can be eligible for other prizes, and other contests are also available throughout the year.  We didn’t get the big prize pack in our three months of boxes but did get a good bonus item in one box and in another we got a 1 of 2 variant that ended up being a rare insert.  The bonus item came with a Comic Con Box, and it was an authenticated, personally autographed photo of actress Karen Gillan in her Nebula garb from Guardians of the Galaxy.  Her autograph can sell for $70-$85 so this was the big win of all the boxes.  A close second was a Greg Horn rare variant cover for the recent issue of Wolverine #1 also in a Comic Con Box.  It also was selling online for around $70-$85.

Of the regular boxes we were most impressed with Loot Crate’s “Cyber” theme box.  The exclusive Terminator Genisys half-scale skull was just dead-on for our love of sci-fi and borg tech.  And that’s the thing about these boxes:  The broader your interest in pop culture, the more value you’ll get for your dollar because each company varies the licenses/franchises in each box.  You can easily add up the price of each item and tally more than the price of the box but ultimately it is your own taste that will be the judge of value.  If you have a spouse or friends or kids to share with or friends to trade items with, or if you’re accustomed to selling on eBay, then it can be easy to make these boxes a “win”.  Expect to see plenty of “trinkets” and the kind of swag you might find at San Diego Comic-Con plus a few higher valued items in each box.

So what exactly can you expect to find in the boxes?

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The Renaissance of movie and TV tie-in action figures arrived in 2013 with Funko’s classic Kenner-style ReAction figure line.  Other companies focus on single licensed figures and getting the likenesses spot-on, but Funko’s diversification of lines meant everyone could find something that fit their personal niche at an affordable price point.  A true throwback series, one of the overlooked features of the line is the incredible variety of no-names-taken, classic kick-ass heroines represented.

In fact you can find here the top of the world’s best, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, genre heroines.  Buy them for yourself, for your friends, or get your favorite as a totem to inspire you each day from your desktop.  And where the early sculpts in Funko’s line admittedly looked nothing like the actresses that made the roles famous, the new lines have only improved.  And nobody has better packaging designs than the ReAction line.

Zoe Washburne scene

Who would you add to the Funko roster of heroines?  Compare your list to our more than 85 suggestions for future kick-ass women action figures below.

First, check out this Baker’s Dozen of our favorites in the current Funko pantheon:

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In case you missed it, for professional and amateur astronomers, the big news this month is NASA’s release of the first up close photographs taken of Pluto.

On Jan. 19, 2006, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft lifted off aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral.  The piano-sized probe passed within 6,200 miles of Pluto, at about 7:49 a.m. EDT yesterday, July 14, 2015.  The spacecraft had a relative velocity of 30,800 mph at its approach and came as close as 17,000 miles to Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.  Not a bad success story for NASA, after nine and a half years of planning.

NASA provided flyby coverage on NASA Television, the agency’s website and its social media accounts as the spacecraft closed in on its closest look at Pluto.  The radio signals confirming the survival of the craft and ongoing research beyond Pluto were received by a Deep Space Network antenna in Spain four and a half hours after they were sent out from the spacecraft at the speed of light, 13 hours after the probe made its close-up flyby.

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Beasts of Burden cover

Another banner year for comic books has come and gone.  You can find something for anyone and everyone at your local comic book shop, and the diverse selection of winners of this year’s Eisner Awards illustrates that better than ever.  The latest round of winners were announced this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.

What’s better than to see winners that you would have selected yourself were you on the judging panel?  Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson can’t publish enough of their Beasts of Burden stories, and we previewed this year’s winner for Best Single Issue, Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, last year here at borg.com.  We couldn’t agree more with this win.  Are you listening, Hollywood?  It’s time for an animated movie from this series.

We also like to be in sync with the critics.  Remember when we picked Greg Smallwood as our Breakout Artist of the Year here at borg.com back in 2013?  Greg was given the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award at this year’s Eisners.  We’re glad others want to see more of his work, too.

It’s also fun to see the rare repeat winners.  Our own borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce shared a panel at Comic-Con with Raina Telgemeier, winner this year as Best Writer/Artist, when she won her first Eisner Award back at SDCC 2011.  Raina won this year for her book Sisters.

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And our own local comic book shop couldn’t seem to keep the new Lumberjanes series on the shelves this past year.  Lumberjanes was a multiple winner this year, scoring Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens.

Here is the full slate of 2015 Eisner Award winners:

Best Short Story: “When the Darkness Presses,” by Emily Carroll

Best Continuing Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)

Best Limited Series: Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)

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Green Arrow Stephen Amell SDCC 2015

DC Entertainment and the CW released a first look at the new costume for Oliver Queen’s superhero incarnation the Arrow at the DC panel at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday night.  This suit was crafted by Maya Mani, who also crafted supersuits for Arsenal (Colton Haynes), Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), Speedy (Willa Holland), and Ray Palmer’s Atom.  The original costumes for the series had been designed by Academy Award winning costumer Colleen Atwood.

The new look seems to pull more from the New 52 look at the Smallville supersuit more than any classic look for the character.  Those football pad shoulder pieces are going to take a bit to grow accustomed to.

Sunday the cast appeared again, this time with Amell in the new garb claiming the “Green” in the Green Arrow title, and mentioning the change from Starling City to the classic Star City.

New Arrow costume from Stephen Amell

The panel showed a video (below) recapping the series highlights from 2015 so far.  What it really does is emphasize that Ra’s Al Ghul has the worst name in comicdom and that no one at Warner Bros. must have any idea how it is intended to be pronounced (your guess is as good as ours, but just look at each cast member to see how many different ways it can be said).

Neal McDonough joins CW’s Arrow this season as villain Damien Darhk (sometimes DC Comics seems like it attended the George Lucas school of character naming, doesn’t it?).  McDonough crosses the divide from the Marvel universe, formerly playing the awesome Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Agent Carter.  We’ve also been fans of his work in everything from Quantum Leap to Star Trek: First Contact, from The X-Files to Timeline, and Walking Tall to RED 2.

Oliver Queen Arrow new supersuit SDCC 2015 costume panel shot

Here’s the video montage from the panel at Comic-Con:

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Nerd HQ 2015 Mr ROBOT

Bummed that you’re not getting your convention fix this weekend because you’re not in San Diego?  Never fear, you can watch the weekend’s panels happening across the street from San Diego Comic-Con at the Nerd HQ event online now.  Just pull-up your GoogleTV or YouTube app and check out the links below.

Streaming runs live through Sunday, but we expect these to be available on YouTube as with prior years.  Here is the line-up for each day:

Thursday, July 9 – Day One

10am: ZACHARY LEVI

12pm: BATTLEBOTS – Alison Haislip, Jessica Chabot, Donald Hutson, Peter Abrahamson, Greg Munson, Matt Maxham, and Chris Cowan

1pm: DEAD RISING – Jesse Metcalfe, Dennis Haysbert, Zach Lipovsky (director), and guests

2:15pm: WILLIAM SHATNER

3:30pm: YVONNE STRAHOVSKI

5pm:  HITMAN: AGENT 47 – Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware

6:30pm  SUPERMANSION – Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Zeb Wells, Heidi Gardner, Tucker Gilmore, and Tom Root

7:30pm  JULIE PLEC, GABE SACHS and Friends

8:30pm  LAST SHIP

Firefly Nerd HQ 2015

Friday, July 10 – Day Two

10am: SHERLOCK – Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Rupert Graves

11am: THE VISIT – M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum

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Bruce Campbell Starz Ash

If you’re a Bruce Campbell fan like us who still must watch the full introduction to old episodes Burn Notice to get your Campbell fix, this next item may be just for you.  Sam Raimi is continuing the adventures of Ash Williams from the Evil Dead series in a new series from cable pay channel Starz.  Ash vs. Evil Dead who be a larger than life, tongue-in-cheek, gooey, bloody, silly gore fest that, based on its first trailer, appears to amp up all the above compared to the original movies.

Look for Mimi Rogers and Xena herself, Lucy Lawless, who appears in the preview released for Comic-Con weekend.

Bruce Campbell Starz Ash chainsaw

It’s the ultimate blast from the past for cult horror flick fans.  Check out the preview for Ash vs. Evil Dead:

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Star Wars Force Awakens print

Comic Con season officially begins this weekend in San Diego, but it continues August 7-9 in Kansas City with the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  The year of Star Wars, beginning with the new canon novels previewed at borg.com here, here, and here, and continuing with the new Marvel Comics monthlies, is leading up to the release of the eagerly awaited Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The trailer, previewed here, has everyone revved up to see Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 again.  And an entirely new cast of Rebels and Imperials.

KCCC will be celebrating Star Wars with some great exclusives.

First, check out this exclusive Marvel Comics Star Wars Issue #7 variant cover, a Return of the Jedi throwback, available only at KCCC 2015:

Star Wars Issue 7 variant Elite KCCC exclusive

Sponsored by Elite Comics, this cover was created by artist Kevin Nowlan and features a standalone story by Jason Aaron.  And coincidentally (or not) you can meet both Nowlan and Aaron at KCCC, buy your copy, and get it signed by both creators.

But that’s not all.

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SDCC 2012 Overnight crowdSan Diego Comic-Con 2015 begins tonight at the San Diego Convention Center, officially remaining the home of the greatest convention in the world for the next few years now that the city has signed new agreements with Comic-Con International.  This past week you may have seen the annual feeding frenzy of naysayers, grumps, and fogeys, many from the mainstream press, who come out of the woodwork each year to talk about “the good old days,” why they aren’t coming back to Comic-Con this year, why they won’t come back again, how “crazy” Comic-Con visitors are, and posting their annual lists of all the reasons Comic-Con is somehow a bad or odd thing.

Don’t believe any of it for a second.

Maybe these folks didn’t score tickets, maybe they truly think a quaint small-town Con with merely a handful of guests and attendees is the best thing since sliced bread, maybe they forget that the good ol’ days weren’t all that good, or maybe they just don’t understand how pervasive pop culture is in the 21st century.

I’ve been to some great San Diego Comic-Con weekends over the years and wouldn’t swap them for anything.  And don’t get me wrong, local and regional Cons are great, but make no mistake, nothing compares to the excitement, energy and all-out fun you can only have in a venue full of 130,000 like-minded people.  You can’t get that anywhere else.

Comic-Con image b

Let’s dispel some Comic-Con myths:

Comic-Con Badges are Too Difficult to Obtain.  The badges required to attend Comic-Con are no harder to get than tickets to anything the excited masses want to attend.  They are no more difficult to obtain than tickets to the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Olympics, the World Cup, the All-Star game, tickets for [insert the name of the current greatest pop or rock band here]… you get the point.  Should attending the big annual nerd and geekfest of the year require any less effort than the biggest sporting event or best music show?  If can follow basic instructions, the SDCC process for purchasing tickets is straightforward.  And you don’t need to attend last year’s show to be able to get into this year’s show–a myth still perpetuated on the interwebs by those not-in-the-know.

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