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Warehouse 13 crew

The caretakers of the most dangerous (and strangest) artifacts from history, Pete Lattimer, Myka Bering, Artie Nielsen, and Claudia Donovan, return tonight for the fifth season of Warehouse 13, after a seemingly endless eight-month hiatus.  But the return is bittersweet, as the Syfy Channel’s homegrown, weekly, sci-fi extravaganza was signed for only six more episodes, and not renewed for a seventh season.  Petitions and outcry from the show’s many fans didn’t convince the network to keep the artifact hunting going.

So put on your purple gloves, get your Tesla and your Farnsworth, and get ready for the closing of the famous warehouse that revealed the secrets behind Anne Bonny’s cutlass, Catherine O’Leary’s cowbell, D.B. Cooper’s parachute, Frank Lloyd Wright’s pickup sticks, Houdini’s wallet, Pavlov’s bell, Pasteur’s milk bottle, Mata Hari’s stockings, Nero’s lyre, Paul Tibbets’ binoculars, Nixon’s shoes, Robert the Bruce’s tartan, Scott Joplin’s cigarette case, Sitting Bull’s riding blanket, and U.S. Grant’s flask.

Warehouse 13

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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 of Hawkeye and Black Widow is well-known to be a second tier partnership within the Avengers, yet they are the stars of some of the best monthlies the Marvel universe has to offer.

The Black Widow series follows 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 anyone in the process.  And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing in her plans is about profit-taking.

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 (who you’ll recall is played by Cobie Smulders in the live-action Marvel universe) brings her in on a few missions.  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 her character shows great depth.  Yet 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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Gimli axe

This past December we discussed here at borg.com a fantasy film auction to end all auctions –Julien’s The Trilogy Collection Auction, which included the sale of an item that sold for the highest price–a screen-used axe wielded by John Rhys-Davies as the dwarf Gimli.  The final price?  $180,000.

Today, Julien’s has one Lord of the Rings prop in its Hollywood Legends auction.  It’s another Gimli axe, but this one has the fortune of the provenance of being part of John Rhys-Davies’ personal collection–one of those props that each of the Fellowship of the Rings actors was given after filming.  Considering the December sale of a Gimli axe without such a great provenance record, Julien’s has listed a conservative estimate range, $125,000 to $150,000.

Gimli axe number 2

The first bid is already in, at $95,000 plus auction fees.

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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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bionic pig

If you want to see a bit of faith that there is some goodness in humanity, you’ll want to check out a new show this Wednesday on PBS.  My Bionic Pet tracks down the efforts of some compassionate, superhero humans who have used their imaginations and energy to make the lives of several animals better through prosthetics and other means.  Ignoring the old cliché of “putting down” an animal for having a lame limb or otherwise non-life threatening malady, the show recognizes the value of animals’ lives and their contributions to those around them.

bionic animal legs

My Bionic Pet looks at an alligator with a prosthetic tail, a swan with a prosthetic beak, as well as a pig, a pony and dogs with bionic limbs.

Check out this preview of My Bionic Pet:

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All the Muppets from Muppets Most Wanted

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The eighth big-screen film starring Jim Henson’s wacky, lovable Muppets hit theaters a couple of weeks ago, and for lifelong fans of the franchise, it’s a big win.  The 2011 film Muppets, written by and starring Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) was a heartwarming, family-friendly comedy, reviewed here.  We liked the 2011 movie but wished for more celebrity cameos.  Muppets Most Wanted, written by returning director James Bobin, returns to the kooky, offbeat humor of the original TV variety show and first motion picture, 1979′s The Muppet Movie.  And it delivers cameos aplenty.

In a plot somewhat reminiscent of various Muppet films past, this latest movie involves the intrepid troupe on a world tour, hot on the heels of the success of their last venture (meaning, in typical Muppets metafiction style, the 2011 film, or the reprise of the act as depicted in the film, or both, or… well, you’ll get it.  It’s the Muppets).  Along the way, no one suspects that their new tour manager, Dominic Badguy (“It’s pronounced ‘Badgey’”) (Ricky Gervais, The Office) is moonlighting as the sidekick to a criminal mastermind named Constantine–who also happens to be a dead ringer (almost) for Kermit the Frog.  Badguy books the Muppets into surprisingly sold-out gigs all across Europe, connives to have Kermit kidnapped and sent to a Siberian prison, and plots ever-more ambitious jewel heists along the way.

Gervais and Constantine

Human leads Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) turn in stellar performances that recall classic costars like Michael Caine (The Muppet Christmas Carol) and Charles Durning (The Muppet Movie).  The lively story, er, hops along, darting among Kermit and Fey in Siberia; Burrel and Sam the American Eagle as rival Interpol/CIA agents tracking Constantine; and the Muppets’ efforts to launch a successful European tour, despite lackluster direction from Fake Kermit and zany acts competing for space in the show.  Watch for wonderful classic Muppet-show-style performances like Gonzo’s “Indoor Running of the Bulls,” all featuring cameos from actors like Salma Hayek (Wild, Wild West) and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained).

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Expendables 3

So what’s the audience for the Expendables series?

So far they’ve had every other tough guy action star you could think of.  Schwarzenegger.  Stallone.  Willis.  Van Damme.  Statham.  Norris.  Plus several others you probably forgot all about.  Lundgren.  And guys we wouldn’t have thought of.  Mickey Rourke for one.  Then newbies, like Liam Hemsworth.

Now Expendables 3 is closing in and we have another teaser trailer.  Who else could they drum up?  Harrison Ford.  Mel Gibson.  Wesley Snipes.  Antonio Banderas.  Good ideas.  Kelsey Grammer.  Hmm, but OK.

Here is the new teaser trailer for Expendables 3:

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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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