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.
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.
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:
We’ve delved into some great cover artists at borg.com in the past three years, from Alex Ross to Mauro Cascioli to Frank Cho and Mike Mayhew. With his cover run on the DC Comics New 52 series Futures End, Ryan Sook is the artist you just can’t miss these days. His cover for Issue #14 (above right) of Futures End is being solicited for August 2014 already, and it showcases several styles. If you take a look back over the past few years you can see one of the best artists around developing his style and craft, putting his mark on the covers of some great comic book series.
You can see Sook as the cover artist of choice to start up several new series with the number one issue out of the gates, for series including Robotika (2005), Giant-Size Hulk (2006), Friday the 13th (2007), Batman and the Outsiders (2007), Death of the New Gods (2007), Countdown Specials, Countdown Presents and DC Universe Specials (2008 and 2011), Broken Trinity: Aftermath (2009), Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (2010), JSA All Stars (2010), The Magdalena (2010), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth series (2011-2013), Victorian Undead II (2011), DC Universe Online: Legends (2011), Kirby: Genesis (2011), Justice League Dark (2011), Lord of the Jungle (2011), Rose & Thorn (2012), Sword of Sorcery (2012), and The New 52 Futures End (2014).
Sook is able to render men and women superheroes equally well, yet his women really stand out. Here’s his Wonder Woman, showcased in the Blackest Night series:
Less stylized than Cliff Chiang’s current angular Wonder Woman look, Sook may have created a modern twist on the definitive look of the classic character for other artists to emulate.
It’s Wednesday again, and that means the new comic books are out for the week at your local comic book store. We’ve got several previews for a whopping seven issues of new books that should have something for everyone. There’s Dark Horse Comics’ great ongoing Star Wars series, which will be wrapping up this year. Then there’s Bill Willingham’s excellent steampunk series Legenderry for Dynamite Comics, reuniting the best of classic pulp heroes with new twists, like the Six Thousand Dollar Man. We also have previews of two issues from Archie Comics–one from Archie Comics Digest and the other from the SEGA video game universe: Sonic the Hedgehog.
Also, a new Angry Birds series begins, IDW is releasing a brief history of Godzilla comics, and a preview of the next issue of the ongoing Star Trek series is here, all from IDW Publishing.
After the break, check out previews for one or all of them, courtesy of their respective comic book publishers.
Fans of Jai Nitz’s John Lincoln, the man who keeps waking up after killing people he’s never even met, and Greg Smallwood’s cool masked anti-hero, will be happy to see Lincoln coming back to the comic book racks next month. Dream Thief: Escape continues the adventures of a man trapped in his own body, with vengeful spirits taking over and avenging their own deaths while Lincoln sleeps.
Escape is the sequel and Volume 2 of Dream Thief, which we reviewed last year at borg.com here.
Dark Horse Comics has released a preview of Issue #1, which follows after the break.
A steampunk robot samurai. And Civil War era zombies.
It’s the Dark Horse June 2014 release of Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Kato, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo) and Janusz Pawlak’s new graphic novel, Toshiro. We’ve discussed Nitz’s writing plenty of times here at borg.com. Toshiro is Pawlak’s first published work in comics.
You will love Nitz’s creation story for this mecha-samurai who shares a name with the actor who played one of the most famous samurai on film (Toshirô Mifune’s Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai). Toshiro is a creation of the Northern forces in the Civil War, a self-aware, living robot with a steam-valved heart. He’s an American-built super-soldier, sold to Japan as the highest bidder. “Raised” with Japanese traditions and old world values, he winds up in Manchester, England, 1867, with an equally deadly, and maybe wiser, partner.
Toshiro knows he is machine, yet he reacts as if he is a true samurai.
This is a steampunk buddy cop story, with roots in a story out of a spaghetti Western. Here a Zorro-esque, anti-hero has a tough-as-nails partner and they live in a world at war, but with incredible tools of battle well ahead of their time.
Polish artist Pawlak’s work is something out of a Quentin Tarentino novel, yet Tarentino’s blood and guts is kids’ stuff compared to Toshiro slicing heads with his katana.
Somehow the adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series, R.I.P.D., came and went last year with little fanfare and plenty of negative reviews. Did the critics simply not understand the film? Most seemed lazy and dismissed it as a Men in Black knockoff. Admittedly it’s a good film, not a great film, yet it has so much going for it that you may want to check it out now that it’s out on Blu-ray and DVD.
R.I.P.D. stands for the Rest in Peace Department. Like the Men in Black, this worldwide squad tries to keep the peace between our world and their world. That hidden world has simple rules: when you die you go to heaven or hell, but sometimes the dead get caught in between. It’s up to R.I.P.D. to track down those in-between souls. It sounds serious but it’s mainly all comic book fun and over-the-top action movie antics.
R.I.P.D. has the feel in parts of several classic movies about ghosts and “hidden worlds behind our world,” like Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Ghost Rider, and yes, Men in Black. But it’s not as great as any of these. It also has a dramatic thread from movies like The Crow, Always, and City of Angels. But it’s not a drama and only touches on the seriousness of what is at stake for the characters in the story. Yet it’s worth watching for some standout components that make for a fun rental.
If you ever wanted to see a live-action Yosemite Sam, you can see what that would be like with Jeff Bridges’ performance as Roy Pulsiphur, an undead ex-U.S. Marshall and Civil War soldier. Bridges completely immerses himself in this Old West coot and the result is another classic and unique Bridges performance. (How the heck does he manage to drive his car side-saddle?). There’s definitely some Sam Elliott inspiration here. Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a cop who is killed on duty as a Boston police officer. It may be Reynolds’ best film performance as he, too, is believable as an undead cop in this strange otherworld. Bridges and Reynolds have some strange chemistry, which amounts for some good buddy cop moments.
Tomorrow is the fourth of May, and you may hear from Star Wars fans all over the phrase “May the 4th Be With You.” They aren’t lisping. Star Wars fans are gathering around the world for their annual celebration of all things Star Wars. With Episode VII just around the corner in 2015 there is plenty to discuss and speculate. It also means you can take advantage of some great deals available tomorrow only.
Only 593 Days To Go
Dark Horse Comics is offering 150 digital Star Wars comics for only $100–considering many had original cover prices at $3-4 each, the sixty-seven cents per book is quite a good deal. There’s also a kids’ digital mega-bundle for only $30, and free digital starter bundles including Issues #1-4 of Star Wars Legacy, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars Empire. Go to Dark Horse Digital’s website here for details.
Entertainment Earth is offering a whopping 40% off all Star Wars action figures (in-stock), also for May 4, 2014, only. Click here to check out the selection, which includes the new Star Wars Black Series figures. For the week of May 4 through May 10, all Star Wars statues and busts are 20% off. Click here to see the selection of busts and the selection of statues here.
After the original Sin City, the 2005 film adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1993 graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics brought to the screen by co-directors Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller, it might take a lot to get audiences back in the theaters for a sequel. But Miller has a big comic book fan base, and Rodriquez several fans of his slightly askew action flicks, so it’s not that big of surprise a studio is taking another run at the Sin City universe.
Lions Gate has now released its trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. If the preview won’t get you into the theater, the great cast list might be enough to add this one to a future Netflix queue. Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, and Powers Booth all are returning from the original film, and adding Jeremy Piven, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Christopher Meloni, Eva Green, and Ray Liotta (with rumors of Lady Gaga and Christopher Lloyd making appearances).
As with the original movie, the sequel certainly has its own comic book noir style, although it certainly borrows a lot from Dick Tracy–plenty of “dames” in seedy places, car chases, ugly and gruff villains, and just as ugly and gruff good guys (or at least they are almost good guys). As with Alan Moore, his books and film adaptations, Miller’s work tends to be just as polarizing. You love it or you hate it.
Here is the trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For:
Back in the 1970s Marvel Comics released the first new entry in the Star Wars universe for the franchise which then consisted of the original movie alone. With Star Wars Issue #7, Marvel followed Han Solo and Chewbacca beyond the movie adaptation, as they explored the seedier elements of society–the kinds of places a Corellian would roam with fellow smugglers and other dregs. When Disney recently announced the coming continuation of Star Wars in a third trilogy, everyone knew it had to take place in the far away galaxy decades away from the events in Return of the Jedi. Then Disney hinted at other movies in the Star Wars universe, and possibly a Han Solo story.
A Han Solo movie is intriguing. Although the filmmakers are likely to target a younger audience with a young actor for Han Solo, I can’t help think how much fun it would be to see Firefly’s Nathan Fillion play our favorite scoundrel. Comic book writer Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) is now writing one of the last of Dark Horse Comics’s Star Wars stories before Disney pulls the franchise away at year end, and Issue #1 follows Han Solo almost from the view of a modern fanboy googly-eyed as he meets Han Solo in person. And the Han that is admired could easily be a Han played by Fillion. Think Fillion playing Han Solo in a Blade Runner noir vibe.
Coming next Wednesday, Kindt plus penciller Marco Castiello, inker Dan Parsons, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb take us back to the days before The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars: Rebel Heist. After the break take a look at these preview pages from Dark Horse Comics: