Tag Archive: DC Comics


He-Man print in limited edition of The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Review by C.J. Bunce

Next month Dark Horse Comics releases a must-read for fans of He-Man, She-Ra “Princess of Power,” and the Masters of the Universe world of toys, animated series, magazines, chapter books, posters, comic strips, and comic books.  The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover includes more than 300 pages full-color art, a portfolio featuring an exclusive print by Gerald Parel, a foil-embossed cover, and a die-cut two-piece Castle Greyskull slipcase.  A standard edition of the book will also be available.  Many well-known creators worked with these characters since its inception in the early 1980s, including Ralph McQuarrie, Drew Struzan, Dick Giordano, J. Michael Straczynski, George Tuska, Klaus Janson, Boris Vallejo, Tony Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Geoff Johns, and Tommy Lee Edwards.

Designers from every stage of the creation of He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, and the large cast of sword and sorcery heroes and villains, offer insight into character development, decision-making, and the impact on 1980s kids.  The best feature is the inclusion of hundred of pieces of full-color art, concept artwork, page layouts, sketches, storyboards, packaging art, prototypes, never before seen and unused imagery, advertising art, original comic art, and final comic book pages, covers, and animation cels.  It features restored art from master illustrator Earl Norem, as well as interviews with Dolph Lundgren, who played He-Man in the 1987 movie, director Gary Goddard, well-known TV producer/comic book writer Paul Dini, and voice actress Erika Scheimer, among many others.  Captions for photos were written by comic book creators Tim Seeley and Steve Seeley.

The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover slipcase edition

Particularly of interest to toy collectors are the original notes from the development stage of the toy line at Mattel.  Mattel, which had passed on the ground-breaking Star Wars action figure line, developed He-Man as a direct competitor to that toy line.  Mattel drove the look of the characters–this was first and foremost a toy line, inspired in part by the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta.  But it grew beyond that.  Artists and writers and other creators remark with pride about the focus on the stories that went beyond the toy line.

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Frank Miller The Master Race DK 3

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  Comic book readers all remember first reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  Most of the world would acknowledge it is one of the top 20 most influential graphic novels of all time and belongs on many a top 10 list for any kind of novel.  We all look ahead each week to the next good read, and can’t wait to read the next DKR.

We just don’t mean that literally.  We once thought that is exactly what we wanted, once upon a time.  Then Frank Miller delivered what we thought we wanted with his sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, or DK2.  It was pretty much unreadable, made worse because it was released on Miller’s trademark staggered “I’ll release it when I feel like it” schedule (remember All-Star Batman and Robin?).

So DC Entertainment just issued a press release late Friday announcing The Dark Knight III:  The Master Race.  Really?  The Master Race?  From the guy that wrote the offensive, bigotted Holy Terror?  What is DC Comics thinking?

DKR 2

The Dark Knight Strikes Again, DK2. Be careful what you wish for.

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Absolute Green Arrow cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Oliver Queen was dead, to begin with.

The average superhero fan today probably wouldn’t know Oliver Queen today but for three events: (1) the modernization of the character by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the 1970s, (2) his update to urban longbow hunter by writer/artist Mike Grell in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and (3) the literal resurrection of Oliver Queen in the early 2000s by the partnership of writer Kevin Smith, penciller Phil Hester and inker Ande Parks.  No TV series would have arrived without the survival of the character thanks to these stories–reprinted and available in a deluxe hardcover for the O’Neil/Adams stories here, and in paperback reprinted only recently for Mike Grell’s stories here, here, and here.  In light of Green Arrow/Arrow’s popularity today being greater than ever before in his 73 year history, it’s only fitting that DC Comics is releasing the third great chapter in the character’s history with Absolute Green Arrow this month.

Absolute Green Arrow, available here from Amazon.com, reprints Issues #1-15 of Green Arrow, Volume 3, in a matte black with gloss hardcover with slipcase  in a sharp, over-sized, 9.6 inch X 15 inch format.  It includes all of Matt Wagner’s stylish painted covers, previously released introduction by Smith and afterword by Hester, and original artwork in an appendix by Hester.  If you ever wonder how much work the inker must conquer, just take a look at Hester’s pencil work and you’ll have a great appreciation for Parks’ inks.

Green Arrow Hester Smith Parks original Batman art

Hester and Parks did shading and shadows like nobody else. Original art seen in full color as published in Absolute Green Arrow.

The first ten chapters form the “Quiver” story arc, and the last five the “Sounds of Violence” arc.  This is the entire run of Kevin Smith’s stories for Green Arrow.  Phil Hester took over writing and artistic duties for the next several issues with even better stories than found in these early chapters.  But these Smith stories present a Green Arrow in a way a bit like Frank Miller played with Batman’s mythology in The Dark Knight Returns.  Smith’s Green Arrow is not as innovative as the seminal Miller work, but it’s plenty fun, and each new chapter feels like Smith saw this opportunity to play with DC Universe characters like a kid in a toy store.  You’ll encounter the Justice League, memorable encounters with Aquaman and Hawkman, and even a quirky adventure featuring Stanley and his Monster.  Former sidekicks Roy Harper and Connor Hawke are here, too, but most importantly Oliver Queen rebuilds his relationship with long-time love interest Dinah Lance aka Black Canary.  Difficult to come back from after being presumed dead.

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Batman v Superman

When it rains, it pours.

It’s was a heckuva weekend for movie fans.  First a new trailer dropped for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (we revealed it at borg.com here).  Then three more:  A second Fantastic Four trailer, the first full-length Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and today, yet another Jurassic World trailer.

But see if you agree:  Not one of these three new previews really compares to the excitement of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, or the time-bending fun of Arnold returning in Terminator: Genisys (shown here).

Zack Snyder, who we’d had hopes for after his unusual but interesting interpretation of the Watchmen graphic novel for the big screen, is just auguring in the DC Comics cinematic universe after the dismal Men of Steel and now this preview for an equally grim Batman and Superman.  Thankfully the best superheroes can be found not on the big screen but every single week with DC Entertainment’s superb TV productions: Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham.  

Dr Doom new Fantastic Four 2015

Try on for size this first full-length trailer for Batman v Superman and see if you wouldn’t rather watch Brandon Routh as The Atom fighting some bad guys in Central City with Grant Gustin’s The Flash:

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Star Trek Green Lantern The Spectrum War

So what would a Klingon do with a Green Lantern Corps power ring?  We’ll find out in July when IDW Publishing, CBS Consumer Products, and DC Comics team up to present the reboot Star Trek Enterprise crew and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps in Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War.

Set in the 23rd century of the “new” Star Trek universe, the Federation and the “entire” Green Lantern Corps will team-up to protect the universe when some power rings gets in the hands of some familiar Star Trek antagonists.  Boldly going where no one has gone before…in brightest day, in blackest night… IDW revealed this weekend at WonderCon in Anaheim that the six-part monthly mini-series will be written by veteran Star Trek comic writer Mike Johnson with interior art by Arrow artist Angel Hernandez.

Green Lantern Star Trek The Spectrum War Francesco Francavilla

Look for some great variant covers in the series by artists Francesco Francavilla, Gabriel Rodriquez, Else Charretier, Garry Brown, Declan Shalvey, and Marc Laming.

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Amell at PC 2015

The three-day Planet Comicon comic book and pop culture convention wrapped yesterday in Kansas City.  The highlight of the day for thousands of attendees was the one-day visit to the show by Stephen Amell, star of the CW Network’s Arrow TV series.  If you’ve been reading borg.com for very long, you’ll know I’ve been tracking the show as the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan, including spending the night with 7,000 other fans in San Diego for the show premiere with Amell and his co-stars back in 2012.

After hanging with his cousin (and CW star of The Flash) Robbie Amell last night at the Elite Comics after party at the Alamo Drafthouse, we got to meet Stephen today.  As you’d expect, fans were happy to meet him, and he kept a cheery disposition throughout a whirlwind day of signing autographs and being featured on a panel at the convention.

Amell and Hyatt shot

Because he was only at the show for one day, that meant plenty of lines to get to see him–lines that barely even looked like lines.

Arrow lines

But as typical with attendees at comic book conventions, everyone handled it all with great attitudes.

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The Flash and Trickster - original series

In light of actor John Wesley Shipp taking on the role of Barry Allen’s dad in CW’s The Flash reboot series, we figured the show’s writers couldn’t avoid doing what we all want to see anyway.  And that would be?  Revealing that the new series isn’t really a reboot, but a sequel–that Shipp, who originally played Barry Allen, is somehow the same Barry Allen, and Grant Gustin is either his son or some part of him, some kind of Kid Flash.

This idea was bolstered when the 1990s The Flash series co-star Amanda Pays returned as Dr. Tina McGee for the December 9, 2015 episode, “The Man in the Yellow Suit.”  They didn’t even hide her as some different character.  For those of us who still view the 1990s The Flash series as the best superhero TV series ever, we couldn’t ask for more.  Well we could, and that would include Mark Hamill returning as The Trickster.  For years fans of Hamill wondered what he was up to, and then he surprised us by showing up out of nowhere as a villain on TV.

Trickster 20 years later

Ask and ye shall receive.

The CW Network has released a new preview for its next three episodes, airing Tuesday nights March 17, March 24, and March 31.  And it looks like Mark Hamill is back 25 years later in a story that flows from his original story line.

Check out the preview, after the break:

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Arrow Heroes Villains cover

Much like was done for the successful Supernatural TV series from the CW Network (like the book we reviewed previously here at borg.com), Titan Books has released a new full-color photographic archive book for fans of the Arrow TV series.  Arrow:  Heroes and Villains is the first of three books coming our way this year featuring Oliver Queen and his cohorts.

More like a fan magazine or souvenir book in trade paperback form, with photos of the actors and details about their characters, Arrow: Heroes and Villains is the kind of book I would have been after for my favorite shows as a kid.  Most of the photos are marketing shots for the characters, but it also includes snapshots from the series.  Enough text is provided to get anyone who missed the first two seasons of the series caught up with each character and the major storylines up to the beginning of season three.  It’s mainly an in-world book about the world of Oliver Queen, but also has interviews with show creators, and offers a behind the scenes look at the character development of key roles.

Arrow and Canary

Grab a copy and get it signed by series star Stephen Amell next Sunday at Planet Comicon in Kansas City.

Split into two parts, plus a look at the Suicide Squad, Arrow: Heroes and Villains provides an essay on each of Oliver Queen, his parents, Thea, Walter Steele, Laurel and Sara Lance and their parents, John and Carly Diggle, Felicity Smoak, Tommy Merlyn, Roy Harper, Barry Allen, Frank Pike, and McKenna Hall.

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Melissa Benoist latest Supergirl

The biggest news so far released by Warner Bros. about the next DC Comics universe TV experiment was that former Superman Dean Cain (Lois and Clark) and former Supergirl Helen Slater (Supergirl) would have guest roles on the series Supergirl, a Smallville-esque series likely to arrive in 2016.  Laura Benanti (Royal Pains, Life on Mars (U.S.) was revealed to play Kara’s Kryptonian mother, Alura Zor-El, leading Supergirl from afar as Jor-El did for Kal-El in the various Superman incarnations.  And Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl, the series lead, will be played by Melissa Benoist (Whiplash, Glee).

Other roles cast include Calista Flockhart as Kara’s boss, media mogul Cat Grant.  Kara’s love interest will be Jimmy Olsen, played by Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness, Dollhouse), Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy) has been cast as Kara’s foster sister Alex, and David Harewood (Robin Hood, Doctor Who, Homeland) will play Department of Extra-Normal Operations chief Hank Henshaw.

We now have our first views of the new Supergirl supersuit Benoist will don as the latest superheroine in the DC Universe.  The designer is Academy Award winning costumer Colleen Atwell, who also created the CW designs for Arrow and The Flash.  The suit is similar to many past comic book versions:

Supergirl CBS

The slate of the women’s side of the DC pantheon is finally making some headway.  We’ve had a look at Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman from Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice and Katie Cassidy’s Black Canary from Arrow:

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Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

Black-Widow-5

Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0

Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

Wilds End issue 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

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