Tag Archive: Marvel Comics


abrams-star-wars-comics

Review by C.J. Bunce

With three new Star Wars comic book series beginning this year as the license returns to Marvel Comics, we’re taking a look at the second book in Abrams Books’ series of hardcover art house books on the franchise, Star Wars Art: Comics.  From the series that also brought us Star Wars Art: Posters, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and Star Wars Storyboards, Star Wars Art: Comics hones in on sequential art found in the comic book medium.

Star Wars and comic books have been in lock-step since Star Wars first hit theaters, thanks to George Lucas and an early meeting with writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin.  The transcript of that meeting is included as an appendix to the book.  Beginning with the first comic book adaptation from Marvel and running through the Dark Horse years, Abrams has compiled a solid overview of thirty years of interpretations of the myth and magic of the Force.

Star Wars original cover art to Star Wars Howard Chaykin

Plates from cover and interior artwork were hand-picked for the book by George Lucas.  Star Wars Art: Comics is worth its price alone simply for the clear photos of Howard Chaykin and Tom Palmer’s original cover art for Marvel’s Star Wars Issue #1 and Dave Cockrum and Rick Hoberg’s original artwork to the oversized edition, both also featured on the book’s binding under the jacket.  Al Williamson’s stunningly rendered imagery from his adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back pepper the volume as well.

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Ant-Man 1d   Ant-Man 1e

For those getting excited for the release of the quirky, new superhero flick Ant-Man, which doesn’t arrive at theaters until July 17, 2015, Marvel Comics has a new monthly comic book series for you while you’re waiting, featuring the world’s smallest shrinking superhero.  And it’s on the shelves of book retailers across the country right now.

Ant-Man Issue #1 follows Ant-Man Scott Lang, in a story style similar to that of the recent hit series Hawkeye and Black Widow.  Scott becomes a tour guide of sorts for the reader as he maneuvers both the world of insects and our full-scale world.  And we even get an appearance by Tony Stark.

Ant-Man 1g   Ant-Man 1h

Writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas turn out an interesting series opener.  And there’s several variant covers available to track down (see above and below).  Here’s how Marvel Comics describes the series:

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Hulk in Age of Ultron

We’ve already seen a few scenes from this summer’s eagerly-awaited follow up to 2012’s successful Avengers, and now we have another look inside the film thanks to the latest trailer.  This time we get to see a glimpse of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and a large part of what appears to be a key action sequence.

Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye–they all are part of a giant smash ’em up with cybernetic foe Ultron.

Check out the next trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron:

Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives in theaters May 1, 2015.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

 

Kings Comics Star Wars variant #1    GameStop variant #1 Star Wars

It’s what Star Wars fans have been hearing about for months.  This week Marvel Comics is releasing its first Star Wars comic book since it lost the license back in 1986.  We discussed the history of the licensing a few weeks ago here.  Three new monthly series are on their way: a main title beginning Wednesday, followed by Darth Vader and Princess Leia-focused titles discussed back in July here.  Unlike past series the new stories are going to be considered “canon”–officially part of the Star Wars movie universe unlike past Star Wars tie-ins and tie-ins from most other sci-fi and fantasy franchises.  We’ve previewed Issue #1 and agree it’s going to be a pretty good year for Star Wars.

Tidewater Star Wars Issue 1 variant    Alex Ross art store Issue 1 variant

Launch parties are planned for Wednesday across the country for the release of writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday’s new Star Wars #1, which already has orders totaling more than one million copies–likely to be the bestselling comic book of 2015.

Rebel variant Star Wars 1 cover    B&W launch party variant Star Wars 1

But there’s only one comic book store where you can celebrate the release with writer Jason Aaron and get one of the several new variants autographed, and that’s Elite Comics in Overland Park, Kansas.  Check out a preview of Issue #1 after the break.

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Ant-Man

In case you missed the first full-length preview of Marvel’s Ant-Man at the end of the second hour of ABC’s Agent Carter Tuesday night, we’ve got it here.  Strangely we almost missed this one, since it was a billed as a teaser and Marvel Studios already released a teaser last week, shown here.  This is no teaser–it’s a hefty preview of the film.  Check it out below, after the break.

Some observations on this first trailer for Ant-Man.

1.  It looks like this is one of those stories where one superhero (Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym) hands the reigns over to the new generation (Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang).

2.  Doesn’t Michael Douglas looks a lot like his dad Kirk Douglas these days?

Michael Douglas in Ant-Man

3.  The likelihood of a movie being good improves when it takes place in San Francisco (Vertigo, Bullitt, Big Trouble in Little China, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Foul Play, Star Trek IV, Time After Time, Dirty Harry, Zodiac).

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Agent Carter image

If you like modern noir or pulp throwback stories, as we did with last year’s The X-Files: Year Zero comic book series, ABC’s new Marvel Universe series Agent Carter is pretty much going to be a sure win.

Actors take note:  When you take on a supporting character role in your next film or TV series and do better-than-expected job at it, make sure you love the part as you may just end up living with the role for a while.  Along with a first film and franchise that also was taking off to parts unknown thanks to it success, Hayley Atwell’s tough 1940s British Secret Intelligence agent Peggy Carter pulled off that rare chance at a second life.  Tomorrow night she gets her own spotlight as her own weekly series beginsAside from the brief return of Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark (father to Tony aka Iron Man), Atwell’s Carter will be forging ahead on her own.

Some of TV’s best characters were the results of a spin-off from one of those supporting characters who, because of great acting and great writing, popped with viewers beyond any expectation of the show’s creators.  Going back to the 1970s whether unintended surprises or gambled backdoor spin-offs, we wouldn’t have seen more Jeffersons or Maude, or J.J. Evans and his family from Good Times, but for their standout performances spun out of All in the Family.  We wouldn’t know Buddy Epsen’s seven years of sleuthing as Barnaby Jones without his guest role on Cannon, a decade of the kids in Facts of Life if not for Diff’rent Strokes, or spend primetime with the cops and firefighters on Adam-12 or Emergency! if not for some cool guest spots on Dragnet.

Agent Carter

What would our TV night fun have been like without years of Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy resulting from guest star bits on Happy Days, or, let’s not forget, our fave Lindsay Wagner’s Bionic Woman took on her own series from the episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man?  Modern genre fans’ reactions helped propel John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who into multiple Torchwood series.  Other coming spin-offs are Breaking Bad’s Better Call Saul and Walking Dead’s in-the-works spin-off (with the working title Cobalt), and we’re still hoping for a Special Operations Bureau spin-off from The Closer’s own spinoff, Major Crimes.

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Ant-Man Paul Rudd

Marvel Studios’ next superhero flick of the second tier character variety is Ant-Man.  Following on the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, this very different story has the potential of similarly grabbing viewers.  Supporting a likely win first and foremost is the casting of comedic actor Paul Rudd as Ant-Man Scott Lang.  Lang is the second character in the classic Marvel Comics universe to play the superhero.  Hank Pym was the original, and multiple Academy Award winner Michael Douglas will play that role in this new version of the story.

The Hobbit star Evangeline Lilly will play Hope Van Dyne, seen briefly in two new teasers released this weekend for Ant-Man.  Hayley Atwell will reprise her role as Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger and her new mini-series beginning this week on ABC.

Ant-Man poster

The first teaser trailer released this week is a bit on the clever side.  See what we mean here, after the break:

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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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Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 1

On the comic books shelves this month is Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1–one of those rare issues that matches a stellar cover artist with a stellar interior artist.  In this case both of those people are Frank Cho.  When Frank Cho creates a complete end-to-end book, he always provides something to attract readers, both with his stunning characters, action-packed panels, and subtle visual humor.  We saw this last year with his exciting run on the Savage Wolverine series.  That same quality of artwork is matched here with the comparable writing prowess of Marvel’s Guardians scribe, Brian Michael Bendis.  And the result is a fun, powerhouse read, and a darned-near perfect book.

Often annuals are quick stories that don’t offer much memorable.  They’re gimmicky efforts to sell another issue behind a monthly series.  The Guardians’ first annual is not like that.  It will stick with you as a story you want to know more about, with ramifications you would love to see play out in future books.

Guardians Annual 1 excerpt

The standard Guardians of The Galaxy team is here.  It’s a team both readers of the series and film fans will be familiar with, both in look and via their dialogue and mannerisms: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.  Added here for great fun is Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers and Spidey-verse superhero Venom.  They encounter a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier in space, which prompts them to meet up with the likes of the classic Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, and a team of other familiar heroes, who introduce a dark menace to the Guardians team.

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Star Wars issue 1

With the official change over really coming to fruition in January of the return of the Star Wars comic book license to Marvel Comics after its successful run at Dark Horse Comics–and several months before the full magnitude of what it will mean to have Star Wars under the Disney empire–already word is out about re-releases of the original trilogy.

Forget about Greedo shooting first, the ghost of a young Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, a skinny Jabba at Mos Eisley, and strange circular bursts emitting from destroyed Death Stars.  Forget about a cringe-worthy singsong “Celebrate the Love” over “Lapti Nek.”  It took Disney to give fans what they have wanted all along: the one and only original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, with no special edition edits, on Blu-ray.  That’s right, all three films are undergoing conversions to Blu-ray for a to-be-announced release date in 2015.

Original Death Star 2 destruction

The original destruction of the second Death Star.

So you’ll again get to upgrade your home version of the trilogy, the one that already replaced you VHS, Beta, Laser Disc, DVD, and countless digital upgrade and boxed set releases–one more time.  That is, until they release the 3D version.  No word yet on that upgrade.

updated Death Star 2 destruction from special edition

Destruction of second Death Star, after the special edition update.

Along with the films, the original Star Wars: A New Hope comic book adaptation created by legendary writer Roy Thomas and illustrated by our favorite comic book artist, Howard Chaykin, will get a facelift of sorts.  Colorist Chris Sotomayor is going to update the four-color standard 1970s style used by Marvel to a more modern color set.  Like the special edition update for the movies, this will give us a new take on the classic book.  Well-known artists Marie Severin, Steve Leialoha and Glynis Wein provided the original color work now being replaced.

Here’s a comparison of the new vs. the old:

Marvel 1977 Star Wars color update

Check back for release dates here at borg.com throughout 2015.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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