Review by C.J. Bunce
The one-two punch of Nathan Edmondson’s creative storytelling and Phil Noto’s stunning painted covers and panels have yielded twelve issues of a great comic book series this year. Black Widow gives us an entirely new look at the assassin turned Avenger. She’s decisive and merciless when she needs to be. Yet, troubled by her past, she’s on a quest to atone for past sins even if she doesn’t collect all her bounty along the way.
Accompanied by her lawyer-handler Isaiah, an adept operative in his own right, and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill, Natasha Romanova aka Black Widow is a powerhouse superheroine–without the need for any superpowers in a banner year for kick-ass women genre characters. In the past year she has partnered with Director Hill, The Punisher, the wolverine/mutant X-23, and even Bucky Barnes–the Winter Soldier, and taken on both Hawkeye and Daredevil. All the while she has bested the bad guys on every continent, even if at first she can’t determine who to trust.
You often encounter series that are weighted toward a stronger writer or stronger artist, but here the balance is perfect. Edmondson presents the coolest version of Black Widow yet with an engrossing story. Noto’s painted panels, his 1960s color palette, his realistic Natasha and other recurring characters, and his city scenes from San Francisco to Prague are memorable. His Natasha is every bit as cool as James Bond on film–a spy you’d both love to be and love to be with.
It hasn’t been released yet, and it is already the #1 best selling comic of 2015. Forecasted with advance sale numbers at more than one million copies already, Marvel Comics is re-entering the world of Star Wars comics like it’s 1977 all over again. Written by our friend Jason Aaron with artwork by John Cassaday and colorist Laura Martin, the story continues the adventures of Luke Skywalker after the end of the original Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope.
Marvel Comics is pulling out all the stops with the variety of cover variants readers can choose from. Most comic book stores will get one of a half dozen basic covers, but those who dig around on the Web will find plenty more available. More than 30 basic full-color covers will be released in January 2015, plus black and white versions and sketch variants of many of those covers. And that’s not all, several collectible comic book websites will be releasing signature editions signed by everyone up to Stan Lee, and sketch covers by several artists including Dynamite Comics’ Chris Caniano. And you can get a logo-only cover to take to your next Con and commission an artist of your choice to sketch you a character.
Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Mike Mayhew, Frank Cho, David Petersen, Jenny Frison, Stephanie Han, Amanda Connor, Alex Maleev… everyone but Dave Dorman seems to have been pulled into this project. Click on each image to see the artist and whether the book is only available at a special store. A few variant images have not yet been released.
So check out even more great covers to Marvel’s Star Wars, Issue #1, after the break:
In case you missed it, Marvel Entertainment released a funnier, longer version of their trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, after the first two trailers we previewed here and here.
Basically it includes an introduction where the Avengers takes turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer. Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson return with all the Avengers back together again.
As with the first, this second trailer again includes a boy singing Pinocchio’s “I Got No Strings,” a reference probably lost on most movie watchers. It just seems a little obscure, although Ultron makes a puppetmaster reference in his big reveal. Maybe use of the song was a matter of budgeting–Disney owns Marvel and perhaps threw Marvel the song from its archives? With Chappie, previewed here, the Pinocchio story may just be a common theme for 2015.
Ultron is of course that “living automaton” who is an inductee in our borg.com Hall of Fame. But the big question is how well siblings Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will be portrayed.
After the break, check out the longer preview for Avengers: Age of Ultron:
So what evil lies behind that door?
Can you remember the first comic book that ever landed in your hands? More than a decade ago I first met one of my comic book creator heroes, Howard Chaykin. Chaykin created the very first Star Wars movie poster, a stylized, action-filled cover in his unique style:
Chaykin was visiting town at a local Con and luckily for me most of the visitors at the show were in line for the newest young comic artist, and didn’t realize all Mr. Chaykin had done in his long career in comics and television, so I got plenty of time to chat with him, and have him autograph my first comic book: Star Wars, Issue #8, featuring a story called “Eight for Aduba-3,” influenced by The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai story. I’ve bragged up Chaykin before here at borg.com. He’s one of the most interesting guys in the comics business.
“Eight for Aduba-3″ came out when Marvel Comics first had the license to create the Star Wars movie adaptation, drawn by Chaykin and written by Chaykin and the great Roy Thomas, after a quick look at materials from the film and conversation with George Lucas. They were tapped to take the characters from the new phenomenon in a new direction following the events in Episode IV: A New Hope. “Eight for Aduba-3″ included more than one tough recruited mercenary, much like its source material, but the big standout was Jaxxon, a giant, angry green rabbit-man.
In a press briefing in Los Angeles today, Marvel Studios laid out the release dates and titles for the next eleven movies in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” what they are referring to as Phase 3. While rumors continue to circulate that Benedict Cumberbatch will be tapped to play Doctor Strange, the studio introduced the actor who will play Black Panther on the big screen, Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in last year’s film 42. We’ll see Boseman first don the Panther suit in the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, coming in 2016.
And in the past hour Marvel released a new scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron, previewed below after the break.
The studio also revealed the costume design for Black Panther (above) in a poster released at the press event, attended by Boseman, Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. and Captain America Chris Evans.
Review by C.J. Bunce
After so many dark and dreary superhero movies, did Hollywood forget what drew everyone to comic books in the first place? Somewhere along the way drama began to bog down the genre resulting in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and it looks like it’s not going to let up with the first images for the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “Why so serious?” And it hasn’t just been movies based on DC Comics. Marvel’s X-Men franchise gave us all those Academy Award winning actors all so grim and in such dire circumstances. Sure, they’re good films, but Guardians of the Galaxy proves superhero movies don’t have to be so grim to be good.
If you don’t find yourself laughing out loud with this flick then the superhero genre is not for you.
The same kind of excitement you remember from your first viewing of Star Wars and Superman is waiting for you. For certain Guardians of the Galaxy is neither movie, but it isn’t trying to be. Good escapist fun underscores every scene, and its greatest achievement is not taking itself too seriously. Its characters have a familiar and likeable chemistry like our favorite crews of Serenity or the Millennium Falcon. Writer/director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman pull together familiar elements from The Fifth Element, Flash Gordon and even “The Tholian Web” to make a fully-realized new sci-fi/superhero universe. And it’s as good an adaptation of a comic book series as you’ll ever find. Even better, its second tier cast of characters–unfamiliar to most movie watchers–means expectations and preconceptions filmmakers may be more concerned with in a Batman, Superman, or Spider-man story are just not an issue here.
Whether or not major genre properties are hosting panels or booths at Comic-Con 2014, studios released some great images on Wednesday preview night and the first full day of the show yesterday. The biggest is probably the above photo of Ben Affleck as Batman from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, not coming to theaters until 2016. The image was nicely timed to the DC Comics celebration week for the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance.
Warner Bros. also released the first poster for the latest movie in the Mad Max series, to star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It’s called Max Max: Fury Road, and won’t hit theaters until next year, but that didn’t stop releasing some advance images from the film, including this image of Theron:
and this image of some post-apocalyptic recycling of cars:
The Amblin Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Universal sequel to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic World, netted us a teaser poster for the June 2015 release:
Jurassic World will star Chris Pratt, star of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which also had a new poster reveal for its IMAX 3D version:
Hey, how did Sark end up in Guardians of the Galaxy?
Spoiler Alert on Maximum–After the Break only.
The latest trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, released in the UK, with a pared down version airing on television in the U.S., reveals a ton of great scenes from the August release. So much so that readers who hate to see too much in a trailer (you know who you are) will want to skip this one. But those of you that just can’t wait for every new leaked image and official bit of info about this new flick, check out this latest and greatest of trailers after the break. And no, that doesn’t look exactly like David Warner’s Sark in the original Tron, but we got a similar vibe here. It’s actually Lee Pace (The Hobbit, Wonderfalls) as Ronan the Accuser.
Any excuse is a good excuse to post a photo of David Warner as the awesome villain Sark in the original Tron.
A big plus for those die-hard fans of superhero films that think the earlier trailers showed the team as too comical for their tastes may like this one better. Full of outer space action and interaction of the crew in their ship, this is shaping up to look like both a real superhero film and a real sci-fi film.
But first, in the Non-Spoiler variety, first up after the break is a nice quality, fan-made, retro-trailer on YouTube for the original Star Wars trilogy, using the style of the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer already released (and posted at borg.com earlier here), edited like the trailer with music from the trailer, too. Thanks to Dan Madsen for finding this YouTube video.
So here’s the fan-made trailer for Star Wars, Guardians style:
You might recall, like I do, your first sighting of a copy of the new John Williams soundtrack for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released two weeks before the movie was released in theaters. Before you start the requisite geek-bashing of the prequels, try to recall that back in 1999 we all could not wait to see what Lucas was going to show us, and what could be better than a new Williams score to listen to over and over again? Isn’t a new John Williams Star Wars soundtrack pretty much the best part of having a new Star Wars film released (yes, he’s signed up to be the galactic composer once again)? ’nuff said. But the problem with The Phantom Menace soundtrack that sat in a new stack at the local Fred Meyer? The title listing included a track called “The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon’s Funeral.” Funeral. Huh? So all of us who were excited about the new film got a surprise blow. This new Liam Neeson character wasn’t going to make it out of this one alive. And that was that. Note to Williams: Could you be a little more vague in your titles for the next trilogy? Just saying.
Most of us didn’t use the word “spoiler” back in 1999, and certainly not like we do today. We’re not really talking spoilers per se, but if you don’t want to sleuth through a key question about this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie with us, you might want to move along and come back tomorrow.
Review by C.J. Bunce
BOULEVARD DRIVE-IN — It’s hard to believe it has only been six years since Jon Favreau surprised the world, taking a typically underwhelming character like Tony Stark, casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and making the best modern superhero movie. Although fanboy director Favreau made the Christmas classic Elf before Iron Man, who knew he was going to change how we evaluate the modern superhero film? So it shouldn’t be surprising that a proven genre director like Bryan Singer, with titles under his belt like The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie, has set the new standard in the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero sphere with his latest X-title, X-Men: Days of Future Past. You don’t even need to be an X-Men or Marvel fan to realize what a triumph Singer has achieved.
The movie is gigantic from the opening set-up. The giant mechanical Sentinels of the comic books take over Earth in the distant future, weeding out once and for all the small bands of survivors, creating a very Terminator-influenced opening. Now see if you can spot a theme here. A band of what you might call Tier 3 X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde (played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page), find a way to send something back into the past to save themselves from Sentinel strikes. Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine take Pryde’s method to come up with a time travel plan that results in dual casts trying to save their world, one in 1973, the other in the future. Storm, played by returning Oscar winner Halle Berry, tries to fend off the Sentinels to allow the time travel trick to work.