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Art Imagery vol 2 a

Star Wars’ first live-action TV series, The Mandalorian was created by fans for fans, and every frame tugs at the nostalgia the franchise’s fans hold for the original 1970s and 1980s trilogy.  With those films the most fans could hope for were magazines and books, often ordered via Scholastic book orders at their schools, each showing a few images from the films that could take us–in a snap–back to the movies.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for nearly 44 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans wanted more.  We’ve seen several books on The Mandalorian, including Abrams Books’ The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (reviewed here).  The first of the behind the scenes books we reviewed in October here at borg was Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, covering the first four episodes of the first season.  Now The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery Volume 2 is available, and you can order it here at Amazon or find it at any brick and mortar bookstore.  Take a look inside…

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Where are they now?

Most true crime TV tends toward the lurid, the sensational, the gory, the depraved.  So Netflix’s new documentary series, This is a Robbery, comes as a breath of fresh air to the genre.  Their cold case?  A 1991 unsolved art heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

You may be familiar with the case—the night after St. Patrick’s Day, men wearing police uniforms hustled their way into one of Boston’s most beautiful museums and hustled their way out again 81 minutes later with thirteen irreplaceable (and uninsured) works of art, including Rembrandt’s only seascape, also a Vermeer, a Manet, five Degat works, and two other Rembrandts, worth a total estimated value of $500,000,000.  Yes, five hundred million.  The Gardner Museum made the gutsy decision to continue displaying the emptied frames in the gallery, where they still hang, 30 years later.

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Fletcher costumes

This week saw the passing of Robert Fletcher at age 98.  If you don’t know the name, you definitely know his work.  Nobody creating the 20th century’s view of futurism through clothing was more influential than Fletcher, who created more Star Trek costumes than any other designer, including William Ware Theiss before him and Robert Blackman after him.  The maroon costumes worn by bridge officers in the first seven Star Trek movies were designed by Fletcher, and are likely the most beloved of all Star Trek costumes by fans excepting possibly the original series bright Starfleet tunics.  Scotty’s radiological suit is also a classic, along with the Klingon uniforms, which were probably the most enduring, used with little modification from Star Trek: The Motion Picture throughout the entire runs of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  The open-chested costume of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan?  Also Fletcher.  The widest reach outside genre fans that Star Trek ever achieved was Star Trek IV, and even those who don’t care about science fiction recall the robe worn by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the pink shell outfit worn by William Shatner as Kirk when they returned to walk the streets of San Francisco, managing to save a pair of humpback whales on the journey.  Again, costumes designed by Robert Fletcher.  He also created costumes for another sci-fi classic: The Last Starfighter.

Star Trek and its stories continue on.

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By way of new stuff, in the “old is new again” context this week online megastore Entertainment Earth began taking pre-orders for a new retro series not from the movies featuring the original Enterprise crew, but from Star Trek: The Next Generation (which, if you’re paying attention, featured costumes primarily by Robert Blackman).  We’ve talked at length over the past decade about Super7’s line (formerly sold by Funko) of ReAction Kenner-style retro action figures.  Those familiar with Star Trek action figures will find the new line closer to that of the early, rarer Galoob line than the Playmates larger figures that dominated the market for years (and can now be found in vintage toy stores everywhere, generally for about $2).  Check out all the new designs, and the new cardbacks, and pre-order them at the below links.

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DnD IDW 4

Humble Bundle has launched its latest content bundling opportunity with IDW Publishing, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons tie-in comic book adventures.  The “Humble Comics Bundle: Dungeons & Dragons by IDW Publishing” will run through May 3, 2021, and it features a large selection of Dungeons & Dragons adventures, including up to 28 full graphic novels, plus individual issues of IDW’s latest D&D series, Infernal Tides and At the Spine of the World.  As with past Humble Bundle promotions, readers can simply pay what they want, starting at only $1.00 to purchase a basic tier, then increase their contribution up to $25 to add more graphic novels to their collection.  Take a look back at previews and reviews of several of these here at borg.

You have four tier opportunities to choose from:

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Wood Wife cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Fantasy fans likely know Terri Windling primarily as an anthologist, editor of collections of modern fairy tales with co-editor Ellen Datlow including Black Thorn, White Rose, The Green Man, A Wolf at the Door, and others.  Now Windling’s own original novel, The Wood Wife (1996) is getting a new release from Tor Books as part of its “Tor Essentials” library of books.

Readers (and writers) who came of age in the 1990s will find much here that feels like coming home to a familiar landscape.  Windling’s tale of magic in the American desert, and the humans seduced by it, is at once a murder mystery, a story about art and artists, and a haunting fairy tale.  The Wood Wife is a classic example of American fantasy at its finest.

When a poet she’s never met dies and leaves writer Maggie Black his remote home in Arizona, Maggie seizes the chance to leave her nomadic life behind and settle in the stark and beautiful Sonoran Desert near Tucson.  Hoping to write a biography of Davis Cooper, the poet she wrote her college thesis on, Maggie eagerly digs into his papers, not realizing she’s opening the door to more than just his past.  Strange things begin to happen: objects and people go missing, she has mysterious encounters with even more mysterious strangers, and she begins experiencing rumbles of unearthly dangers.  As Maggie grows to understand the desert, she also uncovers its underlying magic, learning it’s as full of folklore, fairy life, and magic as anywhere in Western literature.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you only know Alex Ross from his extensive work with the DC Comics superheroes, get ready for a great book of poster art featuring all-new paintings of the superheroes of the Marvel universe.  Bar none, Alex Ross is the creator whose coverage has received the most views and feedback in the past 10 years of borg (early on we looked at some of our most favorite of his artworks here and you can see all our coverage of his projects here).  You’ve probably already checked out Alex Ross’s previously reviewed art overview books Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross, and The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross.  Although Ross has created countless covers and projects like Marvels over the years, what you may not be aware of are full-figure, painted portrait, images of the Marvel Comics superheroes Ross installed last year in Marvel’s New York offices as a life-sized mural.  All 35 individual character posters used in the mural are now available in a giant-sized book, The Alex Ross Marvel Comics Poster Book, full of premium cardstock, ready-to-frame posters, including a 44″x16″ foldout of the entire connected image.

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Beasts of Burden Occupied Territory banner

The eight-time Eisner/Harvey Award–winning comic book series returns this year.  Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory continues the adventures of the wise dogs in Dark Horse Comics’ unique blend of fantasy, humor, and horror.  An elder member of the pack of recalls a harrowing World War II mission where a mysterious curse creates an army of crawling, disembodied heads threatening to overwhelm Japan.  The dogs attempt to solve the mystery, coming into conflict with shape-changing tanuki, evil oni, and a horde of vengeful demons.  Writers Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer and letterer Nate Piekos return with artist Benjamin Dewey to take fans of the long-running, episodic series where they’ve never encountered this anthropomorphic pack of brave sleuths before.

Beasts of Burden Occupied Territory cover

The book collects Issues #1-4 of the single-issue series in a hardcover compilation.  Here’s a preview from Dark Horse Comics of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory:

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Jupiter's Legacy banner

April has seen several new trailers for forthcoming Hollywood projects we haven’t discussed yet at borg, all having in common a new look at a past genre property.  From Ghostbusters, it’s a new teaser for Ghostbusters: Afterlife featuring star Paul Rudd and a familiar face (and music) from the past.  From Mark Millar it’s a live-action version of his Jupiter’s Legacy comics coming to Netflix as a series.  From DC Comics it’s an animated adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s popular Batman: The Long Halloween graphic novel.  And from Star Trek, it’s a new season of the animated Lower Decks, and a look at some new costumes in the trailer for the fourth season of Discovery.

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Enjoy these trailers:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Netflix’s imported series Glitch is so well done, it’s easy to compare it to the first season of TV’s Lost–another genre-bending series that held enough back that viewers never quite knew the secrets behind the strange happenings to an unusual assemblage of characters.  That’s the good and bad part about Glitch, because by the end of the second season the story loses its way and ultimately doesn’t deliver the payoff the first season deserved.  That said, a great cast of Australian actors, including some familiar faces from the Star Wars franchise, and great mystery and intrigue ultimately make the series worth watching despite its drawbacks.  Something wicked this way comes–again–to Australia, co-starring Emma Booth, the lead in the Starz series The Gloaming.  When officer James Hayes appears one night at a cemetery in his small town of Yoorana, Victoria, who could know that people would begin pulling themselves out of their graves?  Is this a zombie show or something with more to say about humans and the world?  It’s not the payoff but the journey that is so much fun in this 2015-2019, three-season, 18-episode tale now streaming on Netflix.

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Kung Fu pic

Review by C.J. Bunce

Put away what you remember (if anything) about the 1970s Kung Fu television series.  You didn’t really watch the series for David Carradine, did you?  If you were like most of the viewers, you probably showed up for the martial arts.  CW Network’s new reboot of Kung Fu is for that same audience, but it also casts a wider net.  Wednesday night Olivia Liang showed up to take the new series, CW’s Kung Fu, by storm.  You can compare it to the similar-vibed, live-action Mulan, some of your favorite recent martial arts series that have the same dramatic beats like Wu Assassins, or you can compare it to series like Charmed, Smallville, Stargirl, or Riverdale.  Fans of all these shows will get a kick out of the ease at which the CW has brought a young Chinese-American hero into our must-watch DVR queue with college student-turned-Shaolin warrior Nicky Shen.  She’s a completely modern, updated Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she brings with her an interesting supporting cast while pulling some intrigue into the story via elements of classic Chinese mythology and history.  It’s fantasy, and its supernatural, and there’s swinging kicks and swordplay you’re not going to want to miss.

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