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Review by C.J. Bunce

The new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, an adaptation of the 1999-2001 anime series, is so good, so well-written, so jazz-filled, stylish, cool, and sexy that you won’t deny it’s the best streaming series yet.  It’s not only the best science fiction series in years, but also solid noir, solid space Western, peppered with martial arts action.  If you loved the space life of Firefly, the dark future Earth noir of Altered Carbon and Blade Runner, and the lived-in future realism of Alien and Outland, you’re in for some great television.  Funny dialogue, actors inhabiting their characters, cool noir vibe, the drudgery of life as a space pilot and exploits of a space bounty hunter.  It’s as good as TV gets.  It’s as good as sci-fi and space westerns get.

But what’s the best part?  The music?  The style?  The characters?  The lived-in sci-fi world?  The dog?  Or the year’s coolest borg character?

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When it arrives next fall, it will have been four long years between the monumental, ground-breaking animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (reviewed here) and its sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse So far it looks like it may be the most anticipated film of 2022.

What do we know so far?  The negative is that we know it will be divided into two parts.  We know Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are back as the writing team.  And Shameik Moore is back voicing Miles Morales and Hailee Steinfeld is back as Gwen Stacy aka Spider-Gwen.

Wait no longer–here’s the first trailer from Marvel for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse (Part One):

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The modern G.I. Joes you know well meet a member of the classic G.I. Joe Adventure Team and the original Joe–General Joe Colton–in IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe–Snakes Eyes: Deadgame, first previewed here at borg last year in single issue form, and it’s now coming your way in a collected trade edition Tuesday.  And although it has all the story elements Snake Eyes fans will be familiar with, this story is all about Rob Liefeld’s penciled artwork and a string of artistic talent that stepped in to ink Liefeld’s action-filled pages, including the likes of Neal Adams, Philip Tan, Kevin Eastman, Ed Piskor, Jerry Ordway, and Dan Panosian.  You can look behind the scenes at the process for this pencil-ink partnership in a 48-page tie-in book, Snake Eyes: Deadgames Declassified, also available at comic shops and online here at Amazon.  Diehard comic art fans will have fun identifying the inkers, although Eastman’s inked pages are particularly hard to miss.

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Apparently they don’t make it–at least in the first season–since a second season is already approved.  It’s the most classic piece of science fiction and adventure, coming to your PBS Masterpiece:  BBC’s latest adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days It’s David Tennant in the lead role as Phileas Fogg acting his most frenetically Doctor Whovian and passing to his fans the code word “companion” in its first trailer for the series.  It might be the most we’ve seen Tennant in this kind of rollicking role since his last turn as the 10th Doctor.  The production looks sharp, as we’d expect from the BBC, with costumes, trains, and set pieces quite up to snuff.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The last D&D sourcebook of the year is coming next week.  Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is and isn’t what you think.  Yes, it’s the latest spin-off/mash-up of Magic: The Gathering following Mythic Odysseys of Theros and the Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica Yes, it’s your chance to go to college–magic college.  No, it’s not the D&D take on Hogwarts–that was a kids’ school, college is for adults.  Interesting enough, Strixhaven is also not a college for the purpose of training you to be a wizard, warlock, or mage.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At one level you know exactly what to expect when you select a movie based on a video game.  Any film worth its production costs needs to bring general audiences into the world, the director and writers need to then build that world, establish heroes, fight battles, provide over-the-top action and effects, and the hero(es) must achieve some kind of goal.  The stakes are high, often the fate of the entire world.  And that rarely leaves room for character development.  Entries include Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Resident Evil, Warcraft, Monster Hunter, Prince of Persia, Rampage, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a slew of Pokémon movies, and they go back decades to the original concept film Tron, which had a video game at its center that players didn’t get to play until after the movie.  Lesser rated entries include movies like Hitman, Max Payne, Doom, Street Fighter, and In the Name of the King.

This year’s big-budget release Mortal Kombat, both a remake and a reboot and adaptation of a series of martial arts fantasy games going back to 1992, leans heavily into Asian action movie culture.  It arrives in a growing marketplace for API and AAPI films, in a year including Raya and the Last Dragon, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.  

So where does Mortal Kombat land in comparison?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When you think of your favorite Christmas movies, you probably think of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or even Die Hard.  But maybe you don’t.  What about movies that aren’t big-budget blockbusters, that never made it to the big screen and in fact weren’t intended for a theater release?  I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies is a look at a subset of holiday films that might be thought of as the unsung heroes of Christmas: Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.  The genre has a niche fandom, a fandom whose creations are about lost romance, conjuring a magical spirit, featuring locales of finely decked halls, strings of lights, and rafters of evergreen–and lots of happy people, at least by the end.  They also feature some favorite actors from other genres.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Insidious.  That’s the nature of the threat to all life in the trilogy of novels called Star Trek Coda, which winds-up in David Mack’s character- and action-packed novel Oblivion’s Gate, coming to bookstores tomorrow.  Star Wars gave us the Death Star, but at least you could try to negotiate with the Empire.  The enemy here is more like a virus, where resistance may–this time–actually really be futile.

For every effort worth fighting for, somebody will stand in the way, attempting to thwart actions even when they are aimed to benefit everyone.  In this tale that role falls to Will Riker, although readers will find a different twist, different from doppelganger Thomas Riker but also similar, more Tuvix actually.  And despite the twist this Riker is as brilliant as ever.  As with Coda book one, Dayton Ward’s Moments Asunder (reviewed here), and book two, James Swallow’s The Ashes of Tomorrow (reviewed here), Mack pulls some of our favorite supporting characters in for a swan song of epic proportions.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When I was a kid in school, periodically we were given book orders, full of discount versions of books, but also posters and popular magazines like Dynamite, and lots of tie-ins with the latest news on current movies and TV shows.  Anything Star Wars was quickly added to our book order form, and that’s what Titan’s latest tie-in reminds me of most.  Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes looks at 16 of the biggest heroes of the franchise from the creators and actors behind them.  But after nearly 45 years, the book allows a greater opportunity for even more people behind the scenes to offer their commentary on fan-favorite characters, with something for every Star Wars fan.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first two episodes–a full third of the series–have arrived for Marvel’s fourth live-action series of the year on the Disney+ streaming platform and it’s a good start, already faring better than those prior series.  Hawkeye is about Jeremy Renner’s unassuming superhero Clint Barton aka Hawkeye from the Avengers movies–and yet it isn’t.  Although the first episode gets off to a slow start, it’s Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who replaces Hawkeye in the comics, who proves quickly she’s going to be an exciting fixture for the next iteration of the Avengers line-up.  She’s in good company, joining Black Widow’s Florence Pugh’s new Black Widow to take the franchise forward, along with Natalie Portman as new Thor in next year’s movie Thor: Love and Thunder, and Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk in next year’s series She-Hulk. 

Hawkeye is billed as a holiday show and it is, but it falls short in that department, probably because Marvel/Disney didn’t use a key arrow in its quiver: the creator of your second favorite Christmas movie.

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