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A secret project nearly three years in the making was shared this month with the announcement of a tribute to the artist who created the fantasy comic book series Tellos.  Artist Mike Wieringo, a friend of many, died from a heart attack in 2007 and the industry banded together as the “Secret Friends of Ringo” led by Tellos writer Todd Dezago to create a heretofore undisclosed tribute project and give something to one of Wieringo’s favorite causes in the process.  The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute is a giant 500 page, original graphic novel to be released in two over-sized, hardcover volumes.   It features the artwork of more than 200 of the comics industry’s most popular and talented artists, dedicated to the memory of Wieringo, with all proceeds from this project being donated to the ASPCA.

The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute continues the adventures of characters in the original Tellos series created by Wieringo and Dezago and published by Image Comics (and briefly by Gorilla Comics): Jarek—a young hero with “magikal” abilities, Koj—a tiger-warrior who is Jarek’s partner and protector, Serra—the swashbuckling pirate queen, and Rikk—the fox-thief bent on finding his fortune.  The original comic book series of ten issues ran from 1999 to 2000.  Three one-shot issues followed:  Maiden Voyage, The Last Heist, and Sons and Moons, followed by a three-issue mini-series, Tales of Tellos, in 2004.  Not long before he passed away, Wieringo had talked about working on a new Tellos.

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You can only order the books at this link.  Because of they way the group is providing the proceeds to the ASPCA, these books will not be available through any other source.

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If the future was bleak and the apocalypse was coming at you like a freight train, would you want to know?  How would you know?  Would you get an obvious message like a government report about a meteor?  Some divine message?  A secret message, encoded only for you?  Would you prefer to remain blissfully unaware and let fate take its course?  What do you want to know?  What don’t you want to know?

Let’s translate that to movies:  Do you want to know the genre of a film before you watch it?  What if the genre itself could be construed as a spoiler?  This was the problem, or the best feature–depending on your point of view–of last year’s sleeper Midnight Special.  Through a fairly heart-pounding, blood-pumping few hours, moviegoers could only guess, but did not know for certain, the complete genre spectrum of the movie, until the very end.  That’s a heckuva feat.  The result: Midnight Special was one of the best films of last year in any category (don’t click here if you don’t want to see that genre and how we at borg.com rated it).  The flipside of not knowing what genre you’re watching can be found in the 2009 film Knowing, one of many films that opt to deliver a special message of some sort of impending future peril via secret message, and one of the few that holds back on the very nature of the genre until the end of the film.

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The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Fifth Element, The Number 23, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Day After Tomorrow, Unbreakable, The Game–all have something in common with Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot), and starring Nicolas Cage as a father whose son receives a letter from a 50-year-old time capsule that includes nothing but numbers–numbers that we learn early in the film are the precise dates of future, major Earth disasters.  And as the boy receives the letter a few dates remain on the list that haven’t yet arrived.  We saw interesting forms of messages about the future in the Final Destination series, Donnie Darko, Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau, and Butterfly Effect.  Knowing doesn’t catch up to any of these movies, but it’s an interesting study in writing stories that tease genres and toy with viewers’ imaginations about what is real or potential as to the subject of “the future.”

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Along with Funko’s announcement earlier at London Toy Fair 2017 of a line of Kenner style ReAction figures and its famous Pops! bobbleheads, even more Twin Peaks tie-ins are on their way.  To help promote Showtime’s launch of the Twin Peaks sequel and reboot this year after a 25-year absence for this weekend’s New York Toy Fair, online superstore Entertainment Earth and toymaker Bif Bang Pow! have announced new Twin Peaks items every fan will be after.

Two lunch boxes will be available, inspired by classic tin versions popular in the 1950s through the 1970s.  You can get the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” style or a version featuring the famous Double ‘R’ Cafe (home of damned good coffee and cherry pie).  The “Welcome to Twin Peaks” lunch box features the wooden sign from the show introduction and images from the series.  The Double ‘R’ Cafe lunch box features the diner on the front and back, plus images of a cup of coffee, a slice of pie, and the TP emblem against a checkered tablecloth background under the handle.

A smaller tin tote will be available featuring the Black Lodge logo.  It holds a matching deck of playing cards.

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Another unique item is a 192-page hardcover writing journal based on Agent Dale Cooper’s trademark microcassette recorder–the one he used to record messages to Diane back at his office.

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One of the great things about attending San Diego Comic-Con is being introduced to hundreds–if not thousands–of new characters you have never seen.  They come by way of cosplayers who have spent countless hours matching their wardrobe, armor, weapons, and other props to conjure well-known characters.  Many are mash-ups of multiple characters.  Some aren’t specific characters but evoke a time or place.  Rarer yet are costumes cosplayers just decide to make of their own creations.  It appears that it is this last group that will be featured on a new Syfy Channel series called Cosplay Meleé.   

After the break, check out a preview of the new series.  This is Syfy’s second foray into a cosplay-themed series.  The first was Heroes of Cosplay, a short-lived show that filmed professional and semi-professional cosplayers preparing to compete at various comic book and pop culture conventions across the U.S.  That show had the benefit of not being a Top Chef-variant series–viewers actually watched as the cosplayers built their costumes, usually based on characters from movies, TV, or anime, and they had the same time they would have in real life to build their cosplay.  Certain contestants showed the positive side of cosplay, like the amiable contest winner Chloe Dykstra, and certain contestants… didn’t.  A recent similar show began in 2015 on British Channel 4 called WTF is Cosplay?

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The hook for Cosplay Meleé for many genre fans will be host Yvette Nicole Brown, co-star of the TV series Community.  A make-up and special effects crewman from various movies (Christian Beckman) and a model (LeeAnna Vamp) will serve as co-judges with Brown.  Four new contestants will be featured on each show, with a $10,000 prize at stake.

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We’ve been raving about the three and three-quarters inch scale Kenner-style action figures from Funko’s ReAction line here at borg.com for a few years now.  If style and nostalgia are your jam but not necessarily screen-accurate sculpts, it’s hard to beat the myriad of licenses that Funko has secured.  What you may not have seen is that Figures Toy Company has been producing a similar series of figures reflecting the larger, eight-inch Mego action figure line also popular in the 1970s.

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Like Funko, Figures Toy Company has secured licenses of brands, movies and TV shows you’d never think would surface again, like Evel Knievel, Dukes of Hazzard, DC Comics, KISS, Shazam, Batman TV series heroes and villains, Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Tarzan, Dallas, The Monkees, The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, and most recently Jonny QuestAlso like Funko, don’t expect Sideshow Toys’ level of detail.  The appeal of these lines is pure nostalgia, and packaging is half of the value.  The company also didn’t forget accessories and playsets, like a great set of Batman weaponsthe Batbus and Batlabclassic style carrying casesGotham GCPD bus, professional wrestling accessories, the Teen Titans bus, and the classic Batcave.

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Your editor with the original Mego Robin figure, and at right the new Figures Toy Company version.

The toy company has also stepped ahead into more recent licenses, creating a line of Mego-style Harry Potter action figures.  Some of Figures Toy Company’s action figure lines are also offered in a 12-inch and 18-inch version.  Many lines were released in limited editions and exclusives, and some can only be found on Amazon and eBay, and many are still available with new figures released frequently.  Not only do many have the Mego-style retro packaging, others have the Kresge Stores-style packages your parents could pick up in the 1970s as point-of-sale purchases at checkout in local dime stores across the country.

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The next noir crime drama may come as a surprise: It’s Dynamite Entertainment’s new throwback series Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.  Inspired by recent noir comic book series like Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series, writer Anthony Del Col (Assassin’s Creed, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Detective Comics, House of Mystery) are bringing the classic books and 1970s team-up television series into the 21st century.  It looks to have the vibe of CW’s new Riverdale television series update to Archie Comics, including that show’s Twin Peaks aura.

The Hardy Boys stories and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series were first published in 1927 and 1930 respectively and continued for 75 years.  Created by Edward Stratemeyer, but ghost written by Mildred Wirt Benson and hundreds of writers over the decades, the books followed teenaged brother sleuths, Frank and Joe Hardy, and a young heroine detective, Nancy Drew, whose strong character has been cited as a personal influence by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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In the new series, Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of murdering their father, a detective, and they enlist Nancy Drew to help prove their innocence–and find the real murderer.  The series promises a “twisting, hard-boiled tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit and dames,” keeping with the noir crime setting.

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IDW Publishing writer Mike Johnson continues to take Star Trek where no one has taken Star Trek before.  As he did successfully in Star Trek Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, Johnson continues the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in the Star Trek “Kelvin” timeline–the new timeline begun by J.J. Abrams beginning in 2009.  Johnson is breaking new grounds along with artist Tony Shasteen in Star Trek: Boldly Go, a monthly comic book series featuring a standalone story issue hitting comic book stores tomorrow.

In the first four issues of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Johnson and Shasteen take readers beyond last summer’s hit movie Star Trek Beyond.  Kirk and his crew are divided now, serving aboard separate vessels.  Kirk leads the USS Endeavour, with Bones as second rank under another medical chief.  Chekov serves with them.  Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan with Sarek.  Scotty is teaching at the Academy back on Earth.  Commander Sulu is serving under Captain Terrell (played by Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) aboard the USS Concord.  And then a nemesis encountered much later in the Prime Universe pursues the Concord.  Why? Is resistance truly futile?  Find out when The Borg seize Spock.

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Fortunately instead of being merely a gimmick to bring the key villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation into the realm of the original series, the change-up in the timeline is nicely tied to a logical occurrence in Kirk and Spock’s past, while further binding the ex-Enterprise crew together.

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Tomorrow with Issue #5 Johnson and Shasteen set their focus on Jaylah, the heroine from Star Trek Beyond, and our nominee for the most kickass heroine of all the Star Trek films.  It’s a great, personal story, providing backstory showing how Jaylah ended up where she encountered the Enterprise crew at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, and where the character is now.  Here is a preview of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Issue #5, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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As the old song goes, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.”  If you can imagine Popeye the Sailor Man and Yosemite Sam as a pirate and a dwarf of the classic fantasy variety, then you’ll have a hint at what’s coming in Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf, a new fantasy-comedy novel written and illustrated by Samwise Didier.  Didier is senior art director for Blizzard Entertainment, where he became known to fantasy gamers for his work on Warcraft, StarCraft, and Heroes of the Storm.

Captain Grimbeard is a salty old pirate who leads up a crew of two (a foodie TV-watching cook and the severed head of a formerly massive fellow) on his sea vessel, the Ol’ Girl, a ship that incorporates the aura of both a dragon and a dog.  He is also the last dwarf, resulting from a genocide caused by the worst of the fantasy races, the detestable, betraying, “traitor-ious” elven race.  Thrust a thousand years into the future he balances life as a cantankerous drinker of ales, a tough and hardy carrier of the great dwarf legacy, and a bawdy rogue finding his way among the worst part of today’s world… social media.  What is a dwarf to do?

Grimbeard shares in first person his exploits: how he missed out on the destruction of his race because he was breaking up a frost giant wedding, how he assembled his noble crew, how he started (and abandoned) his own Friday night boxing event, how he landed a (pretty-ish?) troll by consuming too much Taroellpiz, and how he ended up the centerpiece of his own surreal reality show.

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Adventure Time fans, and fans of bawdy comedy shows like Ted, Family Guy, and South Park, will appreciate the humor here.  Grimbeard will also appeal to fans of the lighter, comedic side of fantasy roleplay.

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infinity-war-clipA decade of preparation is coming together at Marvel.  Kevin Feige, the #2 executive behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conceived the idea of expanding Marvel via an investment in The Avengers, dolling out individual films that would be interconnected, and, in return, build a tremendous financial enterprise.  A decade after Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, we’ll see it all come together in the first part of Avengers: Infinity War in summer 2018.

This will wind up the third act (Phase 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with possibly one more Avengers film inserted in 2019) and its anyone’s guess what will come next.  Here is the rollout schedule:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, May 5, 2017.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, July 7, 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Nov. 3, 2017.
  • Black Panther, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, July 6, 2018.
  • Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019.

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Of all these films, Captain Marvel seems the most likely to be the first spark that prepares fans for a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4.  Unlike Phases 1 through 3, it’s the first film that takes a step outside the classic comic books, featuring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a version of the character created in the pages of Marvel Comics as recently as 2012.  It seems an obvious step to reboot the universe at this point with other, modern versions of the comic book superheroes.

This weekend Marvel released a first look at the commencement of production on Avengers: Infinity War.  The key person surprisingly not in the opening images is Chris Evans’ Captain America.  No doubt fans want to see scenes of Evans and Starlord actor Chris Pratt going head to head.  And the roster of actors in the film will be unprecedented as superhero movies go.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is expected to appear, among many others, hinted at in Avengers: Civil War, which excluded Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  Check out this first look from Avengers: Infinity War:

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Fans and filmgoers may not realize the theatrical adaptation of the popular Ubisoft video game Assassin’s Creed is really unlike any other past movie based on a video game.  Never before has a brand owner, here Ubisoft, taken such a hands-on approach to making a film adaptation.  That comes through in Ian Nathan’s new look at the film and its unique production process, Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus.

Ubisoft has been involved in not only several iterations of the game but continuations found in comic books and graphic novels, as well as behind the scenes concept art books for the various versions of the game.  Pride in the brand and maintaining the integrity of the story for gamers was taken into account from the inception of the film as concept.  From casting Michael Fassbender as the film’s lead to Fassbender’s role as a producer and personally delving in to understand the mechanics of the world of the gameplay and what that meant for his two parallel characters–Aguilar in the past and Callum in the modern age–loyalty to the game was always a priority, as recounted by the crew interviewed by Ian Nathan for this book.

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For those who haven’t seen the film, the plot follows two protagonists in a world of Assassins and Templars, men separated by centuries of history yet linked by their DNA, necessitating the re-creation of a historically accurate fifteenth-century Spain and a technologically advanced present day world.  Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus is an introduction to the complex world of the games, a look at the elaborate sets and exotic filming locations, an understanding of the choreography of the parkour scenes the film is known for, and maintaining the trademark look of the franchise, including Aguilar’s famous assassin’s hood.

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