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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year Netflix delivered what Blade Runner creator Philip K. Dick would have flipped over–the futurism and dark beauty of Adult Swim and Crunchyroll’s Japanese and American half-hour anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus With a second season of the brilliant Blade Runner anime up in the air, Titan Comics is offering the next best thing.  This week the TV series continues in the first issue of Blade Runner: Black Lotus–the monthly comic.  This past May we previewed the comic here at borg.

So how does the comic compare to the TV series that made our annual best TV of the year, kick-ass heroines, and the Borg Hall of Fame?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

While other kids were “making mine Marvel,” I couldn’t get enough of the 1970s Justice League of America, and spent many an hour memorizing Superman’s family ancestry back on Krypton.  Tentpole icons Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the Hall of Justice, and the exploits of battling thousands of villains produced more monthly books than a single person could ever read (although a few have claimed to do so).  Writer Randall Lotowycz has amassed some of the basics but even more of the extremes, lists of “Who’s Who?” and “What’s What?” and the stranger side of DC Comics in the new book The DC Book of Lists: A Multiverse of Legacies, Histories, and Hierarchies An indispensable sourcebook for DC fans, it’s also proof you can’t get through more than 80 years of continuously publishing content and not have some very quirky characters and situations.
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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the world of zombie stories, Resident Evil has more than established itself as the big winner.  Box office billions aside, after this year’s better than expected, big-budget fun zombie flick Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (reviewed here) and last year’s anime Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, the most successful video game tie-in franchise ever only gets better.  Netflix’s eight-part Resident Evil live-action television series isn’t perfect, but fans aren’t really looking for perfect.  What you get is the ultimate genre-bending mash-up.  Sure, you’d expect the sci-fi horror, but full-fledged kaiju monster action?  Edgy-Terminator level cautionary themes?  Orphan Black-inspired clones?  Evil Dead-level action and fun?  Skip the drama of The Walking Dead–this is the kind of action, acting, and storytelling game fans really want.  And you don’t even need to care about the zombie genre to dig it.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse is one of those Dungeons & Dragons supplements from Wizards of the Coast that you might have overlooked.  First released as part of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Expansion Gift Set in late January, it was one of the victims of worldwide shipping delays, and only made it to a single volume release finally this summer.  Compiling and updating monsters that originally appeared in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes–and replacing those books for most purposes, this book is a bestiary presenting friends and foes for any D&D campaign with some creatures you’ve seen before while also fully incorporating 33 races not provided in the Player’s Handbook, but introduced in previous adventure volumes.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Don’t turn around, Der Kommissar’s in town. 

Marc Warren is a rock star.  Or at least he looks and acts like one.  He’s starred and guest-starred in dozens of series and in each one he’s a stand-out, most famously in Doctor Who and Life on Mars, State of Play and Band of Brothers, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, just to name a few.  As a Dutch detective on a stylish crime series created by British network ITV, TV audiences will meet the next Sam Tyler, Aurelio Zen, John Luther, and Jimmy Perez.  Warren plays Commissaris Piet van der Valk, Amsterdam’s best detective, on the series Van Der Valk, which saw its first season of three movie-length episodes make its way to the U.S. in 2020.  The first episode of the second season is coming to the States in September on PBS Masterpiece.  So who is this crime fighter from Amsterdam?

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For 15 years and 327 episodes, CW’s Supernatural established itself as the longest continuously running genre series of the century.  It’s the kind of series, like The X-Files, anyone can drop in on without getting lost in some ongoing story arc.  It’s no wonder that no movie mega-star gets as enormous a crowd at San Diego Comic-Con as when stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki enter the building.  With that kind of start, and a retro spin like the successful series Stranger Things, its coming prequel The Winchesters has the potential of doing well, and the full trailer for the series looks like it may have what it takes to stick around awhile, with a great vintage vibe and Scooby Doo look.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s fun to both know what you’re getting and to get some surprises, too.  That’s the case with Hard Case Crime’s latest novel, Jason Starr’s The Next Time I Die.  It’s billed as a paranoid thriller, a mix of Philip K. Dick and The Twilight Zone.  But the publisher is the home of classic crime novels, right?  It so happens that not only is The Next Time I Die a retelling of sorts of a few PKD short stories, it’s a mix of a number of sci-fi tropes while pulling in a protagonist you might find in old crime stories like Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A., James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, and Vera Caspary’s Laura.  All in, it’s a lot of fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The biggest draw of ITV’s first two seasons of its police procedural The Bay was its lead detective.  Morven Christie (Death in Paradise, Doctor Who) played detective Lisa Armstrong, a family liaison officer (“FLO”) with the Morcambe police.  Morcambe is the eponymous Bay, a seaside town on England’s northwest coast, near Manchester (setting of several great British crime dramas, like Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, and Cracker).  But that changes for the third season of The Bay, now streaming on Britbox.  Taking her place is Marsha Thomason, who played White Collar’s (American) agent Diana Barrigan.  Armstrong’s show was as much about her personal life, her kids and relationships, as the crime-solving.  Viewers get no wrap-up for her story, but for season 3 the writers try to hold that same focus on the pressure of life as a cop helping citizens who have experienced distress.  And the season opens with a dead body floating out in the bay near a buoy. 

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Review by C.J. Bunce

An almost unrecognizable look at Earth’s future at the time of an alien close encounter, the new novel A Half-Built Garden arrives as a bit of a rarity in a bookstore section filled with so much future noir and dystopia.  But writer Ruthanna Emrys’ future feels just as unfamiliar and strange as Blade Runner or Mad Max.  The digitally interconnected, wired world seems out of control in the year 2083, and yet the characters are going with the flow when aliens arrive to clue-in we Earthlings to the need to move along because the course we are on is otherwise going to be–no surprise–oblivion.

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If it’s not your third favorite Star Wars movie, it’s probably your fourth.  It’s director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie that re-ignited the possibilities for Star Wars after George Lucas sold it all to Disney, and laid the groundwork for the great series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.  We thought the May teaser looked fantastic for Andor, the prequel series to Rogue One coming to Disney+ next month, but the full trailer is even better with some great surprises, including the return of Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera.  And bigger news: The first season will have 12 episodes, with 12 more on the way.

Diego Luna returns as rebel hero Cassian Andor, joined by Genevieve O’Reilly in her third stint as Mon Mothma plus the MCU’s Stellan Skarsgård is a new Kenobi-like mentor named Luthen RaelAdria Arjona (Morbius, 6 Underground) is Kleya, Denise Gough (Colette) is Imperial officer Dedra, plus Kyle Soller (Fury, Poldark), The Batman’s Alex Ferns, and Harry Potter and True Blood’s Fiona Shaw co-star (and it looks like Outlaw King and Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie or his doppelganger as a Senator or Ambassador of some sort).

Andor is already confirmed for a second season.  The series will not have the benefit of Gareth Edwards’ input, but it does have contributions from Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy and franchise creature maker Neal Scanlan will be pulling in unused creatures and effects from the films along with new ones for the series.  Meet B2EMO:

Check out this epic trailer for Andor:

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