Archive for November, 2011


Ten weeks ago I posted my list of what I intended to buy from the DC Comics New 52.  To recap, they were:

Then through browsing the racks at the store, I added the following, based on something I saw in the title or a page-turn, or in the case of Animal Man, a good review:

Based solely on what I read in Issue #1 of each, I decided to not go forward with the following titles:

I reviewed Action Comics #1 here.  Just not the Superman I was interested in reading about, I guess.  (All other DC Comics titles I have reviewed here include links in comic title names in this article).

Green Lantern #1 was spent exclusively on Sinestro, not Hal Jordan, and because I wasn’t interested in an ongoing Sinestro book, I gave up on buying Issue #2, which he also appears to be featured in.

Voodoo #1 was so thin in plot and long on shock factor that it made the bottom of the list of all that I read over the past three months.  Not my cup of tea.

Supergirl #1 wasn’t bad.  But I couldn’t help comparing it to Michael Turner’s and Jeph Loeb’s Supergirl from the Superman/Batman series and this just didn’t compare.

Birds of Prey was a series I read in about 5-10 issue arcs over several years.  This isn’t the same team, and it’s not worse because there is no Oracle, it is just not the same sensibility.  I prefer the more mature, aka women heroine vs. girl heroine Birds of Prey group of the past, and I don’t like at all where the current Black Canary is, they should get her back in the Green Arrow title.  I think the characters are drawn almost like teenagers, as if this should be a companion to the Teen Titans.  That would make more sense.  So I left this title behind after Issue #1, too.

I decided to go forward and read Issue #2 of the following titles, however, just to give them another shot (I plan to review each Issue #2 at a later date):

So this is how five titles were cut from my pull-list.  The big winners?  I have eight titles I hope to be reading for a long time:

I will also keep buying Green Arrow in hopes that it will improve, and Jim Lee’s Justice League since it seems to glue a lot of the other stories together.

Frankly, eight is about the right number I wanted to end up with, especially at current comic book prices.  I also will keep reading til the end of the short series, Huntress.  And as I get into more Marvel Comics I will be adding at least one book from that publisher to the ongoing read pile, in addition to independent publisher books Bionic Man and Rachel Rising.

So was the first round of the New 52 successful?  Ultimately most of what I read was worth reading, so I’d answer a definite “yes“.  I read 21 of the 52 titles, more than I planned to read.  The biggest surprise?  How much I liked All-Star Western #1 and its mix of old Gotham City and Jonah Hex.  Captain Atom and Justice League Dark were the two books I was most curious about, and they both delivered in a big way stellar stories and art about more minor DC Comics characters that I now can’t wait to read more about.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always looking for a good movie to see in January and February.  (If you’ve already seen all of the Oscar nominated films, they can be a pretty bleak movie going months.)  In the spirit of our examination of scary movies leading up to Halloween, I have a feeling this movie will be in the wheelhouse of the writers of borg.com as well as the readers.  Here’s the trailer:

So, just to recap, here are the elements of the movie we can see in the trailer:

1)  Daniel Radcliffe

Boom.  If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’re probably already sold.  If you’re a fan of English men with sideburns that ride in horse drawn carriages, and really, who isn’t, then you’re really in luck.

2)  Weird Dolls

If you watch Doctor Who you probably saw this season’s “Night Terrors.”  I don’t need to tell you that dolls coming to life or just watching you from a corner make everything feel eerie.

3)  A Poem Slowly Read

It took a couple of listens, but anytime you have a vaguely sounding nursery rhyme spoken beneath a bunch of scary images, it brings out a feeling of dread.  Add in the fact that the voice is a young girl and it gets worse, much worse.  Which brings us to the last item from the trailer…

4)  OHMYGOSH MORE CREEPY GIRLS

Get out of my head people.  I’m tired of being scared.  I’m beginning to think that the worst possible place on the planet to be at any moment would be a Justin Bieber concert, and while just listening to the music and maybe dancing in place, because you know, it’s the Biebs, every single tween girl turns around as one and stares at you with eyes that have turned completely black.

Shudder.  Never mind.  Pay no attention to those last sentences.  I don’t want that movie being made.  Well, at least until I get to see The Woman in Black.  Give it a few months until after I see this and then make it.  I’m sure by then, I’ll be ready to be scared again.

By Art Schmidt

(with spoilers)

“This program contains violent content which may be too intense for some viewers.  Viewer discretion is advised.”  I look forward to those words every Sunday evening.  Violent content?  Very.  Too intense?  Sure, for some viewers.  Discretion is advised?  Yes, very well advised.

Season 2 of AMC’s adaptation of the long-running independent comic book series started on October 16th, in time to present us with the first three episodes prior to Halloween, and what a fine All Hallow’s Eve treat it has been!  AMC’s initial season of six episodes whetted viewer’s appetites (and broke cable network records in the coveted 18-49 male demographic) with a small group of people struggling to survive amidst a world devastated by a Zombie Apocalypse of unknown origin.  Most of them are strangers, thrown together by circumstance and luck (good or bad).  And the word ‘zombie’ is never used; George Romero never existed in the world of The Walking Dead, the undead are called ‘Walkers’ by the few living people who remain.

The group’s reluctant leader is Rick Grimes, a small town sheriff played by Andrew Lincoln (Strike Back television series, Moonshot, Love Actually) who was shot by a burglar in the pre-walker world and woke up weeks later in an empty hospital surrounded by both the dead and the undead.  He fights his way through walkers, sickness, and near starvation to find his family still alive and on the road to Atlanta to try to find answers at the Centers for Disease Control there.

Rick’s family consists of his wife Lori Grimes, played by Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break, The Celestine Prophecy, Tarzan television series) and their son Carl.  Rick’s deputy Shane Walsh (Ron Bernthal–The Pacific, World Trade Center) is another member of the group, who possibly left Rick for dead in the hospital, had an affair with his wife Lori, and resents his friend Rick for returning and taking his family back.  In the comics, Shane is killed off very early on while attempting to move Rick back out of the way.  In the television series, however, Shane doesn’t try such a bold move and instead survives with the group until at least the current episode.  Which makes for some extremely compelling television, walkers or no.

Among the other members of their group are Andrea, a woman who loses her sister to a walker’s bite in the first season, which results in the return of the victim to a state of undeath as a walker; Dale, a middle-aged man in a Winnebago who treats Andrea like a daughter at times, and at other times like a dear friend, neither of which Andrea is receptive to.  Then there’s Daryl, the redneck racist with a crossbow whose brother Rick left handcuffed to a pipe atop a building in downtown Atlanta; Daryl doesn’t hold a grudge, though, and actually turns out to be one of the most able, dependable people around.  Especially when it comes time to perform an autopsy on a walker who they suspect of eating someone’s daughter.

Yeah, folks, this show is serious.

Writer, director and developer Frank Darabount (Shawshank Redemption, The Mist (2007), The Green Mile) joked that the show was about killing zombies, and boy was he right.  From Daryl’s crossbow and its dwindling supply of arrows to a cache of large bladed tools that Carl finds in a dead farmer’s truck to the various rifles, pistols, and rocks the group has at hand (yep, rocks), this show doesn’t hold back.  The walkers of The Walking Dead aren’t slow, shambling zombies from the black-and-white days of the original Dawn of the Dead, nor are they the super-fast raging nightmares from 28 Days Later.  They fall somewhere in between, fast enough to catch you if you trip, but not fast enough to over-run you in a sprint.  And boy, do they look real.  And really, really creepy.

The Walking Dead, which won the 2011 Saturn Award for ‘Best Television Presentation’ from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films and the 2010 AFI Awards trophy for ‘TV Program of the Year’, doesn’t skimp on special effects when it comes to the walkers.  Great detail is put into each and every undead monster who crosses the screen, and there are plenty of them.  The walkers apparently move in herds, or large groups, and migrate from place to place when the food supply (both people and animals) dwindles.  The walkers will apparently eat each other, as well, though they only crave living (i.e. moving) flesh, and do not eat the truly, really dead.

The series is just getting better and better, and the writers have thus far shown a flair for the dramatic and unexpected, for pushing the envelope on the genre, and for using the walkers as metaphors and drilling down into the lives of the living people on the screen.  Even in a group so small, against so much adversity, and in such dire circumstances, there is in-fighting, jealously, betrayal, and, sometimes, even a little bit of justice.

The comic on which the series is based (but by no means follows), began in 2003 and is written by Robert Kirkman who is also on the writing staff for the television series.  Currently moving its way toward Issue #90, the series is published by Image Comics.  Issues 1-48 have been compiled together in a massive volume The Walking Dead: Compendium One which weighs in at almost eleven-hundred pages of raw Zombie Apocalypse mayhem.  Excuse me, Walker Apocalypse. 🙂

AMC just renewed The Walking Dead for a third season, which will hopefully expand it beyond the current expected second season run of only twelve episodes.

Review by C.J. Bunce

Have you ever been handed something you weren’t immediately interested in, and then realized it was just what the doctor ordered?  For me this week it was Wolverine and the X-Men #1, written by Jason Aaron (actually Marvel Comics calls him a Marvel architect) and pencils and colors by Chris Bachalo.

Pencils and colors by the same guy?  What a good idea.  At least here it worked really well.  In fact I only picked up this book because I ran into the writer at a local Halloween party and I thought the cover art reminded me of Howard Chaykin and the color work was striking.

I also have been a DC Comics fan since high school and was always looking for a good entry point into the Marvel Universe characters.  My issue with picking up random issues over the years was the ongoing storyline and lack of standalone stories.  I understood there was this ongoing X-Men story that would sometimes intersect with an Avengers story, but if I didn’t read every issue I just couldn’t get involved and keep up.  Finally, Wolverine and the X-Men may be that entry point.

I am also a fan of the storytelling technique used by Joss Whedon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Use a close-knit group of the the younger set, put them in fantastical situations, keep the ongoing storyline to a minimum and focus on growing the key team of characters.  That technique works here, too.

Wolverine and the X-Men starts at a very appropriate beginning point, the first day of school at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, a school for mutants named after former X-Men member, Jean Grey/Phoenix.  Jason Aaron’s story reads like a teleplay, which really works for a TV watcher like me.  My only real exposure to the X-Men, aside from reading the Giant-Sized X-Men #1 in the aisle at Target when I was a kid, is in the X-Men movies.  What I glean from the backstory that is nicely tucked into this issue is that Jean Grey, killed in the movies, must be dead in this universe, too.  I assume from her character she’ll be back again someday.  Some recent event called the Schism was perpetrated by some genius brat 12-year-old kid named Kade Kilgore, and I take it that this Schism caused us to be in this new universe of stories starting us with this series at Issue #1.

Wolverine/Logan has started his own school for mutants, with key staff positions held by Kitty Pryde and the furry blue Beast.  He gets some advice from Professor Xavier, who founded the original, famous school for mutants.

The bulk of the story takes place on the first day of school, and Logan and Kitty must take representatives of the board of education on a tour, seeking their needed approval.  The auditor is a fairly stereotypical busybody and Logan and Kitty can do nothing right for her.  Murphy’s Law reins supreme here and the book is chock full of disaster after disaster.

Having recently emerged from New 52 DC Comics series like The Flash and Justice League where nothing really happens over the course of an issue, this book is full of several “different” scenes and you get the feel that you got your money’s worth here.  Part of that is the relation between writer and artist no doubt.  One page includes a quickly but well-told 12-panel conversation that packs in content.  Bachalo’s pencil style and color work is straight-forward yet he clearly has his own style.  His characters have a similar look, but it is a cool look.  Wolverine looks like a scruffy grump, the visitor from the board of education looks simultaneously annoyed and annoying.  Not being that familiar with Marvel Universe details of late, I scanned the Direct Current Previews and learned Aaron has done plenty of Wolverine work, including the Schism story that led to this new series.  His familiarity with Wolverine’s character comes across nicely in this issue.

One great scene involves a training room for mutants called the Danger Room, which at the old Xavier school was apparently a known, distinct room.  At the Jean Grey school apparently the Danger Room can be anywhere and in this issue that anywhere is the boys bathroom, where unsuspecting boys hanging out get to experience what that means, including an apparent toilet seat on fire.  The unlimited potential for future issues is evident, both with this Danger Room concept but also with an endless cast of mutants, including the janitor named Toad, who keeps complaining that he hasn’t been assigned a bed yet at the school.  Don’t miss out on the class list, faculty list and other extras at the end.  Good stuff.

We are also given a taste of the future, as an unexpected student arrives–Warbird–and his bodyguard, royalty who believes he is too good for everyone else.  This could be anyone’s junior high or high school, and you hope that this kind of story finds its wider audience as there is plenty of humor and good character development here to appeal to kids and adults.

Finishing up our speculation of a future James Bond that began here yesterday, we’ve got two actors who would be good picks, and who are probably not obvious choices for the super-spy shortlist.  These picks are for an older vs a younger Bond, figuring an actor who can look 40-45 is probably in the ideal range.  Then again, Roger Moore played Bond at age 46 and 58, so there really doesn’t need to be any age limit on choosing a good actor to play Bond.  First up, Paul Blackthorne, followed by Jason Isaacs.

Paul Blackthorne may be best known for his portrayal of wizard Harry Dresden in the short-lived but excellent TV adaptation of Jim Butcher’s novels, The Dresden Files.  Blackthorne has had his share of “guest star of the week” appearances on TV shows such as Medium, Monk, Burn Notice, Leverage, Warehouse 13, and White Collar.  If there is any reason he might not get selected in the future as James Bond it is because he is primarily had TV roles, but he is only 42, with plenty of time to get some movies behind him.  And besides, Pierce Brosnan didn’t do much that was notable before GoldenEye other than Remington Steele.

Blackthorne is a British actor that has honed his American accent so well that you would never know his British background.  If the Broccoli family continues with actors like Daniel Craig down the line as Bond, Blackthorne would fit right in.  And if they want him to play up the Brit-speak he could easily play a Bond of the Sean Connery or Timothy Dalton variety.  In fact, Blackthorne looks like a young Connery.  All that aside, as Harry Dresden we got to see Blackthorne as a versatile actor, the role itself a bit X-Files, a bit cop drama, a bit Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He’s fun to watch and a likeable actor.  And he looks the part.

Forty-eight year old British actor Jason Isaacs may be most famous for his portrayal as the sniveling, white-haired wizard Lucius Malfoy (Draco’s dad) in the Harry Potter movies.  But in this year’s BBC/public television Masterpiece Mystery series Case Histories, we get to see Isaacs in a more down to Earth role, as a soldier turned cop turned private investigator.  More than anything else, Isaacs comes across as a very cool character, the kind of cool required of Bond, with a fair amount of self-effacing scenes that show his capacity for some good humor, something we haven’t seen so much of in recent Bond portrayals.  Maybe it is time to see how an older Roger Moore type Bond would appeal to fans?

Isaacs also has had a fair number of big screen roles, besides the Harry Potter films, including DragonHeart, Event Horizon, Armageddon, Soldier, Black Hawk Down, Resident Evil, and a lot of voice-over work–he’d have the sound of Bond down pretty well, too.  And like Rufus Sewell and Paul Blackthorne, he sort of has that British renegade agent look about him.  And he’s a dead ringer for Timothy Dalton.

So that’s just three recommendations.  Any others?

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

What?  Didn’t they just announce that Daniel Craig just started filming Skyfall, the next James Bond flick?  Sure, but if you haven’t been following along, we mentioned here yesterday that, unlike diamonds, no actor gets to play James Bond forever.  So who would be great as Bond if they swapped out actors today?

Back when Pierce Brosnan was rumored to have been readying to hand over the mantle, there was much speculation as to who would be the next icon of icons in British film, and… there just wasn’t a lot by way of contenders that seemed like the perfect fit.  It’s why many, including this writer, thought Daniel Craig seemed a bizarre choice.  Glad to have been wrong about that!

But this question comes up every time there has been an actor retire from playing Bond, back to the great Sean Connery.  After all, at least from the perspective on this side of the Atlantic, there isn’t anything that stands better for England than James Bond (OK, inching out the Queen, Will Shakespeare, and Doctor Who only slightly, and with perhaps an “attaboy” pat on the head to Harry Potter).

But if you can’t wait until 2013 to see the next James Bond on screen, look no further, as a role that might as well have been written by Ian Fleming for his master spy has already been written, cast, performed, and aired on TV and is now for sale on video.  It is Michael Dibdin’s Zen, re-broadcast this year in the States on public television’s Masterpiece Mystery series.

What is Zen?

Zen is a stylish police drama made by the Brits but filmed in and around Rome, written by Dibdin in a series of novels.  Our James Bond character is Aurelius Zen, played expertly by actor Rufus Sewell, who although British plays a Mediterranean without pause because of his dark features (the tall, dark, etc. variety that the ladies will fall for).  Over the course of the three 90-minute episodes, a slow burning relationship forms with none other than ex-Bond actress Caterina Murino (from Casino Royale), who plays Tania Moretti, the Chief of Police’s assistant, recently separated.  Zen is repeatedly referred to as having an impeccable reputation, yet indications throughout the series question that notion.  He is excused or brushed off and taken for granted because of his Venician heritage, something of an inside joke we don’t need to understand to be able to empathize with him.  But we find, as Bond sidesteps master criminals in his path, Zen sidesteps mafia-esque city politics to save his job and do the right thing, if not for king and country, for the good of the citizenry of Rome.

Further adding to the series in its Masterpiece Mystery presentation are quirky but well done introductions by Alan Cumming, who formerly played Russian IT guy Boris Grishenko in another Bond film, GoldenEye.  Cumming’s intros are fun to watch themselves, as he–a bit overdramatically–describes the incredible stylishness of the forthcoming program.  What he describes of Aurelio Zen might as well be of James Bond.

But back to the production itself.  From the 1960s style, elaborate opening credits it is hard not to compare Zen with Bond.  Where else do you still see so much effort put toward the framing of a film, at least not since the 1960s, in films like Steve McQueen’s Bullitt.   Zen actually shares more a handful of parallels to Bullitt.  Sewell’s Zen radiates an aura of cool, just as McQueen did.  The soundtrack from Zen is so rich, complex, steamy, again: stylish, it skips along and carries us with it, much as the flute and keyboard did accompanying the quick and metered score of Bullitt.  And the obvious, they are both cops, wrapped up in their own survival on the squad, dodging the higher ranks in their division as much as bullets.

But you’re describing an Italian show, you say.  Bond is British.  In fact being British seems to be the only prerequisite to be selected as Bond.  Like many actors in shows through the ages, TV shows, movies, you name it, Sewell plays Aurelio Zen with no attempt at a local, Italian accent.  After all, you don’t need to speak in a British accent to perform Shakespeare, right?  To be sure, Sewell’s British is not cockney or Scot or Welsh, it’s almost American, possibly residue from his short-lived but solid performance in the American series, The Eleventh Hour.   Sewell would voice Bond much as was done by Daniel Craig.  He sells it British because we know he’s British.  That’s good enough for us.

Accent discussions aside, Sewell walks the walk.  That is, he’s got the polished Bond look.  Like perfectly tailored suits that he wears like he doesn’t care what he’s wearing (why should he care? he’s Bond).  And while all the rest of the police department are laying odds and who will bed the new Chief’s assistant (Zen isn’t even in the running in the office pool), Zen pays no mind as the Chief’s assistant has eyes only for Zen.

And the Broccoli family could also not do better than bring on the entire production team from Zen to costume their next film, edit it, film it.  As production values go on television, I challenge anyone to find a TV series with better cinematography and direction.  And the location and setting of the sequences of Zen are exotic in feel as any location from Dr. No forward.  What more could anyone want for James Bond?

So maybe not only should Rufus Sewell play the Bond to follow Daniel Craig, we also have the crew to film that follow-on picture.

By the way, if you think you haven’t seen Sewell before, he’s been around.  He was Fortinbras in Kenneth Branaghs’s Hamlet, the star of 1998’s dystopian Dark City, the evil Count Adhemar in A Knight’s Tale opposite Heath Ledger, Ali Baba in Arabian Knights, Thomas Clarkson in Amazing Grace with Ioan Gruffudd, Alexander Hamilton in the John Adams TV series, the star of Eleventh Hour, Tom Builder in Pillars of the Earth, and is soon to have a leading role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

So Sewell is my current #1 recommendation to see one day as Bond.  Other contenders?  We’ll have to get to those on another day.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Despite my ongoing appreciation for every actor who has taken the 007 reins as our favorite British master spy, my favorite is Daniel Craig.  Every actor who has played James Bond has had his own interesting spin on the character, whether you’re talking about the cool baritone-voiced Scot, Sean Connery, or the straight-laced but campy Roger Moore, or the seemingly born-for-the-role Pierce Brosnan, or even the suave and modern (if not overlooked) Timothy Dalton.

What I like about Craig is his ability to so easily and visibly take over the room as he enters, simply through his walk and attitude.  Like John Wayne used to do, albeit in a very different manner.  He has presence, and it reflects the sure-footed, suave, and brilliant character Ian Fleming created in his novels.  As Bond, Craig has become “the man every man wants to be, and the man every woman wants to be with.”  Craig is the ultimate British hero, but he plays it as a different, more modern type of British character, more relaxed in his mannerisms than the classic, more rigid and maybe even stodgy portrayal.

In Casino Royale Craig took the character to new places returning to Bond’s first 007 super-spy mission.  Edgier than ever before, we saw someone in a foot race that seemed like he really was actually in a foot race and actually trying to catch the bad guy, and not caring whether he got scars along he way or his clothing rumpled, unlike some past Bonds.  Playing a high-stakes card game this Bond is not mild-mannered so much as cool and cocky.  Like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, this Bond doesn’t care what anyone else is doing around him.  As much as we are glued to the every move of each “Bond girl” in this film–Caterina Murino as the first bad guy’s girlfriend, and then Eva Green as Vesper, soon to be his first and last love in the series–they are focused on Bond.

The follow-up film, Quantum of Solace, whose title comes from a Fleming short story, was not as great from a a story standpoint, but Craig made the best of it.  His best on-screen relationship is with Judi Dench’s M, who strangely comes across as a determined and scornful but somewhat caring mother figure to Bond as much as a boss and head of covert ops at MI6.

    

Luckily we get to see Craig at least one more time as Bond, as production of the 23rd James Bond film begins this week with Craig reprising the role for the third time.  Titled Skyfall, the new film will feature Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) as the villain, with Dame Judi Dench (Henry V, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs. Brown) returning as M, with Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter series, English Patient, Schindler’s List), Albert Finney (Big Fish, Tom Jones), Helen McCrory (Life, Harry Potter series, Doctor Who) and Ben Whishaw (The Hour, Layer Cake) in key supporting roles, and Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean series) and French actress Berenice Marlohe as the next “Bond Girls.”  Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) will direct, with filming locations in Scotland, Istanbul and Shanghai.  No word has been released as to whether we will see anyone reprise the role perfected by Desmond Llewelyn and later by John Cleese as Q.

  

But as with past actors in the Bond role, especially more recently, they don’t stay around for very long, with Dalton playing Bond twice and Brosnan playing the role four times.

So…who do you think is a good candidate for the next James Bond?  Check back later this week for a few of my ideas.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Every sci-fi fan, and most certainly everyone who claims to be a diehard Star Wars fan, knows what you mean when you speak of “Blue Harvest,” the code name that Lucasfilm used to cloak its production shooting and top-secret plot information for Return of the Jedi.  For years, hats and shirts with Blue Harvest patches, which not-so secretly were printed in a familiar Empire Strikes Back font, as well as production memos and call sheets (with the intentionally-crafted “worst title and subtitle for a real film ever” of Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination reference) have surfaced, but not until this week has the mother lode of Blue Harvest reference material been revealed to the public, for free even.

This week, everyone’s favorite prop supply house, The Prop Store, posted on their website 38 photos taken during the Spring of 1982 in Buttercup Valley in the Southern California desert.  They were taken by one uber-fan named Mike Davis and a small band of mercenaries dead set on sneaking up on a real, live Star Wars trilogy production shoot.  Unlike a lot of paparazzi photos for any number of films you’ll find across the Web, and unlike other productions, the Lucasfilm crew let Davis & Co. shoot photos and hang out so long as they stayed out of the way.  It’s a scene straight out of Fanboys, the film with Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell about a group of Star Wars fans trying to get into Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch to get a sneak peek at Star Wars: The Phantom Menace before it premiered.  If you’ve never heard of this indie film, it’s a must-see along with the recent fanboy-themed release, Paul.

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ll find that you can lose two hours easy checking out every corner of these photos.  Highlights include:

  • Boba Fett, more than you see in the actual movie
  • The first look of Mark Hamill as a Jedi Knight
  • Every angle you’ve never seen before of Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge
  • Every angle you’ve never seen before of the sand skiffs
  • Strange bikes that will be familiar to you, but not on Tatooine
  • The actors and stunt actors performing in the desert skiff scene
  • Carrie Fisher on the set where she wore her famous slave girl outfit
  • Kenny Baker outside of his R2-D2 unit

OK, if you haven’t just jumped ahead and checked out the link for yourself, get on with it!  I particularly think any cosplayer working on a Boba Fett uniform will appreciate the several angles of this best version of the Mandalorian armor.  Boba Fett is no doubt the best background character-turned-icon of all time and I can’t get enough of him, despite him getting killed off in such a lame way in Return of the Jedi.  If you ever get to meet the man in the suit, Jeremy Bulloch, he shares a lot of great stories.  Here he is at a Con back in 2005 with yours truly and a member of the 501st Legion:

Enough already!  Here’s the link to the exclusive photos hosted by The Prop Store.  Mega “props” and thanks to Mike Davis for letting The Prop Store share this great experience with us that Davis lucked into more than 30 years ago.  Check out The Prop Store website for great entertainment memorabilia and this link for past stories here about the company.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

   

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re lucky enough to land yourself a copy of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising, Issue #1 or #2, do yourself a favor and grab it and pick up a few extra for your friends as this one is very hard to come by.  For whatever reason, comic retailers have not ordered big enough quantities.

If you’re not familiar with Terry Moore, his two big series over the past two decades were the mega-hit Strangers In Paradise and the more recent supernatural series Echo.  This year at Comic-Con Moore was selling his how-to ‘zine How to Draw Women.  If there is one thing he knows, it is drawing the female form.  Moore’s style is truly his own–he uses very few lines to capture incredible expressions and emotion in his characters.  I’d put Moore’s women drawings in an exclusive league with Frank Cho and Michael Turner, with Cliff Chiang soon to be a member of that elite group.

In Strangers In Paradise, Moore used a close relationship between roommates to create an ongoing drama that want on to form several volumes.  In Echo, he moved into more of the fantasy realm.  With Rachel Rising, he has landed firmly in the dark, creepy, macabre world of comics.  His art in all three series is black and white–something that might put off readers of other books, but Moore uses black and white’s starkness and contrasts to create a moods you won’t find in DC Comics or Marvel Comics titles.  I haven’t even mentioned yet that Moore is the writer, penciller and inker of his books, which are published by his wife.  Serving triple duty must be tough, but Moore makes it all look easy.

In Issue #1, Rachel wakes up in the woods in a shallow grave.  Over the course of Issue #1 and #2, Rachel encounters people who know her but don’t believe she really is Rachel.  She learns she has lost three days of her life.  Her glowing eyes reveal something, but what that means fully is not yet revealed.  She finds an aunt who she tries to get to help her, but her aunt is a strange breed who claims to see dead people, and as she is a mortician, she gets plenty of opportunity.

Is this going the way of Eliza Dushku’s TV series Tru Calling?  That would be fun.  In Tru Calling she worked in a morgue where dead people talked to her.  Terry’s dark-haired characters look a bit like Dushku.  When Echo came out, I asked Moore about the naming process and he said he was unaware that Dushku was playing a character starting about the same time on Joss Whedon’s short-lived Dollhouse TV series.   All just a crazy coincidence.   I’ll just go out on a limb and nominate Dushku for a role in a future movie based on Moore’s books.

But don’t think Moore’s friendly style is not as ghoulish as the next guy’s stories.  There are plenty of cringeworthy scenes in these first two issues, including the subtle but disturbing aunt who proceeds to perform “mortician’s work” while rambling away with Rachel.  As many questions about Rachel and Company are asked as are answered, so we can look forward to a good progression of story over several issues.

I first met Terry and his wife Robyn, who is the publisher of his books under the Abstract Studios label, at Comic-Con back in 2008 when Echo was released.  I got to Terry’s booth early enough that he spent the Friday sketching his famous characters Francine and Katchoo for me as my favorite superhero team Green Arrow and Black Canary.  Robyn couldn’t be nicer.  My wife and I met up with Terry and Robyn again at Comic-Con this year at Jeff Smith’s 20th anniversary of Bone party (that’s Terry above in San Diego this July), and we had a great time chatting.

I’d hoped to review this series sooner, but could not track down Issue #1.  I finally had to drive three hours away to find a copy of Issue #1 and I am hoping the distributors get their acts together so it will be easier to track down Issue #3, due out soon.

For the first time anywhere, borg.com is premiering for readers the release of the trailer for Liar’s Moon:

Digger returns!

The errant thief who escaped a failed heist to stumble into a conspiracy of an exiled band of rebels and users of forbidden magic in the high fantasy novel StarCrossed, returns to her home city of Gerse in Elizabeth C. Bunce’s new fantasy noir novel Liar’s Moon.

No time is wasted as our feisty heroine is mugged and dragged kicking to prison.  But there’s more to this capture as she finds an old ally imprisoned there, awaiting a death sentence for the murder of his wife.  She continues to break her own rules—don’t get caught and don’t get involved, as she wrestles with even more rules: keep your head down, keep your eyes open, and keep your mouth shut.  For Digger, continuing to masquerade as Lady Celyn, it’s all about just staying alive as the stakes are raised when she receives secret messages and is finally visited by the icy and creepy Inquisitor.  She must rely an old friends and acquire new ones to weave her way through her own problems and pursue a dark mystery as Prince Wierolf’s army closes in on the city gates.  And the truth is not what she wants to hear.

Bunce’s writing is smart, her characters are gutsy, and her portrayal of an Italian Renaissance-inspired harbor town on the cusp of being sacked by a new leader’s army is evocative and gritty.  But it’s her characters’ relationships and interactions that will stick with you long after the story ends.  Bunce adds some great new players into this fantasy world, like the elegant Lady Koya and fellow street urchin Rat, who join old favorites like Eptin Cwalo and Raffin Taradyce–but even they are not the same people they once were.  Time and impending war changes everyone and Digger must decide whether to keep her secret skill with forbidden magic hidden or use it to change all the rules.  In the end she encounters her most significant relationship yet and realizes she is even more powerful than she ever imagined.  Part whodunnit, part noir crime drama, part romance, this centuries old fantasy world will have readers honing their own detective skills to uncover a plot against a local crime family.  It also reveals the reality of a city readying for war, a town cloaked in secrets, and townsfolk who must choose sides as they try to survive, hidden in dark alleys and warehouses in this well-developed river city underworld under a sky of seven moons.

Liar’s Moon is available in hardcover November 1, with pre-release and eBook discount pricing at Amazon.com.  Liar’s Moon has been nominated for the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2011.  Book 1 of the Thief Errant series, StarCrossed, is also available in stores and online, and it is available in hardcover and eBook editions.  StarCrossed was named to the Best Fiction for Young Adults list, a Kansas Notable Book, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book.  Bunce’s first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, is also available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and eBook editions.  A Curse Dark as Gold was named the inaugural winner of the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Award, a Smithsonian Notable Book, a Kansas Notable Book, listed as an Oprah’s Book Club Kids Reading List Teen Selection, the Amelia Bloomer Project list, a Best Book for Young Adults, and a Cybils Award finalist.

Here is the trailer for StarCrossed that debuted last year:

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