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Archive for October, 2013


velvet01_cover

The former Captain America creative team of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting are back.  Tomorrow Image Comics is releasing their creator-owned spy series, Velvet.  This time, it’s not another spy book driven by a James Bond-inspired agent.  Velvet Templeton is just the secretary for the world’s greatest spy.  Or is she?  Think of Velvet as if Miss Moneypenny were a tough-as-nails secret agent in her own right.  When the world’s greatest secret agent is killed, Velvet can no longer keep her cover intact.

It’s the next hard-boiled mystery series by Fatale writer Ed Brubaker.  Steve Epting’s artwork in Issue #1 is striking and his heroine sultry and powerful.  His work is reminiscent of Mike Grell’s James Bond mini-series.  Bettie Breitweiser’s colors rounds out the triple threat behind this cool new series.

Here’s a preview of Velvet, Issue #1, for borg.com readers courtesy of Image Comics:

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Scratch One cover by Orbik

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re like this reader, you probably thought you read the last of the catalog of Michael Crichton novels when you finished his last novel, Micro, reviewed here at borg.com last year.  But what if there were eight Crichton novels that suddenly appeared, as if by magic, that you had never heard of?  The “lost” Crichton novels?  For fans of Crichton (who died in 2008) and his bestsellers like Jurassic Park, Sphere, Disclosure, and Rising Sun, it’s practically a dream come true.  Diehards may have heard of these eight novels published in the late 1960s, written while Crichton was in medical school, all under the pen name John Lange and all long out of print and nearly impossible to find.

Titan Books’ Hard Case Crime imprint worked with Crichton in his last years to re-edit, re-write a few chapters, and then finalize a new printing of all eight novels, with interesting and catchy titles Odds On, Scratch One, Easy Go, Zero Cool, The Venom Business, Drug of Choice, Grave Descend, and Binary, and all with great new pulp art covers by Glen Orbik.  We plan to review them all here, and today we begin with Crichton’s second published novel, Scratch One, originally published in 1967, but available next week in bookstores.  It’s not yet known if re-releases of two other early works by Crichton, A Case of Need, written as Jeffery Hudson, and Dealing, written as Michael Douglas, will be forthcoming.

Scratch One first edition

Scratch One follows Roger Carr, an American lawyer who has been assigned the posh job of acquiring a half-billion dollar villa in France for a wealthy client.  It’s the type of job Carr is used to as the son of a senator without any other particular value to his firm.  It allows him to maintain a playboy’s lifestyle on the French Riviera and other lavish European locations and use his charisma to land a new lady friend at every stop along the way.  But where Carr sounds like he could be James Bond, he also has no particular skill as a spy or assassin.  That’s relevant because Carr stumbles into a scenario that could be found in an Ian Fleming novel.

Carr in every way is “the Man who Knew Too Little.”  Unfortunately he just happens to look like a real spy being sought by a league of murderers trying to prevent an arms deal with a faction in the Middle East.  Their method of stopping the deal is plucking off one by one key players in Egypt, Portugal, Denmark, and France, and murdering a popular race car driver at the famous annual Grand Prix–a driver who is a wealthy man in his own right who, as part of his side activities, mixes with arms dealers.

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i-frankenstein moving poster

It has the overall look of the Underworld series and the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing movie.  And it appears to be a Highlander-inspired story–a fantastical character thrust into our present-day world–this time with a better actor playing the lead.  And exactly how many CGI flying demons can you fit into one movie?  We don’t care, we just wish it was showing this week since we’re getting to Halloween with no good spooky flick to see in the theater if you’ve no desire to watch a remake of Carrie.

The first full trailer for I, Frankenstein is full of genre actors we can’t get enough of.  Start with the lead:  Aaron Eckhart as Adam, who takes the last name of his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, as has occurred in countless retellings over the past two hundred years.  Eckhart’s best known role is of course as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the most recent Batman trilogy.  But he was brilliant in the Philip K. Dick story adaptation Paycheck, in Thank You for Smoking, and Erin Brockovich (and almost unrecognizable).  He just doesn’t make enough movies for a guy who has so much coolness and charisma.

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Treasure Island banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

When you think of movie titles that immediately throw you into the action of classic favorites, you might think of something like Star Wars.  Originally to be titled The Star Wars, before the movie actually hit theaters this seemed like a pretty blah name.  Wars.  In the stars.  Got it.  But the movie surpassed its very simple title.  What did the reading public first think back in 1881 about a new serialized tale called Treasure Island?  Treasure.  On an island.  Got it.

Turns out, the original title for Treasure Island honed in on the key character of the story, the pirate Long John Silver, with the title The Sea-Cook.  Probably not as catchy then or now, but certainly a great idea for a character by one of the best adventure writers of all time, which has been used as a key element in modern adventures, from Steven Segal’s hero in Under Siege to the spy in Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October.

Wood and Izzard

In contention for the best Treasure Island adaptation in more than a century of adaptations is the 2012 British production starring Eddie Izzard as the famous pirate.  It’s saying a lot, considering competition like the 1934 Lionel Barrymore/Jackie Cooper black and white classic and the surprisingly good 1996 film Muppet Treasure Island (which Philip Glenister notes as inspiration for his performance in the DVD/Blu-ray special features) starring the always superb Tim Curry.  It’s not a stretch to see the cutting edge Izzard taking on the same roles Curry would be cast in.  Izzard has been featured in a groundbreaking catalog of productions, serving as the star of the TV series The Riches and now appearing in Hannibal, and on the big screen in Mystery Men, Shadow of the Vampire, Ocean’s Twelve/Ocean’s Thirteen, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Igor, and Valkyrie.

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FreeCon poster 2013

It’s a big Con weekend in the Midwest with annual shows in Iowa (see our earlier preview today here) and Kansas.  The eighth annual Free State Comicon will be held this Saturday, October 19, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Lawrence, Kansas.  It will be held in Building #21 of the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 2110 Harper Street where it was located in previous years.  Admission is $5.00.

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I-CON 2013 poster

The Iowa Comic Book Club’s annual I-CON convention will be back this Saturday, October 19, 2013, at Forte Banquet and Conference Center at 615 3rd Street in Des Moines, Iowa.  I-CON has been around for more than a decade and grows each year with more creators and guests.

Oddly enough I-CON has been one great way to access creators of favorite borg.com icons Green Arrow and the Bionic Man.  Past attendees have included Green Arrow writer/artist Mike Grell and classic Green Arrow writer Denny O’Neil, and this year two writers of the Bionic Man series are in the line-up.

Ant Lucia Superman and Lois Lane

Ant Lucia print.

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Elite Comics zombies

Shambling goons?  Zombies in our midst?  It’s not a horror version of The Fellowship of the Ring but a new ad promoting Elite Comics’s Free Comic Book Day of the Dead.

Airing in certain Kansas City metro area markets during new episodes of this season’s Walking Dead on AMC, and created by store owner William Binderup and local filmmaker David Matheny (My Stepdad’s a Freakin’ Vampire), the ad features a local zombie group and cosplayers, and a cameo by certain Marvel Comics writer and store regular, Jason Aaron (Wolverine, Scalped), as a steely-eyed zombie.

Jason Aaron as zombie in Elite Comics ad

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New Girl Season 2 DVD

If you want to know why three cast members of the Fox TV series New Girl were up for Emmys last year, just get a copy of New Girl: The Complete Second Season, now available on DVD.  With yet another episode last night, New Girl is still cranking out laughs in its third season every Tuesday night.  New Girl has become the surest way to get a quick dose of laugh-out-loud humor on network or cable television.  The only frustrating thing about New Girl is that each episode is less than half an hour, and it always feels like it is over too fast.  And that makes it that much more fun to watch 25 episodes at a few hours per viewing with the DVD set.

Jess models a car in New Girl episode Models

Season Two finally saw series star Zooey Deschanel’s Jess hook up with Jake Johnson’s Nick, the poster boy for the lazy post-college set.  Deschanel was nominated for leading actress in a comedy series for her work in Season Two and it’s no wonder–she’s fun, quirky, and smart.  Season Two also saw Max Greenfield’s performance as Schmidt nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series.  It’s hard to think of the last actor that worked as hard as Greenfield does for a laugh, finding himself constantly in the most embarrassing and over-the-top circumstances.  Deschanel and Greenfield have made themselves actors to watch for whether in TV appearances (Deschanel in Bones and Weeds, Greenfield in Veronica Mars and Castle) or in movies (Deschanel in Elf and The Happening).

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PBS is airing a new documentary series tonight and re-broadcast October 22 focusing on the impact of comic book superheroes on America and American culture, in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.  It’s a good history lesson in the creation of the modern comic book and the development since the 1930s of the comic book art form.  Packed with interviews with key creators and industry professionals, and comic book page and TV and movie clips, it tells a history of America as much as the comic book medium.

Not surprisingly the documentary, funded by both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, focuses on U.S. comics and comic stories tied to patriotism across the past 100 years.  Written and directed by Michael Kantor, it covers how changing times is mirrored in comics, but also dictates the stories of comics, from the Great Depression, to World War II, McCarthyism in the 1950s and the Cold War in the 1960s to 1980s, the psychedelic 1960s, drugs in the 1970s, to Watergate and terrorism.

Liev Schreiber hosts Superheroes on PBS

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Bionic Crisis game

How often do you find your favorite game on the Web playable for free?

When I was a kid, my favorite board game was Bionic Crisis.  It was based on The Six Million Dollar Man TV series and was a close cousin to my brother’s favorite board game, the three-dimensional Sub Search, which was a classic hide-and-seek game like Battleship.  Bionic Crisis had a deck of cards, red and yellow Lite-Brite pegs, and a pile of circuit board cards that fit in one of four orange, plastic video-game looking consoles.

After borg.com launched, my brother found me an original edition of the other board game based on the TV series–The Six Million Dollar Man game.  It featured a fairly standard move-around-the-board format, where players had to complete four missions via four playing pieces, a deck of cards and a “high-tech” looking spinner.

Six Million Dollar Man game

Now, our friends at the Six Million Dollar Blog have created two online versions of these classic Parker Brothers board games, and you can play them both now or any time for free.

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