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Archive for March, 2014


How I Met Your Your Mother cast

If you haven’t been a loyal viewer of How I Met Your Mother since it premiered nine years ago on CBS, you couldn’t help but pick up episodes from time to time in syndication.  Tonight we finally get to see how Ted (Josh Radnor) met his kids’ mother in a one-hour series finale.

Ted’s first meeting with the unseen mother of his two children will be a part of tonight’s show.  It’s expected to follow the characters from 2013 to 2030, where the story began with future Ted (voiced by Bob Saget) talking to his kids.

This season has seen many changes you could not have predicted back in 2005, including the wedding of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders), and a second child for Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan).  If you haven’t been watching the show in its current network run, don’t expect a big reveal of who “the Mother” is to come as a surprise for series regular watchers, as she had her own episode “How Your Mother Met Me” earlier this season and has appeared in 24 episodes since the eighth season.  She will be played again tonight by actress Cristin Milioti.  The big reveal tonight is the “How” of the title.

Ted and The Mother

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thousand dollar tan line rob thomas jennifer graham veronica mars novel

Fresh on the heels of the theatrical release of the Veronica Mars movie (reviewed last week here at borg.com), series creator and movie director Rob Thomas (along with writer Jennifer Graham) have just released its sequel, Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line We’re reviewed several franchise tie-ins and this new novel is among the best.  All that you think you’d need, the familiar characters, setting, and mood are here, but the most important is that inner monologue of Veronica.  Who better to scribe the next story, the immediate aftermath of the events of the movie, and Veronica’s voice than Thomas?

If you’re not already a Veronica Mars fan, the novel has enough of a standalone detective story to make for a good entry point for the series that genre king Joss Whedon referred to as “Best. Show. Ever.  Seriously, I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making, and maybe even more than those… These guys know what they’re doing on a level that intimidates me.  It’s the Harry Potter of shows.”

Veronica back at Mars Investigations

Picking up in the days after the events of the movie and taking place literally in March 2014, the novel allows Veronica and hacker pal Mac to use all the resources of social media and modern technologies to sleuth out two missing young women who vanished on Spring break in the seedy beach town of Neptune, California (as Piz says in the movie, there really is a Hellmouth under there).  Veronica’s dad Keith is slowly recovering from his car wreck injuries.  Logan is off on an aircraft carrier in the Navy.  And Veronica is dead serious about partnering with her dad full-time at Mars Investigations, to his disappointment.

We get to catch up with a character from the series from Veronica’s distant past, as well as a new character that will likely play a key role in future stories for both Veronica and Keith.

Hacker Mac Veronica Mars

Just as true to life as the original series was, Veronica’s relationship with her dad couldn’t be more believable.  She really isn’t going back to New York to become a lawyer.  And she lives at home again.  As much as we’ve cheered Veronica on, as successful as she could be, like Michael Corleone they keep pulling her back to Neptune.  And it turns out the success we hoped to see Mac achieve (shouldn’t she be CEO of a Google or Facebook by now?) is also on a backtrack, as she quits her prestigious job at Kane Software to work for Veronica as hacker and researcher.  How could all of this have gone so wrong for these two?  Rob Thomas’s choices, if disappointing for all who have cheered on these characters, does something important:  it creates the possibility of future movies and novels.

If the Veronica Mars movie and this first Veronica Mars novel is any indication, then fans will be begging for even more Veronica Mars, no matter the format.

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TMNT turtle

They’re not the Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos.  They’re not the Pre-Pubescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.  And they’re not Rocket Raccoon and Groot.  But they are Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo–the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they’re coming back to the theaters in a big-budget, Michael Bay production.

The first trailer is here and the turtles in a half shell are looking pretty good.  And we even get Megan Fox as April, taking on another 1980s toy property franchise after her run in the Transformers movie series.  Shredder is back, too, played by William Fichtner, with Danny Woodburn playing Splinter.

TMNT clip

Check out this first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

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Assassins Creed Ankh Of Isis Trilogy

Whether you’ve played videogames or not, you likely know something about Assassin’s Creed, the game featuring modern time travelers that are able to tap into the minds of their ancestors to seek talismans, avenge the wronged, and put the future on the right track.  The Assassins appear to gameplayers in various historical contexts, wearing variations on that familiar, oft-cosplayed hooded costume, those nifty gauntlets, and an often blood-soaked sword.  The first English translation of the comic book tie-ins of the game are now available in a hardcover compilation from Titan Books and Ubisoft, called Assassin’s Creed: The Ankh of Isis Trilogy.

French writer Eric Corbeyran and artist Djilalli Defaux piece together an epic story broken into three parts, focusing on three characters mired in a world of violence and mistrust.  First, Desmond Miles, a descendant of the Assassins who uses a mind-based time travel method to improve his “genetic memory” by reaching back to his ancestors, similar to Avatar but more like the time travel technology of Connie Willis’s science fiction novelsand Michael Crichton’s Timeline.  Next, Aquilus is an ancestor of Desmond living in ancient Rome who is odds with the men that would become the Templars, and he seeks to avenge his father’s death.  The third part features Accipiter, a deadly Assassin and leader of Barbarians advancing on Lugdunum, as Aquilus seeks the lost talisman of the trilogy, the Ankh of Isis.*

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Hundreds of years of protective rites and honor are balanced between the Assassins and the forces throughout history that oppose them.  The significance and power of names, the interspersed real historical places and conflicts, and engaging characters, make this a better than average tie-in series.  This includes an intrepid scientist in the present day named Lucy Stillman who facilitates the mind-damaging time travel process but aims to protect Desmond from those who would dismiss his value.

To one extent, Assassin’s Creed: The Ankh of Isis Trilogy reads like a simple 1980s era PC role playing game—where you’d enter new rooms, battle a foe and find the hidden relic.  Whether you’re into the more high tech versions in modern gaming or not (and eight million copies of Assassin’s Creed demonstrates there is a real market for this series), any fan of the adventure genre will find this series accessible, with an audience for older teens and up (for language and violence).

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Doctor No book cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Doctor No can be best summed up by a cover blurb from an early paperback edition:  “A beautiful nature girl and secret agent James Bond battle a power-mad maniac on a secluded island of death.”

After reading Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and Moonraker, I had moved ahead to his next book, Diamonds are Forever.  But after several failed attempts to get into the book I decided to skip ahead to his Doctor No, the first Fleming novel to be made into a film, and one of the novels that was adapted fairly closely from the novel to film.  An enjoyable read, Doctor No looks into the psyche of James Bond more than Fleming’s first three novels, and ends up as a pretty interesting look at Jamaica in the 1950s.

Doctor No cover

Where you might read Casino Royale and see Daniel Craig as Bond as you read, Doctor No is all Sean Connery.  This Bond is a hardened but flawed character, with incredible perception and skills, but also solidly footed in the 1950s.  Fleming begins with his best introduction so far, which on film seemed a bit silly, yet in print it just seems a bit creepy:  Three blind “Chinamen” eliminate a British intelligence agent working out of Jamaica.  We experience the classic scene where M takes away Bond’s famous Walther handgun, and M sets Bond on what he hopes to be a simple case of a two government employees running off together.

From that point Bond trips through a set of odd facts and a MacGuffin that sounds like the script to John Grisham’s much later novel, The Pelican Brief.   Here it is a private (fictional) island called Crab Key, sought out by the Audubon Society to protect a species of birds, of economic interest for its tonnage of guano, and controlled by a Chinese recluse named Dr. Julius No.  If you can dodge the 1950s era stereotyping of the Chinese and Blacks, that never seems to wane throughout the novel, you’ll find a good adventure.  You’ll also find one of his more appealing “Bond girls” in Honey Ryder, a woman Bond encounters as he is trespassing on Dr. No’s island to investigate why Dr. No would have reason to murder the British operative.

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Cruise in Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise.  No matter the character, no matter the story, no matter the director, he just can’t make a bad movie.  Last year’s release, Jack Reacher, available now on Netflix streaming and DVD and Blu-ray, is another home run.  But for the lackluster title and so-so marketing effort, Jack Reacher might have been a really big hit last year.  Cruise turns in a solid performance again, similar to his high-calibre lead acting in last year’s sci-fi release Oblivion, reviewed here at borg.com.  Later this year the 51-year-old screen legend is back again, in another sci-fi release, Edge of Tomorrow, with co-star Emily Blunt.

Jack Reacher, odd name aside, could be one of those heroes you compare to Harry Callahan, Frank Bullitt, or a Daniel Craig-era James Bond.  The character is that good, as is Cruise’s fit into the role of a smart and tough drifter who turns to the aid of a comatose defendant and his struggling defense attorney in the case of a shocking, random mass shooting.  Cruise’s drifter is also ex-military, the kind of ex-military that can take on a group of thugs by himself, and take part in a big-screen shoot-‘em up.  We see Reacher learning and growing as he tries to make all the right moves–and get constantly set back–throughout the movie, not something many films give audiences much of these days.  He thinks like a lawyer or detective and does so believably, and Cruise taps into his work in The Firm or A Few Good Men, making Reacher a good follow-on for fans of those films.

Duvall and Cruise in Jack Reacher

As Reacher attempts to find the top gunman at a rifle range, we find Robert Duvall in another great role similar to his work in A Civil Action, this time as a craggy expert with a rifle.  Along the way we meet several villains, including one played by A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney, but far and away the most intriguing is writer/director/producer Werner Herzog as what could be a Bond villain as “Zec”.  Creepy.  Vile.  Evil.  He gives a pawn who screwed-up a choice: death, or chew off his own fingers.  Yikes.  Rosamund Pike (Surrogates, Pride and Prejudice) excels as the defense attorney in several scenes with the opportunity to convey a wide range of emotions for a single film–and cinematography by (Zooey and Emily’s dad) Caleb Deschanel (The Right Stuff, The Natural, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, National Treasure), gives her plenty of well-timed, stare-into-the-camera close-ups.

Rosamund Pike in Jack Reacher

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Rocky and Bullwinkle cover 1

“Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.”

It must be pretty hard to take a classic property and bring it to the present with the same zing that made it popular years ago.  Publishers continue to try over and over again and usually the effort misses the mark–the original voice is hard to mimic, and the heart of the characterization is never grasped just right.  The exceptions can be found in places like Dynamite Comics’ pulp masked hero monthlies.  Now IDW Publishing has managed to bring the humor and look that we remember so well from the mind of Jay Ward in the 1960s and 1970s back to us as if it never left with its new Rocky & Bullwinkle series.

Like the original series, which featured the moose named Bullwinkle and his flying squirrel pal Rocky, we get the arch-enemies of Boris and Natasha.  Interspersed between stories of Rocky & Bullwinkle we also get that affable Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right and his classic moustached villain, Snidely.  Mr. Peabody and Sherman, who played in segments in the original cartoon, now have their own monthly at IDW, so we don’t know if we’ll see them back here very soon.  But in Issue #1 we get plenty of the same humor and art stylings that we enjoyed in the original cartoons with the other characters.  The voice of each of Bullwinkle and Rocky are simply dead-on.  Even the voice of the narrator, the sign fonts, the environments, and the other characters, all mirror the original show.

If nostalgia is your thing, and you’re after some of that innocent humor kids of all ages will appreciate, look no further than the new Rocky & Bullwinkle.  After the break, check out a seven-page preview of Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

R&B p3

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Legenderry03CovIncenConceptSMDM

We at borg.com have been pretty excited about Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez Davila’s new monthly Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure.  So much so that our resident author and frequent TV and movie reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce cosplayed one of the characters at Planet Comicon last week (and Willingham said yesterday on Twitter it may be the first time anyone cosplayed one of his non-Fables characters!).  Check out our earlier review of Issues #1 and #2 of the series here.  Call it steampunk, steam-noir, or as Willingham prefers “steampulp,” the new series is moving full steam ahead with the Dynamite Comics arsenal of licensed characters from the past and telling their story in a fun, new way.  And what’s more exciting than taking the Bionic Man in a new direction?

Last month we sneaked a peek at future marketing blurbs and knew this was coming, but the origin story of Major Steve Austin and scientist pal Oscar Goldman was even more intriguing than we could have hoped for.  The opening image of Steve Austin in a wheel chair–the result of some experimental flying gone wrong and an “uncooperative autogyro”–is just plain inspired.

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Austin’s first mission with his $6,000 worth of prosthetics comes about when Captain Victory’s dirigible encounters a disaster in-flight.  Austin and Goldman’s chummy banter is immediately believable and true to their mirror universe 1970s incarnation.

The Six Thousand Dollar Man’s design, both in this month’s Legenderry Issue #3, and the formal look on the cover, has set up a gentlemanly steampunk hero whose exploits, whatever they come to be, could take on the best of the genre–if given a chance.

After the break, check out this preview of Legenderry, Issue #3, from Dynamite Comics, featuring the first appearance of The Six Thousand Dollar Man:

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Veronica Mars movie poster official

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Diehard Marshmallows who didn’t spend last weekend at Planet Comicon will have seen the movie version already.  Those of us who had to slave away at a booth hawking books for three days had to wait.  But what’s another week after ten years of pining for our favorite girl detective?

Famously bankrolled by fans in an innovative Kickstarter campaign last year, Rob Thomas’s big-screen reunion of his short-lived TV series, Veronica Mars, felt like falling into another episode (except ten years on, the drinking, sex, and swearing has all grown up… and somehow feels a little uncomfortable now).  The whole gang is back–Mars (Kristen Bell) and father Keith (Enrico Colantoni, Galaxy Quest), ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring, Ringer), hacker pal Mac (Tina Majorino, Andre, Corrina, Corrina), biker pal Weevil (Francis Capra), sweet socialite Gia Woodman (Krysten Ritter), even our favorite disgraced deputy, Leo (Max Greenfield, now in New Girl).  A couple of lively new additions, including Gaby Hoffman (Field of Dreams, Uncle Buck), and Jerry O’Connell (Sliders, Stand by Me) as Sheriff Dan Lamb (brother of slain series sheriff, and Mr. Mars’s archrival, Don Lamb) round out the cast.

Veronica Mars back at Mars Investigations

On the brink of her ten-year Neptune High reunion, Veronica Mars finds herself a little too settled, with a good job as a slick New York attorney and a good relationship with college boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell, Private Practice) waiting for her.  But good news!  Troubled ex-boyfriend Logan has been accused of murder again.  Veronica to the rescue, much to the chagrin of father and boyfriend.

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Mars Attacks 50th anniversary book

You’ve heard of Mars Attacks, but do you know the origin of Mars Attacks?  A 1950s serial?  A pulp magazine series?  Strangely enough, Mars Attacks was an idea created by Len Brown and Woody Gelman for a 1962 set of 54 Topps trading cards.  Those oversized-brain Martians first conquered Earth with a piece of pink bubble gum, and bridged sci-fi and horror like never before.  One of my favorite areas of collecting as a kid were trading cards, what collectors today categorize as “non-sports trading cards.”  I collected any card that came in a loaf of bread, cards that came on the backs of boxes of cereal, and cards given away at Burger King.

It’s not likely that many people actually got their hands on the 1962 of Topps trading cards, as explained in Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection, the latest in Abrams Comicarts’ series of bubble gum-inspired books including Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, and Bazooka Joe and His Gang 60th Anniversary Collection, both reviewed previously here at borg.com.  The original Topps card set was not well-received by parents and teachers because of its graphic depictions of burning bodies, exploding, mutilated, and sliced-up people and animals by the vile Martian invaders.  So the card set had a limited run.  The result is a collectible that would cost you $25,000 in order to acquire a complete card set.  Which makes this new book a great way to see what we missed.

marsattacksburningfleshcard

Creators Brown and Gelman were surprised by the backlash against the cards.  According to Brown, “Our Civil War set was just as gory as Mars Attacks.  I suspect because it was historical, people just felt that kids were learning, so the violence was okay.”  Brown, Gelman, and artist Norm Saunders were told to go back to the drawing board several times even before the series was released, to correct women who were too scantily dressed, and update skeletal remains with some flesh.

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