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Archive for May, 2016


Nick finale five

Review by C.J. Bunce

With NBC’s recently announced decision to renew Grimm for a sixth season, the network indicated it knows what TV viewers know:  The fifth season was simply fantastic, full of gripping writing and a change-up of character roles in a way we’ve never seen before.  Who knew a horror series full of fantasy, magic, and monsters could fare so well?  And who knew Grimm would outlast so many competing shows?  Constantine, Hannibal, and Dracula fizzled out but Grimm is still going strong.

In fact, if Friday night’s season five, two-hour finale is any indication, nothing can stop this action-filled freight train of fun.  Grimm’s completely new universe of storytelling surprised us year after year.  But last night we saw some of the best action, twists and turns, and flat-out excitement than we’ve seen on any TV show this year.  This is the same series that, back in the fall of 2011, no one believed it had a chance against the ABC/Disney fantasy Once Upon a Time. 

Grimm crew

So many factors make this a standout series that will stand the test of time and make a great re-watchable series in syndication one day.  It’s not another New York or Los Angeles or even a Vancouver-based series.  It is another “save the city” series like The Flash and Arrow, but it uses the lavishly dark, forest-trimmed Portland, Oregon as its background for an all-out war over the supernatural world.  Local supporting roles are filled with the local acting community, which grounded the show.  The main cast proved their range and revealed that each individual–from David Giuntoli to Claire Coffee to Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Bree Turner and Sasha Roiz–will likely go on to even bigger roles once the series wraps.  CGI and make-up monsters provided us that “monster of the week” series we’ve missed since classic episodes of The X-Files. 

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Wil Wheaton standing room only crowd at Planet Comicon 2013

In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like legendary writer/artist Howard Chaykin, artist Bill Sienkiewicz, and of course, Stan “The Man” Lee, the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living.  Planet Comicon 2016 is no different.

Area creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who will have his own lines of fans getting his Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and Disney artist Bryan Fyffe, selling his hand-framed, incredibly vibrant and diverse collection of prints.  Bryan also has a Con exclusive–his variant cover edition of the latest Lady Death series.

Make sure you get a copy of Issue #1 of the awesome new series Barrens from writer C.W. Cooke and artist Bryan Timmins–the debut of the series is this weekend.

Planet Comicon 2014

Authors Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore are scheduled to attend, along with trading card artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, and comic book creators Jai Nitz, Seth Peck, Phil Hester, and Greg Smallwood.

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Star Trek 2017 TV Series Logo

It’s not much but the first teaser for the next Star Trek television series could be telling.  It features the new logo for the series, which doesn’t air until 2017, following the 50 year anniversary of the original 1960s series.  It features familiar notes from the classic Star Trek theme, and a journey through the stars similar to the footage that accompanies the end credits to the J.J. Abrams movies.

CBS presents a new adventure.  New Crews.  New Villains.  New Heroes.  New Worlds.

The “New Worlds” shows an attempt to return to the series’ roots, the search for strange new worlds.  But it’s the plurals that may be sharing some of what fans have been after.  New Crews?  So will this be a series of one-shot episodes?  A series of multi-episode story arcs?  An all-out anthology?  The reboot Battlestar Galactica offered up a reasonably successful spin-off following another vessel’s exploits.  Is that the kind of story the new producers are working on?  Or will each season follow another strange new world and crew?

We still know nothing about the sixth Star Trek series, but fans are hopeful.  Check out this first teaser for the series:

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Mr robot

’round and ’round we go…

Last year television viewers were saying domo arigato to USA Network’s new series Mr. ROBOT, a new show providing a strange, mind-blowing look into the world of a subversive malcontent in the age of high-tech gadgets and shadowy subculture.  With top-notch, successful series like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar under its belt, USA Network proved it had another winner on its hands, and that you don’t have to be HBO or Showtime to produce compelling television.  An intense, psychological thrill ride, Mr. ROBOT was the cream of the crop in a season of new series including CW Network’s Stitchers, ABC’s The Whispers, Syfy’s Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Expanse, TNT’s Proof, AMC’s Humans, Netflix’s Between and BBC America’s Orphan Black, CW’s iZombie, and Fox’s Wayward Pines.  Mr. ROBOT is back this summer and we have the first preview of what promises to be an exciting second season.

Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, Medium, 24, Battleship, The Legend of Korra), returns as Elliot, a tech for a cyber-security consulting firm, a drug addict, a loner, a genius.  But what is he really, and will we learn anything true about him this season?  Is he Hero, Villain, Vigilante, Cyber-terrorist, or something of each? Will that dark and gritty, fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller-style continue?

Malek Robot

Check out this preview for Season 2.0 of Mr. ROBOT:

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TZoneShadow02-Cov-A-Francavilla   Masks2TP-COVER-

Tomorrow is Wednesday and that means Comic Book Day.  So we have selected several previews of key titles that you’ll find at your local comic book store.  Xena: Warrior Princess, The Twilight Zone: The Shadow, Masks 2 trade edition, Red Sonja, and Grumpy Cat are among many new books being released tomorrow.

Today’s previews are all courtesy of Dynamite Comics.  Fans of The Shadow and women with swords will get a double dose of fantasy action this week.

Xena2016-02-Cov-A-Frison    RSvol3-05-Cov-A-Sauvage

Check out hi-resolution previews of he next issues of all these titles after the break:

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pizzaboy iii cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

What comic book series would you like see adapted to film that hasn’t yet been tried?  The big superheroes–and many small ones–have now made their marks, along with the likes of stories from independent or creator-owned origins like From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Cowboys and Aliens, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Hellboy, RED, R.I.P.D., Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even small screen shows like The Walking Dead, iZombie, and now Wynonna Earp.  Ask me what comic book series I would like to see translated to film the most and I won’t flinch:  It’s Portuguese writer/musician Felipe Melo and Argentinian artist/designer Juan Cavia’s The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy.  (I’d invest in that film right now).  It’s the most humorous and satisfying series since Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows.  Rich in pop culture references like you’d find in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Leverage, fanboys and fangirls of any franchise will find some all-out fun here.  Now the creators are concluding their series with the final act of an epic trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy III –Requiem, available now from Dark Horse Comics.

Melo and Cavia (and colorist Santiago R. Villa) are the real deal.  Each of their three volumes has a foreword by a legendary film director fan:  John Landis, George A. Romero, and now Tobe Hooper.  Dog Mendonça (pronounced men-dōn’-sah) and PizzaBoy originally appeared in serial form in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.  João Vicente “Dog” Mendonça is an overweight, Portuguese werewolf operating out of a noir era private investigator’s office.  Mendonça has a lanky unpaid pizza delivery boy who becomes a client he calls PizzaBoy.  And he has an assistant–a 6,000 year old demon named Pazuul, who appears as a chain-smoking blonde girl who never speaks out loud.  They’ve saved the world more times than anyone can count, and are pretty blasé about it.

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We reviewed the first volume in the series, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy, here at borg.com back in November 2012.  In the first book the reader becomes a character walking along with the duo as Melo breaks the “third and fourth walls” in a funny and beautifully drawn story.  Mendonça told the reader his own comic book creation story.  In flashback we saw Mendonça’s tumultuous past.  We learned that Mendonça’s father and six sisters were killed during World War II so that bad guys led by a Nazi could capture Mendonça and use his beastly werewolf powers for his owns ends– a tale full of bad circumstances, an epic journey in a small package, and revenge.

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Looking Glass

Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is almost here.  Based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, with Tim Burton producing and James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) in the director’s chair, this film looks like a fantasy lover’s dream.  (We previewed the first trailer for this fantasy film here at borg.com back in November).

Alice

The return of the original cast–and an all-star cast at that–points to another winner ahead following up on the brilliant Alice in Wonderland.  Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Helena Bonham Carter are back, with Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen joining the cast.  Danny Elfman will again be producing the musical score.

Tim Burton just released an extended preview that will convince you this is a must-see:

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pkd-cover-art

The late science fiction writer Philip K. Dick wrote so many short stories and more than 40 novels that included so many creative and futuristic elements that a television series based on his works alone could run as long as The Twilight Zone.  Best known for the novel and story that became Blade Runner and Total Recall and the award-winning novel The Man in the High Castle which recently became an Amazon series, Dick’s works are finally getting adapted in a new television anthology series.

Sony Entertainment announced this week a 10-part series is in the works, Electric Dreams–The World of Philip K. Dick, starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, with noted Star Trek writer Ronald D. Moore producing and writing the series.  Each episode will be a standalone story derived from Dick’s works.  We’re expecting something like an ensemble cast like that used in the Nero Wolfe TV series, with Cranston playing different parts in each story.

Haven’t read any of Dick’s books?  You’ve likely seen several of the movies based on his works: In addition to Blade Runner and Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, A Scanner Darkly, Screamers, Radio Free Albemuth.  Check out our reviews of his novels, previously posted at borg.com here and our archive of hundreds of images of pulp covers created for his works we preserved here.  Many have read his novels, but Dick’s real genius is in his short stories, where in only a few pages he shared ideas of a future and parallel worlds that will make your head spin.

Cranston Comic Con

No U.S. network has picked up the series yet, but we’re guessing it is a prime candidate for the Syfy Channel.

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Fassbender creed

For all the great video game imagery and cosplay out there, the first trailer released this week for Assassin’s Creed is a bit of an undersell.  Michael Fassbender is no doubt going to make this film better than it would otherwise be, but somehow the odd choice of music (a Kanye West song, really?) and the look of a lesser version of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style action flick makes us think someone should go back to the drawing board and make another attempt at a good trailer.

Based on the worldwide popular video game, along with Fassbender it features some Academy Award recognized stars: Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons.  Although it features a battle between assassins and Templars as from the video game and tie-in stories, the characters are updated.

Warcraft, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Doom… where will this next video game adaptation fall?  Check out the first trailer for Assassin’s Creed for yourself:

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First Impressions episode 1

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

We recently previewed USA’s First Impressions, starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Dana Carvey.  The show premiered this week, and it looks like a winner.  The series pits aspiring comics in an “impression off” to wow an audience of judges and a celebrity guest for a prize of $10,000.  It’s not a competition show, like Last Comic Standing; it’s a game show with new contestants every week.  In fact, it feels a bit like a mashup of Lip Sync Battle and Whose Line is it, Anyway?, with a bit of Hollywood Game Night thrown in.

Three contestants offer up their best celebrity impressions in a variety of bits and sketches, while Carvey and a visiting comedian (Steve Carell in the pilot) cheer them on, offer commentary, and occasionally join in the fun.  Prinze keeps the fun moving as host and emcee.

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We’ve been a bit weary of the competition show format, so it’s always nice to see a fresh, upbeat take, without all the season-long drama, eliminations, and infighting.  First Impressions moves swiftly, giving each contestant plenty of time to showcase their talents.  Contestants on the pilot spoofed both perennial favorites like Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, as well as surprising choices like the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde, A Mighty Wind) and Drew Barrymore.  Everyone loves standup comedy, and the impersonators were fun to watch.  But the real draw for the show is Carvey and friends.  Carvey’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and the overall tone of the show is welcoming and collaborative, not combative.  At one point, when two contestants had each done impressions of Sharon Osborne, Carvey leaped from his chair and said, “I want to see the Sharons together,” initiating a joint bit where the comics played off each other.  It was a great moment that took this show to another level–not just game show, but comedy workshop.

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