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Archive for January, 2017


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The 1908 children’s book The Wind in the Willows is one of those fantastic books that belong on the shelf along with The Hobbit, Winnie the Pooh, and Huckleberry Finn.  Seven famous illustrators (and countless others) over the years have provided the visual representations of Kenneth Grahame’s famous Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger including Paul Bransom, Ernest H. Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Tasha Tudor, Michael Hague, Scott McKowen, and Robert Ingpen.  Tomorrow IDW Publishing is releasing its own hardcover edition, and we can add David Petersen to the list of great illustrators taking on this classic work.

The Wind in the Willows was a three-year project for Petersen, the artist who brought a new generation the anthropomorphic world of brave mice in his Mouse Guard series.  Petersen supplied twenty full-color illustrations and fifty pen and ink illustrations for this new edition of Grahame’s book.  Fans of Petersen’s mice will find similar themes here, including an unexpected journey, daring adventure, and humorous tales of the riverbank.  Check out a preview below courtesy of IDW Publishing.

You’ll meet Mole, tired of house cleaning and seeking adventures along the riverbank, who finds the accommodating and friendly Rat, and together they join up with the obnoxious but redeemable Toad, and the solitary Badger helps them all in the book’s exciting finale.  Content to enjoy the pastoral life of countryside England, but ready when called to protect their friends and show their bravery, these animals provide a guide for kids to be good to others, respect each other, and embrace the differences in others.  Friendship, living in a community, leaving each to his or her own activities or mixing in and having adventures together–there is room for everyone in the Wild Wood.

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As for the original story, the word choice is magnificent–each sentence of Kenneth Grahame’s narrative is pure, lavish artistry and a joy to read.  It’s no wonder President Theodore Roosevelt helped get the original edition published–he’d read the book over and over, and later said he considered the animal characters as old friends.

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It’s one of our favorite science fiction tropes–the time loop–filmed in one of our favorite locations, Squamish, B.C.  We can’t get enough of time loops, whether we’re watching Groundhog Day, Source Code, Final Destination, TiMER, Haunter, Looper, or ARQ, or television shows Tru Calling or Early Edition, or episodes from Haven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, The X-Files, Star Trek, or Xena–Warrior Princess, waking up to and trying to deal with a repeated deja vu day is just plain fun–but only for the viewer.  Check out our previous discussions of time loops at borg.com here and here.

The latest time loop movie is more of a teen romance mystery than your typical science fiction time loop vehicle–an adaptation of Before I Fall, a young adult novel by author Lauren Oliver.  This film appears to have more in common with Final Destination, Donnie Darko, and Butterfly Effect–a teenager named Samantha played by Zoey Deutsch (Ringer) is involved in an auto accident, and wakes up to repeat the day, again and again.  The mystery is found in how she faces the same day, what she does with her time, and whether she can make her way out.

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One factor in this film’s favor is its shooting location in scenic Squamish, north of Vancouver, British Columbia, filming location for Star Trek Beyond, Walking Tall, and many other films and TV shows (discussed previously here).

Here are two trailers for Before I Fall:

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Space… The Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the I.S.S. Enterprise.  Its continuing mission: to conquer strange new worlds, to enslave new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no one has gone before.

First there was “Mirror, Mirror” in the original Star Trek.  Then there was Deep Space Nine’s “Crossover,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “Shattered Mirror,” “Resurrection,” and “The Emperor’s New Cloak.”  Then “In a Mirror, Darkly” on Enterprise.  The closest we got in Star Trek Voyager was seeing Kes’s evil side in “Warlord,” or the Voyager crew depicted as cutthroat villains in “Living Witness.”   But what about Star Trek: The Next Generation?  With all the episodes playing off of the original series, how did the writers miss an opportunity for mirror versions of Picard, Riker, Worf, Data, Crusher, Troi, LaForge, and Yar?

Dynamic writing duo Scott Tipton and David Tipton and stellar artist J.K. Woodward are making up for the gap with a new IDW Publishing series coming later this year: Star Trek: The Next Generation–Mirror Broken.  But first, everyone will be able to go to their local comic book shop this May 6 for the annual Free Comic Book Day to get their own free prequel issue for the series.  After the break below is a preview featuring fan-favorite character Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, the sometimes bumbling, sometimes awkward, sometimes outright genius Starfleet engineer from both NextGen and Star Trek Voyager.  But first, how incredible are these original painted images of the cover of the FCBD issue?  Star Trek fans already know J.K. Woodward, the multi-year borg.com “Best of the Year” artist from his past work on Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who–Assimilation², Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, and the Star Trek 50 Years, 50 Artists art exhibition.

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According to early solicitations, the Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries, Mirror Broken will reveal the Mirror Universe like never before:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the I.S.S. Stargazer will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Terran Empire’s newest starship, the Enterprise-D.

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Every few years we cycle through a new Tarzan, a new Jungle Book, and a new King Kong.  Maybe it’s time for a new Conan?  A new Flash Gordon?  All of these classic stories will be made and remade forever.  They are timeless classics of fantasy for each generation to meet for the first time.

The latest is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island.  After several lesser sequels to the Jurassic Park franchise, why not show us a similar idea, but let the filmmakers have some fun with it?  Samuel L. Jackson is showcased like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando or Predator.  It’s about time we saw Jackson take on a tough guy action role like this.  And John C. Reilly should make for some good comic relief.

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The monsters look great, and you’ll get the idea that cinematographer Larry Fong was given the brass ring to lay on extra layers of fun.  The man behind the camera for Super 8, Watchmen, 300, and the next Predator movie offers up explosions galore here, an Apocalypse Now riff there.  And an entire Land of the Lost full of oversized creatures.

Check out these fun new trailers for Kong: Skull Island:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Viewers know in the first ten minutes of Riverdale that the show is going to be a winner.  Archie Comics has had 75 years to perfect its ageless story of a guy, two gals, and a bunch of friends living in Everytown, USA.  Not many comic book series are so good to successfully draw in fans year after year for so long.  With The CW’s drama Riverdale, you’ll wonder why it took so long to bring these characters to television.  The series may also give the Twin Peaks reboot some competition this year.

World building is still a requirement for a TV pilot–the writers can’t assume we all knew each character and where they fit in.  So it’s impressive most of what viewers need to know is delivered before the first commercial break.  By the end of the pilot episode, one of the age-old questions is answered, too, at least temporarily: Is Archie Andrews (played by a perfectly cast K.J. Apa) going to go after sweet and innocent Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) or seductive and fiery Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes)?

Riverdale -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: RVD101g_0002.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): KJ Apa as Archie and Lili Reinhart as Betty -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

Jughead (Cole Sprouse) serves as narrator for the first episode, a loner documenting the summer’s big event: death in a small town, via laptop at his table at the all-night burger joint.  But it’s new girl Veronica that we follow through town via a path similar to Buffy Summers looking to find a friend or two in the pilot to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Veronica befriends Betty and the chemistry is instantaneous.  Appropriately distracted Archie is almost a third wheel.  We’re immediately in Veronica’s corner after she punches the head cheerleader in the face with a perfectly delivered, dressing-down, and we’re equally cheering for Betty to get all the good that she deserves.

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Life’s like a movie… write your own ending… keep believing… keep pretending…

Throughout the past year Brad Meltzer, noted fiction and non-fiction author and television personality (and DC Comics writer for the Identity Crisis and Green Arrow series) joined former Marvel Comics artist Christopher Eliopoulos to produce the Ordinary People Change the World series of books for young readers from Dial/Penguin/Random House.  Each of these could–or should–be your child, your nephew, niece, grandchild, or other young friend’s first book.  Back in September we previewed the most recent books in the series here at borg.com, featuring Dr. Jane Goodall and President George Washington.  This month Meltzer and Eliopoulos are releasing their latest inspirational and educational book for kids, I am Jim Henson.

What is incredible about this book in the series is Eliopoulos’s success in seemingly including every Muppet you can think of one way or another, all his fuzzy and beloved characters from both Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  From Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy to Yoda and the movies Henson created, details of Henson’s life that will interest his fans are all here.  Meltzer, writing in first person as Henson, recreates Henson’s influences and youth.  Most importantly, Henson’s love of magic, imagination, and learning, and characters who taught everyone about laughter and kindness, will inspire new generations to look at his works again, and maybe even create their own.

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Meltzer and Eliopoulos know Henson’s characters like fans do–some of the most memorable lines and images of them can be found tucked into the background and corners of each page.

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Today Dynamite Entertainment is releasing a classic run of Xena: Warrior Princess stories first published in 2006 and 2007.  The collection includes great stories of Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Autolycus, and Callisto, written by John Layman and Keith Champagne, with interior artwork by Fabiano Neves and Noah Salonga, and cover art by Stiepan Sejik.

Xena: Warrior Princess Omnibus Vol. 1 is a trade paperback edition collecting in full color the monthly series Xena, Volume 1, Issues #1-4, and Dark Xena #1-4, and the one-shot Xena Annual #1.

The Omnibus includes the complete “Contest of Pantheons” and “Dark Xena” storylines written by Layman, plus the “Strange Visitor” story from Xena Annual #1.

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Xena and her friends find themselves in a feud with the Gods themselves, Gabrielle makes a misstep throwing Xena into her own “mirror universe” persona, and they all come face to face with a visitor from out of this world.  Check out a preview of Xena: Warrior Princess Omnibus Vol. 1 after the break:

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Funko released advance images of several new lines of toys for this week’s London Toy Fair 2017.  The highlight of the images include two lines of figures from Twin Peaks, plus figures from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Donnie Darko, among others.  The nice sculpt of Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks will be a must for fans of the classic series who are looking forward to this year’s sequel series on Showtime.  The preview photo does not include what accessory will accompany Cooper.  A doughnut?  A cup of coffee?  A piece of pie?  His voice recorder?  We’re betting on the coffee.

Another big win is a Funko Dorbz figure of everyone’s third favorite fictional rabbit, Frank from Donnie Darko.  The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Funko Pop! line includes new characters like

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And here is a look at the Funko Pop! version of blue-haired Scarlett Johansson’s lead borg character Major from Ghost in the Shell:

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The Funko ReAction Twin Peaks action figures are hopefully only a taste of what is to come.  The first round includes Cooper, the Log Lady, Bob the killer, and dead Laura Palmer (eww):

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Japan toymaker S.H. FiguArts is setting a new standard in small-sized action figures representing the state of the art of sculpt design technology from Bandai Toys, the fourth largest toy company in the world.  Designed to mimic the range of motion of the human body, the series aims to focus on “Simple Style” and “Heroic Action.”

Arguably the best of these new designs is the S.H. FiguArts new Doctor Strange figure, designed specifically for the U.S. market, available later this year.  The “Doctor Strange & Burning Flame Set” is a high-end 6-inch figure, about 1:12 scale.  Doctor Strange’s facial expressions are replicated with superb detail utilizing Tamashii Nations’ digital coloring technology, a printing technique that enables reproduction of minute details in the creation of expressions–in this case–true to Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal in last year’s blockbuster film, Doctor Strange.

The figure is available for pre-order now from both Amazon here and Entertainment Earth here.  This set is sold by special arrangement only in the U.S.

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Check out more photos and product details after the cut.

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This year Buffy Summers, one of the greatest characters in the history of sci-fi and fantasy television and the #1 kick-ass heroine of all time in any medium celebrates a major benchmark as the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns twenty.  Dark Horse Comics–publisher of the Buffy comic books and related characters from the series including titles featuring Angel, Spike, and Faith–announced this past week that a new trade edition of its Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years monthly series is available for pre-order, and an adult coloring book for the series was released last week.

The television series was groundbreaking, its first episode airing March 10, 1997, on The WB.  With high school and college as a backdrop, the incomparable showrunner Joss Whedon was able to address racism, identity, bullying, guilt, death, first love, and heartbreak using demons as metaphors.  Never before on television had a teenage girl been empowered like Buffy, with smart writing, lovable characters, fun monster-of-the-week episodes, action-packed choreographed battles, and emotional and dramatic arcs that continued over seven years from 1997 to 2003.  Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, would go on to inspire other great shows with smart, strong, and empowered young women, including Veronica Mars and iZombie.

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It’s a subject of debate among Buffy fans, but some of the best episodes and story arcs of the series can be found in the first seasons of the series.  Dark Horse’s new collected edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years, titled Parental Parasite, taps into fans’ nostalgia, taking readers back to the first season of the series, when Buffy’s mom starts to want more “quality time” just as Buffy must secretly fend of monsters as part of her nightly slaying duties.

Dark Horse has taken Buffy all the way into four seasons of stories beyond the finale of the TV series.  Check out a cover gallery after the cut, and links to hardcover and trade editions of Seasons 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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