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Archive for March, 2017


Next week Quirk Books is releasing its follow-up look at the obscure side of comic books with The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains, a companion book to its 2015 release The League of Regrettable Superheroes (reviewed previously here at borg.com).  Cartoonist and graphic designer Jon Morris has again researched the archives of Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus to locate oddities from the Golden Age of comics to more recent series.

Morris collected more than 100 of these antagonists of the comic page, many only serving their plot in a single issue of a long forgotten publication.  These are villains that today seem laughable as bad guys, like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, Bloor (The Dictator of Uranus), The Horrible Hand (a giant hand), and The Human Flying Fish.  The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains is a great excuse to look back to the roots of comicdom, its creators, and the publications that have come and gone.  Morris’s overview of the far recesses of the Golden Age of comics may remind readers of the changing times–the changing audiences–for comic books, and how the industry has grown.  Creators of the obscure are mentioned in the book when known, and sidebars list plenty of humorous weaknesses of these vile fellows.  The Balloon Maker is particularly nefarious, and a baddie before his time–he’s something out of House of Wax or Silence of the Lambs.  As much as some entries are obscure, others, like MODOK, are better known–but still strange.

   

You’ll see plenty of examples of full color covers and interior art from the characters represented, as well as characters created by legends in comics like Dick Sprang, Frank Frazetta, Gill Fox, Jack Cole, Otto Binder, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Simon, Neal Adams, and John Romita.

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Last seen in the theater 62 years ago, author Daphne du Maurier’s novel My Cousin Rachel is returning to theaters next week in a new adaptation.  Although the title may sound like a somber, pastoral story you might see from the likes of Jane Austen, get ready for a psychological thriller that could only come from the pen of the author of Rebecca and The Birds.  Film adaptations of both of those films would become thriller classics for director Alfred Hitchcock, with Rebecca as the 1941 Best Picture Academy Award winner.  The original 1952 adaptation of My Cousin Rachel starred multiple Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Rachel, a beautiful Englishwoman believed to have murdered a man under her care.  de Havilland’s sister, Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, had been nominated for an Oscar for Rebecca.

This time around Roger Michell (Hyde Park on Hudson, Notting Hill) wrote a new adaptation of du Maurier’s novel and directs the film.  He cleverly cast an Oscar-winning Rachel for the role of Rachel–Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Mummy)–whose performance looks quite convincing in the first trailer released for the film.  Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) plays Rachel’s cousin, the role originally played by Richard Burton.

The overall look and feel from the film’s trailer is similar to other Gothic novels made into movies: dark, creepy, and mysterious, particularly in the romance between the two lead actors, like that found in Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and more recently, Crimson Peak.  Check out this trailer for My Cousin Rachel:

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Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula is a series of novels and short stories that began in 1992, showcasing an elaborate and detailed parallel history of Earth set between 1888 and 1990 (so far), where Bram Stoker’s Dracula is really a biographical account of the real Count, and the Count controls England by winning the hand of Queen Victoria.  Anno Dracula is a steampunk mix of fictional characters and real people spanning a century in a bit of a The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Legenderry construct.  Writers take note:  If you want to see a master storybuilder in action, read Newman–few authors have a such a command of their subjects as Newman has of vampire lore and film.  Check out our interview with Newman back in 2013 here at borg.com, as well as our reviews of his sequels to the novel Anno Dracula:  Dracula Cha Cha Cha here, and Johnny Alucard here.

Gunga Din, Fu Manchu, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Lestat de Lioncourt (from Interview with the Vampire), Prince Mamuwalde (from Blacula), Doctor Moreau, Count Orlok (from Nosferatu), Allan Quatermain, and even Carl Kolchak from The Night Stalker all show up in the early stories of Newman’s fantasy world, alongside real people of the past like Billy the Kid, Catherine the Great, Joseph Merrick, William Morris, Beatrice Potter, and Orson Welles.  Newman’s entirely new story is in the form of a comic book series, Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem, published by Titan Comics and illustrated by Paul McCaffrey.  Here is the summary of the series, which will see its first issue available this week:

1895.  Prince Dracula has ruled Great Britain for ten years, spreading vampirism through every level of society.  On the eve of Dracula’s Jubilee, radical forces gather to oppose the tyrant.  Kate Reed, vampire journalist and free-thinker, takes a seat on the revolutionary Council of Seven Days, though she learns that the anarchist group harbors a traitor in its midst.  The Grey Men, Dracula’s dreaded secret police, have been ordered to quash all resistance to the rule of the arch-vampire.  With intrigue on all sides, the scene is set for an explosive addition to the Anno Dracula series.
   
Look for Thomas Edison, and his powerful, recurring leading women characters Kate Reed and Penelope Churchward in this all-new story, plus many more familiar names.  A variety of great covers to the first issue are available, with artwork by Paul McCaffrey, Tom Mandrake, Brian Williamson, Jeff Zornow, and Mike Collins.  Check out this preview of Issue #1 from Titan Comics:

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If you’re enjoying CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we are, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Actually we wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into the back of the joint on the television series since he lost his home at the drive-in theater, which recently closed.  This month Archie Comics is taking Jughead to a dark place and asks: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?

When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family’s dark legacy comes to light. 

It’s Jughead: The Hunger.  It’s a story that will be a prime target for fans of the successful and popular series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

   

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) team-up for an oversized Archie Horror one-shot.  Check out this preview courtesy of Archie Comics:

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As Rock and Roll is concerned, there was no one bigger than Chuck Berry–no one that more great musicians credited with their own successes, and no one more synonymous with the music multiple generations think of when they hear a singer holding a guitar leading a band with a lively, loud, and fast rhythm, bending guitar strings and blending styles, as well as the very image of the brash, cocky headliner across the world today we know simply as the “rock star”.  Berry passed away this weekend at the age of 90.  Unforgettable hits Johnny B. Goode, Maybelline, No Particular Place To Go, Roll Over Beethoven, My Ding-a-Ling, My Tambourine, and Sweet Little Sixteen only highlight his long career.

Even modern generations know his name thanks to a joke in Back to the Future, where Michael J. Fox plays his trademark song Johnny B. Goode with a band that happens to include a fictional cousin of Chuck Berry named Marvin.  The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys all incorporated elements from Berry’s music, including covering his songs.  John Lennon said of Berry, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might have called it Chuck Berry.”  Berry never stopped performing.  Only five years ago Berry performed Johnny B. Goode at a concert in his honor with modern legends including fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC.  And a new album was in the works.

Chuck Berry with Carl Sagan at a concert commemorating the Voyager accomplishments.

NASA and outer space enthusiasts will remember that Chuck Berry performing Johnny B. Goode is one of only two modern American songs included on the Voyager space probe golden records, which we’ve discussed before here at borg.com.  The Voyager missions are celebrating their 40th year in space in 2017.  The selection of music was made by Carl Sagan and the small team that collected music and images for the records (the complete playlist is listed here).  By our count this leaves only one remaining living performer whose music was featured on the albums: Valya Balkanska, a Bulgarian folk singer whose song “Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin,” was included on the golden records.  Balkanska is 75 years old, and performed the song for the album at age 30.

Where are the Voyager space probes, and Chuck Berry’s historic albums, now?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When you think of the 1985 movie Fletch, you probably think of Chevy Chase’ s humorous, over-the-top take on undercover reporter I.M. Fletcher.  But Fletch the movie was only loosely based on the award-winning mystery novels by author Gregory Mcdonald.  Mcdonald wrote dozens of novels before his death in 2008.  One of those is Snatched, a kidnapping story reprinted this year for the first time in 30 years by Titan Books’ Hard Case Crime imprint.

Originally published in 1978 as Who Took Toby Rinaldi? in the U.S. and Snatched in the UK, Mcdonald crafted a thriller about the botched kidnapping of the eight-year-old son of a Persian Gulf region ambassador to the United Nations as he readies a proposal with global impact before the U.N.  The proposal itself is a bit of a Pelican Brief MacGuffin, but the real action follows a thug named Spike as he hides the abducted boy, Toby Rinaldi.  Toby was on his way to meet his mother Christina for a visit to a Disneyland-esque theme park in California called Fantazyland.  Key to the action and tension are the efforts and setbacks faced by Christina as she attempts to catch the kidnapper, despite her husband’s foreign security squad in the U.S. trying to keep the kidnapping secret.

   

Snatched is a great read.  Its slow, simmering pace reflects nailbiters of the 1960s-1970s like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Charley Varrick, Magnum Force, or Bullitt.  Many of the characters are intentionally frustrating.  The characters are frustrated, and that is channeled to the reader page after page.  Toby’s father is caught between the direct demands of his king and responsibility to family.  The political factions behind the kidnapping plot–a small group of tried and tested, denizen mercenaries whose failure to communicate and coordinate because of their own personal distractions cause them to trip over each other as they attempt what might otherwise be the simplest of crimes.  Despite Mcdonald’s Fletch character translated to the big screen, make no mistake:  Snatched is not a comedy.  It’s also low on violence, other than a little boy in jeopardy as the main plot point, which is handled deftly by Mcdonald.

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Grimm fans are pretty grim right now.  Just as the series hit its full stride and seemed to only gain steam, its final season is winding down.  As tonight’s finale arc begins, at least we now know that star David Giuntoli won’t be away from the small screen very long.  He is beginning work on a new series pilot for CBS.

Mission Control will follow the fictional lives of NASA employees as they balance managing the current space program and their own personal drama.  Giuntoli will star in the series along with Unforgettable and Without a Trace star Poppy Montgomery.  Montgomery is continuing her long run on television after four years as the lead on Unforgettable, which switched networks from CBS to A&E in its final season.

The new series hails from The Martian novel author Andy Weir and the film adaptation’s producer Simon Kinberg.  Jeremy Podeswa (Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Riches) will direct.  Other cast members include Levi Fiehler (Ray Donovan, The Fosters) as Izzy, Mercy Malick (iZombie, Major Crimes) as Hoff, and ubiquitous character actor Nestor Serrano as Diaz.

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It’s not every year you get to watch the first episode of the 36th season of a television series.  Airing off and on since November 1963, Doctor Who returns next month with the opener to its 10th renumbered season since the 2005 reboot, but several elements of the show will see their end.  This will be the final season for Scottish actor Peter Capaldi leading the show as the 12th Doctor.  And lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat and executive producer Brian Minchin will see their final season with the series.  Moffat is famous for taking the series to its current international success.

Pearl Mackie takes over for Jenna Coleman as the new companion, a character named Bill Potts.  Mackie is a newcomer to the BBC with only a supporting role film credit and a guest role on an episode of a British TV show.  Matt Lucas returns as Nardole, and it appears he may be a recurring second companion something like Arthur Darvill’s Rory in the 2010-2012 episodes.

Rona Munro, who wrote the final story of the original Doctor Who series, is returning to write an episode of the show this season.  Several other regular series writers will return, including Toby Whithouse and Mark Gatiss.  This season will see an appearance by Poirot’s David Suchet and the return of Michelle Gomez as Misty–the latest incarnation of The Master.  The TARDIS, Cybermen, Daleks, Weeping Angels, Mars, new spacesuits, old orange spacesuits, new aliens, new robots, new cyborgs, places from the past, new planets… they’re all here.  Check out this preview for Season 10:

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After two meet-up issues, Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman are back in their 1970s TV action mode in the DC Comics/Dynamite Entertainment crossover series Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman, Issue #3, hitting comic book shops today.  And Max, the bionic German Shepherd, joins the team.

Writer Andy Mangels (Star Trek & Star Wars) and artist Judit Tondora (Grimm Fairy Tales) have at last tapped into that 1970s nostalgia fans of classic superhero TV shows have been looking for.  Today the duo takes on fembots, and the series reintroduces characters and plot points footnoted to specific episodes of the original TV shows.

   

The series features great covers and variants by artist Cat Staggs, Alex Ross, and others.  Check out some past and future covers from the series above and after the break, followed by a preview of Issue #3:

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We haven’t seen all the tracks on the soundtrack/mix tape that will be “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” yet, but we know Sweet’s 1974 hit “Fox on the Run” will be on it from the several trailers released so far for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.  If you like to watch every new trailer and clip, check out all the trailers below plus a new clip released during the 2017 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, a clip that seemed to slip by this weekend.

Unlike the prior trailers the new preview is a full scene from the new film, showing everyone seems to be in the same form from the prior movie, except Drax is a bit more… over-the-top.  And Groot is still Little Groot.

Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Michael Rooker’s Yondu, and Vin Diesel’s Baby Groot are back, with newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Kurt Russell as Star-Lord’s very own Dad.  And we’re pretty sure that’s Elizabeth Debicki in gold in the compilation trailers below.

Still no look at Nathan Fillion or Sylvester Stallone yet.  Are they even going to be in the movie?  Here’s the new clip, followed by a compilation of all the trailers released so far:

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