Archive for June, 2017


Six years have gone by already?  How did that happen?

It seems like it was only yesterday I was writing our five-year celebratory email.  I won’t go through highlights of all the fun we’ve had again right now, but check out my rundown here from last year to revisit some of our past highlights.

So what shall we do this coming year?  We’re planning to continue the daily coverage of what seems to be the most interesting content around, entertainment, sci-fi, fantasy, action, thrillers, at the movies, on TV, in print, or in whatever form it’s in.  Thanks to you for reading.  It’s a lot of fun (and hard work) keeping up on all the great genre entertainment out there.  I also want to thank all the comic book publishers out there that provide us with previews and review copies, as well as book publishers and TV and movie studios and collectible companies that allow us to give you the first look at what’s coming next.

Thanks to my family, my friends, especially my partner in crime Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt and Jason McClain, my support team, and William Binderup at Elite Comics and the Elite Flight Crew.

Onward and upward!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

1959.  A gallon of gas cost a quarter.  Movie tickets were a dollar and color was replacing black and white film.  You could buy a new car for $2,000.  In technology the Soviets beat the United States to the Moon, with a hitch, crashing their Luna 2 spacecraft into the lunar surface.  The U.S. selected seven astronauts for their Mercury space program.  Xerox began selling copiers to companies, IBM made headway with its mainframe computer, and Jack Kilby invented the microchip.  Kids first began playing with Play-doh, Etch-a-Sketch, and Barbie dolls.  On one end of the country The Sound of Music opened on Broadway and everywhere music fans faced the day the music died.  The world first witnessed The Twilight Zone.  The gray flannel suit defined the businessman.  And in 1959 the great filmmaker Billy Wilder produced and directed his own screenplay and the film would become the best reviewed comedy of all time, pegging the number one spot on the American Film Institute’s registry of best American comedies.  The film was Some Like It Hot.  And it’s back in theaters this weekend for a limited release.

Some Like It Hot has it all.  Marilyn Monroe in arguably her best performance.  Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon only at the beginning of their long and distinguished careers.  The movie doesn’t take place in 1959–it is set 30 years earlier in the heyday of speakeasies and Depression era mobs.  Tony Curtis is Joe, a ladies’ man and gambler–the sax player.  Jack Lemmon is Jerry, a straight arrow–the double-bass player.  They play in a band in a speakeasy (disguised as a funeral home) run by mob boss “Spats” Colombo (George Raft).  When Joe and Jerry accidentally witness a Valentine’s Day massacre-inspired mob hit, they must go on the run.  They find an all-female band heading to Miami via train and disguise themselves as the original bosom buddies, Josephine and Daphne, befriending the band’s gorgeous and upbeat lead singer and ukulele player, Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe.  That’s where the laughs begin, and a back-up cast of classic Hollywood staples, including Pat O’Brien and Joe E. Brown, fill in the gaps.

    

Despite the popularity of color film, Wilder shot Some Like It Hot in a steamy black and white.  Wilder had already directed Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, so the pairing was an obvious fit.  Wilder and Lemmon would start a partnership that lasted until 1981.  Wilder was the true King of Comedy.  He worked on nothing but hit movies over the course of his career–serious stuff like Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, The Spirit of St. Louis, and Witness for the Prosecution, in addition to comedies including Sabrina, The Seven Year Itch, The Apartment, Ocean’s 11, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, and Casino Royale.

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Not since the Marx Toys line of accessory-laden “Noble Knights” action figures in the late 1960s and early 1970s have we seen a toy line that looks this much fun.  It’s the new Mattel Barbie line of Wonder Woman collector line “dolls,” but let’s call them what they are, action figures that measure up to any mid-range price-point doll or action figure on the market.  Even more fun, these Amazon warriors will stand tall over your other 12-inch action figures.

Sure, Mattel is targeting this new line at the “adult collector” (although the figures are listed as recommended for 10 and up).  But what girl or boy isn’t going to appreciate the great armor designs, and the attention to detail in the shields and swords?  No doubt with the critical acclaim and popularity of the new film–already netting more than $103 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. and $223 million internationally–this series is poised to be the toy line of the summer.

 

Each individual figure–Diana, Antiope, and Hippolyta–includes headdress, boots, armored gauntlets, shield, and sword.  Diana and Hippolyta also include capes and Antiope includes bow, arrows, and quiver.  A two-pack is also available, featuring Diana in a different design and Steve Trevor.  Designer Bill Greening blended the face designs to keep the classic Barbie and Ken look while also reflecting the images of actors Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, and Chris Pine.  All figures include fully articulated sculpts.

Check out these images of the full designs, plus click on each image below for more information on each and to purchase these new Barbie figures while they are still available (Wonder Woman is sold out on many sites):

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Here I come to save the day!

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Mighty Mouse, who first appeared in short animated films from Terrytoons for 20th Century Fox throughout the 1940s, including one that was nominated for an Academy Award.  So what better time to bring back the powerful mouse who can protect Pearl Pureheart from Oil Can Harry, and maybe even save us all?  Dynamite Comics is answering the call with a new monthly series beginning today with an initial story arc that deals with bullying.

Mighty Mouse was created by Ralph Bakshi (known also for Fritz the Cat, the animated The Lord of the Rings, and the Kim Basinger flick Cool World) and Paul Terry, whose cartoons with sound beat Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie to cinemas in 1928 (one of the first animators to use cel animation).  Mighty Mouse would appear as part of the Saturday morning cartoon line-up in various versions in each of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  A rather odd update, the 1980s version would feature a crossover episode with Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes characters, a group of middle-aged lawyers that included a superhero called Diaper Man, and comedian Andy Kaufman would make famous for another generation the Mighty Mouse theme song in a skit for Saturday Night Live in the 1970s.  Marvel Comics produced a 10-issue comic book series in 1990-1991.

        

Today, writer Sholly Fisch and artist Igor Lima are bringing the classic mouse to the 21st century.  It’s a book for kids of all ages–the kind of comic book to introduce young kids to the medium.  A boy is getting bullied in school, and he’s a young artist and fan of the classic Mighty Mouse cartoons.  As he is watching television, a portal across dimensions interferes with his show, and with the characters within the television.  The third wall is breached as a boy meets his hero.

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Try as you might to come up with the most off-the-hook crossover and you still won’t be able to predict any of the crossovers coming your way this month.  Beginning next week DC Comics and corporate brother Warner Brothers are uniting the two improbable worlds of DC Comics and Looney Tunes.  Based on idea from Francesco Francavilla in 2010, Elmer Fudd will meet Batman in a dark noir story.  But Wonder Woman taking on the Tasmanian DevilYosemite Sam teaming up with Jonah Hex and Foghorn LeghornMarvin the Martian meets the Martian ManhunterWile E. Coyote teams up with Lobo to take on the Road Runner?  And a team-up of Bugs Bunny and the Legion of Superheroes?

Yes, April 1 is long past.  Don’t adjust your screen.  You don’t need to pinch yourself.  This is really happening.  And we have previews of two of these crossover issues for you below.  Plus we have standard cover and variant cover images for each wacky pairing.

    

DC Comics is also re-releasing the DC/Looney Tunes 100-Page Super Spectacular from the year 2000.  Steve Rude supplies an all-new cover featuring Superman and Bugs Bunny, each the icon of the respective franchises.

    

Each issue is a single-issue special–unfortunately these aren’t being released as monthly titles.  It all starts on June 14 with Legion of Super-heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1, written by Sam Humphries with artwork by Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna and a variant cover by Ty Templeton.  The Legion of Super Heroes always thought they had taken their inspiration from the 21st Century’s Superboy.  But when they try to bring that hero into their future time, the team discovers to their surprise the caped champion isn’t who—or even what—they expected!  Also on June 14, Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special #1, written by Steve Orlando and Frank Barberi, interior and cover art by Aaron Lopreski, and variant cover by Stephen DeStefano.  Martian Manhunter tries to halt Marvin the Martian’s determination for world domination. J’onn is conflicted with his own Martian identity as he attempts to stop the hapless, determined Marvin from blowing Earth to bits in order to gain a clear view of Venus.

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Next to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, there is probably no other actor in the action genre who has had more action figures with his likeness.  Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell.  Once upon a time movies like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China came and went with no toys or collectibles, mainly thanks to a clash between R ratings and the unwillingness of toy companies to release toys for such films.  But even those classics now provide fans of Kurt Russell with a desktop warrior of many of his films to guide their day.  Today we’re running down a brief history of Kurt Russell in action figures and collectible toys.

The first image we had of Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, were images of collectible figures for his character Ego.  You can get his Marvel Legends version of the figure here:

If Dorbz are your thing you can also find him in that format here, and as a Funko Pop! figure here.  There is also a MiniMates version, but no Hot Toys or Sideshow versions of Ego available–yet.

   

Although we’ve found no Bone Tomahawk or Tombstone figures for Russell, his Western The Hateful Eight resulted in a 1:6 scale figure of Russell’s John Ruth, available here, an eight-inch version here, and a Funko Pop! here.

   

But how about the Kurt Russell classic characters?

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Here at borg.com, we’re fans of Westerns.  And ghost stories.  But we haven’t truly appreciated just how much fun they can be together—until Holly Messinger’s lively debut, The Curse of Jacob Tracy, and a prequel novella, The Romance of Certain Old Bones.

Messinger’s books fit in nicely alongside Dead Man’s Hand (reviewed here), Bone Tomahawk (reviewed here), and Dragon Teeth, reviewed recently here, and will appeal especially to fans of All-Star Western’s hero Jonah Hex.  Set several years after the Civil War, The Curse of Jacob Tracy follows the title character, a Confederate veteran cursed with the ability to see the dead.  A former seminarian, Trace is lying low as a cowhand and trail boss, and doing his level best to stay away from hauntings.  He’s joined in his adventures with longtime working partner Boz, his indispensible, skeptical right-hand-man. But the curse keeps cropping up, in a series of fun, episodic adventures strung together by a strong throughline.  You’ll encounter Werewolves on a Train, haunted printing presses, gruesome Bordenesque axe-murders, and men possessed by dinosaurs.  Yes, really.

Trace is a strong, sympathetic, multi-layered lead, with a frank, level-headed, and sometimes downright funny voice.  Messinger’s supporting cast is just as strong.  Female lead Sabine Fairweather, a mysterious, learned gentlewoman who has hired Trace for odd jobs—really odd jobs—is hiding eerie secrets of her own, deep inside her esoteric steampunk laboratory.  As Trace becomes more deeply entwined in Miss Fairweather’s curious work, he begins to tentatively embrace, rather than recoil from, his strange powers.  But the partnership comes at a cost, and as Trace learns more about the supernatural, he realizes his newfound skills are jeopardizing everyone he cares about.  He can’t hide from the curse, but can he learn to control it?

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Before Greg Berlanti became a household name, responsible for creating, writing, or producing hit television series like Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Riverdale, he created a successful drama for the WB network that would help propel his career forward–Everwood.  What could have been a flop on paper–a family drama about a widower who takes his career as a neurosurgeon and his son and daughter to a small town in Colorado to start again–became an engaging and enjoyable series with an electric cast and powerful writing.  The entire four seasons, all 89 episodes of the 2002-2006 series is now streaming via CW Seed online for free.

Treat Williams (The Empire Strikes Back, 1941, The Phantom, White Collar) starred as Dr. Andy Brown, an immensely successful big city neurosurgeon who, while intruding on the turf of the pompous local family doctor, Dr. Harold Abbott, played by Tom Amandes (Arrow, Fairly Legal, Leverage), begins to become an invaluable and influential member of the community.  Standout in the cast was Debra Mooney (Dead Poets Society, Tootsie) as Dr. Abbott’s mother Edna, whose snarky attitude was perfect as she helps the new doctor with his clinic across the street from her own son’s competing clinic.  Stephanie Niznik (Star Trek: Insurrection, Enterprise) played Dr. Brown’s friendly neighbor Nina, and Brenda Strong (Dallas) played Dr. Brown’s late wife in flashbacks.

But Everwood, which has not been available on any previous streaming service, will probably be best known for the breakout roles of two Marvel Cinematic Universe stars, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star Lord Chris Pratt and Captain America’s love interest Sharon Carter from Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, Emily VanCamp.  VanCamp and Pratt had significant roles on Everwood.  Portraying Dr. Abbott’s teenage kids, VanCamp was Amy, the target of affection of Dr. Brown’s son Ephram (Gregory Smith, selected for the role over Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki), and Pratt was Ephram’s not-so-bright new friend, ironically named Bright.  Both actors shined in these early performances (and were a real-life couple for several years).

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Everyone is a suspect.  The clues are everywhere.  For mystery lovers, it’s a staple.  It’s Agatha Christie’s most well-known 1934 novel come to life, Murder on the Orient Express, the fourth major production for film or television of the classic whodunit in the English language–the 1974 Academy Award winning Sidney Lumet film being the best known.  For the older generation the story is known, but for a new generation the stage is set for a big screen version of Clue/Cluedo.  As with the 1974 version, the cast of the 2017 version is extraordinary.

So how do you cast a film against the last generation of film greats?  Leading a bevy of thespian knights and dames, Sir Kenneth Branagh both directs and stars as master detective Hercule Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, played previously by Albert Finney (who refused a knighthood in the year 2000).  Sir Derek Jacobi plays the butler Edward Henry Masterman in a role played by Sir John Gielgud in the earlier version.  Dame Judi Dench plays Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, formerly played by Dame Wendy Hiller.  In an update for the new version, American actor Leslie Odom, Jr. (Supernatural, Gotham) takes on the role of Doctor (formerly Colonel) Arbuthnott, played previously by Sir Sean Connery.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley as governess Mary Debenham, formerly played by Dame Vanessa Redgrave.

The list of American actors includes a fascinating mix of genre favorites old and new.  Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp takes on the role played before by Richard Widmark as the debonair businessman Edward Ratchett.  Academy Award nominee Michelle Pfeiffer is widow Harriet Hubbard, a role played in the 1974 film by Lauren Bacall.  Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe is Professor Gerhard Hardman, played earlier by Colin Blakely.  Academy Award winner Penélope Cruz plays a newly named character, Pilar Estravados, a missionary, in the part played before by Ingrid Bergman.  Rounding out the cast is Josh Gad (Frozen) as Ratchett’s assistant Hector McQueen (played before by Anthony Perkins), and British TV regular Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, The Night Manager) plays the maid Hildegarde Schmidt (previously played by Rachel Roberts).

Take a look at this first trailer for the new Murder on the Orient Express:

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James Bond returns as we salute Sir Roger Moore, who passed away last week–the first franchise film James Bond actor to leave us.  This time Bond is back in the 1960s adaptations of six of his adventures in Goldfinger, the latest volume of The Complete Ian Fleming’s James Bond: The Classic Comic Strip Collection.  In addition to Goldfinger, you’ll find adaptations of the short stories and novels Risico, From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only, The Man With The Golden Gun, and The Living Daylights.  These are restored editions of the original comic strip title that pre-dated the film adaptations.  But it’s a challenge not to read them in your head in the voices of the actors that portrayed them.

You haven’t heard of Risico?  Risico is a drug trafficking story that hails from Ian Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only, a collection of Bond short stories that also featured From a View to a Kill and Quantum of Solace, all adaptations themselves of plots for a Bond television series that was never filmed.  It’s always a curiosity to wait and see what the next Bond film will be titled, with almost all pulled from a Fleming novel, short story, or, in the case of Goldeneye, a Bond concept.  Risico is not only an unused film title, but an interesting story, adaptable to the modern day–prime fodder for another Daniel Craig outing–and the classic comic strip here is a fun introduction to this Fleming story.

The standout creator in this new book is late artist John McLusky, who is superb in his ability to keep a dialogue-heavy series full of action and intrigue.  McLusky is responsible for all the Bond trope visuals–the look and feel of Bond that carried over into the movie versions.  The streamlined but completely fleshed-out adaptations were provided by writers Henry Gammidge and Jim Lawrence.

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