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Archive for July, 2018


Who doesn’t love a modern team-up of classic characters from the Golden Age of comic books?  The latest, Project Superpowers, is arriving at comic book stores Wednesday.  It’s a great start to another superhero team, in an ocean of superhero teams available.  Taking only a little inspiration from Watchmen, instead of creating new characters it features actual superheroes from comics of the past banding together again: The Green Lama, Masquerade, The Mighty Samson, Black Terror, The Scarab, The Death-Defying Devil, and more.  If you’re a fan of the storytelling of Suicide Squad’s Rob Williams, and agree Legenderry’s Sergio Davila knows how to draw great superhero books, Project Superpowers should be next on your comic book store pull list.

A different tale than Alex Ross’s 2008 resurrection of dozens of heroes in his Project Superpowers series, the story is updated for today, albeit pulling a few superheroes from the earlier series.   Dynamite Comics is publishing seven variant covers in all for the first book in this latest series with the Project Superpowers title, by Francesco Mattina, Ed Benes, Philip Tan, JG Jones, Stephen Segovia, and more.  “An all-new threat faces the Earth, while the team faces turmoil from within and must overcome all obstacles to prove their worth and value in a world that desperately needs its heroes.”

   

A new superheroine is about to be called to duty.  Here is a preview of the first issue and variant covers from the new Project Superpowers, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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It should be pretty difficult for someone not to get this right.  Right?  It’s a mash-up of sword and sorcery Transformers-esque robots and Frozen-inspired fairy tale princesses.  How can it not be the next best thing to a Pixar movie for animated movie fans?  It’s so simple, and yet the first issue of a new series arriving in comic book stores tomorrow shows that it works.  Writer Todd Matthy and artist Nicolas Chapuis have come together to create the next series from Dynamite Comics, Robots Versus Princesses.  Like Cowboys vs. Aliens?  Okay, maybe all these mash-ups all don’t quite work out, but this series has the heart of that new Bumblebee movie trailer and a similar design–a lovable fish-out-of-water robot and a girl looking for something different from the status quo.

Princess Zara doesn’t understand the significance of the upcoming recital.  The other princesses in the walled kingdom have their accompanist animals selected and ready to perform.  Zara wants something different, to be different.  What about the dragons warring outside the gates that no one has ever seen but all have heard?  Maybe is she sneaks out at night she could capture a baby dragon and show the others she isn’t the least of the princesses.

Matthy’s story is very modern Disney, complete with a mix of cheery characters and a snarky heroine.  A bit Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and Cinderella, and even more Sleeping Beauty, Issue #1 of Robots vs. Princesses is a solid introduction to a story that should be a keeper for readers looking for their next fairy tale fix.  Chapuis’s artwork is perfect for the fairy tale realm, and his realm of robot warriors has a unique design that fuses well with the best modern animated movies.

Here is a preview of Robots Versus Princesses, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite:

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Stepping into the void left between seasons of Stranger Things, Netflix will be releasing a new television series from the creators of Riverdale that could be the next big thing for comic book, horror–and Stranger Things–fans.  Ten episodes of a live-action adaptation of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s fantastic macabre Archie Horror comic book series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (we’ve talked about the comic book series a lot here at borg.com) will be arriving just in time for Halloween.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars The Legend of Korra’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, with some well-known genre actors: The Lord of the Rings and War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto (Zelda), Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis (Hilda), Doctor Who and Gotham’s Michelle Gomez (Mary Wardell), Beverly Hills Cop and Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot (George Hawthorne), and Prince of Persia’s Richard Coyle (Father Blackwood), with Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Adeline Rudolph (Agatha), Abigail Cowen (Dorcas), and Lachlan Watson (Susie).  Netflix provided a sneak peek at the new Sabrina and Salem the cat, too.

Don’t worry, it’s not a reboot of the 1990s television series.  Initially couched as two five-episode seasons, the updated news is that Netflix viewers will get all ten first-season episodes at once, and IMDb lists 20 episodes in the works total.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will draw from the comic book series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack, detailing the compelling and shocking re-imagining of Sabrina’s occult origins.  This dark coming-of-age story deals with horror and witchcraft and will see Sabrina struggle to reconcile her dual nature of being half-witch and half-mortal while protecting her family and the world from the forces of evil.

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For decades kids of all ages have awakened to their favorite colorful breakfast cereal.  The best of these not only taste good but they feature some appropriately entertaining mascot, and the very best of these have some kind of prize in the package.  Most of these are forgettable, but there’s a market of collectors who buy and sell these prizes on eBay every day.  Toy company Funko is taking a new approach to the prize-in-the-box cereal with its next product, Funko’s own multigrain cereals, called Funko’s.

These cereals are all about the prize, packing each box with a premium collectible Funko figure.  First to market for Funko’s new superhero cereals are two box options: one featuring the Funko Batman and the other the Funko Batgirl.  And yes, each box features its own prize, the corresponding Pocket Pop! of Batman or Batgirl.

You can pre-order both now from Entertainment Earth (click on each box above for more details and to order).  Each sells for $9.99, a bit much for cereal, but you’re really not buying it for the cereal, right?  Funko tried some other releases of non-superhero brands that already are selling from secondary market sellers at Amazon for more than $30, like Jason Voorhees Funko’s cereal, Freddy Krueger Funko’s, and Cuphead and Mugman Funko’s cereal (all an appropriately blood-red colored cereal), so you may want to get these new Bat-cereals before they are gone.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Colonel Carl Butler has done it all long before he is asked by his former boss and mentor–a general with plenty of influence to get things done–to take on a strange mission far away.  The son of a High Council member has gone missing and the investigation is at a standstill.  Butler is a semi-retired hero, he’s loyal to an old military boss, and that man has asked him to go on a far-away mission as a favor.  Butler takes the mission, but always has that niggling feeling all is not what it seems.  The price of the mission is great as he is put into cryo freeze for the long voyage ahead, but his wife is set up nicely with family for the duration.  It’s all a favor to someone who has always commanded his loyal and respect.

All goes downhill even before his arrival as he’s pulled out of cryo early.  On arrival Butler is immediately odd-man-out.  He is assigned some help, but he is disregarded by everyone in authority and all his efforts to sleuth-out what happened to the missing soldier are thwarted.  Even the medical branch won’t help, and a member of the press is persistent, asking why Butler was chosen for this mission and no one else.  That becomes the mystery for Butler, too, as much as discovering the story behind the missing man.  He’s on a space station and the planet below is at war with the alien inhabitants.  Butler does everything to avoid going planetside to meet with the local commander.  Can he stay away, or are all the answers down there?  And will he get those answers without taking command himself?

Arriving in bookstores tomorrow, retired Army officer Michael Mammay’s debut novel Planetside is a military conspiracy-thriller couched in sci-fi dress.  Heavier on the soldiering than the sci-fi, it has common elements you’d find in The General’s Daughter or Courage Under Fire (Mammay does it better).  Yet it is completely accessible to both fans of war novels and sci-fi readers thumbing the paperback rack for their next enjoyable read in the mystery genre, like Forbidden Planet, Blade Runner 2049, or Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill (known to moviegoers as Edge of Tomorrow).  The author’s key strength in Planetside is the first person voice of Colonel Butler.  No doubt derived from Mammay’s years of encounters with similar types as a soldier in Desert Storm, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Butler has that stilted dialogue and manner that seems to define long-tenured soldiers in books and movies.  Both Butler’s inner voice and his orders to those around him give the novel fuel to skip along at a brisk pace.  Butler is very much in the realm of Colonel Graff in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and he could have fought alongside Sgt. Zim or Lt. Rasczak–although Planetside is not a story immersed in ground and aerial combat as in Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Mammay’s realism pulls readers in with some significant skirmishes along the way.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s such a strange thing to see over and over.  Whether it’s Broadchurch, Marchlands, Lightfields, Thirteen, The Missing, or Requiem, the British television studios can’t stop making series based on the story of a missing child.  And it’s not just the Brits that can’t get over the genre.  Americans tend to do it with a supernatural bent, in shows like Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, or Riverdale.  But finally they may have got one right, compelling characters, a solid mystery with twists, turns, and surprises, and the missing factor of most series in the genre, a satisfying ending.  That’s Harlan Coben’s ten-part series now streaming on Netflix called The Five.

Smartly directed by Mark Tonderai, who has directed episodes of TV series including Doctor Who, Black Lightning, Gotham, Time After Time, and Twelve Monkeys, The Five takes the story of a five-year-old who disappeared on an outing with his older brother and his three friends, and turns it into something completely fresh and compelling.  Twenty years later in modern day England, the DNA of the missing boy is found at the crime scene of a murder of a local woman.  The news upends the lives of the missing boy’s brother, a lawyer and part time P.I. played by Tom Cullen (Orphan Black, Downton Abbey), his separated parents played by Geraldine James (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Maloney (Mr. Selfridge, Henry V), and his three friends: a cop who is the son of the detective on the original case played by O-T Fagbenle (Doctor Who, The Handmaid’s Tale), a doctor who has returned after years in the States played by Sarah Solemani (Bridget Jones’s Baby), and a protector of street kids at a local shelter, played by Lee Ingleby (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).

Every player in this tale is a mess.  The cop can’t balance work and life and must care for a father with Alzheimer’s, the doctor is figuring her way through a failed marriage and early stages of addiction, the shelter manager cares a bit too much about protecting kids on the streets, and the brother of the missing boy runs the route where he lost his brother every day, unable to get past his loss.  As a police procedural, Fagbenle and detective Caine, played by Hannah Arterton (Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders), make for a solid policing duo, while Cullen and Ingleby are a great sleuthing team of private investigators.

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We first previewed the Anovos line of licensed replicas back in 2011 here at borg.com.  Since then we’ve built their complete full-sized Star Wars original trilogy Stormtrooper kit and worn the company’s Star Trek: The Next Generation two-piece Starfleet uniform, and found their quality to be the top commercial products available.  Anovos returned to San Diego Comic-Con this year with their most recent line of costumes and helmets and–as with the past products–the company continues to create the best replicas around.

For the most part these aren’t 100% the same designs and fabrics as the original screen-used pieces, but they come as close as most cosplayers will get access to.  The exceptions are the armor kits and finalized sets of the Star Wars line, which are equal in quality to screen-used pieces, and even better quality in many cases.  In the Star Trek line, despite using production-made pieces as a guide, the fabrics and color dyes don’t exactly match and some of the piping and trim is close to the original William Ware Theiss and Robert Blackman designs they are copying, but not dead-on, e.g., the Star Trek movie maroon uniform color is difficult to replicate and current fabrics used show wrinkles more than the expensive fabrics used by the studios years ago.  Also, the blue dye used in the infamous “skants” is also a much lighter blue than original pieces and their appearance on the screen under production lights.  It makes sense that Anovos creations for the more recent Abrams films and Star Trek Discovery series uniforms are closer to the real thing, as Anovos says it has worked with the studios in re-creating the most recent uniforms in both the Star Trek and Star Wars series, like this great command uniform from a design by Sanja Hayes for Star Trek Beyond:

The best bet is ordering currently in-stock costumes from the Anovos website.  For costumes not yet available but sold on pre-order, Anovos has been known to take more than a year for delivery in the past, causing a history of canceled orders, despite warning customers about long projected delivery dates.

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As we previewed here at borg.com, toymaker Super 7 featured great exclusives at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con with both an onsite presence and an offsite store featuring both a Masters of the Universe theme and a Universal Monsters theme.  If you were early enough you could have even scored a pair of four different styles of limited edition Universal Monster-themed Saucony shoes.  We think the best nostalgia draw from Super 7 is their multi-license classic Kenner style 3 3/4-inch ReAction figure line that we’ve covered here at borg.com since Day One.  We previewed some of the latest ReAction figures in our coverage of 2018 New York Toy Fair (here), but Super 7 showcased some brand new prototypes, packaging, and exclusives this weekend.

Probably the best display featured the figures of the new Hellboy line.  These two-pack sets look great in person, and will likely become only more popular as we get closer to the release of the new Hellboy movie.  The Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins prototypes based on the classic arcade game were also fantastic, giving fans a look at the final pieces in the first series (back row) and the next series (front in grey) that’s underway.

Of course the next series of the original Super 7 ReAction line, Alien, looks great and the sculpts and packaging have only gotten better.  We’re going to need to pick up one of those Ripley’s the Jonesy the cat at a minimum.  And Kane after his attack in his spacesuit–Wow!

Below are photographs from the Super 7 booth featuring other figures from the ReAction line: the exclusive convention Universal Monsters, The Fiend and Alien exclusives, Masters of the Universe, and Robotech.

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With 3D imaging and new technologies arriving each year, one of the attractions that just seems to get overlooked is the statue market.  Sure, Sideshow, Gentle Giant, Weta, and several other companies offered up some incredible figurines at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, and this year the Sideshow booth had so many new creations it seemed like an endless row after row any figure could get lost in.  Yet for the most part we’re seeing new versions of the same characters we saw last year and the year before.  So it’s more difficult for anything to knock your socks off.  It’s rarer to see someone come up with something new, and it’s the rare realization of a fresh idea with new 3D rendered sculpts that has become the real jaw dropper.

This year that surprise was the unannounced preview of a new series of high-end figures from Gentle Giant’s own brand, the Honey Trap Army A tongue-in-cheek throwback mashing the best of 1960s and 1970s design with the spy movie genre, the first series of four figures was a standout among collectible statue figures five years ago.  With the 2013 convention exclusive (discussed at borg.com here) Whisper character, Gentle Giant interpreted the 1960s James Bond–think Thunderball and Doctor No–and created a deep-sea diving superspy who could probably kill anyone with her harpoon 21 different ways.  Right with her, team member Katya was ready to take no prisoners with her trusty Doberman, Lucky was straight out of the Army special forces, and Derby was something else altogether.  With box art by Kevin Dart, we thought the Honey Trap Army was poised to best the G.I. Joe Adventure Team.  Like many a toy line–as many learned over the past year watching The Toys That Made Us on Netflix–the Honey Trap Army was an idea that went straight to the toy (in this case, a collectible) with no backstory, comic book, animated show, or movie tie-in.

So we were happily surprised to see last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, overlooked by many, the next series of the Honey Trap Army.  It begins with the new British spy with the best spy name not created by Ian Fleming–Brexit, also known as Dani Mint.  She’s the explosives expert, and brings along the fight of Britannia.  She is joined by a new Russian spy with the simple moniker The Russian.  Don’t let her little dog distract you.  And the seventh member of the Honey Trap Army is Junior.  You can find Junior easily.  She’s driving race car number 88.

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Steeped in Polynesian lore but reborn as a derivative American pop-design style going back to the 1930s, “tiki culture,” which in some ways goes back to the peoples of Easter Island, was reinterpreted into a form of Americana, and had its own resurgence after GIs brought back bits of Polynesian culture to the States after World War II.  It sprang back again in the 1970s (Gilligan’s Island had its own take on it), and had another revival in the 1990s, but in the past year it seems to be back again, with a huge following.  Tiki is really in its stride with a wide scope of tiki mugs on the market–those mugs that take on the image of a familiar “patron,” the mug is usually made of ceramics and is still a featured souvenir of tiki bars from coast to coast.

Perhaps the craziest display of the 21st century’s look at tiki culture could be found at San Diego Comic-Con this year with a tiki hut themed booth full of inspired artwork by the California artist known as Shag.  His retro art style was a great foundation for a mash-up with Planet of the Apes–a crazy and cool spin on pop culture.  The booth, hosted by The Shag Stores in Palm Springs and West Hollywood, had the coolest shirt onsite–an orange Hawaiian style shirt with Planet of the Apes imagery.  Visitors could also pick up art prints and t-shirts in tiki-tubes.  And Shag premiered his Shag Cocktail Birds–limited fine-art prints on wood, limited to 200 units.  Check out The Shag Store website here for more on the artist and his products.

But that wasn’t all.  Entertainment Earth had its own hefty tiki mugs, depicting Frankenberry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry, probably the best tie-ins to Big G cereals anyone has yet thought of.  You can still pre-order the tiki mugs from Entertainment Earth here.  While you’re there you should check out the rest of their tiki mug line-up.  How about a Kraken, a Unicorn, a Mermaid, or a Dragon?  Want your favorite franchise fix in tiki form?  How about a Captain Kirk or Captain Picard tiki mug?  Or maybe a Yoda or Jawa mug is your jam.  Or just get a set of four classic tiki character images.  There’s several more from Star Wars, Star Trek… even a Frankenstein.  The best?  Check out all the creatures from Star Wars and the rest of the tiki mugs from Entertainment Earth below:

Mythical Creatures Unicorn 19 oz. Geeki Tiki Mug Mythical Creatures Mermaid 15 oz. Geeki Tiki Mug Mythical Creatures Dragon 17 oz. Geeki Tiki Mug Star Wars Series 1 Chewbacca 14 oz. Geeki Tiki Mug

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