Archive for September 4, 2018


Review by C.J. Bunce

World War II is definitely a theme in popular culture these days.  Only in the past week we had a preview of Archie 1941, then a preview for Season 3 of The Man in the High Castle, and now a 1941 story featuring everyone’s favorite master spy.  James Bond is a young man trying to survive the Clydesbank Blitz in Scotland in the first origin tale of Bond years before his memorable stint in Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the new comic book series Ian Fleming’s James Bond Origin.  Issue #1 arrives Wednesday at comic book stores everywhere.  We meet the orphan Bond as a young adult, eager to learn more about his parents, already able to teach fellow students a course in judo, and eager to grab onto the coattails and seek the advice of the professors he has access to.

Written by Jeff Parker (Suicide Squad, Fantastic Four) with artwork by Bob Q (The Lone Ranger) and lettering by Simon Bowland (Plastic Man), the first issue of the story has the same feel of an untouchable oppressor from the sky as H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  Full of the action level we know from the Bond movies, the story is waiting for the hero to step in and take over.  How is James Bond of March 11, 1941 different than the Bond with the 00 status?  He has some rudimentary skills, he has the desire to learn, but he doesn’t have the confidence just yet.

   

The Clydesbank Blitz is the most  destructive attack by the Germans on Scotland, and Bond finds himself right in the middle of it.  The new series will be released this week with seven cover variants, with artwork by artists John Cassaday, David Mack, Kev Walker, Gene Ha, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Bob Q with Jordan Boyd.

Check out a preview from Issue #1 and all the covers (above and below):

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By Art Schmidt

Once upon a time, there was a book called The Cave of Time, which was the first Choose Your Own Adventure book written by Edward Packer in 1979.  In this book, the idea of a fictional story and a fast-paced action adventure game were married into an experience which placed the actions of the story, and therefore the outcome, into the reader’s hands.  Every couple of pages would present the reader with a situation and then a choice: if you turn right, go to Page 29, if you turn left, go to Page 32.  Once you turned to that page, the story continued based upon your choice.  The Cave of Time was the first of its kind, and quickly led to nearly two hundred books of its type being published by Bantam Books for almost twenty years.  Subsequently additional books (and reprints) have been issued and continue to come out every few years, including The Magic of the Unicorn published just last year.

The folks who created the original Dungeons and Dragons product back in the 1970s, TSR Hobbies, Inc., quickly saw the potential of this creative type of book, and published their own choose-your-own-adventure books under the heading Endless Quest books starting in 1982.  Dungeon of Dread was a much longer and detailed novel than the original Choose Your Own Adventure books, twice as many pages and a more detailed story and background for the protagonist whose persona the reader undertook.  The books were popular, and TSR published three dozen over a five-year period.  The Endless Quest books were republished years later, and some more titles added, but with the surge of video games and other cheap, immersive entertainment, the books lost their charm for the fantasy gaming public and went out of print.  Other books were added in the 1990s but were largely out of print until this year.

   

Wizards of the Coast (who purchased the Dungeons and Dragons gaming brand in the 1990s) has revived the Endless Quest line of books and has licensed Candlewick Press to publish four new books based in the world of the Forgotten Realms, available today.  All four are written by Matt Forbeck, an award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author and game designer, whose credits include the Rogue One junior novel, the Magic: The Gathering comics, and Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger.  Unlike the previous books of the 1980s and 1990s, these books are each based on one of the four core character classes from the Dungeons and Dragons game: cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard.  Written in the second person, the novels focus on characters who are nameless but of specific race and gender.

In Escape the Underdark the reader plays a human fighter, and the story follows the Out of the Abyss hardcover adventure from the Rage of Demons storyline from the Dungeons and Dragons season three. The main character begins the story unarmed and enslaved by the evil drow elves of the dreaded underdark, the vast underground world which exists just below the surface of the Forgotten Realms world.  As the publisher describes the novel: “You awaken in an underground cell, stripped of your armor and your sword.  Your fellow prisoners inform you that you’re trapped in the Underdark, soon to be taken to the great drow city of Menzoberranzan and sold off as a slave.  But word is that demons are stirring in the underworld’s depth…”
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