Archive for July, 2020


Comics artist and illustrator Mark Chiarello (Batman, Hellboy, Star Wars) and non-fiction writer (National Geographic, The History Channel), former Marvel Comics senior editor, colorist and writer, and consultant for Major League Baseball Nel Yomtov have teamed up to join the ultimate baseball debate: Who are the greatest 100 players in hardball history?  Who holds the number one spot?  Is it Babe Ruth?  Willie Mays?  Jackie Robinson?  Shoeless Joe Jackson?  Baseball 100: A Celebration of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time is a new book offered as part of a crowdfunding campaign that began yesterday.  And it is already halfway funded.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

One of the news items from this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con was a push of completed Disney and Fox movies out several months to insure full movie theater returns for the studio, while pushing out the door in advance of a full audience return films like The New Mutants and Kenneth Branagh’s follow-up to his adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, now arriving October 23.  Those of us excited for the next all-star Hercule Poirot adventure can be glad that at least means a home release sooner than later.  In the meantime Amazon Prime has a brilliant BBC production of a classic mystery novel, previously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and adapted most recently in 2013, of The Lady Vanishes.  

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The price of knowledge is often great and grim.  If you like your historical biopics about scientific discoveries of the inspiring and motivational variety, Amazon Studios and Studiocanal’s latest film Radioactive, a barely recognizable adaptation of the Lauren Redniss graphic novel, RadioactiveMarie & Pierre CurieA Tale of Love and Fallout, may not be for you.  Yet exceptional performances by Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Jack Reacher, Die Another Day) as Maria Skłodowska aka Madame Marie Curie and Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, Split, The New Mutants) as her daughter Iréne, and a dearth of new films this summer, will likely make this 2018 production worth your time.  It arrived in the U.S. for the first time this week streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Come, let us be quick.  The crumbling world will not wait for heroes who pause.

Returning with a story at the very foundations of Dungeons & Dragons today is fantasy author R.A. Salvatore with the final novel in his latest Drizzt Do’Urden trilogy and his 34th Drizzt novel overall, Relentless.  In this third act everything is at stake for the friends of the dark elf ranger, especially for his mother, his father, and his wife, as Salvatore takes readers back to the very circumstances of Drizzt’s birth–and reaches far into his future.  The plot switches from skirmishes and battles to the careful ministrations of dark influences in the matriarchal society of Menzoberranzan and the reactions and responses of everyone to them.  Available here at Amazon today, the release is also nicely timed to the forthcoming 5th edition of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden–Salvatore first presented Drizzt in the Ten Towns of that realm three decades ago.

Plus, bugbears, yochlolk, and glabrezu–oh, my!

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Last year at San Diego Comic-Con we got our first look at season one of His Dark Materials, BBC and HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s popular fantasy novels, so it’s no surprise the second season trailer premiered at this year’s Comic-Con@Home.  Logan star Dafne Keen returns as Lyra to lead a cast including Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariyon Bakare, Andrew Scott, Amir Wilson, and newcomers to the series this season, Terence Stamp, Jade Anouka, and Simone Kirby.

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The showrunner and cast of History’s Vikings, including showrunner and writer Michael Hirst and actors Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, and Clive Standen, who we saw at their first Comic-Con back in 2013, invaded Comic-Con this weekend with a new preview for the last time.  That’s a virtual invasion, because of course this year it’s San Diego Comic-Con@Home, but as panels go this was just as you’d see at any ordinary SDCC, but without the lines and squinting from the back of Hall H.  Hirst and actors Fimmel, Winnick, and Standen were joined this year by actors Alex Ludwig and Jordan Patrick Smith, to discuss the fates of Fimmel and Winnick’s characters on past episodes, the six seasons of the series, and what’s next.

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The most eagerly awaited movie in years received some nice treatment this week as part of San Diego Comic-Con@Home.  We’ve previewed and re-previewed new trailers for The New Mutants probably more than any other movie in our past decade of coverage here at borg (just type The New Mutants in the search box to the right and you’ll see it all).  The new and improved, post-merger 20th Century Studios even nicely mocks the delayed release dates in its Comic-Con@Home panel footage below, which features the director, cast members, and the legendary comic artist most closely aligned with The New Mutants by way of his 1980s artwork, Bill Sienkiewicz.  It also previews the entire opening scene and a trailer with new content from the film.  All in all, some good stuff for a very patient fanbase for a film made in the summer of 2017.

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Was it really only two years ago that we were meeting the cast and crew of The Orville at their first appearance at San Diego Comic-Con?  Take a look back here at borg if you missed it (director/executive producer Jon Cassar and producer/editor Tom Costantino gave us some cool swag and let us take photos with props from the series and we chatted with the cast wearing our custom-made The Orville uniforms).  This year you won’t want to miss a few features for The Orville at SDCC 2020/Comic-Con@Home, including the reveal of new The Orville Starship Collection of miniature ships from Eaglemoss and some great behind-the-scenes images.

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In a normal year for San Diego Comic-Con, we at borg would be taking photos and checking out the new products, panels, and movie trailers, and trying to share as many as possible.  But first we’d go through the badge line and get our annual, over-sized haul bag, which we’d probably keep folded up anyway because it makes it difficult to move around.  But with that bag is the annual “Comic-Con book,” which is not a comic book, but an official book about half of a medium-sized city telephone directory (what’s a telephone directory?).  The book would be full of discussions about anniversaries of comic and pop culture events and salutes to individuals who have gained some portion of iconic status for fanboys and fangirls everywhere.  But you never read this during con week.  Why?  You’re too busy trying to cram in all you can before the show is over.  Sometimes you don’t even find this book until two months after you get back home after the con and are revisiting your swag.  This year, the SDCC staff has made it possible for everyone to download a copy of that book.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For all the complex technology inside the Chain-Program Robot, a fully-functional, all-in-one model robotics kit, Tamiya, Japan’s premiere modelmaker, has made a surprisingly straight-forward, project to build in a day or less for anyone looking for a great hobby project right now.  A motorized robot that resembles Number Five from the 1980s comedy classic starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, Short Circuit (“Number Five is alive!”), that is actually programmable, in a kit that includes everything you need to build and operate it, except a hobby knife, screwdriver, and double-A battery?  Thanks to Plaza Japan, the world’s best online store for authentic Japanese action figures, model kits, toys and puzzles, we gave the Chain-Program Robot a try, and it is every bit as good–and fun–as it sounds.  Take a look at a detailed rundown of my experience with the build process, and a video of the robot in action, below.

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