Archive for August, 2021


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After a year including Sonjaversal and The Invincible Red Sonja and Red Sonja: Black and White and the announcement of Hannah John-Kamen (Star Wars, The Dark Crystal, Marvel, Game of Thrones, Tomb Raider) cast as the next live-action movie Sonja, the busy year of Red Sonja continues.  With her 50th anniversary arriving in 2023, now we have a new anthology series from Dynamite Entertainment beginning this week.  Red Sonja adds a new twist to the re-imagined story of Robert E. Howard’s famous “she-devil with a sword,” as she comes onto a destroyed encampment to find the only survivor a young girl named Sitha.  What is the secret behind the strange symbols on her skin?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The best work of some of the best creators, especially movie directors, happens when the creators are tested by someone else’s source material, where they aren’t allowed to indulge themselves with carte blanche resources and instead show restraint in their skill and craftsmanship.  Perhaps Stanley Kubrick’s best work really is his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and Quentin Tarantino’s best work is Jackie Brown, his adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch–both studies in how to create a perfect film.  Although 20th Century Fox obviously wasn’t ready for it, William Gibson, known for “cyberpunk,” actually handled his screenplay for the third Alien movie quite well, but it was summarily discarded.  Next month, dressed up and fleshed out is Pat Cadigan’s Alien3–The Unproduced, First-Draft Screenplay by William Gibson: A Novel Pre-order Cadigan’s novel adaptation now here at Amazon.  Readers will find no cyberpunk here, but what Gibson handed in was a better Alien franchise story than what became Alien3, not quite Alien or Aliens, but still one great thriller.  Understandably, however, the script was rejected by the studio for missing a key feature that couldn’t be overlooked.

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IDW Publishing announced it will be returning to the Forgotten Realms with Dungeons & Dragons: Mindbreaker, a five-issue monthly comic book series that takes place before the events of Baldur’s Gate III, the highly-anticipated video game.   IDW D&D writer Jim Zub is back, joining artist Eduardo Mello in a tale of familiar Dungeons & Dragons adventurers Krydle, Shandie, Delina, Nerys, Minsc, and Boo, as they discover that something insidious has taken root in their homeland.  Dungeons & Dragons: Mindbreaker #1 will be available with multiple cover variants, including artwork by Max Dunbar (Legends of Baldur’s Gate, Infernal Tides), Max Davenport, and Celia Lowenthal.
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Star Trek A Celebration cover

With a new Star Trek Day event coming next month, Star Trek fans across the globe will be celebrating 55 years of the Star Trek franchise, coinciding with the centennial of the birth of its creator, Gene Roddenberry.  The 55th anniversary of the launch of the series is worthy of the celebration, and authors Ben Robinson and Ian Spelling have created the latest definitive, behind the scenes account of the 1966-1969 series in their new full-color, hardcover, coffee table-style book, Star Trek: A Celebration, available for pre-order now here at Amazon.

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On September 8, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. Central, get ready for Star Trek Day (not to be confused with First Contact Day–April 5, or Picard Day–June 16, or Alien Day–April 26, or Star Wars Day–May 4).  Star Trek Day 2021 will be all virtual– a better deal than, say Star Wars Celebration and D23, since everyone can join in for a virtual event.  Look for 13 streamed panels, including several retrospective panels, as well as panels featuring stars of all five in-production Star Trek series: Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds, to feature Anson Mount’s Captain Pike and the early Enterprise crew.  Check out streaming platform Paramount Plus for more information, which says fans worldwide will be able to live-stream the Star Trek Day celebration panels for free at StarTrek.com/Day

First check out this big, 14-page look inside Star Trek: A Celebration:

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WandaVision Hardback Cover WandaVision_Newsstand_Cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a surprising and unique story in Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It’s WandaVision, the almost hallucinogenic, time-tripping story of the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame through the eyes of Wanda Maximoff.  Now fans have their first look inside the making of the series in Marvel’s WandaVision: The Official Marvel Studios Collector Special, a full color, hardcover, souvenir guide to the characters, creators, and development of the Disney+ series.  It’s being released in three editions, one via newsstands, one via comic shops (add it to your pull list at Elite Comics now), and a hardcover version you can pick up here at Amazon and at brick and mortar bookstores (it’s currently an Amazon #1 Best Seller!).  Enjoy a preview for borg readers below from Titan.

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SMART GIRL COVER B

Review by C.J. Bunce

Spanish artist Fernando Dagnino (Superman, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad) has designed the future of Blade Runner in the continuation series of Ridley Scott and Syd Mead’s future world for Titan Comics over the past few years.  Now fans of his artwork can see Dagnino take his work further in his own series.  In Smart Girl, readers will meet Yuki, a multitasking gynoid in the future called a Smart Girl, as in “smart phone” (the male Smartdroids are called Smart Boys)–human-like tools created exactly like the domestic assistant Synths of BBC’s Humans television series.  But like the Emergency Medical Holograms of Star Trek Voyager fame, the time comes when Yuki is no longer the latest, most advanced model, and it’s time for her to be replaced by the new androids and be deactivated.  Yuki becomes self-aware, and like the Replicants of Blade Runner, she decides she has more to offer the world and makes her escape before it’s too late.

Writer and illustrator Dagnino offers a black and white future noir comic that leans into what he does best–those shadows and layouts that feel like the stuff of 1950s pulp novels.  As much as I’d love to see his work in color, the black and white works for this tale of the bleak not-so-distant future.  Yuki is Atomic Blonde and Alita upgraded.  The story is tech-forward like Altered Carbon.  Dagnino’s style is familiar in a good way, mixes of Mike Grell layouts, Phil Noto characters, and the action and appeal of Jackson Herbert–the best of the modern Miss Fury artists.  If you like speculative science fiction, issue-driven narratives wrestling with timeless questions in the manner of the best of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, this should be your next graphic novel.

Check out our sneak preview of Fernando Dagnino’s new graphic novel, Smart Girl:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

On the heels of last year’s landmark book Magic: The Gathering: Rise of the Gatewatch–A Visual History (reviewed here), Wizards of the Coast and Abrams ComicArts have come together to give Magic: The Gathering trading card game players their next must-have guide, Magic: The Gathering: Planes of the Multiverse–A Visual History, a chronicle of the lore-defining events of the fantasy roleplaying multiverse.  In bookstores and at Amazon (here) this week, it’s the latest of Abrams’ high-end, full-color, hardcover books highlighting the artwork of the best-known trading card series.  It documents 28 years of select artwork, mythology, and lore behind Magic: The Gathering, the first-ever trading card game, following Visual Histories focusing on Rise of Gatewatch, Legends, and The Art of Magic: The Gathering–War of the Spark.

The book includes character histories and images of the actual cards–many reproduced for the first time outside the trading card.  As with Rise of the Gatewatch, readers will find their favorite card images, accompanied by detailed descriptions of the planes of the story’s Multiverse, its fantastical creatures, characters, and Planeswalkers, with a focus on the game’s locations and the characters that inhabit them.  Lore-defining events chronicled here will take fans of the game from the Phyrexian Invasion to the War of the Spark, and Planeswalkers beyond those included in the Rise of Gatewatch volume, like Karn, Narset, Vraska, Sorin Markov, and more.  The highlight for fans will be seeing cards they’ve never had in their hands before, but it will also be seeing the full artwork before it was cropped for the card.  And the handy size will fit easily into backpacks, to take along to gaming sessions.

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Here is a look at artwork imagery from Magic: The Gathering: Planes of the Multiverse–A Visual History, courtesy of Abrams ComicArts:

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With an MCU Phase IV release schedule in chaos, and nothing but peeks and false starts last year, Marvel fans are more than ready for the first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which officially arrived late yesterday after an apparent leak earlier in the day.  It was originally scheduled to premiere in theaters last month.  We won’t know until December if we’ll see the movie this year, but at least it confirms its set-up for the second Doctor Strange movie, Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness, and will lay the grounds for the possibility of a host of cameos, which could include characters from the animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  Spider-Man has been Marvel’s #1 superhero for nearly 60 years because he’s a great character teens and adults can relate to, and because Spidey fights some of the best villains in all of comics.  As expected Alfred Molina will reprise his character Doc Ock from Sony’s 2004 movie Spider-Man 2, as will Jamie Foxx as Electro, last seen in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  These leave open the likelihood of at least cameos from former Spidey actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.  But the best addition may be the return of Willem Dafoe as one of Marvel Comics’ best villains, Green Goblin, last seen in Spider-Man 3.  Wouldn’t it be great to fit in a cameo of Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, or even the first live-action Miles Morales?

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What will be the sixth appearance Tom Holland as Spider-Man (since this takes place right after his fifth appearance in (Spider-Man: Far From Home) looks like it has the potential of being as fun as his past appearances, more Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, more Jon Favreau as Happy, Zendaya as MJ, and the rest of Peter’s school friends returning.  Plus Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Benedict Wong as Wong.  And music again by composer Michael Giacchino.

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Take a look at the first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home:

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After a year-and-a-half delay from the COVID pandemic, the pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City slipped in what may be a final convention circuit event for 2021 this weekend, as COVID cases return to the worst of last year’s numbers.  The Kansas City community came together, complying with the city’s mask mandate, tens of thousands of attendees in the five-football-field-sized space of the Kansas City Convention Center over three days.  And masks and acrylic sneeze guards didn’t seem to detract at all from the fun of attendees, cosplayers, creators, and other guests, with only a few detractors not complying (we estimate 1% or less didn’t follow the rules, including, unfortunately, a few exhibitors).  The event hosted a pantheon of celebrities, this year focusing on actors from the long-running series Supernatural, plus nationally recognized writers and artists, all for its eighth year in its downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue.  Unless other conventions follow the new trend of requiring vaccination cards as happening in New York City, San Francisco, and at NFL games, plus more national businesses and restaurants joining in (or the rest of the outliers just get the shot), this could be the last of the big indoor Midwest events this year.  The show ran Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22.  Check out several photos below, which should give you a feel for the attendance, and some of the guests and fans.

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If you missed the first season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, all you need to know is that the crew of the starship Cerritos specializes not in First Contact, but Second Contact, and it has the same brand of humor as The Orville.  The first season is streaming on Paramount Plus (formerly CBS All Access) and the second season is now underway.  It’s good, silly stuff, full of Easter eggs that should appeal to fans of Star Trek (all the series and movies) who also were fans of Highlights magazine or Where’s Waldo? as a kid.

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The music is top-notch Star Trek, and the voices have all the vibe of any live-action Trek series.  Spinning out of a concept from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode of the same name, it also evokes the goofy humor of Kirk encountering Uhura while visiting her roommate in the 2009 Star Trek movie and the style of the original Star Trek animated series.  Would you like to know more?  You can view a trailer of the second season and preview the entire first episode of the second season on YouTube now (for a limited time).

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