Archive for October, 2021


 

The series could have been called Captain America: Aftermath and shored up into a theatrical movie.  Instead The Falcon and the Winter Soldier became another one of those six-episode Disney+ streaming series that didn’t really have much to say about its characters–another story that pulls together the odd supporting characters from other films and wedges them into a new story intended to connect Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Marvel’s future.  Better production values than their network TV counterparts but not as riveting as the layered storytelling and worldbuilding in Marvel’s Netflix series, the Disney+ series pull together the movie actors in “bridge” stories to try to keep viewers coming back for more.  Why didn’t Kevin Feige give the Falcon his own movie to show how he became Captain America?  Who knows.  But fans of the Marvel characters will get a chance to look back at how the filmmakers conceived their story for the series and its dozens of fight scenes in the forthcoming hardcover book, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The Official Marvel Studios Collector Special.  It’s available for pre-order now here at Amazon, or order it from Elite Comics or your local comic shop.

The book is a great souvenir guide for the series that will introduce fans to the crew that made it happen.  Check out a preview below.

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Mandalorian phase 2

The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 44 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney knows what its fans want, and so they assembled two takes on a action figures for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian–one with modern molds and articulation in vintage packaging, and the other with retro, classic Kenner style molds and articulation, housed in classic, mock-distressed packaging–plus original-style vinyl capes.  Wave I of this line included IG-11, Moff Gideon, Cara Dune, Greef Karga, Kuiil, “Baby Yoda,” and Din Djarin, the man behind the mask.  That complete set is shipping now at Entertainment Earth and Amazon.  The next wave in the Retro line has just been previewed by Entertainment Earth, who is now accepting pre-orders here.  It’s an equally good line of figures, this time from Season 2, including one of the most collected figures of the original Kenner line, as well as rebooted lines in the 1990s and 2000s: Boba Fett.  It also features Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, a second season Din aka Mandalorian, The Armorer, and an Imperial Death Trooper.  Check out the new sculpts, accessories, and packaging below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ancient philosophers have discussed the concept for millenia: What is the nature of life?  Are we part of the plan of an architect of all things or do we have a say in our future?  The latest exploration of this subject uses science fiction stories as analogies to these unanswered questions in The Simulated Multiverse, by Rizwan Virk.  Virk skips over the scientific method to dabble in ideas of pseudoscience like Erich von Däniken or an episode of In Search Of…, blending bits of the history of science with the “what ifs” of a Dan Brown novel, James Rollins’ The Last Odyssey, or the Wachowskis’ The Matrix.  It’s an interesting trip full of elements that are integral to understanding much of pop culture fiction.  The book’s impetus is an obscure postulate by science fiction’s own Philip K. Dick, and the conversation interconnects everything from Sliders to Star Trek.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

I’m just going to say it.  This may be the greatest pop culture celebration book ever.  It couldn’t be more keyed-in on its source material and fan base.  Ugh.  Gah.  Zhuuh.  You’ll make those sounds and more going through the recipes in Alien: The Official Cookbook, the latest Alien franchise tie-in book and a food prep guide for anyone planning the ultimate Halloween party.  “Gross!”  You can just hear those kids who are fans of gross-out movies as they try to pick what course to make first.  It’s disturbing and a masterpiece at the same time.  Normally I wouldn’t review a cookbook without preparing some of the meals, so I can present a read on the design and content as well as the desirability of the food.  This is an exception, first: to get it out to you before Halloween weekend, and second: because if you’re like me then making these selections for a party will be more for the visual surprise than the eating (I may double back later for a review of the meals, too).

Eggs, chestbursters, and xenomorphs.  Oh, my!  The dishes are all presented in a way Alien designer H.R. Giger would have loved.  Alien is known for its dinner scene, cut short by… intervening events of a horrific nature.  (Insert a screaming Veronica Cartwright as Lambert here).  Thanks to cookbook writer Chris-Rachel Oseland, you, too, can experience something similar.

Alien: The Official Cookbook is available now here at Amazon (you still have time to get it before Halloween!).  Take a look at a preview of some of the recipes below, courtesy of Titan Books.

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Sensational cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Kim Todd pulls no punches in her new book Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters.”  Opening with an expose on the illicit abortion trade in 1880s Chicago, Todd sets the stage for her analysis of more than a century of “writing while female.”  Todd’s unflinching portrayal of pioneering female journalists offers a new—and far more complete—view of the history of American journalism.  From the moment when Elizabeth Cochrane, aka “Nellie Bly,” burst on the scene with her undercover profile of New York’s public mental hospital, through the Yellow Journalism era of the late 1890s and well into the twentieth century, Todd tracks the evolution of journalism as a profession, and with it the rise and fall of women reporters.  The social issues that sparked the enormous popularity of stories written by women, and what caused “respectable” publications to pull away from their superstar reporters–and historians to whitewash their contributions–form the meat of Todd’s extensively-researched volume.

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Sometimes you just know when you’re going to want the graphic novel/trade edition of a new series.  That looks certain for the new DC vs Vampires, a story outside the normal continuity of the DC Comics superheroes that will twist the most famous into vampires, and it takes long-time fans of DC characters to one of their favorite places: the Hall of Justice that we grew up with in the Superfriends television series.  The first chapter finds New 52 Justice League Dark character and I, Vampire lead Andrew Bennett crawling to the iconic Justice League headquarters to share word of something dire with the League, where he finds Hal Jordan and one of the Wonder Twins.  

There is a new vampire leader on Earth and what he’s plotting will mean the end of human domination of the planet.

Stories like DC vs Vampires are a great chance to dip back into the DC Universe without needing to get caught up on all the series and crossover events.  In a word, these limited series are just plain fun.  

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Wonder Twin powers activate!  Form of… anything that will get this vampire out of my face!  Take a look at a preview of the first issue–and lots of cover variants for the first and subsequent issues–below.

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dnd goft guide banner 2021

It’s less than two months until Christmas.  It may seem a bit early, but with carrier services already delaying shipping it’s a good time to get squared away on holiday shopping, so we’re getting you started today with our Mega-Sized Dungeons & Dragons Holiday Gift Guide.  This has been a stellar year for D&D players, with new adventures and sourcebooks for the “world’s greatest roleplaying game.”  If you’ve been tracking the breadth and scope of the 5th Edition with us at borg, you know there is truly something for every fantasy fan in your realm.  If you’ve ever wanted to start playing Dungeons & Dragons, but didn’t have anyone around that knew how to play, Wizards of the Coast released a boxed set with everything you need to get started.  Expanding on its earlier D&D Starter Set, the D&D Essentials Kit includes all of the components to get started on an adventure out-of-the-box, with hours of adventuring for 2-6 players.  That’s just the beginning…  We have three new accessories to share, especially for anyone looking for the gamer who has everything: The Witchlight Carnival Dice and Miscellany set, Dungeon Master’s Screen: Dungeon Kit, and the yet-to-be-released book of adventures, Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos If your gamer is hard to buy for, they probably don’t have these new releases yet.  Let’s take a look at these and everything you need–or may have missed–from the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons:

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the-mandalorian-chapter-14-baby-yoda- Simplicity baby Yoda

It’s been a year since the airing of Season 2 on Disney+ of the first episodes of The Mandalorian.  As they say, “better late than never.”  That applies to a round of craft patterns released this week for the first time by Simplicity, the pattern making company that has been making all sorts of clothes, craft, and utility item patterns for nearly a century.  Although crafters have been making and selling items in places like Etsy and eBay, these are the officially licensed plans to make your own Baby Yoda aka The Child aka Grogu.  Or make your kid into Baby Yoda.  Or carry Baby Yoda–or the Mandalorian logo or helmet image–around town on a snazzy laptop bag and be the envy of your co-workers.  The plush Baby Yoda evokes the plush Chewbacca and R2-D2 toys from the 1970s released for the original Star Wars.  They are definitely cute, and no doubt will be fun to make.  Check out the new product tie-ins for The Mandalorian from Simplicity below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Sheena, Will Eisner and Jerry Iger’s jungle adventurer returns next month in the pages of Dynamite Comics’ new series, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle.  Sheena is stuck, transferred to a strange place and time, manipulated as a pawn, held hostage for the lives of her animal friends.  In a throwback to Predator, she is sent on a solo mission into the jungle to discover what happened to a lost research team.  Taken inside a giant biodome she must uncover the secrets of the dome and those who brought her there.  Can she survive as new obstacles are thrown in her path?  Stephen Mooney writes this very different take on Sheena, with artwork by Jethro Morales and several variant covers by Dynamite’s familiar pantheon of cover artists.  The first issue is the set-up, introducing a sci-fi/tech environment with Sheena’s backstory hidden from the reader.  Here is her mission, but why is she here in the first place?  It’s a good start for high adventure comics fans.

Here is a preview trailer and the variant covers for the first issue of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Director David Gordon Green’s 2018 movie Halloween was great fun (reviewed here), a welcome callback to the low-budget filmmaking style of the 1970s, a sequel/reboot of the original horror film that set off a new era of scream queens and slasher horror films.  But it was only the first act in a three-act opus that continues in Halloween Kills and will wrap next year in Halloween EndsWith this month’s premiere of Halloween Kills on streaming platform Peacock Premium, fans will realize Gordon knows the franchise, the genre, and all that retro nostalgia that has audiences clamoring for shows like Stranger Things and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  Complete with obscure characters from the corners of Haddonfield, Illinois, returning 40 years later, Halloween Kills is not just good horror but great–complete with all the non-apologetic, operatic gore and scares that have been the backbone of the modern monster movie mega-franchises first resurrected by John Carpenter and Debra Hill back in 1978.  Since then we’ve seen the likes of Michael, Jason, and Freddy stepping in for Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, The Mummy, and the Phantom of the Opera.

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