Archive for January, 2022


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year’s best television series in seven categories finds its sequel this week in the comics pages.  Adapted from the 1999-2001 anime series considered to be the best of the genre, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop was the ultimate mix of the space life of Firefly, the dark future Earth noir of Altered Carbon and Blade Runner, and the lived-in future realism of Alien and Outland.  Unfortunately Netflix unthinkably canceled the series after only one season.  How could 74 million viewing hours in one week not justify a second season?  Your guess is as good as ours.  Lucky for the series’ fan base, Titan Comics is introducing new stories in a limited monthly comic beginning this week with Cowboy Bebop #1.

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One of the Top 10 fantasy television series of the past decade is getting a sequel.  As with Firefly, that sequel is coming in the form of a major motion picture.  The series was Netflix’s 2019 wuxia series Wu Assassins, and the sequel is Fistful of Vengeance International world martial arts champ Iko Uwais returns as the chef tapped with the supernatural powers of 1,000 monks, along with series co-star Lewis Tan (Mortal Kombat)Wu Assassins made other action franchises pale in comparison, mixing the best choreographed fight sequences with visual effects, humor, actors we want to see more of.  That Chuck Norris-esque movie title doesn’t hurt either.  Check out the trailer for Netflix’s Fistful of Vengeance below.

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She was one of the best aliens introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a friend of Captain Jean-Luc Picard with a past never to be revealed.  She saved the galaxy from a bad timeline through Picard’s loyalty to her instincts alone in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”  In Star Trek: Generations she’s one of the only links to the meaning of the Nexus, thereby putting together an unlikely team of Picard and Captain James T. Kirk.  Her past on Earth goes back as least as far as run-ins with the likes of Mark Twain.  She knows how to wear a cool hat, and the last we saw her was as a guest at the marriage of Will Riker and Deanna Troi.  The wait is over.  Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg returns as Guinan next month in the second season of Star Trek: Picard.  

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After a year that saw Sonjaversal, The Invincible Red SonjaRed Sonja: Black and White, another Red Sonja, 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, a new year of Red Sonja begins with the heroine pulled out of time and taken into the mythological realm of Camelot.  With her 50th anniversary arriving in 2023, the onslaught of series from Dynamite Entertainment continues in Immortal Red Sonja.  The re-imagined stories of Robert E. Howard’s famous “she-devil with a sword” will find Sonja in league with Merlin, and pursued by the Green Knight.  If you’re wondering what that gray cut-off sweater is about, it’s actually chainmail in the style of Barry Windsor-Smith’s original 1970s design for Red Sonja.

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The most infamous, notorious, and maybe most beloved of toymakers, Marty Abrams returned to the toy biz in 2018 (after a stint in prison for fraud and the bankruptcy of his famous toy company–get the whole story on Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us).  The company he made famous–MEGO–gave kids a memorable 1970s line of licensed 8-inch (1:9 scale) action figures, and it has been adding more figures–often in limited supplies–the past few years.  Abrams has pulled in a diverse cross-section of licensed properties to get his foot back in the door with kids and collectors.  Look around at Wal-Mart and Target and you’ll find an eclectic mix of pop culture nostalgia, some figures resembling sculpts and costumes from the original MEGO figures, others representing characters that may leave you scratching your head, wondering who has been eagerly waiting to see this show in an action figure line.  Finally it seems MEGO may be giving its licensors the look they deserve design-wise, as you’ll find with the Young Frankenstein and Universal Monsters line.  Check out some of the new and recent figures available below.

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The Mystery Writers of America announces its annual recognition of the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres each January.  The annual list commemorates the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe (213 years this year!), and last year borg writer Elizabeth C. Bunce won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for her book, Premeditated Myrtle.  This year’s list of 2022 Edgar Award nominees was posted today, and Elizabeth was nominated for a second year in a row, for Cold-Blooded Myrtle, the third novel in her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery series!

The 76th Annual Edgar Awards are honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in 2021, and will be celebrated on April 28, 2022, although the past two years have been virtual ceremonies.  You might recall (as we posted here last year) Elizabeth’s partner in crime joined her in the announcement of her award:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Words are power in Scotto Moore’s expansive, mind-bending first novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages.  “Power morphemes” are power itself, punctuation marks are aliens, and nothing is as it seems in an almost drug-induced frenzy about a young woman immersed in the real-life politics behind her favorite MMPORG virtual reality universe, Sparkle Dungeon 4.  Follow as the Queen of Sparkle Dungeon infiltrates the corporation behind the game in this new Tor release, arriving at bookstores this month, and available for pre-order here at Amazon.  How to break reality in three easy steps.  Mr. Robot meets Ready Player One and The Fifth Element?  Maybe, but the world building is more imaginative and detailed than in Ready Player One, and this story isn’t about nostalgia.  The granular level of the world building would feel like something concocted over decades if the subject matter wasn’t so modern.  Someone reading it in 1995 wouldn’t have a clue what it’s even about.  But it’s an extension of sci-fi storytelling dating back to The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game.  A bit of Avatar--the James Cameron one–but more interesting.  It’s ambitious, but mostly a fun ride.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You are Star-Lord in the new Eidos-Montreal video game based on the infamous Marvel Comics band of misfits, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  The third person, action-adventure has players calling the shots as the team tries to save the universe again, but not before you cause a chain of events to make it all unravel.  Guardians of the Galaxy–the game–is space fantasy action with comedy notes, available now at Amazon for PS4, PS5, XBox, and more.  There’s even a purple llama.  And if you like the game, or you want to know what it’s like to be a voice actor for video games, don’t miss the behind-the-scenes guidebook, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Art of the Game, just out from Titan Books.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Writer-director David Koepp knows how to make a good movie.  He’s written the scripts for Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, for Raimi’s original Spider-Man, for De Palma’s Mission: Impossible, and the list goes on, to include some horror work.  In You Should Have Left, Koepp adapts German writer Daniel Kehlmann’s novel of the same name.  The film is from Blumhouse, which lately has produced horror that is less slasher and more appealing to mainstream viewers.  You Should Have Left is a pulse-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and barely earns its R rating.  It also proves you don’t need a big cast and big budget to make a fantastic movie.  You Should Have Left, a 2020 sleeper you probably overlooked, is streaming now on the free Peacock app.

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You haven’t yet seen the best of the concept artwork behind the Star Wars series The Mandalorian Fans of the series saw the first swath of those images in the eye candy-filled first season look at the artwork behind the series in The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian–Season One, which we reviewed here at borg.  Coming next month you’ll get to see the inspiration behind the return of Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker in the series, and the first live-action appearances of Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan, all found in the pages of Abrams Books’ The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian–Season TwoIt’s now available for pre-order here at Amazon.

The library of books, which feature the most thorough of the franchise’s chronicles of the films (in The Art of The Force AwakensThe Art of Rogue OneThe Art of The Last JediThe Art of SoloThe Art of The Rise of Skywalker, in The Art of The Mandalorian: Season One and even a look at the Earthbound destination in The Art of Galaxy’s Edge), repeatedly makes our end of year “Best of” lists.  Take a look inside the latest book in the series below.

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