Category: Comics & Books


Black Widow clip b

Review by C.J. Bunce

It was without question Marvel’s biggest delay.  Not only was Black Widow originally expected to arrive in theaters May 1 last year, getting a delay and never a proper theatrical release, it simply was Kevin Feige’s big misfire by not thinking to make it earlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 23 movies.  Content-wise it could have arrived around 2013 as part of the Phase II of the series, and ultimately must be wedged somewhere between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.  For those not yet ready to return to theaters, it’s been a long wait.  Finally Disney+ has dropped its $30 premium for its subscribers and Vudu and other streaming providers have it where it should have been, at a sell-through price of $19.99. 

So how does Black Widow stack up with respect to the previous Marvel movies, and did Marvel make the best superheroine movie of them all with Scarlett Johanson’s solo movie?  First of all, the big word to describe this movie is “surprising.”

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hardcover newsstand

Review by C.J. Bunce

Generations of comic book readers have loved the star-spangled superhero and actor Chris Evans made him popular for yet another generation in the 21st century.  Created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon in March 1941, Steve Rogers and his alter ego Captain America are being celebrated this month in a new decade-by-decade chronology of the influence and impact of the character in Titan Magazines’ Captain America: The First 80 Years, a look at the characters, creators, and multiple incarnations of Cap in the comics.  It’s being released in three editions, one via newsstands, one via comic shops, and a hardcover version you can pick up here at Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores.  Enjoy a preview for borg readers below.

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If you don’t want to see anything about Avengers: Endgame you might want to skip the latest trailer, which reveals some trickery by Marvel Studios in its earlier trailers–although with time travel bringing anyone back into the fold it’s not just possible but a likely scheme to mess with Thanos, and anything can happen.  Take a look at the new trailer below, along with a new poster including the key cast at least one version of what we’ll see in the film.

If you don’t see Captain Marvel first (reviewed here at borg), one thing is clear: you’re not going understand what’s going on in Avengers: Endgame.  As Marvel fans will see in one of the codas for the current film in theaters, everything is coming together, and in today’s trailer the Avengers Assemble–that also means new uniforms.

 

It’s good seeing most of the Avengers back again, even if there’s still no sign of the last recruit, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.  The only quirk: Danai Gurira’s Okoye is in the poster, but her name was the only actor not included in the first poster released today in the above-the-title list of actors (she is listed below the title, along with those not pictured: Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, and Gwyneth Paltrow)–contractual deals tend to be specific about what actors get the top of the marquee listing and who doesn’t, but this decision tends to stand out.  But Marvel updated that a few hours later (shown updated to the right above).  And in the realm of trickiness, note that the original poster included 19 names, many of which were omitted this time–reflecting the characters who vanished in Avengers: Infinity War, like Benedict Cumberbatch.

Take a look at the next trailer–if you dare–for Avengers: Endgame:

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Hawkeye Kate

After Jeremy Renner’s good guy Clint Barton was converted to bad guy in the 2012 MCU Avengers movie, it seemed like there was nowhere for the character to go but down.  Already merely a Green Arrow knockoff (who, in turn, was inspired by Robin Hood), the least interesting Avenger ultimately was relegated to lawless, one-note assassin status by the Endgame finale.  That was the Avenger on the big screen.  What the movie studio missed and is at last catching up to is what was happening in the comics pages while Avengers was in theaters.  Enter writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, who tapped some of the better elements from DC Comics’ Green Arrow comic book series and suddenly Hawkeye became interesting in the comics.

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But what would become a multiple Eisner-winning comic wasn’t just about Clint Barton.  The next Disney+ Marvel series is coming this Christmas, and it’s bringing the even better character from Fraction and Aja’s comic book series forward, revealed in a first preview that looks like we may finally get a Disney+ Marvel series as good as the Marvel movies.  They even got the logo and Matt Hollingsworth’s color scheme right.  Check out the first trailer for Hawkeye below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first two episodes–a full third of the series–have arrived for Marvel’s fourth live-action series of the year on the Disney+ streaming platform and it’s a good start, already faring better than those prior series.  Hawkeye is about Jeremy Renner’s unassuming superhero Clint Barton aka Hawkeye from the Avengers movies–and yet it isn’t.  Although the first episode gets off to a slow start, it’s Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who replaces Hawkeye in the comics, who proves quickly she’s going to be an exciting fixture for the next iteration of the Avengers line-up.  She’s in good company, joining Black Widow’s Florence Pugh’s new Black Widow to take the franchise forward, along with Natalie Portman as new Thor in next year’s movie Thor: Love and Thunder, and Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk in next year’s series She-Hulk. 

Hawkeye is billed as a holiday show and it is, but it falls short in that department, probably because Marvel/Disney didn’t use a key arrow in its quiver: the creator of your second favorite Christmas movie.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After 21 movies and a decade of superheroics, the end arrived this weekend with Marvel StudiosAvengers: Endgame, already setting new box office records.  Nearly every seat at multiple screenings at my local theater was sold out this weekend, as was the case across the country.  Which means many have seen it, but even more haven’t. You can’t review a film without some details, so if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor: bookmark this and come back later.  The short version: If you’re a superhero fan and you’ve followed the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you won’t want to miss it.  But re-watch both Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel first.  I’ve no idea how anyone will follow the events in the film without first seeing at least these two films.  Endgame is a good wrap-up to the first major story arc in the franchise and a fine segue into the future of the films.  But it’s not perfect (what ever is?) and I’m going to walk through some goods and bads from the film.

That means “there be spoilers ahead” so consider yourself forewarned if you continue.

Note to email subscribers: Clicking on the link will take you into the full review.

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Omnibus 2

If you have a houseful of kids and both spouses at home, all for the first time for longer than a school break, it may start getting… close… soon, especially if you’ve exhausted your collection of games, and finished cleaning out your garage and basement for the second time.  If that’s the case, or you’re just looking for some good reads, Titan Books has just the thing, three new, big books that are sure to keep at least a few of you entertained for the coming weeks.  The theme is Marvel Comics superheroes, but they aren’t comics.  They are part of Titan Books’ ongoing series of paperback novels delving deep into your favorite superhero characters.  Each volume, called an omnibus edition, is a hefty volume featuring three novels by a frequent Marvel writer.

Choose from Diane Duane’s Spider-Man: The Venom Factor Omnibus, including the novels The Venom Factor, The Lizard Sanction, and The Octopus Agenda, Christopher Golden’s X-Men: Mutant Empire Omnibus, featuring novels Siege, Sanctuary, and Salvation, and Greg Cox’s The X-Men and The Avengers: Gamma Quest Omnibus, with novels Lost and Found, Search and Rescue, and Friend or Foe? 

Diane Duane’s 656-page Spider-Man: The Venom Factor Omnibus is the ultimate look at the life of Spider-Man.  For Peter Parker, it’s one counter after another with three major Spidey characters.  Each novel confronts a key adversary, Venom, then the Lizard, then Doctor Octopus.  But these aren’t the only familiar faces readers will encounter.  And it’s not called The Venom Factor for nothing–look for Venom in a key role throughout these three novels.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As with the first three books in Abrams’ Cinemagic book series, The Moviemaking Magic of Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man blends filmmaking techniques with its key franchise star.  Author Eleni Roussos combines a quickstart education in filmmaking, applied to Spider-Man’s MCU movies as the latest Spidey sequel, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is released internationally.  If you love concept art, props and costumes, and all things Spider-Man, you won’t want to miss this.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With Avengers: Endgame still in theaters, another adaptation of the same source material that inspired that movie and Avengers: Infinity War is now available.  It’s James A. Moore′s Infinity, a novelized adaptation of the Infinity comic book event from 2013.  Moore adapts the key story details from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer’s story across an array of comic book titles, drawn by several artists.  In most ways Infinity will seem completely foreign to fans who are only aware of the movies.  When people speak of the cosmic side of the Marvel universe they’re referring to the kinds of elements that form the backbone of this story.  The Inhumans, known many by the short-lived television series, are a major component of the story.  Like the graphic novel, the novel follows the Avengers and other superheroes of Earth trying to fight off ancient creators called the Builders, who believe that Earth would be better terraformed–leveled, destroyed, and rebuilt–than left as it is.  At the same time Thanos is looking for his son.  One of his loyal Children of Thanos (the Black Order in the novel), which consists of the same henchmen in the films plus a few others, ultimately finds him–his son, Thane–on Earth.

Fans of 1980s brief New Universe will recognize Star Brand and Nighthawk as major characters in this story.  Missing characters seen in the graphic novel that don’t end up here are Luke Cage, Power Man, She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, Wasp, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Hank Pym, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Falcon.  New characters for movie audiences include Manifold, Captain Universe, and the Atlantean Namor, the Sub-Mariner.  Black Panther and Doctor Strange are still key to the story, but in different ways.  Alien races include the Kree and the Skrulls, with Ronan the Accuser as a major player.  The novel adaptation is spread thinly across universes as was the comics version.  Keeping track of the characters without the benefit of seeing their unique costumes may be difficult for anyone not familiar with all the comics.

If you’re bothered by corporate guru Tony Stark as always the smartest guy in the room, which seems to be the thing in more recent years, especially with the popularity of the character from the movies, you’ll find some relief here.  Fortunately Moore also uses Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards, Hulk Bruce Banner, and X-Men’s Hank McCoy aka The Beast–the three actual smartest legacy superhero characters–to work the moving parts of the problem.  Ultimately what the reader brings to the book will determine the level of enjoyment.  For anyone new to hundreds of tangent characters of the Marvel Comics, keeping track of Who’s Who is nearly impossible.  Moore takes strides to bring background characters to the fore, including a romantic sub-plot, but who they are and why they should be important isn’t tapped into enough.

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FCBD 2021 Judge Dredd  FCBD 2021 School Extra Girls

Today at Elite Comics and your local comic book shop–Free Comic Book Day is returning for 2021.  Often overlapping with the annual Star Wars Day–May the Fourth–this year it was pushed out a few months to Saturday, August 14.  A good excuse to visit your local comic book shop and get re-introduced to some series you may have missed, the annual FCBD is also a way to check out some titles you may otherwise have overlooked.  Below, check out some of the covers and titles coming your way for FCBD 2021 today!

FCBD 2021 Sonic  FCBD 2021 Star Wars

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