Category: Comics & Books


Legendary artist Frank Cho is back this month with a new way to get your hands on an exclusive run of a variant comic book cover design he created for Dynamite Entertainment’s ongoing Red Sonja series.  Initially part of an earlier crowdfunding campaign, Dynamite has just opened up the opportunity for anyone to get their hands on one of four styles of Cho’s beautiful rendition of the famous “She-Devil with a Sword,” with color work supplied by frequent Cho collaborator Sabine Rich.  According to Cho, “When Dynamite asked me to draw the Red Sonja cover, I jumped at the chance.  Who doesn’t love a redhead with a sword?  The cover will show Red Sonja at her best – power and beauty.  My goal is to make her look strong, classic, timeless and iconic.”  This limited time opportunity also provides the opportunity to purchase other collectibles featuring this definitive image of Red Sonja.

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Fight Girls 1 cover FIGHTGRL 3

Review by C.J. Bunce

Eisner and Harvey Award winner Frank Cho, one of the best cover artists and known for his fantastic renderings of women as well as his humor and storytelling, begins his next mini-series in the amped-up Hunger Games-inspired series Fight Girls As with his last five-issue mini-series Skybourne (from BOOM! Studios), Fight Girls features strong women characters.  But this time they are fighting for survival and the right to rule their kingdom as “Queen of the Galaxy.”  Out now from new publisher AWA Studios, Fight Girls is a mix of Cho’s Skybourne and Jungle Girl, and it has what every comic book reader could want: Cho created the covers, and the interior art, and scripted the story for a brand new group of action heroines.  It’s a great start to the story, with big action, gorgeous artwork, and it’s a lot of fun.

Take a look inside the first issue and check out all five of Frank Cho’s covers for the series below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

What do a submarine, a space shuttle, dinosaurs, sea creatures from 20,000 leagues, flying saucers, and a female Tarzan have in common?  They’re all part of Frank Cho’s Jungle Girl.

Frank Cho is one of our favorite artists and he’s also a great guy, always eager to chat at the next comic convention.  He’s a double threat–his artwork is second to none, but many don’t know how humorous his writing can be, as illustrated in his University² series of comic strips and his Liberty Meadows series.  He’s also a great all-around writer, and so it’s no surprise that he combined his trademark jungle women art with his love of dinosaurs and spun them into a series that he plotted and handed over to other writers and artists to execute.  That 15-issue comic book series coming your way this month in the Jungle Girl Complete Omnibus, a giant 392-page trade paperback edition from Dynamite Entertainment.  With stunning visuals and a female Tarzan named Jana born into Earth’s distant past, the only things that would make the book even better would be if Cho wrote and illustrated more than the cover art for it.

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RedSonja

Review by C.J. Bunce

Is this the year of Red Sonja?  Her 50th anniversary arrives in 2023, but we’re already off to a great start.  We thought we had something big with January’s launch of Sonjaversal from Dynamite Comics.  Just as Hannah John-Kamen (who we love, love, love, love, love)–star of hit franchise films including Star Wars, The Dark Crystal, Marvel, Game of Thrones, and Tomb Raider–has now been tapped to take on the role of the She-Devil with a Sword in a Red Sonja reboot movie, comic shops will get you another big Red Sonja fix this week with the premiere of The Invincible Red Sonja.  The series reunites All Star Western‘s Jimmy Palmiotti, co-writing the series with wife/partner Amanda Conner, and artist Moritat.  The variant cover options are worthy of this big series debut, including artwork by Frank Cho and several others.  It’s wall to wall action, with pirates, mermaids, princesses, and intrigue.

Check out a preview for borg readers, courtesy of Dynamite Comics, of the first issue of The Invincible Red Sonja below, along with 48 cover options.

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Our borg Best of 2019 list continues today with the Best in Comics.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2019 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2019 here, and the Best in Television 2019 here.

We reviewed comics from every major publisher this year, and were pleasantly surprised with all the new characters and content available.  You’ll find both some new creators on the list this year and some fan favorites who keep making better comic books each new year.

Here are the best comic books for 2019:

 

Best Limited Comic Series (tie) – Sara by Garth Ennis and Steve Epting (TKO Studios) and Goodnight Paradise by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (TKO Studios).  The new publisher TKO Studios began with a bang with these two incredible stories.  Sara is what every fan of war comics hopes for, and Goodnight Paradise brings the realities of life in the 21st century to the comics page in a story that will stay with readers a long time.

Best Ongoing Comic Book SeriesGhost Tree by Bobby Curnow and Simon Gane (IDW Publishing). Haunting, mythic, and sweeping, this story of a man reflecting on his past and coming to terms with the present combines with Asian legend tropes to form an emotional and curiously funny tale. Sure to leave readers begging for more.

 

Best Sci-Fi Comic Series, Best Comic Book WritingAscender by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics).  Lemire owned this category with two fabulous science fiction tales, both with strong female lead characters. Runner-up: Sentient by Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta (TKO Studios).

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Our borg Best of 2020 list continues today with the Best in Comics and Games.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Books of 2020 here, the Best Movies of 2020 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2020 here, and the Best in Television 2020 here.

We reviewed comics from every major publisher this year, and were pleasantly surprised with all the new characters and content available.  You’ll find both some new creators on the list this year and some fan favorites who keep making better comic books each new year.  We also include some great games and more from 2020.

Let’s get started with The Best in Comics…

Best Comic Book Series – Bounty Hunters (Marvel Comics).  Writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli played with the entire Star Wars universe in a single series, bringing back the cyborg Valance and a host of our favorite bounty hunters.  The result is a great series full of action and throwbacks.

Best Sci-Fi Comic Series, Best Limited Comic Book Series, Best Interior Artwork – Strayed (Dark Horse Comics) by writer Carlos Giffoni and artist Juan Doe.   In the future a military-industrial complex reigns over all humanity and actively destroys distant alien worlds.  The galaxy’s only hope can be found through an unlikely pair: an astral-projecting cat named Lou and his human Kiara.  Honorable mention: Rogue Planet by writer Cullen Bunn and artists Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi (Oni Press).

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Hot on the heels of DC Comics’ big Detective Comics #1000 event last Wednesday, Marvel Comics is stepping in today with its next onslaught of variant covers.  It’s for The War of the Realms, a storyline written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson, a Thor-centric event, bringing in the entire pantheon of superheroes from Marvel, the ten realms, assassination plots, and the fate of Earth hanging in the balance.  As Marvel boasts, “no corner of the Marvel Universe will be untouched.”  It even comes with its own theme song.

This is also your typical Marvel Comics multi-series crossover, with tie-in stories twined through several monthlies, like Journey Into Mystery, New Agents of Atlas, Giant-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, Uncanny X-Men, and Venom, plus Asgardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Thor, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Champions, Fantastic Four, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Superior Spider-Man, Tony Stark, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the League of the Realms, plus War Scrolls and War of the Realms Strikeforce.  That’s a big, twisty storyline ahead for Marvel readers.

The War of the Realms variant covers are on their way with regularly available covers by Arthur Adams, J. Scott Campbell, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Frank Cho, John Tyler Christopher, Oliver Coipel, Amanda Conner, Russell Dauterman (wraparound), Adi Granov, Ron Lim, Nexon, Ryan Ottley, Pyeong Jun Park, George Perez, and Rodney Ramos (international connecting variant with next five issues).  A 1 in 10 variant by Russell Dauterman and Greg Horn, a 1 in 25 variant by Victor Hugo, 1 in 50 variants by Sana Takeda and Joe Quesada, a 1 in 100 virgin variant by Quesada, a 1 in 200 variant by Walt Simonson, and a 1 in 500 black and white Simonson cover.  Plus a blank sketch cover, and retailer incentive covers based on other purchases and store exclusives by Arthur Adams, Amanda Conner, Clayton Crain (trade, virgin) (Frankie’s), Gabriele Dell’Otto, Mike McKone (The Comics Mint) and Skan Srisuwan (Midtown).

That’s 31 in all.

Check them out:
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The #1 top selling issue of Vampirella is arriving in comic book stores this month.  It’s part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the popular horror character, and already pre-orders for #1 of a new series have surpassed 130,000 copies.  This makes the forthcoming first issue of the series, the fifth solo-titled Vampirella comic series, the biggest selling Vampirella issue ever, even beating sales numbers for the original classic magazine from decades ago.  Publisher Dynamite has pulled out all the stops, scheduled to release several variant covers from familiar artists for the first issue.  Pre-sales numbers also make this Dynamite’s all-time best selling issue.

Several creators had a hand in developing Vampirella back in 1969, from monster guru Forrest J. Ackerman to artists Trina Robbins, Tom Sutton, and Frank Frazetta, and editor Archie Goodwin.  The new series will be written by Christopher Priest, with interior artwork by Ergün Gündüz Frank Cho is providing the main cover, with variants available from Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Adam Hughes, Ed Sanjulian, Guillem March, Jose Gonzalez, and J. Scott Campbell and Frank Frazetta “icon” covers, a wraparound Frank Cho cover, plus cosplay editions for each issue and a blank sketch cover, and limited no-logo and black and white cover editions.  Stanley “Artgerm” Lau will provide the main cover for Issue #2, J. Scott Campbell for Issue #3, and it seems there’s a hint from the publisher of a possible new Frank Frazetta cover coming, too.  If you’re lucky enough, you already picked up the 50th anniversary Free Comic Book Day issue we previewed here at borg back in May.

Gündüz′s use of color is probably the best contribution of the first issue, especially in his splash pages.  Fans of the character and monster-zines will find the story is filled with the body count, blood, and horror they’d expect in a Vampirella book.

Take a look at these variant covers for the first two issues, and keep a look out for the life-sized Vampirella display by Jose Gonzalez:

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The wedding of Batman and Catwoman is shaping up in the issues of DC Comics’s Batman bi-weekly series, with the date set at Issue #50, greeting comic book readers next month.  Writer Tom King continues his ongoing Bat-tale with an abundance of interior and variant cover artists, including Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Jim Lee, Frank Cho, Alex Ross, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Joshua Middleton, Dawn McTeague, Frank Miller, Jock, Andy Kubert, Ant Lucia, Eric Basaldua, Natali Sanders, Greg Capullo, Joe Jusko, Olivier Coipel, Scott Williams, Warren Louw, Tyler Kirkham, Rafael Albuquerque, Tony S. Daniel, J. Scott Campbell, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, David Mack, Lee Weeks, Mark Brooks, Dave Johnson, Clay Mann, Greg Horn, Francesco Mattina, David Finch, Paul Pope, Joe Madeurera, Mitch Gerads, Alé Garza, Becky Cloonan, Jae Lee, Francesco Mattina, Ty Templeton, Joseph Michael Linsner, Nick Derington, Jason Fabok, Arthur Adams, Jim Balent, Lucio Parillo, Amanda Conner, and Michael Turner.  The standard cover will feature the work of Mikel Janin.  So how is this going to go down?  Anyone else remember the wedding storyline for Green Arrow and Black Canary?  It seems plenty of villains will be around if the variant covers are any indication.

We think we found nearly all the base images for the variant covers (below).  Let us know if you see one when missed and we’ll update the images below.  We did not include every logo or no-logo version, or black and white or similar variants.

A quick heads-up for Frank Cho fans.  He is selling the above interlocking triptych variant cover series, and if you want these beauties, you’ll want to order them soon.  The image features the main characters of the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  (Cho’s covers will be available at a discount off his release price with a code you can get by signing up for his newsletter here), and Joe Madureira has a similar offer for his covers here.  Even more artists are posting pre-order options for their own variants almost daily.

   

Did we mention variant covers?  If you haven’t been following Batman, the cover art of Batman and Catwoman over the past few months has been something fans of the characters dream of.  With black and white and other versions available, expect at least 30 variant covers for Issue #50.  Many of these options from contributing artists, like Frank Cho, will be found at exclusive sellers, including Kirkham (Hastings), Fabok (Yesteryear), Mattina (7-Ate-9), Jimenez (ZMX), Jae Lee (DF), Sanders (Comic Market Street), Jusko (Midtown), McTeigue (Yancy Street), and Adams (Legacy), and creator exclusive variants only at San Diego Comic-Con or webstores include Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell.  With the release of Batman Issue #50 on July 4 comes Catwoman, Issue #1.  In a rarity for comics, take a look (above, right) at what Catwoman is holding in this cover by Joëlle Jones… Janin’s cover to Batman 50.

Alex Ross Batman 50

And even more have been announced, like three Alex Ross exclusives, available for pre-order for San Diego Comic-Con at his website here.  Greg Horn has three covers available only at his website here.  Mark Brooks has eight variants available here.  J. Scott Campbell has five variants available here.  Jock has three covers here.  Aspen has pulled some art from the late Michael Turner for variants, too.  See even more below.

Here are many of the 50+ cover images and some variations on those variants for Issue #50 previewed so far:

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We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

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