Category: Con Culture


Our borg Best of 2020 list continues today with the Best Books of 2020.  If you missed them, check out our reviews of the Best Movies of 2020 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2020 here, and the Best in TV 2020 here.  Our list continues tomorrow with the Best Comics and Games of 2020.  And we wrap-up the year with our additions to the borg Hall of Fame later this month.

We reviewed more than 100 books that we recommended to our readers this year, and some even made it onto our favorites shelf.  We don’t publish reviews of books that we read and don’t recommend, so this shortlist reflects only this year’s cream of the crop.

So let’s get going!

Best Sci-Fi, Best Thriller Novel Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson (Tor Books).  It’s a far-out science fiction novel with all the right notes of a good supernatural fantasy.  And it has an easy pace and an impending, looming darkness waiting ahead that will keep you planted firmly in your seat until you get to the last page.

Best Tie-In NovelBloodshot novelization by Gavin Smith (Titan Books).  A great update to the genre that began with Martin Caidin’s Cyborg, Smith creates an exciting, vivid novelization of the comic book character adapted to the big screen.  Honorable mention: Firefly: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove (Titan Books).

There are many more best book selections to go…

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Green Arrow Stephen Amell SDCC 2015

DC Entertainment and the CW released a first look at the new costume for Oliver Queen’s superhero incarnation the Arrow at the DC panel at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday night.  This suit was crafted by Maya Mani, who also crafted supersuits for Arsenal (Colton Haynes), Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), Speedy (Willa Holland), and Ray Palmer’s Atom.  The original costumes for the series had been designed by Academy Award winning costumer Colleen Atwood.

The new look seems to pull more from the New 52 look at the Smallville supersuit more than any classic look for the character.  Those football pad shoulder pieces are going to take a bit to grow accustomed to.

Sunday the cast appeared again, this time with Amell in the new garb claiming the “Green” in the Green Arrow title, and mentioning the change from Starling City to the classic Star City.

New Arrow costume from Stephen Amell

The panel showed a video (below) recapping the series highlights from 2015 so far.  What it really does is emphasize that Ra’s Al Ghul has the worst name in comicdom and that no one at Warner Bros. must have any idea how it is intended to be pronounced (your guess is as good as ours, but just look at each cast member to see how many different ways it can be said).

Neal McDonough joins CW’s Arrow this season as villain Damien Darhk (sometimes DC Comics seems like it attended the George Lucas school of character naming, doesn’t it?).  McDonough crosses the divide from the Marvel universe, formerly playing the awesome Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Agent Carter.  We’ve also been fans of his work in everything from Quantum Leap to Star Trek: First Contact, from The X-Files to Timeline, and Walking Tall to RED 2.

Oliver Queen Arrow new supersuit SDCC 2015 costume panel shot

Here’s the video montage from the panel at Comic-Con:

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If you love comics and especially if you haven’t read a comic book in years then this Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day is all about you.  See what you have been missing at comic book stores across the United States as shops hand out free issues of new comic books from your favorite franchises and publishers: Marvel, DC Comics, IDW, Archie Comics, Image, Dark Horse, Titan Comics, BOOM!, Oni Press, Aftershock, and more.

Marvel fans won’t want to miss out on the lead-in to the new Avengers comic book series discussed here at borg.com earlier this week.  Doctor Who fans will find all-new stories featuring the 7th, 10th, and 11th Doctors and the first appearance of the 13th Doctor!  Today is May the Fourth–the annual Star Wars Day, and tomorrow Star Wars fans can find Han Solo and Chewbacca facing off against Zuckuss and 4-LOM from The Empire Strikes Back in Star Wars Adventures.  Riverdale features a story with Betty and Pop at the Chock-lit Shop.  In all, 52 new FCBD stories will be available. Keep in mind not all stores will have every title available and most stores limit each person to five issues to meet demand.

While you’re there, take a look around at the shop and purchase a comic or graphic novel or two.  Don’t know which one?  How about New Ultimates: Thor Reborn, or Wonder Woman: The True AmazonIf you liked Avengers: Infinity War, ask to see the shelf of Thanos and Avengers titles.  Getting ready for Ant-Man and The Wasp coming to theaters?  Ask about all the available related titles.  You don’t know who this Venom character is that Tom Hardy is playing in the new movie?  Your comic shop can get you caught up for Venom.  Do you like Batman, Miss Fury, the Bionic Man, Squirrel Girl, Spider-man, The Eternals, Ghost Rider, Ghost, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Moon Knight, Liberty Meadows, classic Archie Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy, Green Arrow, the Shadow, Star Trek, Valerian and Laureline, or Katy Keene?  Just ask, and someone will point you in the right direction.  Giant trade paperback editions are much less expensive than you might think, and they can get you caught up quickly on years of content.

 

If you’re in the Kansas City area check out Elite Comics between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., where you’ll also find lots of deals, get your Avengers issue signed by writer Jason Aaron, and meet other creators–and there’s cake.  Or use this comic book store locator to find your nearest participating shop.  Here’s an advance look at all 52 covers from the FCBD 2018 comic books you will find Saturday, a look inside the pages at some artwork from the Avengers issue, plus a video about the event:

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Happy October!

Your annual list of scary, ghostly, spooky, creepy, slashery, and generally monstrous films is back.  The goal?  Not to miss your favorite Halloween movies in October, and maybe find some new favorites.  You’ll be able to find many staples of the holiday season.  Below we’ve provided hundreds of movies scheduled to air–hundreds to choose from with a mix of classics and modern.  Syfy′s “31 Days of Halloween” is back, along with Freeform′s “31 Nights of Halloween” (which continues to be a dozen or so movies played over and over all month, with some kind of world record to be set with its too-many-to-count airings of Hocus Pocus).  As always AMC doesn’t kick in with its “Fear Fest” until October 14, and as with last year you can get caught up on The Walking Dead, and The Terror all airing throughout the entire month (you’ll have to check the AMC website for the last week of the month, as they don’t release their listings this far in advance).  Best of all, TCM hosts Godzilla with 17 movies airing Fridays in October, and 41 horror classics on Thursdays–really your best bet for the season.  You’ll find this year another Stephen King movie marathon, some Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Vincent Price, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kruger.  Disney channel will be releasing its listings for Monstober later in the month so you may want to check the Disney website for updates.

We’ve bolded some of our recommendations and asterisked other notable events in October.  If you missed last year’s new Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, find it streaming on Vudu and other services–it’s not to be missed (and you can catch all the past entries in the series on AMC).  Also, if you missed Netflix’s latest seasons of Stranger Things or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, now’s a great time to catch up.  And with showings of both Predator and Hellboy movies, you might as well catch the new releases on Vudu, The Predator and Hellboy (2019).

All month long on streaming services and premium channels like Netflix and Starz you can watch horror movies including The Sixth Sense, The Lost Boys, The Boy, Cloverfield, Coraline, Children of the Corn, Cult of Chucky, Van Helsing, John Carpenter’s The Thing, They Live, and Ghosts of Mars, Young Frankenstein, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Zombieland, Life, Scream, Amityville: The Awakening, Sleepy Hollow, Hollow Man, The Craft, and many more, plus series like The Twilight Zone, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Requiem, Bates Motel, and The Frankenstein Chronicles.  If all else fails, you can find your favorite ghost story or other horror classic on Vudu and Amazon Prime, where you can buy or rent recommendations like The Fog (both versions), The Birds, The Shining, Orphan, Let Me In, The Others, The Woman in Black, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Ring, Grimm, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (all these are highly recommended, and you can catch many of these airing this month, too).  Need more recommendations?  Check our past recommendation lists here.

So take notes and put your watch list into your DVR now so you don’t miss anything, especially useful for many of the marathons, which often play in reverse order (?!).  All times listed are Central Time:

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borg dot com benchmark logo tape

I kicked off borg.com as a way to catch up on entertainment news, books and movies back on June 10, 2011.  I’ve posted what’s new and interesting each day to provide “your daily science fiction, fantasy, and entertainment fix” every day for three years now and borg.com will continue to forge ahead into the future, well beyond our 1,000,000th view by readers last month.

I want to say thanks to you for reading.  It’s a lot of fun (and hard work) keeping up on all the great genre entertainment out there, be it on TV, in theaters, in books, or comics.  I also want to thank all the comic book publishers out there that provide us with previews and review copies, as well as book publishers and TV and movie studios and collectible companies that allow us to give you the first look at what’s coming next.  Our first look back in June 2011?  A list of all 52 of the new titles for that then-unheard of thing called DC Comics’s New 52.  We figure that if we like what we see, so might you.

bionic borg meter

Thanks to our great reader friends who share story ideas with us, too, from the U.S. and around the globe.  Keep ’em coming!  We love tracking our readership in hundreds of countries each week, and welcoming new subscribers to our updates as well as those who follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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Fallcon logo 2013

The Midwest Comic Book Association is hosting the 25th Annual FallCon “Comic Book Party” at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday October 5, 2013, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in St. Paul, Minnesota, also called the “One Day Wonder.”  Twenty-five shows is a long time for any convention so if you’re in the area this may be a great way to spend up to seven hours tomorrow pouring through more than a half a million comic books for sale and meet more than 135 comic book creators scheduled to attend.

The headliner for this year’s show is comic book writer Mark Waid.  Waid has written more comic book characters than almost any other American comic book author, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others.  His award-winning graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come, is one of the best-selling
comics of all time.

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Superman Cyborg cover   Dead Shot JLA lenticular cover

September is Villains Month at DC Comics and the editors looked like they were having fun Wednesday with the release of a bunch of standard monthly superhero titles defaced and taken over by the huge pantheon of classic DC villains.  And along with the vandalized covers DC has released special 3D animated lenticular covers–those great retro plastic lined images you once found in cereal boxes and vending machines.

With the Justice League presumed dead (yeah, right), the Crime Syndicate of villains has arisen out of this summer’s Trinity War story arc.  The backbone of the multi-title storyline will be the Forever Evil mini-series, with Issue #1 in comic book stores this week featuring writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch.   Following Villains Month, all of the New 52 titles not directly tying into Forever Evil will pick up where they left off in August.  All of the other books will catch up in April 2014 with the Forever Evil timeline after the miniseries’ conclusion in March.

Joker Batman lenticular cover  Count Vertigo Green Arrow Lenticular cover

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carlos-cabaleiro-art-cards-for-topps-rogue-1    daniel-bergren-art-cards-for-topps-rogue-one

Topps’ new series of trading cards for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story scream out “These are the cards you’re looking for” with an array of insert “chaser” cards that trading card collectors and general fans of the series will want to check out.  The term “sketch” cards almost trivializes the variety of forms of media used to create these one-of-a-kind cards.  These aren’t prints or copies of the cards–they are the one-and-only originals the artist created.  Collecting a set is nearly impossible, and if collectors don’t plan to buy boxes and boxes of cards to only get a small number of the cards (if they’re lucky) then the last resort is eBay, where cards can fetch hundreds of dollars or more for a single card.

This weekend Topps releases its new trading card set – Topps Rogue One Series 1 trading cards.  This set features 90 base cards of characters and scenes from the film plus 6 insert sets to collect plus the second set of five Darth Vader continuity cards (the first 5 cards were available in Topps Rogue One: Mission Briefing).  Topps Rogue One also includes autographs, medallion cards, and printing plates, in addition to the possibility of nabbing a sketch card.  Inserts include character stickers, montages, “character icon” cards, propaganda poster cards, vehicle blueprints, and a set each of hero and villain cards.

2016-topps-star-wars-rogue-one-autographs-donnie-yen-as-chirrut-imwe    saw-card

Autograph cards include signatures from Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Paul Kasey (Edrio Two Tubes and Admiral Raddus) and Nick Kellington (Bistan).

You can purchase a box set of card packs here now at Amazon.com.

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Where are they now?

After spending nearly 11,000 workyears on the Voyager space program so far, or one-third of the estimated effort required to build the great pyramid at Giza, the Voyager space probes are currently in the “Heliosheath” – the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas, more than 19 billion miles from Earth for Voyager 1, and 9.5 billion miles from Earth for Voyager 2.  Thirty-nine years ago this past August 22, Voyager 2 was launched and a few weeks later on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1 was launched.  Both spacecraft are still sending scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space Network (DSN), according to NASA.

The focus of the original mission for the Voyager probes was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn.  After making several discoveries there — such as active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and photographing the intricacies of Saturn’s rings — the mission was extended, with Voyager 2 going on to explore Uranus and Neptune–the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets.  The current mission–Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM)–is exploring the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain.  In 2008 the probes were two of only a handful of objects that man had successfully sent beyond the edge of our solar system.

What the Voyager program did that no other program has done is send a distinct and comprehensive message to be intercepted at some point by a hopefully intelligent and friendly lifeform somewhere beyond our own solar system.  The means was a golden record and record player.  The music and sounds found on that record are the subject of a current Kickstarter campaign, seeking to release an LP version of the Voyager record to the public for the first time.  Back in the 1980s you could buy a limited box set that included the book Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record (an indispensable Voyager reference) as well as a CD of the complete music, languages and sounds and a CD-ROM of the photos included on the space record.  We first discussed the golden record and CD-ROM set here at borg.com five years ago.  Sagan’s Murmurs of Earth book and disc set is still available from time to time at Amazon from $100 on up for the deluxe setThe book alone is also available and is inexpensive despite being long out of print.

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Golden Age Superman Unchained 1   Superman Unchained 1 standard edition

The celebration of the 75th anniversary of Superman is in full swing this week as the new Superman movie Man of Steel opens in theaters across the country today.  DC Comics has coordinated with comic book stores with the release of a monthly Superman titles and a new monthly this week from some of DC Comics’ top creators.   Superman Unchained #1 is in comic book stores this week, bringing together writer Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing, The Wake) and artists Jim Lee (Justice League, Batman: Hush) and Scott Williams (Batman: The Dark Knight).  Snyder subtly and not so subtly ties in technologies and feats of our own world in his initial chapter of the exploits of the last son of Krypton.  Fans of Lee’s art will appreciate a two-sided, quad-fold pullout poster featuring key moments of the new story.

1930s Superman Unchained   Neal Adams Superman Unchained 1

Satellites circling Earth begin plummeting to the ground.  We encounter Superman as he plunges into a circling international space station, and he must quickly figure out a way to save the astronauts inside and the town below the station is barreling toward.  Superman references Guinness Book free-fall records once he drops off the astronauts.  If you track the actual International Space Station astronauts on Twitter or otherwise, you might find that what was once a passing destructive event in a quick read now carries a greater emotional impact.  Likewise, Snyder includes a prologue from Nagasaki in April of 1945 that reveals the creation of the new series’ ultimate villain–and what the “unchained” in Superman Unchained may be all about.

dc-comics-superman-unchained-issue-1d   Alt Superman Unchained

More than the standard monthly first issue, keep an eye out for a variety of alternate covers (see above and below), released by DC Comics as part of the 75th anniversary.  Look for a 1930s variant by Bruce Timm, a Golden Age variant by Dave Johnson, a Silver Age variant by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, a Bronze Age variant by Neal Adams, a Modern Age variant by Jerry Ordway, a Superman Reborn variant by Dan Jurgens, a Superman vs. Lex Luthor variant by Lee Bermejo a New 52 variant by Brett Booth.  The standard edition features a Lee/Williams cover, complete with DC Comics’ new 75 Years Superman logo.  Compare these re-creations of classic looks of Superman with our previous take on Superman with “The Many Faces of the Man of Steel.”

Superman Unchained alt cover Issue 1   Alt Bermejo Superman Unchained 1

If the glut of New 52 Superman titles since September 2011 left you walking away empty-handed from not knowing what to start with, and if All Star Superman isn’t your thing, Superman Unchained looks to be a Superman story with more classic elements and non-stop action.  The brief villain reveal indicates we may have an interesting new character and we get to revisit Superman’s relationship with Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and The Daily Planet.

Jim Lee alt Superman Unchained 1   Alt b Superman Unchained 1

Rounding out the month of June and the Summer of Superman, look for the new Batman/Superman series featuring writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee in comic book stores next week.  Look for a “Director’s Cut” of Superman Unchained to be released in July–it will have more original Jim Lee art as we found in the re-issue of his Batman: Hush called Batman: Hush Unwrapped, reviewed here at borg.com earlier, as well as Snyder’s script.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com