Category: Comics & Books


A new sci-fi television series is coming your way next week with a similar vibe as Killjoys and Farscape.  It’s an adaptation of a comic book series, but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it.  Like many TV series adapting comic book stories of late, the production was practically overlapping with its release.  The series is called Vagrant Queen and it hails from one of the smaller publishers, Vault Comics.  The comic was written by Magdelene Visaggio and illustrated by Jason Smith, and the TV series is written by showrunner Jem Garrard (Killer High), Mariko Tamaki (X-23, Tomb Raider, Lumberjanes) and Mika Collins (Travelers).

Adriyan Rae (Atlanta) plays the series lead Elida, with Alex McGregor (Blood Drive) as Amae, and Paul du Toit (Maze Runner, Tremors) as Commander Lazaro.  Fans of Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl, and Being Human fans will be happy to hear Tim Rozon is the series co-star, playing Elida’s old frenemy, Isaac.

The series promises cannibalistic aliens, dangerous planets, shootouts, karaoke, and parking tickets.  Order Vagrant Queen–the graphic novel–now from Elite Comics (it’s also available at Amazon here).  And check out this preview of Syfy’s Vagrant Queen:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How many sci-fi and outer space tropes can you pack into one hour of TV?  You’ll find out in the first episode of Syfy’s new space fantasy series Vagrant Queen It’s like Firefly and The Fifth Element as if they were directed by Sam Raimi.  Star Wars elements meet Doctor Who aliens with effects that feel a lot like The Last Starfighter.  And humor that’s a cross of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Or maybe it’s just sci-fi created by Canadians.  Whatever it is you’ll be all-in with the crew of the spaceship Winnipeg as it takes off into adventures in some galaxy out there that is… not ours.

Adriyan Rae (Atlanta) plays the scavenger Elida, a mix of Marvel’s Valkyrie and Rey from Star Wars, who stealthily has masked her former persona as Queen Eldaya, being pursued by the dreaded Republic, led by Commander Lazaro, played by Paul du Toit (remember Gary Oldman’s Zorg in The Fifth Element? He’s like that guy).  Tom Rozon (Lost Girl, Wynonna Earp) is Isaac, a frenemy from Elida’s past (part Han Solo or Jack Harkness or Lone Starr from Spaceballs or Bruce Campbell in… anything).  They come together with a Kaylee-inspired ship mechanic named Amae, played by Alex McGregor, to save a space station’s bartender, get a ship back, and rescue the queen.  And that’s just the first episode.

It’s light-hearted, campy fun a la Xena: Warrior Princess featuring a group of actors who seem to be competing to see who has the most fun.  It’s a little bit… everything… that you enjoy about space travel, with a cool lead like Killjoys and alien makeups reminiscent of Farscape.  Goofy banter and situations, you’ll find yourself calling out the inspiration from nearly every scene, beginning with an opening rif on The Mandalorian.  This is the escapism you’re looking for right now.

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Berkeley Breathed, Mike Mignola, Lynn Johnston, Joe Jusko, Kevin Eastman, Freddie Williams III, JK Woodward, Scott and David Tipton, Marc Andreyko, Bobby Moynihan, and cast from Wynonna Earp, are among dozens of comic book and television creators to be featured at signings and panels hosted by IDW Publishing at next week’s 49th annual San Diego Comic-Con.

As you’d expect IDW will also be bringing to Booth #2743 lots of comic book exclusives and special edition hardcover format books.  You’ll find Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, and John Byrne Artist’s Editions, plus comics featuring Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DuckTales, Danger Girl, Judge Dredd, My Little Pony, Sonic, Transformers, Ghostbusters, Sword of Ages, and more, including several exclusive variant covers only available at SDCC 2018.

Get more information on all the SDCC 2018 exclusives from IDW at the publisher’s website here.

Here are the announced exclusives from IDW, followed by IDW’s signings and panels:

Jack Kirby’s Heroes & Monsters Artist’s Edition, Heroes Convention Variant
Cover by Jack Kirby
$150, Limited to 100 units
15” x 22”
Many of Jack “King” Kirby’s most iconic heroes (Captain America, the X-Men, Ant-Man, and Sgt. Fury) join seven of his best monster stories in this collection, plus a gallery section filled with covers and pin-ups.  Debuting at this year’s SDCC is the variant cover featuring Tales of Suspense #98 — Captain America versus Black Panther.

Jack Kirby’s Heroes & Monsters Artist’s Edition, Monsters Convention Variant
Cover by Jack Kirby
$150, Limited to 100 units
15” x 22”

Jim Starlin’s Marvel Cosmic Artifact Edition, Signed Convention Variant
Cover by Jim Starlin
$150, Limited to 100 units, each with a bound-in signature plate signed by Jim Starlin.
12” x 17”
This Artifact Edition focuses on Jim Starlin’s beloved Warlock, Thanos, and Captain Marvel, stories that shaped the Marvel Universe for decades. Debuting at this year’s SDCC is the variant cover featuring Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 with Thanos fighting Spider-Man and the Thing.

John Byrne’s X-Men Artifact Edition, Signed Convention Variant
Cover by John Byrne
$150, Limited to 100 units, each with a bound-in signature plate signed by John Byrne.
12” x 17”
John Byrne’s run on the X-Men that introduced Alpha Flight and created the near-mythical storylines “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past!”  Debuting at this year’s SDCC is the variant cover featuring X-Men #133, where Wolverine goes berserker-style on the Hellfire Club.

Joe Jusko’s Marvel Masterpieces Hardcover Convention Variant
Cover by Joe Jusko
$75 each, Limited to 150 units
Joe Jusko’s complete Marvel Masterpieces painted trading card art from the 2016 Upper Deck set is collected in its entirety for the first time — more than 130 never-before-seen masterpieces, including hard-to-find premium cards.  Debuting at this year’s SDCC is the variant cover featuring a new painting of the Incredible Hulk.

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In-person cancellations have not kept every event this summer from canceling entirely.  One of those is typically one of the summer’s biggest events, San Diego Comic-Con.  Events for SDCC 2020 are proceeding ahead beginning Wednesday, but this time providing an opportunity for fans of all things pop culture a chance to sit through the kinds of panels you might see were you to attend in person in any regular year–without standing overnight in lines.  You can even grab a lanyard off the rack, print your own badge (for you and your pets), cosplay with your family, and load the panels up on as big of a screen as you have.  It’s 350 panels over five days, beginning Wednesday, July 22, and wrapping up Sunday, July 26.  Check out all our suggestions for building your own fun convention week experience below.

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Wynonna Earp gun

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

We at borg.com have been big fans of several recent series on SyFy, notably those coming from Canadian showrunner Emily Andras (Lost Girl, Killjoys).  Well, Andras is back with an all-new series that we previewed here that looks to be just as fun, once again with a powerful female lead.  Based on the IDW comic of the same name, Wynonna Earp is a paranormal Western, in the tradition of the anthology Dead Man’s Hand, (reviewed here) and borg.com favorite All-Star Western, featuring Jonah Hex (reviewed here).

On her twenty-seventh birthday, Earp family black sheep Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano, Haven, The Listener) returns home to Purgatory (presumably Alberta) to attend her uncle’s funeral, and inherit the family curse: She’s become the Earp Heir, the only person capable of wielding her great-great-granddaddy’s Colt .45 Buntline Special, known as “Peacemaker.”  See, Purgatory and the Earps are haunted by the ghosts–or Revenants–of Sherriff Wyatt Earp’s kills.  And every generation of Earps must hunt down the undead again, until all 77 have been dispatched for good.  The trouble is, Wynonna wasn’t actually the Heir–that dubious honor ought to have belonged to elder sister Willa.  But Willa and their father were killed by Revenants when Wynonna was just a kid, leaving Purgatory, Wynonna, and younger sister Waverly unprotected.

Doc Holliday Wynonna Earp

The series has just aired its third episode (Episode 4 airs Friday, April 22), and it’s off to a fantastic start.  Andras has a great knack for blending excellent worldbuilding, sci-fi and paranormal elements, winning characters, and humor.  Scrofano is sharp-tongued and swaggering, a perfect modern-day gunslinger, and she’s backed up with an excellent supporting cast.  Shamier Anderson (Defiance) plays Agent Dolls, special agent of the Black Badge Division, a sort of Men in Black-style “cross-border” paranormal task force, and Dominique Provost-Chalkley as overeager little sister Waverly is a funny and delightful sidekick.  But the standout is Tim Rozon (Being Human, Lost Girl) as the mysterious Henry, immediately identifiable (though not identified) as the ghost of Doc Holliday, sporting a lazy drawl and unclear motives that make him absolutely captivating–utterly unrecognizable from his vile Lost Girl character.

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Are you ready for San Diego Comic-Con?  IDW Publishing is.  This week the publisher previewed all its SDCC 2017 exclusives–and there’s something for everyone.

Select exclusives are now available for pre-order at IDW’s webstore here.

The following includes all the details, courtesy of IDW:

Comic Books

Clue #1 Envelope pack, includes spot color variant plus 3 regular covers and a bonus spot-color cover by Gabriel Rodriguez.  $20.  Limited to 500 packs.  Follow the clues and solve the mystery in IDW’s new Clue series.  Includes exclusive Gabriel Rodriguez Con variant cover, only available in this pack, includes all three regular editions with the alternate endings, and a full set of rare Clue promotional trading cards, all tucked neatly into a Clue evidence envelope.  All the familiar faces from the famous board game are back, with a couple new twists.

  

Darkness Visible #5, Con variant
Cover by Ryan Kelly
$10, Limited to 200 copies

Written by Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David, Darkness Visible tells the story of an uneasy co-existence between humans and demons that lasted eighty years, is now spawning an endless terrorist conflict, with a cover by Ryan Kelly.

DuckTales #0, Con variant
Cover by Jeff Smith
$10, Limited to 500 copies

Bone creator Jeff Smith drew a variant cover of the DuckTales cast for this convention variant.  Featuring characters like Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and Huey, Dewey and Louie, this new #0 issue is a jumping on point for fans old and new in anticipation of the brand-new series coming Summer 2017.

Funko Universe Bundle Pack, 5 regular Funko Universe one-shots
Various artists.  $25.  Limited to 100 packs.  Pick up all five of IDW’s Funko Universe one-shot comics from May, each with a cover modeled after the popular Funko boxes, and get a free bonus copy of TMNT #70 with a Funko-style cover by artist Dave Alvarez.  The only way to get this variant is to buy this bundle pack.

Wynonna Earp: Season Zero #1, Con photo cover
$10. Limited to 400 copies.  The stars of the hit television show will be on hand at the convention to sign a special photo variant cover available only at the show.  And for the ultimate collectors a deluxe pack will be available collecting the convention variant, last year’s San Diego variant cover, and a bonus item.

   

Wynonna Earp Season One Yearbook, Con photo variant
$10.  Limited to 300 copies.  Includes special convention photo variant cover, filled with on-set photos, including action shots from the show and all-new behind-the-scenes goodies.  This is a book all Earpers need in their motorcycle saddle bag.

Wynonna Earp #1 Deluxe Pack, 2 special photo variants featuring cast members from the hit show.
$20.  Limited to 150 packs.  Get the last two Wynonna Earp Convention Variant comics with a free bonus item.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not all TV shows are made for binge watching.  Case in point:  The Umbrella Academy, now streaming on Netflix.  The TV series is based on a six-issue comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá.  Most comic adaptations for the screen have more content to pull from, but there are exceptions, like Cowboys & Aliens, From Hell, A History of Violence, iZombie, Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Men in Black, Oblivion, Polar, Road to Perdition, Sin City, 300, Timecop, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and Wynonna Earp.  Just as most of these were able to hold up something substantial to the audience, some comics, like Cowboys & Aliens, Polar, Sin City, and 300, either didn’t have enough content, were insubstantial, or are simply too difficult to translate.  The Umbrella Academy falls somewhere in this last group.  The story is entirely derivative with nothing new to be found here, which doesn’t need to be a bad thing.  Slow moving, painfully so at times, pretentious in one story thread and over-dramatic soap opera in the other, at ten episodes this might be the most difficult series produced by Netflix to trudge through so far.  But some key elements are so well done it may be worth a try if you’re patient and have the extra time on your hands.  But don’t be afraid to have the remote control handy for fast forwarding.

Unlike timeless characters and worlds from DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which have some benefit in not needing to be completely explained in each adaptation, The Umbrella Academy offers only a brief glimpse at its origin story, leaving many questions unanswered.  In October 1989, 43 women on Earth give birth unexpectedly.  Don’t expect to learn why.  It is never revealed.  Seven of these babies are purchased by a strange, wealthy, apparently Dr. Moreau type, played by an unrecognizable Colm Feore (Thor, Anon, Paycheck).  Do all 43 have superpowers?  It doesn’t seem so and we don’t learn why.  But these seven, or at least six of seven, do.  The wealthy man takes on the role of father in name only, turning them into the Jackson Five of superheroes, and the kids are provided a mother who is actually a life-like robot (Jordan Claire Robbins), and a sort of butler who is a talking ape (Lodge 49’s Adam Godley).  Why?  The story never tells us.  These are but a few of the frustrating parts.

The good–maybe even great–parts are found in four of the seven superpowered siblings.  Number Five is a boy who stepped out of time, deemed lost to the others, and lives into the distant future only to find a way back to his siblings looking like the very boy who left years ago.  Young Nickelodeon actor Aidan Gallagher steps into this role perfectly, playing a kid with life experiences of a 58-year-old with the authority and bravado of George Clooney.  Irish actor Robert Sheehan (Bad Samaritan) plays Klaus, one of the singularly unique characters of comicdom:  He is a mess, an addict, with no drive or direction, and he can see dead people, and maybe much more if he can only stay sober.  He is also the only one who can see the only brother who has been killed in action, off camera, years before, and with no explanation how or why for the viewer.  That’s Number Six/Ben, played by Justin H. Min.  Ben tries to guide Klaus onto the right path from the other side.  And then there is Number Two/Diego, played by David Castañeda (Sicario: Day of the Soldado).  Diego has a history of being nervous about his powers, and he’s the only one who seems to want to save the world with his powers–the classic superhero character of the group that you’ll cheer for.  The special effects are a high point–as when Number Five, Klaus, and Diego get to use their powers.  Of all the characters in the series, only Klaus and Ben get a clear, satisfying character arc, but if you only watch The Umbrella Academy to catch these four characters and fast forward through the rest, you’ll witness some solid superhero performances and story elements.

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If you thought audiences may be souring on the onslaught of television series based on superheroes and comic books, you’d be wrong.  Hollywood is fully engaged in the realm of continuing to adapt comic books to the small screen.  Along with all the current series moving into next seasons this year, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Gotham, iZombie, Riverdale, Supergirl, and Wynonna Earp, you’ll have at least three more new series featuring superheroes to check out this Fall.  Check out previews for all three below after the break.

Black Lightning is the latest character from DC Comics coming to the CW.  Cress Williams plays the title character who is Jefferson Pierce by day.  On paper Black Lightning sounds a bit like The Incredibles, with a retired hero returning to the superhero business.  The superhero debuted in the comic book Black Lightning Issue #1 40 years ago.  Tony Isabella and Dennis O’Neil wrote the original stories, with artwork by Trevor Von Eedon.  Black Lightning also stars China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, and Christine Adams.

The Gifted hails from a pretty powerful TV combo: Bryan Singer, known for everything from House, M.D., to The X-Men movie series, is co-producing the show with series creator Matt Nix, showrunner on the successful series Burn Notice.  The series stars Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker (Angel) as parents who take their family on the run after they discover their children’s mutant abilities.  The series producers have said it will not intersect with the X-Men movies, but you’ll see familiar characters like Blink, Polaris, Thunderbird, and Eclipse.  The show co-stars Burn Notice’s Coby Bell, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Percy Hynes White.  The show will air on Fox.

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It’s a useful story tool when used right: The historical talisman presented to a modern character who uses the power of that talisman to do harm or save the world.  We’ve seen it throughout The Librarian, Warehouse 13, Ray Bradbury Theater, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Highlander, Witchblade, Wynonna Earp, The Shannara Chronicles–it’s everywhere, and it’s timeless.  Frank Cho uses the same method to drive the story forward in his new five-issue, creator-owned, limited monthly series Skybourne.

Released this month from BOOM! Studios, Skybourne has what every comic book reader could want–Cho created the covers, the interior art, and scripted the story for a brand new action heroine.  The title character Grace Skybourne has been compared to James Bond–she has Daniel Craig’s Bond’s lightning reflexes and ability to level a room with her little finger.  And she’s an agent every woman wants to be and every man wants to be with.  So the Bond comparison rings true.  Cho used covers originally intended for DC Comics’s Wonder Woman series for this series, and it may very well be true that Grace Skybourne–and Cho’s series–is the Wonder Woman series we all wish he’d write.

grace-skybourne-frank-cho

In Issue #1 we meet Grace Skybourne and witness her abilities firsthand as she eliminates one baddie Terminator style and gracefully slips through a cover-to-cover fight scene straight out of John Carpenter’s They Live.  And because this is a Frank Cho project–being tough doesn’t mean she can’t be gorgeous and feminine along the way.  She’s searching for the story’s MacGuffin: King Arthur’s sword Excalibur.  Be prepared for some surprises.  Most of her foes take her for granted, but not all.  Cho’s choreography of combat and layouts are clean, simple, and as superb as you’d expect.  And his humor is back as well.  Color work is nicely rendered by Marcio Menyz. Continue reading

pizzaboy iii cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

What comic book series would you like see adapted to film that hasn’t yet been tried?  The big superheroes–and many small ones–have now made their marks, along with the likes of stories from independent or creator-owned origins like From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Cowboys and Aliens, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Hellboy, RED, R.I.P.D., Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even small screen shows like The Walking Dead, iZombie, and now Wynonna Earp.  Ask me what comic book series I would like to see translated to film the most and I won’t flinch:  It’s Portuguese writer/musician Felipe Melo and Argentinian artist/designer Juan Cavia’s The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy.  (I’d invest in that film right now).  It’s the most humorous and satisfying series since Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows.  Rich in pop culture references like you’d find in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Leverage, fanboys and fangirls of any franchise will find some all-out fun here.  Now the creators are concluding their series with the final act of an epic trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy III –Requiem, available now from Dark Horse Comics.

Melo and Cavia (and colorist Santiago R. Villa) are the real deal.  Each of their three volumes has a foreword by a legendary film director fan:  John Landis, George A. Romero, and now Tobe Hooper.  Dog Mendonça (pronounced men-dōn’-sah) and PizzaBoy originally appeared in serial form in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.  João Vicente “Dog” Mendonça is an overweight, Portuguese werewolf operating out of a noir era private investigator’s office.  Mendonça has a lanky unpaid pizza delivery boy who becomes a client he calls PizzaBoy.  And he has an assistant–a 6,000 year old demon named Pazuul, who appears as a chain-smoking blonde girl who never speaks out loud.  They’ve saved the world more times than anyone can count, and are pretty blasé about it.

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We reviewed the first volume in the series, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy, here at borg.com back in November 2012.  In the first book the reader becomes a character walking along with the duo as Melo breaks the “third and fourth walls” in a funny and beautifully drawn story.  Mendonça told the reader his own comic book creation story.  In flashback we saw Mendonça’s tumultuous past.  We learned that Mendonça’s father and six sisters were killed during World War II so that bad guys led by a Nazi could capture Mendonça and use his beastly werewolf powers for his owns ends– a tale full of bad circumstances, an epic journey in a small package, and revenge.

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