Category: Comics & Books


Secrets of the Force

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you skip over the commentary from the critics and modern writers, and focus on the quotes from the past from the actual filmmakers and actors, you may find some new details behind the nine Star Wars movies in a book coming in July.  In their two volume treatise The Fifty-Year Mission, The Complete Uncensored Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, authors Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman compiled quotes from dozens of people inside Gene Roddenberry’s creation, which meant a lot of what you’d expect by way of discussing the creation of the franchise, colliding with what you might not expect–speculation, ranting, gossip, and even anger among the crew.  With their new book the authors switch gears to compiling quotes from people behind the scenes of George Lucas’s creation, including many expected, nostalgic trips to the past coupled with equal parts speculation, ranting, gossip, and anger. Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Wars explores the Star Wars material in a single volume.

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We rated it one of the best TV superhero series of the decade (behind Marvel’s Luke Cage) in our wrap-up of the first 10 years of borg.  In the first season of Stargirl the series never let up, never let us down, and with this week’s new trailer it looks like it’s full steam ahead.  The series that may have you stand up and cheer, from the far corners of 30 years of DC Comics, Stargirl′s first season delivered a story of a trope TV never really does that well–a positive relationship between step-daughter and step-father.  Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore had a relationship with her new stepdad like you’d expect at first–awkward.  But it was doubly awkward when he was an over-eager good guy named Patrick played by Luke Wilson–and they are both superheroes.  Now that the introduction is out of the way, where do we go from here?

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Check out the first trailer for Season 2 of Stargirl:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Moviegoers either love or hate Zack Snyder movies.  His latest, Netflix’s Army of the Dead (reviewed here), is very different from the typical movie he directs, which includes 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League.   Despite taking on a heist movie and a zombie picture in a major action movie, he wrote, directed, and took over the camera for Army of the Dead.  The result was a mash-up that may appeal to regular Snyder fans or anyone else.  This month to accompany the film, Titan Books released Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film If you liked the movie, and especially if you’re a fan of the horror genre and zombie films, you will want to check it out.

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It really has all the mirrors, at least as far as Star Trek: The Next Generation is concerned–the TV series that never got around to an official Mirror Universe episode–although a few episodes came close.  For fans of Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Worf, Riker, Troi, Crusher, and LaForge, few efforts have come as close to original episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation since the series finale aired 27 years ago as IDW Publishing’s continuing adventures of the crew in the pages of the comic books.  J.K. Woodward painted a brilliant new story of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era with writers David Tipton and Scott Tipton in IDW Publishing’s nostalgic Mirror Broken series, and Woodward’s work is among the best of the past decade.  Known already for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, also with the Tipton brothers, and the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, Woodward brought his jaw-dropping photo-real paintings to Mirror Broken–providing poster-worthy interior artwork for every page of the series.  Woodward not only gave fans their first look at the ships and places in the Mirror universe of the TNG years, he created the never-before-seen look of each character for the franchise.

J.K. Woodward homage to the NextGen crew, Mirror style, based on the 10th anniversary Continuing Mission photo.

Now you can get the three thrilling parallel journeys to a darker timeline in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Universe Collection.  You can order it today through Elite Comics, your local comic book store, and via Amazon here.

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In last year’s superhero/horror mash-up DIE!Namite, Dynamite Entertainment took its Masks team-up in a weird new direction.  Masks featured the comic book publishers’ classic superhero characters working together with some of pulp comics’ best villains.  Last year’s intro series DIE!Namite found Red Sonja colliding with a 100-year-old John Carter of Mars, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, a space-voyaging Vampirella, and Marla Drake aka Miss Fury (flashing ahead fifty years and in her eighties)–still fighting crime and taking names.  This year get ready for DIE!Namite Lives!, a sequel monthly series featuring Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell hero Ash Williams joining up with Old Miss Fury (think Old Man Logan), Peri-Purr the Sixth (a cat who thinks Miss Fury is her sidekick), a bald-is-beautiful Vampirella, the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet aka Pantha, and a few other surprises.

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And they’re all surrounded by the Undead.  Deadites.  Zombies.  Drakulon has fallen to the undead plague.  What’s a warehouse inventory worker like Ash going to do about it?

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luke cage

Ten years!  That’s ten years reviewing TV series in the decade that streaming services began to dominate TV viewing– and binge-watching was born as Netflix began releasing entire seasons at once in 2013.  How do you pick the best series?  As with yesterday’s list of movie recommendations, our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great TV series?  Great writing—great storytelling.  Also we looked to difficulty level and technology innovation—TV productions tend to get a fraction of the budget of big-screen features, so what they do with their time and money is critical, and some television series in the past decade were all-out feats.  The third factor we looked to is re-watchability—we’ll be watching the best series for years to come.  The big difference between ranking movies and TV is the change between seasons, that force that inevitably causes most shows to decline with each season.  So consistency is a factor.  Finally, as with movies the most important factor is the fun—why would you devote so many hours of your valuable time if you’re not going to have a great time?

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One more thing: Ten years is a long time so we narrowed the series we’re including to those recommendations that fall primarily within the ten-year window.  We covered several fantastic, re-watchable series that cemented their status in reruns or syndication, many beginning before borg began publishing and finishing in the years after, including Burn Notice, White Collar, Warehouse 13, Leverage, House, MD, In Plain Sight, and three landmarks among the best pop culture-packed series of all time, Chuck, Psych, and Community.  We were disappointed that some of the best series were canceled and left to only a single season, otherwise they may have gone on to fare better against our top recommendations, shows like Jason Isaacs’ psychological police procedural Awake, Sarah Shahi’s all-for-fun Fairly Legal, Lauren Cohan’s action/spy series Whiskey Cavalier, the Doctor Who spin-off Class, the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ popular noir novel series Quarry, the slick animated series Tron: Uprising, and the cyborg future-world Almost Human starring Karl Urban, to name a few.

Grimm

So here are the Top 40 series we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these shows.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new series to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre series.  Title links are to one of our previous borg reviews.

Let’s get started!

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Ten years of movie reviews.  How do you pick the best?  Our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great movie?  #1 for us is great writing—great storytelling.  #2 is re-watchability.  Lots of movies are good, but if every time you watch it you enjoy it all over again and maybe find something you didn’t see before, then you likely got far more value from the movie than the price of a movie ticket.  #3 is innovation—there’s nothing to top off a good story like new technology surprising us.  Finally, the experience must be fun—why else would you devote two hours or more of your valuable time?

So in Casey Kasem style, here are the Top 40 movies we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these movies.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new movies to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre movies, so don’t expect to see strict dramas or a lot of Best Picture Oscar winners here.  Title links are to our original borg review.

Let’s get started!

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