Category: Comics & Books


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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the 21st century’s best comic book artists with a singular style brings her heroine back to the comics pages.  Writer-artist Cynthia von Buhler is know for her sensationalism, both in story concepts, artwork, and marketing, merging real-world events and time travel tours to the past via her comic book work, as seen in her striking The Illuminati Ball We first met her heroine Minky Woodcock in Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini (reviewed here), as she recounted the 20 days leading up to the famed magician’s death on October 31, 1926.  Her next Minky adventure is now available in single monthly issues, Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Electrified Tesla.  If you like the idea of a girl Friday coming into her own, then Minky Woodcock is for you.

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Shang-Chi trailer

Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe took center stage with some big reveals at a Disney investor event last year.  Since then it’s all been about shuffling release dates.  In the interim Disney+ has launched both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with Black Widow now scheduled for arrival July 9, 2021, which was when we’d initially expected to see the premiere of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  Probably the most unexpected of the forthcoming movies from Marvel, this is another film where we expect to find, as with Guardians of the Galaxy, a new access point to the Marvel superheroes for a new generation of movie audiences.  Along with a new poster, now we have our first teaser trailer.

Shang-Chi poster

Long-time comics readers will know Shang-Chi as the Master of Kung Fu from the pages of 1970s Marvel Comics by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.  Originally the son of Fu Manchu, the character was an attempt by Marvel to create a monthly like the Kung Fu TV series after they failed in their bid to get the adaptation rights.  And everyone knew visually he was based on Bruce Lee.  In the new film Shang-Chi is played by Canadian actor Simu Liu (Orphan Black, Warehouse 13), comedian and comedic actor Awkwafina (Nora from Queens, Jumanji: The Next Level) plays his friend Katy, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong, Forced Vengeance) as The Mandarin, Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek Discovery, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is Jiang Li, Florian Munteano (Creed 2) as a new cyborg, and Ronny Chieng (Godzilla vs Kong, Crazy Rich Asians) as Shang-Chi’s friend Jon-Jon.

Wait no longer!  Here’s the first look at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s more likely than not you haven’t heard of Galaxy’s Edge, or Black Spire Outpost, or the remote Outer Rim planet called Batuu.  But you have heard of Star Wars.  Billions have seen that fictional space fantasy galaxy via movies, books, and a TV series.  But far fewer have made their way to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyworld in California, and that means a tie-in, real world location event experience is out there that most Star Wars fans haven’t tapped into yet.  That’s where Abrams Books’ seventh book in their concept art library documenting the Star Wars universe comes into play.  The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will take readers where they’ve never been, a world inspired by the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie just as the movies were so inspired, further springing from 11 movies, three series, and dozens of books.  The result is a destination different and new that fans have never seen before.
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Star Wars’ first live-action TV series, The Mandalorian was created by fans for fans, and every frame tugs at the nostalgia the franchise’s fans hold for the original 1970s and 1980s trilogy.  With those films the most fans could hope for were magazines and books, often ordered via Scholastic book orders at their schools, each showing a few images from the films that could take us–in a snap–back to the movies.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for nearly 44 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans wanted more.  We’ve seen several books on The Mandalorian, including Abrams Books’ The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (reviewed here).  The first of the behind the scenes books we reviewed in October here at borg was Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, covering the first four episodes of the first season.  Now The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery Volume 2 is available, and you can order it here at Amazon or find it at any brick and mortar bookstore.  Take a look inside…

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Humble Bundle has launched its latest content bundling opportunity with IDW Publishing, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons tie-in comic book adventures.  The “Humble Comics Bundle: Dungeons & Dragons by IDW Publishing” will run through May 3, 2021, and it features a large selection of Dungeons & Dragons adventures, including up to 28 full graphic novels, plus individual issues of IDW’s latest D&D series, Infernal Tides and At the Spine of the World.  As with past Humble Bundle promotions, readers can simply pay what they want, starting at only $1.00 to purchase a basic tier, then increase their contribution up to $25 to add more graphic novels to their collection.  Take a look back at previews and reviews of several of these here at borg.

You have four tier opportunities to choose from:

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Wood Wife cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Fantasy fans likely know Terri Windling primarily as an anthologist, editor of collections of modern fairy tales with co-editor Ellen Datlow including Black Thorn, White Rose, The Green Man, A Wolf at the Door, and others.  Now Windling’s own original novel, The Wood Wife (1996) is getting a new release from Tor Books as part of its “Tor Essentials” library of books.

Readers (and writers) who came of age in the 1990s will find much here that feels like coming home to a familiar landscape.  Windling’s tale of magic in the American desert, and the humans seduced by it, is at once a murder mystery, a story about art and artists, and a haunting fairy tale.  The Wood Wife is a classic example of American fantasy at its finest.

When a poet she’s never met dies and leaves writer Maggie Black his remote home in Arizona, Maggie seizes the chance to leave her nomadic life behind and settle in the stark and beautiful Sonoran Desert near Tucson.  Hoping to write a biography of Davis Cooper, the poet she wrote her college thesis on, Maggie eagerly digs into his papers, not realizing she’s opening the door to more than just his past.  Strange things begin to happen: objects and people go missing, she has mysterious encounters with even more mysterious strangers, and she begins experiencing rumbles of unearthly dangers.  As Maggie grows to understand the desert, she also uncovers its underlying magic, learning it’s as full of folklore, fairy life, and magic as anywhere in Western literature.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you only know Alex Ross from his extensive work with the DC Comics superheroes, get ready for a great book of poster art featuring all-new paintings of the superheroes of the Marvel universe.  Bar none, Alex Ross is the creator whose coverage has received the most views and feedback in the past 10 years of borg (early on we looked at some of our most favorite of his artworks here and you can see all our coverage of his projects here).  You’ve probably already checked out Alex Ross’s previously reviewed art overview books Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross, and The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross.  Although Ross has created countless covers and projects like Marvels over the years, what you may not be aware of are full-figure, painted portrait, images of the Marvel Comics superheroes Ross installed last year in Marvel’s New York offices as a life-sized mural.  All 35 individual character posters used in the mural are now available in a giant-sized book, The Alex Ross Marvel Comics Poster Book, full of premium cardstock, ready-to-frame posters, including a 44″x16″ foldout of the entire connected image.

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The eight-time Eisner/Harvey Award–winning comic book series returns this year.  Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory continues the adventures of the wise dogs in Dark Horse Comics’ unique blend of fantasy, humor, and horror.  An elder member of the pack of recalls a harrowing World War II mission where a mysterious curse creates an army of crawling, disembodied heads threatening to overwhelm Japan.  The dogs attempt to solve the mystery, coming into conflict with shape-changing tanuki, evil oni, and a horde of vengeful demons.  Writers Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer and letterer Nate Piekos return with artist Benjamin Dewey to take fans of the long-running, episodic series where they’ve never encountered this anthropomorphic pack of brave sleuths before.

Beasts of Burden Occupied Territory cover

The book collects Issues #1-4 of the single-issue series in a hardcover compilation.  Here’s a preview from Dark Horse Comics of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory:

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Loki Mobius

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is likely the most popular villain in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  He’s also one of the best, staying true not only to the comics, but the spirit of the Norse mythology they pulled him from.  So a Loki series, coming soon to pay streaming provider Disney+, is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of 2021, right?  That seems to be confirmed in the latest trailer for the six-episode event series.  Is there a superhero series or movie this year you’re more anxious to watch than Loki?

As demonstrated by Luke Wilson’s appearance as co-star of Stargirl, you get the feeling the Wilson brothers are going to be the secret weapon for another sure-fire superhero series (even if it is about a super-villain).  This time it’s Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius, who is going to introduce Loki–and the audience–to a new universe tangent to the Marvel world we know about.  Mobius M. Mobius is a character with some true comics street cred, originating from the mind of writer/artist Walt Simonson.  And Mobius has a past in the comics pages connecting him with Fantastic Four and She-Hulk–will Wilson’s character be the new glue to connect the integration of the FF from Fox to Disney, and pull Tatiana Maslany’s She-Hulk into the MCU in her own series, due to arrive next year?

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And does this furry friend know Goose from Captain Marvel?  Other actors in the series include Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, and Richard E. Grant, who played Marvel character Dr. Rice, the mad scientist in Logan, from the other Marvel studio–Is this another opportunity to pull in the Fox Marvel stories?

Check out the latest trailer for Loki:

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Cartoonist/writer Gene Luen Yang is taking readers to the Old West this summer in the pages of DC Comics’ Batman/Superman series.  DC’s multiverse will collide as the Batman from one reality meets the Superman from another.  They will team-up with their Earth-0 counterparts to try to thwart the efforts of the villain of the series, Auteur.io.  Classic 1930s an 1940s movies tie-in to the villain’s schemes, and the series promises Golden Age-inspired superheroes taking on robots, supporting characters like you haven’t seen them before, and more. 

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