Category: Comics & Books


Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Originally released as Audible original audiobooks, Sharon Shinn’s Uncommon Echoes series is now available in trade paperback editions.  With trademark Shinn romance and wholly original magic, Uncommon Echoes will be a must-read (or must-listen) for Shinn fans. The three novels stand alone and feature new characters, but contain somewhat intertwined stories and familiar faces from the other tales.  Roughly chronological, they could be read in any order, although the first two books spend more time grounding the reader in the world and its unique (or not…) magical attributes.  Highborn nobles in the Kingdom of the Seven Jewels are graced with “echoes,” exact physical copies—like supernatural clones—who shadow them and copy their every move. Believed to have been bestowed by the goddess as decoys to protect the nobles, the echoes are connected to their “originals” by a powerful psychic bond and treasured as status symbols: the more echoes you have, the more elite you are.  But the echoes themselves are merely soulless copies, with no sentience of their own.

…Until they aren’t.  Uncommon Echoes explores the lives and loves of three women and their echoes who break the mold, against the background of a kingdom on the brink of civil war.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A DeLorean time machine Transformer?  It’s like some kind of concept 35 years stuck out of time.  And yet, the future is now–again.  Back to the Future is back in the present, this time with Marty McFly stepping into another future, a future taken over by Transformers’ Decepticons.  It’s a great mash-up idea and it actually works, as envisioned by IDW in its new mini-series, Transformers/Back to the Future Issue #1 is now in comic book stores, and today we have a preview for borg readers.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Star Wars in pictures.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for 43 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans want more.  So it makes sense we’re going to see three books are concept artwork this year for the first season of The Mandalorian, the best thing to happen to Star Wars since the original trilogy (OK, and one or two “Star Wars story” movies).  The first of these behind the scenes books is Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, just released in three versions, one via newsstands, one via comic shops, and a hardcover version you can pick up here at Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores.

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Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was the 2019 adaptation of a comic book series that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But none compared to Swamp Thing.  For our money, if you’re looking for fun, creepy timed for Halloween and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and a series that earned its way to be one of the top 10 comic book adaptations of all, give Swamp Thing a try.  Moving from DC Universe to the CW network where anyone can watch it, the first episode of Swamp Thing begins again tonight at 7 p.m. Central.

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It’s not every day you get to be part of a project that is exciting and fun.  My wife, borg contributor, and author Elizabeth C. Bunce has been writing her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series for a few years now.  Prompted by a quick utterance of “premeditated murder” and a cat that showed up one night in the rain, a character and an idea took hold and before we knew it she had created and sold the first four books in a new series of mystery novels.  But as Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”  Tomorrow, after the obligatory pandemic delay, not only does the first book, Premeditated Myrtle, arrive in bookstores, but the second installment, How to Get Away with Myrtle, too (available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook).  How often do you begin a new series and can hardly wait that next year for the second installment?  Solved! 

It’s been exciting to watch Elizabeth build the story from the ground up, featuring 12-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, an irrepressible and tenacious heroine living in England in 1893 as the sciences of criminology and forensics are taking off.  Her father is a local prosecutor, and with her governess Miss Judson she forms a sort of dynamic duo, solving crimes as she faces the pressures of Victorian society and growing up with other kids whose interests are less… morbid.  And the team is only complete with Peony, a truly opinionated neighbor cat, who joins her on her sleuthing.

“Bunce crafts a truly captivating murder mystery, throwing in a delicious mix of twists, red herrings, and relatives excluded from the family fortune…the book will make readers yearn for more of Myrtle’s (mis)adventures.”  —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

Premeditated Myrtle is currently an Amazon Best of the Month Editor’s Pick and #1 Amazon New Release, and last month How to Get Away with Myrtle was a #1 Amazon New Release (and is currently a #3 New Release).  Last week Netflix Life and Fansided included the Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series on its list of “7 Books to Read if You Like Enola Holmes on Netflix.”  

“In the tradition of heroines like Flavia de Luce and Harriet the Spy, Myrtle is a fine example of the Victorian scientific female—smart, inquisitive and fearless,” says Rhys Bowen, the New York Times bestselling author of the Her Royal Spyness series. “Written with a terrific mixture of humor and suspense, Premeditated Myrtle is a perfect read for any budding detective.”

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Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins is a reboot of the Hasbro G.I. Joe movie series (2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation), intended to be part of a shared universe of features based on Hasbro properties including a host of familiar characters and toys, all coming to the big screen: G.I. Joe: Ever Vigilant, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, ROM: Spaceknight, and Micronauts.  Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe: Origins will star Henry Golding (The Gentlemen) as Snake Eyes, Andrew Koji (Fast & Furious 6) as Storm Shadow, Samara Weaving (Ready Or Not) as Scarlett, Úrsula Corberó (The Broken Crown) as Baroness, Iko Uwais (Wu Assassins) as Hard Master, and Peter Mensah (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Blind Master.  Unfortunately most of these films are still in pre-production, but Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins currently has a tentative release date of October 22, 2021.

But while you’re waiting for your Snake Eyes fix, check out this preview for G.I. Joe–Snake Eyes: Deadgame, a new IDW series by Rob Liefeld.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Who was I kidding?  I didn’t know what the question was–though I was pretty sure it had something to do with why bringing in guns from St. Louis to kill Mike Hammer was a good business move.
For somebody.

How deep could a doctor and hospital get in a big city illegal drug business?  An unpublished Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer novel asked the question in the context of 1960s New York, and thanks to Titan Books and Spillane writing partner Max Allan Collins, that story is back again for Hammer fans–one of the “lost” novels shelved by Spillane and resurrected by Collins.  Originally published in 2010, The Big Bang is back in paperback.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The art of paper folding, called zhezhi, has been around a thousand years in China and Japan, and continues to manifest throughout Western culture.  In children’s books, we’ve seen modern book crafters design incredible fold-out books that allow kids to interact with story characters and settings.  A new book from Abrams Books for Young Readers provides another twist on fold-out book design, allowing each new page to interact with the last.  Star Wars Unfolds: The Original Trilogy sums up the first three Star Wars movies in a great nighttime storybook any young fan of the movies can enjoy.

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A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is a Hollywood classic, a perfect Gothic romance masterpiece starring Joan Fontaine as the mousey Cinderella-esque Mrs. de Winter, opposite Laurence Olivier as the controlling but dashing Maxim de Winter.  There’s a dark secret at Maxim’s sprawling estate called Manderley.  The great future dame Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers, creating one of those screen villains in that club of scary, loathsome manipulators that includes The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Dolores Umbridge, Mrs. Emerson, and Nurse Ratched.  Now 80 years later, relatively unknown director Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who, Free Fire) is bringing his own adaptation to Netflix next month.  So who is being cast in the key roles this time?

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Two of television’s best genre actors are soon going to be donning superhero garb for the two major comic book movie franchises.  First, earlier this month Disney+ announced Emmy-winning Orphan Black lead actress Tatiana Maslany will be expanding the realm of the Marvel Universe as She-Hulk in her own series.  Then today Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson announced Leverage co-star Aldis Hodge will be joining him to fill bring into the fold one of the last members of the classic Justice League of America to have a major series or movie role.  Hodge will play Hawkman in the Black Adam movie.  Both will be live-action shows.

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