Category: Fantasy Realms


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Forgotten Realms have never been more fun.  Writer Jim Zub has partnered with artists Max Dunbar & John-Paul Bove, Nelson Daniel, Thiago Ribeiro, Milen Parvanov, and Glauber Matos in a huge compilation book, Dungeons & Dragons: Days of Endless Adventure IDW Publishing and Wizards of the Coast have brought forward the best from the D&D game books and card games, and combined good fantasy storytelling with classic artwork like you’d find in both D&D manuals or J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical worlds, with humor similar to Mike Wieringo’s Tellos.  Best yet, it features the Dungeon Mayhem’s Minsc and his trusty partner hamster Boo, meaning lots of bravery (and laughs) await you.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some writers are great at writing crime novels from the perspective of the detective, some are great at writing as the criminal, and then there are writers like Donald E. Westlake who had it all figured out.  The latest publication of a classic Westlake novel from Titan Books’ Hard Case Crime imprint is from the vantage of a murderer who keeps getting wrapped deeper and deeper into his web of lies.  The novel is A Travesty, a 1977 pile-on of crime references and tropes about a film critic trying to prove wrong the maxim “crime does not pay”–featured in a new 2-for-1 trade edition with the short story Ordo titled Double Feature, and originally released together under the title Enough.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This year marks the 90th year since Nancy Drew first started showing off her detective skills in The Secret of the Old Clock by Mildred Benson back in 1930.  Eighty million books in print later and several adaptations in different media including a current CW TV series, and despite updates and changes to the character, readers keep coming back for more.  Partnered with her familiar allies The Hardy Boys, a new series from Dynamite Comics arrives next week, but will it be the last?  Get ready for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew.

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Wizards of the Coast is bringing together some top genre names for what they promise to be the most star-studded Dungeons & Dragons event ever assembled to raise money for the Red Nose Day charity. D&D Live 2020: Roll w/Advantage hopes to bring gamers together online and reveal the latest D&D storyline.  And it expects to feature Doctor Who and the Marvel Cinematic Universe star Karen Gillan and Stranger Things and Black Widow star David Harbour, among others.  And it’s all happening next month, available to everyone from the comfort of their homes.

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Who knew audiences would be more excited about the next Netflix movie than whatever is coming to theaters?  Shelter at home is changing a lot of things, but one thing for certain is Netflix can hardly fill the ongoing demand this year for the next theatrical quality movie release.  Charlize Theron headlines what looks like Atomic Blonde meets Assassin’s Creed, with a pinch of Aeon Flux, Mad Max: Fury Road, 6 Underground, and Extraction in her next action movie, The Old GuardConsistently building on her last action hero performance to create the next, best action heroine, Theron’s new film is a mash-up of action and fantasy.

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It’s a graphic novel that can’t be easy to translate to either the big or small screens, yet the first episode of a new TNT television series gets off to a good start.  First a series of graphic novels we discussed five years ago here at borg, then a movie starring Chris Evans (reviewed here and discussed here), the futuristic, post-apocalypse universe of Snowpiercer is now here and the first episode wastes no time maneuvering its very allegorical existence into something intriguing.  Academy Award-winning actor Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Alita: Battle Angel, The Princess Bride) takes the baton from the movie cast’s Tilda Swinton in the leading female role, a different twist than you’ll expect if you’re familiar with the previous incarnations.  And though he’s not Chris Evans (who is?)–who starred in the film–male series lead Daveed Diggs (Ferdinand, Zootopia, Star Wars Resistance) jumps right into this insane, preposterous setting and gives it all to make you think it’s real.

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It wasn’t enough they got to co-star on Supernatural.  We’ve seen them in a few live action movies, but now we get to see Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Fred, and Daphne on the big screen in animated form in their first full-length animated film The movie is titled Scoob! and it looks like the animation is cranked up a few notches, more like the style of The Incredibles, The Peanuts Movie, Toy Story, and Ferdinand.  And now with theaters closed for the COVID-19 pandemic, this means Scoob!, scheduled to debut in theaters this Friday, instead is coming directly to your home Friday via streaming platforms including Amazon Prime and Vudu.  As part of Vudu’s Theater at Home, you can also get a $3 credit via email by pre-ordering Scoob! today–May 14–only.

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We watched them get the band back together the first time with Muppet Guys Talking, a fun documentary we discussed two years ago here at borg.  Now not even sheltering at home will hold back the fun-loving Muppet Guys, who are returning once again to share some more about Muppet creator Jim Henson, and the incredible creative process and their experience as Muppet performers, all while earning some money for front-line COVID-19 workers.  Part in honor of Jim Henson, who passed away 30 years ago, and part reason to get some of our favorite people back together virtually, it’s all happening this Saturday, and everyone is invited.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Gears Tactics is only the latest in the universe of Gears of War games, and Titan Books has just published a look inside the concept artwork and development of the story in their latest tour backstage into a popular sci-fi/fantasy franchise.  A partnership of The Coalition, Splash Damage, and Xbox, Gears Tactics: The Art of the Game brings players and fans up to speed on the return of fan-favorite central character Gabriel Diaz.  The key challenge for the designers?  How to update and refresh the universe and still make everything look and feel as fully “Gears” as the past games in the catalog.

In the game, players create and operate a team of heroes and regular troop characters, who occupy a mobile base called The Convoy.  A prequel set 12 years before the first Gears of War game, the campaign is a 40-hour excursion to defeat the villain called Ukkon.  But you must get through the Locust Horde first.  It’s a mix of fantasy monsters of the J.R.R. Tolkien realm and sci-fi troops of the Aliens variety.  The development of the game, as seen in Gears Tactics: The Art of the Game, is as complex as any major movie project.  Readers will find all the try-ons and also-rans in the development of character faces, stances, uniforms, and vehicles as you’d expect from any fully-realized, visual fantasy world.

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It’s a blend of Altered Carbon and Defending Your Life except it doesn’t look anything like that at all.  In Amazon Prime’s new series Upload, the afterlife is hell, or close to it, because it’s gone digital.  And if you want to have a good afterlife you better be rich, because otherwise you risk weeks a month without service.  Like Altered Carbon, your memory becomes uploaded after your body dies and like Defending Your Life you get some help, not via heaven’s legal counsel as revealed in that film, but by customer service agents standing by to help via virtual reality.  But it’s the chemistry of the story’s two lead characters that is touted as the reason viewers will come back after the first episode.

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