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Category: Fantasy Realms


    

What artist wouldn’t want to take over an entire month of comic book covers?  We’ve seen it before, as with Ant Lucia and his gorgeous DC Bombshells cover gallery back in June 2014 (if you missed out, check them out here).  Next month illustrator Tom Whalen, known best for his retro Mondo posters, will take over IDW Publishing’s cover art with twelve variant covers created in his unique, Art Deco-inspired style.

Not only does the collection include a cover featuring Flukeman–the most popular Monster of the Week from The X-Files–for Issue #16 of The X-Files monthly, there’s a great image of Mr. Spock featured in Issue #16 of the Star Trek Waypoint series.  The rest would make a great wall collage display for a pop culture kid from the 1980s.

There’s Shredder on the cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Universe, Issue #12, Raphael on the cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Issue #72, Optimus Prime on the cover of Issue #9 of Optimus Prime, Megatron on the cover of Transformers: Lost Light, Issue #6, Baron Karza on the cover of Micronauts: Wrath of Karza, Issue #4, ROM on the cover of ROM, Issue #13, Matt Trakker on the cover of M.A.S.K., Issue #9, Snake Eyes on the cover of G.I. Joe, Issue #6, Judge Dredd on the cover of Judge Dredd: The Blessed Earth Issue #4, and Doc Brown on the cover of Back to the Future, Issue #22.

Check out all the full covers above and below:

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This week Atari teased it will be soon releasing a competitor in the home video game industry, a gaming console called Atari Box, the first hardware system from Atari in more than 20 years.  Atari has been licensing franchises, including making deals for tie-ins like the Blade Runner sequel Blade Runner 2049.  If you played the granddaddy of all video systems, the Atari 2600, then you may also remember the comic books the company introduced, Atari Force. Atari also released three comic books with the Swordquest video game series, and the stories included clues that contributed to the fun of the gameplay.  The comic books were written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, and illustrated by George Pérez and Dick Giordano.  The books not only helped guide players through the adventure, they provided information to help solve a puzzle required to win an unprecedented contest, a contest with a series of prizes offered whose total value was $150,000.  The gimmick was great–you had to buy all four tie-in games to be able to have a chance at winning: Earthworld, Airworld, Fireworld, and Waterworld.  A few of those prizes were awarded, for “The Talisman of Ultimate Truth” for the champion of Earthworld, and “The Chalice of Light” for the champion of Fireworld.  But a cataclysm of events occurred–this was 1983–including the release of the infamous E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial video game and other events that ultimately tanked Atari.  (The final prizes: a crown, philosopher’s stone, and sword, valued at $100,000, were never awarded, and are said to have reverted to the Franklin Mint and were destroyed, including the key item, “The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery,” valued at $50,000).  The prizes were the real thing, including real gold, with real gemstones.  Only the chalice is said to still exist.

Today, Dynamite Comics writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, and the artist known as Ghostwriter X have put together a new series called SwordQuest, which continues not the adventure found in the gameplay of the classic video game, but a re-imagined set of real world events surrounding the legendary contest that never concluded.  Check out a preview after the break below.  In 1984, Peter Case was on his way to being crowned champion of SwordQuest, set to win the last of four contests and lay claim to a golden sword worth over $50,000!  But when the game was discontinued, Peter found himself without a game to finish.  Now, over thirty years later, Peter’s stuck in the game of life, and he’s losing fast.  But when he learns that all the prizes meant for the SwordQuest contest of his youth are on display in the World Arcade Museum, he finds an unknown determination that sees him put together a team of like-minded losers for the ultimate heist job — a real-life sword quest!

  

Issue #1 is a great read, introducing the characters, Ghostwriter X’s cool mix of modern and retro artistry, and a glimpse at the fun ahead.  Strangely enough–and unrelated to the new series–a real person carried out his own quest in real life based on a similar contest: Twenty years after the Swordquest contest–in 2003–Peter Jackson offered screen-used props from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as prizes for a contest called “Win the Sword of Aragorn,” a sweepstakes giving away eight items: Frodo’s Sting sword, the swords of Gandalf, Eowyn, Théoden, and Faramir, The Axe of Gimli, The Bow of Legolas, and, of course, Strider, the Sword of Aragorn.  A fan named Troika Brodsky entered but did not win.  So he instead tracked down and found the winners of four items and bought them from the winners–Frodo, Aragorn, and Eowyn’s swords, and Gimli’s axe.  Brodsky amassed the greatest, and only, private comprehensive collection from Jackson’s original trilogy.  When Brodsky decided to discontinue collecting ten years later, he sold them at an incredible auction–the best fantasy auction to date–which we covered here at borg.com.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The American mid-century modern design movement began in the 1930s and grew into the 1960s as a unique style of art, architecture, and graphic design.  Mid-century advertising is its own nostalgic niche, and a new book released this week provides a refreshing reboot to the artistic stylings as represented in pop culture, toys, and toy promotions.  Toybox Time Machine: A Catalog of the Coolest Toys Never Made could be a catalog of the actual toys of the past.  But it’s not.  It could be a chronicle of box art and packaging of your favorite action figures and trading cards.  But it isn’t.

Instead, commercial illustrator Marty Baumann, a creator behind the visuals in Toy Story 3, Zootopia, Big Hero 6, and Disney/Pixar’s Cars and Planes franchises took inspiration from the Christmas catalogs, store displays, television ads, and comic books of his youth to create ideas for new toys and new toy companies–toys that might have been.  And he’s put them together into an encyclopedia full of fun that will tug at your memory.  We’ve no doubt you could show this book to someone who will tell you specifically that they remember one or more of the toys in this catalog.  That’s the power of nostalgia and Baumann’s sense of mid-century design.

  

You’ll see ads that might have been created for View Master or Ben Cooper Halloween costumes, designs for toys that could have been Marx Toys action figures, G.I. Joes, Barbie dolls, Guillows balsa model kits, and those cheap plastic toys you could only order from the tiny ads in comic books.  The commonality is the bright, loud, color palette of the era, plus trading cards, battery-operated gadgets, and anything you can display in 3D.  And much of the reflection in design is not secretive but obvious, like an ad for a codebook for The Man Called… C.O.U.S.I.N.  You remember that classic series, right?  Of course you do.

Check out this preview of Toybox Time Machine: A Catalog of the Coolest Toys Never Made, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Stranger Things took the world by storm last year, bringing its mix of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and nostalgia to the small screen.  Stranger Things is not only Netflix’s best show, its second season is the most eagerly awaited series this year.  Now a household name, star Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) signed on for the second season along with Winona Ryder, and fan favorite Sean Astin will star as a new character aptly named Bob Newby.  The other kid stars are back:  Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), sporting Ghostbusters outfits at their grade school on Halloween Day 1984–a great choice for the season opener since we’ll be watching the episode premiere on Halloween day.

And like the many throwback movies the series pulls from, Stranger Things is getting its own line of action figures.  Funko has produced the first line of figures rapidly considering so many shows don’t get tie-in toys at all.  Six figures have been finalized for the first wave from the series.  Fan demand for everyone’s favorite ill-fated friend Barb will no doubt necessitate at least a second wave.

Best of all, there’s something doubly nostalgic about these figures.  They are from Funko’s ReAction line, which itself bridges the classic 1970s and 1980s Kenner style action figures with modern TV series and movies.  It’s easy to imagine the kids in the world of Stranger Things would appreciate seeing themselves as action figures that look like their own Star Wars figures.

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We here at borg.com can’t be the only ones who are fans of time loops, and the folks at Universal Pictures must think the same thing.

This time around, time loops–the story trope featuring a repeat of time usually offering the protagonist an opportunity to fix the recent past–are going to be coming at you for Friday the 13th–October 13, 2017.  And unlike many horror movies that are pushed to a February release, this horror flick is being delivered when everyone wants to see it, right in time for Halloween.  Does this indicate it might be better than the average horror flick?  This next time looper comes on the heels of the teen mystery film Before I Fall, a release from January, which was preceded by last year’s sci-fi thriller, ARQ.  Before that, time loops were found in everything between Groundhog Day and Source Code, TiMER, Looper, and television shows Early Edition, Haven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka, The X-Files, Star Trek, and Xena–Warrior Princess.  Yes, we can’t get enough of the time loop.  Check out our previous discussions of time loops at borg.com here and here.

And this one has a throwback horror title–Happy Death Day–which is either the title of a bad slasher flick (Happy Birthday to Me, My Bloody Valentine) or just a clever title for the kind of throwback gore flick horrors fans are all over.  Which will it be?  Happy Death Day appears to be less like the time loops listed above and more like Tru Calling, the Final Destination film series, Donnie Darko, Haunter, and Butterfly Effect, at least as the time loop element is delivered.  You might recall Tru Calling was a weekly series starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Eliza Dushku as she tried to save someone from dying each week via time loop.  The Final Destination films added the bloody violence while also attaching to a rollercoaster ride full of “oh, no, they didn’ts.”

Happy Death Day hails from director Christopher Landon, screenplay writer on horror films like Disturbia, Paranormal Activity 2, 3, and 4, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.  It stars Jessica Rothe (La La Land) as the young woman who gets murdered, only to continue to get murdered in different ways by a creepy masked character no matter what she does to prevent it.  Unlike most modern horror flicks with the kind of production quality in the trailer, the film does not have a single known quantity actor to anchor the film.

Here is the first trailer for Happy Death Day:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When Brad Pitt has another winning performance you find you’re glued to the screen.  From Twelve Monkeys to Meet Joe Black, Ocean’s Eleven to Inglourious Basterds and Moneyball, Pitt has range, plus the charisma and presence that translates to star power.  As with Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp, if you can strip away the celebrity and focus on the performance, Pitt seems like he just can’t fail.  Pitt is just as mesmerizing as any character in his past body of work in the new film War Machine.

In another time War Machine would be a theatrical release–it carries the production values, cast, script, and studio support as much as any other movie, and is produced by Pitt’s own Plan B Entertainment, the same company that garnered a Best Picture Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave.  But we’re now in No Man’s Land.  With Netflix making not only its own competitive, award-winning shows for the small screen, it has moved on to the theatrical film that simply isn’t intended for a theatrical release.  War Machine is based on Rolling Stone writer Michael Hasting’s book The Operators, a biographical account of now retired General Stanley McChrystal that was expanded from the piece he wrote when he was embedded with the general and his men.  You’ve heard the story, the one that took down the general’s career as he was attempting to gain traction in his efforts in Afghanistan in 2010.  McChrystal’s was an American story, one that has plagued leadership in wartime notably since World War II– how do you win a seemingly unwinnable war?  You’ll be hard-pressed not to find story elements from Vietnam days in War Machine, but also echoes of the Persian Gulf War, and other actions where data, facts, politics, economics, miscommunication, and personalities muddled direction and purpose.  Only War Machine isn’t about McChrystal really–Brad Pitt’s character is only based on McChrystal.  For storytelling purposes it’s close enough, and fortunately allows the viewer to enjoy the fictional story being told without the effort of comparing the story to the real events the underlying book was chronicling.  So throw out your own politics for a few hours and get ready for an interesting character study.

Were War Machine released in theaters, there’d no doubt be discussion of the film as the next chapter in a line of films with Twelve O’Clock High, The Best Years of Our Lives, Apocalypse Now, Patton, Full Metal Jacket, and Born on the Fourth of July.  Pitt’s General Glen McMahon is Pitt aged a decade or so, sporting gray hair and a fixed sideways sneer, a raised eyebrow, and a stature (especially when running exercise laps before the other troops awaken) that makes him almost unrecognizable.  McMahon is smart, fierce, determined, and strong–the perfect selection for someone who has been appointed to complete an impossible task–in essence, do all that needs to be done to fix Afghanistan and get ready to leave without bringing in more troops–when he should have known he was doomed to failure from the beginning.  Don’t we want our generals to be confident, strident, and to a certain extent, bold risk takers?  McMahon is quirky, just a little bit off, while exhibiting a bravado and charisma–albeit awkwardly packaged–that entrenches the picture in believability.  Pitt believes in his character so we do as well.  This includes the loyalty of his men, which begins to form the movie’s all-star cast, including McMahon’s obnoxiously loyal, angry, and mouthy#2 man played by Anthony Michael Hall (the film’s take on then-Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served 24 days recently as national security adviser) and an image guy played by Topher Grace.  The cast is rounded out on all sides by Ben Kingsley as President Karzai, Alan Ruck and Griffin Dunne as Administration policy wonks, Tilda Swinton as a German politician, and Meg Tilly taking on the role (brilliantly) of McMahon’s wife (plus a nicely handled cameo by Russell Crowe).

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In a strange twist to the home video release marketing strategy, IDW Entertainment, the company behind both Wynonna Earp the comic book series and the Syfy Channel television series, is well on its way through what looks to be a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to bring Wynonna Earp Season One directly to its fans.  The first season will only be released on Blu-ray–no DVD–and only via the Indiegogo campaign.  Discs are expected to ship around September 2017.

Wynonna Earp follows Wyatt Earp’s great-granddaughter as she battles demons and other creatures in a town called Purgatory.  With her unique abilities, a demon-killing gun named Peacemaker, and a posse of dysfunctional allies, only she can bring the paranormal to justice.

Although fans and new viewers can also watch each episode of the first season on Netflix, as Wynonna Earp begins its second season (with the premiere episode of the season airing on Friday nights beginning last Friday, June 9), it’s going to be a little bit harder for the new viewer who would otherwise be willing to buy the first season to get caught up, especially if they missed the Syfy Network recap this Memorial Day weekend.  But this likely will really only have an effect on the fans of the show who would ordinarily pay to have Season One in-hand closer to the start date of the next season.  Will this be the next regular marketing method for shows that would otherwise not justify a home release to still be able to make fans happy?

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Here I come to save the day!

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Mighty Mouse, who first appeared in short animated films from Terrytoons for 20th Century Fox throughout the 1940s, including one that was nominated for an Academy Award.  So what better time to bring back the powerful mouse who can protect Pearl Pureheart from Oil Can Harry, and maybe even save us all?  Dynamite Comics is answering the call with a new monthly series beginning today with an initial story arc that deals with bullying.

Mighty Mouse was created by Ralph Bakshi (known also for Fritz the Cat, the animated The Lord of the Rings, and the Kim Basinger flick Cool World) and Paul Terry, whose cartoons with sound beat Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie to cinemas in 1928 (one of the first animators to use cel animation).  Mighty Mouse would appear as part of the Saturday morning cartoon line-up in various versions in each of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  A rather odd update, the 1980s version would feature a crossover episode with Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes characters, a group of middle-aged lawyers that included a superhero called Diaper Man, and comedian Andy Kaufman would make famous for another generation the Mighty Mouse theme song in a skit for Saturday Night Live in the 1970s.  Marvel Comics produced a 10-issue comic book series in 1990-1991.

        

Today, writer Sholly Fisch and artist Igor Lima are bringing the classic mouse to the 21st century.  It’s a book for kids of all ages–the kind of comic book to introduce young kids to the medium.  A boy is getting bullied in school, and he’s a young artist and fan of the classic Mighty Mouse cartoons.  As he is watching television, a portal across dimensions interferes with his show, and with the characters within the television.  The third wall is breached as a boy meets his hero.

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Try as you might to come up with the most off-the-hook crossover and you still won’t be able to predict any of the crossovers coming your way this month.  Beginning next week DC Comics and corporate brother Warner Brothers are uniting the two improbable worlds of DC Comics and Looney Tunes.  Based on idea from Francesco Francavilla in 2010, Elmer Fudd will meet Batman in a dark noir story.  But Wonder Woman taking on the Tasmanian DevilYosemite Sam teaming up with Jonah Hex and Foghorn LeghornMarvin the Martian meets the Martian ManhunterWile E. Coyote teams up with Lobo to take on the Road Runner?  And a team-up of Bugs Bunny and the Legion of Superheroes?

Yes, April 1 is long past.  Don’t adjust your screen.  You don’t need to pinch yourself.  This is really happening.  And we have previews of two of these crossover issues for you below.  Plus we have standard cover and variant cover images for each wacky pairing.

    

DC Comics is also re-releasing the DC/Looney Tunes 100-Page Super Spectacular from the year 2000.  Steve Rude supplies an all-new cover featuring Superman and Bugs Bunny, each the icon of the respective franchises.

    

Each issue is a single-issue special–unfortunately these aren’t being released as monthly titles.  It all starts on June 14 with Legion of Super-heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1, written by Sam Humphries with artwork by Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna and a variant cover by Ty Templeton.  The Legion of Super Heroes always thought they had taken their inspiration from the 21st Century’s Superboy.  But when they try to bring that hero into their future time, the team discovers to their surprise the caped champion isn’t who—or even what—they expected!  Also on June 14, Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special #1, written by Steve Orlando and Frank Barberi, interior and cover art by Aaron Lopreski, and variant cover by Stephen DeStefano.  Martian Manhunter tries to halt Marvin the Martian’s determination for world domination. J’onn is conflicted with his own Martian identity as he attempts to stop the hapless, determined Marvin from blowing Earth to bits in order to gain a clear view of Venus.

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Next to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, there is probably no other actor in the action genre who has had more action figures with his likeness.  Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell.  Once upon a time movies like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China came and went with no toys or collectibles, mainly thanks to a clash between R ratings and the unwillingness of toy companies to release toys for such films.  But even those classics now provide fans of Kurt Russell with a desktop warrior of many of his films to guide their day.  Today we’re running down a brief history of Kurt Russell in action figures and collectible toys.

The first image we had of Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, were images of collectible figures for his character Ego.  You can get his Marvel Legends version of the figure here:

If Dorbz are your thing you can also find him in that format here, and as a Funko Pop! figure here.  There is also a MiniMates version, but no Hot Toys or Sideshow versions of Ego available–yet.

   

Although we’ve found no Bone Tomahawk or Tombstone figures for Russell, his Western The Hateful Eight resulted in a 1:6 scale figure of Russell’s John Ruth, available here, an eight-inch version here, and a Funko Pop! here.

   

But how about the Kurt Russell classic characters?

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