Category: Retro Fix


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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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BBC war of the Worlds b

Review by C.J. Bunce

Back in 2018 we celebrated the 120th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells’ genre defining science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds here at borg We’ve also reviewed several adaptations and retellings over the past decade.  The latest historical adaptation is a 2019 three-part BBC series now streaming here on Amazon Prime.  Director Craig Viveiros’ The War of the Worlds may be the best yet at blending the old and the new–the end of the 19th century with the demands of modern viewers.  Suspenseful, consistent with H.G. Wells’ Edwardian themes, this short series is chock full of very British characters and concepts taking on several science fiction cautionary paradigms: warnings of the dangers of new technologies, the cost of hubris, prejudice, and colonialism, and the adventures, fear, and trials that come with the unknowable future.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Where are they now?

Most true crime TV tends toward the lurid, the sensational, the gory, the depraved.  So Netflix’s new documentary series, This is a Robbery, comes as a breath of fresh air to the genre.  Their cold case?  A 1991 unsolved art heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

You may be familiar with the case—the night after St. Patrick’s Day, men wearing police uniforms hustled their way into one of Boston’s most beautiful museums and hustled their way out again 81 minutes later with thirteen irreplaceable (and uninsured) works of art, including Rembrandt’s only seascape, also a Vermeer, a Manet, five Degat works, and two other Rembrandts, worth a total estimated value of $500,000,000.  Yes, five hundred million.  The Gardner Museum made the gutsy decision to continue displaying the emptied frames in the gallery, where they still hang, 30 years later.

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Fletcher costumes

This week saw the passing of Robert Fletcher at age 98.  If you don’t know the name, you definitely know his work.  Nobody creating the 20th century’s view of futurism through clothing was more influential than Fletcher, who created more Star Trek costumes than any other designer, including William Ware Theiss before him and Robert Blackman after him.  The maroon costumes worn by bridge officers in the first seven Star Trek movies were designed by Fletcher, and are likely the most beloved of all Star Trek costumes by fans excepting possibly the original series bright Starfleet tunics.  Scotty’s radiological suit is also a classic, along with the Klingon uniforms, which were probably the most enduring, used with little modification from Star Trek: The Motion Picture throughout the entire runs of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  The open-chested costume of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan?  Also Fletcher.  The widest reach outside genre fans that Star Trek ever achieved was Star Trek IV, and even those who don’t care about science fiction recall the robe worn by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the pink shell outfit worn by William Shatner as Kirk when they returned to walk the streets of San Francisco, managing to save a pair of humpback whales on the journey.  Again, costumes designed by Robert Fletcher.  He also created costumes for another sci-fi classic: The Last Starfighter.

Star Trek and its stories continue on.

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By way of new stuff, in the “old is new again” context this week online megastore Entertainment Earth began taking pre-orders for a new retro series not from the movies featuring the original Enterprise crew, but from Star Trek: The Next Generation (which, if you’re paying attention, featured costumes primarily by Robert Blackman).  We’ve talked at length over the past decade about Super7’s line (formerly sold by Funko) of ReAction Kenner-style retro action figures.  Those familiar with Star Trek action figures will find the new line closer to that of the early, rarer Galoob line than the Playmates larger figures that dominated the market for years (and can now be found in vintage toy stores everywhere, generally for about $2).  Check out all the new designs, and the new cardbacks, and pre-order them at the below links.

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April has seen several new trailers for forthcoming Hollywood projects we haven’t discussed yet at borg, all having in common a new look at a past genre property.  From Ghostbusters, it’s a new teaser for Ghostbusters: Afterlife featuring star Paul Rudd and a familiar face (and music) from the past.  From Mark Millar it’s a live-action version of his Jupiter’s Legacy comics coming to Netflix as a series.  From DC Comics it’s an animated adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s popular Batman: The Long Halloween graphic novel.  And from Star Trek, it’s a new season of the animated Lower Decks, and a look at some new costumes in the trailer for the fourth season of Discovery.

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Enjoy these trailers:

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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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Alien Alex White

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three years ago here at borg I said no book or film has portrayed the people behind the Weyland-Yutani Corporation as more vile and despicable as author Alex White has envisioned them in the novel Alien: The Cold Forge, a sequel to the second film in the franchise, James Cameron’s Aliens.  In that story the Company is proceeding to fulfill one of its initial ideas: to weaponize the Xenomorphs for military use.  Alien: The Cold Forge was Aliens as if written by Michael Crichton, a blend of Congo and Jurassic Park with aspects of the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy tie-ins and Project X.  As vile, greedy corporate types go, White upped the ante.  White’s sequel, Alien: Into Charybdis, is different, but a must-read for fans of the first chapter in what could have been a trilogy of novels, as this book is nearly twice the length of the first at 560 pages.  A mix of Office Space (without the comedy) meets Rogue One and Dungeons & Dragons, this is a dark adventure in a giant research facility of international IT and network guys duking it out over what goes where and why that just might make readers feel like someone is flipping a die before the characters enter the next room.  Continue reading

Jaxxon fig A  Jaxxon fig B

The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 44 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney’s line of six-inch “Black Series” has quickly caught up to the original line of characters, with new sculpts and more articulation, including even more characters from the Expanded Universe.  At last fans of the original Star Wars comics published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s get to see one of the most beloved of all the characters we haven’t yet seen on the big or small screen (but we’re still hoping for that soon): Jaxxon, the six-foot tall Lepi mercenary smuggler from Star Wars Issue #8, Eight for Aduba-3, the Seven Samurai adaptation where we first met the angry talking rabbit and his ship, the Rabbit’s Foot.  

Jaxxon

Jaxxon stayed around for the next three issues and returned for the first appearance of the borg Valance.  Our first real hope of seeing Jaxxon in Star Wars canon was in a variant cover for the rebooted Marvel Comics Star Wars series in 2015, then he re-appeared in the retro Star Wars Issue #108 in 2019, and again for Vader Down.  And this weekend for the first time you can pre-order Jaxxon’s first action figure here from Entertainment Earth.

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Since Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House was first published in 1992, kids have clamored for the series’ 62 books, and tie-in TV shows, films, and other spin-offs.  R.L. Stine’s stories have spooked a decade of kids in the 1990s and a generation since.  Visually all those books had one thing in common:  the stylized brand-defining cover artwork of Tim Jacobus.  Dark imagery, bright colors, shocking monsters, and drippy gore previewed what kids were going to find inside the pages–if they dared.  Now Dynamite Entertainment has created a large format, hardcover book to showcase Jacobus’s art, including sketches and concepts leading up to his famous covers.  Written by Sarah Rodriguez and designed by Mark McNabb, The Art of Goosebumps is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.  Check out our first look inside the book for borg readers, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Get ready for your next immersion into adventure and fun, and it’s in 3D.  I love classic storytelling methods that surprise the reader, from the Victorian to modern technology, whether it’s stereoscopic images, View-Master reels, lenticular images, pop-up books, or state-of-the-art digital animation.  One of my very first books as a young boy was Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, with 3D diorama artwork and a lenticular cover.   I’ve reviewed several 3D movies here at borg, too, from The Creature from the Black Lagoon to Jaws 3D, and Predator and Rogue One French artist Matthias Picard’s roving young adventurer Jim Curious returns after his debut in 2014’s Jim Curious–A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea in his next book, Jim Curious and the Jungle Journey It’s a complete 3D adventure using anaglyph 3D, that classic blue-red 3D style and includes two pairs of 3D glasses–just like the kind from 3D movies in the 1920s to the 1980s.  The eye-popping images will take your breath away.

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