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Category: Retro Fix


Jaxxon, the mercenary rabbit, first appeared in the original Marvel Comics Star Wars, Issue #8, published in November 1977.  The issue was written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, co-written by Roy Thomas and inked by Tom Palmer.  Jaxxon was a great character, and fit right in with that Star Wars cantina full of strange aliens in the original movie.  Officially a Lepi smuggler working with Han Solo on an early job, a la Seven Samurai, Jaxxon was a 1970s early dose of snarky and cantankerous, a giant Harvey in a spacesuit with the attitude of Howard the Duck.  He was tough, smart, and funny, and long before the third movie trilogy he was the first character we met who ate background characters (he hated carrots, but liked his dewback steaks).

If you missed last year’s annual for Marvel’s Star Wars Adventures series, you may not know Jaxxon is officially a canon character now.  And he’s back this summer when the next comic book annual arrives from IDW Publishing.  The creators promise plenty of Jaxxon in his next story, and even better, he’s featured on the cover.  And it’s not just any cover, it’s a cover drawn by one of our all-time favorite artists, Stan Sakai, who readers of borg will have seen turn up recently in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo, Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, and of course the series readers know him best for, the new reboot of his solo series Usagi Yojimbo

 

Every creator at Marvel has seemed to want to bring Jaxxon back, from Jason Aaron to John Tyler Christopher, to Chip Zdarsky, with the artists featuring him on their variant covers for the main monthly series and tie-in titles, plus he made the recent non-canon Star Wars, Issue #108.  The new, second annual story for the cartoony, young adult-focused Star Wars Adventures comes from the same team to bring Jaxxon back to the Marvel Comics pages last year, writer Cavan Scott and artist Alain Mauricet, this time pairing Jaxxon with Lando Calrissian on his next gig.

Here are just a few of those covers in case you missed them, and a preview:

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The #1 top selling issue of Vampirella is arriving in comic book stores this month.  It’s part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the popular horror character, and already pre-orders for #1 of a new series have surpassed 130,000 copies.  This makes the forthcoming first issue of the series, the fifth solo-titled Vampirella comic series, the biggest selling Vampirella issue ever, even beating sales numbers for the original classic magazine from decades ago.  Publisher Dynamite has pulled out all the stops, scheduled to release several variant covers from familiar artists for the first issue.  Pre-sales numbers also make this Dynamite’s all-time best selling issue.

Several creators had a hand in developing Vampirella back in 1969, from monster guru Forrest J. Ackerman to artists Trina Robbins, Tom Sutton, and Frank Frazetta, and editor Archie Goodwin.  The new series will be written by Christopher Priest, with interior artwork by Ergün Gündüz Frank Cho is providing the main cover, with variants available from Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Adam Hughes, Ed Sanjulian, Guillem March, Jose Gonzalez, and J. Scott Campbell and Frank Frazetta “icon” covers, a wraparound Frank Cho cover, plus cosplay editions for each issue and a blank sketch cover, and limited no-logo and black and white cover editions.  Stanley “Artgerm” Lau will provide the main cover for Issue #2, J. Scott Campbell for Issue #3, and it seems there’s a hint from the publisher of a possible new Frank Frazetta cover coming, too.  If you’re lucky enough, you already picked up the 50th anniversary Free Comic Book Day issue we previewed here at borg back in May.

Gündüz′s use of color is probably the best contribution of the first issue, especially in his splash pages.  Fans of the character and monster-zines will find the story is filled with the body count, blood, and horror they’d expect in a Vampirella book.

Take a look at these variant covers for the first two issues, and keep a look out for the life-sized Vampirella display by Jose Gonzalez:

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It’s a little difficult to get your head around.  Eight years ago when I suggested going to your video rental store to watch the ultimate Fourth of July movie–Jaws–we still had several video rental stores in every town.  It’s very different now with streaming services (have you finished Season 3 of Stranger Things yet on Netflix?) and any Blu-ray you want available overnight for purchase from retailers like Amazon.  To be fair, you can still rent movies, the plastic disc kind, at local Redbox machines, and Family Video still has a good footprint across the nation and a broad video selection (pretty much Blu-rays prevail, so sorry to people still with only VHS and plain ol’ DVDs).  Back in 2011 when I listed some recommended viewing material for Independence Day here at borg, I mentioned some films including my pick for today.

Every audience, every moviegoer, is after something different.  If you’re looking for action try on Captain America: The First Avenger, or even binge the entire Captain America series of films.  The first Independence Day movie from 1996 has your dose of sci-fi, and it’s an easy choice to go to especially if you’re too young to have watched it before.  Even Independence Day–the day, not the movie–means different things to different people.  I would recommend to anyone films like Dave, The American President, The Post, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, All the President’s Men, Sergeant York, Far and Away, The Last of the Mohicans, Lincoln, Glory, and Dances with Wolves–each covers some aspect of what America stands for.  Actually Frank Capra has more in the category, too, including Meet John Doe and State of the Union.  

Four of my favorites are playing on Turner Classic Movies/TCM today.  At 8:30 a.m. Central is John Ford′s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, followed at 10:30 a.m. Central by Ford’s Fort Apache These are some of the famed director’s finest works, and high points for both Henry Fonda, John Wayne, and Maureen O’Hara, plus the stories tell other tales of the American experience (and both rate high on my all-time best Westerns list here).  A recent anthology film fits the bill for today well–that’s the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which we reviewed here at borg last year.  It tells several stories of the pain, struggle, and sacrifice of peoples from throughout the world coming together to build a nation.  But what’s that sure-fire Fourth of July movie that should appeal to everyone?

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If you enjoy Batman and especially if you read Batman comics, there’s one series you should be reading right now.  And if you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, there’s one event you can’t miss this year.  It’s Crisis in a Half Shell, the third crossover/team-up series of writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II.  We previewed the series here at borg back in April.  It’s the most fun extension–after a lot of creators have tried–to the actual Crisis on Infinite Earths, with a Batman-centric tale including a host of Bat-villains.  Two issues into the series with a third issue arriving at comic book stores today, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III also has that classic space fantasy look from its multiverse plot, stirred by ultimate villain Krang.

Fans of original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman should take note–Tynion and Williams have cleverly tied original Eastman artwork created for this series into the story.  It works seamlessly and has a great Outer Limits/Twilight Zone impact.  As we expected from seeing the first images of the new character concept drawings of Batman, the Turtles, and the villains back in April, this series is both classic Batman and classic Turtles.  Fans of either–and fans of both–franchises will be impressed with every inch of each page, including Jeremy Colwell‘s coloring that makes for a perfect partnership with Williams’ vibrant, dynamic, wall-to-wall action layouts and painterly style.  And Tom Napolitano‘s lettering takes different turns to emphasize voices, with a great, evocating type especially for this new world’s Joker counterpart.

Today’s new cover art by Williams and Colwell just can’t be beat.  It’s flat out one of the year’s best covers.  Take a look at this big preview of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Issue #3/Part 3 of the Crisis in a Half Shell story, plus previews of the cover art to Issues #4 and #5, courtesy of DC Comics and IDW Publishing:

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An attractive new comic book based in the 1920s is nearly halfway to its funding goals with 16 days to go in its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.  Portland writer Sunshine Barbito and São Paulo, Brazil-based artist Debora Carita have teamed together to recreate New York of a century ago and the Mafia’s rise to power in the pages of Mafiosa, an original comic book story.  Launching via Kickstarter if fully funded by July 18, 2019, Mafiosa will debut as a 28-page issue, featuring variant covers by Kirbi Fagan (Mockingbird, Shuri) and Eisner Award winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Detective Comics, Afterlife with Archie).

Mafiosa is the story of a woman on her way to becoming not just a moll but a crime boss in her own right.  Following the rise of Nicoletta Marchesi, the youngest of five children in a family of first generation Sicilian Americans who have established a crime syndicate in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, writer Barbito takes on gender roles with the background of mob life.  When Nicoletta confronts her father and announces her desire to join the family business alongside her brothers, a family conflict is formed, and Nicoletta is sucked into the savagery of a life of crime.

 

Carita’s interior artwork has a nicely crafted noir vibe.  The Kickstarter book will be a self-contained story, with Mariacristina Federico as colorist and lettering by Clem Robins.  Take a look at these previews of some of the concept sketch art for the Kickstarter campaign and some gorgeous, completed pages for Mafiosa:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Baseball writer Eric Enders has updated a popular look at the changing times in this week’s re-release of Ballparks Then and Now.  It’s a visual tour from the first official baseball fields made of wood and prone to fire destruction to the current architectural marvels.  It’s also a quick history of how and why ballparks have changed, of maximizing locations and tickets sales and mass marketing giant corporations by throwing their brands at you while you watch the game.  Angels Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the two Wrigley Fields, the old Fulton and Turner fields, Oriole Park, Memorial Stadium, South Side and Comiskey Park, Crosley Field, Municipal Stadium, Mile High Stadium, Mack Park and Tiger Stadium, the Astrodome, Kauffman, L.A. Coliseum, Miami Stadium, County Stadium and Miller Park, Metropolitan, Shea Stadium, Candlestick, Petco Park, Stars Park, the Kingdome–these and many more are described in detail, taking fans of baseball back to long-gone parks and forward to their team’s current home field.

The best feature is the collection of black and white photographs showing early ballparks from the middle of the 19th century into the 1960s.  From the spires of the 1888 Grand Pavilion, home to the Boston Beaneaters, to the beautiful corner entrance to Ebbets Field, some built on grassy fields, others built on former landfills, one actually built on a cornfield, old parks with poles that blocked views of seats in grandstands, one with a tree planted on the field, another with a petting zoo in right field, images of fans driving horse-drawn carriages to the ballpark and later Model T Fords, and now all made of steel and concrete–baseball fans will find plenty images of interest here.

Ballparks Then and Now also includes pictures of old baseball signage, posters, postcards, vintage tickets, and scorecards, filling out the text and park coverage with some good nostalgia for the game. Enders throws in some interesting lore about the fields along the way, like a ball causing an explosion when it wedged into a steam pipe at an adjacent bean factory in one stadium.  Another story in picture form shows fans feeling free to walk onto the field in droves to watch the players practice in advance of the very first World Series.  And then there are the two ballplayers that saved 1,600 fans from a fire in Chicago at the West Side Grounds by hacking a wall with their bats.

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Today we have three fall movies to preview, one from a film long-completed and scheduled to arrive in theaters way back in 2017, another a new look at an old property, and a third featuring a modern crime story about a tough cop.  First up is The Current War, a film we first previewed here at borg way back in January 13, 2018.  Movie studios have fallout, collateral damage–call it what you like– from industry shifts, whether cancelations following mergers or projects braking during sex scandals.  The latter was the reason for the initial delays for The Current War, a late production of The Weinstein Company.  The star factor is nothing to sneeze at, with a slate of stars now popular for their superhero roles leading the way:  Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) plays Thomas Alva Edison, Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) is George Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult (X-Men franchise) is Nikola Tesla, and Tom Holland (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is Samuel Insull, an early General Electric co-founder.  Will this film electrify audiences or were the delays a sign it’s going to have a rough go of it?  The earliest we’ll know is October, when it finally arrives in theaters.

Raise your hand if you loved the first reboot movie adaptation of the 1970s-1980s TV classic series Charlie’s Angels?  No?  That one starred Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu.  Unfortunately it was more parody than homage, more wacky than the action drama that made the original such a success with audiences 40 years ago.  Another reboot is on its way, titled again Charlie’s Angels, and somehow this version with its next generation of film stars and removal of melodrama and humor at first blush seems to have more in common with the original.  It stars a very upbeat styled Kristen Stewart (Twilight series) plus newcomer Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott (Power Rangers, Aladdin).  The credits circulating so far list a slate of actors playing Bosley, including the film’s director Elizabeth Banks (Brightburn, Hunger Games series), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek Nemesis), and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel).  Weren’t we just talking about this movie Wednesday?

And last for today is Black and Blue, another October 2019 release, starring James Bond’s Moneypenny, Naomie Harris, as a British rookie cop caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The trailer for this film looks like a lot of 1980s cop movies, which might be a good thing.  As with the other films previewed today, look for even more actors in tis film from the superhero spheres, including Luke Cage’s Mike Colter and Captain America: Winter Soldier’s Frank Grillo, plus Fast & Furious regular Tyrese Gibson.

So let’s check out these new trailers:

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Last year Dynamite brought Charlie’s Angels back from the 1980s for some new adventures, joining other classic TV series comic adaptations including Batman ’66, Wonder Woman ’77, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman Dynamite has combined a few classic TV shows already, including a story with Wonder Woman ’77 and The Bionic Woman taking down some fembots This year the publisher is putting together two more dream team-ups with The Bionic Woman joining Charlie’s Angels on a mission in Charlie’s Angels/The Bionic Woman.  When Bosley hands Kelly Garrett, Kris Munroe, and Julie Rogers their next assignment from Charlie, they encounter one of our favorite classic borg characters, the bionic-powered Jaime Sommers.  Following the events of the television series into the 1980s, we catch up with a privatized Office of Scientific Investigation, and it’s up to these four women to make sure the OSI technology doesn’t get into the wrong hands for military applications.

It’s a great move using the latter trio from Charlie’s Angels for the new series.  Artist Cat Skaggs′ rendering of Tanya Roberts as Julie on her cover variant to Issue #1 is perfect, and she also provides a great portrait of Lindsay Wagner as Jaime for the cover of Issue #2.  Other covers were drawn by Ron Lesser and Jim Mahfood, whose Issue #2 features a gorgeous, stylized, throwback design.

   

Cameron DeOrdio (Josie and the Pussycats) steps in to write this series, and in the first issue she lays the groundwork for a compelling spy thriller.  Artist Soo Lee (Strange Attractors) brings in her unique style to give the series an authentic early 1980s vibe.  Her artwork has elements of manga and anime blended with Matt Kindt, but best of all the book looks as if it could have been drawn in 1982.  Color work is by Addison Duke, with letters by Crank!

Here are some preview images and covers for the first two issues, courtesy of Dynamite:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s not that often actors that make it to the level of movie stardom get to have that curtain call.  Robert Redford announced after the filming of The Old Man & the Gun that this would be his last film in front of the camera.  A tribute to Redford and a wind-up of a great and unusual career of smartly made choices by the actor, it’s an enjoyable film and final take on the persona Redford played so well in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and Sneakers.  Earlier this year Netflix released a new film called The Highwaymen, a story written by John Fusco about the Texas Rangers that finally took down Bonnie and Clyde.  Years ago Redford was taking the script to Paul Newman intending it to round out their two crime films together (Butch & Sundance and The Sting), but Newman passed away.  That story would have been a great final film for both, but somehow The Old Man & the Gun is truer to the legacy of Redford as that hard-to-resist bad guy.  Redford hangs up the acting part of his life just the way we like him, as the good bad guy.

Writer/director David Lowery could have made The Old Man & the Gun something over the top, something like Space Cowboys, but we know Redford wouldn’t have signed up for something like that.  This is more subtle, sweet, and sentimental, doing something similar for Redford to what Clint Eastwood has been doing with his elder years roles like Gran Torino and The Mule.  The Old Man & the Gun is in the same genre as the Eastwood and Kevin Costner film A Perfect World, another take on Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Catch Me if You Can, and without the intensity of Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine’s Hell or High Water, introducing us to another criminal and his pursuer, this one 82-year-old Redford playing the 62-year-old real-life, early 1980s bank robber Forrest Tucker.  Redford looks more 82 than 62, but it doesn’t matter, older is better here, and the casting director who teamed him with Sissy Spacek as love interest deserves some kudos.  Redford’s thief is a likable enough guy who leads a small-scale Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid gang consisting of a quirky Danny Glover and Tom Waits.  Ultimately the film is worthy of all these actors, enough reason alone to check it out.

Rounding out a quartet of Academy Award-winners with Redford and Spacek and a blink-and-you’ll miss him Keith Carradine, is Casey Affleck, playing the young, local police pursuer a bit differently than the typical cop trying to get his guy that we’ve seen in countless police stories.  Through interviews we watch him learn that every person who has been robbed by Tucker sees Tucker as a nice, sympathetic, grandfatherly old gentleman.  Taking cues from his kids and wife played by Tika Sumpter, Affleck’s cop takes a step back, and his performance is subtly played.  And quite good.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

What defines the Men in Black the best?  The neuralyzer?  The Noisy Cricket?  The suits?  Or maybe its the sunglasses.  1997, 2002, 2012, and 2019.  Plenty has changed in 22 years since the first Men in Black movie, but readers of a new book on all four films in the MiB franchise will learn a lot hasn’t changed.  As part of the release of the latest entry in the series, Men in Black International, Titan Books partnered with Columbia Pictures to put together Men in Black Films: The Official Visual Companion to the Films, an oversized, chrome, hardcover guide spanning the creation of the MiB universe and each film from the original comic books to the new movie.

Writers Lisa Fitzpatrick and Sharon Gosling interview the directors, writers, visual effects crew, and other artists and actors from each movie to find out why the series has resonated with sci-fi audiences.  Moving between images from the film, the characters, and plots, to what happened behind the scenes to develop the ideas from page to final film, readers will get two views of the films: one in-universe and one real-world.  It’s told chronologically, giving equal treatment to each film.  Along with stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, James Brolin, and now Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, you’ll see familiar characters from the past played by Tony Shalhoub (Galaxy Quest), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water), Luke Cage stars Rosario Dawson and Mike Colter (Luke Cage), and Rip Torn (Defending Your Life), and you’ll meet new characters played by Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson.

The writers find lots of common threads with the first three films because of the overlap in creators, so look for some deep dives into the moviemaking process from director of the first three films, Barry Sonnenfeld, producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes (and how they coordinated ideas with executive producer Steven Spielberg), production designer Bo Welch, set decorator Cheryl Carasik, and, of course, Rick Baker, monster (and alien) maker, plus dozens more.  It’s all a nostalgic look back to some of the major creators that guided the look of Hollywood in the 1980s and 1990s.  It includes commentary from comic book creator Lowell Cunningham and the several writers that had a hand in the screenplays.  From the great futuristic props to those sunglasses and black suit changes, every major talent behind the camera gets to share where the ideas came from, with full-color photographs documenting the production steps along the way.

Here is a look inside Men in Black Films: The Official Visual Companion to the Films, courtesy of Titan Books:

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