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Category: Superheroes


Stan Lee, 1922-2018

borg salutes the great Stan Lee, who has passed away.

His characters and ideas entertained generations of comic book readers, both kids and adults, and more recently movie audiences on a global scale.

His legion of fans mourn his passing, but his legend and influence will live on.

Excelsior!

C.J. Bunce

Editor
borg

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This month Marvel is celebrating the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a look back at the first three phases of the films in a new hardcover book, Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years With the March 2019 release of Captain Marvel the official fourth phase of the MCU will begin.  With that shift to a new era quickly approaching, as well as an uncertain future thanks to the imminent completion of the acquisition of the X-Men characters, and the 10-year benchmark, it’s a good time to assess all Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was able to pull together beginning way back when we first saw Robert Downey, Jr. don the Iron Man armor for the first time.  This nostalgic trip back over the past decade will be published by Titan in conjunction with Marvel.

Readers will find interviews with Feige, co-president Louis D’Esposito, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, Anthony and Joe Russo, James Gunn, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Evangeline Lilly, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Gwyneth Paltrow, William Hurt, and Josh Brolin.  Multi-page sections focus on each of the 22 films in the series.  High-quality color photographs accompany the discussion of each film in chronological order, most with behind-the-scenes images, like a great image of all the parts to Ant-Man’s helmet laid out on a table.

Fascinating discussion points include D’Esposito pointing out how the produces intentionally made each new film a different genre, not just a superhero movie.  He also indicates that casting Robert Downey, Jr. was the most important casting decision of the franchise.  Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn talks about using the soundtracks on set for everyone to get the feel of the two Guardians movies.  The book even provides some preview information for next year’s Captain Marvel movie.  And there are several Easter eggs that most fans will have never read about anywhere else, often 10 or more for each film (the Collector and the Grandmaster are brothers?).  Here are a few pages from Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years:

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Sometimes your friendly comic book store owner knows just the right book to recommend to you, and the latest is Captain Ginger, one of the first comic books from the new comics publisher, AHOY Comics.  One of the improvements on the medium is thick 40-page issues, with a title story here making up 35 of those pages.  It’s not too late to climb aboard the new series, and Issue #2 is scheduled to arrive this Wednesday.

Take Planet of the Apes, but swap cats for apes.  Then get rid of the planet and humans and send them off into outer space like the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  Add cat behavior, cat quirks, and cat community relationships and you’ll have a good idea what to look for in Captain Ginger.  The monthly series is written by Stuart Moore (Marvel’s Civil War) with pencil artwork by June Brigman (Jessica Jones, Power Pack)and inks by Roy Richardson (Flash), and colors by Veronica Gandini (Mice Templar).

  

Follow the exploits of Captain Ginger, an orange cat selected to lead the cats against a perplexing menace, as he tries to keep his crew aboard when they want to stay on the first planet they find that has rats, cushions, blankets, and radiators?  Will they all take a nap when they should be in battle?  Can Captain Ginger keep everyone from going outside the litter box?

Issue #1 includes a prose story by comics legend Grant Morrison, “The Electric Sky Bear That Inspired Ben Franklin,” with two panels illustrated by Phil Hester, and a Too Much Coffee Man cartoon strip by Shannon Wheeler.  Above are the covers for the first four issues, and here are a few interior pages from Issue #1:

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The perfect killing machine is forging her way ahead to lead the next series in the vein of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye and Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow for Marvel Comics.  It’s Laura Kinney aka X-23, the clone of Logan’s Wolverine, who takes center stage in a stylish and smartly written series, wrapping the final part of a five-part story arc last month and featuring a single-story issue this Wednesday.  In the monthly series X-23 (the sixth X-23 solo title series), writer Mariko Tamaki creates a worthy follow-on to future X-Men stories like those found in the Old Man Logan.  The series takes familiar mutant powers and mythology into surprising and exciting directions in a personal character study of young X-Women dealing with life as cloned mutants.

The story begins with a partnership forged in past series.  X-23 is joined by her lab-created “sister” Gabby, aka Honey Badger, who was previously created as a clone of Laura.  Gabby is the chatty younger sister of the duo, full of pep, a little less precise in her fighting skills than the more battle hardened X-23 (think Buffy Summers’ sister Dawn or Green Arrow’s former sidekick Mia).  Gabby is also more inclined to try to find commonality between the Wolverine clone club and the series’ other clone family, the Stepford Cuckoos.  The “Cuckoos” are the five clones of Emma Frost, who only recently have lost two of their sisters, who died in stories previous to this series.  If you can put aside the cringeworthy alter ego name of the Frost clones (the Cuckoos have been around since 2001 and are a Grant Morrison creation), as realized here the characters are new and fresh, and the story is an intriguing future-world update to the Xavier School situational stories found in the pages of Wolverine and The X-Men.

Tamaki (Hunt for Wolverine, Hulk) partnered with artist Juann Cabal and colorist Nolan Woodard on the first story arc.  As X-23 pursues a missing scientist at the behest of Hank “Beast” McCoy, the remaining Emma Frost clones, referred to as the Three-in-One, are plotting to return to their family of five sisters.  But one of the sisters has other ideas, determined to kidnap and transform Gabby in the process.  The result is a solid X-Men series mutant fans should take note of.  Take a look at some pages from the series and several variant covers:

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The 2018 World Series is over with the Boston Red Sox win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, but as with the Super Bowl the movie studios provided viewers with new TV spots throughout the television coverage.  Four films were being promoted for the Thanksgiving holiday, and although all the trailers are from films previously announced, audiences have some new views to consider, to decide whether a film will be “in” or out,” after the last of the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie have been served.  The TV spots included new looks at Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Creed II, Green Book, and Instant Family.

We’ve already previewed earlier trailers for the next Fantastic Beasts installment and Creed II.  Green Book stars Marvel’s Luke Cage costar Mahershala Ali as a classical pianist on tour in the South in the 1960s, with The Lord of the Rings’ Viggo Mortenson is a bouncer that becomes his chauffeur.  Instant Family stars Mark Wahlberg (All the Money in the World, Ted and Transformers series, Planet of the Apes, The Other Guys) and Rose Byrne (X-Men series, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, 28 Weeks Later) as a couple who adopts three children from foster care.

   

We’ve included the most recent trailers for each of these four movies (and a few others we found).  Check them out:

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The most infamous, notorious, and maybe even most beloved of toymakers, Marty Abrams is back in the toy biz years after a stint in prison for fraud and the bankruptcy of his famous toy company (get the whole story on Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us).  The company he made famous–MEGO–gave kids the ultimate 1970s line of licensed 8-inch (1:9 scale) action figures, and it returned to stores with a vengeance this year.  Not to toy stores–since they seem to be a thing of the past after the bankruptcy of Toys R Us this year–but to the end cap at your neighborhood Target store.  Replaced in recent years by the 3 3/4-inch line of licensed small-scale action figured from Super 7, Funko, and Biff! Bam! Pow!, the classic MEGO figures are making a comeback.  Abrams has pulled in a bizarre cross-section of licensed properties to get his foot back in the door with kids, collectors, and anyone able to be sidetracked on their way to pick up school supplies and shampoo.  Abrams was a groundbreaking importer, manufacturer, marketing maven, inventor, and brand developer who founded MEGO Corporation, the first company to license action figures based on TV shows and comic book superheroes, and the first to sell dolls in clear bubbles on cards that hung on pegs instead of in boxes stacked on store shelves.  If you were a kid in the 1970s, you probably had at least one of his figures (I’m pretty sure we still called them dolls back then).  My three-year-old self was not excluded:

The first wave of figures are already on the discount shelves at Target.  Look around and you’ll find an eclectic mix of pop culture nostalgia, some figures resembling sculpts and costumes from the original MEGO figures, others representing characters that may leave you scratching your head, wondering who has been eagerly waiting to see this show in an action figure line.  So Wave One includes Sulu and Chekov from the original Star Trek series, Charlie’s Angels’ Kelly Garrett (complete with ’70s hairdo), Peg Bundy from Married with Children, Action Jackson (not the movie version) sporting a jumpsuit, NORM! Peterson from Cheers, Piper Halliwell from the original TV series Charmed, Dracula (sculpted after Bela Lugosi’s version), Alice the housekeeper and center square from The Brady Bunch, Tootie the youngest girl from Facts of Life, Jimi Hendrix in his Woodstock outfit, and probably the best of all (OK, besides Jim Hendrix): Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli (aka Fonzie) looking like the original Mego figure from Happy DaysTwo dual figure sets feature Jeannie and Tony from I Dream of Jeannie and a Mirror Universe figure set of Kirk and Spock from Star Trek.  Mego also has a 14-inch (1:5 scale) DC Comics line, including Wonder Woman from the TV series, General Zod from the two original Superman movies, a classic style Harley Quinn, and a Golden Age Batman.

Wave Two, arriving this month at Target stores nationwide, includes Frankenstein, Greg from The Brady Bunch, John Ratzenberger’s Cliff Clavin from Cheers, Starchild from the band KISS, Alyssa Milano’s Phoebe from Charmed, Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham from Happy Days, Cheryl Ladd’s Kris Munroe from Charlie’s Angels, Spock and the Gorn from Star Trek, Samantha from Bewitched, Kelly Bundy from Married with Children, Jo from Facts of Life, and dual sets featuring Dorothy, Toto, and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, DJ and Stephanie Tanner from Full House.  In the 14-inch DC Comics line look for Superman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, and Poison Ivy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fitting into the CW television series’ fourth season, the first book in Amulet Books’ series of novels based on the DC Comics famous speedster, The Flash: Hocus Pocus, takes readers through an all-new middle-grade adventure mystery.  Barry Allen works with Team Flash, Cisco Ramon, Caitlin Snow, and H.R. Wells fka Dr. Wells (aka Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne, H. Lothario Wells, H. Wells, Harrison H.P. Wells, Harrison Wells, Harrison Wolfgang Wells, etc.), plus Joe, Iris, Wally “Kid Flash” West, and Captain Singh to try to find the cause of a recent series of deaths in Central City.  But while Cisco and Caitlin try to take a break from work at S.T.A.R. Labs at an old amusement park, a new villain rises calling himself Hocus Pocus (Cisco hates it when villains name themselves).

This mad magician takes control of Barry as he tries to save his job, protect Wally, save the city and have more time for he and Iris to move on with their lives together.  But this magician has found a way to control and direct anyone’s movements, and once Hocus Pocus can control Barry he can control anything, even kill a stadium full of innocent baseball fans.  Along the way Barry finds himself in front of the storefront of a psychic reader, the strange Madame Xanadu, who seems to have foreseen cryptic steps ahead in Barry’s future.  But Barry isn’t a believer.  Can he use science to find his answers, or will he need to meld both science and magic to take down this murderous magician?

 

Author Barry Lyga, who also penned the two follow-on books in the series, The Flash: Johnny Quick, and The Flash: The Tornado Twins, knows his characters well, creating a good story full of pop culture references, quips, and science–enough real science to prompt middle-grade readers to investigate some of the concepts used to solve this mystery on their own.   Continue reading

Universal dropped its next trailer for the third film in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy, Glass. They’re all being brought together in today’s trailer by the writer/director of The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, The Happening, Wayward Pines, and Lady in the Water–Samuel L. Jackson returning as Elijah aka Mr. Glass, the seemingly fragile, self-aware comic book villain of the title, Bruce Willis as the unbreakable hooded vigilante David Dunn, and James McAvoy as Patricia/Dennis/Hedwig/Barry/Jade/Orwell/Heinrich/Norma or just The Beast.

Shyamalan’s psychological horror-thriller Split was a real genre buster–one of those odd movies that really didn’t seem to fit into the genre you thought you were getting from the previews, like Midnight Special.  But we’d learn only at the end we were inside not only the mind of a sociopath, but the mind of a particularly twisted supervillain from the darkest edge of comic book land.  How many more theater seats would have been filled if moviegoers had known Split was the sequel to Shyamalan’s cult-favorite superhero movie Unbreakable?

Glass is arriving just on the heels of last year’s Split.  Unbreakable arrived in theaters way back in 2000.  It all is coming together a bit like J.J. Abrams disjointed, multi-genre Cloverfield movie series.  Take a look at the latest trailer from Universal for Glass:

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The pop culture event of 2018 is finally here!

BBC America is airing its new season, the premiere episode for Jodie Whittaker‘s 13th Doctor earlier today than normal episodes will air on Sunday evenings going forward, at 12:45 p.m. Central Time (simulcast in the UK on BBC One at 5:45 p.m. GMT).  So if you want to be among the first to see it–and avoid any spoilers online, don’t miss out.

For those who like pre-shows, BBC America is also airing a 30-minute lead-in at 12:15 p.m. Central.

Season 11 episode 1 will be re-broadcast at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Along with a special sneak peek that can be found in theaters at the end of the credits for Marvel’s Venom, a new trailer for the animated Miles Morales Spidey pic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse has landed this week, revealing some of the key characters fans of the modern comics stories have been waiting for.  It has Shameik Moore as Miles, BumbleBee’s Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen, Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, New Girl’s Jake Johnson as Peter Parker, Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, and Liev Schreiber as The Kingpin.  And a few other cool surprises.

DC Entertainment’s latest effort, Aquaman, got its own extended trailer this weekend, too, showing more of the story arc with Jason Momoa‘s Arthur Curry and Amber Heard‘s Mera.   The CGI sharks are the highlight of this trailer, plus Yahya Abdul-Mateen II‘s Black Manta in action, and the first look at Aquaman in a new costume that more closely matches his classic look.

On the small screen Marvel’s Daredevil is back with its third season this month.  Charlie Cox is back as Matt Murdock, with Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy, and Vincent D’Onofrio returns as the season’s key villain Wilson Fisk.

And in case you missed it, the new Hellboy movie has a new official poster, featuring Stranger Things’ David Harbour in the updated prosthetics.  And a new wide-angle poster released at New York Comic Con shows a first look at co-stars Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane, and Ian McShane.

Here are the trailers:

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