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Category: Superheroes


  

A classic board game and TV show are getting new tie-in comic book series and a classic creator and character are all coming to IDW Publishing this year. IDW announced several new books this week to expand their line of monthly series. The Hasbro board game Clue/Cluedo is getting a new comic book mini-series. The Netflix award-winning TV series GLOW is getting a limited series.  And Stan Sakai is bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Usagi Yojimbo to IDW with stories old and new, including a full-color, three-part series.

The Sakai announcement is bigger than a single series, as IDW says it plans to bring all 35 years of his Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions–the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time–and new stories are being prepared.  Beginning in June, a three-part story set again in the Edo period in 17th century Japan finds Usagi “embroiled in a puppet drama where the players are not quite what they seem.”  According to Sakai, “Bunraku (Japanese puppetry) captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: an adventure filled with Japanese culture, folklore, and history.  It also features the return of a long-awaited fan favorite character and Yokai (Japanese supernatural creatures).”  Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson (Murder Falcon), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and comics legend Walt Simonson.

IDW returns to Clue tie-in mysteries with CLUE: Candlestick, a three-issue comic book miniseries launching in May. “Rife with puzzles, secrets, and lies, and everyone’s a suspect,” the series will be created by animator Dash Shaw writing, illustrative, coloring, and lettering a new Clue mystery.  Check out a preview of the new Clue series below, courtesy of IDW Publishing.
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This weekend at New York Toy Fair 2019, toymaker Mezco Toyz surprised fans of the classic Six Million Dollar Man series with a peek at two new 3.75-inch scale, five points of articulation action figures from its “5 Points” line.  Zica Toys previously discontinued its line of Six Million Dollar Man action figures for low sales back in 2014.  The sculpts for the two new figures revealed at the Mezco Toyz booth are similar.  Fans of the 12-inch Steve Austin action figure from the mid-1970s will recall it being the #1 toy of its day, following on the success of 12-inch G.I. Joes.  A later generation in the 1980s and 1990s would experience G.I. Joes reduced in size closer to the Kenner-sized figures.  Now Mezco Toyz has created homages to the 12-inch Bionic Man and the other popular action figure from the original line, the 15-inch Bigfoot.

Although Zica Toys released both a red (and blue) track suit small version of Steve Austin and a Bigfoot, the new figures take it all a step further, revealing the cyborg chips in Steve’s right arm similar to the design of the large-sized classic figure, and Bigfoot features the chest button that, when kick-punched, revealed the robotic circuitry inside (we’re not sure how the Mezco Toyz version will work).  New Steve also comes with the accessory engine, which the large-sized figure easily lifted over his head.  With the classic Adidas Dragons, the only thing missing is the removable skin, chest patch, and bionic eye.  If you’re watching Doom Patrol, you’re seeing DC’s Cyborg borrowing his clothes from the original Cyborg.

Mezco Toyz also featured several new licensed figures from its six-inch line–the One: 12 Collective–including Brie Larson′s Captain Marvel from the coming 2019 film, David Harbour′s Hellboy from the upcoming film, Jon Bernthal′s The Punisher, classic Wesley Snipes as Blade, The Warriors, and yet another They Live alien figure following on Super7′s new 3.75-inch figures.  Plus many more.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Much like Hergé and his Tintin and Christin and Mézières’ Valerian and Laureline, another story read by millions of Europeans in the 20th century but overlooked by the masses in America is finally making its way overseas.  This time its the villain Fantômas who is coming to America, the star of a series of some 43 novels and 15 films, a popular crime novel readers in Europe have flocked to read about beginning in 1911 with Marcel Allain and Pierre Souverstre‘s team-written novel Fantômas, followed by a succession of comics and other adaptations.  Writer Olivier Bocquet and artist Julie Rocheleau pulled ideas from the original novel series for their award-winning 2013 work, The Wrath of Fantômas, which is being released in an English translation for the first time tomorrow.

First previewed by Titan Comics at the Diamond Retailer Lunch at San Diego Comic-Con last year, The Wrath of Fantômas is steeped in literary history.  The masked, black-gloved Fantômas has been said to have inspired the 1930s comic strip character The Phantom (1936), who in turn inspired Batman (1939), but Fantômas isn’t the first superhero character.  That designation traditionally goes to the title hero of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, created a few years earlier in 1905, who inspired, in turn, Zorro in 1919.  But it won’t take long for readers to pick up the same disdain for corrupted governments and leaders throughout the 19th and 20th centuries from the vantages of Fantômas, Sir Percy Blakeney, and others, that continued to spread across the world, reflected well into the 20th century with anti-heroes like the Guy Fawkes-masked V in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.

Fantômas is pursued by the fiercely zealous and savvy Inspector Juve, a character that critic and author Kim Newman has cited as the inspiration for Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series.  Juve is as determined as Javert, and Victor Hugo’s chief antagonist from 1862’s Les Misérables was no doubt an inspiration for Juve–he’s Javert seen as noble and loyal, but also just, heroic, and good.  His nemesis Fantômas is merciless toward his targets and in his methods, killing for vengeance, and seemingly for no reason, and no woman or child or man is out-of-bounds for his fury.

Here is a preview:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The third book in the new series of hardcover novels based on Batman stories from DC Comics, following The Killing Joke (reviewed earlier here at borg) and the Harley Quinn story Mad Love (reviewed here) is on its way to your comic book shop and other bookstores.  The Court of Owls is relatively new to Batman and DC Comics.  It’s a storyline that emerged from the New 52, the big DC reboot from seven years ago, created in the pages of Batman comics from writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo.  Just as DC was re-creating origin stories and restarting some story lines for various characters, The Court of Owls became the latest subversive crime unit, a mix of a secret society like Skull & Bones and the mid-century Mob, infiltrating every part of Gotham City, controlling everything from the police to the banks, business, and the government.  It was an entirely new creation, so Snyder was challenged with establishing a foundation of events no reader had encountered in Batman’s then 72 years, but thenceforth became a part of established Gotham City history and lore.  This is the focus of a new novel edition of the storyline, Batman: The Court of Owls, written by tie-in author Greg Cox.

People are catching fire, human spontaneous combustion style, across Gotham.  As Bruce Wayne aka Batman investigates with Commissioner Gordon, it becomes clear crime scene information is similar to crimes of record from Batman’s past sleuthing.  An element is common among the remains, tying these deaths to a secret society that Batman previously encountered and confronted in the underground Labyrinth lair–The Court of Owls.  The Court of Owls consists of a small but far-reaching group of the wealthy and powerful who meet in secret and wear a sort of Eyes Wide Shut face mask system, and their henchmen, called Talons, also wear masks, and possess unnatural regenerative qualities.  They are fierce and possibly unbeatable.  Enter the missing Joanna Lee, rescued in a shoot-out in Gotham years ago by Batman, she was an art history student studying a historic Gotham sculptor when she vanished.  As Bruce, butler Alfred, and ally Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon piece together the history of the city and this sculptor’s strangely pervasive art, they learn the impossible has happened: This 19th century artist created works depicting future events decades before they happened.  What they have in common opens up a past that was in front of Bruce Wayne all his life.

As a standalone novel, Batman: The Court of Owls is a solid, worthy Batman story, a complete adventure that doesn’t require much prior knowledge from the reader.  It’s not an adaptation of the New 52 story, but incorporates various elements from the original, comic book version of The Court of Owls story, plus elements from related stories, Night of the Owls, City of the Owls, Fall of the Owls, and Scourge of the Owls

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The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969, will be the subject of several celebrations this year, and the United States Mint is joining in with a first-of-its-kind series of commemorative coins.  For the first time the mint is issuing coins that have curved surfaces intentionally to highlight the unique images on each side.  First, a concave obverse provides the appearance of an actual foot depression, re-shaping the typical flat coin blank, honoring Neil Armstrong‘s first step onto the lunar surface and the three NASA programs that resulted in the successful landing of men on the Moon.  On the reverse, a convex surface echoes the rounded look and feel of astronaut Buzz Aldrin‘s space helmet visor as he was photographed by astronaut Neil Armstrong, in an artist’s homage to Armstrong’s famous photograph of Aldrin, also a selfie of Armstrong.  The first photograph humanity saw of men on the moon was simultaneously of both Aldrin and Armstrong thanks to the famous snapshot.

The mirror-like proof coin versions showcase the obverse, highlighting the changing phases of the moon, and the textured lunar surface.  On the reverse, the proof version gives the appearance of the actual, metallic sheen of the visor, and the shadow of Aldrin appears dark when held at the appropriate angle.  The uncirculated versions carry the standard matte finish.  Four coins are offered in this design: a $5 gold coin, a standard size $1 silver coin, a half-dollar clad coin, and a five ounce $1 silver proof coin.  The obverse footprint design was created by Gary Cooper, whose design was selected in a juried competition.  Mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna sculpted the design.  The reverse design is by Mint sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill, who also sculpted the final design.  Proceeds from sales of the coins will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit, Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

PCGS has graded and encapsulated a limited number of Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coins.  The coins provided to PCGS are from Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s limited allocation of Launch Ceremony products and feature an insert with a hand-signed signature from Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.  Best known for his role in the Apollo 13 mission, Haise was also key to the development of the Apollo lunar lander and was the first man to pilot a space shuttle–the Enterprise–in 1977.

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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly this year netted no surprises–the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 53rd Super Bowl game may be the deja vu from Super Bowl 51, the preview for another film in the Fast & Furious series that was released in advance of the game (we previewed it here).  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham are hard to beat, and their trailer for Hobbs & Shaw looks like it could be the surprise moneymaker of the year, in a year of sequels and more sequels.  The franchise is already the sixth biggest moneymaker of all time.

But we got plenty of new previews for projects previously announced.  We have new, short, “spot” trailers for Marvel movies Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.  Four movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, including a look at Us–the latest from Get Out director Jordan Poole, the animated adventure Wonder Park, a brief look at Alita: Battle Angel, and Guillermo del Toro’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  Last but not least, the game ran a brief spot for Toy Story 4.

Check out all these new movie trailers:

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It took more than four decades, but the classic Wonder Woman television series that aired between 1975 and 1979 is at last getting a 1:6 scale figure worthy of the fan-favorite series and beloved star, Lynda CarterTweeterhead, the collectible design studio known for high-end statues and busts from pop culture classics such as DC Comics, the Batman 1966 live action TV series, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, and Masters of the Universe, has created the most realistic collectible version of the superheroine so far.  Sculpted by Trevor Grove and Matt Black, with mold and casting by Michael Allen, print by SNL Creative, and paint by David Fisher, the limited edition figures are now available for pre-order at online pop culture store Entertainment Earth.

Lynda Carter made the comic book character a household name for a generation of TV viewers, and she seems to come alive as Wonder Woman again on these new sculpts.  At 1:6 scale the figures stand 13 inches high.  Early viewings at conventions last year revealed something greater than achieved before for the likeness of the actress and character.  Each variant has a head sculpt that looks like Lynda Carter as she portrayed the character in the 1970s, plus finely detailed, textured boots, highlighted and detailed life-like skin tones, shorts with seams and replicated fabric textures, realistic fabric wrinkles, sharp paint borders and color-matching nearly identical to stills from the series and promotional photographs.

  

Entertainment Earth is now taking pre-orders for three versions of the Tweeterhead figures at the following links:  Two versions reflect her costume from Season 1 in 1975, both with a star-spangled pedestal (one without a cape, available here, and one with a cape, available here) and a third variant sees her later in the series, posed in a stride, with a base in a bursting star pattern (available here).  Each is limited to 350 pieces, and includes a hand-numbered base and hand-numbered foiled certificate.

Take a look at these poses for all three designs:

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With winter settling in and another cold snap crossing the U.S. and the film’s nomination for a Best Animated Film Academy Award, audiences are continuing to discover Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in theaters (reviewed earlier here at borg).  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special is a new hardcover book going behind the scenes of the movie, and it has a different twist.  The book interviews all three of the film’s directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, who provide different perspectives on working with Phil Lord on the script, and share insight into the pre-production, voice actor recording, and visual effects.

Senior animation supervisor Josh Beveridge recounts the steps of the animation process used for the film, including inkline methodology to make the film look like a comic book, using a large team of animators.  Several pages are devoted to each of Miles Morales and his family, Peter B. Parker, Spider-Man Noir, Gwen Stacy, Peter Porker, and Peni Parker and SP//dr–how each was designed, how each was presented to distinguish their different comic book origins using variations in light, color, and dimension, and how each voice actor approached the performance.  The villains get coverage, too, including the Prowler, Kingpin, Tombstone, and a new Green Goblin and Doc Ock.

The best look at stills from the film released so far can be found in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special.  It also nicely references all the writers and artists that created the various Spider-Verse characters used in the film.  It features concept art and production art from production designer Justin K. Thompson, art director Dean Gordon, and creators Jesús Alonzo Iglesias, Seonna Hong, Patrick O’Keefe, Shiyoon Kim, Yashar Kassai, Naveen Selvanathan, Paul Lasaine, and Craig Kellman.  Voice actors Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld also provide contributions.

Take a look inside at a few pages from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse–The Official Movie Special:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A new hardcover mini book joins Insight Editions‘ palm-sized book series (check out our review of the Harry Potter book here), this time reprinting 300 covers of the Wonder Woman comic book series, all in color.  So for a list price of $11.99, Wonder Woman fans can now flip through decades of the superheroine’s visual history.  You will be surprised at the volume of reptiles, undersea creatures, and dinosaurs she has wrestled over the decades from 1942 to 1983.

Wonder Woman: The Complete Covers Volume 1 finds Diana, the Amazon warrior-princess, in all sorts of situations–action and adventures featuring her ride, climb, lasso, grab, toss, wrestle, run, dive, fly, strut, sit, lasso some more, block, drive, fight, swing, soar, manhandled, swim, throw, jump, lift, spacewalk, clam surf, hoist trees, punch, sword fight, cry (but only twice), protect, shoot, drown, get tied up or handcuffed, fall, get eaten, kick, put a guy in a headlock, and lasso again, and deflect bullets and lightning, and die.

Who appeared the most with Wonder Woman on the covers of the first 300 issues of the Wonder Woman comic book?  Wonder Woman.  That’s right, DC must have figured if one image of the superheroine sold a 52-page comic, then the Amazon battling herself would bring in even more readers.  How many costume changes did she get in 300 issues?  For the first 177 issues she went from boots to sandal boots and back again, until 1968 when the comics featured a series of mod outfits, but she returned to her classic look with issue 204 (her boots would change yet again).

Check out our preview of Volume 1 and Volume 2 below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Jon Bernthal returned to Netflix this weekend for Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher, continuing in the role of Frank Castle, the comic book vigilante that makes all of the Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, and Keanu Reeves movie action heroes look wimpy by comparison.  Bernthal’s performance as a 21st century hero offers more than the beatings he dishes out (which will make viewers wince, flinch, and duck throughout 13 episodes), it has that subtlety and nuance that shows again Bernthal has the acting chops to be the next Robert De Niro.  And he’s probably the most believable actor as a Marvel comic book tough guy on the big or small screen.

The Punisher fits the superhero bill in his strength, cunning, and skill, and writers Steve Lightfoot, Ken Kristensen, Angela LaManna, Dario Scardapane, Christine Boylan, Felicia D. Henderson, Bruce Marshall Romans, and Laura Jean Leal outperformed the stellar first season with more elaborate set-ups for Castle & Co.  In 2017 the series’ first season made our borg.com best comic book adaptation and best villain with Ben Barnes‘ Billy Russo, and Barnes does it again, creating a worthy foil very different from last time, a character similar in many ways to the complex and somewhat sympathetic Killmonger in Black Panther.  In many ways it’s more of the same, with Amber Rose Revah (Emerald City) as Dinah Madani and Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) as Curtis back supporting Castle, this time balancing two big threats.  The cast plays exceptionally well off each other, and it’s a shame this is the final season for the series.

Castle steps in as good Samaritan to protect a teenager played by Giorgia Whigham (The Orville) who becomes the season’s co-lead, a key part of a strange, Manchurian Candidate-inspired political scheme.  Meanwhile Madani pursues Billy Russo, now under the care of a psychiatrist played by series newcomer Floriana Lima.  The beating by Castle in Season One left Russo with memory loss, forgetting Castle nearly killed him only because he killed Castle’s family in the first season of the show.  The key theme again is PTSD and the results of coming home from war as a trained killer with little community support.  In many ways The Punisher is a modern-day read of the post-war classic The Best Years of Our Lives.  Loyalty is a key theme again, too, as is doing what is necessary to protect your own.

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