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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of James Bond have six reasons to check out a new graphic novel arriving tomorrow at comic book stores everywhere.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007: Reflections of Death combines the writing talents of comics creators Benjamin Percy, Greg Pak, Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Mark Russell, Vita Ayala, and Danny Lore, with the artwork of Dean Kotz, Luca Casalanguida, Kewber Baal, Eoin Marron, Robert Carey, Jordi Perez, and Fay Dalton.  The result is a single graphic novel finding Moneypenny kidnapped and drugged, forced to recount some telling exploits of our favorite 00 spy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Get out your I Want to Believe posters and get ready to cue up “Materia Primoris,” that haunting theme to The X-Files.  This month, 24 years after we first met Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, you can stand in the shoes of these FBI agents as Director Walter Skinner hands you a dossier of the 50 most revealing, memorable, scary, creepy, and thoroughly awesome X-Files.  In March 2020, a man named Paul Terry (aka author Paul Terry) signed out full-color copies of notes, interviews, photographs, and other highly confidential documents from the Bureau, and you can find them all reprinted in The X-Files: The Official Archives, available for pre-order here at Amazon, arriving in bookstores tomorrow.  The in-universe perspective and thoroughly detailed design will reel in and satisfy everyone from the passing fan to the most diehard X-Phile.

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He’s been keeping us at ease with sonnets through the past 180s days of sheltering at home, and now his latest series is coming to Blu-ray and DVD.  Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek: Picard series was a way for fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation to peek in on the latest exploits of the crew of the Enterprise-D and -E years down the road, or erm… down the spaceway.  The first season of Star Trek: Picard is coming your way in a Blu-ray, DVD, or optional steelbook packaging edition in October, and you can pre-order it now here at Amazon.  Unfortunately it doesn’t include a digital copy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

From 1977 to 1993, noted crime writer Max Allan Collins was writing stories “ripped from the headlines” in the Dick Tracy comic strip.  Some of Collins’ proposed stories were too racy for the average daily newspaper, so Collins took this as an opportunity to introduce the stories in the pages of Ms. Tree, a series published then by Eclipse.   A year ago, I reviewed a new collection of classic Ms. Tree stories from the 1980s, penned twenty years before Jessica Jones, written by Collins and illustrated by artist Terry BeattyMs. Tree: One Mean Mother.  Ms. Michael Tree is the 6-foot tall, 9 mm pistol-toting private eye with a clever homonym name, referred to as the “female Mike Hammer” in the stories written by the man who would take over the character from Mickey Spillane.  She borrows something real and gritty from Erle Stanley Gardner’s detective Bertha Cool and her brand of sleuthing, certainly unique for the 1980s.  The Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Comics is publishing the second volume of Ms. Tree stories next month, five more stories from the dark corners of big city life, in Ms. Tree: Skeleton in the Closet.  Classic Collins crime tales in the comics are like his 21st century crime novels–they do not disappoint.

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In the next twist on using science to find true love, AMC is bringing to television a new limited anthology series–AMC’s first.  Soulmates explores a new invention that reveals your true love and viewers get to watch how it all unfolds for six couples, each in a separate episode.  But it’s not the fun and games we saw in TiMER, the Emma Caulfield rom-com with a similar plot.  The first trailer for Soulmates is more dread than utopia.  Nope, this series looks like the stuff of sci-fi horror.  The Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury Theater, The Outer Limits, and Black Mirror all had their share of dabbles in romance turned wrong.  The victims, err… participants in this latest experiment in love are played a few of our favorite young genre actors.

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Once you’ve seen a film by Denis Villeneuve, you can spot his work instantly.  The images in this week’s trailer for Dune, the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sand planet world of characters could easily be spliced from the wide-angle, sparse landscapes of Villeneuve’s recent Blade Runner 2049.  He also is conjuring bits of other directors’ sci-fi works, like from the last successful sandscape flick, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and you may even spot shots straight out of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.  You’ll see a lot going on in this trailer, but is there anything new?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Franklin, Scott, Shackleton, Dyre, Hillary, MacReady, Torrance, Norgay.  Name your favorite stone-cold adventurer from real life or fiction and ready yourself for what may be the deepest, most detailed world building in your Dungeons & Dragons gaming yet.  Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore’s Icewind Dale will take on new meaning for you as a place of excitement and troubled outcasts, nonstop pitfalls, and numbing despair–if you’re not careful.  In Wizards of the Coast’s latest adventure, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, players will journey across lands doomed to darkness by a frostmaiden of many faces, known to embody all of winter’s cruelties.  Your most bone chilling nightmares lie ahead, and survival is only the beginning.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Video game dabblers and players turn into game company entrepreneurs in Netflix’s latest retro fix, High Score, a documentary in the vein of shows like VH1’s Behind the Music and The Toys That Made Us.  Pioneer designers and creators like Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado, Nintendo’s Hirokazu Tanaka, and Atari’s Nolan Bushnell piece together a brief history of video games with an emphasis on home play in this new six-episode, limited series now streaming on Netflix.  The series goes through the development and rise of games moving from upright consoles to the television set, with Mystery House, Space Invaders, Star Fox, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Doom rising to the top as the touchstones of this modern corner of history.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s been three years since the arrival of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi cult classic, Blade Runner, itself based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  At last fans of the franchise, sci-fi, and futurism have a worthy tribute to the artwork behind the production with Tanya Lapointe’s Blade Runner 2049 Interlinked–The Art, now available from Titan Books.  A companion piece to the author’s 2017 book, The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049, published in 2017, which focused more on the entire production than the ideas behind the look of the film, this new book is packed with more reproductions of concept artwork than text, a journey for anyone thinking about the next Syd Mead–who will he/she be, and what the world they create might look like.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With the 1868 novel The Moonstone, author Wilkie Collins created what is widely considered to be the first modern English detective novel, creating the key beats that would thereafter make up the framework for the genre.  In his earlier work, the 1859 Gothic “sensational” novel The Woman in White, Collins created a suspense thriller that stands up to rich classics including his contemporary Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Bleak House, all while steeped in the realities of being a 19th century woman documented a decade earlier by Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre, and later, Daphne du Maurier in Rebecca.  The BBC 2018 adaptation of The Woman in White, streaming now via Amazon Prime, rises to the top of recent British mystery series, a compelling execution that will keep you guessing until the final scenes.    View full article »