Tag Archive: cyborgs


AOD1979-01-01021-B-Suydam  AOD1979-01-01031-C-Yoon

Review by C.J. Bunce

While you me, he, her, them, and we are waiting for Bruce Campbell to launch a reboot of The Rockford Files (if you say it out loud enough times, it might just come true), you get to see Campbell’s image as Ash Williams–our favorite cyborg horror hero–in a new comic book series with the laughs and tone of the great Ash vs. Evil Dead television series.  Get ready for Army of Darkness 1979, written by Rodney Barnes and artist Tom Garcia, with colorist Dinei Ribero and letterer Troy Peteri These creators take Ash back from his current attempt to work in the great Pacific Northwest as a logger way back 42 years in pursuit of killing Deadites and laying his hands on the Necronomicon.  A strange new/old gang in the Bronx is standing in his way.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It never used to be this way and it didn’t have to end up this way.  Over the years and across the decades, somehow comic book publishers decided comic book readers wanted to see the death of every favorite character.  By the 1990s and 2000s it became more difficult to find a major character that hadn’t been killed off at least once.  But just like you don’t want to watch the final Lassie episode or Benji movie to witness a beloved dog’s last breath (Oh Heavenly Dog doesn’t count), or watch Baby Yoda/Grogu meet his fate at the blade of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, maybe we don’t want to see the killing off of even one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  But the original creators of the TMNT think you do, so if you do, and for those that do, it’s happening right now in the pages of IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin We’re two issues into the five-issue limited series, and the first issue has already gone to record reprints, thanks in no small part to a huge number of variant covers.  We always love our variant options, but this mini-series has at least 69 covers for Issue #1 and at least 26 covers for Issue #2.  It’s a bit odd, because the subject matter is that last turtle, so don’t expect much variation in content.  Those knowing their turtles by color, never fear: the black mask on the covers does not give anything way.  For TMNT collectors, completists, and fans of future otherworld stories and what ifs like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, you’ll probably want to at least check out the trade edition for this one.  Take a look at a preview of The Last Ronin below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s always a big surprise when the holiday episode of Doctor Who is a critical not-to-be-missed episode.  When we last saw the Doctor, she was trapped millions of light years away in an alien prison.  The New Year’s Day 2021 special Revolution of the Daleks is not a filler, out-of-continuity holiday showpiece, instead continuing after ten months have lapsed for the Doctor’s companions back on Earth, and after the Doctor has been imprisoned for years in that same relative time span.  If you missed this episode you missed: the return of John Barrowman’s universal fan-favorite character Captain Jack Harkness, another Law & Order/Law & Order UK crossover/reunion, the last we’ll see of some major characters, a new Prime Minister, a preview of a new companion, and one of the best Dalek episodes in the 57 years of the series.  As the studio releases word that Jodie Whittaker will be soon leaving the series, Revolution of the Daleks reflects that both her performance as the 13th Doctor and Chris Chibnall’s running of the series has finally arrived.  It’s a timeless story full of important, lovely emotional beats, fantastic new sci-fi special and visual effects, and a return to the classic framework and themes of the show’s past.

Let’s take a look at why this episode was superb and offer up some candidates for the 14th Doctor…

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AlteredCarbon_S2_MainTrailer

Review by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon was a fantastic sci-fi series with a stellar cast and a story and production values that rivaled the original Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel.  Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novels, the series is centered around Takeshi Kovacs, a future soldier in a world where science has developed a hard drive called a “stack” that is implanted in humans’ necks, allowing our memories to be uploaded to storage and replanted over and over so they seemingly can live forever, even in new bodies.  That conceit allows Kovacs and other characters to be played by any number of actors, which, as demonstrated in Season 2, can allow the series to continue indefinitely much as Doctor Who’s regeneration mechanism allows replacement Doctors.  So how does a series fair when it replaces the lead after the first season?  Can it keep up the intrigue and interest for viewers?

The first season asked: What does it mean to be human, and how much can you shed away and replace with technology and still retain the “self”?  Unfortunately, the second season falls a bit short.  Although it wisely was paired down from ten to eight episodes for its second season (season one couldn’t keep up the action and would have benefited from some good editing), the series just doesn’t capture the same magic.  Anthony Mackie′s assumption of the role of Kovacs in the year 2385, years after the events of the first season, is more of a re-hash of what we saw Joel Kinnaman do with the character last season.  Mackie is usually one of the best parts of any project he tackles (The Adjustment Bureau, Captain America: Winter Soldier), but the story and dialogue here are not as sophisticated as in the inaugural effort, and Mackie is always intense, his acting dialed up to eleven, much different than his character in the first season.  Simone Missick, who we loved in Marvel’s Luke Cage, provides an interesting new cyborg character for the Altered Carbon universe as Trepp, but it didn’t quite catch up to the passion of Martha Higareda’s driven cop Kristin Ortega last season.  But where the series shines is in its supporting cast of characters, many returning from last season.  The result is like comparing the first season of the Battlestar Galactica reboot with the last–good television–even if it’s not as gritty and exciting as the first season, it still may be the best sci-fi series on television this year.

Poe Dig 301

Foremost is Chris Conner back as the artificial intelligence who has taken inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe, a bodyguard of sorts looking out for Kovacs (Mackie) in his new body (called a sleeve).  Conner brings to the series the same kind of compelling look at the trouble of incorporating humanity into robots or cyber-creations, the same type of battle of sentience in the non-living as conveyed by Robert Picardo as the emergency medical hologram in Star Trek Voyager.  In this season Poe is in trouble–his matrix is broken and he needs to reboot, which he does not want to do because that would mean he would forget Lizzie (Hayley Law), a key character of last season, and a memory stored in his digital mind.  Not rebooting means he makes mistakes that could hinder Kovacs’s ability to stay hidden from his pursuers.  But there is hope for Poe, and that comes in the form of another creation, another artificial intelligence, an ancient storage “archaeologue” unit called Dig 301, played by Dina Shihabi, who nicely substitutes as a futuristic love interest for Poe.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ash Williams–our favorite cyborg horror hero is back, this time in a comic book series with the laughs and tone of the great Ash vs. Evil Dead television series starring Bruce Campbell.  Get ready for Death to the Army of Darkness, written by Ryan Parrott (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Batman: Gates of Gotham) and artist Jacob Edgar (Savage Tales: Red Sonja), with colorist Kike J. Díaz (Sherlock Frankenstein, Ether) and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Red Sonja, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt).  These creators take us to Ash six months after the events of Army of Darkness–the sequel to the Evil Dead movies.  Ash just wants left alone, but deadite-possessed people keep pulling him back in.

Enter magic, the kind of magic that will make you wish this story was the next to hit the small or big screen.  A bad reading of the Necronomicon book of the dead and Ash is splintered into multiple differing clones, each packing the same over-the-top personality to become Team Ash:  familiar Bruce Campbell Ash, his feminine side Ashley, a tiny Ash demon, a cynical skeleton, a dog Ash aka Dash, and his now-sentient chainsaw, Chainy.  Each issue reads like a half-hour episode of Ash vs Evil Dead.  In the first issue you catch up with Ash, and it gets even better in the second issue as all of Ash’s better halves get to know each other, and some time travel to ancient Egypt is in store.

 

So many great covers are available for this series, you may lose track, but we’re previewing covers for the first four issues below (including a cut-out mask cover, and some incentive covers without logos), plus the first pages of the first issue, and an artist design sheet for Team Ash.  Artists Ben Oliver, Arthur Suydam, Mirka Andolfo, Sebastian Piriz, Sergio Davila, and J. Scott Campbell all created variant covers for this unique series.

Take a look:

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Last week we previewed a teaser for the coming second season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon, and we now have a full trailer from the streaming provider showing us even more.  The new trailer confirms the near wipe-out of the main cast from the first season, with only the artificial intelligence named Poe remaining, played by Chris Conner (Burn Notice, House, Bones) and a new kind of robot.  Two supporting characters clearly get a bigger role this season: Renee Goldsberry (Star Trek Enterprise, Life on Mars) as Falconer, a platoon leader from the past, and the original form of the series lead, played by Will Yun Lee (Hawaii Five-O, Bionic Woman, Witchblade).  It’s too bad for those who thought cop Kristin Ortega, played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda (McFarland USA, Royal Pains), was the highlight of the series–she and first season lead Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop, Suicide Squad) seem to be out this time.

In fact other than Poe the new trailer appears like Season Two could easily be an entirely new sci-fi series.  Alison Schapker is the new series executive producer and showrunner.  Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Adjustment Bureau) is in the driver’s seat as the new “sleeve” or body inhabited by Takeshi Kovacs, hero of the Richard K. Morgan novel the show is based on.  Kovacs is a future soldier in a world where science has developed a hard drive called a “stack” that is implanted in humans’ necks, enabling our memories to be uploaded to storage and replanted over and over so we seemingly can live forever, even in new bodies (see our review of the first season here).  Allowing Kovacs and other characters to be played by any number of actors (so the series could potentially run forever like Doctor Who) for the second season will be something new for many Netflix viewers.

Season Two begins thirty years after the last episode, with Kovacs continuing his search for Falconer (explaining why so many first season characters are no longer around).  New to the series, and highlighted in this trailer, are Simone Missick (Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders) as Trepp, Lela Loren (Chuck, Lost) as Governor Danica Harlan, and Torben Liebrecht (Homeland, Luther) as Colonel Carrera, with James Saito (Prodigal Son, Law & Order) as Tanaseda Hidecki.

Check it out the new poster (above) and this new trailer:

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It’s a fantastic sci-fi series with a stellar cast and a story and production values that rival the original Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel.  It’s Netflix’s Altered Carbon, based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of the same name, a story about Takeshi Kovacs, a future soldier in a world where science has developed a hard drive called a “stack” that is implanted in humans’ necks, allowing our memories to be uploaded to storage and replanted over and over so they seemingly can live forever, even in new bodies called “sleeves.”  See our review of the first season here.  Allowing Kovacs and other characters to be played by any number of actors (allowing the series to run forever like Doctor Who), for the second season that means Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Adjustment Bureau) is replacing Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop, Suicide Squad) as series lead.  Netflix revealed its first teaser for the new season this week.  Check it out below!

So fans of the Syd Mead, Ridley Scott, and Philip K. Dick brand of futurism, and all things borg, should catch up on the first season now.  What does it mean to be human, and how much can you shed away and replace with technology and still retain the “self”?  Altered Carbon tackles the philosophical questions The Matrix film series tried to answer.  Kovacs is a 300-year-old soldier.  As a seasoned fighter 250 years ago he was the last of a mercenary group called the Envoys, leading a rebellion against the new world order.  This is a bleak world, filled with virtual reality and virtual sex, body swapping and trafficking, and the kind of tech noir, bleak, dystopian realm seen in Strange Days, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Ready Player One, The Running Man, Brazil, Total Recall, with the violence of A Clockwork Orange.  

The new teaser trailer showcases Mackie, but also shows glimpses of returning characters, including Kovacs former platoon leader, played by Renee Goldsberry (Star Trek Enterprise, Life on Mars), the original Kovacs, played by Will Yun Lee (Hawaii Five-O, Bionic Woman, Witchblade), the artificial intelligence named Poe who is the runner of a seedy hotel, played by Chris Conner (Burn Notice, House, Bones).  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the fantastic cop Kristin Ortega, played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda (McFarland USA, Royal Pains), will be back, but new additions include Simone Missick (Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders), Neal McDonough (Captain America: The First Avenger, Walking Tall, The X-Files,), and Alessandro Juliani (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Battlestar Galactica).

Check out this quick look at season two of Altered Carbon:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a fantastic sci-fi series with a stellar cast and a story and production values that rival the original Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel: Altered Carbon is based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of the same name, a story about Takeshi Kovacs, a future soldier in a world where science has developed a hard drive called a “stack” that is implanted in humans’ necks, allowing our memories to be uploaded to storage and replanted over and over so they seemingly can live forever, even in new bodies.  That conceit allows Kovacs and other characters to be played by any number of actors, which could allow the series to run forever much as Doctor Who’s regeneration mechanism allows replacement Doctors.  Originally launched on Netflix in 2018, Altered Carbon has been extended for a second season, with filming underway last year, and viewers should expected a second season trailer and 2020 air date any day.  Which means fans of the Syd Mead, Ridley Scott, and Philip K. Dick brand of futurism, and all things borg, should catch up on the first season now.  What does it mean to be human, and how much can you shed away and replace with technology and still retain the “self”?  Altered Carbon tackles the philosophical questions The Matrix film series tried to answer.

Kovacs, played by several actors (more on that below), is a 300-year-old soldier.  As a seasoned fighter 250 years ago he was the last of a mercenary group called the Envoys, leading a rebellion against the new world order.  Kovacs’s stack is shelved for the intervening 250 years until one of the wealthiest men alive, Laurens Bancroft, played by James Purefoy (an actor who has been runner up for the James Bond film roles and appeared in A Knight’s Tale and The Following), buys his stack and puts it in a new body or “sleeve,” giving Kovacs the opportunity to live anew if he agrees to find Bancroft’s killer.  This is a bleak world, filled with virtual reality and virtual sex, body swapping and trafficking, and the kind of tech noir, bleak, dystopian realm seen in Strange Days, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Ready Player One, The Running Man, Brazil, Total Recall, with the violence of A Clockwork Orange, but maybe not so hopeless as in Elysium, Mad Max, Gattaca, Terminator, and Dredd.  

The series, which has a slow start and doesn’t kick into high gear until the second episode, also has the John Carpenter Escape from New York vibe but with Blade Runner visuals and effects, plus the creative elements of Total Recall that made for some unexpected surprises.  Altered Carbon is a close match to RoboCop as future science and technology goes, so it’s easy to see why the casting agents brought along RoboCop remake star Joel Kinnaman as Kovacs’ primary sleeve in the first season.  This sleeve was last owned by a cop killed in duty named Ryker.  Ryker’s partner, Kristin Ortega, played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda (McFarland USA, Royal Pains), takes on the role of the season’s co-lead, struggling as she sees her old partner’s body and acting to protect his sleeve, trying to solve the murder of Bancroft, and uncovering the bad cops in the bureau.  Ortega is a badass character in a small package who gets in and out of several fights that would take down anyone else in any other story, and she is the high point of the series–at one point an incident results in a loss of an arm, soon replaced by a powerful cybernetic arm.  An interesting twist is that her family are Catholics, and in this future Catholics don’t believe in the stacks, which means once they die they are dead forever.  This sets up one of the more interesting plot threads.  If it seems like the series has a lot going on, that’s because it does. But it all comes together in a satisfying way in the final episodes.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A new cyborg, old heroes, a new fate, and another revised timeline.  It must be a new Terminator movie.  If you’re in the mood for science fiction nostalgia with a new twist this month, Terminator: Dark Fate is still in theaters and it’s one of those films meant for a big screen.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s also coming to all home video and streaming formats next month and is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.  Featuring the return of two of science fiction’s greatest movie icons, Arnold Schwarzenegger′s original cyborg Terminator and the woman who would save 3 billion lives, Linda Hamilton′s Sarah Connor, Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy addition to one of sci-fi’s biggest and best franchises up there with Doctor Who, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Alien, Star Trek, and Predator.

It turns out skipping over the third (Terminator: Rise of the Machines), fourth (Terminator: Salvation), and fifth (Terminator: Genisys) movies didn’t really matter all that much.  Skynet kept sending Terminators back in time, and when a new hero sees another new hero in the future, you get the feeling the timeline has been visited and revisited many more times.  In many ways it’s ideal for a series–you’ll never really arrive at an ending.  When the timeline is revised again in a spectacular opening that de-ages Schwarzenegger and Hamilton (the best de-aging CGI on film this year), you just jump on and enjoy the ride.  We meet a new time traveler named Grace, played by Blade Runner 2049’s Mackenzie Davis, a tough, tall-statured cybernetic human who returns to the present to save a young Mexican woman named Dani (played by Natalia Reyes), who has a potentially important future.  Dani is pursued by yet another updated Terminator, an REV-9 model played by Gabriel Luna (Ghost Rider in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), who can split into two and reabsorb himself Robert Patrick/T2-style to and from a metalized slime state.

What makes a great entry in a Terminator movie, or for that matter, any movie?  That right combination of humor and action.  For me in these films it’s how they use Schwarzenegger′s strengths as an actor.  So the weakest film was where he was absent from acting (governing California)–during Terminator: Salvation–which was also the film with no humor, darker than the others, entirely set in the grim post-apocalypse future.  I prefer Arnold as the Terminator, since no matter who is writing for him he delivers the best lines–writers always seem to know exactly how to get the best from him.  So long as Arnold is around, we’ll have a Terminator franchise, and after that, who cares about the series anymore?  Deadpool director Tim Miller combining with producer James Cameron to bring these actors and characters back together in Terminator: Dark Fate was always going to be a great idea.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Let’s take a trip back 33 years ago to a galaxy not all that far away.  It was my very first issue of the only comic book I ever subscribed to.  It was the end of the school year in 1986 and at last I took the plunge to send in a check to start getting a comic in the mail.  My first issue?  Star Wars #107, which contained a note from Marvel Comics stating that this was to be the final issue and I was going to be sent something instead going forward from a new universe of comics Marvel was starting called… New Universe.  In the days before the Internet or anyone to call to say “what?” I was then sent eleven monthly issues of Star Brand.  Not quite Star Wars, each issue reminded me of what I was not getting.  I was a fan of the Star Wars comic book (issued as Star Wars Weekly in the UK) since receiving my first ever comic as a giveaway when my mom took me to my local library’s Star Wars Day right before Christmas 1977.  The series would introduce me to a roster of creators (many I’d later meet in person) including Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Steve Leialoha, Rick Hoberg, Archie Goodwin, Donald F. Glut, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, John Byrne, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Herb Trimpe, Al Williamson, Tom Palmer, David Michelinie, Klaus Janson, Ann Nocenti, Jan Duursema, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Walt Simonson.  I read every issue up to Issue #107.

The big surprise?  That original Star Wars series became everyone’s first encounter with the word BORG.  It’s probably the first ever use of those four letters to describe a cybernetic organism, and it was spoken by none other than Luke Skywalker in reference to Valance, The Hunter way back in 1978.  We would learn Valance was a borg who killed borgs, and he became an inaugural inductee here at borg in our borg Hall of Fame, and part of my opening dialogue with borg readers eight years ago here.  This year, through the miracle of an idea worthy of a light bulb floating over your head, Marvel Comics introduced for its ongoing 80th anniversary celebration something I’ve never seen done before: a single, new, numbered issue continuing a series canceled as far back as 33 years ago.  The issue is Star Wars, Issue #108–it’s fantastic and available at local comic shops everywhere now.

 

Providing a chapter by chapter sequel not to Issue #107 of the vintage series, but to the Issue #50 story “Crimson Forever,” Matthew Rosenberg is the writer on the new Issue #108 titled “Forever Crimson,” and along with Valance we again meet some of our favorite characters of the entire Star Wars universe who we haven’t seen in decades:  the villainous Domina Tagge (remember Baron Tagge?), the stylin’ Amaiza Foxtrain, the memorable telepathic hoojib and the red Zeltrons, and best of all, Jaxxon the bounty hunter rabbit, who we last saw on a special variant edition copy of Marvel’s reboot Star Wars, Issue #1.  Plus all the stars of the series we all know and love.  As for the artists, Jan Duursema returns to the series for this one-shot issue, along with Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Andrea Broccardo, Kerry Gammill, Ze Carlos, Stefano Landini, Luke Ross, and Leonard Kirk, with colors by Chris Sotomayor, and lettering by Clayton Cowles.  The result is everything you could want in a Star Wars comic.  It’s the kind of purely fun story that would make a great monthly even today.  If only they continued this story in an ongoing series!

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