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Tag Archive: DC Comics


Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s not every day the creator of a character has the opportunity to return to re-write that character’s origin story.  Paul Dini has done that in a new novel co-written by Pat Cadigan called Harley Quinn: Mad Love, based on his one-shot graphic novel from 1994.  Those who know Harley Quinn from cosplay, the Suicide Squad, or her popular costumes as merely The Joker’s sidekick will find a much darker story of life inside a mental asylum–DC’s Arkham Asylum–which has all the elements of 1950s true-life horror stories.  Mad Love presents a young woman on her path to become more dangerously violent–this is Harley less humorous and quirky than the animated series version of the character.

Fans know this already, but for those who don’t:  Harley Quinn is a character created in 1992 by Dini and Bruce Timm, with a name that is a shortened version of the created names “Harleen” and “Quinzel” (derived from the word harlequin), to add a female character to Batman tales named consistently with the names of a long line of popular DC villains.  Mad Love is a character origin dissimilar to standard comic book origin fare, and something different from the goofy sidekick and romantic partner of The Joker readers will find in more recent stories.  As a child, Harleen likes her father, who works long hours, and resents her brothers and mother.  Her father turns to crime, distancing her from her family.  She picks up gymnastics along the way, and is successful enough to make the Olympics, but doesn’t.  Instead she takes to trying to use her knowledge of psychiatry from college to do some good.  Unfortunately she chooses Arkham Asylum as her starting point.  Her intelligent but distracted mentor trusts her, but once Quinzel starts breaking the rules of psychiatry, it’s a slippery slope, culminating in a career-ending decision.

Mad Love reveals a thinly crafted background for a popular character’s origin story.  Here she is shown as single-layered: weak, easily manipulated by everyone she encounters, and she can’t get past thinking like a child, despite going to college, despite getting a degree in psychiatry.  She shows the reader how little she learned when she tries too early in her career to take on The Joker as a patient.  As the ultimate villainous mastermind of this DC universe, The Joker finds it easy to twist her into a tool of his escape.  Yet all along she acts the part of doting girlfriend, never realizing she was never his girlfriend in the first place–she is defined by her poor choices.  The Joker even let’s her know, but she likes him anyway.

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“Adult coloring books” are a fairly recent phenomenon.  Over the past few years the adult coloring book has even taken on its own form, like the BBC’s Sherlock coloring book, which is published at just less than ten inches by ten inches square, differentiating its style and contents from the vertical designed books of decades past.  But the new field of books often have design flaws, like publishing an image that spans the fold line (no one since they were little kids have liked that feature in a coloring book, right?) or images that appear to have been drawn quickly, with little attention toward realism, or, for subjects like movie tie-ins, outright failing to match licensed character actor likenesses.  Luckily DC Comics comic book superhero fans won’t find those failings in two coloring books in current release from Insight Editions.

Both DC Comics Coloring Book and DC Comics Wonder Woman Coloring Book rate among the best coloring books you will find for kids or adults, ideal as inexpensive gifts this holiday season.  Both include images of original comic book artwork, used in marketing, for posters or promotions, and both feature original comic book cover artwork.  As an appendix, many of the covers are featured in full glossy color, so anyone who wants to reference the original color work can easily do so.  The only detractor is that neither book references the artists responsible for either the cover artwork or the included page art.  For most, they won’t notice, and this just be a great excuse to color some of the best images of the pantheon of superheroes from DC Comics ever released.

The DC Comics Coloring Book includes 96 pages and the DC Comics Wonder Woman Coloring Book includes 80 pages (both include 15 pages of full-color reference prints).  In the DC Comics book you’ll find covers to classic comic book issues, like Green Lantern 76 and 87, Showcase #4, Flash Comics #1, The New Teen Titans #1, and several All Star Comics and Justice League of America covers.  The Wonder Woman book includes covers from Wonder Woman #1, Justice League of America #12, Comic Cavalcade covers, and several other covers from various Wonder Woman-titled series.

Here are some preview pages from each:

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A new book is bringing classic projector and transparency technology to 21st century kids.  It’s Batman Flashlight Projections: Heroes and Villains, a new interactive activity book from publisher Insight Kids.  For generations boys and girls used flashlights for night-time fun.  Who hasn’t made animal silhouettes with their hands with lights and shadow, with sun through a window, or via the light from a campfire at night?

Years ago, Kenner’s Give-a-Show Projector was among the most sought after toys for kids, allowing you to place slides in a viewer, backed by a powerful (and sometimes not-so-powerful) light source.  Star Wars, Doctor Who, Yogi Bear, Tom & Jerry, Speed Racer, Fat Albert, Jonny Quest, Popeye, Disney movies, and yes, Batman, all were available in projectable slide form for kids.  Beginning in the 1970s virtually every TV and movie franchise was available for similar viewing via View-Master’s battery-powered projector.  The same effect can be found using the transparent images in Batman Flashlight Projections: Heroes and Villains.

 

Simply use a flashlight to read along and project Batman scenes from the book onto any wall or ceiling.  It works shone against nearly any surface.  If you don’t have a flashlight–and even if you do–you may be better off with your mobile phone flashlight, which probably packs more light power than a standard home flashlight.  With a strong light the images appear with even greater clarity than pictured above, even at 6-10 feet away.  And one page has a transparency that is blank, so kids can make their own scenes by using their own non-permanent, dry-erase marker.

Here is a preview of some of the images you’ll find in the book, courtesy of the publisher:

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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

   

Named for legendary comics creator Will Eisner, the Eisner Awards saw their 29th presentation this weekend.  2018 Will Eisner Hall of Fame inductees included Carol Kalish (pioneering direct sales manager for Marvel Comics), and Jackie Ormes (first black female newspaper cartoonist, for the strip Dixie in Harlem featuring the character Torchy Brown).  Sixteen others were considered for the honor this year, and Charles Addams, Karen Berger, Dave Gibbons, and Rumiko Takahashi were inducted.  Joye Murchison Kelly and Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk were awarded the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing.

Tom King (Batman, Batman Annual #2, Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1, Mister Miracle) and Marjorie Liu (Monstress) tied for Best Writer, with Liu the first woman awarded in the category.  “Monsters” was the dominant theme of this year’s awards with Monstress (Image) and My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Fantagraphics) taking the most wins.

We congratulate all the winners and nominees.

Here are the winners awarded at the ceremony, in bold, along with the nominees by category:

Best Short Story

  • ”A Life in Comics: The Graphic Adventures of Karen Green,” by Nick Sousanis, in Columbia Magazine (Summer 2017)
  • “Ethel Byrne,” by Cecil Castelluci and Scott Chantler, in Mine: A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom for All Benefiting Planned Parenthood (ComicMix)
  • “Forgotten Princess,” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Antonio Sandoval, in Adventure Time Comics #13 (kaboom!)
  • “Small Mistakes Make Big Problems,” by Sophia Foster-Dimino, in Comics for Choice (Hazel Newlevant)
  • “Trans Plant,” by Megan Rose Gedris, in Enough Space for Everyone Else (Bedside Press)

Best Single Issue/One Shot

  • Hellboy: Krampusnacht, by Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes (Dark Horse)
  • Barbara, by Nicole Miles (ShortBox)
  • Pope Hats #5, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
  • The Spotted Stone, by Rick Veitch (Sun Comics)
  • What Is Left, by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (ShortBox)

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been looking for your next retro fix, this may be it.  Archie Comics and DC Comics is bringing nostalgia into a new crossover arriving in comic book stores today with Archie Meets Batman ’66.  Two characters first seen in 1939–and never before have they appeared together!  A battle in Gotham City extends its reach into Riverdale—with Mr. Lodge becoming Public Enemy #1 of the dynamic duo.  And it’s up to Veronica to recruit some help and place a call… to the Batcave.  Written by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci with art by Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Jack Morelli.

This new story is in the style of the opening title credits of the pop culture favorite 1960s live-action Batman series and the animated series Superfriends.  And it’s an even bigger series than you might think, with its first issue full of not only the Archie gang and Batman and Robin.  You’re going to find several of your favorite characters from the 1966 TV series make appearances.  The artists have all emulated that over-the-top BAM! POW! variety of comic book goodness.  Yes, we’re talking the return of the Batusi.  Check out a preview to Issue #1 below courtesy of Archie Comics.  Keep an eye out for a host of covers for this issue from Michael and Laura Allred, Derek Charm, Francesco Francavilla, Sandy Jarrell and Kelly Fitzpatrick, Dan Parent, J. Bone, and Rosario “Tito” Peña, and Ty Templeton.

    

Archie Comics plans to have a big presence at San Diego Comic-Con this week, focused on the hit CW television series Riverdale.  Fourteen cast members from the series will be pictured on hotel keycards across town.  With more than 40,000 keys created for the week, visitors will find these unique collectibles at nearly 40 San Diego hotels.  Check your keycards for Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols), Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich), Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton), and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan).

As promised, here’s your preview of Archie Meets Batman ’66, Issue #1:

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Less than one month away, San Diego Comic-Con returns to the San Diego Convention Center full of writers, artists, publishers, TV and movie studios, and vendors with representation from every major property and franchise.   Legos, Sideshow, Super 7, Mattel, Funko, Mondo, and more.  Already distributors have begun previewing convention exclusives–those sought-after rare collectibles usually available only at the show, but sometimes available afterward in small quantities if all of the inventory from the show isn’t pre-ordered or purchased on-site.

We think it’s time to share some of the best exclusives scheduled to be available at San Diego Comic-Con this year for those of you who are attending or have friends attending that can pick up items for you.  Just can’t decide what to spend your money on?  Check out the SDCC 2018 website for even more information from the vendors and more collectibles.  There’s too much for anyone to be able to see everything at the big Con, so we’ve listed booth numbers so you can make sure you don’t miss out on those toys, posters, and comic books that you simply must have.

These aren’t all the exclusives you’ll find at SDCC 2018–we’ve selected a sampling of some of the best items from popular vendors who have previewed their items with still three weeks until the convention.

Now on to the exclusives.

Gentle Giant is releasing a variety of exclusive mini-busts, plus this large-scale version of the classic Kenner Star Wars action figure.  You’ve seen Boba Fett from Gentle Giant here before–the original was borg.com‘s favorite toy of 2012 and one of the best action figure re-creations we’ve seen.

This exclusive provides one more chance to get this figure, this time reflecting original packaging from Return of the Jedi (sorry, no firing backpack).

From Alex Ross Art (Booth #2415) pick up limited prints and comics, including these new variant covers for Amazing Spider-man, Issue #1:

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The ultimate shark sighting?  A make-ready skit when Jason Momoa finally gets to host Saturday Night Live?

We have seen some great team-ups that also served as great mash-ups.  One of the best came last year when DC Comics took a side trip with Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes characters, especially in the Batman/Elmer Fudd crime-noir, one-shot story “Pway for Me,” by Tom King, Lee Weeks, and Lovern Kindzierski.  It was our pick for last year’s best team-up/mash-up.  This year DC Comics is back, but this time they paired off again with characters from Hanna-Barbera.  Last year for DC Meets Hanna-Barbera, Volume 1, that meant pairing Jonny Quest and Adam Strange, Space Ghost and Green Lantern, Flintstones and Booster Gold, and Suicide Squad and Banana Splits.  In comic book stores and coming soon in a compilation edition, DC Meets Hanna-Barbera, Volume 2 features even more great team-up/mash-ups:  Who wins when you pair The Flash and Speed Buggy?  How serious can cartoon characters get when you’ve teamed Black Lightning and Hong Kong Phooey?  Or “Super Sons” Robin and Superboy taking on Dynomutt?  But the winner is clear… How could you possibly lose with a team-up of Aquaman and Jabberjaw?

With the right amount of seriousness (mainly from Aquaman) and the right amount of nostalgic humor (mainly from fun-loving land shark Jabberjaw), Dan Abnett strikes throwback gold with a story full of seaside quips and Jaws references, pulling ideas even from the classic favorite Superfriends show.  The result is one of the best Aquaman stories we’ve read.  And Abnett completely tapped into the pulse of the classic Jabberjaw cartoon, tying in his band of friends The Neptunes.  Artists Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy, and Rain Beredo created a unique, incredible look, something out of Syfy’s Haven town and Luc Besson’s future world in Valerian and Laureline.  THIS is the ongoing series that needs to continue, although, understandably the pairing is a big stretch even for comic books and animated series, bridging time and space to get these two worlds together.  But it works.  From the setting, a seaside tourist town called Amnesty Bay (playing on the Jaws town of Amity), to the return of the world’s best drumming shark, to the sound of fingers on a chalkboard, to those Rodney Dangerfield meets Curly Howard catch-phrases, to the final entanglement with shark hunters, this one has it all.

DC has already featured Hanna-Barbera together in ongoing comic book series from the favorite characters of 1970s Saturday morning cartoons in the series Future Quest, Scooby Apocalypse, The Flintstones, Wacky Raceland, Dastardly and Muttley, The Ruff and Reddy Show, The Jetsons, and Exit, Stage Left!: the Snagglepuss Chronicles.  A great writer should be able to find unlimited potential for Jabberjaw and his friends.  Check out these preview pages from the publisher for the story “A Bigger Beat”–

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The wedding of Batman and Catwoman is shaping up in the issues of DC Comics’s Batman bi-weekly series, with the date set at Issue #50, greeting comic book readers next month.  Writer Tom King continues his ongoing Bat-tale with an abundance of interior and variant cover artists, including Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Jim Lee, Frank Cho, Alex Ross, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Joshua Middleton, Dawn McTeague, Frank Miller, Jock, Andy Kubert, Ant Lucia, Eric Basaldua, Natali Sanders, Greg Capullo, Joe Jusko, Olivier Coipel, Scott Williams, Warren Louw, Tyler Kirkham, Rafael Albuquerque, Tony S. Daniel, J. Scott Campbell, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, David Mack, Lee Weeks, Mark Brooks, Dave Johnson, Clay Mann, Greg Horn, Francesco Mattina, David Finch, Paul Pope, Joe Madeurera, Mitch Gerads, Alé Garza, Becky Cloonan, Jae Lee, Francesco Mattina, Ty Templeton, Joseph Michael Linsner, Nick Derington, Jason Fabok, Arthur Adams, Jim Balent, Lucio Parillo, Amanda Conner, and Michael Turner.  The standard cover will feature the work of Mikel Janin.  So how is this going to go down?  Anyone else remember the wedding storyline for Green Arrow and Black Canary?  It seems plenty of villains will be around if the variant covers are any indication.

We think we found nearly all the base images for the variant covers (below).  Let us know if you see one when missed and we’ll update the images below.  We did not include every logo or no-logo version, or black and white or similar variants.

A quick heads-up for Frank Cho fans.  He is selling the above interlocking triptych variant cover series, and if you want these beauties, you’ll want to order them soon.  The image features the main characters of the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  (Cho’s covers will be available at a discount off his release price with a code you can get by signing up for his newsletter here), and Joe Madureira has a similar offer for his covers here.  Even more artists are posting pre-order options for their own variants almost daily.

   

Did we mention variant covers?  If you haven’t been following Batman, the cover art of Batman and Catwoman over the past few months has been something fans of the characters dream of.  With black and white and other versions available, expect at least 30 variant covers for Issue #50.  Many of these options from contributing artists, like Frank Cho, will be found at exclusive sellers, including Kirkham (Hastings), Fabok (Yesteryear), Mattina (7-Ate-9), Jimenez (ZMX), Jae Lee (DF), Sanders (Comic Market Street), Jusko (Midtown), McTeigue (Yancy Street), and Adams (Legacy), and creator exclusive variants only at San Diego Comic-Con or webstores include Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell.  With the release of Batman Issue #50 on July 4 comes Catwoman, Issue #1.  In a rarity for comics, take a look (above, right) at what Catwoman is holding in this cover by Joëlle Jones… Janin’s cover to Batman 50.

Alex Ross Batman 50

And even more have been announced, like three Alex Ross exclusives, available for pre-order for San Diego Comic-Con at his website here.  Greg Horn has three covers available only at his website here.  Mark Brooks has eight variants available here.  J. Scott Campbell has five variants available here.  Jock has three covers here.  Aspen has pulled some art from the late Michael Turner for variants, too.  See even more below.

Here are many of the 50+ cover images and some variations on those variants for Issue #50 previewed so far:

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If you love comics and especially if you haven’t read a comic book in years then this Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day is all about you.  See what you have been missing at comic book stores across the United States as shops hand out free issues of new comic books from your favorite franchises and publishers: Marvel, DC Comics, IDW, Archie Comics, Image, Dark Horse, Titan Comics, BOOM!, Oni Press, Aftershock, and more.

Marvel fans won’t want to miss out on the lead-in to the new Avengers comic book series discussed here at borg.com earlier this week.  Doctor Who fans will find all-new stories featuring the 7th, 10th, and 11th Doctors and the first appearance of the 13th Doctor!  Today is May the Fourth–the annual Star Wars Day, and tomorrow Star Wars fans can find Han Solo and Chewbacca facing off against Zuckuss and 4-LOM from The Empire Strikes Back in Star Wars Adventures.  Riverdale features a story with Betty and Pop at the Chock-lit Shop.  In all, 52 new FCBD stories will be available. Keep in mind not all stores will have every title available and most stores limit each person to five issues to meet demand.

While you’re there, take a look around at the shop and purchase a comic or graphic novel or two.  Don’t know which one?  How about New Ultimates: Thor Reborn, or Wonder Woman: The True AmazonIf you liked Avengers: Infinity War, ask to see the shelf of Thanos and Avengers titles.  Getting ready for Ant-Man and The Wasp coming to theaters?  Ask about all the available related titles.  You don’t know who this Venom character is that Tom Hardy is playing in the new movie?  Your comic shop can get you caught up for Venom.  Do you like Batman, Miss Fury, the Bionic Man, Squirrel Girl, Spider-man, The Eternals, Ghost Rider, Ghost, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Moon Knight, Liberty Meadows, classic Archie Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy, Green Arrow, the Shadow, Star Trek, Valerian and Laureline, or Katy Keene?  Just ask, and someone will point you in the right direction.  Giant trade paperback editions are much less expensive than you might think, and they can get you caught up quickly on years of content.

 

If you’re in the Kansas City area check out Elite Comics between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., where you’ll also find lots of deals, get your Avengers issue signed by writer Jason Aaron, and meet other creators–and there’s cake.  Or use this comic book store locator to find your nearest participating shop.  Here’s an advance look at all 52 covers from the FCBD 2018 comic books you will find Saturday, a look inside the pages at some artwork from the Avengers issue, plus a video about the event:

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