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Tag Archive: Flash Gordon


If Classics Illustrated was ever your thing or you like peering into fantastical worlds, a new graphic novel series online will be worth checking out.  It’s not really about a fantasy setting as found in Black Panther or Flash Gordon or Tarzan or Conan, but it has the same appeal, the same visual cues, bold colors, and feel.  It’s Aztec Empire, by writer Paul Guinan (known for his time-bending mash-up Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel and his participation in the documentary 24 Hour Comic) and comic artist David Hahn.  It features an incredible culture from the past along with good storytelling that will keep you coming back for more.  And it’s timed right, as this spring is the 500th anniversary of the events featured in the introductory pages of the series.

As with the Eisner Award-winning writer-artist Eric Shanower’s look at ancient Greece in his Age of Bronze graphic novel series, Aztec Empire is a heavily researched time travel voyage back into the daily lives of a people in history, in this case the period before the fall of the Aztec peoples to the Spanish in 1521, only three years after the arrival of Europeans.  Guinan researched dozens of primary sources (including contemporary writings from the 1500s) as well as secondary historical sources, and the end of each episode of his series provides six pages of equally fascinating explanatory annotations to the historical record to support each panel.  Some of these feature photographs of the source materials used to derive the look of references like glyphs on walls, or embellishments on character clothing.  In many ways Aztec Empire is an attempt to update the writings of the past with the benefit of today’s resources and knowledge, but its sources are very much contemporary to the events chronicled.  Human barbarism to other humans is also not reserved for only one side of the story–here the atrocities of each side of the conquest come to the fore.

Guinan is not only the series writer, he provides layouts, coloring, and lettering.  “In telling this story, my main challenge is keeping it as authentic as possible,” says Guinan.  “All the persons and events depicted in Aztec Empire are based on the factual record, with some extrapolation as to specific character motivations, dialogue, costume details, etc.  I’m cross-referencing primary sources from different viewpoints, looking at Mesoamerican and European sources with an awareness of their cultural biases as well as my own.”  Hahn designed the look of the characters and provides the finished pencil work and inks.  The combined artwork shares a style in common with the animated style of Doug Wildey and something of P. Craig Russell’s work on his illustrated novels.

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Steve Rogers.  John Spartan and Simon Phoenix.  Han Solo.  Austin Powers and Doctor Evil.  George Taylor.  Mr. Scott and Khaaaaaan!  

Now meet Chen Andalou and Dark Horse Comics’ new mini-series, Astro Hustle.

Not just another Space Station 76, it’s a four-part tale of space pirates out beyond Cosmic Coffee and the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  It has the space action of Killjoys and the fun of 1980’s Flash Gordon. The lost ship Sinnematica has been adrift in space, and with it one Chen Andalou, preserved for the past 60 years in cryo-freeze.  Another sci-fi fish out of water, Chen is unstuck in time, surrounded by a future costumed like Barbarella meets the 1979-81 Buck Rogers, and filled with the more off-the-wall elements of Spaceballs and the animated version of Space Ghost, all thrown in for good measure.  And then what?  Chen runs right into the cop–Captain Igor, a mix of Javert and Prince Barin who is all ready to arrest him.

Plenty of aliens are around to judge him, too–robots like the crazed guard in Logan’s Run and a mix of everyone else you might find aboard the Fhloston Paradise.  Lucky for Chen he meets up with Carbon John the space pirate and his trusty Number One, Svetlana.  But he soon learns while he was asleep his brother became President of the Galaxy.  Wait–are they going to end up like the princes of England or the Kim Jong brothers?

 

What’s missing?  The Cannon Films adaptation and a soundtrack by MECO (that’s the band with Tony Bongiovi, cousin of the Bon Jovi brothers, and Mr. Fabulous Alan Rubin of The Blues Brothers), and it should ship with one of those MPC model kits of a van with the space logo on its side.  Astro Hustle has the crazy/cool of both Vandroid (the comic) and ManBorg (the B-movie), thanks to a creator-owned story by Jai Nitz (El Diablo, Toshiro, Kato Origins, Tron: Betrayal), artwork by Tom Reilly, color by Ursula Decay, and letters by Chris “Crank!” Crank (Rick and Morty, Ciudad, Toshiro).

Take a look at this preview:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You probably haven’t had this much fun watching a rollicking fantasy movie this cool since you first saw the 1980 Flash Gordon movie starring Sam Jones, Max Von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, and Brian Blessed, accompanied by that memorable Queen soundtrack.  It shouldn’t be hard to believe–seven weeks from its premiere and Thor: Ragnarok continues to sell-out theater screenings across the country.  In a year full of so many comic book adaptations, and great ones at that, from Logan and Logan Noir to Spider-man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and even The LEGO Batman Movie, this was a great year for comic books on film.  But Thor: Ragnarok rivaled them all from an entertainment standpoint.  In many ways Thor: Ragnarok is a natural progression from both the past Thor films and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But something about director Taika Waititi’s vision for Avengers Thor and Hulk in this latest film changed how the MCU can entertain.  Instead of focusing on the events that the earlier Marvel entries–and comic books–are best known for, events like Civil War, Waititi returned to the reason we all turn to superheroes for entertainment:  it’s because we like the characters.  The end of the world is coming for Asgard, three great villains are wreaking havoc for our heroes, but Taikiki does something novel.  He puts the setting where it belongs: in the background.  And so we get closer to Thor, Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie, and even Thor and Loki’s sister Hela, by watching them interact.  The result is a film that should be vying for the top spot with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Logan, and Spider-man: Homecoming, on your comic book movie best-of shortlist.

Waititi really accomplished something difficult here.  It’s not often the third film in a series completely exceeds the prior films (although it’s certainly arguable Spider-man: Homecoming trounced four prior Spider-man movies).  The Incredible Hulk and Hulk were hardly comparable to Thor: Ragnarok as a Hulk movie (sans title only).  And Thor and Thor: The Dark World weren’t remotely as memorable as Thor: Ragnarok.  So what made it all come together?  Clever dialogue from a tight script for one.  And each actor needed no time to take their characters and march forward.  Chris Hemsworth’s cocky God of Thunder has always sported a humorous side, but partnered with Tom Hiddleston’s on-again, off-again baddie Loki, and a Bruce Banner after he’s stuck in “Hulk mode” for two years (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor: Ragnarok is every bit the next Avengers team-up film–it may as well be called Avengers: Ragnarok.  It’s also a buddy comedy.  Why not?  In the comic books the serious and powerful characters of Hulk and Thor have always been less accessible than the rest so how better to reach audiences?  And why not take that most-comic book of tropes and let them have their hero battle in the ring?  Many comic book readers have been waiting for this film for a long time.

The entire art design and sound should be credited with the film’s success, too.  Classic Jack Kirby imagery and style can be found throughout the production design.  Funky psychedelic colors, lights, and imagery make this a fantasy film, as opposed to a superhero or sci-fi movie.  Action choreography appears like it’s torn from the panels of a comic book page.  Dazzling fantasy costumes by Mayes C. Rubeo (The Great Wall, John Carter, Avatar, The Librarian) include Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroyer outfit, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 outfit, Idris Elba’s Heimdall in Robin Hood garb, and Karl Urban’s iridescent Scurge armor.  Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (The LEGO Movie, Lords of Dogtown, Fanboys, 21 Jump Street) includes audacious, sometimes triumphant, sometimes hilarious choices.  And Magic Sword’s “In the Face of Evil,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, were simply inspired inclusions that made the characters and film exactly how we want these characters to look and feel: Cool.

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Jaws Funko packaging

After 40 years kids finally get to re-enact their favorite scenes from Jaws (like Chief Brody blowing up the Great White Shark with a scuba tank), and after 30 years they get to re-enact their favorite scenes from Flash Gordon (like Flash and Prince Barin sticking his hand in the wood stump to dodge the scorpion-like Wood Beast), all in the comfort of their own homes.

Insert the famous John Williams Jaws theme music alternating with Queen’s Flash Gordon soundtrack here.

Quint Jaws Funko Reaction action figure   Ming Bif Bang Pow

Finally, after sneak peeks at this year’s Toy Fair at Funko’s new ReAction action figure line for the classic 1970s movie Jaws and the new Bif Bang Pow! action figure line for the classic 1980s movie Flash Gordon, we now have a look at their final products.  Both toy lines have been flying off the shelves for other properties in the classic 3 3/4 inch Kenner style retro action figure style, including everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Twilight Zone, and Firefly to the Universal Monsters, Karate Kid, The Fifth Element, and The Six Million Dollar Man and CW’s Arrow and Flash series.  (Check out past discussions here, here, and here at borg.com if you missed those).

Flash Gordon Bif Bang Pow    Reaction Funko Jaws Hoooper Richard Dreyfuss

Full close-up photos of the action figure sculpts and retro card packaging designs reveal some great looking collectible figures fans will be gobbling up fast, including the shark from Jaws himself (herself?).  Now if Funko would only give us a full playset of the boat Orca for even more fun.  Until then check out this great Todd McFarland Jaws recreation released earlier:

McFarlane Funko Reaction Orca

It’s available at Amazon.com here.

Chief Brody Jaws Reaction Funko    Vultan Bif Bang Pow

Click on any of the figures above and below to pre-order these items now from online superstore Entertainment Earth.

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Flash Gordon 1980

Too much fun.  Yesterday we showed some previews of several new action figures being revealed by Funko at Toy Fair 2015 in New York City.  They’re all of the 3 3/4 retro Kenner-style, and we have another set of figures from the show but these are from toy company Bif Bang Pow!  This is the company that created The Twilight Zone retro action figures previewed here at borg.com earlier last week.

Those new figures hail from the 1980 fan favorite flick Flash Gordon.  The new line of figures includes nice sculpts of Sam Jones’s Flash, Timothy Dalton’s Prince Barin, Ornella Muti’s Princess Aura, Brian Blessed’s Prince Vultan, and Max Von Sydow’s Emperor Ming.  No Dale Arden figure has been revealed yet.

Bif Bang Pow Flash Gordon retro Kenner style line 2015 Toy Fair

Admit it, you’re singing the Queen Flash Gordon theme now, right?

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Flash04-Cov-Laming   Victory01-Cov-Fox

Dynamite Comics has several new books on the shelves today, and we have previews for two that you may want to check out, one new series, following the Jack Kirby superhero Captain Victory and one from an ongoing monthly, Flash Gordon.

It’s always interesting to see how new writers and artists will reinterpret Alex Raymond’s 1930s sci-fi/fantasy hero Flash Gordon.  Flash Gordon, now in Issue #4, features a new story by Jeff Parker with art by Evan “Doc” Shaner and colors by Jordie Bellaire.  There’s almost something Jonny Quest or Mark Trail about Shaner’s style here.

Kirby’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers gets a new monthly today.  Originally from a concept from the 1980s published by Pacific Comics, writer Joe Casey and artists Nathan Fox, Jim Rugg, and Ulises Farinas bring Victory back for a new audience.  The art and design for Issue #1 is very, very cool.

Flash04-Cov-AnnivCastro

After the break, check out previews of Flash Gordon, Issue #4,  and Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics.

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Flash01-Cov-Laming

If you’re missing the Flash Gordon of the 1980 movie then a new monthly comic book series beginning today may be for you.  Following the original story elements from Alex Raymond’s original stories first laid down in 1930s comic book strips discussed previously at borg.com here and here, but updating elements to the present day, Dynamite Comics is rebooting Flash Gordon for a new audience.

Issue #1 of the new series finds Flash Gordon and sci-journalist Dale Arden a year ago, with Arden covering the last space shuttle’s decommissioning, and Flash bungee jumping.  One year later at they are about to encounter the planet Mongo, and the dreaded Emperor Ming, for the first time.  That is, after a slight detour to the planet Arboria, and an encounter with Prince Barin.

Like the 1980 movie, this Flash Gordon series has a confident, cocky and a bit foolhardy Flash, and a no-nonsense, sharp, and attractive Dale.  It’s just brought forward a bit with the starting point–34 years updated from the film.  Jeff Parker is the series writer, with art by Evan Shaner.

After the break, we have a preview of Flash Gordon, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Bionic action figures sets

Today at Entertainment Earth the retro-styled Six Million Dollar Man action figure pairings are on sale for up to fifty percent off.  You can choose either the 8-inch Bionic Man with 9 5/8-inch Bigfoot set, or the 8-inch Oscar Goldman with Fembot set–or pick up both sets.  The Bionic Man set comes with sound effects key chains, and Oscar comes with his signature briefcase.  Scare your friends with the freakish Fembot.  Wreak havoc with your own Bigfoot (originally played on the TV series by Andre the Giant).  The sale runs today only and since each set is regularly nearly $40, now’s the time to grab these if you ever were considering checking them out.

Click here to order the Bionic Man/Bigfoot set, and here to order the Oscar Goldman/Fembot set.

Flash Gordon and Twilight Zone

This series is produced by Bif Bang Pow! with EMCE toy company, who has also released Mego-style carded action figures from the classic Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, The Twilight Zone, Flash Gordon, and recent series Big Bang Theory, Dexter, and Lost Yes, now you can pit Hurley and Locke from Lost and Prince Barin from Flash Gordon against a large-headed Sontaran from Doctor Who, the airplane wing gremlin from The Twilight Zone, and a chrome Cylon from Battlestar Galactica.

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Kings Watch 01 -Cover-Laming    Kings Watch 01 -Cov-Perez

Classic fantasy characters are thriving in the pages of monthly comic book series published by Dynamite Comics.  Look for Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, brought together for the first time this month in Kings Watch. 

You’ve likely heard of Flash Gordon and The Phantom but you might not be familiar with Mandrake the Magician.  Mandrake is a character created by Lee Falk in 1934–before he created The Phantom.  A magician using hypnosis, psychic and telekinetic powers, he was the feature character in a King Features Syndicate comic strip written by Falk for 65 years–from 1934 to 1999.  Some historians refer to Mandrake as the very first comic superhero.

KW001-inks-p15

Kings Watch adds yet another classic team-up monthly to the enormous catalog of classic characters maintained by Dynamite today, including The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, The Shadow, Bionic Man and Bionic Woman, Zorro, Red Sonja, Buck Rogers, and Ms. Fury.

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Manborg banner

No matter what you study in college sometimes you can’t get work in the summer because no one wants to hire for jobs with decent pay on a temporary basis.  That’s how I ended up at Movies-to-Go, a pretty typical VHS chain rental store in the 1990s that went the way of the dodo bird when DVDs came along.  You learn a lot about people generally while working a video store, disturbing things like the fact that I Spit on Your Grave and Faces of Death outpaced new release sales time and time again.  At every store there were aisles of direct to video releases–some action, some sci-fi, some horror.  All of them had one thing in common–someone spent a lot of time creating covers that would get renters to actually rent the movie, despite the fact that most of these movies weren’t worth renting.  Some of these edge the others out, and as an employee I remember being able to rent free any film overnight that didn’t get checked out, which meant I learned to like a lot of films from John Carpenter, Jean Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee movies. 

Manborg Edmiston Art Poster

Some of these B-movies weren’t really good enough to be called B-movies, and were nothing but grindhouse pictures that would be shown at the then dwindling drive-in theater’s weekend third late show.  Others, like Denise Crosby’s Eliminators, Dolph Lundgren’s I Come in Peace, Guyver 2: Dark Hero, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff’s Starcrash, and Captain America (1990), prompted one ambitious young Canadian filmmaker named Steve Kostanski to spend three years in the 21st century creating one of these 1970s-1980s-type B-movies, with a name like a made-for TV Syfy Channel movie: Manborg.  The amazing thing is Manborg actually received acclaim as an official selection of not one but six international film festivals: Austin’s Fantastic Film Festival, Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, Sweden’s Lund Film Festival, Switzerland’s Neuchatel Film Festival, Toronto’s After Dark Film Festival and the London Sci-Fi Festival.  And Manborg is being released on DVD on April 30, 2013.

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