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Tag Archive: JK Woodward


Of course there’s a new Star Trek television series coming our way this year, but a new comic book series is going to knock your socks off in the interim.  Star Trek produces some of the best tie-in stories of any franchise.  Every now and then we witness a story that we wish we were watching on television or at the movies, and that next great story is IDW Publishing’s limited comic book series Star Trek: The Next Generation–Mirror Broken.  For the first time ever the crew of the Enterprise-D gets to play in the world of daggers, sashes, and deception in the evil Terran Empire instead of the idyllic Federation, already seen by the crews of the original Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Enterprise. 

Only three issues in and the next issue can’t get here soon enough.  Brothers David and Scott Tipton (who touched on the NextGen Mirror universe in IDW Publishing’s 2008 Mirror Images series) return to Star Trek comics to script a dark, parallel timeline fans never got to see in seven seasons of the TV series (although we were treated to plenty great alternate universe shows in episodes like “Parallels” and “A Few Good Things…” and even a Mirror-like universe in one of the series best episodes, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”).  Known already for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, and the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, artist J.K. Woodward now brings his jaw-dropping photo-real paintings to Mirror Broken–providing poster-worthy interior artwork for every page of the series.  Woodward not only gives us our first look at the ships and places in the new Mirror universe, he created the look of each character for the franchise.

The first issue of the mini-series is actually an introduction to the new Mirror universe in IDW’s Free Comic Book Day issue from this past May.  Readers learn all the subtle, and not-so-subtle, changes in the alternate universe via Lieutenant Barclay, played in the series by Dwight Schultz.  We see not only a different view of Starfleet, but Barclay himself is a changed man, having fought his way up the ranks.  Fan favorite Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby in the series, is woven into the story as well.  The main cast is fleshed out in the first and second numbered issues: a ruthless Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a tough Commander Will Riker, and Counselor–now Inquisitor–Troi, who is not just a Mirror pin-up beauty but a sharp and manipulative power center as Picard’s main confidante.  Lieutenant LaForge is still the go-to engineering whiz and Commander Data is still trying to know what it’s like to be human, only in a world of skewed objectives and uncertain loyalties.  And everyone looks believably like the original actors (updated with Woodward’s blend of Michael Westmore make-up, of course).

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Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the Best in Print and a bonus wrap-up of other year’s bests.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 here, and the Best in Television here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Print:

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Best Comic Book Series – Old Man Logan (Marvel).  With just enough backstory from prior series focused on the future world version of Logan/Wolverine, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took us through the struggle of the superhero that survived all his contemporaries, only to be plunged into a parallel world where everything is familiar but nothing is the same.

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Best Graphic NovelWonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics).  Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today.  Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine.  The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read.

Batman TMNT 1 Williams

Best Comic Book Limited Series/Best Crossover Comic Book Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW).  James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II pulled together an impossible team-up of characters that ended up working great together.  An action-packed, nostalgic fun trip.

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Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse).  Kindt pulls together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you searching out your old game of Sub Search.  We just hope he makes a prequel at some point so we get to see a similar quest with an old fashioned copper-helmeted deep sea diver.  A fun read month after month and the best writing comics have to offer.

After the cut we continue with the best in comics, books, and more from 2016:

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I have been a fan of Edward Hopper since the first time I saw his artwork.  I view a print of his Automat every day at home.  In college a wall of every other dorm room had either Hopper’s Nighthawks or the Helnwein pop culture adaptation Boulevard of Broken Dreams with Hopper’s characters swapped for Elvis Presley, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe.  A few years ago I made a special side trip to visit the original in Chicago, housed just across America’s most famous artwork, Grant Wood’s American Gothic.  Nighthawks means many things to many people.  For me it’s about nostalgia.

I always have an eye open for new adaptations of Nighthawks.  Some of the best adaptations have been created as variant covers for comic books.  It’s a rare find, but it happens, oftentimes in places you wouldn’t expect it.  The best comic book cover adaptation of Nighthawks is available this summer, and it’s our pick for the best comic book cover we’ve seen so far this year.

Nighthawks Hopper

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks

It’s J.K. Woodward’s variant cover to Micronauts, Issue #5.  Innovative, futuristic, inventive, thought-provoking, and evocative of adventure for fans of the 1980s toys.  I have been a fan of Woodward since his brilliant and beautiful watercolor work on his cover-to-cover Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover series Assimilation².  At first glance you might not even realize this fantastic future world is something familiar to you.  Is it the alien behind the counter that cinches the Hopper homage?  Maybe the yellow hue color choices in the background?  The commercial coffee pot?  Or just the overall design?  Check out his artwork in full and decide for yourself:

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50 Years 50 Artists book Star Trek

Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year CBS Consumer Products reached out to fifty artists of varying backgrounds and media across ten countries and commissioned works for an art exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series.  The result was featured at Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts gallery in San Diego’s gaslight district during San Diego Comic-Con this year, followed by a stint in Las Vegas for the annual Star Trek convention.  It then heads to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto from mid-August to early September before heading to the England for the Destination Star Trek Europe convention in October and continuing its worldwide tour through August 2017.

Next week Titan Books is releasing an oversized coffee table edition to accompany the exhibition, featuring all fifty artists and their Star Trek contribution.  Similar in design to the successful Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, reviewed here at borg.com, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, is a colorful, beautifully illustrated guide for the Star Trek fan that appreciates artists interpreting the franchise.  The hardcover exhibition catalog showcases some artists known for their Star Trek work and others who have never dabbled in the Trek universe before.   Media used in these interpretations include paper, sculpture, metal, ceramics, and textiles, some hand-created and others via computer.  The book includes a foreword by Star Trek film director Nicholas Meyer, and interviews with the artists.

Paul Shipper The Cage Star Trek 50 Years 50 Artists

Paul Shipper’s “Star Trek Inception: The Cage”

Not surprisingly, the work of successful comic book cover artists Joe Corroney and J.K. Woodward is featured, Corroney with two vibrant retro style posters, and Woodward with a painting showing key Klingons throughout all the Star Trek series and films.  A photograph incorporating the Vulcan salute by Leonard Nimoy was also included in the show.  As with any non-juried exhibition, a few works don’t quite seem to stir the senses as the others, but those that do are of high-quality and well-conceived.  Comic book artist and animator Dusty Abell’s poster thoughtfully includes an element of each of the 79 original episodes if the original series.  It would be no surprise to find Viennese children’s illustrator Amir Abou-Roumié’s whimsical look at Star Trek characters in a future San Francisco, titled “Homestead,” at the Met.  Disney, Hasbro, and DreamWorks freelance artist Sue Beatrice’s metal sculpture “On the Edge of Forever” is an exquisitely detailed timepiece featuring the starship Enterprise. 

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Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

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Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

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Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

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Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

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Woodward Black Canary commission close-up 2014

One of our favorite artists is J.K. Woodward, known for his vibrant and life-like painting style, and his work on several successful series including Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation–Assimilation² reviewed here and Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever reviewed here.

We haven’t featured any new original comic art lately so what better time than now to share borg.com’s recent commission of a Woodward painting, done as part of his donation to the Toe Tag Riot crowdfunding project (we reviewed Toe Tag Riot Issue #1 here).

Woodward commission Green Arrow close-up

Adding to our gallery of awesome Green Arrow and Black Canary original art, Woodward placed the Alex Ross era costumed duo on the streets of Star City.  Green Arrow, sporting his classic look and Van Dyke beard, is ready to take out some vile foe off-screen, as Black Canary soars into the picture overhead on her trusty bike.  Based on her facial expression, this superheroine means business.

Check out the full image, after the break…

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star trek city edge forever ellison idw cover juan ortiz

Hands down J.K. Woodward is the best artist to ever take on Star Trek in the comic book medium.  His Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation² was a stunning visual journey, and that series, reviewed here at borg.com, showcased Woodward’s superb painted panels and contained an imaginative story by David and Scott Tipton.  Tipton, Tipton, and Woodward are back this week with the long-titled Star Trek:  Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever, The Original Teleplay, a five-issue limited series beginning tomorrow.  For borg.com readers we have a nine-page preview of the issue below after the break, courtesy of IDW Publishing.

The Star Trek: The Original Series episode “City on the Edge of Forever” is regarded by many (including a TV Guide poll of the “100 Best TV Episodes of All Time”) as the greatest Star Trek episode of all time, but what made it to television was a far cry from the original teleplay by noted science fiction writer Harlan Ellison.  Ellison’s original teleplay won both the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation as well as the Writer’s Guild of America’s Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay.

JK Woodward Enterprise from City on the Edge of Forever

The new IDW Publishing comic book mini-series, produced under the guidance of Ellison, now brings the classic story to fans like they haven’t seen it before.  Issue #1 is a blast.  Woodward’s visuals are eye-popping as usual, and the story presents its own parallel universe for those familiar with the classic TV episode.  Yeoman Rand never looked better!

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City on the Edge of Forever from IDW Publishing JK Woodward

Fans of the original Star Trek series may be excited to see the original script for Harlan Ellison’s award-winning teleplay to the classic episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” will soon be adapted into comic book form.  It will be a director’s cut of sorts, as Ellison has been vocal over the years that his original vision was better than what ended up on the screen, modified by Gene Roddenberry and at least four other writers.  Ellison published the complete script and notes in his 1996 book about the episode’s “evisceration.   Nearly fifty years later Ellison won’t let his anger rest, having filed a lawsuit in 2009 that was later settled.  Ellison is back yet again, and now fans will get to see his original work in visual form, produced by a Star Trek creative dream team.

Scott Tipton and David Tipton will adapt the Ellison teleplay to the comic script, and powerhouse Star Trek/Doctor Who Assimilation² painter/artist J.K. Woodward will provide the artwork for the story.  Juan Ortiz, whose Star Trek work we’ve reviewed here previously at borg.com, will provide the cover art in his own unique retro style.

Juan Ortiz City on the Edge of Forever poster

Trek fans really couldn’t ask for more, although considering fans count the episode among the most revered and well-crafted of the series, it may not be many fans’ first choice for an episode that could stand to be redone, or undone  for that matter (cough cough “And the Children Shall Lead,” (ahem) “The Way to Eden”, (ahem) “Spock’s Brain”).

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Year's En

Merry Christmas!

It’s the end of December and another year is winding down.  Everywhere you turn someone is talking about the Best of 2012, so here we offer our take, resulting from absorbing more content this year than ever before, from books to movies to TV to comics, we reviewed and previewed entertainment from most of the big comic book publishers, and received screeners of shows and books from different publishing houses.  And we watched a lot of TV and went to a number of movies.  So what was the best of the best this year?  No one will ever have the same list but here’s where we ended up:

Best Genre Movie:  The Hobbit.  We had to wait all year for the release but once we saw it–it was well worth the wait and we want to go back and see it again and again.  How could you possibly follow one of the only fantasy films ever to win a Best Picture Academy Award and expect to come close in quality and entertainment?  Peter Jackson figured it out.  Not even The Avengers came close to touching this epic film with giant sets, special effects, elaborate costumes, a perfect story adaptation, and the best CGI creature to date: a Gollum even better than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Best Dramatic Film: Argo It was an international event more recent in the public psyche than even Watergate, yet it had never been addressed on the silver screen before–the kidnapping of American nationals in Iran.  Ben Affleck served as both director and star of the film and performed both roles brilliantly.  Both exciting and funny–with the incredibly bizarre hook of using Hollywood to create a sci-fi B movie as CIA cover to sneak in to Iran and remove a small group of hostages–it was a story worthy of adapting to screen.  Brilliant!

Best Animated Movie: Brave Kelly McDonald’s wonderful Scottish voice, an all-star Brit voice cast including Emma Thompson, Bill Connolly, Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane, coupled with Brenda Chapman’s story and the best of Walt Disney and Pixar’s animation so far, make Brave the slam dunk animated film winner of 2012.   A gorgeous film about a tough and feisty red-headed girl skilled with a bow and arrow who wants to make her own destiny provided a great story for young and old alike.

Best Animated TV Series: Tron: Uprising Disney Television Animation finally figured out a way to bring its Tron franchise forward with Tron: Legacy, and this prequel series gives us what the movie lacked–more Bruce Boxleitner as Tron.  We hardly noticed this wasn’t a live action series, and with voice actors like Frodo’s Elijah Wood, Alien’s Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens and Tricia Helfer, you could hardly go wrong.  The brilliant choice of lighting, futuristic yet retro light cycles and funky soundtrack made this one worth coming back for each week.

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Best Actor: Silas Weir Mitchell, Grimm With the updates for the second season of Grimm, Mitchell’s reformed Blutbad Monroe was hard to beat as the sometimes hilarious sometimes dramatic glue that held the series together, setting up new conflicts, like the strange discovery of Renard and Juliette’s relationship, sure to drive the story next year.

Ksenia Solo as Kenzi in Lost Girl

Best Actress: Ksenia Solo, Lost Girl.  As succubus and series star Bo’s tagalong human friend and roommate Kenzi, Solo held half of the dramatic workload for the Canadian series first released to U.S. audiences this year on the Syfy Channel.  The Latvian born actress plays it funny and smart–she makes for the ideal kickass girl from the best genre fiction stories.

Cobie Smulders in The Avengers

Best Breakout Role–Female:  Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers.  We knew her already from How I Met Your Mother, but Smulders took what could have been a throwaway background role in the biggest movie of the year and instead put her character’s footing almost on par with the Avengers themselves, heading up an early chase scene and appearing with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury throughout the film.  Now she’s set to come back for the next Avengers films, she’s a character that we never knew about but are glad she’s on the team going forward.

Max Greenfield in New Girl

Best Breakout Role–Male: Max Greenfield as Schmidt in New Girl.  Greenfield is one among a handful of great young actors in New Girl, now in its second season, but this season his character Schmidt stepped out to create the craziest, most hysterical moment of nearly every episode.  Whether he is ranting that there is no black Santa Claus, or trying to show a stripper how to lap dance the right way, whether he is wearing his high-cut male kimono, ranting about germs, or his stupid actions result in him putting the most money in the coffee table jar, Greenfield took a funny part and stretched it to insanely funny.  This from the same guy who performed dramatic roles in Veronica Mars, Life and Castle?  Awesome.

Best Guest Appearance:  Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance in Action Comics. It was a bit of a marketing gimmick, but what could tie the education of real science, a popular TV non-fiction series host and comic book readers together better?  The real star-vested Tyson found a possible location for Superman’s home planet of Krypton, revealing it to the Man of Steel in the pages of the ongoing series.

Best TV series: Arrow, CW Network.  We got our first look at the pilot for this series at Comic-Con this year and loved it, but wasn’t sure how it would appeal to a mass audience.  Pretty much everyone we know watches this series, including those who would never otherwise think to look at a series about a masked superhero.  We have a critical eye out for all things Green Arrow, but Arrow, led by a well-cast Stephen Amell, surpassed our expectations.

Best Comedy Series: New Girl, Fox Network.  New Girl wins this category from one simple thing: This series made this writer laugh so hard his gut hurt and corresponding tears shot out of his eyes from the quick humor in so many scenes this year he lost count.  And when the series dipped into dramatic elements it never veered far from the core of what makes the show work–it’s a comedy first.  Tuesday night this year was New Girl night.  Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Winston and Cece could be the next Friends (but funnier) if the series can get a wider audience.

Sherlock Belgravia episode

Best Single TV Episode: Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” BBC America.  You just have to watch this episode of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s brilliant series over and over.  The entry of the beautiful and unpredictable Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver, was perfection, and Cumberbatch and Martin’s scene with Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in Buckingham Palace can’t be beat.  Sure to be a classic episode for years to come.

Best Cliffhanger: Shawn’s dad gets shot, Psych, USA Network.  It seems like it has been forever since Shawn’s dad Henry, played by Corbin Bernsen was shot at the end of this season’s last episode of the hit USA Network comedy/drama series.  At its core, Psych is a light-hearted pleasure, so they just CAN’T kill off Henry.  We’re really looking forward to finding out.

Best Series Ender: In Plain Sight, USA Network.*  In a year where several mega-hits wrapped for good, including House, M.D., The Closer, Awake, and Chuck, one series finale tied up all the necessary loose ends the best, and that was the aptly titled “All’s Well that Ends” from In Plain Sight, which ended after five solid seasons.  The writers skipped the gimmicks, with no gut wrenching death scenes for major cast players, but instead honored the characters as they’d been for the entire series, rewarding viewers with an end where everyone wins.  *Update:  Leverage‘s surprise December 25, 2012 series finale came in with a powerhouse finale, slightly trumping In Plain Sight at the last minute after we posted this piece.  See our review here.

Jason Isaacs in Awake

Best Series that Cancelled Too Early: Awake, NBC Network We only got to see 12 episodes of Awake, but in those episodes we saw a great paranormal drama develop.  Jason Isaacs, like Paul Blackthorne, is one of those actors you want to helm a series every week.  His dual role of father who lost his kid and husband that lost his wife, both in the same auto accident, showed this actor could do anything with a role.  Although they were able to nicely wrap-up Awake in its last episode, we’d prefer to have seen a lot more of it.

Best Surprise in Entertainment: Dallas, TNT Network.  How was this even possible?  Who would think to take THE 1980s primetime soap and bring it forward to 2012, AND think it could work?  TNT mixed a CW Network-inspired young cast with a plot continuing the struggles in the classic series and melded it into something for anyone willing to give it a try.  Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing never missed a beat as the ultimate TV villain, even in his 80s.  The writers took bits from the tangents of the original to concoct the main storyline of two young heirs fighting for family and social dominance.  The result was addictive TV.

The Major Crimes Gallery

Best Comeback:  The ensemble cast of Major Crimes The great thing about a great ensemble cast is that you like every player equally.  When this is successful, you can stand to lose a character or two and still keep going, or as was the case with the wind-up of The Closer, lose three main characters: Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, Chief Pope, and Sgt. Gabriel.  Major Crimes added three new replacement characters and never missed a beat, pleasing fans who knew it was too soon for the stories from the L.A. Major Crimes unit to end.

Best Second Wind: Haven, Syfy Channel Some cable TV series limp along and just end after a year or two.  Haven’s single theme of solving the riddle of “the troubles” seemed a candidate for this, but something switched on with the 2012 season allowing the rich stories and great cast chemistry to give us the series’ best episodes in its three-year run so far.

Volkswagen cantina commercial

Best Genre-Related Advertisement:  Star Wars Super Bowl ad, Volkswagen The best Super Bowl ad last January with a dog, a James Brown tune, and a pristine recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina from the original Star Wars was an instant classic that will be hard to beat in 2013.  Complete with its own recreated hive of scum and villainy, Tom Spina Designs’ creatures gave us something we want to see more of–maybe a new Disney-produced TV series based in Mos Eisley using all these obscure characters fanboys know by name?  Missed it?  See the full ad here.

Best Press Marketing: Coma mini-series press kit, A&E Network We at borg.com received tons of content this year, from books to comics to advance screeners, but one marketing gag was so awesome in its own right it surpassed what it was advertising.  The advance marketing for the Coma TV series marked a possible return by A&E to the classic TV shows we used to get in the days of shows like Price and Prejudice or Nero Wolfe.  Sporting an underground conspiracy plotline, print and online ads created a cool concept that the mini-series itself did not quite match.  When we received a human organ carrier in a “thawed” labeled box that we cautiously unzipped to find the screener, well that was just too awesome not to mention again.

Best Costumes: The Hobbit The Hobbit already made our Best Genre Movie of 2012, but it’s worth a second nod for having the most incredibly crafted costumes of possibly any film made so far in any year.  Building on the costumes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the slow panning of the camera in The Hobbit allowed us to see every seam on Bilbo’s patch-work coat, and every new emblem on each dwarf’s tunic.  How can a production make so many unique costumes for one film?  The result sets the standard for all major films to come.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy

Best Borg Appearance: The Cyborg Gunslinger, Doctor Who episode, “A Town Called Mercy” Andrew Brooke’s gunslinger was a slick-looking borg addition, a throwback to Westworld that gave us equal parts of good sci-fi and classic Western movies.  Doctor Who has created the best costumes and make-up of any sci-fi franchise in the past few years and this guy just looked great.

Best Web Series: TableTop bi-weekly Internet series, Geek and Sundry.  Wil Wheaton, known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently his appearances on Big Bang Theory and Leverage, as host of his own online series, brought us all back from the video game world to the boardgame format that allows friends to really interact and have fun for their own game nights.   He chatted over great games like Tsuro, Munchkin and Zombie Dice with friends and celebrities alike, and showed us what could easily translate to its own Game Show Network series.

Best Villain:  The Harp Seal, Battlepug, Mike Norton. Easy choice.  This year’s Eisner Award winner for best digital comic revealed this unexpected villain, a funny surprise for readers.  Imagine a world where the harp seal gets its due–a role reversal where warriors fear him over all other creatures.  A great idea.

Best Ongoing Comic Book Series (tie):  All-Star Western, DC ComicsArtist Moritat and writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took a long-dead comic book title and bridged 1800s Gotham City and Jonah Hex to make a gritty and fun book that rose to the top of DC Comics’ New 52 titles first released in September 2011.  Who knew a Western comic could be this good?  Bionic Man, Dynamite Comics Phil Hester took a Kevin Smith script and expanded on it, taking the most nostalgic bits of the classic Six Million Dollar Man TV series and updating it for 2012.  The highlight of the fun was an appearance by the classic TV series guest star, Bigfoot.

Thor - God of Thunder 1

Best Single Comic Book Issue: Thor, God of Thunder #1, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.  How do you reintroduce a classic character like Thor in a new way?  Exactly like Aaron does in this first issue of his new series, breaking up his story into three time periods, and highlighting the changing face of Thor over time.  Ribic’s lush images of Thor and a certain strange new world escalated this book to the top of my year’s reads.

JK Woodward AssimilationSquared

Best Comic Book Art: JK Woodward, Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation².  J.K. Woodward’s painted artwork throughout this limited series was stunning.  Probably the best depiction to-date of Star Trek characters in a comic book, Woodward took a fanboy’s dream job of merging two of the biggest sci-fi franchises together for the first story ever attempted and delivered a great looking story, now available in a trade edition.  We just want to see more.

Mystery in Space 1 by Ryan Sook

Best Comic Book Cover Art:  Mystery in Space, Ryan Sook, Vertigo Comics Ryan Sook had a big year, providing sensational covers for everything from The Shadow to the new Sword of Sorcery to one of our favorite titles, Justice League Dark.  But his cover for Vertigo Comics’ Mystery in Space #1 blended sci-fi and fantasy in the best way, with a steampunk angel painting the universe inside a spaceship with the help of flitting fairies, or is she creating our actual universe?  A great idea and perfect execution made this a standout on the store shelf this year.

Hawkeye cover by David Aja

Best Comic Book Cover Art Runner-up:  Hawkeye mini-series, David Aja Aja’s six unique Hawkeye series covers served not only to entice us to read this mini-series with great use of simple colors, but his own artwork between the covers made us feel like we were rewarded with what was advertised–a very cool and unusually stylish series.

Best Comics Collected Edition:  Flash Gordon, Volumes 1 and 2, Titan Books These were the best presented books we reviewed this year.  Reprinted Sunday comics from the 1930s and 1940s in a giant-sized edition that allowed readers to appreciate the story and art of creator Alex Raymond was a feast for the eyes.  The content allowed readers to see just how relevant and interesting the original mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy could be.

Best Retro Reviewed Book: Moonraker, Ian Fleming.  Casino Royale was a great read, Live and Let Die was a bit of a letdown, but Moonraker was as exciting as any book I’ve read in years.  Far different from the film of the same name, this thriller was packed with spy world intrigue.  Compared to all the other retro reviews this year, including Philip K. Dick classics, this one really stood out.

Best Reviewed Book: Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Kim Newman Although it was initially released in 1998, a new edition was re-released this year.  The best “post-modern steampunk” mash-up and incredibly detailed world building made this novel a great read, full of artful prose and creative crossovers.  Newman also added another level of storytelling, mixing the real world with the world of fiction, and the result is a densely packed, enjoyable volume.

Bond and Queen

Best Mash-Up of Fiction and Non-Fiction Worlds:  James Bond accompanies the Queen to the Olympics 2012 was the Year of Bond with his 50th year in film.  How better to highlight the best of Jolly Old England at this year’s Summer Olympics than to begin with a meeting of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and the actual Queen Elizabeth II in her 60th year in Buckingham Palace, followed by a faked aerial dive by the Queen over the stadium in London.  The Queen was a real sport, adding herself to the long list of Bond girls.  And don’t forget the real-world borg Oscar Pistorius’s impressive showings at the Olympics this year.

Comic-Con Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel

Best Genre Event: The Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con.  More than 7,000 fans stood in line for only about 5,000 seats but the all-night wait was worth seeing most of the cast of Firefly reunite with creators Joss Whedon and Tom Minnear to talk about the short-lived series.  Firefly fans are a passionate bunch, and were able to get Whedon to make the big-budget movie Serenity a few years after cancellation.  But get most of the stars to come back ten years later?  Pretty cool feat.  With Whedon and series co-star Adam Baldwin (Jayne) dropping by to greet the people sleeping and standing in line overnight it was an event that attendees will never forget.

Best News Story: George Lucas sells Star Wars rights to Disney Some liked it and some hated it, but as months go by we’ll see what it all means.  As entertainment goes, this multi-billion dollar exchange was the talk everywhere this year.

Best Science Story: Curiosity lands on Mars.  NASA’s description of dropping a rover on the surface of the planet Mars sounded like threading a needle blind-folded wearing gloves.  Its early morning coverage of the successful landing was something like the moon landing, and made everyone want to see what more we can do in the space program now that the last Space Shuttle has been mothballed.  What will the future hold for NASA and humans in outer space?

Best Nationwide Genre Participation Event: The Avengers Marathon, AMC Theaters We only wished for something like this when we were kids–the ability to watch something like all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies in one screening.  The lead-up to the midnight premiere of The Avengers allowed fans to watch all the lead-in Avengers films so far:  Iron Man I and II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  A great idea that will hopefully continue with other franchise films.

Best Single Thing for Genre Works: The Avengers movie.  Genre, and specifically superhero, films needed a good kickstart.  The dark and dreary Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan was monopolizing superhero films, and we needed a giant, vibrant superhero film to usher in a new age of comic book films and Joss Whedon delivered the goods.  It’s not a perfect film (and what is?) but was completely fun and entertaining, delivering something every fan could enjoy.  Challenging the top two positions for all-time box office draw also showed everyone that fans want to see more of this kind of movie.

What were your favorites?  We hope a few of these are on your own list.  We at borg.com will be back with more coverage and reviews in 2013.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

For the past decade I have tried to ask at least one artist at every comic book or pop culture convention that I attend to draw me a Green Arrow or Black Canary (or both) sketch.  I’ve asked this from artists whether or not they have drawn these characters before and most artists are happy to do it.  Some well-known artists charge a fee for sketches and many others will sketch for free.  Sometimes the key is letting the artist know your sketch is not just going to appear on eBay the next day.  Adam Hughes was in the news about this a few years ago when he worked all day on a sketch for someone that promptly flipped it on Ebay for several hundred dollars.  He vowed off Con sketches after that.  Some people, usually guys who have been going to cons for much longer than me, started with a sketchbook—a blank art book—and hand it off to artists at conventions.  These books convey to artists that this fan is going to keep whatever they draw and sometimes artists will take more time when they draw in someone’s sketchbook.  I’ve never gone the book route but like getting sketches on blank paper, usually supplied by the artist soI don’t have to leave a book behind.  I have featured some of this original art at borg.com previously.

So Comic-Con this year was no different and I added two new Green Arrows to my collection.  First up was by Cat Skaggs, who recently created the cover for Smallville Season 11 Issue 1.  Not only did I get a signed print of that cover, but she drew a quick free-form sketch of Green Arrow for me.  She is not a regular Green Arrow artist, and it was fun to watch her think about how the hat and goatee look:

   

It makes a nice addition to my collection.

I have had some comic book artists draw sketches for me over the years many would consider industry legends, including Mike Grell, Michael Golden, Rich Buckler, Joe Staton, and Howard Chaykin.  This year at Comic-Con I got to chat with Neal Adams, the guy who created the look of the Green Arrow character I am such a big fan of.  He created this classic, cocky Green Arrow image for me:

Pretty awesome.

I had met David Petersen at several prior conventions and he had a slot in his sketch schedule so I asked him to draw me a fox as seen in his current run of Mouse Guard:

A nice watercolor image in his unique style!

So not a bad haul for not being at the Con for a full weekend.  I also picked up a few SDCC exclusives.  Frank Cho was selling his new Liberty Meadows calendar:

I also picked up the new Alex Ross sketchbook:

At the Alex Ross booth I actually spent a lot of time talking with Sal, Justin and Chris, who are always great guys to talk to and deal with.  They had some great sketches and painted original Alex Ross art available.  As a fan of Six Million Dollar Man as early borg, Ross’s original cover sketches for Issues 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the current Bionic Man series struck me as particularly cool, especially seeing the change in logo evolve over the course of creating the covers.  Look at the sketches compared to the final image on the book covers:

   

   

   

   

Featured in last year’s SDCC 2011 exclusive Alex Ross sketchbook, this sketch jumped out at me this year on display:

I love Zatanna in her magician’s box, waiting to make an appearance.  This sketch was created for an Infinite Crisis card game.

Prior to Comic-Con I had connected with the artist for the current Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover series Assimilation², JK Woodward. He was at the Con with writers Scott and David Tipton.  I never caught up with them but luckily my friend William got an extra autographed copy of the book.  Check out these great original, painted pages from Issue #2 of the series.  First, the TARDIS in the Enterprise-D holodeck:

Next, if you like Trek and Doctor Who like I do, you just can’t beat the Eleventh Doctor on the bridge with Captain Picard.

And check out that great rendering of the Enterprise-D soaring above!

Again this year Michael Turner art was available at the Aspen booth and it is always amazing to flip through the late artist’s work.

If you like seeing the creative process behind the scenes, it’s hard to beat seeing original comic art in person.  And if you have the time hundreds of artists in Artist Alley are there sketching away throughout the Comic-Con weekend, and love to talk about their work and process.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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