Tag Archive: Kevin Eastman


It was the biggest comic book limited series of 2021, and it featured a rare and certain end to a beloved set of comic book heroes.  At a minimum Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin is a love letter to the cinematic action that permeated everything in the 1980s, as well as an homage to the kind of graphic storytelling Frank Miller shepherded into the minds of teens and twenty-somethings back then.  Kevin Eastman returned with co-creator Peter Laird and Tom Waltz and a league of artists to wrap up nearly four decades of sci-fi fantasy antics and drama.  And now like Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns it’s getting its own hardcover edition.  It’s available in comic shops for the first time today.

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It’s been another long year of great entertainment.  It’s time for the ninth annual round of new honorees for the borg Hall of Fame.  We have several inductees from 2021 films and television – 16 in all, new borgs or updated variants of past members, bringing the borg Hall of Fame total to 281.

You can always check out the updated borg Hall of Fame on our home page under “Know your borg.”

Some reminders about criteria.  Borgs have technology integrated with biology Wearing a technology-powered suit alone doesn’t qualify.  Tony Stark aka Iron Man was named an honoree because the Arc Reactor kept him alive, not because of his incredible tech armor.  The Spider-Man suit worn by Tom Holland is similar to Tony’s, but it’s not integrated with Peter Parker’s biology.

Also, if the creators tell us the characters are merely robots, automatons, or androids (as in Westworld, and as in the Synths of Star Trek: Picard, and the new Dark Troopers of The Mandalorian), we take their word for it.  Again, integration is key, but in the Hall, once a member, always a member.  

So let’s get on with it.  Who’s in for 2021?

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Our borg Best of 2021 list continues today with the Best Books of 2021.  If you missed them, check out our reviews of the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2021 here, the Best Movies of 2021 here, and the Best in TV 2021 here.  And we wrap-up the year with our additions to the borg Hall of Fame tomorrow.  We reviewed more than 100 books that we recommended to our readers this year, and some even made it onto our favorites shelf.  We don’t publish reviews of books that we read and don’t recommend, so this shortlist reflects only this year’s cream of the crop.  So let’s get going!  

   

Best Sci-Fi, Best Tie-In Novel – Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward (Gallery Books).  An engaging read and fun-filled start to a new trilogy, full of great throwbacks to all the Star Trek series, with several surprise characters and incorporated events, and a great update to Wesley Crusher.  Runner-up: Star Trek: Picard–Rogue Elements (Gallery Books), by John Jackson Miller, provided a great story for a newer character, pulling into the mix the future of some familiar characters including the classic villain Kivas Fajo.    

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The modern G.I. Joes you know well meet a member of the classic G.I. Joe Adventure Team and the original Joe–General Joe Colton–in IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe–Snakes Eyes: Deadgame, first previewed here at borg last year in single issue form, and it’s now coming your way in a collected trade edition Tuesday.  And although it has all the story elements Snake Eyes fans will be familiar with, this story is all about Rob Liefeld’s penciled artwork and a string of artistic talent that stepped in to ink Liefeld’s action-filled pages, including the likes of Neal Adams, Philip Tan, Kevin Eastman, Ed Piskor, Jerry Ordway, and Dan Panosian.  You can look behind the scenes at the process for this pencil-ink partnership in a 48-page tie-in book, Snake Eyes: Deadgames Declassified, also available at comic shops and online here at Amazon.  Diehard comic art fans will have fun identifying the inkers, although Eastman’s inked pages are particularly hard to miss.

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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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One hundred comic book artists have come together over the past year to create the next great joint art project, this time featuring the Dark Knight Detective and Bruce Wayne alter ego, Batman.  Previous subjects have included Adventure Time, Wonder Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hellboy, The Uncanny X-Men, and Captain America.  This year a new group of some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring the Caped Crusader (how many nicknames does he have anyway?) penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a DC Comics Batman #75 blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to–and in effect pays forward–comic book creators that have come before.  It’s called the The Batman 100 Project.

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If you enjoy Batman and especially if you read Batman comics, there’s one series you should be reading right now.  And if you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, there’s one event you can’t miss this year.  It’s Crisis in a Half Shell, the third crossover/team-up series of writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II.  We previewed the series here at borg back in April.  It’s the most fun extension–after a lot of creators have tried–to the actual Crisis on Infinite Earths, with a Batman-centric tale including a host of Bat-villains.  Two issues into the series with a third issue arriving at comic book stores today, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III also has that classic space fantasy look from its multiverse plot, stirred by ultimate villain Krang.

Fans of original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman should take note–Tynion and Williams have cleverly tied original Eastman artwork created for this series into the story.  It works seamlessly and has a great Outer Limits/Twilight Zone impact.  As we expected from seeing the first images of the new character concept drawings of Batman, the Turtles, and the villains back in April, this series is both classic Batman and classic Turtles.  Fans of either–and fans of both–franchises will be impressed with every inch of each page, including Jeremy Colwell‘s coloring that makes for a perfect partnership with Williams’ vibrant, dynamic, wall-to-wall action layouts and painterly style.  And Tom Napolitano‘s lettering takes different turns to emphasize voices, with a great, evocating type especially for this new world’s Joker counterpart.

Today’s new cover art by Williams and Colwell just can’t be beat.  It’s flat out one of the year’s best covers.  Take a look at this big preview of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Issue #3/Part 3 of the Crisis in a Half Shell story, plus previews of the cover art to Issues #4 and #5, courtesy of DC Comics and IDW Publishing:

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This past February we reported writer/artist Stan Sakai would be bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi to IDW Publishing with stories old and new.  That begins tomorrow with the first issue of the new three-part, full-color series–yep, the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time, written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Sakai with colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).  Readers will catch up with Usagi caught-up in his own new drama set during the Edo period of 17th century Japan.  The first story, titled “Bunraku,” a word for Japanese puppetry, captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: adventure filled with culture, folklore, and history.  IDW also plans to bring all 35 years of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions.  So Issue #1 of Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku is only the beginning.

First published in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo garnered five Eisner Awards for Sakai, the 2014 Inkwell Award, 2007 Harvey Award, 2002 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Awards, and the Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American Museum.  Haven’t checked out Usagi Yojimbo yet?  The humor is similar to Mike Norton’s Battlepug, or Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, full of action, classic Conan, Tarzan, John Carter-level adventure, with the epic feel of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Note: Another book is now available for pre-order from Sakai’s earlier publisher.  Last week Dark Horse Comics announced Usagi Yojimbo: 35 Years of Covers, a complete hardcover collection of Sakai’s greatest covers (you can pre-order it now here at Amazon).

Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson–1:10 retailer incentive, Kevin Eastman–1:50 retailer incentive, comics legend Walt Simonson–1:25 retailer incentive, and a two-part Sakai cover that connects with Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim, Issue #1, plus store exclusives from Buzz (500, Legends), Maria Caligari (500, AOD Collectables), J. Scott Campbell (color or B&W, Comics & Ponies), Mike Choi (logo–600, virgin–200, Collector’s Paradise, Knowhere), Chris Johnson (1,000, Brave New World), Alex Kotkin (Excelsior), Linh Nguyen (Incredible Con), Ian Nichols (w/Tick, 500, New England), Tessa Rose (1,000, Jak’s), blank cover from Sakai for use with watercolors, another Sakai cover (500, Other Realms), Julie Sakai (500, Dogū), Mike Vasquez (500, Frankie’s Comics), and the great Charles Vess (color–750, B&W–500, HeroesCon).

Here’s a preview of Usagi Yojimbo–Bunraku, Issue #1, plus previews of the covers for Issues #2 and #3, and all 24 variants for Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a comic book nearly two years in the making.  Or maybe 27 years.  And it may be the best single comic book issue of the year.  But as strange as the tale between the covers, the story of its creators is stranger still.  What you probably know is this:  In 1984 Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published a single issue comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Intended as a spoof-parody-mash-up concoction of Marvel’s Daredevil and The New Mutants, Frank Miller’s Ronin, and Dave Sim’s Cerebus, the book sparked something much bigger for readers, becoming one of the most popular franchises for a few generations of readers and cartoon watchers (not to mention the impact it had via toys and movie tie-ins).  A couple unrelated–short-lived–parody spin-offs of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came and went unrelated to Eastman and Laird, including Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos and Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.

What you don’t know is that eight years after the Turtles saw their first comic–in 1992–comic creators Shane Bookman and his brother Paul released their scrappy indie creation on the unsuspecting comic book universe: Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls Like Eastman and Laird, the Bookmans had their own share of ups and downs, tales of fame and fortune (evidently Eastman sold off his rights to the Turtles some 20 years ago, etc.).  So in 2017 Eastman and writer David Avallone and artist Ben Bishop (with Troy Little, Brittany Peer, Tomi Varga, and Taylor Esposito) took the Bookmans’ story to Kickstarter, and nearly 1,200 backers brought in more than $100,000.  Now it’s all done, first to tell the Bookmans’ story in a new monthly comic beginning this past week called Drawing Blood, and at the same time with a companion comic they created and discussed in their comic industry exploits, Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, Issue #1.

 

The result?  Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls is an idea as good as any Turtles tale you’ve read, and as finely crafted an origin story, full of action, top-notch writing, beautiful layouts, and exciting new characters: referred to as the Ragdolls (from the cat breed), they are three female cats who encounter gamma rays, cosmic rays, genetic mutagens, and who knows what other comic book superpower trigger was tapped, to become Tezuka, Otomo, and Miyazaki.  Speaking, Ronin-trained, defender cats.  Otomo is the most fearsome, Miyazaki speaks in Haiku poems, and Tezuka is a master tactician.

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The annual Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, is back again–an excuse to watch the movies again and meet up with friends and talk all things of a galaxy far, far away.  And again it is overlapping with Free Comic Book Day, a good excuse to visit your local comic book shop and get re-introduced to some series you may have missed.

You can’t beat the “gold line” of comics this year, with Jody Houser writing two free comics, Doctor Who and Stranger Things Jason Aaron serves as a writer on the Avengers issue (including a great Wolverine story), which is always a good FCBD title.  Archie Comics has a new Riverdale Season 3 FCBD story.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman is back writing the featured TMNT issue.  And fans of the Whedonverse won’t want to miss their copy of the BOOM! Studios twofer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, complete with a great cover by Moon Knight cover artist and Vampironica creator Greg Smallwood.  And for adults, Vampirella fans should check out its Issue #0/FCBD issue, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the character, complete with art by Bruce Timm and work by the late Forrest J. Ackerman.  Two other interesting titles for the older crowd worth checking out are Antarctic Press’s Punchline with great art by Matthew Weldon, and Shout Comics’ Midnight Sky.

 

The above issues are also good choices for kids, but some other titles are more targeted at the younger set including Casper the Ghost in Casper’s Spooksville.  Dear Justice League lets kids go one-on-one with their favorite superheroes.  Go Fish! is a great looking fish tale.  You can never go wrong with a new Little Lulu story.  Lumberjanes is back with another campfire story.  And last but not least, Star Wars Adventures is a great pick for any Star Wars fan this May the Fourth.

Take a look at some covers and previews to books available free (supplies may be limited) at Elite Comics or your local comic book shop today only:

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