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Tag Archive: Kevin Smith


Six Million Dollar Man Season Six cover 1

The new Dynamite Comics series that is intended to take over where season five of The Six Million Dollar Man TV series left off hits comic book stores next Wednesday.  We’ve previewed the book and are eager to see how the story develops over the coming year.  Written by James Kuhoric with art by Juan Antonio Ramirez, The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six wastes no time before featuring Maskatron–a great retro idea–in its first story arc with Issue #1.

The best feature of Issue #1 is undeniably the cover by Alex Ross, which is just beautiful.  Ramirez’s interior pages feature well done composition and backgrounds, outer space imagery and technology.  His character faces, however, could be improved with more detail so readers can follow who’s who.  Since this is supposed to be a continuation of the series featuring Lee Majors, it’d be great to see Lee Majors come through in the visuals.  It’s only Issue #1 so we’ll wait to see what future issues have in store for us.

Ramirez interior art Six Million Dollar Man Season Six issue 1

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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Veronica Mars movie

borg.com readers may remember Veronica Mars as one of our favorite characters of all time.  In its three seasons Veronica Mars became one of the best series on TV.  As borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce wrote, “Complex, smart, independent, and vulnerable–with a kickass cool job–characters don’t come much better than Veronica Mars.”  More than 2 million viewers tuned in each week for its first two seasons on UPN and its last season on the CW Network between 2004 and 2007.  Yesterday the biggest Kickstarter campaign ever resulted in an amazingly fast accumulation of donations–more than $2 million in 11 hours–enough to green light the Veronica Mars big-screen movie, now scheduled to film this summer for an early 2014 release.

Series creator Rob Thomas launched the project.  Series star Kristen Bell has signed on as has Veronica’s dad Keith, played by Enrico Colantoni, and Veronica’s pals Logan (Jason Dohring), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), Mac (Tina Majorino), Dick (Ryan Hansen) and Piz (Chris Lowell), according to the Kickstarter website.  Unlikely to return, unless they come back in flashbacks or as ghosts, are the ill-fated Les Miserables star Amanda Seyfried as Lilly, CW Network’s Cult star Alona Tal as Meg, Jaime Ray Newman as Mindy O’Dell, or Ed Begley, Jr. as Principal O’Dell.  But why not bring back Dallas star Julie Gonzalo as Parker, New Girl star Max Greenfield as Leo, Teddy Dunn as Duncan, The Anchorman’s Paul Rudd as Desmond Fellows, Unstoppable’s Jessy Schram as Hannah, Just Shoot Me’s Laura San Giacomo as Keith’s girlfriend Harmony, Spin City’s Paula Marshall as Keith’s other girlfriend Rebecca, The Following’s Aaron Ashmore as Troy, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Charisma Carpenter as Dick’s stepmom or Alyson Hannigan as Trina, or director Joss Whedon as the car rental guy or even Clerks’ Kevin Smith as the creepy convenience store clerk?

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By C.J. Bunce

As much as I want to jump ahead and discuss the current story of The Bionic Man in Issue #12, which features a character we all have wanted to see since the series started, let’s catch up with the first compilation of Dynamite Comics’ adaptation of the original Six Million Dollar Man that started last year.  The Bionic Man Volume 1: Some Assembly Required collects the first ten issues of The Bionic Man.  These ten issues were billed as “Kevin Smith’s” Bionic Man as the origin story was adapted into an unused screenplay by Smith, then writer Phil Hester re-wrote it, blocking it into chapter/issues, then Smith ran a dialogue pass and Jonathan Lau made it all look good with the visuals.  After Issue #10, the real excitement begins as Hester takes Steve Austin into new, and sometimes nostalgic, directions.  The ongoing series is currently at Issue #12, and we will discuss Hester’s Bionic Man here at borg.com soon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Micro: A Novel is a solid footnote to the successful writing career of Michael Crichton.  It doesn’t approach Jurassic Park in terms of character and intrigue, but it would fairly line up alongside the likes of Terminal Man, The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, and Congo.  Crichton had completed only about one-third of the book when he died in 2008.  Richard Preston, author of fiction and the non-fiction work The Hot Zone, picked up the reins to complete the book, finally published in November 2011.

I am always incredibly curious to read a book featuring co-authors or a work finished or packaged posthumously.  Louis L’Amour died in 1988 and for years it seemed like his estate kept churning out books as if he were still writing.  In the first issues of Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man, I was very interested in how much content came from Smith and how much from co-author Phil Hester.  With this final Crichton work, I initially spent more time thinking about structure and technique more than getting engrossed in the book, asking myself “Is this Crichton, or the imposter?”  This was true for me for the first third of the book.  At some point, however, I jumped in fully and went along for a fairly thrilling ride.  And if Crichton didn’t write it all, then Richard Preston was able to fake it very well.

The biggest hurdle in embracing Micro was the struggle for the reader’s suspension of disbelief.  In Jurassic Park, Crichton made readers believe that you could take dried mosquito blood from ancient amber, mix it with frog DNA and grow your own dinosaurs.  It was explained so simply so as to be believable without question, despite how impossible it would be to replicate in the real world.  It was harder for me to grasp the concept of taking humans and shrinking them to a half an inch tall.  Micro explains the science perhaps too briefly, taking from some apparently real-life experiment showing that magnetic fields acting on an object could shrink the object’s size.  Extrapolating that to organic beings of any size or complexity on any scale or scope that matters seems plainly absurd to me.  This despite the fact that “I want to believe” and am an open-minded science fiction reader, and despite any number of past suggestions in science fiction going back to The Incredible Shrinking Man, which might prime the open mind for such a possibility.  Didn’t The Fly teach us there were too many variables to consider to be able to make an experiment like this work?  It is that type of question, and the philosophy behind Crichton’s techno-thrillers, that are often as intriguing as the works themselves.

In Micro when a scientist criticizes another for being a vegetarian—he is written off with the pointed question, “how do you not know plants have feelings, too?”  Basically, end of story, vegetarians are illogical.  In the preface, quoting statements made by Crichton tied to this novel, Crichton seems critical of global warming theory.  We know from Jurassic Park that he embraced chaos theory and the science of complex systems.  We know from his work Prey that Crichton jabbed at believers of global warming, or at least those purporting to understand the puts and takes of global warming.  Here in Micro he implies that, because there are too many variables we can never understand nature.  Yet at the same time he tries to get readers to understand nature, and through his characters he suggests that if you do study nature you can use it to your advantage, to even save your life in the most crazy, unlikely, and perilous circumstances possible.  I am sure if you could only interview Crichton today he may be able to iron out this apparent ambiguity.  In the end, I think you can enjoy Micro as a thrill ride, but as an attempt at anything more serious, the piece doesn’t stand up.  If he believed that we can never fully understand nature, why spend any time researching nature, or why care about the characters in this book who do?

Like Crichton’s sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World, where Crichton seemed to switch from hard science in a way similar to Tom Clancy’s delving into every nuance behind the military-industrial complex (similarly, both sometimes ad nauseum), to a more instantly cinematic form of storytelling.  Micro, too, seems to be written directly for ready-made actors to jump into their roles for the impending Hollywood release.  Its ending is better than several of Crichton’s early works, where Crichton never seemed to know when to stop the story, or like Sphere, the story dazzled at first then drifted to boredom at the end.  Here the ending is full of catastrophe and skin-of-your-teeth, nick-of-time wrap-ups.  It all works as the stuff of a thin-science, romping summer blockbuster.  And it may work for readers who don’t ask too many questions.  Such as:

  • Can you safely carry people around in a plastic baggy?
  • Can you envision a vehicle that you can fit into your pocket?
  • Could you fly a plane that was an inch long across the entire island of Oahu and arrive at any intended destination, no matter how many times you tried?
  • Would the sheer terror of encountering bugs that were bigger than you not induce a heart attack or even slightly put you off kilter so as to not allow you to tap your immense knowledge of the science of beetles to think about ways to assemble poisons to be able to successfully eliminate the creature?
  • If your co-worker was held underground by a wasp as a prisoner, to be the wasp’s offspring’s lunch, would any human in any context feel sympathy for the offspring who was to be deprived of his lunch if your rescue succeeds? (As noble and naturalistic a thought this may be, I think terror would win out in any event).
  • At what percent of normal function could you function if your arm, as an example, was injected by a giant insect with its larvae, using you as a host?  Could you then fly a plane that you’d never seen before, or would you just freak out and cower in the corner, or beg your friend to cut off your arm?

The best part of all Crichton novels is the creation of a small think tank of a half dozen experts of distinct disciplines pulled together seemingly to research some project, only to realize their real purpose is to solve a difficult problem under unthinkable conditions.  Crichton creates these mini-universities where ideas can be shared, theories argued and defended.  The human condition—personalities, foibles, belief systems, behavior–always gets in the way, but never to the detriment of the entire operation.  Here we have seven graduate students, anxious to get their own deals post-grad with private industry.  Then Vin Drake, president of tech corporation Nanigen, comes along to recruit.  One of the students, Peter Jansen, has a brother Eric who already works there.  They all fly to the headquarters on the island of Oahu.  First Eric turns up dead, and in attempting a quickly and poorly thought plan to get an admission from the killer, the seven are sucked into the microverse and left to die in the woods.

Meanwhile enter a local detective, Police Lieutenant Dan Watanabe (my favorite character in the book), who is part Officer Gunderson from Fargo and part Marshal Gerard from The Fugitive, but would have been nicely played on the big screen by Jack Soo (Barney Miller), Kam Fong (Hawaii 5-0), or Kwan Hi Lim (Magnum, PI).  He’s getting misinformation about a group of bizarre deaths, and they all have one company in common.  The story works back and forth among Watanabe (just not enough for my taste), the seven students, and the villain of the story and his minions.  The ride has its moments.

To my surprise, what also becomes most “real” in the novel is what made Jurassic Park real for me—the shock and horror.  To this day the most vivid scene for me from any Crichton novel is when a character is hiding in Jurassic Park in some inner hallway in the dark after all the dinosaurs have escaped their pens.  Something moves past him and he doesn’t feel much or know what happened, until he reaches down to feel his intestines are in his hands, quickly and seemlessly slashed by some plotting raptor. Several of these gut-churning scenes abound in Micro, all involving the fleshy, oogy, gory, grizzly, and grotesque that would likely occur when encountering bugs head-on when they out-size you.  If anything, the encounters as concepts are predictable—get out a sheet of paper and write out every worst-case encounter you would have as an insect—as prey—and you will see each of those scenarios revealed as happening to one of the characters somewhere before the final page.  Horrific to be sure, but it’s that kind of thrill that makes you soar to the end to find out what happens to everyone.

The result is a book worthy of Crichton’s catalog, and an interesting last entry for those that have gobbled up everything else he had to offer.  Available everywhere books are sold.

   

Review by C.J. Bunce

Spoilers!

Steve Austin is dead.  At least that is how the secret military organization called O.S.I. has classified him at the beginning of Issue #3 of Kevin Smith and Phil Hester’s Bionic Man series.  In actuality his right arm and both legs are gone, lost because of the crash of his test jet the Daedalus in Issues #1 and #2.

Austin feels like anyone immediately after a crash this bad, he screams at friend Oscar Goldman and his personal physician Doctor Wells, “Why didn’t you let me die?”

Despite working on the secret military project involving advanced bionics that resulted in the creation of a Frankensteinesque cyborg from a man named Hull, it doesn’t occur to Goldman that the government may have a spare $6 million per day to try to build another cybernetic human.  His director at O.S.I. tells him it’s a done deal, Goldman just need to get Austin on-board.  He’s classified as dead right now, but “we can rebuild him.”

Meanwhile Hull is rampaging across Korea, hell bent to destroy anything in his path, on his way to take out O.S.I. for creating him, or at least failing to re-create him right.  For now, despite the coaxing, Austin isn’t playing along.  But the ramifications are distilled into the one key reason to hold on for Steve, the thought of being with his fiancee Jaime Sommers again.

Smith and Hester continue to pepper the Bionic Man’s creation story with nostalgia and clever updates, such as the obvious problem with a 1975 bionic man that made sense at six million dollars, but with inflation today he’s costing the military $6 million per day.  Alex Ross’s cover work continues to be impressive for Issue #3 and Jonathan Lau’s depiction of the battle scarred, destroyed test pilot is realistic and gritty.

But the real payoff comes with Issue #4, the part of the story everyone has been waiting for, the climax of the TV pilot for the original series, and what would become one of the best classic introductions for a TV series of all time.

To begin with, Alex Ross’s cover is one of his best-ever covers, and Lau’s tryptich incentive cover is also top-notch.

And Issue #4 begins with one of the coolest ideas so far, a bionic German Shepherd–rebuilt from a heroic police dog nearly killed in the line of duty.  And he’s as normal as any dog, lifting his leg on Steve’s bed.  The dog is meant to help convince Austin to go through with the surgery to add bionic devices to his own, to create another cyborg.

The remainder of the issue is a scene by scene account of why we loved the Bionic Man in the 1970s and why we love him today.  What must have been a dream job for any artist is undertaken nicely by Jonathan Lau.  There’s not a lot for Smith and Hester by way of writing duties, however, in this issue as the classic story takes over.  Lau doesn’t miss the opportunity to keep Austin’s first test run in his trademark red track suit, instead of trying something new.

And Austin gets to learn the “why” of all this attention and investment of millions of dollars.  The tradeoff is he must come to work for O.S.I., to go after bad guys.  And with a virtually unnoticeable new body in place, Austin happily agrees.

What more could anyone want?

Review by C.J. Bunce (with spoilers)

Kevin Smith and Phil Hester’s second issue of the new Bionic Man comic offers some great exchanges between characters, particularly between Oscar Goldman and a lead of the O.S.I. branch responsible for the bionics division named Margaret.  Margaret must select a second candidate for the bionic program as the prototype has gone all “Frankenstein’s monster” and ripped up a few special strike force SEAL teams.  The bionic prototype, called Hull, has created its own goons and they are not just killing their creators, they are eating them.  It’s a strange turn of events for this story, yet it seems to be a good segue into the types of stories from the original Six Million Dollar Man TV series a lot of us loved 35 years ago.

And artist Jonathan Lau’s depiction of this Margaret character would be nicely portrayed on-screen by TV series Psych‘s chief Karen Vick, played by actress Kirsten Nelson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Everwood).

Time to cast Bionic Man for a new series or movie?

For some unreal circumstances the character exchanges are believable, and whereas the first issue seemed to spend too much time on more clichéd exchanges, the dialogue seems to have kicked in.  The O.S.I. team needs a new bionic man to take out the first creation that has failed so miserably and the board room exchange is full of politics and posturing.  We want to like this Oscar Goldman fellow, and the set-up allows us to want to support this guy’s efforts.

It is the background story that takes charge in Issue #2, primarily because our series lead has crashed his experimental aircraft at the end of Issue #1, with the fallout spilling into Issue #2.  Goldman only late in his discussions learns his friend Steve Austin is barely alive, and jaws of life can’t get him out of his smashed plane.  Goldman doesn’t ask anyone for permission, he gets his crew to start working straight away to use the resources available–the best resources anywhere–to save Steve.

In the first 48 pages we haven’t moved toward Austin’s reactions to the bionics, so it will be interesting to follow the pacing of the Bionic Man series.

Alex Ross continues to provide superb cover art, as does Lau with alternate covers.  From time to time you buy a book with a Ross cover and you’re disappointed with the interior art.  Not so with this issue and Lau’s good images.

Here is Lau’s alternate cover to Issue #2 featuring the mangled and menacing bionic villain Hull:

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s no secret that Green Arrow is my favorite DCU character.  As re-envisioned in the early 1970s by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, he became less of a Batman knockoff and more of a completely separate and identifiable voice.  Even early on with O’Neil and Adams, Green Arrow and Green Lantern were a mirror image of Batman and Superman.  Superman tending to be the holier than thou determiner of right and wrong, and Batman more subversive, critical of the powers that be, cutting through everything to solve real problems, in a practical way.  Green Arrow was influential, even in his first meeting with Hal in Green Lantern 76.  Over the years Green Lantern, watcher and guardian of Earth, became more like Green Arrow, critical of the status quo.  Green Lantern/Hal Jordan learned from Green Arrow/Oliver Queen as their relationship grew.  But lately, especially with the recent Green Lantern movie, it’s getting harder to tell Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen apart, with Hal becoming more critical and brooding.

The DC Comics New 52 Green Arrow #1 came out two weeks ago.  I read issue #1 quickly.  Then I put it aside because I hate when reviewers, instead of reviewing what is in front of them, review what they wish was in front of them.  Hence the delay.  So I re-read it.  And I still find it baffling.

I also read the one-shot issue Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries, which seemed to be a lead in to the new Green ArrowGreen Arrow Industries has Oliver Queen as the head of some military industrial complex.  He is Tony Stark from Marvel Comics’s Iron Man, and nothing else.  Other than in the first Iron Man movie, I have never cared for Tony Stark.  He is arrogant.  He lives a life of privilege.  Oliver Queen is not that guy–his back story is that he was a millionaire that lost all of his money.  He is not the owner of Halliburton or of Stark Industries or of Wayne Tech.

Queen learned what is important is watching out for the little guy.  The Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries one-shot may be the most unexplainable, out of left field one-shots I have read.  Right up there with the bizarre Green Arrow: One Million book from a few years back, but at least that book had some context.  As expected, the New 52 continues with Green Arrow as this new leader of what is called Queen Industries.

The new Green Arrow is gadget happy.  Oliver Queen has never needed to rely on gadgets to be a superhero.  Like Batman, Green Arrow has no super powers.  He uses his brain.  He solves mysteries.  Gadgets?  That’s for Bruce Wayne.  We like Bruce Wayne and his toys.  Again, that’s not Oliver Queen, except for one thing:  trick arrows.  That said, the best Green Arrow stories leave out the trick arrows.  They are an amusing gimmick that even Oliver Queen jokes about when using them.  Oliver Queen doesn’t need a trick arrow with bluetooth technology that can be shot onto a boat and allow someone far away to control the boat via satellite.  A nice idea for someone else?  Maybe.  Put that story in the next Batman arc.  And Green Arrow also doesn’t need a Geordi LaForge-like visor.  Green Arrow just wears a mask for disguise.  He doesn’t need X-ray vision.

Neither is Oliver Queen James Bond.  We love James Bond.  But the two guys just are not much alike.  Part of the problem may be that even JT Krul has acknowledged Queen’s new “globe-trotting, James Bond, high adventures.”  Writers and artists who are not familiar with Green Arrow’s decades of character study and growth might think they are the same.  And I think the guys rebooting Green Arrow wish they were writing Tony Stark for Marvel Comics.

Recent issues of Green Arrow have shown Green Arrow as a hunter.  That makes more sense.  Oliver Queen was inspired by Robin Hood, specifically the classic film The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn.  Oliver Queen can survive in a forest, like Robin Hood in Sherwood.  And all he needs are arrows and a bow.  Nothing else.  No iPads or iPhones (called not-so-creatively qPads and qPhones in this issue).  No Oracle-type helper constantly feeding him the latest tech data.  Queen also knows how to adapt his carefully honed skills to the life of the urban cliff dweller.

Recent storylines had Green Arrow losing control because the baddies hurt his friend Roy Harper, formerly his sidekick Speedy, and killed one of Harper’s kids.  Oliver Queen murders the evil Prometheus in revenge, and the Justice League gets on his case for not properly bringing Prometheus to justice.  Like Batman over the years, Green Arrow issued some vigilante justice.  That storyline was interesting and going someplace.  The new Green Arrow is preachy and sounds like the old Silver Age Hal Jordan or Superman.

The new Green Arrow has no similarities to the O’Neil/Adams creation.  It has no similarity to 100 issues of the Green Arrow as further refined by Mike Grell.  It has no familiarity to the faithful ongoing adventures re-envisioned by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Brad Meltzer, Judd Winick, or even the artist Jock.  Fans of Green Arrow as interpreted by Cliff Chiang and Mauro Cascioli will not recognize the new Green Arrow.

So what is the audience for the new Green Arrow?  I think I figured it out: (1) Readers who do not like Oliver Queen, or (2) readers who really liked his son Connor Hawke as Green Arrow.  Or readers who like a stubbly looking hero like Wolverine.

After Queen supposedly died (in the last 30+ issues of the first ongoing Green Arrow series that started with the Green Arrow: Longbow Hunters mini-series), Hawke took over as Green Arrow, sometimes referred to as Green Arrow II.  Hawke was purportedly written for a newer audience.  I would understand the new Green Arrow series if only they referred to the new Green Arrow as Connor Hawke.  The similarities are all there:  Hawke has no Van Dyke beard or goatee like Queen had.  Hawke had this more vinyl/leather looking suit, like the Green Arrow on Smallville wore, and like the new Green Arrow is wearing.  Hawke had this ongoing grudge against one thing or the other.  If this is where DC’s editors want to go, why not take Hawke along for the ride and give fans of Green Arrow our goateed hunter and partner to Dinah Lance and pal to Hal Jordan back?

Here is the new Green Arrow:

…and here is the more similarly drawn Connor Hawke:

If you take on a beloved character that has a 70+ year back story, you should be passionate about that character.  DC Comics announced this month that JT Krul is no longer writing Green Arrow with issue #4.  Good choice, JT.  JT Krul has written solid Green Arrow stories before.  His non-Green Arrow stories are also awesome, including his work on the new Captain Atom.  So what happened?  Was Green Arrow just an unfortunate casuality of mismatched post-its on the wall of the DC editors when re-assigning characters in the new DCU?  Does anyone love this new Green Arrow?  Will replacement writer Keith Giffen be given any latitude to fix the direction of the new Ollie?  We can only hope.  My guess is Krul was just hamstrung by new decisions of the editorial team.  So far I have enjoyed the rest of the New 52 for the most part.  “You can’t please everyone on everything” probably applies here.

Even if this series was not about Green Arrow–about some other new character with this plot–I think storylines that have used the reality TV storyline, as Green Arrow #1 does, televising anything and everything, are just tired.  The Running Man did it and The Hunger Games did it again.  Enough already.

And not to throw too many darts at the new Green Arrow series, but what’s with these new villain names: Dynamix?  Doppelganger?  Supercharge?  About the only thing right about the new Oliver Queen is he is back in Seattle where he belongs.

Had DC changed Batman or Superman as they did Green Arrow, they would have lost a ton of readers.  You can’t remove Batman’s cowl and his detective work or Superman’s cape and kryptonite and still call them Batman and Superman.  Same goes for Green Arrow’s goatee and the essential elements of his character.   You strip away the basics and it’s no longer the same guy.

Review by C.J. Bunce

The highly anticipated adaptation of the Six Million Dollar Man TV series in comic book from Dynamite Comics was released this Wednesday and was not surprisingly sold out in its first print run.  Titled The Bionic Man, the adaptation was written by Kevin Smith (Green Arrow, Jay and Silent Bob) with Phil Hester (Green Arrow, Green Hornet, Ant Man), based upon a screenplay Smith had written for a never-produced 1990s motion picture version of The Six Million Dollar Man.  Over all, I’d say issue one is a good launch.

Starting with the numerous covers, which you cannot tell a book by, they all look great, and the ten variant covers based on four original works are all pictured inside the back page.  Alex Ross provided the main cover, with Paul Renaud, Stephen Segovia and series artist Jonathan Lau providing the rarer incentive covers.  I posted the covers in a prior article.

The interior art, with pencils by Jonathan Lau and coloring by Ivan Nunes, also looks great.  This is an appealing looking book.  Steve Austin looks pretty close to Scott Bakula as he looks today, as opposed to original series actor Lee Majors, making me think he’d be fun to watch as this updated character.  Oscar Goldman, on the other hand, looks younger than Richard Anderson from the TV series, but has similar facial features to the actor and a more rumpled look about him.  Recall Goldman’s incredible arsenal of suits and the inexplicable checkered suit on the action figure.  Yet check out how similar they look…

   

Clearly this is not about adapting the original but updating it a bit.  The story starts out with an apparent cyborg character gone astray, something like Rambo with a sword, yet some slasher flick stylings…

If there is anything I didn’t care for with the art in issue one, it was this over the top scene, which reminded me of the disturbing opener of Ghost Ship (not a recommended flick).  All other visuals are interesting, with good continuity, and the scene of Austin’s test pilot trip of the experimental Daedalus Mach 8-capable aircraft is definitely nostalgic.

As to the story, there are minor changes to update the character, an already existing relationship with future Bionic Woman Jamie Summers, for example, but otherwise the book’s main story is tracking with the TV series pilot.  Which begs the question, why does Kevin Smith’s name need to be so big on the cover?  And if this is based on a screenplay by Smith, how much of the resulting story reflects Smith and how much reflects co-writer Phil Hester?  At least for this first issue, I think the answer might reflect Smith a bit, based on his modern aka umm, too personal (?) look at Austin discussing a negative bathroom experience with girlfriend Jamie, and an almost pop culture adherence to the original story.  Something about Smith bringing Stanley and his Monster into the first ten issues of his Green Arrow story reminded me of the second storyline of this book. Regarding the killer cyborg subplot–little is divulged, yet is he reminiscent of the Six Million Dollar Man android Maskatron?    Austin is billed as the bravest man alive, yet unlike the TV version, this guy has a nervous stomach before his flight.  Necessary?  I don’t know, but worth pointing out and maybe Smith’s/Hester’s intention of showing thaeir Austin is footed in “modern reality.”

An oddity is the similarity of the character building for Steve Austin as compared to the treatment of the motion picture Hal Jordan in this summer’s Green Lantern movie.  No doubt this is just a coincidence, but the almost slacker test pilot running late to his important test flight is now firmly, if it wasn’t before, cliche.  Since neither original work had it, you get the impression that the slacker generation is creeping into the iconography and mythology of American pop culture a bit.  Maybe this is just an attempt at a hot shot pilot a la Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  No doubt Chuck Yeager and his Right Stuff brethren had a bit of this cockiness to be able to do what they did.

Looking forward to the character development and addition of the cybernetic enhancements that define the Bionic Man in issue #2, out next month.

I couldn’t be more psyched about this news.  Dynamite Entertainment, the comic book publisher who primarily focuses on adaptations of established properties like Army of Darkness, Robocop, Terminator, Xena, Highlander, Battlestar Galactica and most recently The Green Hornet, announced that it will be launching a new Six Million Dollar Man comic book series starting in August, titled The Bionic Man.  And they aren’t pulling any punches with the creative team.  Kevin Smith and Phil Hester, who together created the second Green Arrow series with the “Quiver” storyline (then with Smith writing and Hester pencils), this time around will be sharing writing duties.  Dynamite regular Jonathan Lau will be drawing the series.  The comic book series will follow Steve Austin again as the test pilot/astronaut whose body is nearly destroyed in a crash and because “we can rebuild him, we have the technology” became the first mainstream cyborg back in the 1970s.  Oh, yeah, and comic cover artists extraordinaire Alex Ross painted the cover to Issue #1 (above).

If you watched the original series, this page from issue #1 will be very familar:

Like other Dynamite titles, Issue #1 will have multiple covers, by Paul Renaud, Stephen Segovia, and interior artist Jonathan Lau.

The creators’ takes on the new series from the Dynamite press release:

“True story: when I turned in a script for The Six Million Dollar Man back in ’98, there was an exec who dismissed it as being more like a comic book than a movie,” said acclaimed film director and writer Kevin Smith.  “It’s an honor to head back into the trenches with the same creative team at Dynamite that made my Green Hornet script so readable and fun.”

“I’m one of those kids who grew up with The Six Million Dollar Man toys all over my house,” said cover artist Alex Ross.  “I still prize them as one of the favorite parts of my youth for the amazing variety of things that Steve Austin could use or fight against.  The Six Million Dollar Man is one of the coolest original superhero properties invented for television.”

“When I heard about The Bionic Man, my initial thought was how to make him stand out from the rest of the cyborg genre, and that’s where my style comes into play,” said artist Jonathan Lau.  “Hopefully this will be a fun ride showcasing a more extreme play of action than I used to do!”

“I’m thrilled to help bring Kevin’s unique vision for Steve Austin and company,” said Phil Hester.  “Fans of the original will find all the classic elements they long for, while those hungry for new elements will get a healthy dose of bionic action for the 21st century.”

“I grew up LOVING The Bionic Man,” said Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci.  “As a child I wanted to be him, but since that hasn’t happened, the next best thing is publishing The Bionic Man. Dynamite will also be bringing The Bionic Woman to stores in 2012!  Wait until you see what we have planned!”

“As a child I wanted to be him…”  Hey, Nick Barrucci, me, too!  Kinda what got me putting this whole borg.com thing together as I said in this earlier post.

Although Kevin Smith’s run on Green Arrow wasn’t my favorite, you can see him bringing back a creature like Bigfoot for Bionic Man like he did Stanley and his Monster in Green Arrow.  As for Phil Hester, I’m a big fan because he works all his artistic magic not from LA or NYC but from my home state of Iowa and because he drew some great pages in his run on Green Arrow and because he attends cons like no one else.  And who doesn’t think Alex Ross is one of the top 5 cover artists of our time, if not #1?  I particularly love it when he veers from standard superheroes and hits the tangent characters like Space Ghost and Battle of the Planets and one-off pieces like Sesame Street’s Super Grover.  Jonathan Lau is an up and coming artist with some great pencils–just check out his website for more images.  Here’s Lau’s alternate cover to Issue #1:

And while I’m at it, here’s Stephen Segovia’s alternate cover to Issue #1:

I love Segovia’s because it reminds me of the Star Wars cover of the first cyborg published as a “borg”, borg bounty hunter Valance, seen here:

And here is Paul Renaud’s cover:

Alex Ross’s cover (at the top of this article) mirrors Steve Austin right off the action figure box from the 1970s so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Looks like we’re going to have a busy Fall with some great new series!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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