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Tag Archive: Mike Grell


Shado–one of the best supporting DC Comics characters in the 75-year history of Green Arrow–is again front-and-center in this week’s re-release of the classic 1990s storyline, in trade paperback for the first time.  Green Arrow: The Hunt for the Red Dragon, reprints Green Arrow Issues #63-72, featuring long-time story writer Mike Grell with artwork by Rick Hoberg and inks by John Nyberg.

When a man appears with a gift for Oliver Queen, he leaves Dinah back in Seattle and takes off for Japan in search of a woman with a red dragon tattoo, his ex-lover and foe, Shado.  The gift?  The very same film prop bow used by Errol Flynn in the 1938 film classic, The Adventures of Robin Hood, a film with special meaning for Queen.  But what is behind the gift, and why this mission to give Shado a large sum of money?  After Queen finds Shado they both discover a darker plot, and a villain ripped from the pages of the national crime news in the early 1990s.

   

Shado was created by Mike Grell and first appeared in Grell’s landmark series Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.  A modified version of the character appeared in CW’s Arrow.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

More than 100 comic book artists came together over the past year to create what is one of the best joint art projects featuring superheroes that has come out of the industry.  And it’s all about the biggest superheroine of all.  Some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring Wonder Woman, penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a 75th Anniversary DC Comics Wonder Woman blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to, and in effect pays forward comic book creators that came before them.

It’s called the Wonder Woman 100 Project.  All proceeds of the auction of the original artwork will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps out the comic book industry by contributing funds to individuals and their families in the event of medical and financial crises.  Most of the comic creators the fund helps were piecemeal workers in their careers over the past decades or those without any kind of retirement program.

    

And for those who can’t afford the original artwork, the Hero Initiative is creating a hardcover and softcover edition compiling all the covers that will be for sale in June 2017, with proceeds of those books also going to the Hero Initiative.

You’ll see some of the very best Wonder Woman images you’ll ever find.  Many are from well-known artists, but some of the finest works are showcased by more recent artists entering the industry.

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Felix Leiter. 

He’s James Bond’s American CIA counterpart, played onscreen by more actors than have played James Bond himself: Hawaii Five-O’s Jack Lord (Dr. No, 1962), Cec Linder (Goldfinger, 1964), Rik Van Nutter (Thunderball, 1965), Norman Burton (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971), David Hedison (Live and Let Die, 1973, and Licence to Kill, 1989), Bernie Casey (The Living Daylights, 1987), John Terry (Never Say Never Again, 1983), and most recently Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, 2006, and Quantum of Solace, 2008).  Leiter was a key player in six Ian Fleming novels–Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and The Man with the Golden Gun–where he drove a Studillac, which was a Studebaker with a Cadillac engine.

Leiter gets his first solo adventure ever this month in his own series, Felix Leiter, from Dynamite Comics.  James Robinson (Starman, Scarlet Witch) is writing the series with artwork by Aaron Campbell (The Shadow, Uncanny).  Issue #1 features a cover by Mike Perkins and Andy Taylor and an alternate cover by Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd.  Leiter’s first appearance in comic books was in Mike Grell’s Permission to Die, reviewed here at borg.com.

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The new series finds Leiter in Japan, where he is pursuing Alena Davoff, a woman he has a close past with.  She happens to be a Russian agent.  He’s a detective since the loss of his hand and leg, but the CIA pulls him back into the mix with a Connery-esque Bond as Leiter pursues Davoff.

Check out a preview for Issue #1 of Felix Leiter, courtesy of Dynamite, after the cut.

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Ten years after Return of the Jedi, Topps trading cards editor and writer Gary Gerani was tasked once again to meet fan demand for more Star Wars trading cards.  Many years before he would create photo cards for a new trilogy of prequels, he would team up with Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet to showcase Star Wars as interpreted by some of the best artists that contributed to the films or would re-imagine the “Star Wars Galaxy” in their own styles.

The three resulting trading card series have been released in the 2016 addition to Abrams ComicArts successful hardbound series featured here previously at borg.comStar Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series includes the works of more than 170 artists in more than 200 card reproductions, plus commentary by Gerani and an afterword by notable poster artist Drew Struzan.  Unlike the prior volumes in the series, only the obverse image from the cards, which featured the artwork, is included.

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You’ll find an incredible array of imagery by a surprising combination of artists, including rare images you will have seen only if you collected the original cards.  So you’ll find the work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Ralph McQuarrie, Moebius, Drew Struzan, Dave Dorman, Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, John Eaves, Mike Zeck, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Dave Stevens, Walter Simonson, Gene Colan, Rich Buckler, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark Schultz, P. Craig Russell, Dave Gibbons, Sergio Aragones, Boris Vallejo, Charles Vess, and Gil Kane.

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The volume includes the entire run of portraits created for Star Wars Galaxy specifically for the Topps cards by Joseph Smith–the original art was later bought by George Lucas for his personal collection.

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With DC Comics’ summer Rebirth reboot, many monthly series turned bi-weekly, and we’ve now already seen the first eleven issues published of many series.  Like the many reboots before it, DC Comics introduced the Rebirth continuity to re-ignite its fan base after the success of the prior reboot–the New 52–dissipated.  So many shake-ups and change-ups occurred in the New 52 that you’d pretty much need to read the entire DC Comics line to keep up with what has happened to even the key Justice League superheroes.  With two issues per month that’s difficult for any reader to keep up with.

One of the better sellers in this year’s Rebirth line is the Green Arrow title.  Under the New 52 Oliver Queen encountered as many changes to his character as anyone.  In fact fans of Green Arrow were probably better served subscribing to the Arrow tie-in comic book to the television series to get a dose of the classic crusader.  As likely as not the success of the CW Network series coupled perhaps with fans’ hopes for big changes from the New 52, and a restoration of the essential Oliver Queen, could account for the sales success of Green Arrow in DC’s Rebirth universe.

Otto Schmidt served as artist and colorist on the series in the introductory chapters.  Bringing Oliver’s older look back to the character, complete with the goatee, was a move in the right direction.  Schmidt used the supersuit of the modern update yet his style conjures up both Neal Adams and Mike Grell’s key design elements that defined Green Arrow’s look for decades.  Writer Benjamin Percy, who was the writer on the series before the Rebirth kicked in, re-introduced the second key element that defines Oliver: his partnership with Black Canary.  The lack of the Arrow-Canary partnership contributed to the wane of Oliver’s story in the New 52–as a solo character Queen was just too much like everyone else.  Percy’s other shift is reminding everyone that Queen is first and foremost a fighter for social justice.  In contrast to the billion dollar company he sometimes owns and sometimes loses, Queen is the ultimate anti-corporate superhero.  So these three elements: his look, his partnership with Black Canary, and his brand of justice, form the framework for what could be a solid Green Arrow series going forward.

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Plenty is left to be done.  Queen’s social justice efforts have only scratched the surface with eleven issues already in the can.  Instead, Percy has opted for some frivolous, but fun, nostalgia: several scenes are spent restarting a romance between Oliver and Dinah, and he’s brought back classic secondary characters like Shado and Eddie Fyers, both from Mike Grell’s definitive Green Arrow series The Longbow Hunters.  With the story now firmly set in Seattle, also as Grell had done with the setting–and not Star City–we can see some good attempts are being made to rediscover what made the 1980s and 1990s Green Arrow worth reading about.

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The best artwork in a graphic novel you will find this year is at your comic book store this week.  Seven-time Eisner Award winner Jill Thompson has created the definitive Wonder Woman origin story with Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, written and painted in the spectacularly vibrant manner only America’s most acclaimed writer-artist could create.

You may be familiar with Diana, Amazon Princess, and her ancient origin story, but this new version is a keeper–a storybook you’d read to your kids with lush colors and mythology steeped in classic folklore.  The action and storytelling are similar in execution to the best work of Alan Moore and his bold layouts, as well as the action and story development in Frank Miller’s 300–an easy comparison because of the setting and theme–yet Thompson’s story and art is far richer.  Thompson’s watercolor-painted comic pages and layout work is up there with the 1980s-1990s work of Mike Grell, and Wonder Woman: The True Amazon may very well be not only looked back on as the benchmark for all Wonder Woman: Year One attempts to come, it’s very possibly the best looking graphic novel from DC Comics since Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.

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Best of all, Thompson’s story is surprising.  For much of the tale Diana is anything but heroic.  An early subtitle was The Very Selfish Princess–should that give you a hint.  Thompson looked deep into the mythos of Wonder Woman–celebrating her 75th year this year–and asked “what did Diana go through to become this iconic figure?”

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This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returns to the Bartle Hall.  The show again has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.  Kansas City Comic Con features one of the largest assemblages of nationally known as well as local writers and artists, with more than 300 creators featured.

Headlining this year’s show as part of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is Nichelle Nichols, well known for her groundbreaking role as Uhura in three seasons of Star Trek and six major motion pictures.  Star Wars fans can meet Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Brian Herring, the puppeteer behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lovable new droid BB-8.  Motion picture and TV star Ksenia Solo, star of Lost Girl, Orphan Black, and Black Swan, will be in attendance Saturday and Sunday.  And fans of classic TV can meet the original Bo and Luke of Dukes of Hazzard, John Schneider and Tom Wopat.

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Nationally known comic book creators featured at KCCC include legendary writer/artist Mike Grell and artist Michael Golden, as well as current Star Wars writer and Eisner winner Jason Aaron and Star Trek writers Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, Star Wars artists Joe Corroney and Bryan Fyffe, and DC Comics artist Ant Lucia.  Plus fan favorite writers and artists including CW Cooke, Sean Von Gorman, Ande Parks, Nicholas Forrestal, Damont Jordan, Arie Monroe, Thaddeus Nowak, Bryan Timmins, and Darryl Woods.  But that’s only scratching the surface–check out the full list of national and local creators here.

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Costume contests, a cosplay wedding, a Friday night concert, gaming room, live art, panels, photo ops, autographs, collectables, toys, comics, a scavenger hunt, video games, and an offsite movie screening for Star Trek fans.  It will be a full weekend for anyone who is a fan of comics, movies, TV, superheroes, sci-fi, and fantasy.

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James Bond’s story did not end with the last Ian Fleming novel.  His exploits have been recounted in a classic comic strip series (including a recent collected edition we reviewed here at borg.com), the movies have often strayed beyond the original Fleming novels and short stories, and licensed novels continue to be published each year.  We even had one limited comic book series, Mike Grell’s Permission to Die.  Dynamite Comics has its own monthly series, and the first six issues are being reprinted in a hardcover edition hitting your local comic book store tomorrow.  We have a preview of the new collected edition below for borg.com readers, plus a preview of the next story arc, EIDOLON.

In the first storyline of the monthly series, titled VARGR, Bond returns to London after finishing a mission in Helsinki.  Taking over the work of fallen agent 008, he embarks on a new mission in Berlin where he encounters a web of secrets. The series is written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, The Authority) with artist Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated, Guardians of the Galaxy).  The new hardcover edition includes bonus materials, including covers and concept art.

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Masters artwork along with colors by Guy Major combine to create an authentic early 1960s vibe for the setting.  The story will appeal to fans of both the Fleming novels and fans of the current, grittier Bond of the Daniel Craig movies.  It also manages to keep some of the wink-wink humor of Roger Moore’s Bond.  And better yet, we have new borg in the characters Dharma Reach and Slaven Kurjak.

So check out this preview of James Bond: VARGR:

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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

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Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

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There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Wizard World Des Moines 2015 from above

It must be one of the best-attended Comic Cons for a first-time event:  More than 25,000 fans of print and film superheroes and celebrities attended this weekend’s Wizard World Des Moines comic book and pop culture convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.  And the show’s management believes the attendance assures Wizard World will return to Des Moines next summer, establishing the next major annual Midwest comic book fan convention.

Fans from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo op room, many in cosplay garb.  The highlights include a premiere slate of comic book creators in Artists Alley and celebrity appearances that gave everyone something to be excited about.

Michael Golden Wizard World Des Moines 2015

Star Trek fans barely had to wait in line to meet sci-fi icon William Shatner, who also spoke to a crowded house of fans Saturday afternoon.  If you like superheroes, you could meet the two most popular Green Arrow creators of all time: artist Neal Adams and writer/artist Mike Grell, Superman actors Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark) (Routh also appears as The Atom on CW’s The Flash), DC Bombshells creator Ant Lucia, Rogue creator and long-time Marvel artist Michael Golden (above), and Mike Zeck, artist for Marvel Comics classics like the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series:

Mike Zeck Wizard World Des Moines 2015

The Walking Dead fans met series star Michael Cudlitz, and received an exclusive variant Issue #1 from the comic book series, drawn by Iowa artist Phil Hester.  And horror fans got to cross off their list one of the modern Big 3 of horror icons, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund.  Fans of the cult film Boondock Saints met up with star Sean Patrick Flannery.

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