Tag Archive: Mikel Janin


Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was the 2019 adaptation of a comic book series that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But none compared to Swamp Thing.  For our money, if you’re looking for fun, creepy timed for Halloween and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and a series that earned its way to be one of the top 10 comic book adaptations of all, give Swamp Thing a try.  Moving from DC Universe to the CW network where anyone can watch it, the first episode of Swamp Thing begins again tonight at 7 p.m. Central.

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Swamp Thing ad

When people with creativity and skill have their grasp on the reins of DC Comics properties, great things can happen.  Unfortunately it’s a rarity.  Although its Arrowverse on the CW Network were good efforts, DC at the movies hasn’t shown much promise until last year’s Shazam!, although Aquaman was another good effort.  But the big win of live-action DC Comics adaptations was last year’s Swamp Thing (above) featuring the titular creature and other Justice League Dark characters Xanadu and the Phantom Stranger.  The series was our own selection here at borg for top superhero series last year.  Shazam! and Swamp Thing prove that with good writing, production, and acting talent both movie and television adaptations truly worthy of the comic book source material are possible.

New streaming provider HBO Max announced this week its own team-up.  It will join J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions to produce a new live-action Justice League Dark series with Warner Brothers Television (in addition, a project related to Stephen King’s The Shining called Overlook was also announced).

Justice League Dark is, as the title suggests, a band of superpowered characters from the shadows of the DCU.  Spanish artist Mikel Janin was tasked with re-imagining the look of these more offbeat and occult characters from their earlier individual series and appearances for the New 52 launch in 2011, and for us Justice League Dark is synonymous with Janin’s designs, shown above and below (we interviewed Mikel about the new look here at borg back in March 2012).  The JLD then included Zatanna, Constantine, Deadman, Shade, Madame Xanadu, Swamp Thing, the Phantom Stranger, Frankenstein, and the Enchantress, and more as they would emerge throughout the series’ short 40-issue run.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing is the adaptation of a comic book series from 2019 that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But if you’re looking for fun, and nicely creepy but not too dark, and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and you were willing to give DC universe a try, then you’d be lucky enough to have discovered Swamp Thing If you missed it, you can still catch up with the full season now with a DC Universe subscription or via Amazon Prime here, and it’s coming your way (and available for pre-order) on Blu-ray, digital, and DVD next month.

Swamp Thing strikes the right balance, taking a second-tier property and recreating the level of creepy found in 1960s-1980s comics–a show that actually looks and feels like what the original visionary artists Bernie Wrightson and writer Len Wein put on the page.  Finally a great Justice League Dark show, something like we loved in print from Mikel Janin and Peter Milligan that so far also has provided the best character cameos of CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event.  Complete with Madame Xanadu, Blue Devil, and Phantom Stranger, we meet two very Marvel Comics types inside the DC realm.  More importantly it’s great fun, like a John Carpenter movie with its visual effects, a top cast of household name actors and great guest stars, and faithful storytelling to the comics, headed up by Crystal Reed as a smart CDC doctor named Abby.  If you’re of the camp (like us) that agrees Bill Bixby on The Incredible Hulk is still the best comics on TV has ever been, then you’ll love seeing the similar origin tale and subsequent episodes between Abby and Andy Bean′s Alec Holland, a researcher and investigator whose lives are turned upside down when a swamp is contaminated by a local mill, which causes devastating changes to Holland.  The chemistry and tragic tale played by Bixby and Mariette Hartley in the 1970s Hulk series is echoed by the chemistry of Reed and Bean as the leads in Swamp Thing.

Holland transforms into a beast who walks and speaks like a man, but the plants of the swamp have merged with him.  Is there still a man in there that can be removed and repaired, or is he forever transformed into something entirely new?

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We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

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The wedding of Batman and Catwoman is shaping up in the issues of DC Comics’s Batman bi-weekly series, with the date set at Issue #50, greeting comic book readers next month.  Writer Tom King continues his ongoing Bat-tale with an abundance of interior and variant cover artists, including Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Jim Lee, Frank Cho, Alex Ross, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Joshua Middleton, Dawn McTeague, Frank Miller, Jock, Andy Kubert, Ant Lucia, Eric Basaldua, Natali Sanders, Greg Capullo, Joe Jusko, Olivier Coipel, Scott Williams, Warren Louw, Tyler Kirkham, Rafael Albuquerque, Tony S. Daniel, J. Scott Campbell, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, David Mack, Lee Weeks, Mark Brooks, Dave Johnson, Clay Mann, Greg Horn, Francesco Mattina, David Finch, Paul Pope, Joe Madeurera, Mitch Gerads, Alé Garza, Becky Cloonan, Jae Lee, Francesco Mattina, Ty Templeton, Joseph Michael Linsner, Nick Derington, Jason Fabok, Arthur Adams, Jim Balent, Lucio Parillo, Amanda Conner, and Michael Turner.  The standard cover will feature the work of Mikel Janin.  So how is this going to go down?  Anyone else remember the wedding storyline for Green Arrow and Black Canary?  It seems plenty of villains will be around if the variant covers are any indication.

We think we found nearly all the base images for the variant covers (below).  Let us know if you see one when missed and we’ll update the images below.  We did not include every logo or no-logo version, or black and white or similar variants.

A quick heads-up for Frank Cho fans.  He is selling the above interlocking triptych variant cover series, and if you want these beauties, you’ll want to order them soon.  The image features the main characters of the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  (Cho’s covers will be available at a discount off his release price with a code you can get by signing up for his newsletter here), and Joe Madureira has a similar offer for his covers here.  Even more artists are posting pre-order options for their own variants almost daily.

   

Did we mention variant covers?  If you haven’t been following Batman, the cover art of Batman and Catwoman over the past few months has been something fans of the characters dream of.  With black and white and other versions available, expect at least 30 variant covers for Issue #50.  Many of these options from contributing artists, like Frank Cho, will be found at exclusive sellers, including Kirkham (Hastings), Fabok (Yesteryear), Mattina (7-Ate-9), Jimenez (ZMX), Jae Lee (DF), Sanders (Comic Market Street), Jusko (Midtown), McTeigue (Yancy Street), and Adams (Legacy), and creator exclusive variants only at San Diego Comic-Con or webstores include Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell.  With the release of Batman Issue #50 on July 4 comes Catwoman, Issue #1.  In a rarity for comics, take a look (above, right) at what Catwoman is holding in this cover by Joëlle Jones… Janin’s cover to Batman 50.

Alex Ross Batman 50

And even more have been announced, like three Alex Ross exclusives, available for pre-order for San Diego Comic-Con at his website here.  Greg Horn has three covers available only at his website here.  Mark Brooks has eight variants available here.  J. Scott Campbell has five variants available here.  Jock has three covers here.  Aspen has pulled some art from the late Michael Turner for variants, too.  See even more below.

Here are many of the 50+ cover images and some variations on those variants for Issue #50 previewed so far:

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JLD animated movie

Warner Bros. confirmed that Justice League Dark would be its next animated movie project this weekend at its panel at San Diego Comic-Con.  Now a behind-the-scenes feature included on the home release of Batman: The Killing Joke is online, and not only confirms Justice League Dark is the next animated movie coming from the DC Expanded Universe, but that it’s pretty far along in production.  Fans of NBC’s short-lived, Constantine television series will be happy to hear series lead Matt Ryan will voice the character in the animated movie.

Unfortunately DC did not choose to base the designs or stories on Mikel Janin’s gorgeous run on the Justice League Dark New 52 comic book series, except for the updated look for Zatanna.  Batman will be a key feature of the movie, along with JLD members John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, and Deadman.  The movie will also feature Etrigan and Black Orchid.

In addition to Matt Ryan reprising his role as Constantine (from his series and on CW’s Arrow), Nicholas Turturro (Burn Notice, White Collar) will voice Deadman, Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) will voice Zatanna, prolific voice actor Ray Chase plays Etrigan, and Jason O’Mara (Complications, Life on Mars, The Closer, Terra Nova, Band of Brothers, Monarch of the Glen) is Batman.

Justice league Dark

Wonder Woman, Superman, and Green Lantern will have cameo appearances in the movie.

Check out this behind the scenes look at Justice League Dark:

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Justice League Dark cover art issue 6 Mikel Janin

The last vestiges of The New 52 seem to be fleeting in light of DC Comics’ Rebirth superhero universe reset.  Back in 2011 we at borg.com were reading and reviewing every monthly from the New 52 we could get our hands on.  One of the most compelling and creative of those series was Justice League Dark, a further spin-off from the likes of Justice League of America, Justice League Europe, Justice League International, Justice League and JLA.

Justice League Dark was, as the title suggests, a darker band of superpowered characters from the DCU.  Spanish artist Mikel Janin was tasked with re-imagining the look of these characters, and he pulled it off brilliantly.  We interviewed Mikel about the new look here at borg.com back in March 2012.  The JLD included Zatanna, Constantine, Deadman, Shade, Madame Xanadu, Swamp Thing, and the Enchantress, and more as they would emerge throughout the series’ short 40 issue run.

Justice League Dark interior art

Guillermo del Toro had been involved for a few years with a live action version of the JLD that never seemed to spring away from the development stage.  Now because of a feature listing on the Blu-ray from Batman: The Killing Joke, an animated version is likely further along than had been previously disclosed by DC.

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Meeting Lee Majors

Hey, looks like we made it!

Five years ago today, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt, Jason McClain, and I had already spent a few months talking through the technical details for the launch of borg.com.  What should it look like?  What should we write about?  How do we get to there from here?  Then it all came together on June 10, 2011, and I sat down and just started writing.  Should this be a weekly thing?  Once I started I just couldn’t stop and we cemented borg.com as a daily webzine.  And readers started showing up every day.  Soon we had hundreds of followers, and hundreds of thousands of visits per year.

The best part?  Working with friends and meeting new ones each year.

We’ve had plenty of high points.  Cosplay took off in a big way in the past five years.   Elizabeth and I hit the ground running at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011 with our Alien Nation/Chuck mash-up and you can find us all over the Web in photos taken by others at the show.  Our years were dotted with the random brush with coolness.  A retweet by actress Alana de la Garza, coverage of Joss Whedon visiting the Hall H line at 3 a.m. outside SDCC in 2012, Zachary Levi calling out Elizabeth for her cosplay at Nerd HQ, interviewing the stars of History Channel’s Vikings series, our praise for the Miss Fury series appearing on the back of every Dynamite Comics issue one month, tweets from Hollywood make-up artist family the Westmores commenting on our discussion of Syfy’s Face Off series, our Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (negative!) review featured on the movie’s website, that crazy promotion for the Coma remake mini-series, planning the first Planet Comicon at Bartle Hall and the Star Trek cast reunion, attending the first Kansas City Comic Con and the first Wizard World Des Moines Con, hanging with comic book legend Howard Chaykin, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels, cast members from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Star Trek, bionic duo Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner.  And borg.com gained some well-known followers (you know who you are) along the way.

sdcc-whedon-c shot

We’re grateful for some great Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other feedback over the years from Felipe Melo, Mickey Lam, Michael Prestage, The Mithril Guardian, Francesco Francavilla, Adam Hughes, Judy Bunce, Mike Norton, Jack Herbert, Mike Mayhew, Rain Beredo, David Petersen, Rob Williams, and Matt Miner, and for creators we interviewed including Mikel Janin, Penny Juday, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, James P. Blaylock, Freddie Williams II, Jai Nitz, and Sharon Shinn.

Bunce Alien Nation cosplay x

What did readers like the most?

We amassed an extensive archive of hundreds of book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of TV shows, and convention coverage, thanks in part to the good folks at Titan Books, Abrams Books, Lucasfilm Press, Weta New Zealand, Entertainment Earth, Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, and several TV and movie studios and distributors.

McClain and EC Bunce

My own favorites?  Sitting down to come up with my own five all-time favorite characters with the borg.com writing staff.

Schmidt and Bunce at PC 2015

Thanks to my family, my friends, especially my partner in crime Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt and Jason McClain, my support team, and William Binderup and the Elite Flight Crew.

Onward and upward!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

borg dot com benchmark logo tape

We kicked off borg.com as a way to catch up on entertainment news, books and movies back on June 10, 2011.  We’ve posted what’s new each day to provide “your daily science fiction, fantasy, and entertainment fix” for two years now and continue to forge ahead as we tick past our 800,000th view by readers today.

We want to say thanks to you for reading.  It’s a lot of fun (and hard work) keeping up on all the great genre entertainment out there, be it on TV, in theaters, in books, or comics.  We also want to thank all the comic book publishers out there that provide us with preview review copies, as well as book publishers and TV and movie studios and collectible companies that allow us to give you first available previews and reviews.  We cover only what we’re interested in and excited about–we figure that if we like it, so might you.

bionic borg meter

Some of the most fun we’ve had is meeting new people as we keep up on the coolest happenings in the genre realm, some at conventions, some are friends we are grateful to chat with each week of the year.  And lucky for us, borg.com has allowed us to meet some of our own favorite celebrities over the past two years, sci-fi stars like Mark Hamill, Joss Whedon, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Anthony Stewart Head, Scott Bakula, Adam Baldwin, Lindsay Wagner, Saul Rubinek, Zachary Levi, Eddie McClintock, Wil Wheaton, and Mark Sheppard.  Sci-fi and fantasy writers like Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, James Blaylock, and Sharon Shinn.  And comic book creators like Frank Cho, Jim Lee, Sergio Aragones, Neal Adams, and Howard Chaykin, and scores of other great comics creators like Mike Mayhew, Mike Norton, Michael Golden and Mikel Janin (and several not named Mike).

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Detective Comics 19 cover

By C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you want to just sit down and view a single TV episode where you walk away at the end of the hour having been energized with a complete end to end story.  I remember countless episodes of the X-Files with the monster of the week and these stand out to me from the episodes that followed the long-term plot of Fox Mulder’s lost sister or uncovering the mysterious smoking man’s real story.  I have the same thoughts about standalone issues of comic books.  Most series today have multi-issue story arcs and they are usually relevant and continue the intrinsic and historic serialized nature of monthly comic series dating back to the origin of comic books.  But when I was a little kid I’d flip through the short supply of comics at my local Kwik Shop and sometimes you’d be lucky and get an issue with a single beginning to end story and sometimes you’d start reading and have no idea what is going on.  I still get excited about a book when I get a great end-to-end story.  Detective Comics #19–the 900th issue of Detective Comics is one of those reads.

When the old DC Universe ended in August 2011, Detective Comics was at issue #881.  Detective Comics was set to become the second DC Comics series to reach Issue #900 after Action Comics.  Then the New 52 renumbered everything.  No matter.  DC Comics knows when it has something to celebrate, so to mark the occasion it is publishing a good ol’ 80-page giant issue.  As part of its across-the-line gatefold cover series, it cleverly manages to include the number 900 as part of its cover, as well as integrate the number into its storyline in a meaningful way.

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