Tag Archive: Phil Noto


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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Review by C.J. Bunce

You’ll want to check out the end of the first issue of Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime’s new series Gun Honey to learn how writer/creator Charles Ardai came up with the title.  Gun Honey is a new comic book series about a woman who can get the weapons you want for the right price.  The series is a mix of international locales a la James Bond, with the style movie audiences saw and heard in Guy Ritchie’s 2015 movie The Man from U.N.C.L.E.–you can almost hear the soundtrack.  She’s the latest of a long line of anti-hero, badass femmes fatales in comics dating back to Miss Fury.  And artist Ang Hor Kheng does the character and the genre justice, providing a sexy new character in a world of intrigue, duplicity, and the need for an alter ego.

Check out a preview of the first issue below, along with a preview of several of the series’ incredible cover variants from the likes of Bill Sienkiewicz, Robert McGinnis, Adam Hughes, Kendrick Lim, Jay Anacleto, Chris Wahl, Kendrick Lim, Ivan Tao, Warren Louw, Lesley Li, Fay Dalton, Andrea Camerini, and more.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It was without question Marvel’s biggest delay.  Not only was Black Widow originally expected to arrive in theaters May 1 last year, getting a delay and never a proper theatrical release, it simply was Kevin Feige’s big misfire by not thinking to make it earlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 23 movies.  Content-wise it could have arrived around 2013 as part of the Phase II of the series, and ultimately must be wedged somewhere between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.  For those not yet ready to return to theaters, it’s been a long wait.  Finally Disney+ has dropped its $30 premium for its subscribers and Vudu and other streaming providers have it where it should have been, at a sell-through price of $19.99. 

So how does Black Widow stack up with respect to the previous Marvel movies, and did Marvel make the best superheroine movie of them all with Scarlett Johanson’s solo movie?  First of all, the big word to describe this movie is “surprising.”

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SMART GIRL COVER B

Review by C.J. Bunce

Spanish artist Fernando Dagnino (Superman, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad) has designed the future of Blade Runner in the continuation series of Ridley Scott and Syd Mead’s future world for Titan Comics over the past few years.  Now fans of his artwork can see Dagnino take his work further in his own series.  In Smart Girl, readers will meet Yuki, a multitasking gynoid in the future called a Smart Girl, as in “smart phone” (the male Smartdroids are called Smart Boys)–human-like tools created exactly like the domestic assistant Synths of BBC’s Humans television series.  But like the Emergency Medical Holograms of Star Trek Voyager fame, the time comes when Yuki is no longer the latest, most advanced model, and it’s time for her to be replaced by the new androids and be deactivated.  Yuki becomes self-aware, and like the Replicants of Blade Runner, she decides she has more to offer the world and makes her escape before it’s too late.

Writer and illustrator Dagnino offers a black and white future noir comic that leans into what he does best–those shadows and layouts that feel like the stuff of 1950s pulp novels.  As much as I’d love to see his work in color, the black and white works for this tale of the bleak not-so-distant future.  Yuki is Atomic Blonde and Alita upgraded.  The story is tech-forward like Altered Carbon.  Dagnino’s style is familiar in a good way, mixes of Mike Grell layouts, Phil Noto characters, and the action and appeal of Jackson Herbert–the best of the modern Miss Fury artists.  If you like speculative science fiction, issue-driven narratives wrestling with timeless questions in the manner of the best of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, this should be your next graphic novel.

Check out our sneak preview of Fernando Dagnino’s new graphic novel, Smart Girl:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

We’re probably far from seeing a story featuring the bounty hunter Valance as good as in the pages of the original Marvel Comics series in 1978, but the first issue of the latest Star Wars comic book series is promising.  Valance, borg Hall of Famer and the first character in science fiction specifically referred to as a “borg,” shares the spotlight with a few other familiar faces in Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, now available in comic book stores.  When Star Wars writers and artists pull from the original trilogy and do it right, it can be quite fun for fans of the franchise.  And much seems to involve deconstructing every detail of George Lucas’s original visions.  For this series, that means asking the question: Why would you have so many bounty hunters on the bridge of Darth Vader’s star destroyer?  The answer became clear in last year’s Disney+ series The Mandalorian: it’s because sometimes that’s how the jobs work–if you can afford it.  And that’s the starting point of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters.

In the not too distant past we meet Valance working with Boba Fett the Mandalorian and the lizard-like Trandoshan called Bossk, two of the fellows we first met on Vader’s ship, working a job with a few other hunters.  Only the job goes sideways due to the actions of one of the hunters, Nakano Lash.  So the story begins when Lash becomes the bounty, setting the other hunters after her.  Taking place after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, that means Han Solo remains in carbonite in the cargo hold.  And it also means Lady Proxima is still around, the character that held Han’s life in her hands, introduced in Solo: A  Star Wars Story.  And it also makes room for Doctor Aphra, a character from the more recent comics universe.

 

In fact, writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli appear to have the ability to play with the entire Star Wars universe in a single series.  No longer are they held back, tethered to the lead characters Luke, Leia, Han, and Darth Vader, so readers can finally dig into the other corners of the already established Star Wars galaxy.  The first issue probably has more characters and action sequences than necessary, but it’s a promising beginning.  Check out covers from the first four issues and a preview of the first issue below.

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We got a taste of the rampaging Darth Vader we always wanted to see in the finale of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  In all of the movies Darth Vader seemed to be more shadow and talk than the wrath and ferocity his enemies feared in the films and stories.  So when do we get to see Darth Vader at his peak?  Marvel Comics writer Charles Soule (Poe Dameron, Astonishing X-Men) and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli (Amazing Spider-man) will give us the first look at that side of Darth Vader this month in the newest series titled Darth Vader.

Darth Vader takes place immediately after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  So this is the Vader new to his cybernetic form, new to the armor, the breathing apparatus, and he’s alone–his wife and to his knowledge an unborn child is dead.  His only “friend” is the Emperor himself.  Vader’s first steps in the Dark Side as a Sith Lord, the acquisition of his red light saber, and his rise to power into the Imperial command structure are all ahead for readers of the series.  Check out a preview of Issue #1 below, after the break.

   

The first issue will feature several covers.  The main cover is by Jim Cheung.  Other covers will be provided by artists Adi Granov, Skottie Young, Phil Noto, an action figure variant by John Tyler Christopher, a blank sketch cover, a movie film cover, and an incredible homage to Dave Cockrum’s cover to Uncanny X-Men, Issue #145, by Mark Brooks–one of this year’s candidates for best comic book cover art.

Here’s Cockrum’s original cover and the pre-color, and pre-weathered version of the image by Brooks:

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For those millions of Star Wars fans that purchased their Blu-ray and DVD copies of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this week and were disappointed that the special features did not include the many missing scenes that appeared in the bulk of the movie’s trailers, have no fear:  Today, Marvel Comics is releasing the first of a six-issue adaptation of the film, and it will include many scenes not in the final theatrical version of the movie, woven into the film for the first time.  Check out a preview below of Issue #1.

The adaptation is written by Jody Houser (Max Ride), with interior art by Emilio Laiso (Star Wars Annual) and Oscar Bazaldua Nava with colorist Rachelle Rosenberg.  Phil Noto is the cover artist for the series with variant covers by Mike Mayhew and several other artists, plus a movie poster cover, action figure cover, and blank sketch cover.  You’ll find all the look and feel of the movie here.  Here is a preview of Phil Noto’s cover art for Issues #2 and #3:

   

Each of the eight Star Wars films have now been adapted to comic book form.  Back before videos, these were many fans’ only way to revisit the film.  They are also a great way to introduce kids to reading.  All of the adaptations are still available at Amazon at these links: The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens.

Check out a preview of Issue #1 below and many of the variant covers available.

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TFA var cover Phil Noto     TFA var cover Joe Quesada

Are you a fan of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?  How about a comic book adaptation whose quality is nearly as good as that of Marvel’s original trilogy adaptations in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Marvel six-issue adaptation is coming your way later this month and we have a preview of not only some great variant covers, but previews of interior artwork by Luke Ross.  Chuck Wendig provides the script adaptation for the story.

Variant covers include some beautiful interpretations by Phil Noto and Joe Quesada (above), and John Cassaday and Esda Ribic (below).

TFA var cover John Cassaday    TFA B&W Esad Ribic var

After the break, take a look at some interior pages from Marvel’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #1:

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Well it’s been one long year, with plenty to do and see, plenty of good and not-so-good to read and watch, and as with last year we’re certain we reviewed more content this year than ever before.  This year was a big year for borgs in TV and film, so we had some difficult decisions to make.  All year long we sifted through all that Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre TV, films, comics, and other books we thought were worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.

Today we reveal the entire list–the best genre content of 2015–with our top categories Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero FixBest Animated Fix,  and Best Borg selected regardless of medium.  A dozen properties garnered multiple mentions.

We hope you agree with many of these great creations of the entertainment industries, and wish everyone a great 2016!

Killjoys

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Killjoys (Syfy).  Surprised?  Killjoys pulled together great worldbuilding, characters and actors in a year of a dozen new sci-fi shows to provide us the closest thing to the next Firefly we’ve seen in a long time.

Galavant

Best Fantasy Fix – Galavant (ABC); Runner-up The Librarians (TNT).  It aired early in 2015 but nothing surpassed Galavant’s medieval high adventure and all-out Princess Bride-style fun.

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Best Superhero Fix – The Flash (CW).  Of all the Marvel movies and TV series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Agent Carter and from Arrow to Supergirl, nothing had us coming back for more each week like the superhero world in The Flash.

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Best Animated Fix – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  Compare it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and see if you think this animated Star Wars galaxy had an even better story and characterization, along with the return of its own group of original trilogy actors, compelling visuals and rousing music.

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Best Borg – Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Terminator Genisys (Paramount).  Schwarzenegger created yet another borg that could stand up against his prior successful characters from the series.  A cool, moving character in a big year for borgs on screen!

Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Best Borg Movie –  Ex Machina (DNA Films).  Incredible storytelling and a small cast of talented actors provided a classic science fiction story and Oscar-worthy film about our favorite subject.

Humans series

Best Borg TV SeriesHumans (AMC).  On television the most in-depth look at life as a borg and among borgs has never been portrayed more dramatically than on this year’s surprise sci-fi hit series from AMC.

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Best Kickass Genre Movie Heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney); Honorable Mentions: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Terminator Genisys (Paramount); Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max: Fury Road (Village Roadshow)

Liv Moore

Best Kickass Genre TV Heroine – Liv Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie (CW); Honorable Mentions: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Killjoys (Syfy); Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black (BBC)

Want to know who we picked for best villain and best comic books of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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