Tag Archive: steampunk


Five Man Midget Death Squad

The title and cover of Five Man Midget Death Squad makes for an easy purchase decision (midgets! death squad! Gatling guns and a skull!), but it doesn’t tell the whole story.  Nicholas Forristal’s 2014 novel isn’t about midgets wielding machine guns as I initially expected, but a warrior tribe in the British Isles on a parallel Earth as told from a historian in the year 2201.  The “midgets” of the title are a famed band of dwarves of the Tolkien tradition, who we meet along with goblins, giants, and humans.  If you like the noble tribe of Orcs in Warcraft, you’ll find Forristal’s fantasy world races familiar.

Beginning with the legend of Gith of the Tundri clan we meet one-by-one those influential leaders of the dwarves recounted to the best of the chronicler’s ability from stories passed down through the generations–this is not so much the “historical truth” as a tribute to carry on the noble dwarf culture in good Old World oral tradition.  Via separate vignettes about the history of the Tundri we learn about their culture, religion, and politics, Gith, the goblin race, the next great dwarven leader Kaiden, the giant Balor the Evil Eye and the deal he made with Cora the dwarf to protect all dwarves that resulted in the formation of the famed Death Squad, and lastly the contributions of Ethne and Caleb, and the story of M and the Leper Kahn.

Five Man Midget Death Squad in Lerwick

Death Squad is full of deep world building–characters here make appearances throughout Forristal’s Chronicles of M series of novels–and his prose is similar to the writing of real-life ancient chroniclers.  Early chapters read like a recollection of Herodotus, and later chapters like Suetonius’s The Twelve Caesars, Plutarch’s Lives, and primary writings of Augustus in his Res Gestae and Julius Caesar in his The Gallic War.  Forristal has developed plenty of classic fantasyscapes here to expand into future novels.

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With the dozens of new titles from all the comic book publishers being released Wednesday, we thought we’d hone in on a few with the independent publishers you might miss.  The first new Legenderry title featuring Vampirella is out tomorrow from Dynamite, as is a new Jungle Jim series and sci-fi series called Cluster.  From the classic genre film world, BOOM! Studios is releasing new issues of Escape from New York and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. 

Legenderry: Vampirella Issue #1 is packed full of great steampunk elements.  It’s the first of three new series spinning out of the world created by Bill Willingham.  King: Jungle Jim Issue #1 brings Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond’s series to a modern audience.  Great characters and artwork have the classic feel of Raymond’s original stories.  BOOM! Studio’s new Cluster series is an interesting sci-fi story giving prisoners a chance to get out of life sentences if they’re willing to work in a futuristic military service.

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Escape from New York, Issue #3 continues the BOOM! Studios adaptation of the further adventures of Snake Plissken.  And Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Issue #3, also from BOOM!, follows the exploits of the apes from the successful reboot movie series.

Check out all the previews, after the break:

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LegenderryRS01CovABenitez   LegenderryVampi01CovABenite

As reported here earlier this year at borg.com, Bill Willingham’s successful steampunk/steampulp series is spawning three new series coming in February.  Starring Vampirella, Red Sonja, and the team of Green Hornet and Kato–as they all were re-envisioned for the Legenderry universe, these series follow the characters after the events in the seven-issue mini-series that wrapped this summer from Dynamite Comics.

We now have the images of the three main covers for each title, shown above and below.  Rarer variants will feature original art black and white versions of some of these covers.

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The first to be released is writer David Avallone and artist David Cabrera’s Legenderry: Vampirella.  Coming February 4, 2015, the publisher has describes the series as:

A return to Bill Willingham’s fantastical steampulp world of LEGENDERRY! Vampirella comes home from the epic battle in The Principality to find that her Scarlet Club has been closed, and powerful forces within The Big City are conspiring to destroy her… but they quickly learn they’ve pissed off the wrong immortal vampire.

February 11, 2015, Dynamite releases writer Marc Andreyko and artist Aneke’s Legenderry: Red Sonja.

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Legenderry Red Sonja Davila cover   Legenderry Vampirella Davila cover

Bill Willingham’s Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure was one of this year’s best ideas, a combination of steampunk, superhero mash-up, and just plain great retro fun.  Legenderry saw a parallel universe including the creation of Steve Austin–the Six Thousand Dollar Man, and alternate versions of Flash Gordon, the Green Hornet and Kato, Vampirella, the Phantom, and Red Sonja, among others.  It was the ultimate new look at familiar characters that Dynamite holds the licensing rights to today.

We’re hoping for a future addition of Miss Fury to this steam-powered world, and to hear about a Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure trade edition to collect the seven-issue limited series.  Until then Dynamite is branching out beyond Willingham’s story, focusing on three of the characters: Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Green Hornet, each to have their own new series.

Legenderry Red Sonja Poulat cover   Legenderry Vampirella Poulat cover

David Avallone will write the Legenderry: Vampirella series, featuring Madam Pendragon and her path to become Vampirella.  Daryl Gregory (Planet of the Apes) will write the Legenderry: Green Hornet story featuring Hornet and Kato in a Gangs of New York type setting.

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We say “first” in a hopeful way.

Legenderry is the seven-issue mini-series from Dynamite Comics written by notable Fables writer Bill Willingham.  Legenderry is also the steampunk setting where in Issue #7 Red Sonja joins up with Six Thousand Dollar Man Steve Austin, Zorro, Vampirella, the Green Hornet and Kato, Captain Victory, Silver Star, and the Phantom, all to face off in a final showdown with Ming the Merciless, Queen Flor Zora, Kulan Gath, Lydia Valcallan, General Tara, and Doctor Moreau.

And we hope this is the first of several series with these classic characters in their newest and most creative incarnations.

The best character development in the series is that of Red Sonja, who has spells leaving her to think she is actually the mild and citified Magna Spadarossa, sister of Sonja.  By the end of the series her primitive side breaks through and she is the savage we’re all familiar with.  A close second is Willingham’s Six Thousand Dollar Man and his then-pricey 19th century prosthetics.  Including Oscar Goldman as his companion was a brilliant move.

Legenderry heroes

Artist Sergio Fernandez Davila creates a visually stunning location, and Willingham’s fun take on these classic characters makes the series one of the best steampunk stories to enter the comic book medium.

Issue #7 hits comic book stores this week.  Take a look at the first five pages of this final issue after the break.

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Battlestar Galactica in 1880?  As a graphic steampunk story?  Steampunk Cylons?  You bet.  Today, Dynamite Comics launches its new series Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, taking an alternate universe look at the popular 1978 and 2004 sci-fi television series characters.  And for even more sci-fi fun, our favorite borg is back this month in a new issue of The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six–with some familiar “faces”.

If classic pulp noir reads are your thing, you’ll want to check out our preview of the new Dynamite Comics series Justice, Inc.  The Shadow is back, this time with The Avenger and Doc Savage.

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After the break, take a look at previews for each of these new books, courtesy of Dynamite Comics, available at comic book shops everywhere today.

Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, Issue #1, features a story by Tony Lee with art by Aneke.  The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue #5, is written by James Kuhoric and art by Juan Antonio Ramirez.  Justice, Inc., Issue #1, has a story by Michael Uslan and artwork by Giovanni Timpano.

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Toshiro cover

A steampunk robot samurai.  And Civil War era zombies.

It’s the Dark Horse June 2014 release of Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Kato, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo) and Janusz Pawlak’s new graphic novel, Toshiro.  We’ve discussed Nitz’s writing plenty of times here at borgToshiro is Pawlak’s first published work in comics.

You will love Nitz’s creation story for this mecha-samurai who shares a name with the actor who played one of the most famous samurai on film (Toshirô Mifune’s Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai).  Toshiro is a creation of the Northern forces in the Civil War, a self-aware, living robot with a steam-valved heart.  He’s an American-built super-soldier, sold to Japan as the highest bidder.  “Raised” with Japanese traditions and old world values, he winds up in Manchester, England, 1867, with an equally deadly, and maybe wiser, partner.

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Toshiro knows he is machine, yet he reacts as if he is a true samurai.

This is a steampunk buddy cop story, with roots in a story out of a spaghetti Western.  Here a Zorro-esque, anti-hero has a tough-as-nails partner and they live in a world at war, but with incredible tools of battle well ahead of their time.

Polish artist Pawlak’s work is something out of a Quentin Tarantino novel, yet Tarantino’s blood and guts is kids’ stuff compared to Toshiro slicing heads with his katana.

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Nero from Star Trek 2009

Between the prequel comic book Star Trek: Countdown and the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray for 2009’s Star Trek reboot, we learned a lot of great backstory.  One tidbit was the explanation for the Romulans (Nero and his crew) wearing cloven-toed boots.  Prior to encountering the USS Kelvin, which resulted in the early birth of James T. Kirk in space instead of Iowa and the death of his father, Nero and crew were imprisoned by a band of Klingons.  Presumably as part of their escape they took their captors’ clothes, hence the cloven-toed boots–the familiar footwear of Klingons since Star Trek: The Motion Picture through Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond.

Nero pants and boots

Nero style “neoninja” Tabi boots and pants from Star Trek 2009.

When costumer Michael Kaplan was sourcing his Romulan (formerly Klingon) garb for the film, he ended up using some unique and stylish creations from the folks behind Ayyawear and Verillas, and for a brief time after the film you could buy the same creations from their original source at Romwear.com.  Romwear.com no longer exists, but you can still buy the cloven-toed Tabi boots from Ayyawear and Verillas in several different styles.

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A new borg is coming in a mash-up of steampunk and horror.  Steam-powered tanks will clash with katanas in a new graphic novel, Toshiro, from Dark Horse Comics coming in June.  Writer Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, Kato) and artist Janusz Pawlak have created a “mechano-samurai” named Toshiro whose adventure story will take readers across a Victorian clockwork world, “battling horrors too dark for mankind.”

According to Dark Horse:

With his mysterious partner, the world-famous adventurer Quicksilver Bob, Toshiro must face Earth’s greatest foe yet: the soul-stealing, zombie-creating jellyfish from beyond.  Janusz Pawlak’s jagged inks and moody watercolors create a world of dread and mystery.

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Toshiro bends and blends genres to make something altogether new.  Janusz and I wanted to play with Victorian steampunk, alternate history, Lovecraftian monsters, and the magic of Tezuka’s Astro Boy to tell a story,” said writer Jai Nitz.  “We wanted to wear our influences on our sleeves, but do the hard work of creating something new.  I think this book will appeal to any fans of adventure.”

Keep checking back as borg.com will preview Toshiro in June 2014.  Toshiro arrives in comic book stores June 4, 2014, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

legenderry 1 cover

You’d need to be paying close attention or you might have missed that Dynamite’s new steampunk series Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure is a steampunk genre story about Britt Reid, the classic publishing magnate who takes on the disguise of the Green Hornet, and his tryst with Vampirella, here a social butterfly and owner of the Scarlet Club.  The covers and promos don’t shout either Vampirella or the Green Hornet.

Immediately you’re taken to a place unfamiliar–a mixture of times and places.  A mysterious woman is being accosted by masked street thugs and she escapes into the steampunk speakeasy, as Reid and Vampirella are engaged in a clever Benedick and Beatrice-esque lover’s quarrel.  Vampirella doesn’t look like any prior version of Vampirella–she’s a classic beauty and not a bit vampish.  The appropriate geared and copper weapons are drawn by the men on hand, but there is no need.  Vampirella doesn’t need a man to defend her or anyone in her own pub as she cuts them to pieces. The police arrive and learn nothing, as Vampirella and Reid begin this detective story, all in the first issue of the monthly series.

Legenderry exclusive cover

Fables creator Bill Willingham serves up an evocative tale complete with a radio personality named Felix Avalon who offers up word-on-the-street celebrity gossip of the 1920s to 1940s variety via listeners’ “wireless”–the old-time radios.  You can almost hear that drone of the snappy and crackling narrator voice from the days of classic radio plays.  Although Willingham offers up some meaty dialogue and is expert in a classic dialect, it is artist Sergio Fernandez Davila and character costume designer Johnny Desjardins who bear the bulk of delivering all the steampunk vibe, with settings full of geared-up fixtures and equally geared-up costumes and props.

Could this be Steampunk Noir?  It’s hard to place this in an era of the 19th century or the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s. There’s a bit of Casablanca to this story, too, with dialogue such as “it wasn’t anyone else’s doorstep you landed on. It was mine.”  It’s probably a blend of all of the above eras, a time and place similar to that unplaceable setting of the realm of fairy tales Willingham is so used to writing in.  It is definitely fun imagery to see Kato driving the Green Hornet in a horse carriage instead of his famous 1960s roadster.

Six Thousand Dollar Man

Yep, it’s the Six Thousand Dollar Man.

It’s being planned for this series to encounter other classic licensed characters in Dynamite Comics’ arsenal, including Red Sonja and The Phantom.  Issue #3 is coming to comic book stores next month—Will Willingham and Davila give us their take on a steampunk Bionic Man?  Look out in Issue #3 for the premier of the Six Thousand Dollar Man.

Grab your copies of Issues #1 and #2 of Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure now, at comic book stores everywhere.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com