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Tag Archive: Tron: Betrayal


Review by C.J. Bunce

Tron is one of those franchises that has barely been tapped for its universe of potential stories about the Grid.  The original movie Tron followed Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn as he became sucked into the computer sphere, into the video game, Tron.  The graphic novel Tron: Betrayal smartly covered the events after the original film, to provide a segue into the new Grid universe in Tron: Legacy, a strange, cool, new world of the Grid on the big screen.  Tron: Legacy met Flynn again, this time an aged hermit-slash-guru, trapped for years as an outcast rebel leader, and his son, who enters the computer world to find him.  We got a brief glimpse of Tron’s real-world equivalent (Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), but didn’t see much of Tron himself.  The excellent updated role play video game Tron: Evolution features even more of the new world, but not until now do we get what we’ve wanted all along, more Tron, and specifically more Boxleitner as Tron.  Unfortunately Tron isn’t the lead of the new animated weekly half-hour TV series on Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, but he gets an important key role as Jedi-like mentor to Elijah Wood’s young Padawan-esque character, Beck, years after the events of Tron: Legacy.  The story is one of persecution and revolution, and the whispered message across the Grid is “Tron lives.”

You’ll find plenty of parallels to Star Wars and other good science fantasy and science fiction, even cool references back to the original Tron movie itself, like the little floating diamond that repeated the word “yes” with nice comic timing.  And you’ll be hard pressed not to try to compare it to the Clone Wars animated series.  I think the art, sound, story, music, color, depth, movement and vibe leaves not only Clone Wars behind, but any other animated series that comes to mind, after watching the first three episodes broadcast yesterday and last Tuesday.  If there is any drawback it may be characters and producers still getting comfortable with the dialogue and techno-babble, but this may just get ironed out over the course of the series.  The other drawback is getting used to the string-bean thin and tall hero characters of this universe.  But those items are easily dismissed for all that is very cool in this series.

The best part may very well be the band Daft Punk’s soulful, hopeful, sometime dark, sometimes bright techno music that is borrowed from their unique and stunning score for the film Tron: Legacy and carefully and expertly edited into this series.  The thumping base line and synthesized strings at the right movements take you into this new world to the point you find the art direction and sound together creating a complete universe–and you will question whether this is a movie or a video game or an animated series.  Imagery of a classic Encom light cycle has glass-like mirror reflections of animated characters that looks like it could exist in the real world.  Water flows like real water, yet nicely done with a computerized edge to it as in the original Tron film.

And then you have Bruce Boxleitner as not an elder Tron so much as a mature Tron, leader and icon of this new uprising.  His character looks a bit like Boxleitner without the need for motion capture technology.  Elijah Wood’s Beck is young and impulsive.  Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Paige and Kate Mara’s Perl are cool, tough villains.  Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) provides the perfect voice for the voiceover introductions as well as the voice of the Grid.  Lance Henriksen’s (Alien) Tesler is a slicker villain than Jeff Bridges’ motion capture computer-generated character Clu from Tron: Legacy.  And Paul Reubens’ voice is perfect for Tesler’s henchman.

You can’t forget the animation itself, and Disney has outdone itself here.  it looks like it must have taken years to developed this type of imagery.  Some scenes look they come from the best of Pixar’s achievements, including some that just establish setting, with little or no action, although the light cycle chase scenes are seemless and exciting as you’d hope for.

A great start for a great franchise!

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By C.J. Bunce

One of the Midwest’s best pop culture and comic book conventions was this past weekend, Planet Comicon, which has been Kansas City’s largest fan convention for more than a dozen years.  The show seemed to be bursting from its seams this year with thousands of guests, and appears to be outgrowing its venue at the Overland Park International Trade Center.

The film and TV headliners for this year’s show included Edward James Olmos, best known to sci-fi fans for his role in Blade Runner and as Adama in the Battlestar Galactica reboot series.  He signed autographs and took photos with fans both days of the show.  Here he is with Erin Gray, who appeared with other actors from the 1979-1981 TV series Buck Rogers and the 25th Century: 

Gray also appeared on an episode of the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure last year.

The other featured major guest from film and TV was Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but also as Harvey Dent alongside Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman film.  His current work includes a stint on USA’s White Collar.

Billy Dee also appeared at the show both days.  (I offered a woman in line $5 to say “Billy Dee, Billy Dee, Billy Dee!” when she finally met him but didn’t take me up on it.  And it’s OK if you don’t get that reference).

Early Saturday morning legendary comic book artist Michael Golden is getting fueled up before embarking on a sketch of Green Arrow:

Green Arrow by Michael Golden. How cool is that?

Michael is known for his work on such titles like Marvel Comics series The ‘Nam, GI Joe Yearbook, Star Wars, and Micronauts.  He is also the co-creator of the X-Men character Rogue.

I’ve been a fan of the different styles Mike Norton uses in his art for quite a while.  Here he is signing one of his comic pages for the Green Arrow/Black Canary series, where he did the pencil work and comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz provided the ink work:

Mike is working on a creator-owned project currently and has previously worked on Runaways, Gravity, the Young Justice animated series comic book.  He was actively sketching pages for fans at the show and produced probably a dozen at least over the weekend, including this great image for me:

Unfortunately Bernie Wrightson wasn’t sketching at this year’s convention, but he was signing plenty of shirts and books for his Frankenstein book.  Wrightson’s horror artwork goes back several decades, with his first published comic work with House of Mystery in 1969.  He co-created Swamp Thing in 1971.  His work has appeared in Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, and Batman: The Cult.  Here Wrightson is at a signing table with Freddie Williams II and his wife Kiki:

Freddie is well known for his work on his Robin series, and is currently one of the DC Comics top artists.  We reviewed his and JT Krul’s Captain Atom series here at borg.com a few weeks ago.  Freddie was busy creating sketches for fans and speaking on panels at the show.

Currently working on projects for Dynamite Comics, Bionic Man writer Phil Hester and Lone Ranger writer Ande Parks had pages of original artwork as well as copies of their books new and old that they were signing for fans, including a lot of low-priced original art from their run on the DC Comics Green Arrow series:

It’s great that these guys have tackled both the writing and illustration sides of comic book creation.

I got to catch up again with a couple well known Kansas City authors.  Here, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, two of the best known authors of Star Trek novels, talk with fans at the show.

The NBC TV series Heroes co-creator Tim Sale was signing books and art at his booth:

Sales’ past work includes art in Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: The Long Halloween, Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Grey, Spider-Man: Blue and Superman For All Seasons.  (What’s with these color titles, anyway?).  His unique stylized paintings on Heroes featured into the plot of the series.

I spent time chatting with Rob B. Davis, currently providing illustrations for a Sherlock Holmes series and past artist for Malibu’s Deep Space Nine comic book series, writer Jai Nitz, who was juggling signing copies of his Kato and Tron: Betrayal series while moderating different comic book panels at the show, borg.com writer Art Schmidt, local writer Justin Cline manning the front of the convention, and Todd Aaron Smith, who sketched this great Black Canary image for me:

Smith had provided storyboards for Family Guy and other animation art for shows like South Park and various DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV series.  Current Marvel Comics lead writer Jason Aaron could be found with some good lines of fans waiting to get copies of his various Hulk, Wolverine and X-men series signed:

The facility was packed wall to wall with plenty of booths selling everything from graphic novels to collectible action figures, original comic book art, and comic book back issues.  Here, Elite Comics comic book store owner William Binderup appears to be raking in some cash from sales of comics at his booth:

Show producer Chris Jackson seemed pleased with the success of this year’s convention.

And of course there were plenty of cosplayers.  Here a few Batman characters huddled for a photo:

But I think the best was this “Hello Kitty meets Stormtrooper” mash-up:

No doubt it would have been a far different Star Wars had Luke showed up to rescue the princess with this outfit.

…before the Legacy there was an Uprising…

That’s a pretty catchy introduction to the new animated series previewed last year with the home release version of Tron: Legacy on DVD and Blu-Ray and at Comic-Con in San Diego.  Back then the prediction was that we’d see the series by this January, and there are no reports out from Disney as to the cause of the delay.  Like The Hobbit and rebooted Star Trek, this will be a “sequel prequel” fitting in between Tron and Tron: Legacy, but apparently after Jai Nitz‘s Tron: Betrayal graphic novel, since it will start after Clu takes over the Grid.

The early trailer looks fun, like a cross between the original Speed Racer series from the 1970s mixed with a little modern anime, and it shares the overall feel of Tron: Legacy, the live action film that continued the adventures of Flynn and Tron from the original film, Tron, from 1982.  It also looks to have a lot in common with the Tron: Evolution video game released last year.  Clearly Disney appears to be coordinating its Tron franchise elements, although the release of Tron: Uprising would probably be more popularly received closer to Tron: Legacy’s release.

Tron: Uprising , which was originally to be available January 3, 2012, is now scheduled for release in May.  Early marketing describes the book and animated series as follows:

    • When the computer world of The Grid is taken over by an evil tyrant, one young man named Beck must join forces with the legendary hero Tron to free his home city. Under Tron’s tutelage, Beck will take on a secret identity to fight back, bringing a superhero sensibility to the world of Tron. Featuring brand new settings, characters, and vehicles, TRON: Uprising will bring a unique style and classic storytelling to the Disney Channel and Disney XD!  The animated original movie, hitting TV screens in spring 2012, will kick-off a brand new series in summer 2012.  Kids who can’t get enough of superheroes, action-adventure stories, and the sleek and unique look of TRON are sure to love this retelling of the TRON: Uprising original movie.  The novelization will be a retelling of the events of the movie, and will include a full-color eight page insert with frames from the stunning animated feature!
 

The series is expected to air on Disney XD and possibly the Disney Channel.  There has been no other releases about whether or not there will be an animated movie as stated in the promotional materials.  Tron: Uprising will air in 10 initial episodes.

But the best part is the voice cast, with Bruce Boxleitner, practically non-existent in the title role in Tron: Legacy, who will reprise his role as Tron; Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in The Lord of the Rings series, will play Beck, a character on the Grid that is trained by Tron and takes on the show’s villain, General Tesler, played by Lance Henriksen (Alien series, The Right Stuff, Terminator).  Also appearing will be Mandy Moore (Tangled), Paul Ruebens (Batman Returns, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mystery Men), voice actor from hundreds of animated series Fred Tatasciore, Emmanuelle Chrique (Entourage), Nate Corddry, and Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard, Die Hard 2).

Here is the trailer for Tron: Uprising:

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Spoilers!

When the original Disney movie Tron arrived in theaters in 1982 it was a technological innovation.  Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner’s Tron, a user and a program, interract in a fully realized alternate universe after Flynn is sucked into his own computer system.  Nearly thirty years later the Disney sequel Tron: Legacy revisited the computer world known as the Grid to show us what happened to Flynn and Tron.

But before the film’s release, Disney released a graphic novel in two parts that explains what happened between the two movies.  And the result is actually better than what we saw onscreen in the movie sequel.

Tron: Betrayal, written by Jai Nitz, takes us to the world that we wished had made it to the screen.  The graphic novel compilation includes a nice prologue to get the reader that missed the original film up to speed on the events of the original Tron film.  This was enormously necessary because Disney failed to re-release a DVD version of the film in the months leading up to the release of Tron: Legacy.  (A prior edition had been released more than a decade ago, but in classic Disney marketing style it had not been put back into release once it sold out).

Tron: Betrayal begins with Kevin Flynn revisiting the Grid.  He works with Tron and begins building a new world, a “perfect world”.  Flynn uses the same Tron movie laser technology to transport between realities, and in our world we learn his wife is pregnant with the son we will meet years later in Tron: Legacy.  Lori, whose avatar was Yori in the original film, is still with Tron’s user, Alan.

Kevin is addicted to the Grid and subtley Nitz reveals a man who each day becomes more and more obsessed, a man who can hardly pay attention to his life in the real world, his wife, his new son, his business he is supposed to be running.

Flynn needs to be in two places at once.  So he creates an avatar of himself to carry out his work on the Grid, called Clu.  Clu works with Tron and his loyal assistant Shaddox, who points out that Clu is doing all the work, with little help from Flynn, the creator.  And as a new pest called gridbugs infest the world, “life finds a way” (to quote Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park), and new gridpeople are spontaneously formed–isomorphs or “isos”–including a self aware female named Ophelia (in the film Tron: Legacy this would be revisited with the character Quorra).  Flynn declares all isos are to be protected by Tron and Clu.

The key conflict becomes clearer, the same conflict that would be revealed in the new film: Clu, just like a computer program would react in the real world, does not know what to do when confronted with ambiguity as Clu is given seemingly inconsistent direction from Flynn.  What is a perfect world?

In part 2, Flynn’s real life falls apart.  He has a son, but his wife has died and he is left to raise son Sam with his other obligations still pressing in on him.  His inlaws are there to help…but nothing works for Flynn.  Here Jai Nitz has set up relationships and realities that, despite being a fantasy story about a guy who gets sucked into a video game, reflect modern pressures of life in a believable way.

Beyond the complex story of priorities, faith, and duty, Jeff Matsuda and Andie Tong’s artwork is excellent, all locked into this dark world inside the computer sphere.  The cover by Jock is up to his typical cool style.  Neon cycles, including Flynn’s superbly crafted white light cycle we barely see in the new film, are a great extension from the perfect cycles of the original film.  It is here where the look is better than the final film, even though the final film looks great in its own right.  What is certain is that this story would have made a better film, for several reasons.

First, this story includes the title character, Tron, in a key role.  Tron: Legacy inexplicably barely used Tron, and when it did, we barely got to see the beloved actor Boxleitner be the Tron we loved in the original film.   The movie is called Tron, right?  Is Boxleitner’s fee greater than Academy Award winner Bridges?  Also, this is the story that happened following the events of the original film and this is the story most fans would want to see.  The Flynn of the new the film is washed up.  He is past the character most fans would want to dig into.  He is the Dude from The Big Lebowski right before he ODs.  The new film was subtitled Legacy and it is about Flynn’s son Sam.  Yet we as fans care for Kevin and Alan, the original characters that excited us.  This story also allows a greater depth of character than we were shown in the movie.

With the graphic novel Tron: Betrayal we get to see what that more ideal film could have been.  And that would have made a very cool movie.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

I was lucky enough to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego (pictured above with comics legend Stan Lee).  Jai Nitz has written for Marvel, DC, Image, Disney, and Dynamite.  He wrote Tron: Betrayal and is currently writing Kato Origins, Green Hornet: Parallel Lives, and Bring the Thunder at Dynamite Entertainment. We’re happy to welcome Jai to borg.com.

Every year longtime Comic-Con attendees comment that Comic-Con has changed with the addition of mega-panels for Hollywood movie franchises, production studios, video game companies, etc., implying a lesser focus on the “comic” in Comic-Con.  Being in the industry as a comic book writer, what is your take? 

JN:  A lot of Comic Con attendees don’t read comics.  That doesn’t bother me.  They still go to movies, play video games, and watch TV based on comics.  They pump a lot of money into the comic economy.  I don’t complain about that.  It’d be like saying we only wanted people who played pee-wee, high school, and college football to attend NFL games.  Why limit the fanbase?

What was the best part of Comic-Con for you this year?  Did you make it to any panels?

JN:  My best part of Comic Con was seeing the Grant Morrison & Deepak Chopra panel.  After the panel Grant hugged me and asked how my next project was going.  It was awesome.

Any favorite fan moments from this year?

JN:  I met one of the new actors on True Blood this season.  He put two and two together that my name was Jai, but I’m “Jai Nitz, comic book writer” and he’d read some of my most recent stuff.  He was a fan.  So that was uplifting.

Any advice for next year for fans or professionals coming to Comic-Con for the first time?

JN:  It’s tough to enjoy the con on the cheap.  It can be done, but be prepared to spend a ton of money.

Any peers in the comic book world you were able to meet up with again, or meet for the first time?

JN:  I always meet up with the wonderful Australians:  Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Torn), Craig Court, Tom Taylor (The Deep, Rombies, The Authority, Star Wars: Invasion), etc.  They’re the best people, but we only get to hang out at the big cons.

What work did you have available at the show this year?  Did you make any connections on new writing projects that you can share?

JN:  My latest writing work, Kato Origins, Bring the Thunder, and Tron: Betrayal were all out, so I capitalized on them as best I could.  I met with some producers and editors who were familiar with my work.  Who knows if any of those interactions will pan out.  It’s always a crap shoot… a crap shoot you only see the results of six months later.

Comic-Con shows off a lot of new movies, books, toys, you name it.  What was the coolest thing at Comic-Con you saw being introduced this year?

JN:  The Gestalt Comics initial launch of graphic novels.  The Deep and Torn are both awesome.

Here are some great pics of Jai with several familiar faces at this year’s Comic-Con:

Jai with Doctor Who Matt Smith and companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)…

Jai with wrestling legend and They Live star Roddy Piper…

And Jai and another comics fave…Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons:

Thanks for sharing your Con experience with us, Jai!  You can follow Jai on Twitter at @JAINITZ1 or find him on Facebook at Jai Nitz.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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