Advertisements

Tag Archive: zombies


Review by C.J. Bunce

The classic wartime strategy board game is back, but this time with the strangest update yet.  It’s Axis & Allies & Zombies.  Just released, the game is playable as a standalone game featuring a 1941 scenario, and if you’re a fan of the original and think you’ve exhausted all the scenarios under past editions, you’ll love the included new rule modifications for the 1942 Edition of Axis & Allies.  It’s a great way to reinvigorate your game play (even if zombies aren’t your thing).  Why?  At its core, Axis & Allies is a heavily dice-driven game.  The update really offers some random changes in circumstances thrown at you as you defend the Americans, the Soviets, the British, the Germans, or the Japanese, in an alternate universe battle to win World War II (we reviewed the new Axis & Allies 1942 Edition last year here at borg).  If you love the zombie genre, even better, as no other game will give you this kind of real-world zombie battle, outside maybe your town’s annual zombie run.

Everything you need to play the game under the 1941 Zombie rules–the standalone game–are included in Axis & Allies & Zombies.  Blood-spattered money (Industrial Production Credits), a stained deluxe game board, six new zombie game dice, ghostly zombie characters, new zombie control markers, a set of 60 zombies (plus an 86-card expansion deck for the 1942 Edition), and all the game pieces from the original game are included here.  A big difference is this game can be played on a standard card table as opposed to the 1942 game board which requires far more space to play–this edition of the game includes a smaller game board than the original, but it still has plenty of room for play.

Zombies are created whenever a nation’s infantry unit is destroyed or via a directive from a zombie card drawn during each turn.  Every zombie gets to attack in each round.  Even neutral territories have gameplay–as a “Desperate Times” zombie card may indicate zombie infiltration via those locations, unlike their lack of utility in the classic game.  Optional play of “Desperate Measures” rules can result in good or bad actions, like the ability to use newly conceived anti-zombie technology.  And don’t expect an air attack by zombies.  Why?  Zombies can’t fly airplanes (of course!).  You also can’t deny the cool factor of another new feature–Chainsaw Tanks.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

Much of the best science fiction doesn’t leave us with memorable or lovable characters so much as incredible, imaginative ideas, and prescient or prophetic visions.  When you look to science fiction’s past, examples can be found throughout the works of H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, and Ray Bradbury.  Great concepts abound, like Wells’ time travel, Mary Shelley stretching the bounds–and horrors–of medical science, Dick always wrestling with the perils and annoyances of technology, and Michael Crichton finding ways to use science to change the future.  Robert J. Sawyer is a current science fiction author building on the ideas of the past, and like all of the above writers who researched the real science behind their characters, he delves deep into his subjects.  In his novel Quantum Night, now available in paperback, he has with surgical precision stitched together a tale of modern truths and horrors, bundled in a story pressing the bounds of psychology and quantum theory to explain why the world may seem to be falling apart, and offering one way to try to repair it.

In a very educational way, Quantum Night is also a refresher in Psychology 101.  Sawyer, one of only three science fiction writers ever to have won the trifecta of writing awards (the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Campbell), references every major theory and experiment from college days along with enough background in quantum theory to support a compelling thriller.  By book’s end you may find yourself staring at strangers and questioning their level of consciousness, conscience, and psychopathy.  You may be sitting next to a psychopathic individual right now, or someone with a mind that may be even more gut-wrenching to discover.  Written in 2015 and taking place in the not-so-distant future, Russian President Vladimir Putin readies to fire nuclear weapons on the United States.  A future U.S. President gets Roe v. Wade overturned, has gotten his country to turn on immigrants and then invades Canada, led by its first Muslim prime minister (here Sawyer predicts the future of the current real-life Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi), purportedly so the U.S. can secure Canada’s cities when the country no longer is able to control the flow of terrorists.

The story follows a professor of psychology who also serves as an expert witness to defend criminals who have proven to be psychopathic on both established and modern psychopathy tests.  In the latest case he is reminded of his own past on cross-examination–a past he refuses to believe.  As he re-traces his memories he learns his volunteering for psychology experiments in college resulted in six months of erased memories.  And it gets worse–his mind was altered.  Readers encounter a pair of scientists in the past, trying to hone in on those elements of the mind that shape how we think.  The protagonist encounters a lover from his college days who is also in the field, and their relationship and her relationship with her daughter and her brother (now 20 years in a coma), could dictate the fate of everyone’s future with a high-tech tuning fork “sonic screwdriver”-inspired device and one of the 40 giant, real-world synchrotrons.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

As professional baseball takes us into the playoffs this week, we could have a repeat of last year’s World Series, with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians again vying for the championship.   Just in time, a new Harry Turtledove novel is now in bookstores that will take baseball fans backward in time with a bird’s-eye view of life as a farm team ball player during the Great Depression.  The House of Daniel follows a down on his luck “Okie” as he plays a season of semipro baseball on a team based on the real church-sponsored team called The House of David, known for its religious flavor and long-haired players–an early take on the Harlem Globetrotters but without the theatrics.  During the Great Depression the team barnstormed the country along with dozens of other teams that sprouted out in every corner of small town America, providing a source of income for players and providing the average American a few hours of respite from a bleak reality, all for a few cents per ticket.  Hugo Award winner Turtledove’s account of player Jack Spivey is a fictionalized one, but his knowledge of farm teams and forgotten byways reflects a historic realism that will make you forget this is also a supernatural tale.  Turtledove is known for his alternate histories, and this time he throws in a past with a Kim Newman style change-up, with vampires, wizards, werewolves, voodoo, UFOs, and zombies interspersed in what would otherwise be a typical work of historical fiction.

Baseball fanatics will be impressed, but fantasy readers may not find enough here to satisfy.  In fact, about 100 pages into the novel only the slightest mention of a fantastical element will remind the reader this isn’t entirely straight fiction.  The fantasy elements could easily be excised leaving behind the kind of account that will have you thinking you’ve picked up a lost John Steinbeck novel.  Spivey is a semipro baseball player.  Everyone everywhere is poor, except for the few with power and influence to control the rest.  Spivey is asked to work over a guy by the man who controls him–the price for a bit of protection and relief money, but when Spivey arrives and finds the target of his thuggery is a woman, he tells her to get out of town and he looks for a way out.  Fortunately for him, two ball players for the well-known barnstorming team called The House of Daniel literally collide while fielding a pop fly into the outfield, leaving an opening for Spivey to join up.  Thus begins a long, really-small-town by really-small-town-travelogue, told first person by Spivey, as the team bus takes him and his team across every bump of every gravel highway, into every diner, into every small field, and bunked at every boarding room between Enid, Oklahoma, and Denver, between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls, and between Seattle and San Diego.  But first Spivey needs to wear a wig and glue on a fake beard until he can grow his own.

Long-haired baseball players from the real House of David team that inspired Turtledove’s House of Daniel team in his novel.

Spivey infrequently looks over his shoulder for the mobster’s hitman who could show up any day to claim his pound of flesh.  Meanwhile we follow Spivey and get to know him and his Southern Oklahoman accent thanks to Turtledove’s believable dialect forged from the Tom Sawyer school of talkin’.  After a few chapters the reader gets the hang of his colloquialisms and from then on it’s hard not to get sucked in.  The road and player’s life on it becomes “old hat” for Spivey, and whenever the meandering, wandering from town to town (with the ultimate destination a tournament in Denver) becomes a bit stale, Turtledove inserts his fantasy bits.  Like a couple of encounters with Depression era vampires trying to con their way into an invitation to the current boarding house.  Or strange lights in the night sky over a small town in New Mexico.  Or zombies, who have replaced slave laborers in some parts of the country.

Continue reading

pizzaboy iii cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

What comic book series would you like see adapted to film that hasn’t yet been tried?  The big superheroes–and many small ones–have now made their marks, along with the likes of stories from independent or creator-owned origins like From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Cowboys and Aliens, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Hellboy, RED, R.I.P.D., Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even small screen shows like The Walking Dead, iZombie, and now Wynonna Earp.  Ask me what comic book series I would like to see translated to film the most and I won’t flinch:  It’s Portuguese writer/musician Felipe Melo and Argentinian artist/designer Juan Cavia’s The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy.  (I’d invest in that film right now).  It’s the most humorous and satisfying series since Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows.  Rich in pop culture references like you’d find in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Leverage, fanboys and fangirls of any franchise will find some all-out fun here.  Now the creators are concluding their series with the final act of an epic trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy III –Requiem, available now from Dark Horse Comics.

Melo and Cavia (and colorist Santiago R. Villa) are the real deal.  Each of their three volumes has a foreword by a legendary film director fan:  John Landis, George A. Romero, and now Tobe Hooper.  Dog Mendonça (pronounced men-dōn’-sah) and PizzaBoy originally appeared in serial form in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.  João Vicente “Dog” Mendonça is an overweight, Portuguese werewolf operating out of a noir era private investigator’s office.  Mendonça has a lanky unpaid pizza delivery boy who becomes a client he calls PizzaBoy.  And he has an assistant–a 6,000 year old demon named Pazuul, who appears as a chain-smoking blonde girl who never speaks out loud.  They’ve saved the world more times than anyone can count, and are pretty blasé about it.

iadmpbv3p11

We reviewed the first volume in the series, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy, here at borg.com back in November 2012.  In the first book the reader becomes a character walking along with the duo as Melo breaks the “third and fourth walls” in a funny and beautifully drawn story.  Mendonça told the reader his own comic book creation story.  In flashback we saw Mendonça’s tumultuous past.  We learned that Mendonça’s father and six sisters were killed during World War II so that bad guys led by a Nazi could capture Mendonça and use his beastly werewolf powers for his owns ends– a tale full of bad circumstances, an epic journey in a small package, and revenge.

Continue reading

Rose McIver iZombie

Review by C.J. Bunce

Raise your hand if you wish you could watch more adventures of Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, Claire Bennet, or Tru Davies.  Fortunately you can get your fix here and there–you can find Buffy in comic books in Dark Horse Comics’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, Veronica continues in a series of novels by Rob Thomas, Heroes is coming back to NBC, and, well, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see Tru again.  But thanks to Veronica Mars’ creators Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, a new strong woman-led series might make you think they are all back.

iZombie premiered Tuesday night adding another winner to the pantheon of solid hit shows the CW Network has been churning out of late, alongside Arrow, The Flash, Reign, Supernatural, and the Vampire Diaries.  iZombie follows Olivia “Liv” Moore, a cardiac medical student resident who ends up at a party on a boat where all the guests break out into an infection and become zombies.  Liv thinks fast and jumps off the boat, but not fast enough.  She’s scratched and dies, only to return as the undead.  Her so-called life crumbles from there and she ends up working for the medical examiner’s office where she can get easy access to unwanted brains, which she needs to eat to avoid getting mean and stupid.

Zombie brains

And the execution of that off-the-wall premise is simply brilliant.  There’s no hiding the fact that the voice of Rob Thomas’s Veronica Mars is echoed in Liv–many scenes aren’t just banter between characters, but chock full of Liv’s inner-thought narration.  It was that storytelling device that was a big part of what made Veronica so accessible and endearing.  And it even works for a zombie.

Continue reading

Toe Tag Riot logo

Matt Miner, writer of the ground-breaking series Liberator from Black Mask Studios, which we reviewed previously here and here at borg.com, is back again.  This time he’s launched a Kickstarter project that is now in its final week.  Miner’s latest idea is both cool and crazy.  It’s over-the-top, yet gritty and real.  It’s got zombies taking on real-life villains like no one has done before.  It’s Toe Tag Riot–and it’s crunch time–time to get this project funded so this unique voice can get his book into comic book stores everywhere.

Miner has teamed up with fellow Occupy Comics artist Sean Von Gorman (Pawn Shop, FUBAR, Houdini) and colorist John Rauch (Invincible, Star Trek, Venom), with cover artist Tristan Jones (Hoax Hunters, Ghostbusters, TMNT, Silent Hill) and cover colors by Doug Garbark (In the Dark, Liberator, Prophet) to tell the tale of a punk rock band that turns into zombies and takes on bigots, racists, and misogynists.

Toe Tag Riot band

Here’s the description from the Kickstarter campaign:

Enter Toe Tag Riot:  a struggling streetpunk band of the early 2000s who’re cursed with temporary, recurring zombification that transforms them whenever they perform their music!  Meant to destroy their career, the woman who cursed them clearly understands nothing because Toe Tag Riot’s new monster-punk look only propels the band into punk rock stardom.  Ethical sometimes-zombies that they are, our brave decomposing undead musicians resist their urges to snack on NORMAL human flesh and only make meals of the scummiest, grossest, and vilest scum that litters this Earth!  Finding that the transformation back into regular, filthy, punk rockers is taking longer and longer each time, the band goes on one last cross-country tour, chasing the cure to what ails ’em and hilariously/brutally slaughtering the worst of humanity along the way to an explosive showdown with The Westboro Baptist Church.

Continue reading

AWA_5-0

With Issue #5 available at comic book stores this week, Archie Comics’ groundbreaking Afterlife with Archie wraps its first story arc.  Bridging a classic group of characters with the horror and zombie genres, it may be the most mainstream route to buying into this zombie thing for those who haven’t been pulled over the fence yet with The Walking Dead.

Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done the unthinkable, taking the most popular Golden Age non-superhero series full of 1940s and 1950s values–truly a title for all ages–and ripped Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty’s world from its seams.  And Francesco Francavilla brings some of his best work, and finest horror imagery, to the series.

Afterlife with Archie trade paperback

It all started when someone hit Jughead’s best pal, his dog Hot Dog, with a car.  From the pages of a Stephen King book, Jughead begins a quest that engages Sabrina the Teenage Witch to bring Hot Dog back from the dead.  What Hot Dog brings back with him was not foreseen, and the result is a fight for Archie and his remaining living friends to escape Riverdale, while they still can.

Continue reading

Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy Volume II

Review by C.J. Bunce

Forget about all those post-apocalyptic stories, only Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy could tap the Book of Revelations for a zombie story out of the actual Apocalypse.  Juggling the best parts of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the humor of Ghostbusters, with high drama, satire, and whimsical blasphemy, Portugal’s creative team of Felipe Melo, Juan Cavia, and Santiago Villa bring the world-saving duo back to the pages of Dark Horse Comics in The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy II: Apocalypse.

We reviewed the first volume in the series, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy, here at borg.com back in November 2012.  In the first book the reader becomes a character walking along with the duo as writer Felipe Melo breaks the “third and fourth walls” in a funny and beautifully drawn story.

This time Dog and Pizza Boy are back in Portugal and all hell is breaking loose.  Locusts, horned beasts, the four horsemen, the sign of the last days, it’s all intertwined with the hilarity of these strange friends, a little girl demon (who was kicked out of Hell) named Pazuul, and a stone gargoyle named Edgar Augustus.  Piled high with pop culture references and in-jokes, Melo’s story is as smart as any book on the newsstands, irreverent and wildly funny.

Juan Cavia’s artistry is as good as it gets.  What’s going on away from the action is often the best part of the scene.  On one page, the top panel shows fire and brimstone raining down on the group as they dodge explosions in their Volkswagen Beetle.  On panel two we see a close-up of Dog and Pizzaboy with looks of horror yet Pazuul has an expression of a gleeful little girl as if on an amusement park ride.  I don’t know why it’s so funny, but it is.

Look for a foreword in this edition by zombie master George A. Romero and a “making of” section as well as “The Untold Tales of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy.”

The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonca and PizzaBoy Volume 2: Apocalypse is available in comic book stores February 26, 2014, or pre-order a copy here at Amazon.com.

Dog and Pizzaboy III

And if you like the first two volumes in the series, you’ll want to catch the final volume, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy III: Requiem in stores in November 2014.

Afterlife with Archie main cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Nothing is more impressive than someone creating an original work that makes you interested in something you were not interested in before.  Even better, when someone creates a new mash-up that brings together two concepts that just can’t go together–like Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Sabrina–and zombies.  Yet they make it work.  A candidate for best single issue comic book this year is Issue #1 of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s new series Afterlife with Archie.

It’s so wrong, and yet so right.  I reader Archie Comics as a kid, but I still haven’t been swept up by the zombie thing… until now.  Heavily influenced by the monster comics of Bernie Wrightson, the art in Afterlife with Archie is as good as it gets.  Eisner winner Francavilla’s style is entirely his own, and like his Black Beetle series discussed here at borg.com earlier this year, readers are transported to the vision of the past as seen in Golden Age comic books.  Even the paper and printing on Issue #1 feels like you’re holding a 1940s comic book in your hands.  Francavilla brings together the classic characters of the Archie universe and the creepiness of “how the end of the world begins”.

Continue reading

Originally slated for December 2012 release date which was pushed by Paramount Studios in favor of the Tom Cruise movie Jack Reacher, the zombie movie World War Z release was kicked out all the way to June 21, 2013.  Although Brad Pitt holds his own as usual in the first trailer, released this past weekend, the zombies in this preview look like… ordinary people.  En masse they flow like liquid or carpenter ants crawling over each other around their little anthill homes.  Like many previews released this year, we bet the production is saving a lot for later, or maybe they haven’t yet finished off their CGI work.

Continue reading