Author: Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger is best known to comics fans as the editor of Who's Who In The DC Universe, Suicide Squad, and Doom Patrol. He's written and edited several Star Trek novels and is the author of The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. He's known for his work as an editor for Comics Scene, Starlog, and Weekly World News, as well as holding executive positions at both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.
REVIEW: The Lost Adventures of James Bond
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REVIEW: The Lost Adventures of James Bond

The Lost Adventures of James Bond
By Mark Edlitz
315 pages, $29.95 (print)/$9.99, (eBook)

It sometimes feels like that for every James Bond film made, there are several others that never get before the cameras. We hear of actors, writers, and directors coming and going, which sometimes explains the long gap between films. And with an unexpected delay for No Time to Die (please open in 2021), we could use a dose of 007.

Mark Edlitz delivers with his latest deep dive into pop culture. His self-published The Lost Adventures of James Bond covers the films, novels, comic books, and other media complete with fresh interviews with many who were actively developing stories we’ll never see.

While I knew comics writer Cary Bates wrote an unsolicited treatment, which he sold, I had no idea John Landis, fresh off Schlock, was invited by Bond impresario Cubby Broccoli to write a screenplay for Roger Moore. (It’s worth reading just for his anecdote about Queen Elizabeth.) Nor was I aware that there was active development of at least three different Bond films for Timothy Dalton, who lasted a mere two outings.

We learn how times change, audience tastes change, and sometimes it was hard for Eon Productions to keep up. Or the things that excited some writers didn’t excite Eon. And yet, elements from many an unused story found their way into other productions throughout the years, so little went to waste.

With his exhaustive research, he has unearthed details on the films, but also does a deep dive into the James Bond Junior television series, covering almost every angle. Even television commercials get their due.

While many interviewed here never got to see their ideas fully realized, they almost all give credit to Richard Maibaum, the screenwriter who set the cinematic template in the 1960s, going on to pen a dozen missions. Apparently, he wrote a series of essays about Bond, a rare book I’d like to find and read.

His appendixes include a comprehensive catalog of everyone to portray the secret agent in all media, far more than you would realize.  There’s also a guide to all the stories in print and on film. Finally, the treatments to the unproduced A Silent Armageddon and “A Deadly Prodigal” are presented in their entirety.

Edlitz supplements his interviews and narrative with fine illustrations from Pat Carbajal along with imagery from international comic books and comic strips through the years.

This is a worthy addition to anyone’s Bond library and certainly alongside Edlitz’s earlier The Many Lives of James Bond.

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REVIEW: Westworld: Season Three: The New World

HBO’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Westworld is an interesting barometer of geekdom’s temperature. The first season arrived and it was a cause celebre, given its rich, sprawling cast, topical questions about the role of AI in our lives, and plenty of violence and nudity.

The second season clearly went off the rails and people questioned what was going on even as those who stuck around were intrigued by the glimpses into the other worlds vacationers could visit.

Through it all, there was Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), the android who went beyond her programming and chose to control her destiny. In the third season, things went back on the right track as you can see for yourself in the just-released Westworld: Season Three: The New World from Warner Home Entertainment.

Delores escaped the park at the end of last season and we see “our” world through her eyes which was an interesting bit of writing. We also meet Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul), a former soldier turned petty criminal whose story takes its time but ultimately dovetails with Delores’. Similarly, the story of Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) and Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel) takes its time and shows other aspects of this world and its inhabitants.

Where Delores’ “reawakenings” led to her sentience, Maeve’s takes us in another other direction and explores her in a World War II Italy Warworld reality, which brings her to Serac.

Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) and William (Ed Harris) make the odd couple of sorts in the third major arc of the ten-episode season. Here, they struggle with determining reality versus simulation, an interesting notion as more people in the real world plug into various forms of artificial reality (Ready Player One anyone?).

The connector to all of this is Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who is never less than interesting to watch.

The good ideas and strong performances more than make up for the uneven writing across the season. It’ll be back and there’s more than enough here to entice us to come back for another E-ticket ride.

The box set comes with both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray editions along with a Digital HD code. The 2160p transfer in 1.78:1 is excellent. The Dolby Vision nicely punches up the blacks and darker details from the traditional film.

The 1080p transfer is equally strong which helps tremendously. Both benefit from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and Dolby Atmos so this makes for an excellent home video experience.

Much of the Special Features, scattered across the Blu-ray discs, are drawn from the existing HBO extras, starting with Escape from Westworld (1:53), which introduces viewers to the setup. Disc one also features Creating Westworld: Parce Domine (6:36); The Winter Line (7:18); The Absence of Field (6:05); and Exploring Warworld (3:56).

Disc Two offers up Creating Westworld‘s Reality:  Genre (3:54) and Decoherence (4:48). Disc Three features We Live in a Technocracy (13:44) spotlights producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy; A Vision for the Future (14:09); RICO: Crime and the Gig Economy (7:07); Westworld on Location (11:20); and Welcome to Westworld: Evan Rachel Wood and Aaron Paul – Analysis (3:46), Evan Rachel Wood and Aaron Paul – Who Said It? (3:43), Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson – Analysis (3:22), Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson – Who Said It? (2:57); Creating Westworld‘s Reality: Passed Pawn (4:09) and Crisis Theory (9:03).

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REVIEW: Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy

Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis turned a high concept into a charming, enduring film in Back to the Future. It spawned two uneven sequels (and I am so glad Gale see s no reason for a fourth installment) with time-hopping DeLorean and the character of Doc Brown melding into the pop culture zeitgeist.

The films, certainly the first one, deserve to be seen by all, including the current generation to whom the 1950s and 1980s are equally ancient.

Thankfully, Universal Home Entertainment agrees and we have been treated to DVDs, and Blu-rays ever since. Out this week, in time for everyone’s holiday shopping, comes Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy as the films receive the Ultra HD treatment. In a lovely embossed slipbox, you get six discs with carryover content from the 2010 and 2015 editions.

Doc Brown has invented a time machine and with Marty on hand, they travel back to 1955, inadvertently keeping Marty’s parents from meeting. As time threatens to unravel, he has to befriend them both, avoid his mom’s icky romantic advances, and get them to fall in love while dealing with the social mores of a conservative era that, like time, is slowly starting to come part. It took televisions stars Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox and turned them into movie stars. The rest of the casting was spot on which helped turn the first film into a blockbuster.

So of course, we had a sequel, going forward in time to see further ripples that are more unpleasant than one would hope for. Here. Elisabeth Shue comes along for the rider as Marty’s girlfriend and future wife (a concept which frightens here at first). And then, for the final installment, they head backwards, to a simple, dustier time: The Wild West. This is the less creatively interesting one but saved thanks to the romance between Doc Brown and Mary Steenburgen, who is good in everything.

The new scans are pristine and wonderful with Dolby Vision color correction, making shadows deeper and the 1950s a technicolor delight. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack perfectly captures the sound effects, but more important, the vital, vibrant rock and roll that was gaining popularity during the earlier era of the first film. Thankfully, the work on the sequels is equal or even better than the original.

There’s a bonus seventh disc with fresh new supplemental content along with material from the 30th anniversary edition. Among the new features is the brief The Hollywood Museum Goes Back to the Future (10:17), as Museum President Donelle Dadigan walks us through their BTTF exhibit. There’s also Back to the Future: The Musical Behind the Scenes, a three part feature on the musical version.

A nice addition is An Alternate Future: Lost Audition Tapes (3:45 focusing on those who didn’t win the familiar roles. These include potential Biffs Billy Zane and Peter DeLuise; possible Marty McFlys C. Thomas Howell, Jon Cryer, and Ben Stiller as Marty McFly; with Kyra Sedgwick as Jennifer Parker.

Finally, there’s Could You Survive the Movies? Back to the Future (19:47): A YouTube video which reality tests some of the physical humor from the films.

REVIEW: Batman: Death in the Family
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REVIEW: Batman: Death in the Family

900 numbers for polling purposes, charging users for each call placed, was a 1980s fad that seemed perfect to employ in comic books for some sort of stunt. Editor Denny O’Neil and DC’s Marketing team, led by Bruce Bristow, conceived of the stunt and Jim Starlin wrote the four-part “Death in the Family” storyline to accommodate the stunt. Jason Todd, the second Robin, never was accepted by fans, either under his father, writer Gerry Conway or the post-Crisis writers Max Allan Collins and Jim Starlin. Callers got to say he would live or die.

It went on to become a media sensation, and a closer than expected vote. It also brought down the wrath of Warner Bros who was unaware of the event and the press attention because, back then, DC was a pimple on the conglomerate’s butt and no one considered telling them.

Still, the strong storyline and fine art from Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo turned the story, post-event, into a seminal tale that has been collected and referenced ever since. It sadly also gave rise to the nonsensical “Under the Red Hood”, which somehow resurrected Jason Todd, turning him from a mid-to-late teen into a muscular adult. We know the Lazarus Pit can bring back the dead, but the physical changes seemed arbitrary/ Nor was his resurrection necessary. But that’s me.

The twin stories have been compacted into the newly released Batman: Death in the Family, containing a first for the DC Animated Universe: interactivity. Much like the original story, once the Joker beats Robin with a crowbar, viewers get to pick what happens next: Robin dies in a fiery explosion or Batman save Robin. Later, viewers get other branching options, so the 86 minute run time covers all the variations while each iteration runs about 20 minutes each.

Some make more sense than others, and there’s reused footage from the Under the Red Hood animated film, both of which were directed by Brandon Vietti.

As a stunt, it’s fine with fun branches and keeps you engaged. As an adaptation of the Big Event, it leaves a lot to be desired. In truncating the story, we lose Robin’s motivation, which was seeking his birth mother, leading him to accidentally encountering the Joker. Here, he’s a brat, defying Batman’s orders to not go after the Clown Prince of Crime by himself. Meanwhile, very little of the Judd Winick story about Jason’s resurrection and reinvention as the Red Hood survives in this adaptation.

It’s interesting for this to come out just after the animated universe was rebooted in the recently released Superman; Man of Steel disc, since this stands alone.

The disc is available only as Blu-ray and Digital HD code option. Please be aware that the Digital version does not offer the branching options so you get one story called Under the Red Hood: Reloaded.

The 1080p presentation is in keeping with the usual high standards from Warner Home Entertainment and retains the color palette well. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio keeps pace so the overall home experience is a strong one.

The adventure receives audio commentary from DC Daily’s Amy Dallen and Hector Navarro, touching on the source material and the animated adaptation.

The disc comes complete with the recent run of DC Showcase shorts, which have been scattered elsewhere overt the last few years. As with the previous releases, these tend to be more satisfying than the stories they accompany. This time around we have Sgt. Rock (14:55), first appearing on Batman: Hush; Adam Strange (16:05), which can also be found on Justice League Dark: Apokolips War; The Phantom Stranger (15:07) from Superman: Red Son; and Death (19:08), which first appeared on Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.

The shorts also receive new commentary from Dallen and Navarro, adding some additional background and detail.

 

REVIEW: Genesis II/Planet Earth
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REVIEW: Genesis II/Planet Earth

Gene Roddenberry left Star Trek’s third season to write a Tarzan film that never got produced, setting a tone for the next decade of his career. He produced the wretched Pretty Maids all in a Row and slunk back to television, first with the animated Trek and then a deal with Warner Bros that would see him produce the underrated Questor and Spectre along with a new science fiction film, seemingly designed to distance himself from the optimistic SF albatross around his neck.

He cut a deal with CBS in 1972 to produce a 90-minute film, Genesis II designed to be a pilot for a potential series. He quickly reunited with many of the behind-the-scenes Trek team and got to work, creating a dystopia that began in 1979. We open in 2133 as Earth is recovering from nuclear war and mankind has been dramatically reduced in number. Apparently, the survivors didn’t learn any lessons as the two sides battle, with dollops of slavery, racism, and gender inequality still on display.

“My name is Dylan Hunt. My story begins the day on which I died.”  A NASA scientist, Hunt (Alex Cord) slept through the worst and is awoken to find a world out of control. Using his perspective, he finds like-minded allies forming a rebellious group determined to repair and ultimately save mankind.

As a concept, it’s not bad. The execution, from Samuel A. Peebles’ script on down, is where the pilot film gets into trouble. Peebles’ writing was stiff, and whatever rewriting Roddenberry did, didn’t help. The characters are types, never fully fleshed out, and Cord’s heroic role is blunted by his cold, aloof performance (making him better suited as Airwolf’s Archangel a few years later).

The most interesting performer here is actually Mariette Hartley, who isn’t wearing much (thank you, William Ware Theiss), allowing us to see her two navels (long story), but she has charisma and presence, unlike just about everyone else surrounding her.

Set against an America that was still arguing over Vietnam, a public just waking up to the corruption in the White House, and where a generation gap made communication nearly impossible, the themes are bluntly handled and where Trek offered people hope, this showed that nothing was going to change. Despite reasonable ratings during two airings, the network dithered over greenlighting the series. Ultimately, they gave the one SF slot on the schedule (talk about your quota systems) to a weekly version of Planet of the Apes.

ABC was waiting in the wings, wanting the show, but like Trek got a second pilot order with the new network insisting on major casting revisions. Gone was Cord, and in came journeyman action actor John Saxon, who had an appeal of his own and was a popular name thanks to Enter the Dragon. Also gone was Hartley in favor of Diana Muldaur, who was game but unconvincing in her part. The sole holdover was Ted Cassidy, but he didn’t have enough to do.

Rather than use the current events of the day as a springboard, Roddenberry stuck to themes that didn’t translate well nor were they well-handled in the rewrite, this time from Roddenberry and relatively new to TV writing Juanita Bartlett (who acquitted herself later on series like The Rockford Files and The Greatest American Hero.)

Joining the reimagined show was producer Robert Justman, fresh off the beleaguered Search, and he wrangled the production into a 90-minute production that never quite gelled. Years later, he admitted it wasn’t a very good pilot, which explains why ABC didn’t go to series.

Warner Archive remastered these two telefilms and they look pretty darn good. They are certainly a cultural curiosity, worth watching if you are a devotee of Roddenberry. They’re not very good as stories or pilots, the lofty ideas never properly translating to the screen. (It should be noted that after Roddenberry left, the studio tried one more time with Strange New World which isn’t here and that’s fine.) There are no extras but having these two on one-disc is a nice keepsake for collectors.

REVIEW: Superman: Man of Tomorrow

REVIEW: Superman: Man of Tomorrow

Every reboot of Superman tries something different, striving to find a fresh approach to the material, and Superman: Man of Tomorrow is no different. This direct-to-video release, out now from Warner Home Entertainment, is intended as the opening chapter in a new continuity, a Rebirth, as it were, of the DC Animated Universe.

Other than the destruction of Krypton, baby Kal-El being raised by the Kents, and Clark (Darren Criss) arriving gin Metropolis as an adult, everything else is a modern take. Clark arrives as an intern with Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario) just a grad student making her bones at the paper. Perry White (Piotr Michael) is there in all his bluster with Ron Troupe (Eugene Byrd) there for diversity and not a sign of Jimmy Olsen, Steve Lombard, or Cat Grant.

The story suggests Earth is aware of alien life and S.T.A.R. Labs, now owned by Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto), is shown as being designed to hold and analyze extraterrestrials but it’s a mere breadcrumb for the future and is never addressed here. Instead, the focus is on Clark’s debut as the aviator-goggled flying man, doing good deeds, and starting to get noticed.

When a rocket prototype fails, he exposes himself to save humanity, and now everyone wants to know who he is. But, before much can be done about this, Lobo arrives. Now, the entire story grinds to halt as he announces he’s been hired to kill Kal-El, the sole survivor of Krypton. They fight, they talk, they battle, they partner. And at no point does anyone ask, “Who hired you? Why did they hire you? How’d you know he was on Earth?” The lack of curiosity, especially when major members of the cast are journalists is appalling.

Superman is aided by the Martian Manhunter (Ike Amadi), who has been badly shadowing our hero and finally reveals himself and has to deal with the consequences.

But, Lobo’s (Ryan Hurst) arrival accidentally turns Rudy Jones (Brett Dalton) into the Parasite, an entirely new origin for the villain., and making him a far more tragic, and deadly, figure. His threat prompts Superman to turn to Lex Luthor for help, which reveals Lex’s sinister side. But, it’s Superman’s humanity that shines through in the climax, showing why he is a hero and worth looking up to.

The story moves along briskly, with the action and destruction doled out every few minutes, with pauses to visit Smallville, including a touching scene with Martha (Bellamy Young) handing the familiar red and blue suit to her son. The budding relationships between Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman also are nicely handled.

Less well handled is the J’Onn J’Onzz and Kal-El scenes, which go for pathos but feels flat. That the story features three supposedly sole survivors of their races is a nice touch.

Visually, there’s a simplicity to the designs of the characters, set against a futuristic city that can be envisioned as city of tomorrow, a fitting home for our hero. Some of the Krypton designs owes much to the Richard Donner films while Lobo is clearly inspired by Simon Bisley interpretation of the character.

The new voice cast is fine, if unexceptional, a freshening without being radical with Darren Criss carrying much of the load.

Overall, as reboots go, this isn’t a bad one, with plenty of room to explore, especially with Batman already operating in Gotham, and alien life visiting Earth with increasing regularity. We’ll see what happens in the next installment, coming no doubt in 2021.

The movie is available in all the usual formats including the 4K Digital HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD Code combo pack. In both 2160 and 1080 scans, the visuals are crisp and strong, retaining all the colors. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is serviceable if unspectacular, which it doesn’t really need to be.

The Special Features are the standard assortment starting with Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos (10:23) where Screenwriter Tim Sheridan, artists Jon Bogdanove and Bernard Chang, DC Daily host Hector Navarro, and voice actor Ryan Hurst very briefly trace Lobo’s humble origins from a bounty hunter in 1983’s Omega Men to star of his own series and ubiquitous appearances through the 1990s and 2000s.

Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found (8:47) presents a similar assortment of talent talking about the themes of the Martian’s role in comparison with humanity. Lacking is the context of his comic book history.

A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie (11:56) is a stylistically cheesy introduction to   Batman: Soul of the Dragon, an animated homage the era’s kung-fu craze, featuring the Dark Knight along with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner (Bronze Tiger), Lady Shiva, and O-Sensei, who all stared in the Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter title written by the late, great Denny O’Neil.

From the DC Vault offers up Two episodes from Superman: The Animated Series – “The Main Man”, parts 1 and 2, which, of course, guest star Lobo.

NextChapter Debuts with Sean Chen’s 24-Hour Only Wingman

NextChapter Debuts with Sean Chen’s 24-Hour Only Wingman

It takes a lot for a new publisher to get noticed these days and the challenge is to offer up something that hasn’t been seen before. New heroes? Check. New shared universe? Check. Variant covers? Check.

So, NextChapter—a graphic media publisher and distributor formed by and launching from The Great Company, arrives today with something unique. Veteran artist Sean Chen offers up their inaugural title, Wingman: Compendium of an Artist’s First Writing Experience, which showcases his artwork in addition to his first writing. The 9.5” x 12” 64-page softcover comes complete with Chen’s story and commentary on its creation and evolution.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the title will only be available on NextChapter’s website for 24-hours only, starting earlier today at 10:00 a.m. PDT. The storybook offers readers a look into Chen’s creative process, while random fans who purchase the book will also receive an autographed sketch from Chen, best known for his work at Valiant Comics and Marvel Comics.

In addition to the $28 softcover, 15 1-of-1 original drawings will be up for auction. The gallery will be powered by crypto vexels and hosted by crypto art community Machi X DAO, a member-directed organization where members pool resources and create proposals.

It’s an interesting gamble for the tyro writer but one he feels ready for. “I have never written for the majors, or anything really,” he told ComicMix in an exclusive interview. “I have an abiding love for great stories and always wanted to dabble in the process.  Regardless of having never formally written anything, as I matured, my sensibilities and knowledge of what makes good writing developed, so I did feel ready and confident that I could write on a level that had a decent chance of going over well.  If not, the project can function as art content for my Instagram, which needed to be fed almost daily.  I would know soon enough if the writing was connecting with people.  If it did, then I would entertain the possibility of bringing it out of Instagram to a larger audience in print.”

Interestingly, Chen, known for Iron Man and X*O Man of War, went back in time to feature the story of an old Knight from the Crusades, dying and reflecting on a full life.

“Before I ever wrote anything, the one thing I was sure of was that the genre would be a science fiction thriller. That had always been my genre of choice because it was very visual, action-packed, but also engaged the heavy thought-provoking literary aspects that you usually don’t find in superhero stories.  The biggest surprise for me was that it was not that at all.  Instead, it went toward iconic characters from vintage foreign films.

“Another aspect that was a shock for me was that it had so much comedy in it.  In fact, the story seems to defy all attempts to classify which I think is great because it’s a rare thing to get that feeling of being totally engrossed in a story and invested in the fate of the characters and not having a clue of what’s going to happen next.

“Also surprising was the revelation that as episodes of the comic were being released on my Instagram, readers were commenting very positively about the story.  They wanted to know how the story would end, while also not wanting it to end.  That was when I found out that I can actually bring something to the table as a writer!

“I think the genre I ended up exploring in Wingman was a reaction to drawing decades of superhero work from Marvel and DC.  Normally, super-hero or Sci-Fi would be the genre I would work in, but this first project I wanted to take a breather from the capes and spandex.  I think people who are familiar with my Marvel/DC work would see that Wingman has a completely different style.  I came across the iconic image of The Seventh Seal opening movie scene where The Knight and The Grim Reaper play a game of chess on a desolate craggy beach.  Because of the imagination of Ingmar Bergman and the cinematography that image hit me like a lightning bolt, and I felt compelled to draw it.  The dialogue was equally iconic, so I added a word balloon repeating what I had heard in the clip.  It all began from there and became a reimagined story set in modern time.”

Chen began the story for himself, posting it on his Instagram account in small batches. In time, that allowed me to gauge reader’s reactions in the comments section and mine it for vital feedback. I used my followers as an important focus group.  The most important feedback I was looking for was whether the story was engaging and if the jokes were landing with the proper effect. Other factors such as pointing out plot holes, and lesser things like grammar and spelling.  Many changes and corrections were made based on this feedback on both writing and art.  So I did dedicate the book to ‘My Fine Followers on Instagram’ whom I consider to be Editor/Art Director.”

He partnered with NextChapter because he knew the startup’s publisher, Carl Choi, from Chen’s work in the advertising field. “When he approached me about releasing a print version of Wingman what sold me on his new company was that he envisioned an educational and outreach component.  His vision was to build a community that connected readers to creators that had the goal of showcasing what was possible in the medium of comics and to teach people how they can express themselves using the medium.  He required of me to create even more content in the form of commentary and educational matter that demystified how a comic is drawn, written and produced.  The first prong of his publishing plan was to use Instagram to debut the comic.  This allows readers to connect directly to the creator with feedback or questions. Then in the printed release, the creator commentary and process discussion is another great way to give readers insight into the creative process.”

The other challenge for him as a creator having the work presented in landscape rather than the traditional waterfall page orientation. He explained this was NextChapter’s creative decision, which he wholeheartedly supported.  “This was because it allowed for the large amount of commentary and educational text that was added in sidebars which gives readers insight into the creative process.  The biggest challenge to the format was that because the comic was meant for Instagram, it had to be readable on a mobile phone interface.  Lettering needed to be larger, so dialogue had to be succinct while still feeling natural.  The art also had to be readable at a small size while still allowing me to indulge in my usual meticulous inking style.,” he said.

As this release heralds a new chapter in Chen’s growth as a creator, he remains the monthly artist on DC’s Batman Beyond and he’s excited for its future, noting, “I am about to embark on the massively important issue #50!  Beyond that, I plan to do more writing and drawing stories.  Probably that Sci-Fi thriller that has always been brewing in the back of my mind.  Or really anything that strikes my fancy.  It’s a great time to create now as self-publishing is easier than ever, and outlets for comics material are plentiful.  It’s a powerful feeling to be able to draw and write my own stories at a time where fans will respond to individual creators passion instead of habitually looking to the big 2 for their typical comics fix.

The nine year old Great Company, found by Carl Choi and based in Los Angeles, promotes itself as providing “Event Marketing · Brand Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, and Marketing Consulting”.

James Gunn Reveals Suicide Squad Who’s Who at DC Fandome

James Gunn Reveals Suicide Squad Who’s Who at DC Fandome

Just a little while ago, director James Gunn unveiled the large cast for The Suicide Squad, opening Aug. 6, 2021. Gunn, at the daylong DC Fandome, talked about his love of the 1987 series, written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Luke McDonald and Karl Kesel.

Idris Elba is playing Bloodsport, Alice Braga is playing Sulsoria, Nathan Fillion is playing T.D.K., Pete Davidson is playing Blackguard, Michael Rooker is playing Savant, John Cena is playing Peacemaker, David Dastmalchian is playing Polka-Dot Man, Sean Gunn is playing Weasel, Peter Capaldi is playing the Thinker, Flula Borg is playing Javelin, Daniela Melchior is playing Ratcatcher 2, Mayling Ng is playing Mongal, and Steve Agee is playing King Shark for CGI and the team’s supporting player, Johnny Economos.

REVIEW: Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons

REVIEW: Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons

REVIEW: Deathstroke: Knights & DragonsIt seems every decade, DC and Marvel each introduce a major threat that captures the readership’s imagination. In the 1980s, for DC that was Deathstroke, a wonderfully complex opponent to the New Teen Titans, reaching a high point with the much-lauded “The Judas Contract” storyline in 1985. In the hands of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, he rose head and shoulders above most other super-villains of the day.

Since then, he has been used by virtually every writer, pitting him against most every mask and cape in the DC Universe. He’s successfully crossed over to animation and even live-action television and film. As a result, depending on the creators involved, he remains a fascinating, deadly threat or a run of the mill villain used to merely show up the hero.

The most recent such example is the CW Seed animated miniseries, Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons, which is now out as a feature film from Warner Home Entertainment. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Blue Ribbon Content, the story features yet another take on Slade Wilson and the choices he made from soldier to husband to mercenary to contract killer. Thankfully, it is in the hands of J.M. DeMatteis who understands characterization, comics, and has proven rather adept at bringing comics characters to other media.

DeMatteis focused on one of the most interesting aspects of Wilson (Michael Chiklis), that of a married man with a child. Whereas the comics had Wilson as the father of two with Adeline “Addie” Kane Wilson (Sasha Alexander) (and a daughter, Rose, with another woman, alluded to here), here, the focus is just on Joseph (Griffin Puatu) and Wilson keeps his alter ego a secret from his wife, who in the comics knew all about it. Their domestic tranquility, already tense from his frequent business trips, is shattered when the Jackal (Chris Jai Alex) leads a horde of H.I.V.E. agents to kidnap Joseph to force Wilson to do their Queen’s (Faye Mata) bidding.

Along the way, we find many other familiar DC faces such as Bronze Tiger (Delbert Hunt), Jade (Faye Mata), and of course, Lady Shiva (Panta Mosleh). None of whom figured in the original source material so it’s with relief that Wilson’s brother in arms, Wintergreen (Colin Salmon) is present.

The 87-minute compilation is smoothly edited and works better as a whole. Note that this is violent and earns its R rating repeatedly throughout the tale thanks to director Sung Jin Ahn (Niko and the Sword of Light) taking full advantage of his medium.

The single disc comes in a perfectly fine 1080p transfer, supported with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. This makes for a good viewing experience. The sole special feature is Deathstroke: One-Man Death Machine (13:44), which nicely spotlights his evolution with commentary from Wolfman, Pérez, Chiklis, and Arrow’s Manu Bennett.

REVIEW: His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season

REVIEW: His Dark Materials: The Complete First Season

REVIEW: His Dark Materials: The Complete First SeasonI will admit that I have read only the first volume of Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, The Golden Compass, and I saws New Line’s feature film adaptation. It was an interesting take on the tropes as well as being an allegory about religion in our world. But one book was enough for me.

I thought one adaptation would be enough, too, but the HBO series based on the same material changed my mind. The eight episodes aired earlier this year and the season has been collected on Blu-ray from Warner Home Entertainment.

In this world, everyone’s soul is housed in an animal avatar known as daemons. There exists a faction that wants to separate the human from the soul as part of the Magisterium’s ability to control the population. They like their secrets and politics (as does any totalitarian regime) and the most intriguing notion may be that there exist parallel worlds.

Our focal point into this fascinating world is young Lyra (Dafne Keen, who you may remember from Logan)), who, accompanied by her daemon Pantalaimon (voiced by Kit Connor), goes searching for her best friend, who has been taken. Adventure awaits her, along with becoming an irritant to the Big Bad a.k.a. Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson). Her friend isn’t the only one taken and as she uncovers this secret, she becomes fascinated with something called Dust.

The worldbuilding slowly unfolds, affecting some of the pacing, but once things take off, we race along as the threats and dangers grow. So, too, does Lyra’s posse, including the aeronaut Lee Scorsby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and the gloriously large polar bear king Iofur Raknison (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz).

And while the first season ends, sort of, it does set us up for the approved second season, which has been trimmed to a mere seven episodes. The show is sumptuous to look at and after taking a moment to forget the film incarnations (played by Nicole Kidman and Sam Elliot among others), we grow to like the new interpretations.

The 1080p transfer in 1.78:1 sparkles, capturing the full range of colors and blacks remain deep. It is well accompanied by the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track so viewers are in for a treat. The discs come complete with all the HBO-generated special features including Adapting His Dark Materials (4:00): Building His Dark Materials (6:00), Dressing His Dark Materials (3:00); The Daemons of His Dark Materials (4:00); James McAvoy – Bringing Lord Asriel To Life (3:00); Lin-Manuel Miranda – Bringing Lee Scoresby To Life (2:00); Ruth Wilson – Bringing Mrs. Coulter To Life (3:00);  Dafne Keen – Bringing Lyra Belacqua To Life (4:00); Making His Dark Materials (33:00),   narrated by Clarke Peters.