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Feb 162014
 

StarWars14Finalby Michael Brown, staff writer

Dark Horse Comics has been churning out quality Star Wars comics for years, from one-shots to long-running series, with almost everything winning awards. For years we’d been reading stuff like Dark Empire and getting tales of the Heroes of Yavin after the First Galactic Civil War. We fell in love with Knights of the Old Republic, which gave us stories of Jedi from even longer ago. And we marveled at Legacy, in which came stories of years in the future and the exploits of another Skywalker.  When it was announced over 14 months ago that they would be putting out a new Star Wars book set directly after the events of  Episode IV: A New Hope, and starring Luke, Han, Leia and the gang, fan excitement went through the roof.  And I will confess that I, your humble reviewer, was part of it. It did not disappoint.

Star Wars #1 was released with a stunning Alex Ross cover and was easily accessible for both hard core fans (those of us keeping up with the Expanded Universe) and the more casual fans who may have only seen the movies. Writer Brian Wood added depth to characters we already knew and loved. Throughout the series, Luke is still the idealistic farm boy, but now he’s saddled with some responsibility and dealing with abilities he’s only just beginning to understand. Han is still the incorrigible scoundrel, yet still wondering if he’s ready to throw his lot in with this band of rebels. Leia is no shrinking violet. Wood depicts her as a strong fighter, a warrior in her own right, who is just as comfortable behind the yoke of an X-Wing as she is behind a podium. For over a year,  Star Wars has been acclaimed by both fans and critics and is showing no signs of slowing down, despite its impending return to Marvel in 2015.

 

*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!*

 

Star Wars #14 is the second of a two-part story concerning Darth Vader and his attempts to clean up the mess after the events in Star Wars #12, the finale of a 12-issue arc which dealt with the Rebel Alliance searching for a new home after Yavin, and the mole who is sabotaging the Alliance’s mission. Brian Wood delivers a solid and chilling tale of a Sith Lord who has had enough and wants some payback. Five Days of  Sith is told from the point-of-view of Ensign Nanda, a 22 year-old Imperial officer assigned to be Vader’s special assistant during what becomes five days of Vader ruthlessly killing anyone responsible, however indirectly, for the events in issue 12.  Accompanying Vader is what appears to be an early version of the 501st, the elite stormtrooper regiment that answers only to Vader. I liked this fill-in tale, which also shows a smidgen of Vader’s vulnerability. The Dark Lord has been snubbed by the Emperor after the disaster at Yavin, even having been removed from command of  the flagship Devastator as punishment. Vader’s mission of vengeance is just as much personal as it is a way to get back into the Emperor’s good graces.

Carlos D’Anda, who is the usual penciler for the series, took a break for this one (probably resting his hand after that epic space battle in issue 12), handing the artwork duties over to Facundo Percio, who worked with Warren Ellis on  Avatar Press‘ Anna Mercury. Artists I’ve met and talked to at cons have always said, regarding work on Star Wars, that the hardest thing about penciling is drawing Vader. Percio handled it admirably in a book that was all Vader.

Brian Wood has been scripting excellent stories all year and the feel of Star Wars has definitely been present throughout the series and this offering is no different. As I said earlier and as comics and Star Wars fans already know, Marvel Comics is scheduled to pick up the Star Wars license from Dark Horse in 2015. But until that happens, Dark Horse Comics has promised their fans that they would continue with high quality Star Wars stories until it was time to stop. As far as I’m concerned, they are keeping that promise with a vengeance. I’m not going to speculate on the future of Star Wars once it gets to Marvel. I’m just going to say that if you like classic Star Wars in a comic that captures the tone and the feel perfectly, with every issue almost mimicking the excitement you felt when you were in the theater and John Williams’ score blasted in the dark. you seriously can’t miss this book.

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Jan 042014
 

imagesby Michael Brown, staff writer

Disney/Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment officially announced in a press release Friday afternoon that Marvel will be given exclusive rights to create and publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels in 2015 , taking it from its current home at Dark Horse Comics. The agreement, which many fans and critics saw coming since the Lucasfilm buyout in October 2012, will return Star Wars to the House of Ideas, where the comic version of the films was first launched. Star Wars #1 was first released from Marvel in March 1977 and the Bullpen would go on to publish the further adventures of the Heroes of Yavin for nine years.

In 1991, fledgling comics company Dark Horse Comics picked up the license and would go on to produce a cornucopia of fan-favorite, award-winning stories from a galaxy far, far away, such as Dark EmpireKnights of the Old Republic, based on the BioWare video game, and the immensely popular Star Wars: Legacy.  Last year, Dark Horse released their new Star Wars ongoing series, written by Brian Wood, set in the period after Episode IV and was instantly met with critical acclaim. More recently, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original, rough-draft screenplay The Star Wars was released, garnering rave reviews and attracting national media attention.

“Dark Horse Comics published exceptional Star Wars comics for over 20 years, and we will always be grateful for their enormous contributions to the mythos, and the terrific partnership that we had,” said Carol Roeder, director of Lucasfilm franchise publishing, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “In 2015, the cosmic adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca will make the lightspeed jump back to Marvel, to begin a new age of adventures within the Star Wars universe.” 

1925308-2000px_marvellogo.svg“We here at Marvel could not be more excited to continue the publication of Star Wars comic books and graphic novels,” said Marvel worldwide publisher and president, Dan Buckley. “The perennial brand of Star Wars is one of the most iconic in entertainment history and we are honored to have the opportunity to bring our creative talent pool to continue, and expand Star Wars into galaxies far, far away.”

“We’re incredibly excited by this next chapter in the Star Wars saga,” said Andrew B. Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. “Bringing together the iconic Lucasfilm and Marvel brands to tell new stories will allow us to continue to thrill lovers of the original Star Wars comic books and entertain generations to come.”

Dark-Horse-Comics-Logo1

Mike Richardson, publisher and owner of Dark Horse Comics, also released this statement:

“All things come to pass. So too, do all license deals. I am sad to report that Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm, has notified us here at Dark Horse of their intention to move the Star Wars publishing license to another of their recent acquisitions, Marvel Comics, beginning in 2015. This will end a partnership that has lasted more than two decades … Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach … I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.

It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever… In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.”

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Jan 032014
 

by Michael Brown, staff writer

images (5)Since Arthur Conan Doyle introduced his idiosyncratic detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal assistant Dr. John Watson to the literary world, the different iterations have been numerous,  to say the least. From exploring Holmes’  childhood, to Holmes in the future, from comedic interpretations as bumbling idiots, to more modern retellings like CBS’ Elementary or the BBC’s Sherlock, the sleuths have certainly been around the block. Which brings me to …

After being happy that Brian Michael Bendis was back in form in Guardians of the Galaxy, I stumbled across a new book while perusing Comixology. Six issues in but it still got my attention. Not only a new book, but a new book by a new company. A new version of Holmes, one of many, but had this one been done before? Not that I could remember.

 It’s easy to forget that with all the hubbub over DC’s New 52 or Marvel’s attempt to reboot their universe in a much less confusing fashion, that comics aren’t all about superheroes and that every once in a while, something comes along that makes comics fresh again.

Watson and Holmes, a Kickstarter project by New Paradigm Studios, puts an African-American Holmes and Watson in present-day Harlem, with all of the crime and problems of that community. Private Investigator Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Afghanistan war vet and Harlem medical intern Jon Watson face mysteries and situations that reflect life in an impoverished urban setting. Writer Karl Bolling is staying true to their origins. Not much light has been shed on Holmes’ background as yet, other than that he’s as brilliant and quirky as those who came before and he still lives at 221 Baker Street.

Watson is a former paratrooper who served in Afghanistan but now works in a clinic emergency room, and it’s there that he meets Holmes for the first time. Watson is a take-charge kind of guy, whose Army background gives him the brawn to Holmes’ brains. Watson also serves as the narrator of the story.

Holmes uses his deductive mind, putting him three steps ahead of everyone else, and he certainly isn’t afraid to mix it up if he has to. He even drops an “elementary” as he explains his deductive reasoning to Watson during their first mystery together. Their first case pits them against well-armed mercenaries-turned-drug-dealers who have captured the daughter of someone Holmes knows. To make matters worse, the abandonment of several babies in dumpsters seems to tie into it.

The partnership is still new, so there’s still plenty of room for character development, but it’s obvious that Watson is impressed with Holmes’ desire to solve the crime and protect the city.  I’ve only read as far as issue #2 as of this writing, so I still haven’t seen Lt. Stroud, but readers have been assured that in issue #3, we get to meet Mycroft. And Rick Leonardi’s pencils are as fresh today as when he was at Marvel.  I loved his Spider-Man 2099. This series is available in a standard version with colors or the “noir” version with only black and white pencils.

This is a version of Holmes and Watson that’s been a long time coming. Just throw caution to the wind and enjoy their new setting. 4 stars.

 About New Paradigm Studios

Founded by 3D artist/designer Brandon Perlow, New Paradigm Studios (NPS) is a new publishing company established to change the existing paradigms of comic book storytelling. Distributed digitally, NPS is committed to publishing cutting edge titles that break the norm and shift away from experiencing the conventional. For the stories at New Paradigm Studios … there are no limits.

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Dec 132013
 
Amazing Spider-Man 3 MovieCULVER CITY, Calif., December 12, 2013 – Sony Pictures Entertainment announced in a press release yesterday that they’re working on not one new Spider-Man movie after The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but three.   Sony wants to do what Marvel Studios did with the Avengers franchise – they want to forge a new legacy in the story of Peter Parker on the big screen.  In assocation with Marvel Entertainment, they’ve got Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard working together to develop a story arc over several films and direct-to-Netflix TV series – including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

They’ll start with Kurtzman, Orci & Pinknerare writing the screenplay for The Amazing Spider-Man 3,  with the hope of getting Marc Webb to direct the film starting next fall for a release in  June 10, 2016.  Then Kurtzman & Orci & Solomon will write the screenplay for Venom, which Kurtzman will direct; then Goddard will write, with an eye to directing, The Sinister Six,  focusing on the villains in the franchise.

They’re betting the future of the studio on this dream team of writers and their incredible luck of getting to work with the Spider-Man universe. These writers have had their hands in all sorts of major film and TV projects, like  Star Trek, Transformers, Alias, Fringe, Men in Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, World War Z,  Lost, Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods, and Marvel’s upcoming Daredevil series.

The most successful franchise in the history of Columbia Pictures, Spider-Man is embraced all over the world. The four Spider-Man films to date have taken in over $3.2 billion worldwide. Spider-Man, Venom, The Sinister Six and other Spider-Man related characters are licensed to Sony by Marvel Entertainment.

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Oct 092013
 
By the Corsair's Closet's Liz Carlie, the 'Mad Woman with a Box'

SPOILERGUARD: Do not read the following if you have not yet seen Marvel’s Agents OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 1.3, “The Asset.” You have been warned.

marvels-agents-of-shieldWith the third episode of Marvel’s Agents OF S.H.I.E.L.D., this fledgling TV show is proving to be more than just an extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This week with The Asset, the show is slowly forming its own solid footprint in this ever-expanding fictional world. A solid pilot reeled audiences in, an action adventure second episode showed that the series can hold its own amongst its feature film contemporaries, and this week proved that it has the potential to make a name on its own merit by showcasing two key players and developing them more as characters that are not only capable of thrilling heroics, but are people who can depend on each other, and more importantly, people that we as an audience can come to care about. Continue reading »

Aug 152013
 

by staff writer Michael Brown

Marvel Comics legend230px-John_Romita_Jr,_2006 and penciler/co-creator of the popular Image comic Kick-Ass has left the Bullpen to work for DC Comics and will work on Superman. The rumor first surfaced at San Diego Comic-Con that Romita Jr. was dissatisfied with contractual arrangements with Marvel, was considering not renewing his contract and taking DC Comics’ offer of Superman. During a panel at SDCC, Romita Jr. hinted that a source of displeasure with Marvel was with not getting to choose his own projects and largely going where editorial wanted him to go. He had mentioned wanting to work on a monthly Doctor Strange book and Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonzo, who slathered him with praise for his work on Amazing Spider-Man when he first came to Marvel decades ago, seemed more than enthusiastic about it.

In an interview with ComicBook.com, Romita Jr. was asked if he would be seen outside Marvel. “Yeah, there’s a good chance I’ll do some work for DC. There’s a better-than-good chance now. It really just came up because we couldn’t agree on a contract with Marvel. And there wasn’t any kind of nastiness or anything like that, just a disagreement here or there. DC is anxious to do something and I actually had a story idea they really liked that applies to Superman.  There’s interest from DC that I have to consider and there’s interest from other people as well–from Image and Kirkman–and I’ve got to look at them all. There’s a possibility of just going freelance and playing around.”

Although he is quick to admit that Marvel wouldn’t be happy to have him freelancing for Marvel and DC. “Marvel would not be thrilled if I went freelance and worked for both companies. I don’t think that would be kosher with Marvel–I mean, not even DC but I know Marvel would be against that.”

Romita Jr. also said he had several projects he’d be working on with some major stars in the industry, including Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, and Mark Millar, and his “pet project” with Jonathan Ross. “Jonathan Ross is also going to work on me. I can’t forget him because the two projects that I’ve got going with Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Ross are my two pet projects that I’ve had going for a while in addition to Smuggy and Bimbo. I came up with them on their own, I did the notes on plane rides and scribbled on the backs of napkins and typed them up.”

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