Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Arriving just in time to read before Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland hits theatres next month, IDW brings us both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in one volume of prose. Calling it “a new twist on an old favorite”, IDW’s edition features a gorgeous cover by Jill Thompson and chapter illustrations by Jenny Frison. For the uninitiated, this is a great introduction to a classic tale. For those of us who’ve treasured this book for years, it’s a nice walk down a familiar road, but the scenery is updated.

First let me start by saying that this book was one of my favorites as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the story that captivated my imagination so completely that I reread my copy at least once a year during my early years. It was an edition that featured a dust jacket covered with John Tenniel illustrations in beautiful color, and I coveted it on my uncle’s bookshelf until he finally deemed me old enough to take care of it. When I saw the Jill Thompson illustration on this edition, I felt like a kid again. Thompson’s whimsical cover captures beautifully the fantasy world waiting inside, much like her work on Scary Godmother, and most recently, the Dark Horse series Beasts of Burden (which if you’re not reading, go pick it up today).

If you’ve read any edition with John Tenniel’s illustrations, you know that his style was more of character than caricature. Jenny Frison’s chapter illustrations take a softer approach. They are brilliantly painted and give the reader a great visual of what’s to come in the chapter ahead. Just like all other editions of Alice that I’ve read, they feature a key character from each chapter (e.g., Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Queen, etc.).

So what of content? Well, this is definitely a no-frills edition. It’s basically the two books, and that’s it. No annotations, no extras (like the instructions on playing chess my old edition has), just the stories. That’s not a knock against the book at all, it’s just something to consider when you’re deciding on whether to buy this book.

The final verdict? If you’re looking for the definitive classic edition of these stories, you want The Annotated Alice. If you want a simple copy to read with magnificent illustrations that offer a couple of contemporary artists’ interpretation of these classic characters, this is definitely for you. I already own the copy from my childhood and The Annotated Alice, but I can see this edition feeling right at home on my bookshelf as well.

Stacey Rader
Senior Reviewer

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Taking place after IDW's Countdown series and concurrent with last year's Star Trek feature film reboot, Star Trek: Nero tells the story of the years between the arrival of the Romulan villain Nero's arrival in the "alternate" Star Trek universe and his reemergence leading up to the destruction of the planet Vulcan. It includes information from the deleted scenes that were on the Star Trek DVD and even features some familiar locations and characters. The story is from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers of the movie and answers a lot of questions about Nero and his motivations.

Nero picks up after the destruction of of the USS Kelvin early in the movie. Nero and crew of the Narada are confronted with a Klingon boarding party and eventually captured and sent to Rura Pentha, the Klingon Penal colony featured in Star Trek VI and Star Trek: Enterprise. I give credit to the artists for outfitting the Klingons with period-appropriate TOS style costumes and hair (although they retained the forehead ridges of TNG era). The crew of the Narada spends the next twenty years rotting in the prison colony only to escape with assistance from their semi-sentient ship, which had previously been outfitted with Borg technology. The ship takes them deep into unknown space were it meets with none other than V'Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is a pretty cool nod to an element of Trek that is often forgotten. V'Ger assists Nero in his seach for Spock. The old Vulcan is captured by Nero and sent to Delta Vega to witness the destruction of Vulcan as a retaliation for his perceived role in the destruction of Romulus in the prime universe.

While Nero is an adequate supplement to to the new movie and helps to flesh out Nero's character, I felt like it spends too much time arranging its pieces so that it will have everything in place for the events of the movie as opposed to telling it's own compelling story. It feels more like a graphic novel of deleted scenes than anything else. That's not a bad thing as a companion to the movie but it is not very successful on its own terms.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer

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Toy News: Avatar Solicitations

Gentle Giant presents the solicitations for their new Avatar line


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Coming off the heels of penning the breakout hit Mass Effect: Redemption and the gripping finale of Knights of the Old Republic, writer John Jackson Miller introduces us to Kerra Holt, a young Jedi who’s about to realize that her role in the galaxy is far more important, and vastly different, than she could have ever imagined.

Set one thousand years before Episode I, in a time referred to as the “Dark Age of the Republic,” this story takes place in an era when the Sith were legion and the Republic was strained to the breaking point, leaving large swaths of the galaxy with no one to turn to. This pivotal time in the history of Star Wars has been largely unexplored, until now.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the writer of this new comics series will also be authoring a novel for Del Rey Books, set in the same era and involving the same cast of characters in an all-new adventure. It’s going to be a unique event for Star Wars, and one that will give fans a whole new perspective on the galaxy.

“There’s such wonderful chaos going on in the galaxy in this period,” said writer John Jackson Miller. “More than a generation before Darth Bane introduced the Rule of Two, Sith Lords are colliding not just with the Republic, but with each other. Kerra’s going to find that good intentions just may not be enough in a galaxy gone mad! This is a wide-open area to explore, and I’m thrilled that Dark Horse and Del Rey have given me this opportunity to do so.”

“With John writing both the comics and the novel, Knight Errant will be a Star Wars story on a scale we've never undertaken before," said comic-series editor Dave Marshall. “This will be a first-of-its-kind opportunity to introduce the Expanded Universe of the Dark Horse comics to the fans of the Del Rey novels and vice versa!”
With more news in the coming months, look for Star Wars: Knight Errant to arrive on shelves later this fall!

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Comic Conventions: C2E2 Announces Guest Writers!!


Massive Guest List Keeps Growing as Pop Culture Event Focuses on All Areas of Artistic and Creative Talent

Officials at C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo), which is set to debut in April 2010, have announced another round of guest appearances, further adding to a burgeoning guest list that now includes top talent from all areas of artistic and creative expression in the pop culture world. The most recent guest announcement focuses on preeminent writers including Peter David, Dan DiDio, Michael Easton, Seth Grahame-Smith, Paul Levitz, Greg Pak, and Daniel Way. Many of these notable writers have had stellar careers which have extended well beyond their talent as writers and which have impacted all areas of the comic and pop culture world. C2E2 will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, April 16 – 18, 2010.

“This latest announcement includes guests who are in a class by themselves,” notes Lance Fensterman, Vice President for the Reed Pop Culture Group and Show Manager for C2E2. “These are people who have enormous talent, they are great writers, and they have made a huge contribution to defining our pop culture world. Of course, they are joining other incredible creators and artists who have already been announced and there is still much more to come. I am incredibly impressed by the strength, depth and scope of the talent that is coming to C2E2 and – as always – I am hugely grateful to all our guests for making a commitment to our show.”

Some of the other guests who have already been announced for C2E2 include Alex Ross, who will be a Keystone Guest of Honor, Jackson Guice, Steve McNiven, Mike Mignola, Gail Simone, Jeff Smith, Ben Templesmith and Ethan Van Sciver, among many, many others. Convention officials note that they will be announcing Artist Alley appearances at C2E2 in the next few days.

The new guests include:

Peter David: Peter David, self-proclaimed "writer of stuff," is probably best known for his award-winning twelve year run on "The Incredible Hulk." He currently writes "X-Factor" and "Stephen King's The Dark Tower."

Dan DiDio: Dan DiDio is the Senior VP-Executive Editor, DC Universe for DC Comics. Since 2003, he has spearheaded such bestselling titles as Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, and Final Crisis. Prior to joining DC, Dan worked in television for CBS on creative affairs and development and at ABC on publicity, development and programming. His writing can also be seen in The Outsiders.

Michael Easton: Michael Easton is the author of the critically acclaimed Soul Stealer trilogy. Featuring the art of Christopher Shy, the final chapter in the series will be released in April. Bestselling author Peter Straub collaborated with Michael on the graphic novel The Green Woman for Vertigo. Easton's face is perhaps best known for his role as John McBain on the daytime drama One Life to Live, as well as Ally McBeal, VR5, and the Philip K. Dick inspired Total Recall 2070. He lives in New York City.

Seth Grahame-Smith: Seth Grahame-Smith is a film and television writer/producer, semi-frequent blogger, and New York Times bestselling author. He grew up in the wilds of Connecticut, eschewing the outdoors in favor of Stephen King novels and a worn-out VHS copy of Aliens. After college, he moved to California, where he wrote everything from narration scripts for History Channel documentaries to lyrics for Flava Flav. No, really. He also wrote several non-fiction humor books, including How to Survive a Horror Movie and the much-funnier-than-it-sounds Big Book of Porn. In 2007, he produced the innovative CBS internet series Clark and Michael, starring Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno). In 2009, his Jane Austen-meets-the-undead mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. It has sold over half a million copies to date. Seth is also the Co-Creator/Executive Producer of the MTV comedy series, The Hard Times of RJ Berger. He received a B.S. in Film from Emerson College. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Paul Levitz: Paul Levitz was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1956 and entered the comics industry in 1971 as editor/publisher of The Comic Reader, the first mass-circulation fanzine devoted to comics news. He continued to publish TCR for three years, winning two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine. His other fan activities included editing the program books for several of Phil Seuling's legendary New York Comic Art Conventions, running the dealers' room of the first Creation Cons, and organizing the programming for DC's one and only comic convention, in 1976. He received Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award in 2002 and the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2008. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Levitz is primarily known for his work for DC Comics, where he has written most of their classic characters including the Justice Society, Superman, and The Legion of Super-Heroes, a series he's recently returned to write. Readers of The Buyers' Guide voted his Legion: The Great Darkness Saga one of the 20 best comic stories of the last century. As a staffer from 1973, Levitz was an assistant editor, the company’s youngest editor ever, and in a series of business capacities, became Executive Vice President & Publisher in 1989 and then served as President & Publisher from 2002-2009. He is now concentrating on his writing, including a new run on Legion.

Greg Pak: Greg Pak is a filmmaker and comic book writer best known for directing the award-winning feature film Robot Stories, writing the epic Planet Hulk and World War Hulk comic book storylines, and co-writing (with Fred Van Lente) the fan favorite Incredible Hercules series for Marvel Comics. He was named one of 25 Filmmakers to Watch by Filmmaker Magazine and described as "a talent with a future" by the New York Times. Pak's numerous Marvel mini-series include Magneto Testament, which IGN named the Best Mini-Series of 2008. Pak's feature film, Robot Stories, won 35 awards, played in 75 film festivals, and is now available on DVD from Pak's latest short film is Mister Green, a science fiction tale starring Tim Kang and funded by ITVS as part of its FutureStates series. Pak studied political science at Yale University, history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and film production at the NYU graduate film program. For the latest about Greg Pak's work, visit

Daniel Way: After being hired immediately following publication of his Xeric award-winning miniseries, Violent Lifestyle, in 2000, Daniel Way has gone on to write some of Marvel's most well-known characters. Known for re-inventing characters for a new generation, he has launched such successful series as Ghost Rider, Wolverine: Origins, Dark Wolverine and the current sales juggernaut, Deadpool.

For more information on guests, tickets, or C2E2 in general, visit www.C2E2 or check out the show’s official blog, MediumAtLarge at, or follow C2E2 on Twitter at

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It's hard to believe that Halo has been with us for less than ten years. Halo: Combat Evolved was first released for the original Xbox system back in 2001 and quickly became that system's killer ap, a must-own game that helped Microsoft's console compete with the established systems from Nintendo and Sony. The original Halo game told the story of a military confrontation between humanity and a collection of alien races known as the Covenant from the point of view of the Master Chief, the last of a breed of augmented supersoldiers. In Halo: CE, the Master Chief and a group of marines evade the Covenant on a mysterious ring world built by a long-gone civilization, the Forerunners, to contain a race of parasites known as the Flood. Aside from being a tight and intense first person shooter, the game was supported by a satisfying science fiction story.

Since then, there have been two direct sequels, a side-story game, an RTS game, an aborted attempt at a movie, a toyline, and a whole series of novels. Halo Legends is the newest entry into the rapidly-expanding Halo universe. This eclectic collection of seven animated short films is new to DVD and Bluray in a format which will be familiar to anyone who has picked up The Animatrix or Gotham Knight; it is an anime-infused take on a familiar Western property.

The great thing about Halo Legends is that it shines some light on some unexplored corners of the Halo world. The first two pieces, "Origins I" and "Origns II," begin after Halo 3 as the AI, Cortana, basically recounts the long and epic history of the Halo Universe to the sleeping Master Chief. This is a story that players of the game have heard in bits and pieces over the course of the games but here it is recounted in its entirety and represented with breathtaking visuals. While we've seen plenty of their monolithic constructions, this is the first time we've seen the Forerunner race depicted visually in any Halo media. Here we see their initial encounters with the Flood and their construction of the Halo rings. These first two pieces dig deeply into Halo's rich and epic backstory.

Another standout piece is "The Duel," which explores the world of the Elite race, which has played a huge part in Halo from the very first game. For the first time, we see their world and their very Japanese-inspired culture. Halo fans have been wondering about the mysterious Arbiter since the role was introduced in Halo 2 and here we get a real explanation as to how that title came to be as well as how the Elites joined the Covenant. This piece gave me a new appreciation for the Arbiter missions in Halo 2.

As most of these pieces are set before Halo: Combat Evolved, we get to see the Spartan supersoldiers in their prime, well before most of them were killed off and the results are somewhat mixed. A running joke in the Halo games was that Master Chief was never shown without his helmet, so it was a little jarring to see so many Spartans whipping of their helmets revealing very normal or even model-like faces. I had always pictured them looking pale and hairless after all of their surgeries and physical augmentations. The Spartans are also shown doing all kinds of acrobatics which is very at odds with the very tank-like Master Chief. The single worst piece in the collection is "Odd One Out," which features a very hyperbolic Saturday morning cartoon style that is very much at odds with the normally somber tone of Halo.

In "Homecoming" we get a glimpse of Spartan psychology as a candidate tries to run away from the training facility only to encounter a clone living in her home and having taken her place. In "The Babysitter," we see the interactions between a Spartan and a group of ODST, with whom she is assigned. These two pieces take a very nuanced view to the Spartan experience and do not shy away from the great price that these characters have paid to become Spartans.

While the first six pieces are traditionally animated the very last piece, "The Package," is beautifully animated in full CGI and actually features Master Chief himself on a daring mission to reclaim an important item from a Covenant ship. MC and his squad of Spartans use ridiculously stripped down fighters to infiltrate a Covenant blockade and board the capital ship, in a sequence straight out of a Star Wars movie. This is a fun entry and shows us something unexpected from Halo, which has not featured any real space combat before. Once on the ship, there is a ton of Spartan action, which is still quite fresh as most of the games have featured only one Spartan, so seeing a squad of them is very novel.

Halo Legends is a must have for any fan of Halo. Aside from the rather annoying "Odd One Out" and the slowness of a couple of the other entries, the only gripe I have with the collection is that the exaggerated Japanese style is not a great match for Halo. It is a little disconcerting to see a heavily armored super-soldier take of its helmet to reveal a pair of enormous Anime eyes and a full head of luxurious hair. That basic criticism aside, these short films are a great supplement to the games and novels that have already been released and should hold people over until the Halo movie gets made.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer

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The three-part Mandalore story arc continued last Friday with the melodramatically-titled "Voyage of Temptation" which follows Dutchess Satine, her retinue, a clone squadron, and the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they head toward Coruscant together so that the pacifist Satine can make her case for Mandalore's continued neutrality and against the war.

This episode arc has a lot of parallels with Attack of the Clones and Obi-Wan and Satine as a couple were faced with a lot of the same dilemmas as Anakin and Padme but made very different choices. There is even a scene as the two Jedi take the lift up to see Satine where Anakin notes Obi-Wan's anxiety that is very similar to the scene in Clones as the two are making their way to Padme's apartment. This was a very revealing episode for Obi-Wan and is full of many great character moments and some really nice dialogue which is not something for which Star Wars prequel or original trilogy) is known.

The great chemistry that we saw on display between Satine and Obi-Wan during last week's episode continues and the two get a lot of great digs in at each other, such as when Satine refers to Obi-Wan as a "collection of half-truths and hyperbole." This insult rings true to anyone who has ever pondered his "certain point of view" speech in Return of the Jedi. "Voyage of Temptation" has the extra level of having Anakin present to relish Obi-Wan's discomfort and to learn something about his former master that he had apparently never known. Obi-Wan and Anakin have a particularly poignant exchange in which Obi-Wan notes the remorse that comes with the Jedi rejection of attachment.

Meanwhile, a traitor in Satine's retinue has smuggled a few Separatist "assassin probes" aboard. These spider-like droids take over the cargo bay and manage to eliminate a lot of clones in a sequence that has plenty horror elements and some nice allusions to Alien. I particularly like the scene in which a clone picks up an empty helmet only to have a mini-droid leap out of it and attach itself to his face.

Some of the droids manage to make their way up to Satine but they are dispatched by Obi-Wan and Satine herself who packs a small ion pistol. The idea of pacifism pops up every now and then on The Clone Wars and is almost always handled clumsily. The show is called Star Wars: The Clone Wars, after all. Satine is one of the few pacifist characters who doesn't come off looking foolish in the show. Her pacifism leads to an interesting ethical Mexican standoff between her, Obi-Wan and the traitor which Anakin resolves in a moment that is at once shocking, immensely satisfying, and totally character appropriate. The fact that the Imperial March plays faintly during it is a great touch, as is Anakin's hilariously nonchalant reaction to it.

"Voyage of Temptation" is a great example of The Clone Wars in top form. In many ways the show manages to surpass the movies in quality. This episode presents well-drawn characters, good dialogue, and even a touching, textured, and mature love story all in a twenty-two minute "children's show," something that all of the movies have struggled to do.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer

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Toy News: Exclusive Preview of Products Inspired by M. Night Shyamalan's the Last Airbender

On Tuesday, February 9th, Nickelodeon gave an exclusive look at some of the forthcoming toys, apparel and memorabilia based on the feature film.

The Last Airbender is a live action adaptation of the Avatar: Last Airbender cartoon. The main plot of the movie is based on the 1st Book (Water) in the animated series.

While movie has strong female characters, the toys will be mostly boy themed.

The first set of toys will hit all the major retailers on June 1st.

10” deluxe figures with lights and sounds.
Aang will be able to light up in his Avatar state. And have a staff that will spin around over his head.
Zuko will have an arm that simulates fire bending.

There will be a 3 ¾” highly articulate line of figures. They will roll out in multiple waves.

Along with 3 3/4 figures, there will be a toy Appa that will be able to fit the figures.

Air Masters which includes a bracelet and targets that you can use up to 10 feet. You will be able to simulate the bending moves and burst the targets open.

Fire & Air Sling Benders which are a yo-yo type of toys that'll be simulate the bending moves.

Aang's staff which will be kid friendly by being covered with foam.

Blue Spirit role playing set which comes with a mask and twin swords that can attach & seperate.

Other items include costumes for both kids & adults, including a life size version of Aang's staff. These will be manufactured by Rubie's Costume Company.

There will also be 2 Manga books. One will be an adaptation of the movie, and the other will be a prequel thru the eyes of Zuko.

Brian Isaacs
Owner/Executive Editor

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