Archive for April, 2011

A closer look at the Shadows of the Empire art by the Hildebrandt Brothers

Posted in Boba Fett, Empire Strikes Back, movies, Star Wars with tags , , on April 28, 2011 by Paxton

I discussed the 15th anniversary of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire on Tuesday.  In that article I mentioned that a set of trading cards was created for that event featuring awesome artwork by the Brothers Hildebrandt. I want to look at the paintings that made up this set.

You get a great look at the creation of these paintings in this book:

SW: Art of BH

The above book goes into a fair amount of detail about the Hildebrandt creative process. It’s fascinating.  The book mostly covers the creation of the paintings for the Shadows of the Empire card set.  But it provides a lot of information about that set.  It’s a really good read.

Now let’s take a look at some of my favorite of these Shadows of the Empire paintings.

Luke and friends
These are the heroes of the book; Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewie.  I created a custom Jedi Luke figure based on the Shadows of the Empire book cover.  See that figure and card here.

Bounty Hunters
This is Boba Fett going toe-to-toe with Dengar and Bossk over the frozen Capt Solo.  This actually happened in the comic book, not the novel.

Guri 1
Here’s a new character created for the book, Guri. She’s the android bodyguard of Prince Xizor, ruler of Black Sun, who is also a new character.

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Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire turns 15 years old

Posted in books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2011 by Paxton

This month is the 15th anniversary of the release of the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire multimedia event.

Shadows of the Empire - Xizor

Shadows of the Empire was a huge undertaking by LucasFilm and LucasArts in the Summer 1996. It was essentially the release of a new Star Wars movie, but without the actual movie. The events of Shadows of the Empire take place in the years between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Up to this point, no other expanded universe material had ever taken place within the timeline of the original movies. This event would also serve as a springboard into the release of the Special Edition trilogy in theaters the following February.  To give the whole event a more “theatrical” feel, LucasFilm released a trailer featuring footage from the movies and a voiceover.  It was played in front of audiences at comic conventions across the US.   LucasFilm decided to pull the trailer, however, fearing that people would think there was an actual movie being released.

Shadows artwork

The trailer was added to the official Star Wars website for the Shadows of the Empire 10th anniversary.  Click here to watch the trailer on StarWars.com.

The Shadows event consisted of the release of a novel, a comic book, a video game and a symphonic soundtrack. You could get one or more of these things and get a complete story, but you had to get everything to get the full Shadows of the Empire story.

Shadows of the Empire book
Released first and foremost was the Shadows of the Empire novel by Steve Perry. You would get most of the story from this book. All other media in the Shadows event was based in some way off this book. The events take place several months after The Empire Strikes Back.  I bought and read this book when it was released in 1996. I then bought the paperback and read it again a few years after that. I think I even read it a third time after that. The book is good. REALLY good. I read it again last summer and it still holds up. The story is solid, the characters are written fantastically and it’s just a lot of fun. Prince Xizor is a fun villain and great foil for Vader. It’s really fun to see Vader being vexed by Xizor in their constant tug-of-war for Palpatine’s approval. It’s also fun to read the budding Jedi Luke before he becomes the supremely confident Jedi. Han is out, obviously, because he’s in carbonite on Boba’s ship, but we get a new character, Dash Rendar, to supposedly take the smuggler role. However, I hate Rendar as a character. He serves little to no purpose. First of all, he isn’t in Return of the Jedi so you know he can’t stick around. Second, he’s ridiculously immature and and a braggart. Thirdly, the novel also includes Lando Calrissian. Rather effectively, I might add. There was no need whatsoever to even have Dash. I think Perry was forced to use Dash because they needed a new character for the video game.  That one gripe aside, I love this book and really wish Perry could have expanded the story a little bit more in a prequel or sequel novel.

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12 comic book covers featuring super heroes and their secret identities

Posted in comic books, pop culture, Superman, The Flash with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2011 by Paxton

I was perusing one of my favorite sites, Cover Browser, the other day. It’s great. It has hundreds of galleries of comic book covers. Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age as well as more modern comics, you can see it all. Some of the images are of great quality and some are blurry scans that look like they threw the comic book into the air and tried to take a picture with a cell phone from 2001. But it’s great fun to look at old issues of Superman, Batman, Hulk and Iron Man. You can find some real gems.

Looking through you can see all types of trends and gimmicks companies used when creating their covers. Anything to capture the public’s eye. One of the more prevalent gimmicks is to have the superhero appear on the cover alongside their secret identity. I’ve gathered 12 such examples of superhero and secret identity co-existing harmoniously on a comic book cover. Not only that, I’ve split the list into two sections. In the first section are 5 comic book covers featuring super heroes fighting their secret identities. The second section will feature the superhero interacting with their secret identity.

So here are the first 5 covers featuring superheroes fighting their secret identities.  Thanks to Cover Browser for the majority of these images.

Action Comics 341
Action Comics #341 – Battle of the Alter Egos.  Turns out the “extra” Clark Kent is another survivor of Krypton that DC loved to throw out in the ’60s and ’70s. He took over Clark’s identity and Supes had to straighten things out.

The Flash #15
Flash vol 2 #15 – Wally West trashed by The Flash.  This is the second Flash series.  Wally West had taken over the Flash costume.  There was a drug called Velocity-9 that gave the users temporary super speed.  A junkie got a fake suit and totally sucker punched the living sh*t out of Wally.

Web of Spiderman #117
Web of Spider-man #117 – Spider-man vs Peter Parker. This is the beginning of one of the most controversial Spidey storylines ever – the Clone Saga. A clone of Peter reveals himself.  He’s this homeless vagrant who then names himself Ben Reilly.  Arguments develop over who is the clone and who is the real Peter.  Peter is discovered to be the actual clone and Ben the “true” Peter.  Clone Peter becomes so outraged he “accidentally” hits Mary Jane in the face. It’s pretty much insanity incarnate and due to high sales Marvel’s upper management kept the creative teams churning out the story for much longer than was originally planned.

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DC Comics going retro with summer one-shots

Posted in 80s, comic books, pop culture, Superman, The Flash with tags , , , on April 8, 2011 by Paxton

I’m a big DC Comics fan. I love Superman and the Flash. I even wrote a post about their many races. So I was perusing the DC comic blog The Source the other day and they announced a fun little event called DC Retroactive.  It takes place this summer and is a throwback to the DC of the last three decades (70s, 80s and 90s).

The event will consist of 18 one-shot comics.  The 18 one-shots will be split up into three groups representing the aforementioned specific decade in DC’s history.  Here are the Retroactive logos for each decade starting with the ’70s.

Retroactive 70s
Retroactive 80s
Retroactive 90s

I love these logos. They look exactly like the logos/typeface DC used in the respective decade.  Like I said, the 18 one-shots will be split up into the three groups of six.  Each group will utilize different writers/artists that are known for their output in that decade.  DC just announced the writers for each decade and what comics they’ll be writing.  They haven’t released the artists for each issue, but you can click the images above to read the full list of writers.  Expect DC luminaries like Cary Bates, Marv Wolfman, Louise Simonson, Alan Grant, and Dennis O’Neill.

My favorite hero, The Flash, will be written by Cary Bates (70s), William Messner-Loebs (80s) and Brian Augustyn (90s).  I’m very excited by these writers.  Bates is a very popular writer from DC.  He did a lot of his work in the ’60s – ’70s.  He wrote a bunch of Silver Age Flash comics throughout the ’70s and early ’80s.  Bates will also write the ’70s JLA issue.  William Messner-Loebs wrote a slew of issues of the awesome Wally West Flash series starting around issue #15 in 1988.  I still have the majority of his issues in my collection.  Brian Augstyn was the editor on the aforementioned Wally West Flash series.  He was the one that brought in Mark Waid in the early ’90s to help him plan a revamping of the series  (Waid would’ve been another good choice to write the 90s issue).  So, from the writing standpoint, these are all solid choices for the Flash books, which are the ones I’m mostly concerned about.  However I am looking forward to the Superman books, too.

Batman in the 70s Superman in the 80s

As for the other heroes, DC got Marv Wolfman to do the 80s Superman book.  Great choice as he helped John Byrne plan out the Superman reboot of 1986, but I would have preferred to see John Byrne also included.  They haven’t announced the artists, so they could have got John Byrne to draw the issue, which would be awesome.  I think Byrne has to be involved in this event because he was such a large presence at DC in the 80s when he wrote and drew both Superman and Action Comics for nearly two years.

Anyway, to see the full list of writers, head over to DC’s The Source.  They should be announcing the artists and other creative teams for these books in the near future.  I, for one, think this is shaping up to be an awesome and wonderfully nostalgic event.  DC didn’t say, but I’m hoping the stories for each decade actually take place in that decade.  I want Barry Allen in the ’70s issue and Wally West in the ’90s.  I don’t want it to just be nostalgic, I want the events to be taking place in that time period.

Should be a lot of fun.

Awesomeness Elsewhere – April Fool’s Day Edition

Posted in blogging, holiday with tags , on April 1, 2011 by Paxton

April Fool's Day

–The ad above is from Held Over!. It is for the 1986 movie April Fool’s Day starring Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal and Thomas F Wilson.  To see it bigger and check out the trailer, click on the image.

–Over on Strange Kid’s Club I review the first issue of the comic event Infestation.  It somehow melds zombies, vampires, Star Trek and G.I. Joe.

–I also talked about the new DVD/Blu-Ray releases this week which include Teen Wolf and The Secret of NIMH.