‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘The Book of Fours’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder intriguingly expands on Slayer mythology and simultaneously scoffs at established continuity in “The Book of Fours” (April 2001). But even if the idea that it fits into Season 3’s TV arcs is laughable, this third hardcover in the series is a delicious page-turner that daringly breaks free of narrative convention.

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An outsider’s take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe: ‘Iron Man’ (2008) (Movie review)

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe pretty much owning the 2018 blockbuster calendar with three new releases, it seems like a good time to finally watch the series. I’ve caught some of it, but this blog series will chronicle my first viewing of the complete movie saga. I’ll examine each film under various categories that reflect popular MCU talking points. “Iron Man” (2008) kicks it off:

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With ‘Deadpool 2’ approaching, here are all 10 ‘X-Men’ Universe films, ranked (Movie commentary)

With “The New Mutants” and “Dark Phoenix” pushed back to next year, 2018 has gone from a massive year for “X-Men” fans to a more mundane year – although with “Legion” and “The Gifted” on TV and “Deadpool 2” hitting screens on May 18, we’re talking about First World Problems here. Before the “Deadpool” sequel breaks fourth walls nationwide, here’s a look back at the first 10 “X-Men” Universe films, ranked from worst to first.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘BTVS Classic’ Issues 28-38 (2000-01) (Comic book reviews)

Writers Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe begin the second major run of consistent authorship on Dark Horse’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” in steadier fashion than Andi Watson’s work early in the series. The new writers wonderfully capture the gang’s voices, and after getting their feet wet in the first five issues, they unleash confident, daring storytelling on the four-part “False Memories.”

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Revenant’ (2001) (Book review)

“Revenant” (January 2001) is a big step up from Mel Odom’s “Buffy” debut, “Unnatural Selection,” although if memory serves, he’ll go on to do even better work on “Angel” books and “Buffy”/“Angel” crossovers later. Freed from the constraints of short YA fiction, this story – ostensibly set somewhere between “The Zeppo” (3.13) and “The Prom” (3.20) – goes in the opposite direction and is notably decompressed, flirting with the 400-page mark. It contains several character interactions that aren’t totally plausible based on what we’ve seen on TV, but the scenes are interesting for that very reason.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (1973) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the fifth and final film in the original series.

“Battle of the Planet of the Apes” (1973) is not a particularly revered film, but it is perhaps the most influential within the “Apes” franchise. Caesar’s (Roddy McDowall) attempt to be a benevolent ruler of an ape society while dealing with threats within and without would be further explored in 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.” In a notable parallel, the bloodthirsty gorilla General Aldo (Claude Akins) is the first to break the sacred law that “ape shall not kill ape,” much like the second Caesar’s rival Koba in the newer films.

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‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Past Lives’ (2001) (Comic book review)

The “Angel” monthly writing team of Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski deliciously digs into Buffyverse lore and smoothly ties together the two titles with the comics’ first major crossover story. “Past Lives” (January-February 2001) goes from “Angel” Issue 15 to “Buffy” Issue 29 to “Angel” Issue 16 to “Buffy” Issue 30. Prolific “Angel” artist Christian Zanier contributes some great monsters and launches the character of Alexa Landry, a rogue Watchers Council operative who wants revenge on Angel. Her sexy skintight outfit is cleverly designed with a cross cut into the front.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (1972) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the fourth film in the original series.

The “Apes” series simultaneously moves into a more immediate nightmare scenario and a less personal sci-fi commentary with “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972), which is a cinematographically black answer to George Lucas’ sterile, white “THX-1138” from a year earlier. In the final nighttime act of this film set in the future of 1991, apes turn on the human society that has molded them from pets (replacements for the dogs and cats wiped out in a 1983 plague) into smart slaves. A little too smart, as it turns out.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Doomsday Deck’ (2000) (Book review)

Diana G. Gallagher’s third “Buffy” entry – and her first in the young adult line – is a big step down from her first two, “Obsidian Fate” and “Prime Evil.” The 193-page “Doomsday Deck” (December 2000) has its soul cut out to fit the shorter format. While the Scoobies speak correctly and everyone is in character, the book is unengaging once a reader figures out its direction, which happens too quickly.

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