The Great Wall – The Official Movie Novelization

One of the “Wonders of the World” is the Great Wall in China.  Why was this gigantic wall built?  It was to keep out evil monsters that appear every 60 years.  This is the big budget East/West production by Legendary Pictures directed by award-winning Zhang Yimou.  “The Great Wall” stars Matt Damon as the mercenary William Garin.

In search for fame and riches, mercenary William Garin and his men find themselves in remote China.  His remaining men are tired and hungry after days of being hunted down by bandits in the region.  As they rest for the night, they encounter a mysterious creature.  William is able to fend off the beast by cutting its talon off.  William and fellow survivor Pero Tovar stumble upon the amazing gigantic structure – the Great Wall.

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The Assignment Vol. #1

From the Hard Case Crime imprint, this collects the 3 issues of Walter Hill’s The Assignment.  With the upcoming movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this trade paperback.

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Comic Book Preview: Anno Dracula 1895 – Seven Days in Mayhem #1

Over the years reviewing various books and comics, one of my favorite fictional characters is Anno Dracula created by author Kim Newman.  Now for the first time, Mr. Newman steps into the comic book world with Anno Dracula 1895 – Seven Days in Mayhem #1 with artist Paul McCaffrey.  I’m really excited about this vampire series.  If it’s anything like the many Anno Dracula novels, this should be a fun ride.

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Hekla’s Children by James Brogden

Four teens on a outdoor hiking trip disappear.  A day later one of the teens return alive.  Hekla’s Children starts out like an episode of FOX’s Bones with sci-fi/fantasy elements.

Teacher Mr. Nathan Brookes with his “Team Leftovers”: Ryan Edwards, Catharine “Scattie” Powell, Olivia Crawford and Brandon Whitehead go on a outdoor hiking test.  During the hike, they find themselves in a different part of the park and seem to be transported to the past – the “Bronze Age.”  One survivor Olivia Crawford reappears traumatize and without memory of what happened.

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The Great Wall – The Art of the Film

thegreatwallbookThis weekend Legendary Pictures releases one of their big films of the year into the multiplexes – The Great Wall starring Matt Damon.  Suppose the Great Wall in China was not just built to defend from the human element but also “monsters.”  Actor Matt Damon and the all-star Chinese cast look to defend the Great Wall and humanity from these evil beasts.  Titan Books official companion guide The Great Wall – The Art of the Film takes a behind-the-scenes at the epic production.

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Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

annodracula1899Over the years of reviewing various novels and comics for Retrenders, I’ve enjoyed reading the many tales of Kim Newman’s vampire creation Anno Dracula and world of characters around him.  “Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories to get fans primed for the upcoming novel Anno Dracula 1899: Daikaiju.  Not only that, Titan Comics will kick-off a brand new Anno Dracula series by author Kim Newman and art by Paul McCaffrey launching in March 2017.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xandercage“You know how I came up with the idea of the Triple-X program?  Skateboards and swimming pools.”  (Augustus Gibbons)

I remember watching the first Triple-X in theaters and I had to say, I enjoyed watching the Vin Diesel popcorn flick.  Bypassing Ice Cube’s xXx sequel, like Brett Ratner’s X-Men 3, Vin Diesel reprises his role as super punk-rock agent Xander Cage.  I now find myself reading xXx:  Return of Xander Cage – The Official Movie Novelization and just maybe watching this Fast and the Furious wannabe at the multiplexes.

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Star Trek: 50 Artists 50 Years

startrek50I remember watching this “old” Star Trek TV series as a kid.  “Trek” didn’t really resonate with me until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager TV series.  Over time I went back to watch this original Star Trek series and films with the original cast.  This year mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series and this poster size hardbound title Star Trek 50 Artists 50 Years celebrates the iconic sci-fi TV program.

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The Marvel Vault – A Visual History

marvelvaultupdatedI remember as a kid in the 1980s, you were either a Marvel Comics or DC Comics fan, there was no in-between.  I didn’t get serious into collecting comics until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Marvel had an amazing staple of talents like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefield, Marc Silverstri, Whilce Portacio and Jae Lee, just to name a few.  Every week I had a stack of Marvel comic books and a issue was like .75 cents!  If you know you have a Marvel fan this Holiday season, then The Marvel Vault – A Visual History will make a great gift item.


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Play Magic at Galaxy Games

galaxygamesWhere to buy & play Magic card games in the East Bay?  You might want to head out to Galaxy Games in Dublin, CA.  Eddie Ballar takes a look at the shop.  Galaxy Games focus is on Magic and card playing events.

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The Turkey Alternative: Soy Sauce Turkey with Garlic Noodles

grandma-chicken-noodlesThanksgiving is just around the corner and why make the same old boring Turkey.  In recent years the Deep Fried Turkey and Turducken has been popular.  Why not this year, try a Soy Sauce Turkey and Garlic Noodles recipe?  My content producer Stephen Jang teamed-up with Rayfil Wong from Asian Food Nerd to produce this cooking video on a crackling delicious Soy Sauce Turkey with Garlic Noodles.

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Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook by Janice Poon

hanniballcoverI’ve stated many times before when I watch K-Dramas, I get Korean cuisine cravings.  Watching a cute petite actress eat Jjangmyun (black bean sauce noodles), Mandu (meat dumplings), Bulgogi (BBQ beef) or Dukbokki (spicy rice cakes) just makes me hungry to munch on something.  Now back to the topic at hand, the NBC psycho-drama Hannibal.  Question, have you seen the past 3 seasons of Hannibal?  If not, go stream it somewhere!  Besides the incredible acting and visual images, it was also about the deadly appetizing food on the show.

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The Art and Making of The Flash

flashtvshowWith season 3 of The Flash under way on the CW Network, fans will enjoy the companion guide, The Art and Making of The Flash by Abbie Bernstein.  Critics and fans alike may nick pick here and there, but for me it’s an enjoyable escapism.  I’m a huge fan of the CW DC superhero universe and make it an appointment television to watch.  One of my favorite shows is of course The Flash and The Art and Making of The Flash takes fans behind-the-scenes.

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The Art of Titanfall 2

artoftitanfall201Video game enthusiasts and critics enjoyed playing Titanfall 1, now comes Titanfall 2.  Strap-in and get ready to pilot another Titan.  Titanfall 2 features new locales for battles, new weapons and new robotic mechs.  The Art of Titanfall 2 goes behind-the-scenes of the making and creation of the Titans.

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“We’re Alive” Zombie drama podcast!

dsc_0068Our Ramen team was at Comikaze … oops wrong name, it is Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, now that’s a mouthful.  One of our first interviews with various guest from the show was with “We’re Alive” creator Kc Wayland (Wayland Productions).  Ramen host Eddie Ballar talks to Kc Wayland about his hit zombie post-apocalyptic radio podcast.

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Ramen @ EVO Championship Series 2016

dsc_0695This past summer our “Ramen & a Half” crew attended EVO Championship Series 2016 in Las Vegas.  Host Eddie and Ramon participated as players in the event.  We also interview lifestyle gamers Mike Ross and Peter Rosas.

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Vinyl Pulp: Junko Mizuno x Woot Bear

img_1821Vinyl Pulp interviews artist Junko Mizuno at Woot Bear on her “Junko Woot Bear” silkscreen print, T-shirt and upcoming projects.  You can grab the colorful graphic tee at Woot Bear and the 8×11 silkscreen print is limited to 50 copies, so don’t wait to pick it up.

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Cinema Alchemist, A Memoir – Roger Christian

cinemaalcoverImagine yourself in 1970s Hollywood and you’re on set meeting a nobody director at the time George Lucas, who is wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.  He talks to you about this secret script named Star Wars.  What would do?  This was before so-called “Hollywood blockbusters”, before movie franchises, before green screens, and before SFX studios like ILM.  Roger Christian accepted the gig and of course, the rest is history.  Cinema Alchemist, Designing Star Wars & Alien is a memoir by Oscar-winning Roger Christian.

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Kidrobot x Street Fighter V Vinyl Toy Series

krxsf5-caseKidrobot is back with another Street Fighter vinyl toy series.  This Street Fighter V series features some new characters and new artistic design.  Vinyl Pulp host Eddie does an unboxing and review of these new 3″ art toys.

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Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier

arrowcoverJust in time for Arrow Season 5 on the CW Network.  This companion book is Oliver Queen’s Dossier, it is Oliver’s notes and clippings on his battle to fight crime in Starling City.

img_1667Oliver gathers up newspaper clippings, government documents, images, blueprints and maps while writing down his notes and opinions on post-its.  The dossier profiles allies, friends and enemies.  The book also provides information on weapons and vehicles used on the show.

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Dance Photography by Al Morales

al-morales-photography-11Al Morales has been focused on the art of dance photography these past two years.  Al has gravitated to doing most of his photography with professional dancers. He didn’t think twice about the idea, because he himself was a former dancer the last two decades. Here is a glimpse of his passion for dance photography with Rachel Winter from San Jose CA, a Studio Company Dancer at The New Ballet School.

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The Art of Deus Ex Universe

deusexartbookHave you played Deus Ex:  Mankind Divided?  Go play it!  Have you read Deus Ex: Black Light?  Go read it!  After doing all this now you can enjoy this by Titan Books – The Art of Deus Ex Universe.

deusart001Video game journalist Paul Davies takes us to EIDOS Montreal and interviews the players – the design and art teams behind the Deus Ex universe.  The artist and designers talk about the incredible world building and designing the right characters.  They also talk about building the atmosphere and emotion to get players into this world.  The art book contains over 300 images, art pieces, concept designs, character profiles, CGI art and sketches from Human Revolution and Mankind Divided video games.

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Deus Ex: Black Light by James Swallow

deusexblacklightcoverBased on the video game series Deus Ex, this new official “canon” novel Deus Ex: Black Light bridges the gap between the end of the video game Deus Ex:  Human Revolution and prequel to the new video game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.  Author James Swallow who has already penned various Deus Ex original novels starts Black Light like the first Bourne Identity, as Jason Bourne, I mean ex-cop and ex-security Adam Jensen is found at sea and has no memory of his last mission.

Our cyber “augmented” hero Adam Jensen must piece together his past and retrace his steps to find what is going on and all roads lead him back home to Detroit and his former employer Sarif Industries.

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Suicide Squad – The Official Movie Novelization

suicidesquadnovelI will stay out of the critics/fans Suicide Squad movie squabble mess.  Yes, the movie had some misses, like the under-character development of various characters and the overly long 3rd act, but overall I enjoyed director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as a just a fun summer popcorn action flick.  With the hoopla surrounding the Suicide Squad movie, I was intrigued with the Suicide Squad novelization by long-time DC comic book author Marv Wolfman.

The U.S. government appoints Amanda Waller to establish Task Force X part of the A.R.G.U.S. program to use super criminals locked-up in prison for special government missions.  Dr. June Moone aka Enchantress finds a way to raise his trap brother Incubus back into the world of the living.  Together they have a plan to destroy and rule the world.  Waller taps Colonel Rick Flag to be the liaison for this “Suicide Squad” team and assembles Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, El Diablo and Slipknot to stop the Enchantress and her brother Incubus.

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ALIENS – The Set Photography

aliensartbookOne of the huge blockbuster movies that made a strong impression on me growing in the 1980s was James Cameron’s ALIENS.  It was scary with kick-ass action, had a memorable cast of actors and just a great science fiction storyline.  With a collection of artwork, on-set location pictures and behind-the-scenes photographs, author Simon Ward takes us ALIENS fans on a journey with ALIENS – The Set Photography by Titan Books.

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