If you're sensing a wobble in the time continuum, that's because this week's column is dispensing with the normal schedule a bit. After missing a week due to some supersecret, globe-trotting adventures that may or may not involve an upcoming movie, I'm getting an early start on the monthly recommendation column in order to offer up something special for next week's special April Fools' Day edition of The Geek Beat.
And judging by the amount of stuff I crammed into the latest guide, April is going to make up for a relatively slow movie calendar with a cornucopia of comic book, gaming and collectible geekery.
So let's get started...
WHAT TO READ
Remember those wild illustrations on the packages for Transformers toys back in the '80s? Well, now all of those crazy, airbrushed images of robots flying through space and shooting lasers and being more than meets the eye (as well as some never-before-seen material) have been collected in the new, 300-page Transformers Legacy: A Celebration of Transformers Package Art. This is pretty much the greatest book ever published for old-school Transformers fans.
There's only one major comic book movie hitting theaters this month, but it's a big one: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And just like in previous months, Marvel is making all sorts of related material available for anyone looking to get familiar with the star-spangled Avenger's history. Captain America: The Winter Soldier #1 Director's Cut is a 56-page book that takes a deep dive into writer Ed Brubaker's story arc that inspired the film, with lots of bonus material, including the initial story pitch and the full script for issue #1.
As far as crossovers go, the recent DC Universe vs. The Masters of the Universe was a surprisingly fun miniseries that featured He-Man and his allies traveling to the DC Comics universe in search of Skeletor. The collected edition of the story, which was written by Keith Giffen, Tony Bedard, and Paul Kupperberg, hits shelves this month and collects all six issues in a handy paperback.
Smallville fans are probably well aware that the CW's long-running series that charted Superman's evolution from shy teenager to superhero has continued in the comics world, but this month's issue is one that even casual fans might want to check out. Smallville: Season 11 – Lantern #1 explores what would happen if Superman was appointed the Green Lantern of the space sector where Krypton once existed. Basically, Superman with a Green Lantern ring wins the month. Case closed.
Excitement for the upcoming Godzilla movie is growing, so it makes sense that IDW Publishing would release a collected edition of Godzilla: History's Greatest Monster, the surprisingly good 13-issue series that chronicled one man's attempt to bring down the greatest kaiju of them all.
The Winter Soldier may be generating a lot of buzz right now, but I can't help looking ahead to Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie I'm most excited about this year. Thankfully, Marvel knows I'm not alone, and has Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1 arriving on shelves this month. The issue promises to offer some insight regarding the origin of Nebula (Karen Gillan), as well as some stories featuring Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Hopefully, it will ease the wait until August.
What's that? A beautiful hardcover edition of Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Novelization featuring 50 pages of notes from Henson's journal about the making of the film and amazing illustrations by concept artist Brian Froud that arrives on shelves this month? Take my money now.
I'm probably more excited than I should be for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but I've always been a big fan of the grimy, bloody universe Frank Miller created in the Sin City series. This month, Dark Horse Comics has a brand new collection of the series for fans to pick up. The hardcover edition of Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City is a whopping 1,360 pages and will set you back $100, but it contains all seven of the stories Miller penned in the Sin City universe in a very pretty piece of bookshelf filler.
Last, but certainly not least, Deadpool gets married this month in Deadpool #27, and Marvel has recruited a long list of fan-favorite writers to contribute to the oversized issue – including veteran Deadpool scribe Joe Kelly and writer-actor Brian Posehn. Oh, and it comes in a special “Taco Time” variant cover, because, well... it's Deadpool. Hilarity ensues.
To pick up any of these, look for them at your local comic shop, online or on Amazon, or if you wait too long, eBay.
WHAT TO WATCH
Did I mention that Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4? Because it does. You know you'll be there opening weekend, and so will I. Rumor has it that some screenings will also feature the first footage from the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, so if you needed another reason to check it out, there you go. Oh, and make sure to stick around for the postcredits scenes, of course.
As for the DVD and Blu-ray calendar, there are quite a few geek-friendly films getting their home-entertainment release in April. Chief among them is certainly The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, but you might also want to check out the long-awaited Knights of Badassdom, starring Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau, in which a bunch of live-action role-playing pals accidentally summon a demon and must use all their fantasy-world savvy to send it back to Hell. Oh, and Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin hits shelves April 1, and although the film didn't do well in theaters, I suspect the effects-fueled, martial arts adventure might have a decent life in the DVD and Blu-ray scene.
WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR SHELF
If you're aware of Jeffrey Brown's Darth Vader and Son, there's a good chance you're already enamored with the delightful, heartwarming book that inspired this ridiculously cute Darth Vader & Son Maquette produced by Gentle Giant Studios that will be available in April. It's a bit too expensive at $150 to let your child manhandle, but what price can you put on a nostalgic, Star Wars-themed representation of the bond between father and son? Oh, and for daughters' daddies, there's also a Darth Vader's Little Princess Maquette, too.
Reknowned, collector-friendly sculptors Kotobukiya turned their attention to The Avengers for their upcoming Hulk ArtFX+ Statue, which captures Mark Ruffalo's gamma-powered alter ego in all his “Hulk Smash!” glory. Hulk is the first in a series of statues based on The Avengers cast, so if you want to collect 'em all, go green as soon as the statue becomes available April 9.
I love Pop! Vinyl's line of collectible figures, and there are more than a few new releases this month that I can't wait to put on my shelf. For example, Pop! Movies Evil Dead Ash is the cutest demon-killing, chainsaw-armed retail hero I've seen in quite a while. There's also a full line of figures from Captain America: The Winter Soldier arriving soon, so if you have the urge to add a supercute version of Winter Soldier to your collection, now's your chance.
Finally, people like to throw shade (as the kids say) on Godzilla's kid, Minilla, who first appeared on 1967's Son of Godzilla, but I think the little kaiju is just as adorable as he is annoying. If you're of a similar mind when it comes to Minilla, you'll want to get your hands on the upcoming Toho Series Minilla Vinyl Figure from Bandai. It stands just over seven inches tall, and secures your cred as a Godzilla superfan (and Minilla apologist).
WHAT TO PLAY
With every superhero movie there comes a video game, and April's list of game releases follows that trend. Gameloft's Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Official Game arrives on mobile devices (for iOS, Android and Windows 8) the same day the film premieres, offering you the chance to truly test whether you can ever have too much shield-slinging action. The game looks and plays similar to Thor: The Dark World: The Official Game, with players controlling Captain America as he battles his way through waves of enemies. Along the way, you'll be able to unlock special computer-controlled characters to help you out, as well as new costumes and other fan-friendly elements.
The sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man might not be out until May, but much like past installments of movie-based Spider-Man games, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Game will hit shelves a little earlier (April 29, to be exact). The new game will be available for pretty much every platform possible, and early reviews indicate that the game samples from the best parts of previous Spider-Man games (namely, the free-roaming, web-swinging exploration) while also dipping into the popular Batman: Arkham series for some of the upgrades to its combat and stealth experiences. While that's all well and good, you can also expect to see some cool versions of characters – especially villains – that we haven't seen in the series so far, which is always a big draw for fans.
And that's it for this edition of the Geek Beat's guide to stuff you'll probably be spending money on this month. Remember to set aside some cash for May!
Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.
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