'Terminator' flashback: 'Terminator Salvation' movie, novelization and comic book (2009)

The very first "Terminator" spinoff materials – the Now comics – explored the Future War, but aside from flashbacks/flash-forwards, it took another two decades for the Future War to be explored on screen. This makes "Terminator Salvation" (2009) stand out among the saga's screen incarnations, even though the plot points and themes will be familiar to readers of the spinoff materials, particularly Dark Horse Comics' early 1990s work.

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‘Terminator’ flashback: ‘Terminator Salvation: Sand in the Gears’ (2009)

Around the same time that the novel line provided a "Terminator Salvation" prequel with "From the Ashes," IDW – the seventh (and, as of now, final) comic company to hold a "Terminator" license -- launched its line with a four-issue prequel story called "Sand in the Gears" (February-April 2009). Unlike the book, it doesn't introduce any film characters, but it works as a stage-setter.

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‘Buffy’ comics go back to ‘The High School Years’ to hook young readers

After making my list of the top "Buffy" 20 episodes for the 20th anniversary, I had a hankering to go back to the time when 12 of those episodes take place: The high school years of Seasons 1-3. Luckily, Dark Horse launched "Buffy: The High School Years" with two comics last year, and with more forthcoming. Both Faith Erin Hicks' "Freaks & Geeks" (no relation to the TV show of that name) and Kel McDonald's "Glutton for Punishment" are set during Season 1, so we're talking about stories with a depth on par with "The Witch" or "I Robot, You Jane" – although even a bit shallower than that.

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‘Batman’ flashback: ‘The Killing Joke’ (1988)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a heretofore casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Completing the holy trinity of Bat-comics, after "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One," comes "The Killing Joke" (1988). While Frank Miller wrote the first two, another comics legend, Alan Moore, penned this one. I know him best from "V for Vendetta," which came out concurrently with "The Killing Joke" (and which was beautifully adapted into a movie in 2006) and five odd-but-fascinating "Star Wars: Devilworlds" tales.

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‘Batman’ flashback: ‘Batman: Year One’ (1987)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a heretofore casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Just as "The Dark Knight Returns" is considered the definitive late-career Batman story, "Batman: Year One" (1987) is hailed as the definitive early career Batman story. Remarkably, they were both written by Frank Miller, and within a year's time. (And they're both SET in the mid-Eighties, which requires a reader to understand the comic-book principles of multiverses and floating timelines.) But while "Returns" trod all-new ground, "Year One" trod ground that was already covered: Batman's origin story, as told in "Detective Comics" No. 33 (1939) and "Batman" No. 27 (1948).

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‘Batman’ flashback: ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ (1986)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I will look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Something I should understand as I embark in my "Batman" journey is that I can't be attached to continuity if I'm going to enjoy it. This is hard for me as a "Star Wars" Expanded Universe fan. "The Dark Knight Returns" (1986) is set in the year of its publication (elements such as Reagan being president and a cold war with Russia attest to this); 10 years after Batman's retirement is sparked by the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd; when Bruce is 55 years old; and when Commissioner Gordon is about to retire. But writer Frank Miller – whose work I know from the deliciously stylish "Sin City" movies, which are live-action adaptations of his comics – wasn't following the comic continuity of the time: Batman hadn't been gone from the drugstore racks for a decade when he wrote this; he didn't retire in 1976. Nor was Jason Todd dead, although the mainstream "Batman" comics did kill him off later.

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Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Most Powerful Superheroes list has absurd omissions

I asked my friend Jeremy if he had checked out Entertainment Weekly's 50 Most Powerful Superheroes list in the latest issue and he said he doesn't "pay attention to those crap lists." But then he quickly noted the oddity of a 50 Most Powerful Superheroes list where "powers" count for 10 out of 100 possible points.

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‘Dollhouse’ flashback: ‘Epitaphs’ comic series (2011-12)

On the Season 2 DVD, Joss Whedon says "Dollhouse" was a pebble he could've turned over for as much as seven seasons. Unfortunately, we only got 26 episodes, but "Epitaphs" (2011-12) – a six-issue comic book series from Dark Horse – turns over the pebble of this great concept a little bit more.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘Knight Errant’ comics (2010-12)

"Knight Errant" (2010-12), John Jackson Miller's second "Star Wars" saga after "Knights of the Old Republic," has one of the darkest possible premises: Lone Jedi Knight Kerra Holt tries to gather up slaves from Sith territory to bring to Republic space as refugees. This is a time – one generation before the "Darth Bane" novels -- when the Sith are so dominant in one part of the galaxy that the Republic gives up on it, even shutting down communications relays. Kerra's mission is not to win, but simply to save lives.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘Ewoks: Shadows of Endor’ (2013)

Ewoks are notoriously controversial among "Star Wars" fandom. The reason, as a famous episode of "How I Met Your Mother" outlined, is simple: They were (successfully) aimed at kids. The marketing was so effective that you can predict a person's age (or at least whether they were younger or older than 10 on May 25, 1983) by whether they like or hate Ewoks. (I fit the stereotype: I was 4 at the time, and I never had a problem with the existence of Ewoks. I still own a plush Wiley the Ewok doll.)

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