Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

X-amining X-Force #14

"Payback"
September 1992

In a Nutshell
X-Force escapes SHIELD while Cable & Domino attack Tolliver.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Terry Shoemaker
Guest Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Having survived the destruction of X-Force's base, Cable teleports himself and Domino to Graymalkin. Meanwhile, X-Force & the remnants of Weapon: Prime emerge from the wreckage of the base, protected by Cannonball's blast field. Just then, SHIELD troops arrive to reinforce Weapon: Prime, but led by Cannonball, X-Force is able to overpower them and capture their IPAC vehicle for themselves. Putting in a call for medical help for the injured agents as well as Bridge & Kane, X-Force leaves, with Rictor joining them now that Cable is out of the picture. Elsewhere, Gideon's scientists decides to proceed with phase 2 of their experiments on Roberto. Aboard the IPAC, X-Force debates their next move, eventually deciding to hide out at Warpath's old reservation for the time being. Just then, Crule attacks, determined to kill Cannonball. In Italy, Cable & Domino sneak into oneof Tolliver's bases, expecting to surprise him, but instead, they find Deadpool & Tolliver waiting for them, along with the real Domino, and Cable realizes the Domino with him is a fake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #292

"...the Morlocks Take Manhattan!"
August 1992

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Morlocks

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Layouts: Rurik Tyler
Penciler: Tom Raney
Inkers: Josef Rubinstein & Al Milgrom
Letterers: Lois 'n' Tom
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Mr. Broadway: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As the Morlocks spill out into Manhattan, Bishop, Colossus & Jean Grey attempt to contain them. Back at the mansion, Mikhail attacks Iceman, turning his body from ice into water. In the Morlock Tunnels, Professor X discovers that the Morlocks' frenzy is being caused by one psychic, scared Morlock child, while on the surface, Bishop's efforts are impeded by the arrival of the police, who want to arrest him. At the mansion, Mikhail seemingly destroys Iceman, scattering him, while Callisto searches Storm's attic to reclaim her leadership vest. In Manhattan, Storm recovers from her claustrophobia attack and prevents Bishop from harming the cops, while Xavier manages to work with the Morlock child to calm the riot, sending the Morlocks back into the tunnels. At the mansion, Mikhail reveals he hasn't killed Iceman, for he still cannot bring himself to take the life of another, something Callisto says they'll have to work on.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Force in Focus: Shadows of the Empire

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Shadows of the Empire, LucasFilm's ambitious 1996 multimedia Star Wars project. The general idea behind it was to tell an official story set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (storytelling ground that had been relatively untrod even in '96), with all the by-then usual trappings of a movie release: a tie-in novel, comic book series, soundtrack, video game and action figure line. The catch being, there was no movie, and the story was all told through the tie-ins themselves (though chiefly through the novel).

It was a reasonably clever idea (at one point, LucasFilm even cut together a trailer for the "film", using pre-existing footage, and showed it at a few conventions, before eventually pulling it for fear that fans would get confused and expect a movie), one which showcased the growing multimedia might of the Star Wars brand in the mid-90s and helped stoke interest in the franchise ahead of the 1997 Special Editions and The Phantom Menace in 1999. The Silver Age of Star Wars had begun in 1991 with the release of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire, reviving interest in the brand after the franchise had more or less gone dark in the late 80s. That renewed interest eventually led to subsequent novels, a new comic book universe via Dark Horse, and a revamped action figure line from Kenner. Shadows of the Empire, then, could be viewed as the zenith of this brief era in Star Wars history, when the franchise was becoming more and more popular despite the lack of any new stories being told via film.

Friday, December 2, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #59

"Unnatural Resources"
Late August 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Terror & Jubilee rescue a logging executive's daughter from eco-terrorists.

Writer: D.G. Chichester
Penciler: Darick Robertson
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Ariane
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Terror & Jubilee use a nearby river to freeze the spike in Wolverine's chest long enough to prevent it from exploding as they pull it out. Later, Wolverine gives himself a haircut in order to infiltrate the group holding Alice Hoff without being recognized. With the help of Alice's boyfriend Jake, leader of the Nature Defense League, Wolverine attracts the attention of Johnny Bloodcede, leader of the group holding Alice. Smelling Alice on him, he runs off to find her while Jubilee & Terror take care of Bloodcede's gang. Wolverine discovers Alice tied to a tree, and manages to free her just as Bloodcede knocks down the tree. In the aftermath, Wolverine pays back Bloodcede for the explosive spike, then reunites Alice with her father. Before leaving, Wolverine advises the father to consider changing his ways, not because of what happened to his daughter or pressure from groups like the NDL, but because there's something to be said for simply doing business with more than profit in mind.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

X-amining Spider-Man #25

"Why Me?"
August 1992

In a Nutshell
Spider-Man & Captain Britain battle Arcade

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Chris Marrinan
Inker: Mark Stegbauer
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
When Spider-Man receives a mysterious note asking for help, seemingly from Captain Britain, he spends his recently-acquired bonus traveling to England. Once there, he's attacked by first a gargoyle and then Juggernaut. Defeating Juggernaut, he's attacked in turn by Captain Britain and Excalibur, who see him as Juggernaut. When they realize they're being tricked, Nightmare & D'Spayre appear, claiming to be behind the illusions. In the ensuing battle, Phoenix is injured, and while trying to revive her, Spider-Man briefly adopts the Phoenix force. But when his blast reveals Nightmare & D'Spraye to be robots, Captain Britain realizes his "Phoenix force" is just a mechanical trick as well. Just then, a cadre of Spider-Man villains attack. After defeating them, Spider-Man & Captain Britain realize they're being played, and Captain Britain figures out they're unknowingly wearing virtual reality helmets. They track the helmets to an imprisoned Arcade, and with Meggan's help, get him to confess to having attacked the pair of heroes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

X-amining Avengers #350-351

"Repercussions" / "Retribution"
August 1992

In a Nutshell
The Starjammer's attack Black Knight while Professor X & Cyclops meet with the Avengers.

Writer: Bob Harras
Penciler: Steve Epting, Kevin West (issue #351)
Inker: Tom Palmer, Bud Larosa (issue #351)
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorists: Palmer & Mossoff, Gina Going (issue #351)
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
#350: Starjammers Raza & Hepzibah meet with a former Kree admiral, who hires them to assassinate the Avenger Black Knight, killer of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, offering Hepzibah money and a reluctant Raza information as to the whereabouts of his believed-dead wife & son. On Earth, Professor X & Cyclops meet with the Avengers, along with Val Cooper & Quicksilver, to inform them of renewed activity involving Magneto's Acolytes, and the potential threat to Quicksilver & Crystal's daughter Luna. Later, after Hepzibah convinces Corsair to take a trip to Earth to check on their teammate Binary, recovering with the Avengers, the Starjammers arrive at Avengers Mansion. During the ensuing gathering, Raza slips away and attacks Black Knight in the hanger. Black Knight seems to have the upper hand, until Raza threatens Luna, leaving Black Knight open to a killing stroke as he tries to save her. Alerted by the commotion of their fight, the Avengers & Starjammers rush into the hanger to find Raza standing over Black Knight, and an enraged Hercules declares that for killing Black Knight, Raza must die.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

X-aminations in December 2016


We round out the year by inching ever closer to "X-Cutioner's Song", then take a little holiday break with yet another trading card set (comics weren't the only hobby industry experiencing a soon-to burst boom in 1992!) and the end of Wolverine's final bi-weekly shipping stint!

On Sale July 1992
December 7th: Uncanny X-Men #292
December 8th: X-Force #14
December 9th: X-Factor #82

December 14th: X-Men (vol. 2) #12
December 15th: Excalibur #54
December 16th: Wolverine #60 

December 21st: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series I

December 28th: Ghost Rider #29
December 29th: Wolverine #61

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Milch Studies - HILL STREET BLUES, The Wrap-Up


Even as a show on its last legs, Hill Street Blues opens Season Seven with a string of memorable episodes.  When Hill Street is at its best, the hallmarks of a David Milch cop drama are all present -- conflicted heroes, clashes between principled intellectuals and the men stuck in the trenches, and Dennis Franz stealing most of the scenes.  The middle stretch of episodes aren’t as good; many of the character subplots just aren’t that engaging, and the gimmick of placing a lead in jeopardy is overplayed (characters on Hill Street can be shot or even dismembered but still turn out okay within an episode or two).  Most of the major plotlines are still worthwhile, however, with Captain Furillo’s strained relationships with both Ray Calletano and Henry Goldblume becoming the focus for much of the year.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #54

"Starfire Rising"
December 1981

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors rescue Leia and help defend Shiva IV.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencilers: Carmine Infantino & Walt Simonson
Inkers: Palmer, Giacioa & Milgrom
Colorist: Wein
Letterer: Burzon
Editor: Jones & Fingeroth
Ed-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
After detailing his plan to use an anti-matter bomb to destroy Aron's kingdom, General Sk'ar order Aron & Leia put in a cell. En route, they break free of their bonds and steal an air ship. Pursued by TIE fighters, they end up crashing the ship on Sk'ar's battle cruiser. Leaping out, they engage the Imperial forces, but just when they're about to be overwhelmed, Luke, Lando, Chewbacca & Aron's ally Keral join the fight. As Leia races to defuse the anti-matter bomb, Lando chases Sk'ar onto a shuttle, which Chewbacca manages to down just as Leia deactivates the bomb. During the ensuing celebration of their victory, Threepio informs Leia that a Star Destroyer has entered the planet's orbit. The Star Warriors leap into the Millennium Falcon and prepare to take on the Imperial ship, despite being overmatched. However, a nearby black hole gives Luke an idea, and with the aid of the Force, he pilots the Falcon around the edge of the hole, a maneuver the Star Destroyer attempts to match, but cannot, due to its greater bulk. As the ship and all aboard are destroyed, the Falcon races away, having ensured the freedom of Aron's world, at least for a time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series III

Impel 1992

Vital Statistics
200 cards (including the checklist card) and five hologram chase cards.

The background on the front of each card is a star field, with a varying geometric shape set between the background and the central image of the character.

The card backs are landscaped, with a headshot of the character along with a quote and the series, issue number and date from which the quote is taken on the left of the card. Beneath that is the character's real name, group affiliation, and first appearance.

To the right of the headshot is bar graph mapping each character's aptitude in strength, intelligence, energy projection, mental powers, fighting ability and speed. Beneath that is the character's biographically information.