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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Seven, The Wrap-Up

The only season of the show that truly has a season-long arc is the first, although Season Seven comes pretty close with the extended drama of the Kirkendall family.  I sincerely doubt this was a plan; it seems as if David Milch had wrapped up Jill’s story with the death of her ex-husband, and was content to then move on with other ideas for the rest of the year.

Then, Andrea Thompson announced she was leaving the show.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #50

"The Crimson Forever!" / "Rage in the Red Nebula" / "Against the Scarlet Night"
August 1981

In a Nutshell
Luke is inflicted with the Crimson Forever as part of Domina Tagge's revenge scheme.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Al Williamson, Tom Palmer & Walt Simonson
Colorist: Don Warfield
Letterer: Ed Stuart
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Lando & Chewbacca are pulled from their search for Han Solo by Leia. Luke has contracted the Crimson Forever, a disease he acquired when he led a team of Rebel pilots aboard a seemingly-derelict Star Destroyer carrying a large red jewel. Now near death, Leia needs Chewbacca's help to save Luke, as she recalls Han telling her of a similar encounter with such jewels. Through C-3PO, Chewbacca recounts the tale of his and Han's adventure in the Red Nebula, in which they were pressed into service by a pirate gang and forced to help steal a pair of red jewels from a planet inside the nebula. However, Han tricked the pirates into leaving with fake jewels, though one of the pirates died as a result of briefly separating the jewels, and Han leaves the jewels with their caretaker in exchange for a ship to take them off-world.

Friday, October 21, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #56

"We Got Cylla, Can Mothra Be Far Behind?"
Early July 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine's fight with Cylla leads to a confrontation with the Hand at the home of Clan Yashida.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Wolverine fights Cylla, Gambit & Sunfire continue to battle Hand ninjas. In the course of their fight, Sunfire accidentally destroys the police station. When Cylla emerges from the wreckage to find herself facing Gambit & Sunfire as well as Wolverine, she flees. Meanwhile, Jubilee & Yukio set about finding Wolverine, while Reiko attempts to leave the country. However, she's captured by Hydra, led by Silver Fox, who offers to trade her protection from the Hand in exchange for use of her skills as a poisoner. Elsewhere, Wolverine decides to seek out Mariko's help in finding Jubilee. He arrives at the ancestral home of Clan Yashida, along with Gambit & Sunfire, just as Silver Samurai is admonishing Mariko for her leadership of the clan. Wolverine & Silver Samurai are poised to attack when they're interrupted by news that the Hand has surrounded the complex. Outside, Matsu'o sends an envoy to Mariko, telling her to give herself up, while Jubilee & Yukio watch from cover. When Jubilee asks who lives on the estate, she's shocked when Yukio answers that it's Wolverine's true love.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

X-amining Excalibur XX Crossing

"XX Crossing"
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Excalibur is forced to fight the original X-Men.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Steve Lightle, Ron Lim, Dweayne Turner, Joe Madureira, Jae Lee, Malcolm Jones, Rick Leonardi
Inkers: Jimmy Palmiotti, Al Gordon, Joe Runstein, Shawn McManus, Jae Lee, Malcolm Jones, Al Williamson
Letterers: Michael Higgins/Janice Chiang
Colors: Moreshead/Thomas/Corvese/Tinsley
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Auditioning to become Dr. Doom's personal assassin, Sidestep targets Excalibur, using his power to pit each member of the team and against a member of the original X-Men, plucked from the past and inserted into a different historical time period, with the X-Men having home field advantage in each era. One by one the members of Excalibur defeat the X-Men, Frustrated, Sidestep brings both teams to the present, before Doom, and the X-Men attack. But Professor X, using Nightcrawler's astral self as a temporal anchor, reads Sidestep's mind and learns all his power comes from his vest, a lost weapon of the Kree. With that knowledge, Nightcrawler teleports the vest away from Sidestep, at which point both Excalibur and the X-Men are returned to their places of origin. Dr. Doom proceeds to dispatch the now-powerless Sidestep, then calls forth the next applicant.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

X-amining Ghost Rider #27

"Vengeance. Pure and Simple."
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Ghost Rider and the X-Men defeat the Brood Queen beneath New Orleans.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Ron Wagner
Inker: Mike Witherby
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In the catacombs beneath New Orleans, the X-Men & Ghost Rider track down the Guild children captured by the Brood. While the rest of the X-Men work to free the kids, Ghost Rider, Gambit & Wolverine set out in search of the Brood Queen, seeking vengeance. Meanwhile, just outside the city, Johnny Blaze learns Ghost Rider is in the French Quarter and sets out in search of him. Beneath the city, the X-Men are attacked by more Brood, as well as the shadowy figure targeting members of the Thieves Guild, who taunts Gambit about his murders. Just then, the Brood Queen appears. Ghost Rider attacks her, and manages to use her tail spike to pull the skin from her body. But the skeletal queen rises up, declaring she has no need for flesh. Just then Blaze arrives, and blasts the queen in the head with his Hellfire shotgun, seemingly killing her. Just to be sure, Wolverine, Gambit & Cyclops each take a turn destroying the head. Later, the X-Men say goodbye to Ghost Rider & Blaze, with Gambit thanking him for helping avenge Bella Donna. But as the leave, the shadowy killer watches, declaring he'll be seeing them all again soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Seven, Cast and Guest Stars

Does anyone remember the Sela Ward drama Once and Again?  I don’t, but I do know that it’s responsible for the seventh season of NYPD Blue debuting in January 2000 instead of its normal Fall premiere date.  The deal Steven Bochco struck with the network, which wanted to permanently grant the struggling drama Blue’s time slot, was for Blue to stay on Tuesdays at 10:00, but to debut months later in the midseason.

Another drama signified more of an existential threat to the series -- by the end of 1999, The Sopranos had debuted on HBO, soaking up all of the critical accolades that used to belong to Blue.  Even though NYPD Blue did manage to defeat the Sopranos pilot for an Emmy this year, the writing was already on the wall.  Prestige programs had moved on to pay cable, and the shows critics and TV snobs wanted to dissect and discuss weren’t going to be on network TV anymore.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Force in Focus: Rogue One Trailer #2

The second full Rogue One trailer (and third look at the film counting the initial teaser) was released earlier this week (along with the official movie poster), and it was once again packed with a ton of cool images and teases about the film's story. By all accounts, this will be the final trailer for the film (barring the likely TV spots as it gets closer to release), so here are some final thoughts on the images presented thus far, at least until the movie is released.

Friday, October 14, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #55

"Thirty Slashes Over Tokyo (Or Sayonara Yellow Brick Road)"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Gambit go to Japan to bail out Jubilee.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Dan Green
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine & Gambit board a plane for Japan, though they're forced to call Nick Fury for authorization due to Wolverine's metal bones. That call alerts the cyborg Cylla to Wolverine's whereabouts. In Japan, Jubilee uses her power to fend off a pair of fellow inmates, causing one of the inmates to recognize her and alert the Hand. When Wolverine & Gambit get off the plane, they're attacked by Hand ninjas sent by Matsu'o, who calls Mariko to confirm Wolverine isn't in the country at her behest. Wolverine & Gambit arrive at the police station just as Jubilee is driven away in a police van. Inside the van, Jubilee is joined by Reiko, who has been sent to kill Jubilee by Matsu'o in exchange for restoring Reiko's eyesight. At the station, Cylla attacks Wolverine, just as Sunfire arrives ahead of more Hand ninjas. He & Gambit fight the ninjas while Wolverine battles Cylla. Meanwhile, Reiko learns Jubilee is a friend of Wolverine's, so she releases her, saying that her debt to him is thus repaid. As she leaves, Jubilee is met by Wolverine's old friend Yukio.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #51

"Don't Drink the Water"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
The Dinosaur Excalibur of Earth-99476 works to returns some lost humans to Earth-616.

Writer: Alan Davis
Penciler: Dougie Braithwaite
Inkers: Jeff ALbrecth, Jose Marzan, Marck McKenna, Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Excalibur of Earth-99476 meets with WHO regarding a group of mammals that arrived on their world from Earth-616, and were recently kidnapped by the High Evolutionary and taken to the Savage Land. Meanwhile, on Earth-616 in Brighton, the mammals' saurian counterparts suddenly revert to more primitive forms. The Saurian Excalibur arrives in the Savage Land, accompanied by Dr. Lykos, while Dai Thomas is called in to deal with the now-rampaging dinosaurs, watched by a morose Gatecrasher, who vows revenge on Excalibur. On Earth-99476, Excalibur battles a brainwashed Fantastic Five and learn that the High Evolutionary plans to use the kidnapped humans to stabilize his artificial race of humans, whom he believes genetically superior to the Saurians. But Lykos destroys his machinery, prompting the Evolutionary to vanish and the Fantastic Five to regain their senses. As Dai Thomas attempts to call the exhausted Excalibur of Earth-616, the humans are taken back to the Saurian WHO, where a means of returning them home is devised. Excalibur and the Fantastic Five arrive on Earth-616 in the midst of the dinosaurs' rampage. They corral the dinosaurs through their portal, saying that the pollution on Earth-616 caused their transformation. At Braddock Manor, Excalibur wakes up to news of the dinosaur attack, as well as a message from Jean Grey saying she and Professor X are on their way to help Rachel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #9

"The Not So Big Easy"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Brood-possessed Ghost Rider.

Plot & Pencils: Jim Lee
Script: Scott Lobdell
Finishes: Lee & Thibert
Lettering: Orzechowski & Buhalis
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Old Warrior: Tom DeFalco

The X-Men & Bella Donna battle the Brood and the Brood-infected Ghost Rider until the floor of the chamber collapses, separating them. As Gambit & Bella Donna reconcile, Beast & Wolverine battle Ghost Rider, noting that for all the Brood says to the contrary, he passed up an opportunity to finish them off. Elsewhere, Jubilee & Rogue discover a group of captive Guild members, waiting to be transformed into Brood, when they're attacked by Ghost Rider. Psylocke & Bella Donna enter Ghost Rider's mind, and with the help of the lingering essence of Dan Ketch, Ghost Rider's most recent host, they're able to purge the Brood, though the act of doing so kills Bella Donna. Gambit gives her body to the freed members of the Assassins Guild, telling them to take her home, then joins the X-Men and Ghost Rider to seek out the Brood for vengeance.