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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x05: The Door

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

The Wall
Sansa gets a message which we will find out is from Petyr “Little Finger” Baelish. She goes to meet him with Brienne in tow. Brienne's going to kill Little Finger, right? Right? It's the only thing that makes sense. Just do it!

But no, Sansa does not order Brienne to kill Little Finger. Instead Sansa chastises him for giving her to Ramsey and tries to let him know just how badly she was assaulted. Frankly, it's even worse than I thought. After telling him to fuck off she heads back to the Wall. I still think her not killing him is a mistake.

Baelish did have one useful piece of information, though. Apparently Blackfish has gathered an army and retaken Riverrun. At the Wall proper Jon, Sansa and Davos discuss the various armies they could gather to attack Ramsey. Obviously, Blackfish is at the top of the list.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x04: Book of the Stranger

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> The Eyrie -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

The Wall
Now that Jon Snow has flown the coup...wait, what? He's still at the Wall? That's...kind of confusing. But it's not a bad thing because Sansa shows up and we have an honest to goodness reunion between two Starks! Seriously, that happened. On Game of Thrones!

Meanwhile, Davos finally remembers that one thing he was going to ask Melisandre. He says, "Remember that time I was Hand of the King to that guy, what's his name? Stannis Baratheon? That was crazy, wasn't it? You kind of mentioned he's no more, but what happened there? And, oh yeah, there was that little girl I kind of cared for like she was my own daughter, you know anything about her?" Melisandre is like, "Yeah...about that..." but then they're interrupted by Brienne who's all, "I was there, I saw what happened. Stannis and his army got their ass kicked. Then I killed Stannis myself. I might do the same to this red head here because she's also responsible for my King's death." Then they all go their separate ways lest the weight of all the awkwardness becomes so great it tears a hole in the space/time continuum.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

To Better Know a Villain: The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse is an idea astoundingly elegant for its simplicity: if you're going to have a villain named Apocalypse, giving him a group of henchmen and naming them after the biblical four horsemen is a no-brainer, and it's a concept that has survived right alongside Apocalypse as a character for several decades now (barring that brief period of time in which Apocalypse traded in horsemen for the Image-riffic Dark Riders/Riders of the Storm).

Though they weren't around for the first appearance of Apocalypse (as the character was a last minute swap for the Owl as the mysterious leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants wannabes, the Alliance of Evil), his next appearance immediately set about rectifying that, as he popped up in a handful of issues, gathering an assortment of mutants. That group (minus Death) was unveiled shortly before "Fall of the Mutants", and since that storyline, while their membership (and in some cases, the designation of who is which Horseman) has changed, it's not often that Apocalypse doesn't show up without some combination of Horsemen at his beck and call. Here then are some of the more notable arrangements.

The Originals
Abraham Kieros (War), Autumn Rolfson (Famine) the Morlock Plague (Pestilence), Angel (Death).

Apocalypse's first batch of Horsemen are a mix of new and existing characters, and aside from being the first, they remain a memorable group simply because their gathering was depicted in detail through early issues of X-Factor, as Apocalypse gathered his followers and transformed them, one-by-one, culminating in the reveal of the thought-dead founding member of the X-Men Angel as Death. With their unified gold masks and montrous-looking mechanical horses, it's tough to beat this original grouping.

They also briefly popped up again in "The X-Cutioner's Song" (albeit without Pestilence, who died during "Fall of the Mutants"), with Caliban (who left X-Factor to join Apocalypse in that story) taking over for Angel as Death, but the group is dispatched relatively early in the story, and only Caliban returns after that as a Horseman in future stories.

(This is also the iteration of the Horsemen that appeared in the X-Men animated series in the 90s).

Best of the Bunch: The reborn Angel is clearly the standout of this assortment, but I've always had a soft spot for Pestilence, the other existing character transformed into a Horseman.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #85-92: Blood Hungry

"First Scent" / "Two Scents Worth"/"Three Scents"/"Four Scents Worth"/"Five Scents Worth"/"Sixth Scents" / "Seven (And A Half) Scents" / "Eight Scents Worth"
September - December 1991

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Cyber

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Sam Keith
Letterer: Clem Robbins, David Sharpe (issues #87-89), Steve Dutro (issue #91-92)
Colorist: Glynis Oliver, Pat Garrahy (issues #88-89)
Editor: Terry Kavanugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Detecting a familiar scent on the air, Wolverine meets with Tyger Tiger, and learns that General Coy is meeting with a new drug supplier. Wolverine proceeds to investigate, and learns that the supplier is his old foe Cyber. The two fight and Wolverine manages to escape, but not before Cyber gashes his abdomen, drugging Wolverine with his claws. As Wolverine suffers vivid hallucinations, Cyber meets with Tyger, offering to sell the drugs to her instead of Coy. After settling on a price, he double-sells the drugs to Coy, setting up a conflict between the two, while Tyger finds the delirious Wolverine and helps bring him back to his senses. However, he is too scared of Cyber to help her, and when Tyger arrives to take possession of the drugs, she finds Coy waiting as well. Cyber proceeds to kill their men, but before he can attack them, Wolverine arrives. As he and Wolverine resume their fight, Coy and Tyger retire to discuss matters in the wake of Cyber's attack. Though Wolverine is once again doused with Cyber's hallucinatory drug, he fights the effects, and manages to gouge out Cyber's eye before sending him crashing into truck full of the drugs. With the drugs entering his system through his eye injury, Cyber freaks out, running into the ocean, where he ultimately disappears, leaving a weary Wolverine to return to Tyger Tiger for some much needed comfort.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

X-aminations in June

A relatively straightforward month ahead, with nothing but the six main titles for five weeks straight. But it does see the end of issues published in 1991, a big year for the franchise, and the whole thing is led off by Chris Claremont's final issue of X-Men.

On Sale October 1991

June 1st: X-Men (vol. 2) #3
June 2nd: Excalibur #45
June 3rd: Wolverine #49

On Sale November 1991

June 8th: Uncanny X-Men #284
June 9th: X-Force #6
June 10th: X-Factor #74

June 15th: X-Men (vol. 2) #4
June 16th: Excalibur #46
June 17th: Wolverine #50

On Sale December 1991

June 22nd: Uncanny X-Men #285
June 23rd: X-Force #7
June 24th: X-Factor #75

On Sale January 1992
June 29th: X-Men (vol. 2) #5
June 30th: Excalibur #47
July 1st: Wolverine #51

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #36

"Red Queen Rising"
June 1980

In a Nutshell
Luke is manipulated by Domina into a duel with Darth Vader.

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Gene Day
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

In orbit around Monastery, the Millennium Falcon is captured by Darth Vader's Star Destroyer. Hiding Leia in one of the smuggling compartments, Han attempts to pass himself off as a legitimate spacer, but Captain Wermis knows him and his ship, and imprisons Han and Chewie. On the planet below, Luke rescues Domina from an attacking jungle cat, only to learn the creature was actually her docile pet, weakening him in the eyes of the watching elders, which was Domina and Darth Vader's (who goaded the creature into attacking) plan all along. In orbit, Leia climbs out of the hidden secondary compartment, telling Threepio to warn Luke, via Artoo, about Vader's apparent schemes. Just then, Domina arrives to take Luke to plead his case for the Rebellion before the elders. However, when he enters the chamber, he discovers that Domina has maneuvered to be named the All-High Priestess, who declares he and the Rebellion are threats to the natural cycle of galactic life. When he argues that Vader is influencing Domina in order to turn her order against the Rebellion, Vader challenges him to a duel, which Domina condones. Meanwhile, Leia manages to free Han and Chewbacca and arrange for the escape of the Falcon, but as they race away from the Star Destroyer, a revived Baron Tagge appears, leveling a blaster and ordering them to take him to the planet's surface.

Friday, May 20, 2016

X-amining X-Factor #73

"Crowd Control"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
X-Factor battles an army of Madrox duplicates.

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Larry Stroman
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Olver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

X-Factor's press conference explodes into a fight between X-Factor and the Madrox duplicate claiming to be the original, with each Madrox creating additional duplicates with each punch. Once they reach their limit and stop producing dupes, Havok orders everyone to start knocking out Madroxs, in the hopes that when the original falls unconscious, the rest will disappear. Eventually, all the Madroxs are rendered unconscious, but both their teammate and the duplicate claiming to be the real one remain. Elsewhere, Vic Chalker completes his suit of high-tech armor, but realizes he made it too big to operate. Back at X-Factor's headquarters, the team interrogates the two Madrox, but can't determine conclusively who is the original. Havok suggests submitting them to a lie detector, and Val says she happens to know one of the best polygraph experts, who happens to owe her a favor: her ex-husband. Meanwhile, the villain attacking X-Factor, having targeted first Quicksilver and now Madrox, ponders who to turn his ricochet power on next, and settles on Guido.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

X-amining X-Force #5

"Under the Magnifying Glass"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
Sauron is reborn as Toad sets about reforming the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Plot & Artist: Rob Liefeld
Words & Insomnia: Fabian Nicieza
Letters & Allergies: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors & Flat Feet: Murray & Witterstaetter
Edits & Hangnails: Bob Harras
Oil & Vinegar: Tom DeFalco

Deadpool delivers Juggernaut and the wounded Black Tom to Mr. Tolliver. Three days later, Dr. Karl Lykos returns home to find his girlfriend Tanya a captive of Toad & Blob, who intend to reform the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with Sauron as a member. Meanwhile, Gideon appears on TV, blaming X-Force for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but both Cannonball and Boom-Boom agree to stick it out with the team, despite their reservations about Cable's withholding nature. As Warpath runs through the forest, Shatterstar trains in the Danger Room and Cable offers Siryn a place with the team, which she accepts. In DC, the Commission on Superhuman Activities meets to discuss what to do about X-Force, with Bridge given a mandate to capture, but not kill, Cable. In Manhattan, Toad forces Dr. Lykos to absorb Tanya's lifeforce, killing her and transforming Lykos into Sauron once more.

Game of Thrones 6x03: Oathbreaker

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

Varys has his ways of getting information, doesn't he? He can find little birdies of information even in foreign land of Meereen. This time his birdies pointed hm to a women. (A prostitute, I believe?) Whatever her profession, this woman is aligned with the Sons of the Harpy and Varys intends to get her to talk.

Varys' method of interrogation is threatening the woman's life and the life of her son. It's a little jarring to see him this ruthless. But he keeps at it. The woman rightfully says that the Sons of the Harpy would kill her if she talked so she's screwed either way. Varys says that if she talks she gets safe passage out of Meereen. It's her best option and she takes it.

Meanwhile, Tyrion tries to make small talk with Grey Worm and Missandei and it goes over exactly the way you'd think an affluent playboy trying to joke around with two people who grew up in squalor and servitude would go over. Varys interrupts the awkwardness with the “news” that the Slave Masters are behind the Sons of the Harpy. I wouldn't think it would take an interrogation to figure that one out but to each their own.

The party reviews their options. A full on attack of Astapor and Yunkai would leave Meereen vulnerable. Also, taking over those cities by force didn't work the first time. It looks like diplomacy is in order.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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

A still from NYPD Green

Season Three was undeniably a good season; perhaps even a contender with the legendary opening year.  Season Four…is Okay TV for the most part, but the drop in quality is noticeable.  Some of the storylines are recycled from previous episodes (sometimes within the same season; notice that the beginning and end of the season both involve detectives reluctantly taking undercover assignments), and the number of recycled actors is also hard to forgive.