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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #74

"The Iskalon Effect"
August 1983

In a Nutshell
The search for Tay Vanis begins on the waterworld of Iskalon.

Script & Plot: Jo Duffy
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Sent by Rebel command to the watery world of Iskalon in search of missing Rebel agent Tay Vanis, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca & the droids meet with Primor, leader of the planet's aquatic School. They learn that Vanis' droid, K-3PX, contained all the information Vanis had gathered about the Empire's secret project, and was last seen at the Gamandar Citadel, an Imperial base on the nearby planet Gamandar. Lando & Chewbacca decide to infiltrate the citadel along with the droids & Mone, Primor's son, leaving behind the more recognizable & notorious Luke & Leia on Iskalon. Instead, Primor takes them exploring underwater, during which Luke spots Kendel, Mone's wife, inside the air-breathing underwater city of Pavilion, her breathing apparatus smashed. As he & Leia rush to get her back in the water, on Gamandar, Imperial Admiral Tower, upon receiving news of the Rebel presence on Iskalon from his spy, fires a massive missile at the planet. The missile flies past the Millennium Falcon, then impacts near Pavilion, creating a massive tidal wave that floods the city.

Friday, October 12, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #80

"Out of Time"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
The "Douglock Chronicles" conclude, and it's revealed that Moira is infected with the Legacy Virus.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Chris Cooper
Pencils: Amanda Connor
Inkers: Harry Candelario, Randy Elliot, Keith Champagne
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Colors: Chris Matthys
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

With Stryfe's base beneath the Pentagon self-destructing, Shadowcat works to remove a similar self-destruct component from Zero. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler & Daytripper return from Germany, and Nightcrawler meets with Professor X to discuss the Legacy Virus. Back in the base, Britannic & Meggan manage to create a tunnel, enabling everyone to escape the base, but Zero, attempting to find a way to access the Legacy Virus data inside his mind, gets his face blown off. On Muir Island, Daytripper admits to Rory she too saw the vision of him as Ahab, but insists that the future is not absolute. Meanwhile, everyone reaches the surface before the base explodes except for Zero, prompting Douglock to go back for him. Just then, Zero hears a recording from Stryfe who tells him that, with his death imminent, he's released the blocks on Zero's mind, giving him access to the Legacy Virus data as one final taunt. Just then, Douglock returns, and Zero plunges Douglock's hands into Zero's damaged face, transmitting the data and telling Douglock to remember him before the base, and Zero, are destroyed. Back on Muir Island, invigorated by his discussion with Nightcrawler, Xavier seeks out Moira, only to learn that she knows the Legacy Virus can infect humans because she herself is infected.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

X-amining X-Force #37

"The Young and the Restless"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
The Externals visit Cannonball at his family farm.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inkers: Harry Candelario, Scott Hanna, Charles Barnett
Guessed Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Gassed Colorist: Monica Bennet
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Confronted by newfound mortality in the face of the Legacy Virus, the Externals seek out Cannonball at his family home. Nicodemus & Burke have died already, and Absalom is infected. Gideon tells Cannonball they've come to him because he represents hope. Meanwhile, at Campe Verde, Domino & Cable discuss a new base of operations for the team, while in the Bronx, Detective Hidalgo receives new information that may help him nail the Callasantos' sisters for the murder of their family. Back in Kentucky, Cannonball asks what the Externals want from him, and Absalom tells him Burke had a precognitive vision that Cannonball or someone close to him holds the key to curing the Legacy Virus. Just then, Absalom's power flares, one of the death knells of the virus, and Cannonball tells the Externals that when the time comes, he'll do whatever he can to help them. After they leave, Cannonball & Boomer declare their love for one another, then Cannonball says it's time to go back to Camp Verde to be with their friends and continue using whatever time they have left to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #35

"Sunset Grace"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Phoenix return from the future/their honeymoon.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Liam Sharpe
Guest Inker: Robin Riggs
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Color Art: Digital Chameleon
Sunrise Smile: Bob Harras
Glowing Orb: Tom DeFalco

Cyclops & Phoenix awaken in their bodies, their minds having been returned from the far future by Mother Askani, aboard a SHIELD helicarrier. Nick Fury explains that he brought them  on board after a local woman they met on their honeymoon named Sunset used her powers to open a dimensional rift. With the rift threatening the entire planet, Sunset has asked for Cyclops & Phoenix. The pair enter the rift & encounter Grace. She explains that once her powers allowed her to escape into this pocket dimension, but after she tried to save her family by sending them into it at the time of their deaths, she lost control, and Charles Xavier had to help her regain control of her power. In the process though, she lost the ability to access the dimension, until she encountered Cyclops & Phoenix and their mission to the future unlocked her abilities. Phoenix is able to locate her family inside the rift, and after they're reunited, Sunset closes the doorway, sending Cyclops & Phoenix through. The world spared, Phoenix confirms to Cyclops that Sunset's family died, and that, as Sunset created the alternate dimension in the first place, Jean merely helped her subconsciously create facsimiles of them so she could live out her final years in peace & happiness.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Force in Focus: Solo Deleted Scenes

Taking another brief break from Star Wars reviews to look at the deleted scenes from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Proxima's Den

Less a deleted scene than an alternate take on Han's arrival in Proxima's den and his first (onscreen) encounter with Qi'ra, this take arguably serves Qi'ra better, as she's introduced holding a knife to Han's throat before realizing it's him, establishing early her capacity to take care of herself and strike hard when necessary.

There's also a bit of banter from Han when he's ultimately captured by Moloch and dragged away to Lady Proxima that is, intentional or not, reminiscent of his later pleas to Jabba after being thawed from the carbonite in Return of the Jedi.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '94

Fleer 1994

Vital Statistics 
150 card (including the checklist card) plus a 18 card "Power Blast" chase set, featuring foil on one side and a larger portion of the front image, without foil, on the back. The last 18 cards of the set (before the checklist) are dedicated to "Maximum Carnage" and "Mutant Genesis" (the story which launched the second X-Men book).

The card fronts feature previously used artwork (including from covers, internal pages, and other trading cards), featuring both specific characters and significant moments from Marvel history, recolored with computer coloring techniques and, occasionally, added computer-generated effects. The character name/moment is written in shiny foil lettering.

The landscape orientated cardbacks feature a brief description of the historical moment featured on the card front, alongside a sphere overlaid with the cover of the issue featuring the moment (usually).

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

X-amining Cable #14

"Feat & Loathing Part 3"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & Lee battle S'ym

Writer: Glenn Herdling
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Mike Sellers
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

After quickly dispatching D'Spayre, Belasco tells Cable & Lee that he's brought him to the Nexus of All Realities. It has been growing of late, encroaching on his realm of Limbo, and he believes Cable can help stop it. He tells him that the same individual who once corrupted Cable's mother and tried to forge a link between Earth & Limbo is using the Nexus to try again. Meanwhile, Cannonball & Siryn try to track down Cable, but can't locate him anywhere on Earth. Back in the Nexus, Belasco leverages Lee in order to get Cable's help, at which point S'ym reveals himself. He's pleased to meet the son of the Goblin Queen, but when he threatens Cable, Cable fights back, eventually gaining the upper hand via his mutant powers. He seemingly kills S'ym, at which point Belasco sends Lee & Cable back to Earth.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Gentlemen of Leisure on Patreon!

The moment you've all been waiting for has come: the opportunity to give us money! Yes, it's true, Gentlemen of Leisure now has a Patreon, allowing you, noble & generous reader, to support our creative endeavors at a variety of different financial levels, just like all your other favorite websites & podcasts (never let it be said that we won't eventually catch up to trends within about five years or so of when they're first trendy)!

In all seriousness, launching a Patreon is something I've considered doing for awhile - there aren't a ton of costs associated with the work we do here, but there are a few (mostly annual domain hosting fees, and the occasional issue I need to buy for scans). I've also had a few people tell me over the years that they'd like the opportunity to support our work, so after talking it over with some trusted confidants, Dr. Bitz and I decided to pull the trigger. Nobody here has delusions of getting rich on the internet, but hopefully, we can get those costs covered this way, and if there's enough support, maybe free up some time to write some new stuff for the site (I've got about a million ideas for various review series, and I'd love to bring back my Simpsons Retro Reviews), or even get a collected edition of "X-aminations" reviews put together (which has also long been a dream of mine). 

For the most part, no one will really notice a difference between this site pre- and post-Patreon. One of the big things I've always been adamant about it when considering doing this is making sure nobody has to pay for content they're already used to getting for free - not only does that feel a little like a dick move on my part, as a writer (particularly a writer who would like to someday support himself financially by writing), I want as many people as possible to read my writing, and hiding a chunk of it behind a paywall doesn't seem like a good way to make that happen.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Force in Focus: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figures Wave 3

Roll Call
AT-AT Commander/General Veers
Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit)
R2-D2 w/Sensorscope
Bespin Security Guard II
Cloud Car Pilot
C-3PO w/removable limbs
Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot

Firsts and Other Notables
This wave of figures is arguably most known for the Zuckuss/4-LOM mixup, in which Kenner mislabels the figures: 4-LOM is the droid bounty hunter, but is called Zuckuss on his aciton figure packaging, while the bug-like Zuckuss is incorrectly labeled 4-LOM.

The Zuckuss figure (advertised as 4-LOM) was this wave's mailaway figure, offered ahead of the wave's release in stores. It also has a soft goods cloak.

Friday, September 28, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #84

"Things That Go Bump in the Night!"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine fights the Hunters in Darkness.

Script: Larry Hama
Guest Breakdowns: Ron Wagner
Guest Finishes: Reinhold, Younger, Palmer & Milgrom, Yancey Labat and Matt Banning
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

With members of the research team on the brink of death, Wolverine & James Hudson rush into the attacking Hunters in Darkness to retrieve a component of the communications array to call for help. But when the Hunters cut the power from the generator, Wolverine says they can't wait for help. As the others cover him, he makes a break for the loader suit. Elsewhere, as Albert, Elsie-Dee & Bloodscream track Wolverine, Albert detects the presence of the Hunter in Darkness whom they encountered in the past. Back at the research base, Wolverine fights his way to the alpha of the Hunter pack, who is the same creature he encountered previously and traveled with Albert & Elsie-Dee. Recognizing Wolverine, the now-wizened Hunter calls off the attack, and Wolverine asks Harry to fly him south. Elsewhere, Albert detects that Wolverine is traveling by air, prompting Albert to locate the stealth bomber he & Elsie-Dee previously used. Later, Wolverine completes his Canadian visit by visiting Silver Fox' grave. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #105

"Final Sacrifice"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
X-Factor & the Nasty Boys battle Malice

Plot: DeMatteis/Dezago
Script: Todd Dezago
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Andy Lanning
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In Washington, DC, a mysterious figure enters X-Factor's headquarters. In Hawaii, the Nasty Boys attack the Malice-possessed Havok, with orders not to harm Havok too much. The Nasty Boys manage to overpower Havok, until Strong Guy & Wolfsbane arrive. Believing they're helping their teammate, they attack the Nasty Boys, until Polaris intervenes, demanding that Malice leave Havok. At this point, Mr. Sinister suggests Malice cut her loses and simply possess Polaris again. Back in DC, the mysterious figure explores Madrox' old room. In Hawaii, Polaris agrees to host Malice, but when Malice leaves Havok, Mr. Sinister catches her in-between bodies, forcing her back into her necklace before destroying it. A dazed Havok demands to know what Mr. Sinister's ulterior motives in helping them are, but Sinister simply says that Havok's family is always in his thoughts, and that he'll return someday to take what he wants, before teleporting away with the Nasty Boys. Back in DC, the mysterious figure picks up a picture of X-Factor and is shocked when he sees Madrox.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #315

August 1994

In a Nutshell
Colossus defends Neophyte in a trial on Avalon.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Green, Rubinstein, LaRosa, Barta
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Buccellato/Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Aboard Avalon, Colossus prepares for the trial of Neophyte and his role as the young man's defender. With Exodus serving as judge, Voght the prosecutor, and the rest of the Acolytes seated as the jury, the trial begins. With Milan's aid, Voght details how the Acolytes saved Neophyte, only to have him betray them. When Neophyte explains how his brief encounter with Charles Xavier showed him an alternate to Magneto's methods, a scuffle amongst the Acolytes starts up as Uniscione attempts to kill the boy. Exodus breaks up the fight and, in the face of the conflict, leaves to deliberate with the comatose Magneto. He returns, and is on the verge of executing Neophyte, when Colossus gives an impassioned speech. Comparing Neophyte's actions to those of Magneto, and arguing the Magneto he knew wouldn't condemn the boy, Colossus manages to sway some of the Acolytes, a fact not lost on Exodus, who decides to banish Neophyte to Earth instead of killing him. In the wake of the trial, Voght warns Colossus he has only alienated himself further among the Acolytes, while Exodus worries that his control over the flock is fading, and Magneto, looking on from afar - possibly - smiles.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

X-aminations in October 2018

After a look at Marvel's latest high-end trading card series, released as they attempt to wring every last dollar from the fading trading card market, and wrapping up the June '94 releases, it's time (at last) for the "Phalanx Covenant", the crossover which, in terms of structure, bridges the gap between the formally-structured crossovers like "X-Tinction Agenda" and "X-Cutioner's Song" and the more loosely-organized early crossovers like "Fall of the Mutants" and "Inferno" (which is the model to which most of the immediate post-"Phalanx" crossovers will return).

On Sale June 1994
October 3: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '94
October 4: Cable #14

October 10: X-Men (vol. 2) #35
October 11: X-Force #37
October 12: Excalibur #80

On Sale July 1994
October 17: Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #316
October 18: X-Factor #106
October 19: Excalibur #81

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #73

July 1983

In a Nutshell
The Rebels search for the datatapes of a crashed pilot on a strange planet.

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Breakdowns: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Having arrived on the planet Lahsbane in search of data tapes left behind by a downed Rebel pilot named Yom Argo, Luke & Threepio learn from the natives that the tapes have been taken to the Lahsbee's Forbidden City, which is surrounded by a large canyon the Falcon can't traverse due to pollen from the planet clogging its intake valves. As Artoo & Chewbacca work to repair the ship, an Imperial shuttle arrives on the planet, also seeking the tapes. As Luke & Lando attempt to hide the Rebels' presence from the Imperials, Leia & Dani take hot air balloons to the Forbidden City. Learning of their actions, Luke follows aboard a hang glider, while Lando is attacked by a Huhk, the hulking, monstrous adult form of the diminutive Lahsbee, which, according to Threepio, are quarantined in the Forbidden City. Lando manages to stun the Huhk, while Leia & Dani locate the tapes amongst a large treasure trove in the city. Just then, they are attacked by a group of Huhks. As both have lost their blasters, they're saved by the timely arrival of Luke. With the Falcon repaired and the tapes in hand, the Rebels leave the planet, while Dani absconds with the Imperial shuttle, having successfully looted the treasure from the city.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

X-amining Cable #13

"Fear & Loathing Part 2: A Kiss Before Dying"
July 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & Lee Forester battle D'Spayre

Scripter: Glenn Herdling
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inkers: Sellers, Conrad & Champagne
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

Seemingly alone in the Everglades, Cable & Lee Forester seek shelter in a small cabin. Inside, they find an old man who says he is called Gramps. Suddenly, Cable hallucinates the moment when he lost his wife & son, after which a younger man named Sonny enters the cabin. Gramps sends both Cable & Lee to separate bedrooms, where Lee is visited first by her deceased father then Cyclops followed by Magneto, while Cable is visited first by his wife Jenskot, then Redd, Jean Grey, Rachel Summers & Mother Askani. Just then, Gramps reveals himself as D'Spayre, who is feasting on their fear. But Cable declares that while he may feel fear, he isn't ruled by it, and in order to give Lee something real to hold onto, he kisses her, breaking D'Spayre's illusions. Just then, Sonny appears, telling D'Spayre he's lost and to release Cable & Lee to him, shortly before he transforms into Belasco and greets the son of the Goblin Queen, telling him they have a mutual enemy in common.