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

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

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

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

#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

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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Milch Studies - HILL STREET BLUES, Season Seven

After a seven-year run, and a move to Tuesdays at 9:00 (opposite the hot new series Moonlighting), the consensus amongst critics seemed to be that Hill Street Blues was entering its final days.  I’m not entirely certain when David Milch and company knew that the series was truly done, but apparently the final nail was star Daniel J. Travanti’s decision not to return for a hypothetical eighth season.  You’d think that the concluding episodes of the run would serve as a tender farewell to Travanti’s honorable cop boss, but the character of Frank Furillo actually spends the final days of the series with little to do.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #53

"The Last Gift From Alderaan!"
November 1981

In a Nutshell
Leia crash lands on a strange planet targeted by the Empire.

Writer: C. Claremont
Pencilers: Infantino & Simonson
Inkers: Kupperberg & Palmer
Colors: G. Wein
Letters: Leferman
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Drawn by a recent surge in Imperial activity, Princess Leia is participating in a mission to scout the Shiva system when her ship is hit with a mine. In order to protect the ship and its crew, she's forced to fly a damaged shuttle down to the planet Shiva IV. Crashing on the planet, she is attacked by a raiding party, but is rescued by Aron Peacebringer, leader of one of the local factions. Returning to Aron's capital city with him, she tries to warn him of the danger posed by the Empire, but he questions their existence. Weeks later, with no sign of rescue, Leia is attending a ball in Aron's court, finding herself somewhat enjoying the courtly life free of responsibility she's built for herself, when she and Aron are captured by a pair of Stormtroopers. They are taken before the Imperial general Sk'ar, who declares Aron's planet is his next target. Aron, realizing Leia was right about the Empire, vows to fight, and make him rue the day he ever set eyes on Aron's world.

Friday, November 18, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #58

Early August 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine teams up with Terror to locate a girl kidnapped by a cult-ish environmental group.

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

When a logging executive friend of Xavier's named Barton Hoff asks for help locating his daughter Alice, who was kidnapped by a group of environmental extremists called the Nature Defense League, Xavier is forced to decline to protect the X-Men's secrets. But Wolverine, looking for a distraction after Mariko's recent death, takes it upon himself to help the girl. He and Jubilee track a member of the group to an Oregon bar, where they learn Ecotage, a splinter group of the NDL, has captured Alice. Wolverine gets into a fight with one of the members, who kills himself rather than be captured. At the morgue, they rendezvous with Terror, an apparent acquaintance of Wolverine's, who uses his power to learn that Alice is being prepared for some kind of cult-like sacrifice. Just then, Monkeywrench, the leader of Ecotage, and his associates attack, and Wolverine is stabbed in the chest with an explosive spike.