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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Unstacking the Deck: X-Men Series I

Impel 1992

Vital Statistics
100 cards (including one checklist card), with five hologram chase cards featuring original art.

Categorically Speaking
Heroes, Villains, Teams, Ex-X-Men, Allies, the Danger Room

Firsts and Other Notables
After releasing two full sets of Marvel Universe cards (with a third following shortly behind this one), this is the first set of trading cards to exclusively feature Marvel's cash cow X-Men, with the added conceit that every card is drawn by Jim Lee, arguably the most popular of Marvel's artists at the time. Lee provides not only the central image on the front of the card, but the headshots on the back, as well five additional, original images for the hologram chase cards.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

X-aminations in September 2016

Summer is coming to a close, and there's time left for just one more vacation. Unfortunately, the X-Men decided to take it in Mojoworld this year, apparently because Mojo dropped a ton of money into someone at Marvel's lap to be 1992's go-to X-villain.

After covering the '92 annuals, we then look at a couple personally momentous issues as the series draw ever closer to the Image Exodus, while Alan Davis' big Necrom/Phoenix storyline reaches its climax in Excalibur.

September 7th: X-Men (vol. 2) Annual  #1

September 14th: Uncanny X-Men Annual #16
September 15th: X-Factor Annual #7
September 16th: X-Force Annual #1

On Sale March 1992

September 21st: X-Men (vol. 2) #8 
September 22nd: Excalibur #50
September 23rd: Wolverine #54

On Sale April 1992
September 28th: Uncanny X-Men #289
September 29th: X-Force #11
September 30th: X-Factor #79

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #46

"The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe!"
April 1981

In a Nutshell
While searching for Han, Lando & Chewbacca discover a long-vanished hero from the early days of the Rebellion.

Writer: Wally Lombego
Artist: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Diana Albers
Editor: L. Jones & Dan F.
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

While searching for Boba Fett, Lando & Chewbacca, aboard the Millennium Falcon, are suddenly pulled out of hyperspace and discover a strange city floating in space. Landing, they soon encounter Cody Sunn-Childe, a Rebel hero who disappeared years ago. Meanwhile, an Imperial ship led by Captain Plikk detects the rent in dimensional fabric caused by the Falcon, and seeking glory for herself & crew, investigates. Meanwhile, Sunn-Childe tells Lando of how, in the midst of his war against the Empire, he nearly died but was saved by a group of beings who, in the process, granted him tremendous psychic power. The experience led him to eschew violence, and he created the floating interdimensional city for himself and his followers to live in peace. Later, the Imperials manage to penetrate the dimensional barrier and attack the city. When Lando & Chewie attempt to defend it, Sunn-Childe is moved to action, using his tremendous power to attack the Imperial ships. But at the last minute, he pulls back, ashamed of what's he done, and allows the Imperials to use the last of their energy to destroy himself and the city, but leaving the Imperials helpless in the process. Lando is shocked, and insists that lofty ideals alone just aren't enough when dealing with the Empire, but out of respect to Sunn-Childe, he leaves the Imperials stranded rather than destroy them, denying them their glory and leaving them to the fate they made for themselves. He then steers the Falcon back through the dimensional rift, and returns to the search for Han Solo.

Friday, August 26, 2016

X-amining X-Factor #78

"Playing With Fire"
May 1992

In a Nutshell
X-Factor is divided as they protect a controversial doctor from the MLF.

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Larry Stroman & Brandon Peterson
Inked: Al Milgrom
Lettered: Dave Sharpe
Colored: Mike Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Dr. Tucker receives a call from a young woman, warning him that the MLF is targeting his clinic. Meanwhile, Val attempts to unveil X-Factor's new Danger Room to the team, but the doorknob comes off the door, while Mr. Sinister arrives at MLF headquarters to retrieve Hairbag & Slab. Later, Havok contacts the X-Men to warn them about Mr. Sinister, after which Val announces that X-Factor has been called in to help protect Dr. Tucker. When the team learns the nature of his medical work, both Wolfsbane and Quicksilver opt to sit out, due to ethical conflicts with Tucker's work. When the MLF attack the clinic, Wildchild seriously wounds Tucker before X-Factor arrives, and Wolfsbane is forced to enter the fray to help Polaris, paying her back for recently letting Cannonball go free. But when a dying Dr. Tucker asks Wolfsbane to deliver his data to the government, she instead destroys it. Upon returning to their base, Stryfe is curious how X-Factor knew to expect their attack, and Tempo removes her helmet, revealing the face of the woman who had earlier warned Tucker. As X-Factor flies home, Quicksilver tells the team about his daughter, and how his initial reaction to her not being born a mutant damaged his marriage.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

X-amining X-Force #10

"Answers (And Questions)" / "X-Ternals: A Prologue" / "X-Tenuating Circumstances Part 3"
May 1992

In a Nutshell
Cannonball learns he's an External, the Externals plot to capture him, and Rictor returns.

Plots What?: Rob Liefeld
Scripts Where?: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils Who?: Mark Pacella
Inks How? Dan Panosian
Letters When: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors Why: Dana Moreshead
Under Sedation: Bob Harras
Questions (& Questions): Tom DeFalco

As Kane battles the MLF, Gideon meets with his fellow Externals, a group of immortal mutants, to discuss the recent awakening of Cannonball. He is lambasted for mistakenly believing Sunspot to be the next External, but promises to dispatch Crule to rectify the mistake. Meanwhile, Kane comes face-to-face with Stryfe and discovers he has the same face as Cable. At X-Force's headquarters, Cable orders Masque & Sauron to be taken to the morgue while he tells Cannonball about the Externals and his status as one of them. At the MLF headquarters, Stryfe toys with Kane before knocking him out. Waking up just outside Department K, Kane rushes in to see General Clarke. Believing Cable to be Stryfe, he tells him that Bridge was right, and that they should put the Weapon Prime program at his disposal. Clarke isn't sure Weapon Prime is ready, but he does introduce Kane to Rictor, who is also looking forward to bringing down Cable. Elsewhere, Mr. Tolliver dispatches Deadpool to pay Domino a house call, in order to remind her how much it displeases him when his employees ignore their job.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #288

"Time and Place"
May 1992

In a Nutshell
Bishop acclimates to the ways of the X-Men.

Plotters: Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio
Dialogue: Byrne/Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Andy Kubert
Guest Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Starkings
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Colossus, Archangel & Iceman roughhouse with Cyclops & Beast, Bishop trains in the Danger Room under the supervision of Professor X. In the wake of the jarring sessions, Bishop asks Storm, under whose tutelage Xavier has placed him, to take him into the city, to acclimate him to life in this time. Later, Iceman picks up Opal for their night on the town, while Archangel listens to a message from Charlotte Jones before flying off naked into the night. That evening, a group of X-Men, including Bishop, arrive in the city. Bishop shortly spots Styglut, the last of the criminals Fitzroy released, and attacks him. The two fight, and eventually, Bishop kills Styglut, avenging Malcolm & Randall's deaths. But Storm chides him for ignoring bystanders, and stresses that while killing may be his way, it is not the X-Men's way. Returning to the mansion, Bishop has a more successful session in the Danger Room, then presents his command insignia to Storm, affirming that she is the leader, not him, and that he still has much to learn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue, Season Six -- The Wrap-Up

Season Six is the most ambitious season of the series since Season One; that much is hard to deny.  Ranking the season amongst the previous years is difficult, given that there’s so much to process, and it’s unlikely that any fan of the show wanted those two beloved, well-established characters to die.  Even if the execution is flawless, the producers are put in the position of doing something that no one really wants them to do.  And although this isn’t the show’s final season -- it’s not even David Milch’s final season -- you do get the sense that this entire year was written as a goodbye.

If I had to rank the seasons, based on quality, I’d place Season Six at around the middle.  It’s a noticeable improvement over Season Five, and it’s likely ahead of Season Four.  (Seasons One and Three remain my favorites, with Season Two floating around the middle, as well.)  There’s one caveat to this season, however -- Rick Schroeder just isn’t very good.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #45

"Death Probe "
March 1981

In a Nutshell
Luke is trapped aboard a Rebel ship with a murderous probe droid.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inkers: Day & Stone
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

A Rebel ship is attacked by a larger, more sophisticated Imperial probe droid. The droid quickly dispatches the crew and takes control of the ship, much to the pleasure of Admiral Krall, the mastermind behind the advanced droid. Meanwhile, Luke is on a routine patrol when he encounters the ship, which blasts his X-wing out from under him. Fortunately, Luke and Artoo are able to escape the wreckage and reach the commandeered ship. They fight way their through the ship as the droid uses its automated systems against them, eventually realizing the droid has taken full control of the ship and intends to explode its reactor once it reaches the rest of the Rebel fleet. Using the Force to mask his movements, Luke is able to override the droid's control, then he and Artoo board an escape pod as the ship jumps to lightspeed. Moments later, it emerges from hyperspace and flies into Admiral Krall's Star Destroyer, just as the droid detonates the reactor, destroying both ships.

Friday, August 19, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #53

"The Chimerical Mystery Tour"
April 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine defeats Mojo, saving existence.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Dan Green (w/an assist from Barta & Janson)
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Rosas/Tinsley/Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine, Mystique & Spiral attack Mojo, attempting to stop him from delaying the Crunch and thus ending all existence, but he sets his plasma wraiths on them and offers the captive Jubilee the opportunity to save Wolverine in exchange for becoming his slave. Suddenly, Gateway appears, and shows Wolverine that the solution lies with Albert & Elsie-Dee, along with a cruise missile. Figuring it out, Wolverine sends Mystique & Spiral to get the missile, while he stalls Mojo. As Wolverine battles more wraiths, Mojo reveals that he knows Jubilee will agree to his terms, since Abcissa is the Jubilee who said yes. In Canada, Spiral confirms the adamantium skeleton found by Albert & Elsie-Dee is from an alternate Wolverine, and agrees to send them back in time to unravel the mystery in exchange for a missile from their stealth bomber. Sending the missile through the vortex, Wolverine hops onto it and steers it towards Mojo. In his panic, he releases Jubilee, who jumps onto Wolverine's motorcycle and manages to grab Wolverine and race into the collapsing vortex just before the missile hits Mojo. Suddenly, Wolverine is in the midst of a poker game, and gets interrupted by a call from Jubilee; she needs Wolverine to come bail her out of jail in Tokyo.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #49

"Let There Be Dark"
April 1992

In a Nutshell
Necrom begins his attack on Excalibur.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

FI6 attempts to capture the perpetrator of the recent string of heists, but the perpetrator is Necrom, who absorbs the life force of the FI6 agents to increase his own power. He attempts to do the same to Micromax, but Micromax seems to disappear before he can, and Necrom flies off for Excalibur's lighthouse. At the lighthouse, amid an increasing number of cross-time intrusions, Excalibur debates their next course of action. In London, Inspector Thomas discovers Micromax, who shrank at the last minute to escape Necrom. He wants to warn Excalibur, but Thomas says their communication lines are dead. At the lighthouse, Necrom telepathically contacts Excalibur, explaining that the increase of cross-time breaches is his doing, as the various alternate worlds are collapsing into a singularity that will destroy them all, unless Rachel unleashes the Phoenix Force to stop him. On Otherworld, a mystified Roma is monitoring the collapsing realities when Merlin suddenly appears, declaring that the final gambit begins.