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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Force in Focus: A Very Special Episode's Star Wars Extravaganza!

I swear I'll be back to reviewing old Star Wars comics very soon, but in the meantime, if you're the podcast-listening sort, this week sees the release of a very special Very Special Episode, the podcast which Dr. Bitz and I cohost (along with a pair of cartoonists & comedians from Portland), dedicated to Star Wars.

The idea behind it is a sort of "defense" of Star Wars. Anyone who's been reading these posts knows I'm a big Star Wars fan, and I generally like more than I dislike. My cohosts, whose Star Wars fandom ranges from the jaded to the casual to not-too-far-from-mine, decided to put forth a bunch of stuff they don't like about the various films, and then have me defend those decisions and explain why their nitpicks and dislikes aren't so bad (or, in some cases, confirm they are).

Ultimately though, it's just a big three hour episode celebrating Star Wars. I was fully prepared to bring my best pedantic nerd explanations for things, but in the end, I barely needed them, and nearly everyone spent about as much time talking about the stuff they love from the various films as the stuff that bugs them (needless to say, my faith in the franchise remains unshaken).

Amongst the topics of discussion were the unnecessarily-charred corpses of Luke's aunt & uncle, Han Solo's spiritual beliefs, and the stupid noise that lizard-thing Obi-Wan rides in Revenge of the Sith makes.

You can listen to and download the episode here, and it's also available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and PodBean.

PS this episode is a bit more SFW than some of our fare, but I still wouldn't recommend blasting it loudly from your desk. And in general, we work a little blue, so probably hold off on listening around the kids as well.

PPS if you haven't already, you can also listen to our episode discussing the infamous Star Wars Holiday special here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #75

"Nightmares Persist"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
In the wake of losing his adamantium, Wolverine discovers he has bone claws.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Dan Green & Mark Pennington
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Professor X & Jean Grey work to keep Wolverine alive, the rest of Xavier's strike team and Bishop fight to bring the Blackbird safely back to Earth. Despite their efforts, Wolverine is fading fast, but when damage to the plane causes Jean to get sucked out the hatch, Wolverine regains consciousness long enough to pull her back inside. Two weeks later, Wolverine orders the X-Men out of the Danger Room, determined to test his mettle in the wake of Magneto's attack on him. As the X-Men look on in growing concern, Wolverine battles a pair of robots, and when he instinctively pops his claws, he is horrified to discover he has claws made of bone. A few days later, he and Jubilee have a heart-to-heart, as each attempts to deal with the recent changes they've experienced. That night, Wolverine leaves Jubilee and the rest of the X-Men letters, explaining his decision to leave the mansion, then rides off into the night as a saddened Jubilee watches from her window.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #96

"In the Beginning"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
The debut of Haven.

Writer: JM DeMatteis
Penciler: Greg Luzniak
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Corvese
Group Editor: Harras
Chief: DeFalco

X-Factor responds to a terrorist attack at the Kennedy Center, working through the night to rescue as many people as possible. As they finish, Forge appears, and orders Havok into a meeting. Meanwhile, Random meets with his mysterious employer, but afterwards, is marked for termination. At the Pentagon, Havok lays into Forge, but Forge tells Havok there are lots of questions hanging over their heads, and he needs Havok's help to unravel them. At X-Factor headquarters, Rahne & Lorna share a midnight snack, and Rahne lashes out at Polaris, saying Havok hasn't done enough to help her, but would have if Polaris needed it. Elsewhere, one of Madrox' dupes takes Guido out on the town, while an increasingly-sick Madrox reads a mysterious book. Going for a walk to clear her head, Lorna realizes that Madrox' problems started in Genosha, just as she's attacked by a group of armored soldiers. She holds them off, but before the situation escalates further, the soldiers are teleported away by a mysterious woman who appears before Lorna, telling her to embrace the dawning new age, an age of hope for man, mutant, and the new humanity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #306

"Mortal Coils"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
Cameron Hodge returns.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: S. Bucce
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

On the anniversary of Candy Southern's death, Jean Grey accompanies Archangel to his home in Colorado, and the pair are stunned to find a very-much-alive Candy waiting for them there. Meanwhile, Xavier spars with Quicksilver in the Danger Room. Back in Colorado, Jean telepathically confirms Candy is who she says she is, while in New York, Storm meets Forge for dinner. In Colorado, Jean takes Archangel into Candy's mind, and he's horrified to learn she was conscious during his fight with Hodge that led to her death, and learns of the mysterious experiments conducted on her after that death. Just then, the group is attacked by a techno-organic Hodge, who says he is just one of many poised to eradicate mutants. Archangel manages to injure him, but he draws on Candy, who turns out to also be techno-organic, for replacement parts. However, Candy resists, and uses the connection between them to seemingly destroy them both. As she dies once again, she tells Archangel she is grateful for the love they shared. Jean tells Archangel it's over but, recalling Hodges words about others, Archangel isn't so sure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

X-aminations in December 2017

The year winds down with something of a whimper, as reviews shift to weekly for December, due to a combination of general holiday/end-of-year busy-ness and a desire to get further back on schedule after a rocky autumn. I also decided I didn't want to split "Bloodties" over the holiday break I was already planning on giving myself when I drew up the second half schedule last summer, so I've shifted some stuff around to move the beginning of that into 2018 (the downside being that the final chapter of "Fatal Attractions" gets pushed back further too, but given how late Excalibur #71 shipped initially, that seems appropriate).

Anyways, here's what I'll be reviewing in December, including the second '93 solo X-character limited series, the final in a long string of regular Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine stories, the second series of Marvel Masterpieces cards, and the conclusion to Tom DeFalco's unofficial "Thor vs. Juggernaut" trilogy.

December 6: Sabretooth #1-4

December 13: Marvel Comics Presents #137-142 (Wolverine Story)

December 20: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series II

December 27: Thunderstrike #2

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD, Season Three. “Something Pretty.”

People familiar with the actual history of Deadwood have criticized these final episodes for the purely malevolent portrayal of George Hearst, while the show continues to evolve Al Swearengen into a sympathetic man with his own moral code.  Apparently, the reverse was true, with Al as an even nastier figure than we’ve seen on the series (this is a man who recruited prostitutes from orphanages), and George Hearst as a positive influence on the development of the Deadwood community.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

X-amining X-Force Annual #2

"Extreme Measures"

In a Nutshell
The debut of Adam-X the X-Treme!

Story: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Antonio Daniel
Inks: Mark Pennington/Bob Wiacek/Brad Vancata/Keith Williams/Kevin Conrad
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Kevin Somers
Managing Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In Phoenix, a mutant named Michelle is hunted by Adam-X the X-Treme, but she is rescued by X-Force, who manage to fight off Adam. They leave the scene, taking Michelle with them, but Adam follows, not realizing that X-Force is well aware of his pursuit and tracking him as well. Meanwhile, at the Foundations research facility near Denver, Cannonball & Siryn, posing as interns, break into a secret vault and discover Feral being held captive. Elsewhere, X-Force gets the drop on Adam, and learns he is only helping Foundation head Martin Strong in exchange for info about his past. From Michelle, they learn that Strong is working to find a way to eliminate all mutations, and is being funded by Project: Wideawake, prompting Cable to launch an assault on the facility. Meanwhile, Strong attacks and captures Cannonball & Siryn. Later, X-Force infiltrates Foundation with the help of Adam, freeing their teammates and attacking Strong, only to be betrayed by Michelle, who genuinely wants Strong to remove her mutation. Adam takes her out, after which Cable defeats Strong, revealing his bulky form to be a cybernetic creation housing Strong's true, disfigured & diminutive, form. X-Force decides to leave Foundation running, albeit without the help of any unwilling mutants, so as to offer an alternative choice to other mutants with more physical disfigurements like Strong. X-Force then teleports away and bids goodbye to Adam, who leaves to search out details of his past.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD, Season Three. “Didn’t I Tell You How Well It Wafted?”

Although some claim that any talk of a four season plan for Deadwood only occurred after the show’s cancellation, it’s become accepted lore that the series was always intended to run this length.  The original Deadwood camp existed for four years before it was consumed by fire, and Deadwood the TV series, we’re now told, was conceived to have each season represent one year of the camp, before ending the show with the eradicating fire.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

"A Bluer Slice of Heaven" / "Beast Foot Forward"

In a Nutshell
Jonathan Chambers sets up a haven for victims of the Legacy Virus.

Writers: Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell (2nd Story)
Pencilers: Aron Weisenfeld, Ian Churchill (2nd Story)
Inkers: Al Milgrom, Bob Wiacek & Keith Williams, Kevin Conrad (2nd Story)
Letterers: Steve Dutro, Dave Sharpe (2nd Story)
Colorists: Mike Thomas & Dana Moreshead, George Roussos (2nd Story)
Managing Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Avalanche & Crimson infiltrate island home of Jonathan Chambers, a mutant author & philanthropist. However, they are caught by their old teammates in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who are staying on the island. After a brief skirmish, two sides reunite, with the Brotherhood not knowing that Avalanche & Commando were sent by Henry Peter Gyrich, who is monitoring the island from a nearby boat, suspicious of Chambers recent activities. Later, in the wake of the spreading of the Legacy Virus and news that Chambers is hosting the Brotherhood, the X-Men arrive on the island as well. As Beast, Cyclops & Rogue meet with Chambers to feel him out, Gambit, Psylocke & Revanche secretly search the island. They too encounter the Brotherhood, and a fight breaks out which ends when Chambers intervenes, at which point both Pyro & Revanche reveal they have contracted the Legacy Virus. Pyro declares his intent to stay on the island, which Chambers wants to serve as a haven for those afflicted with the virus, despite Chambers intent to harvest the energy of the dying. The X-Men are reluctant to leave, but Revanche argues they have no right to tell other people how to spend their final days. As they depart, Gyrich arrives, but Cyclops vouches for Chambers, saying they've discovered nothing illegal on the island. The X-Men then warn Chambers not to take advantage of those seeking his help as they leave.

Friday, November 10, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #70

"Crime & Punishment"
 October 1993

In a Nutshell
Cerise & Feron leave the series.

Story: Scott Lobdell
Script: Richard Ashford
Art: Ken Lashley
Inks: Don Hudson / Parker / Gemdjian / Taverna
Letters: Lois Buhalis
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Edits: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Edits: Bob Harras
Chief Edits: Tom DeFalco

On the prison world of Krag, Cerise is attacked by Fang and is forced to kill her in self-defense, an act which horrifies the arriving Nightcrawler, who appears along with the Starjammers and the rest of Excalibur. On Earth, Feron attempts to snap Meggan out of her catatonia by posing as Captain Britain, but he ends up getting caught in a similar state by her just as Kitty departs for America. Back on Krag, Excalibur & the Starjammers are attacked by prison guards, but the fight is interrupted when Lilandra, speaking through one of the prisoners, appears. Using the telepathic abilities of the prisoner's race, Lilandra is able to probe Cerise's memories and share them with Excalibur & the Starjammers, showing how Cerise destroyed the vessel on which she was stationed, along with its crew, in order to prevent it from carrying out more acts of genocide on alien worlds. Her name cleared, Lilandra insists that Cerise must serve out her sentence, but at Lilandra's side, working to root out those elements of the empire who would commit similar horrific acts. Cerise agrees, and bids a tearful goodbye to Nightcrawler with a kiss.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

X-amining X-Force #27

"Liberation through Subjugation"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
The New Mutant Liberation Front kidnaps Gyrich.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Matt Broome
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Battlin' Bob Harras
Big Cheese: Two-Fisted Tommy Dee

The Mutant Liberation Front attacks Henry Peter Gyrich's house, but when he activates a bio-Sentinel named Hardaway, their new teammates, Locus & Moonstar, are forced to intervene. Taking out Hardaway, they capture Gyrich. Later, X-Force eavesdrops on a Commission of Superhuman Activities meeting discussing the kidnapping, and decide to rescue Gyrich themselves. Arriving at the MLF's new base, they split into three teams. Cannonball, Rictor, Sunspot & Boomer get into the base first, but are attacked by Moonstar, stunned to realize she may be their old teammate, Dani. Elsewhere, Warpath, Siryn & Shatterstar battle Reaper, Forearm & Wildside while Cable & Feral locate Gyrich. But Reignfire is waiting, and incapacitates them, asking Cable if he'll join him in his war, or betray his kind and die.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #25

"Dreams Fade"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
Magneto rips out Wolverine's adamantium, and Professor X erases Magneto's mind.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The execution of the Magneto Protocols by the UN Security Council prompts Magneto to strike back by triggering a massive electromagnetic pulse that wipes out power across the planet, killing hundreds. In the wake of the attack, Professor X decides that Magneto has gone too far, and dons a Shi'ar exoskeleton that enables him to walk in order to lead a strike team against him. Teleporting onboard Avalon, the strike team is surreptitiously helped by Colossus, and they take control of Avalon's systems, allowing the X-Men to teleport Exodus & the Acolytes off the base before confronting Magneto. During the fight, Xavier & Jean attempt to use Magneto's memories of past tragedies against him while the rest of the force engages him physically, but when Wolverine lands a nearly-lethal blow, Magneto retaliates by using his power to remove the adamantium from Wolverine's bones and rip it out of his body. Horrified, Xavier responds by telepathically wiping Magneto's mind, to ensure he'll never be a threat to anyone again. Just then Colossus appears, telling his former teammates that their battle has damaged the teleportation systems, but that he has summoned Bishop to pick them up with a modified Blackbird. He suggests they leave quickly, but vows to stay behind to take care of the now-mindless Magneto.