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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #79

"Cyber! Cyber! Burning Bright!"
March 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyber breaks three of Wolverine's claws.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer & Mike Sellers
Letterer: Pat Brosseay
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine is surrounded by SAS troops at a bank in Edinburgh as he tries to withdraw money from his Landau, Luckman & Lake trust fund. LL&L agent Zoe Culloden calls off the troops, explaining that someone claiming to be Wolverine assaulted the bank earlier. Wolverine recognizes him as Cyber. Elsewhere, Cyber forces a professor to show him the bones of William Burke; hallucinating, he sees Wolverine's adamantium skeleton, and intends to claim it for himself. Meanwhile, Zoe brings Wolverine to her office, where she attacks him, believing him responsible for the death of her mentor, Chang. Wolverine gives her his Honor Sword, telling her to scan it for the blood of Chang's true killer. He then leaves, but is attacked outside the office by Cyber. Angry that his adamantium is gone, Cyber snaps off the claws on one of Wolverine's hands, but is then felled by a filing cabinet dropped on him by Zoe, who has verified that Wolverine didn't kill Chang. As SAS troops arrive on the scene, Wolverine & Zoe slip away, heading for Muir Island.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die

100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is the latest installment in Triumph Books' "100 Things...Fans Should Know" series, which, as the name suggests, catalogs the must-see, must-do, and must-know things for fans of assorted comic books, TV shows, bands and sports teams. With this volume, author Brian Cronin (the man behind the long-running "Comic Book Legends Revealed" articles for Comic Book Resources' "Comics Should be Good!" blog, as well as two previous books of comic book legends) provides new and long-time fans alike a one-volume guide to Marvel's Merry Mutants, highlighting important characters, creators, stories and issues from the fifty-five year history of the X-Men. While the format breaks each entry into a single numbered item, and each chapter is presented in a seemingly-random order (ie it doesn't start in the 60s and end in the present day), the book is an engaging read, as Cronin crafts a narrative history of the X-Men even as he jumps from character info to creator info, from behind-the-scenes stories about crafting specific issues to entries on the various films,  preventing the book from reading like a dry recitation of facts in chronological order.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #100

March 1994

In a Nutshell
X-Factor defeats Haven but Multiple Man succumbs to the Legacy Virus

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Jan Duursema
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Corvese
Group Editor: Harras
Chief: DeFalco

In the wake of having cured Wolfsbane, Haven once more entreats X-Factor to join her. But when she reveals that she has a satellite poised to trigger multiple earthquakes around the world, triggering her world-ending Mahapralaya, Havok decides he's through reasoning with her, and orders X-Factor to arrest her. But Haven simply transports the group, save Wolfsbane & the Madrox duplicate enamored of her, onto another plane of existence, and when they emerge, it is inside a holding cell. They are unable to free themselves, but the cell door is opened by Haven's brother, Monsoon, who has been secretly working with Val Cooper to bring Haven down from the inside. However, her troops, led by the Madrox duplicate, intercept them, and a fight breaks out, during which an increasingly-sick Madrox slips away to find Haven.

With the rest of X-Factor holding off Haven's troops, Val & Monsoon lead Havok & Polaris outside, where they use their powers in concert to destroy the satellite before it can do any damage. Just then, Haven appears, carrying a dying Madrox. She tells Havok he is sick with the Legacy Virus and came to her for help, but only Havok can decide if she helps him. He reluctantly tells her to do so, and she takes him to the same plane where she took Wolfsbane, emerging a moment later declaring Madrox healed. But he simply falls from her arms, dead. Haven realizes that the Legacy Virus must be mutantkind's own Mahapralaya and teleports away, leaving an anguished X-Factor with the body of their teammate.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #310

"...Show Me the Way to Go Home..."
March 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Cable battle the X-Cutioner during Cyclops' bachelor party

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

On their way to Cyclops' bachelor party, Cyclops & Banshee respond to a proximity alarm in the mansion and discover Cable waiting to talk to Cyclops. At a bar in Greenwich Village, the rest of the male X-Men have gathered, wondering what is keeping Cyclops. Back at the mansion, X-Cutioner teleports inside, and Cyclops sends Banshee onto the party. As Cyclops & Cable hash out their issues pertaining to Cyclops sending Cable into the future as a child, Sabretooth senses X-Cutioner, and alerts Cyclops. As the party continues, the X-Cutioner heads towards the med bay, intent on killing the comatose Emma Frost. He is stopped by Cyclops & Cable, who work together to force X-Cutioner to retreat. Afterwards, Cable & Cyclops make peace, then Cable teleports Cyclops to the party, and assures him that he'll be at the wedding.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

X-amining X-Men: The Wedding Album #1

"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue & Gold" / "Cut to the Video"

In a Nutshell
Jubilee reads Jean's diary, and Kitty Pryde creates a video album for Scott & Jean.

Writer: Scott Lobdell; Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza (2nd Story)
Pencils: Ian Churchill; Ken Lashley, Tom Lyle, Ron Garney & Jae Lee (2nd Story)
Inkers: Jason Minor, Randy Elliot, and Harry Candelario; Scott Hanna, Andrew Pepoy, Bill Sienkiewicz, & Jae Lee (2nd Story)
Letterers: Dave Sharpe & Jon Babcock
Colorist: Chris Matthys; Pat Garrahy & Chris Matthys (2nd Story)
Dress Designer: Nicole Miller
Stills from X-Men #30: Andy Kubert & Matt Ryan
Editor/Designer: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Jubilee helps Jean go through some of her old clothes, and the pair discuss Wolverine's absence and Jubilee's less-than-positive feelings about marriage. When Jean's fashion designer friend arrives to drop off her wedding dress, Jubilee discovers Jean's diary and, despite knowing better, decides to read it. When Jean returns and discovers Jubilee, she's mostly mad because, while the diary represents her private thoughts, Jubilee should have known that Jean would have talked to her about any of them, had she asked. Jubilee apologizes, and admits that reading about Jean's relationship with Scott through the years has given her a better appreciation for marriage, and the pair leave to check out Jean's dress.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Milch Studies: LUCK

Five years passed between the fast death of John from Cincinnati and Milch landing another show on HBO.  In the meantime, he did produce his ‘70s New York cop drama Last of the Ninth pilot, but couldn’t convince the network to commit to the series.  (Some databases say it aired once as a movie, but I can’t find any confirmation of this.)  Last of the Ninth was based on Bill Clark’s earliest days on the police force and would’ve been the closest to NYPD Blue Milch had gotten since arriving at HBO.  The network vetoed what would seem to be an easily sellable premise, and instead gave Milch permission to go to work on another dream project.
This one was about horse racing.  And it turned out to be just as commercially viable as a surfing series concerned with the spiritual state of the nation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Unstacking the Deck: Fleer Ultra X-Men Series I

Fleer 1994

Vital Statistics
150 base card set (including the checklist card), as well as several insert/chase sets: a nine card "team portrait" set that combines to form one image, a six card foil-etched "Fatal Attractions" set, a six card foil-etched "Greatest Battles", and a six card foil-etched X-Overs set. Additionally, there is a six card Team Triptych that is exclusive to packs sold from Wal-Mart, and a five card "promo pack" sold with Sega's X-Men video game (which contained versions of the base set cards with the Sega logo on the back).

Categorically Speaking
Super Heroes, Super Villains, Original Team, X-Overs, Team Tryptichs, Deceased, Wolverine's Greatest Battles

Firsts and Other Notables
Fleer is the company which, in the early 80s, helped breaks Topps' monopoly on the production of baseball cards, and by 1991, with the sports card market in the midst of a booming sales bubble (helped, in part, by the opening of the market by Fleer), it released its first "Fleer Ultra" set of baseball cards, a high-end series produced in smaller quantities than the "regular" Fleer set, featuring thicker card stock and silver ink (not unlike how the Marvel Masterpieces card sets are, essentially, an upscale version of the regular Marvel Universe sets). In July of 1992, Marvel purchased Fleer outright, which is why this series (and subsequent X-Men series) are produced by Fleer instead of Skybox, as with the previous sets (though Marvel would, in turn, purchase Skybox as well, in 1995, with both acquisitions often cited as two of the numerous bad business decisions that led to their bankruptcy in 1996).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

X-aminations in April 2018

Wedding bells are ringing in the January '94 issues, as Scott & Jean finally tie the knot in X-Men #30 (well, "finally" in terms of their thirty year courtship; it's more like "already" in terms of their engagement apparently happening yesterday in comic book time...). But it's not all bachelor parties and wedded bliss, as both X-Factor & Excalibur deal with significant losses in big, double-sized, divisible-by-25 issues, X-Force gets drawn into the Upstarts plotline and a crossover with the similarly-themed, Nicieza-written New Warriors, and Nightcrawler learns the truth about his heritage.

On Sale January 1994
April 4: X-Men: The Wedding Album

April 11: Uncanny X-Men #310
April 12: X-Factor #100
April 13: Wolverine #79

April 18: X-Men (vol. 2) #30
April 19: X-Force #32
April 20: Excalibur #75

April 25: X-Men Unlimited #4
April 26: New Warriors #45
April 27: Cable #9

Thursday, March 22, 2018

X-amining Cable #8

"Fathers and Sons Part Three: Day Spring"
February 1994

In a Nutshell
The truth about Cable & Stryfe is revealed

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Aaron Wiesenfeld
Inkers: Holdredge, Vey, Sellers, Minor, Hanna, Conrad, Banning & Hudson
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Stryfe blasts Tyler and obliterates Askani's energy form, but Tyler's connection to her still allows him to show Stryfe events from his past. Meanwhile, Zero details Cable & Stryfe's survival to Cyclops, Jean, Xavier, Domino, Rictor & Siryn, then teleports Cyclops, Jean, Xavier & Domino to Tyler's base. They arrive just as Stryfe witnesses the truth of his origins as a clone of Cable captured by Apocalypse. A battle ensues, but Zero is able to reconstitute Askani, who, with Xavier & Jean's help, brings the group into Stryfe's mind, where they relive the tragic events of his childhood, as well as Cyclops' & Tyler's troubled pasts. Askani pleads with Stryfe to give up his hold on Cable's body, which he does, but only because he realizes that by dying, he takes the hope of curing the Legacy Virus with him. Cable, now in control of his own body, slumps to the ground, and Cyclops embraces the man he now knows to be his son. Cable asks after Tyler, whom Xavier declares escaped while they battled Stryfe. With that, Cable is eager to move on, but Cyclops asks if there's anything he wants to say to him, or ask about. Cable pauses, then declares he'd like to know a little more about his mother. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: X-Men Series V & VI, X-Force Series III

Year of Release

Roll Call

X-Men Series V
Silver Samurai, Morph, Beast, Random, Fitzroy, Robot Wolverine (Albert)

X-Men Series VI
Senyaka, Rogue, Bonebreaker, Ch'od, Raza, Kylun, Civilian Wolverine

X-Force Series III
Cable (4th Edition "Air Assault"), Pyro, Rictor, Sunspot, Mojo, Quark, Shatterstar (2nd Edition)

Friday, March 16, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #74

"In the Name of Love"
February 1994

In a Nutshell
Phoenix finds herself being pulled into the future by Captain Britain.

Written with Love: Richard Ashford
Drawn with Passion: Ian Churchill
Inked with Adoration: Harry Candelario, Cam Smith & Randy Elliot
Lettered with Affection: Pat Brosseau
Colored with Devotion: Garrahy & Matthys
Edited with Compassion: Suzanne Gaffney
Grouply Edited with Appreciation: Bob Harras
Chiefly Edited with Concern: Tom DeFalco

Captain Britain suddenly appears before Phoenix, and she feels herself being pulled into her future as a result, causing her to break the connection. This act of self-preservation proceeds to fill her with guilt as she sees the sad condition Meggan in is, as Moira & Rory Campbell examine her. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler checks on the captive Spoor, and later, Rory tries to get Rachel to open up about her guilt. Elsewhere, Mr. Sinister meets with Gamesmaster & Siena Blaze, and his anger at the latter's failure to retrieve Proteus' DNA is lessened when he discovers Blaze scratched Phoenix, thus providing Sinister with Rachel Summers' DNA. Back on Muir Island, Nightcrawler ponders his heritage while missing Cerise, and Kitty finally decides to unpack following her move to the island. The next morning, Moira checks on Meggan and finds her in a feral state. When Excalibur intervenes, Meggan attacks Phoenix, crying out for her to help free Captain Britain. Just then, Rory is able to dose Meggan with a sedative, knocking her out, prompting an angry Phoenix to tell Rory he had no right to jump in on her behalf. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

X-amining X-Force #31

"Cry Uncle!"
February 1994

In a Nutshell
Warpath & Juggernaut help Siryn & Black Tom reconcile.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: John Holdredge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Blarney Stone: Tom DeFalco

Warpath meets with Kelvin Doneghann, a reporter & childhood friend of Siryn's, to discuss Black Tom's attack on the Cassidy's family lawyer Flaherty, with Kelvin noting that if Black Tom had wanted to kill him, he could have, suggesting he's really after attention, specifically from Siryn, who is continuing to deal with her problems by drinking. Later, Kelvin meets with Juggernaut, who is worried because Black Tom needs medical treatment he can only get after turning himself in. The pair devise a way for Black Tom to turn himself in to the authorities and give Siryn some closure on their relationship, and with Warpath's help, arrange a meeting between the two. At the grave of Siryn's mother, whom Tom also loved, the two argue, with Siryn ultimately accepting how much of a father Tom was to her, while forcing Tom to accept that he is responsible for his own evil actions. As Siryn declares that she's giving up drinking, Tom allows himself to be arrested. Juggernaut, watching from the shadows, points out to Warpath that if Siryn truly stops drinking, she may not need him anymore. Warpath agrees, but says, that may be the price of friendship.