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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #303

"Going Through the Motions"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
The death of Illyana

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Special Guest Artist: Richard Bennet
Inks: Dan Green (pp 8, 14-18)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Jean Grey seeks out Jubilee, asking if she wants to talk about what she's feeling. Jubilee is reluctant at first, but soon she opens up, admitting she shouldn't be surprised by what happened. A few hours ago, Jubilee was keeping an increasingly-ill Illyana company along with Kitty while Xavier & Moira worked desperately to stop the spread of the virus making her sick. Annoyed by how close Kitty & Illyana were, Jubilee left to check on Xavier, and was saddened by how despondent he was. Then Illyana suddenly went into cardiac arrest, and Xavier was forced to use a piece of Shi'ar technology to keep her alive, albeit in a coma. Kitty argued that consigning her to that fate was worse than death, and as they argued, Jubilee picked up Illyana's bamf doll and placed it in her arms, doing what she could to make the girl happy. Shortly thereafter, the X-Men returned from Dallas to find Xavier waiting to break the news of Illyana's passing to a stone-faced Colossus, leaving Jubilee to ask Jean why, if the X-Men can save the world every day, they couldn't do zip to save one little girl? She tells Jean that what she's feeling more than anything is that she wants to be left alone, but Jean hugs her, saying that while everyone enters and leaves the world alone, the time they spend in between, together with other people, is what makes life worth living.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #70

"The Stenex Shuffle"
April 1983

In a Nutshell
Jo Duffy debuts with a flashback tale featuring a trip of new characters.

Plot/Script: Mary Jo Duffy
Pencils: Kerry Gammill (pp1, 5-16, 18-21), Tom Palmer (pp2-4,17,22)
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Chief: Jim Shooter

Luke and Lando, their respective searches having led them in the same direction, approach the planet Stenex, a place which Luke visited earlier, shortly after he and Han joined the Rebellion. Luke proceeds to tell Lando of how he, Han and Leia came to the planet in search of a missing Rebel cell, finding instead Rik Duel, an old associate of Han's, and Rik's partners. Duel tells Leia that he was tasked by the Rebel cell's leader to stay behind after the rest of the cell fled the incoming Imperial occupation to search for a hidden artifact that could be valuable to the Rebellion. Leia and company agree to help Duel, but when they find the artifact, a statute of a local Stenaxes' god, Duel claims it for himself, intending to sell it to the local Imperial governor, after turning the Rebels over to him. As the Rebels fight back against the summoned Stormtroopers, the native Stenaxes intervene. After they defeat the Stormtroopers, Han points them towards Duel. They attack the exchange between Duel and the Imperial governor, leaving Duel to curse Han's name as the Millennium Falcon flies off. Luke tells Lando they never learned what happened to Duel and his crew, but Lando hopes the Stenaxes will be grateful enough to help them find the bounty hunters Luke & Lando are now seeking, for Han's sake.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

X-amining Wolverine: Inner Fury

"Inner Fury"

In a Nutshell
Wolverine gets infected with nanites that turn his healing factor against him.

Writer: D.G. Chichester
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

A Hydra scientist named the Whale breaks off from the group with the nano-technology he had been working on, but is pursued by the co-leader of the project. Later, SHIELD alerts Wolverine that they picked up a Hydra courier with a communique containing his name. Nick Fury cautions against Wolverine investigating, saying it's clearly a trap, but Wolverine insists on springingit. He is subsequently attacked by a group of Hydra soldiers, and gets infected with the nanotechnology, but he manages to kill all the soldiers except for one, who is finished off by someone named Mr. Big. Mr. Big tells Wolverine that the nanites are affecting his healing factor, causing it to reject the adamantium in his body. As the adamantium begins to leak out of his body, Wolverine and Mr. Big track down the Whale, after which it's revealed that Mr. Big is Hydra as well, the co-leader of the project with Whale. His healing factor too overtaxed for him to fight, Wolverine "reboots" his power by stabbing himself in the head with his claws, forcing it to prioritize healing that injury instead of rejecting the adamantium. When he regains consciousness, he kills Mr. Big, and then promises the Whale, who was genuinely only interested in exploring science and got tricked into working with Hydra, that he'll help him get in touch with Reed Richards or some other super-scientist.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

X-amining Cable #3

"Twenty Questions"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable answers some questions.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Ron Lim & Co. (1-4), Paul Smith & Tom Palmer (5-7), Klaus Janson (8-10), B. Peterson & H. Candelario (11-13), Kerry Gammil & Al Milgrom (14-16), Ian Churchill & Bob Wiacek (17-18), Ian Churchill & Al Milgrom (19), Paul Ryan & Al Milgrom 20-22
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Cable & Kane are back in the 20th century but stuck in the Time Displacement Core at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Cable pulls out some beer to pass the time, and Kane takes the opportunity to ask him some questions. Meanwhile, GW Bridge breaks into Cable's Swiss chalet, while in Sarajevo, Sinsear approaches Weasel, looking for Deadpool. Bridge is stunned to discover Professor running Cable's house, and even more shocked to learn Cable is still alive. Back at the Time Displacement Core, Cable reveals that while he and Kane have been drinking and talking, he's been re-powering the teleportation unit with his own personal power supply. With the unit fully charged, he and Kane teleport to Cable's chalet, and Cable is enraged to find Bridge there. But Bridge quickly tells him that he can tell Cable where X-Force is.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #69

"Death in the City of Bone!"
March 1983

In a Nutshell
Leia & Fenn Shysa team-up to free Mandalore from Imperial rule.

Writer: David Michelinie
Pencils: Gene Day
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Mandalorian Protector: Jim Shooter

Leia & Threepio are brought to the Imperial base on Mandalore, and taken before Suprema, the Imperial leader, who declares he will soon kill Fenn Shysa. But as Leia & Threepio are led away by Stormtroopers, one of the troopers turns out to be Shysa in disguise. He cuts a deal with Leia: help him rescue one of his soldiers, Tobbi, and he'll help her capture Dengar. They free Tobbi from his cell, after which Fenn signals his troops outside the base to attack. The group commandeers an airspeeder and heads for Suprema's headquarters, triggering a slave uprising inside the base. Confronting Suprema, Tobbi is lethally shot, but lives long enough to open the doors to the base, allowing the slaves to escape, and then close them before a squad of Stormtroopers can capture Leia, Threepio & Fenn. In the process, he triggers a chain reaction that destroys the base, killing Suprema. Catching up to Dengar, Fenn forces him to admit he wasn't working with Boba Fett, but gives Leia a clue to his possible whereabouts. Meanwhile, Lando & Chewbacca meet an informant about Bossk's whereabouts, but Lando is less than happy when he learns the location.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #132-136 - Brothers in Arms

"Trouble in Paradise" / "Alone Against the Coven" / "Chain Reaction" / "Off the Cuff" / "Cat's Game"
July - September 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Cyber on a tropical island

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Steve Lightle
Inker: Steve Lightle
Letterer: Ul Higgins, John Babcock (issue #136)
Colorists: Steve & Marianne Lightle
Editors: Terry Kavanagh, Richard Ashford (issues #133-136)
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Vacationing on a tropical island, Wolverine encounters a young woman named Kayla fleeing from a cult called the Coven, who intend to bring about a new Dark Age on Earth. After fighting off some members of the Coven, Wolverine & Kayla sleep together, which Kayla says marks Wolverine as her champion; now, the Coven will need to kill him to meet their goals. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Coven, who have hired Cyber, learn of Wolverine's involvement. Wolverine attacks them, but is knocked out, and when he wakes up, he discovers he's been chained to Cyber. The two fight, and Wolverine gets knocked out again. He regains consciousness just as he and Cyber are being lowered into a vat of acid, intended by the Coven as a sacrifice. Cyber manages to cut them free, and the pair escape along with a jewel the Coven needs for their ritual. Wolverine brings the gem to a temple housing a group resisting the Coven, including Kayla. They only want to let Wolverine inside, but are forced to allow Cyber in since he's still chained to Wolverine. Inside, Cyber immediately reveals this has all been a ruse to get him inside the temple, and unlocks the manacle. The temple defiled, the rest of the Coven enter, but Wolverine is able to defeat them by going into a berserker rage, and Cyber escapes in the melee. With the Coven defeated, Kayla reveals the gem they stole was a fake all along, and Wolverine notes that in being deceitful like the Coven, the group has traded a darkness they could see for one that lives in everyone.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x07: The Dragon and the Wolf

Opening Credits Map

King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Eastwatch -> Old Town

King's Landing
Well, if your dream was to see nearly all the main characters assemble in one area then your wish has been granted. We get banter between Tyrion and Bronn and the Hound and Brienne. Also, Podrick the Pink Taco Pounder talked with Bronn. Bronn mentioned the Casanova's “magic cock.” There it was. Five or so seasons of setup have finally paid off.

Daenerys and her allies meet with Cersei and her allies. The Hound makes sure the Mountain and everybody watching knows that they will have a showdown. There's more banter back and forth with Cersei thinking the talk of an invading White Walker army being some sort of ploy by Daenerys. That's when the Hound releases the captured zombie and Cersei is suitably scared and shows more emotion than I thought she'd allow herself to.

Euron wants no part of this and declares that he's sailing back to the Iron Islands where the White Walkers can't get him. Cersei agrees to a truce with Daenerys provided that Jon Snow vows to completely withdraw from this war and never aid Daenerys. Jon Snow, of course, says he can't do that because Daenerys is now his queen. Being too honest and letting love get in the way of your politicking? That's two Stark mistakes for the price of one!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series IV

Skybox 1993

Vital Statistics
180 cards (including the checklist), plus nine red foil chase cards featuring characters from Marvel's 2099 imprint, and one rare Spider-Man vs. Venom hologram card, available in three different colors (red, green or the rarest, blue), inserted at the odds of one in every 180 packs.

The big change in this series that the bulk of the cards, comprising the various heroes and villains cards, are 1/9 of a larger image that forms when each batch of nine cards are placed in a nine-pocket plastic sleeve.

As a result, the border around each card varies, depending on where in the grid it falls (so the middle card has no border, the bottom right card a border on it's right and bottom, etc.), with a line across the top of each card denoting whether the character is a hero, villain, rookie, or alien race, along with the Marvel logo with the year inside it.

The back of each card is laid out in landscape, with a large headshot and a smaller full body image of the character in the center. Their real name and team affiliation is listed, followed by their ranking (by numeric value) in four ve categories: Strength, Intelligence, Fighting Ability, and Speed. Beneath that is a one sentence origin for the character, along with their first appearance. On the very bottom of the card is a "did you know" fact for each character.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

X-aminations in September 2017

As you may or may not have noticed (depending on how closely you're watching for new posts), I've struggled a bit lately in getting posts up anywhere close to their scheduled release times/days, with both the last Wolverine and Excalibur reviews going up well into the week following their planned release date. A combination of a busier-than-usual summer workload and real life junk (nothing serious, just a surplus of mundane stuff that has eaten up my time at the computer and worn me down a bit mentally) is to blame, but with at least one more abnormal week ahead (thankfully due, in part, to having some legitimately fun stuff planned for at least part of Labor Day weekend), and in the hopes of getting caught up and back to something more closely approximating a regular schedule (and to get Force in Focus running regularly again), I've decided to split what was originally planned for review in the first week of September into two weeks.

That aside, this month is another one with several significant events, including a couple of big returns in X-Force as "Fatal Attractions" continues, the introduction of what will become one of the franchise's longest-running mysteries in X-Men, and a genuinely emotional issue of Uncanny X-Men as the X-Men say goodbye to one of their own. 

On Sale May 1993
September 6: Marvel Comics Presents #132-136 (Wolverine story)

On Sale June 1993
September 13: Wolverine: Inner Fury
September 14: Cable #3

September 20: Uncanny X-Men #303
September 21: X-Factor #93
September 22: Wolverine #72

September 27: X-Men (vol. 2) #23
September 28: X-Force #25
September 29: Excalibur #68

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue Season 12, The Final Wrap-Up

As recently as Season Ten, I was remarking on the show’s continued ability to create strong hooks for episodes, and consistently discover some new angle to make the aging show interesting in some way.  Then, Season Eleven happened.  That year did have some solid episodes, but overall, it’s hard to deny a sense of exhaustion.  Looking back on the later days of NYPD Blue, I can pinpoint two moments the series never recovered from. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x06: Beyond the Wall

Opening Credits Map

King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Eastwatch -> Old Town

Daenerys bemoans Jon Snow's decision to go capture a White Walker. She tells Tyrion that she's glad he isn't a hero. Heroes are hot, hunky men who make your loins cry out for satisfaction but, instead of quenching you're deep, desperate thirst, heroes go off on stupid, ill-advised quests that will probably get them killed.

Tyrion is less concerned about Daenerys's carnal desires and more interested in her death. More specifically, he's worried about who will succeed her and how the succession will take place. Daenerys, however, isn't keen on thinking about her own mortality.

Not much is decided here accept some acknowledgement that a benevolent dictatorship is only a good form of government for one generation. Daenerys is focused on simply becoming a benevolent dictator before worrying about anything else. Tyrion is still concerned about the long game.

Friday, August 25, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #67

"Days of Future Yet to Come"
 July 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur defeats the Sentinels of the future.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorists: Moreshead & Thomas
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Tangerine senses the destruction of her RCX teammates by the Sentinels, she and the remaining members of the group help Excalibur prepare their assault on Sentinel headquarters to rescue Phoenix & Widget. Meanwhile, a captive Phoenix telepathically links with Widget, where she discovers that the Sentinels, having learned of alternate realities via Phoenix' escape to the past, are planning to wipe out mutants across all existence. Outside, Excalibur and the RCX are able to use a captive Sentinel to infiltrate the Sentinel base, just as Phoenix manages to escape her prison and free Widget. With Excalibur & RCX holding off the Sentienls, Phoenix & Widget work together to reprogram Master Mold, and through its link with them, all the Sentinels on the planet, to rewrite their first directive to protect all life, a directive immediately put into action as a Sentinel stops Ahab from killing Phoenix, but spares his life. As Ahab teleports away, Phoenix tells the RCX that the war is over, but it's up to them to win the peace. They ask Phoenix to stay with them, but she declines, saying that she has a new home, a new family and a new future with Excalibur.