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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #60

"Shira's Story"
June 1982

In a Nutshell
The origin of Shira Brie

Scriper/Plot: David Michelinie
Pencils/Plot: Walt Simonson
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Al Milgrom
Grand Moff: Jim Shooter

Plot
Using their recently acquired TIE fighters, the Rebels attack an Imperial facility and gain the coordinates to a new Imperial armada. Returning to Arbra, Shira requests leave to attend a personal matter, but Leia will only let her go if accompanied by Luke and the rest of her fighter squadron. Meanwhile, the leader of the Imperial armada dismisses the severity of the Rebel's attack. Elsewhere, the Rebel squad arrives on Shalyvane, Shira's homeworld. They land on the outskirts of a deserted town, and Shira proceeds to an altar within, cutting her hand to leave behind some blood. Just then, a group of barbarians attack the Rebels, and Shira explains how the same barbarians used to attack her people, until they brokered a phony peace treaty to lure them into an attack by the Empire, during which Shira's family was killed. She managed to escape and join the Rebellion, and since then, she's returned to the site each year to add her blood to her family's. Luke proceeds to send Shira through the tunnels she used to escape the Empire as a girl while he and the rest of the squad hold off the barbarians, and Shira is able to reach her X-wing and turn the tide just as Luke is about to be overwhelmed. Together, the Rebels leave the planet and the past behind, and head into the waiting future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

X-amining Marvel Team-Up #65-66

"Introducing Captain Britain" / "Murderworld"
January - February 1978

In a Nutshell
The first (American) appearance of Captain Britain, Arcade, and Murderworld.

Writer: Chric Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker/Colorist: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Bruce P. (issue #65), Tom Orzechowski (issue #66)
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Issue #65: After Peter Parker learns he's been assigned a new college roommate in the form of the British Brian Braddock, he shows him around town, while the assassin Arcade is hired by representatives of the Maggia to kill Braddock, whom they believe may be Captain Britain. Later that night, Brian spots Spider-Man leaving Peter's room and, believing Spider-Man to be a criminal, chases after him as Captain Britain. The two fight until Spider-Man is able to convince Captain Britain he and Peter Parker are friends, after which the pair is kidnapped by Arcade. Issue #66: Captain Britain & Spider-Man fight their way through Arcade's Murderworld, with Captain Britain trying to save his captured girlfriend Courtney Ross and Spider-Man figuring out a way into the access tunnels of the place. He is able to trigger an overload of the system, which the heroes use as cover to escape into the sewers. Emerging in the city, they learn from police captain Jean DeWolffe that the European Maggia who wanted Captain Britain dead have been taken out. Elsewhere, Arcade stands in the ruins of Murderworld, vowing to rebuilt it better than ever, then to invite Spider-Man for a rematch.

Monday, February 13, 2017

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


One hallmark of the David Milch era is the extended suspect interview, which had the detectives searching for whatever angle that could convince a criminal to put down on paper two things -- I was there, and I did it.  All of the "get your side of the story out there" or "we'll get you a good deal with the DA" talk is merely a ploy to get those two facts down on paper.  This is largely inspired by Bill Clark's true tales of The Job, and Milch certainly seemed to enjoy writing these extended dialogue sequences.  The fact that they only required one set was also, I'm going to assume, a benefit for a man who liked to write the scripts on the day they were actually filmed.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #59

"Bazarre"
May 1982

In a Nutshell
Luke & Lando team-up with space hobos to fight a giant garbage worm.

Writer/Plot: David Michelinie
Pencils/Plot: Walt Simonson
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Don Warfield
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Al Milgrom
High Roller: Jim Shooter

Plot
Aboard the Bazarre, Luke & Lando meet with Ferret, concluding their deal to purchase four TIE fighters from him. However, Ferret has put the fighters on Patch-4, and requires Luke & Lando to take a pre-programmed shuttle to that world to retrieve them. As insurance, Chewbacca stays behind to watch over Ferret. Soon, Luke & Lando arrive on Patch-4, a world covered in garbage, and are promptly attacked by a massive worm-like monster. They're given shelter by a group of hobos who, after being displaced from their homes, have gathered underground on Patch-4. They tell them that Ferret keeps a sonic pacifier that can control the beast, whom they call Ceasar, on the ship which brought Luke & Lando to the planet. Back on Bazarre, Ferret, assuming Luke & Lando have been killed by Ceasar, captures Chewbacca. On Patch-4, Lando manages to distract Ceasar long enough for Luke to reach the pacifier, and on Bazarre, Chewbacca manages to escape and hunt down a fleeing Ferret. When Lando & Luke return to the ship, they tell a captive Ferret they've successfully retrieved the TIE fighters, but leave Ferret be, saying they've dealt with enough garbage for the day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

X-amining Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4

"Madrox the Multiple Man!"
February 1975

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Madrox the Multiple Man

Writer/Editor: Len Wein
Co-Writer: Chris Claremont
Illustrators: J. Buscema, C. Stone & J. Sinnot
Letterer: J. Constanza
Colorist: Glynis Wein

Plot
On his way to a football game with Alicia Masters, Thing's train is stopped due to man in a strange suit standing on the tracks, calling himself Madrox. When Thing punches him, a duplicate of Madrox is created, and with each ensuing blow, more Madrox are created, until Thing is overwhelmed. He wakes up at the Baxter building, where Reed Richards detects a series of power outages drawing nearer to the building. The outages are caused by Madrox, whose suit is absorbing the power and fueling his anger, and the Fantastic Four attack him. Madrox' duplication power proves to be too much for the Fantastic Four, until Professor Xavier arrives. He tells the Fantastic Four of how he gave Madrox' parents a suit to help control his power, but after his parents died, the suit malfunctioned and began absorbing energy, driving Madrox mad. Working together, Mr. Fantastic and Professor X are able to repair and improve Madrox' suit and knock him out, after which his duplicates disappear. Professor X then departs with Madrox, in order to help repair his mind.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue, Season Nine - The Stars & Guest Stars


Season Nine saw David Milch without even a token credit on the show, and to be honest, I initially planned on handling the post-Milch years with maybe a brief overview of each season and simply moving on.  However, there's plenty to write about this year -- not only are these the episodes that aired immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, but they also see the introduction of Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the series' new co-star.  And with Steven Bochco inserting even more of his influence over the series, there is a noticeable change in the structure of the stories.  All of this is worthy of discussion, so no quickie wrap-up this time.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Force in Focus: The Star Wars Special Edition


This past week marked the 20th anniversary of the release of the Star Wars Special Edition, George Lucas' infamous release of a remastered edition of Star Wars (followed a month later by The Empire Strikes Back and a month after that with Return of the Jedi), which featured newly-edited and entirely new scenes relative to the original 1977 release (and subsequent prior re-releases). Though generally maligned nowadays, especially amongst online fandom, a direct line can be drawn from the Special Editions and the current pop culture dominance of Star Wars, as the releases were not only a successful way of gauging market response to more Star Wars, but also served as a proof-of-concept for the integration of CGI effects amongst live action actors, and thus in both ways opened the door for the Prequel Trilogy, and beyond. More importantly, for an entire generation of fans who grew up loving Star Wars but were only ever able to watch it on TV, via home video or televised broadcasts (including yours truly), the Special Editions marked the first opportunity to see the films on a big screen, in all their widescreen, THX-enhanced, stereo surround sound glory.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

X-amining Incredible Hulk #180-182

"And the Wind Howls...Wendigo!" / "And Now...The Wolverine!" / "Between Hammer and Anvil"
October -December 1974

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Wolverine

Writer: Len Wein
Pencils: Herb Trimpe
Inks: Jack Abel
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Roy Thomas

Plot
The Hulk enters Canada, drawn there by the sister of the Wendigo, who hopes to transfer the Wendigo curse from her brother to Hulk. Meanwhile, the Canadian military dispatches Weapon X to capture the Hulk. Wendigo and Hulk fight one another, pausing only when Weapon X, calling himself Wolverine, arrives on the scene. Realizing both his foes are nearly invulnerable, Wolverine convinces Hulk to help him defeat Wendigo. Thinking perhaps this means Wolverine is his friend, Hulk agrees, but once Wendigo is defeated, Wolverine turns on Hulk, determined to complete his mission. But Hulk manages to land a glancing blow on Wolverine, strong enough to knock him out, and when he wakes up, his superiors order him out, his time limit to capture the Hulk on his own having expired.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #58

"Sundown!"
April 1982

In a Nutshell
Threepio & Artoo race the clock to save the Rebel fleet.

Script/Plot: David Michelinie
Pencils/Plot: Walt Simonson
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Don Warfield
Letters: Janice Chiang
Editrix: Louise Jones
Emperor: Jim Shooter

Plot
As Luke, Lando & Chewbacca leave Arbra aboard the Falcon to rendezvous with a contact named Ferret, the rest of the Rebels prepare to hide the fleet from Imperial attention, a risky maneuver that involves placing the ships inside the corona of the planet's sun, protecting them inside a massive forcefield generator. Once the ships are safely protected in the sun, Leia and everyone but the maintenance crew of the generator prepare to leave aboard a shuttle. But Artoo detects a malfunction, and is left behind along with Threepio when the shuttle departs. The malfunction knocks out the crew, and when an Imperial patrol arrives in the system, Leia and and everyone aboard the shuttle are forced into hiding. Meanwhile, the Falcon arrives at Bazarre, a massive ship where they'll meet Ferret. Back inside Arbra's sun, Threepio & Artoo race against the clock to bypass the malfunction and save the Rebel fleet, while Luke & Lando are accosted onboard Bazarre by some of Ferret's men. Threepio & Artoo are ultimately successful, but then Leia learns that the Falcon isn't responding to any communications, as though it simply dropped out of existence.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

X-amining Tales of Suspense #49

"The New Iron Man Meets the Angel"
January 1964

In a Nutshell
Iron Man fights Angel

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Steve Ditko
Inker: Paul Reinman
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Plot
Angel is flying over a Stark facility just as it triggers an atomic explosion as part of a munitions test. The ensuing radiation brings out Angel's dark side, and when he returns to the X-Mansion, he easily bests his teammates before declaring his intent to join the evil mutants and flies off. Hoping to draw their attention, he goes on a rampage, and Professor X reaches out to the Avengers for help. Iron Man is the only one to respond, and he attempts to capture Angel. But Angel manages to evade and outfly Iron Man, so Iron Man resorts to a desperate gamble: depleting his power, sending him plummeting to the ground, in the hope that Angel's better nature will come to the surface. It does, and Angel rescues Iron Man, after which Iron Man meets the X-Men, and Professor Xavier promises to repay Iron Man for his help.