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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #175

"Phoenix!
November 1983

In a Nutshell
Mastermind is defeated, and Cyclops marries Madelyne. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencilers: Paul Smith (pp 1-29) and John Romita, Jr. (pp 30-38) 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein 
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
The X-Men are shocked when a Phoenix firebird appears in the sky over the mansion, followed by a falling Cyclops. Rogue catches him, and the X-Men convene in Professor Xavier's study. When Xavier attempts to use Cerebro to search for Phoenix, it backfires, knocking him out. As Nightcrawler takes him to the med-lab, the X-Men realize someone has tampered with Cerebro just as Dark Phoenix suddenly emerges from Cyclops. She easily dispatches the team, then flies off, vowing to return. The X-Men attempt to warn the Starjammers, but establish communication just as Dark Phoenix destroys the ship. They next try to contact the Avengers, but the connection is severed when Dark Phoenix destroys Manhattan. Meanwhile, an unconscious Cyclops has an out-of-body experience, and sees a vision of his mother urging him to wake up. He awakens in the med-lab, and thinking over the inconsistencies in Dark Phoenix's actions, realizes what's really going on. Stopping briefly to transfer control of the Danger Room to a handheld device in order to give him an advantage over the X-Men's real foe, finds the X-Men, but they attack him, believing him to be Dark Phoenix.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x03: Walk With Me


As I've said before, I have yet to read any of the Walking Dead comic series, yet even before the show aired, I was aware of two significant characters from the comics: Michonne, who was some kind of fan favorite badass, and the Governor, who was some kind of post-apocalypse dictator. We've met Michonne (though we still know very little about her), and this episode was handed over more or less to introducing the Governor, and Woodbury, the community he's built. To the show's credit, they don't play coy when it comes to the Governor's true nature. What could have been a drawn out, multi-episode question of whether the Governor was truly a benevolent leader or the pleasant face of something more sinister was put to rest before the end of the episode.

Monday, October 29, 2012

X-aminations in November

Another relatively straight forward month, as we welcome aboard new penciller John Romita Jr. on Uncanny X-Men and the New Mutants wrap up their adventure in Nova Roma.

November 7th: X-Men Annual #7

November 14th: Uncanny X-Men #176
November 15th: New Mutants #11

November 21st: Uncanny X-Men #177
November 22nd: New Mutants #12

November 28th: Uncanny X-Men #178
November 29th: New Mutants #13

Friday, October 26, 2012

Last Week in TV #6

Between baseball and presidential debates, a lot of shows took this week off. Which is good, since I had a busier than usual week. Here then is a shorter-than-usual post.

Once Upon a Time: The Crocodile


Judging from all the pre-season hype, the show intends to poise Hook as this season's Big Bad, or at least one of them. This episode served as alright introduction to him, though we have yet to really see OUAT's take on the character (most of this episode he was Almost Hook). I prefer my pirates with a little less angsty eyeliner, but I suppose that's the world Johnny Depp has created. The climatic moment when Hook picks up the, um, hook, would have resonated more if we didn't already know he was Hook thanks to all the ads/interviews/press releases, etc. I don't even go out of my way to look at that stuff and I still knew he was coming. That said, as the show continues to soften the edges of Regina and Mr. Gold, more villains is not a bad thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #9


"Arena"
November 1983

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants arrive in Nova Roma.

Presentor: Stan Lee
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Tom Mandrake
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Emperor: Jim Shooter

Plot
The New Mutants and Amara, guarded by a group of Legionnaires, arrive in the hidden Roman city of Nova Roma. Considered barbarians by the soldiers, the teenagers are locked inside a dungeon, where Amara explains that she is the daughter of the First Senator of Nova Roma, Lucius Aquilla. Roberto, concerned about his still-missing mother, doesn't trust Amara, but when he tries to smash his way out of the cell, a booby trap is triggered and all the captives are hit with darts, knocking them out. Meanwhile, at the senatorial baths, Amara's father meets with Senator Gallio and confirms that the captured males will do battle in the arena while the girls will be sold into slavery. Gallio returns home to his wife, a sorceress priestess named Selene, upset that Lucius Aquilla has prevented him from using the New Mutants' to help him seize power. Selene takes him to another prisoner, the deckhand Castro. He suggests an alliance between Gallio and Emmanuel Da Costa, intriguing the senator. Elsewhere, Dani, Rahne and Amara are cleaned up in preparation for being placed in the slave auction.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #174

"Romances"
October 1983

In a Nutshell
Scott proposes to Madelyne. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Paul Smith 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones 
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Aboard the Starjammer, Scott and Madelyne share their first Earthrise together. As Corsair gives Madelyne a tour of the ship, they learn Carol Danvers is planning to leave Earth and join the Starjammers. Corsair asks Scott if he's still considering joining them, but Scott isn't sure because of Madelyne. Elsewhere, Professor Xavier and Lilandra continue Xavier's physical therapy, and Lilandra once again affirms that she'll need to leave soon to reclaim her throne. In Japan, Wolverine confronts Mariko following their aborted wedding, but she insists she does not love him and orders him to leave her alone. In New York, Kitty pulls Colossus away from a painting and demonstrates her ability to phase someone along with herself by air-walking them into Storm's attic. They kiss, but are interrupted by Storm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x02: Sick


Slightly less intense than the premiere, this episode still did a good job of keeping the tension high and providing plenty of zombie-killing action. Even better, it seemed to nip the potential prisoners storyline in the bud. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the remaining living prisoners pop up again, either as allies or antagonists, but for now, any fears of a protracted, half-season or more struggle between Rick and the prisoners for control of the prison seems to have ended with a well placed machete to the head. Compare this to last season, when a threat to the safety of the group was debated and argued and even after a decision was made, Rick still couldn't follow through, leading ultimately to his showdown with Shane (and several episodes of simmering wheel-spinning). Rick's actions in this episode are a strong sign both of how he has changed and how the show has changed as a result. Rick has become harsher, colder, more inhumane (he can't even be bothered to placate Lori), more Shane-like than ever (though still less selfish and dickish). It's a troubling turn for the character, but chronicling the transformation (along with the narrative expediency it allows) is making the show stronger.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Have a Little Extra Money Lying Around?

Then why not give a little to a couple enterprising creative projects backed by some friends of mine? Thanks to Kickstarter, it's easier then ever to make donations (and get bugged for money on the internet) and you might even get something fun in return. If not, there's always karma. Who doesn't love good karma?

First of all, my buddy Nick is working on a book that will give you accurate, useable information for surviving the zombie apocalypse, and I know of at least a few readers of this blog with an interest in that subject.  You can make donations to his Kickstarter project here.

Secondly, boots~ has created a new table top card game based on the life and death of TV shows, and from what I've seen, it looks like it'll be tons of fun. So toss a few bucks his way and help make the game a reality. His Kickstarter page can be found here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Last Week in TV #5

I was away from the house last night, so no new Thursday night shows this week. But here's what I did watch: 

Once Upon a Time: Lady of the Lake


It's good to know that whether in Storybrooke or Fairy Tale Land, Emma can be an insufferable ass. I know she's lost her bearings and has parental issues, but it's really not the best time or place to question every frickin' thing your mom says, especially when your mom happens to be a former queen of the land in which you find yourself. I really hope the little mother/daughter moment the pair shared at the end of episode means Emma will be a little less grating during her time in FTL.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

X-amining Marvel Team-Up Annual #6

"The Hunters and the Hunted!"
1983

In a Nutshell
Sunspot and Wolfsbane get injected with an experimental drug.

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Ron Frenz & Kevin Dzuban
Letters:Rick Parker
Colors: Bob Sharen
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Spider-Man swings by a warehouse containing a chop shop at the same time Cloak and Dagger arrive. The three of them take out the criminals working in the shop, then discover a group of dead teenagers in a back room. Cloak and Dagger explain that the kids were likely killed by the mobsters responsible for giving Cloak and Dagger their powers via a synthesized drug, as the mobsters are now attempting to re-synthesize that drug and testing it on runaway kids. Meanwhile, the New Mutants emerge from a Broadway play, but instead of heading back to the X-Mansion, Roberto leads them into an arcade. Inside, they get into an argument with some local kids, one of whom pulls a knife on Rahne, leading to Roberto powering up and punching her assailant. A fight breaks out, and Cannonball orders the New Mutants to run back to the bus station, but they get lost. Eventually, the kids from the arcade catch up to them, and Rahne and Roberto are knocked unconscious in the melee. Unseen by their teammates, they're taken by a pair of shadowy figures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

X-amining The Uncanny X-Men at the State Fair of Texas

"Battle at the State Fair of Texas"
1983

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men search the Texas State Fair for a new mutant before Magneto can recruit him. 

Plot: Jim Salicrup
Script: David Kraft
Pencils: Kerry Gammil & Alan Kupperberg 
Inks: Chic Stone
Letters: Rick Parker
Colors: Marie Severin
Cover: John Romita

Plot
The X-Men are training in the Danger Room when Professor X suddenly announces that Cerebro has detected a new mutant. Determined to find the mutant and persuade him to join the X-Men before Magneto can recruit him into his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Professor X sends the X-Men to the mutant's location, in the vicinity of the State Fair in Dallas, Texas. At the horse barns, a mysterious figure approaches a young man named Daniel Wiley. Daniel tells the man about his love of horses and the first time his mutant power to transform into a Centaur manifested. Later, inside a secreted airship, the mysterious figure reveals himself as Magneto, and expresses his determination to recruit Daniel. Shortly thereafter, the X-Men arrive in Dallas and explore the fair, searching for the new mutant. With so much to see, the Professor X resolves that the X-Men will need to continue their search the next day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x01: Seed


Now that's more like it: this episode showcased what I've always wanted to see more of on this show: a group of beleaguered individuals competently tackling the problems of living in a world overrun by zombies. Finding a place to hold up, clearing the prison yard, pushing deeper inside; these are small goals, nowhere near the level of rebuilding a functional society, but they fit the scale of the show, and gave the characters believable obstacles to overcome beyond just "surviving" (and in overcoming them, they give the characters some level of victory, however small, and prevent things from feeling too hopeless). The cold open, especially, was a thing of beauty, as we watch Rick and company clear a house of zombies, scrounge for food, setup camp, only to hurriedly rush out the back and into their cars, moving on, when a wave of zombies appear. Without a word of dialogue, it's made clear exactly what the situation is, how certain characters have changed, and how the group as a whole is surviving.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Retro Review: Krusty Gets Kancelled

Original Airdate
May 13 1993

Or the One Where
Krusty's show gets, uh, cancelled. So Bart and Lisa assemble an all star list of celebrities to help launch his comeback.

The Setup
After a new children's performer, a ventriloquist dummy named Gabbo, takes Springfield by storm, Krusty's show gets taken off the air.

Notable Notes
According to the DVD commentary, the impetus for doing a star-studded episode like this was born of an attempt to emulate season three's "Homer at the Bat", but with celebrities instead of baseball players.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Last Week In TV #4

Here we go, with another big week, including some Halloween episodes. Glee is taking a few weeks off (presumably because of baseball on Fox), so we'll talk about this week's episode in next week's post.

The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIII


More amusing than funny, which seems to be the trend with more recent Halloween episodes. Each of the three segments (four, if you count the opening) offered a few chuckles ("Cinnamon!" drew the biggest laugh from me, and I also enjoyed Homer's 42 minute morning pee) but the audible laughs were pretty sparse. Of the three, "Bart and Homer's Excellent Adventure" was probably my favorite; I'm a sucker for a good Back to the Future homage (lack of any connection to Halloween notwithstanding), and I appreciated the effort put into recreating the setting of season two's "The Way We Was".

Thursday, October 11, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #8

"The Road to...Rome?"
October 1983

In a Nutshell
In the Amazon, the New Mutants meet a strange girl named Amara. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Bob McLeod
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the Amazon, the New Mutants play an improvised game of hide-n-seek to exercise their mutant powers. Later, they check in with Professor X, who advises them that Karma is still missing and that they should continue their trip. When Dani decides to swim back to their boat, one of the crewmen, Carlos, hoping to stir up some piranhas, empties a slop bucket into the river. Dani uses her power on the fish to scare them away, and Sam manages to pull her out of the water. They crash on the opposite shore and come face to face with a group of Native American women, who attack them. Realizing the Native Americans were watching the boat, Sam and Dani fight them off, but take one of them captive. That night, as the ship sails up the river, Roberto's mother Nina unsuccessfully tries to communicate with the captured girl. Meanwhile, in Rio De Janiero, Emmanuel Da Costa meets with Sebastian Shaw, and they discuss once again the difficulty of sabotaging Nina's expedition without hurting her or Roberto, but Emmanuel insists he will stop her from reaching the uncharted resources of the Maderia.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #173

"To Have and Have Not"
September 1983

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine defeats Silver Samurai, but is left at the altar by Mariko. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Paul Smith 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones 
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Wolverine and Rogue tear through the Yakuza, looking for information on Nabatone Yakuse, hoping he'll lead them to Silver Samurai. Finally getting a location, they set off. Elsewhere, Storm and Yukio seek sanctuary from the Yakuza, but are turned away by Yukio's friend. Suddenly, they're confronted by a gang of muggers. Outside the city, Rogue and Wolverine arrive at Nabatone's estate, but find that the gang leader has been dead for over a week, meaning the Nabatone Mariko met with earlier that night was an imposter. Wolverine realizes they've been suckered, sent out of town and away from Mariko and the recovering X-Men. Meanwhile, Storm and Yukio make quick work of the muggers, with Storm reveling in the use of her powers. Back at the hospital, Viper and a cadre of ninjas take out Mariko's guards, but Rogue arrives and clears the room.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dr. Bitz Ranks Every Television Series Ever...Sorta (Part 10)

Yup, it's been a while. I swear I'm trying to post more regularly but life has a tendency to get in the way.

This week we have 15 through 11. There are some interesting rankings here. One series was incredibly hard for me to rank. You're also going to find that quality (well, what I believe to be quality) can trump subject matter. But first, if you don't know the history of these rankings then you should go here. Now, on with the show:

15. Lost:
Sigh. What can I say about this show? I could write a novel. Did I rank it too high? Probably. Considering how obsessed I was with this show while it was on the air maybe I ranked it too low? All I know is if in the midst of season four you told me that this show wouldn't crack my top five series of all time I would have said they must have really screwed up the ending. Guess what? They really screwed up the ending.
And that's the debate. This show was good on so many levels but the ending was flat out unacceptable. (Actually, I liked the final episode but that was only because I already knew I wasn't going to get the answers I wanted.) My main impetus for watching this show were the mysteries revolving around the island the characters were marooned on. First and foremost, I wanted answers. I didn't get a satisfactory answer to any of the big questions.
At the same time it was one hell of a ride leading up to that disappointment. The acting was superb and Lost had some individual moments that may never be topped by another television series. So while the series as a whole left me feeling unsatisfied it was can't miss television for me while on the air. However, I'm not sure I could ever go back and rewatch Lost. I think I would get to angry.

So, when it comes to ranking this show I was very conflicted. But this is where I put it. Talk to me tomorrow and I may knock it down ten spots.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Last Week in TV #3

Our biggest posts of the new season (remember when I pretended these were going to be shorter this season?), as a bunch of returning shows premiere and I continue to catch up from some irregular vacation viewing. Also, I watched the premieres of Modern Family and Elementary, but didn't make the time to write about them, so feel free to sound off on them in the comments if you're so inclined.

The Simpsons: Moonshine River


While the central premise of the episode was interesting (Bart looking up old girlfriends to find out what keeps turning off women from him), I don't think it was taken as far as it could have been, and the much-hullabalooed gamut of actresses returning to voice their various "Bart's girlfriend du jour" characters amounted, with the exception of Zooey Deschanel's Mary, to little more than a word each. It's also one of those plots that would have worked better if the show allowed its characters to age, such that Bart was a few years older when grappling with the issues he confronts in this episode. Meanwhile, the Marge/Lisa "finding cheap culture in New York" subplot contained some great gags (I especially enjoyed their attempts to see a Broadway show and the Baldwin/Sheen-Estevez feud).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #7

"Flying Down to Rio!"
September 1983

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants rescue Sunspot's mom from the Hellfire Club.  

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Bob McLeod
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Days after the explosion of Viper's base, the New Mutants and the X-Men continue to search for some sign of Karma. When Roberto's mother, Nina DaCosta, an archaeologist, arrives at the X-Men's camp, Professor X declares he's sending the team to accompany Nina on a trip to the headwaters of the Amazon. Though the New Mutants are reluctant to give up on the search, Professor X explains to the X-Men that he believes Karma is alive, but in light of the malevolent psychic entity he sensed, he won't risk the New Mutants encountering it while searching for Karma. A week later the New Mutants arrive at Roberto's lavish home in Rio De Janiero and suffer through a tense dinner in which Nina and Roberto's father Emmanuel snipe at each other. The next morning, the New Mutants accompany Nina into the city for Carnival, but Nina is captured by a group of Hellfire Club soldiers led by a mutant named Axe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #172

"Scarlet in Glory"
August 1983

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men go to Japan for Wolverine's wedding. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Paul Smith 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter


Plot
The X-Men, including their newest member, Rogue, arrive in Japan to celebrate Wolverine's upcoming wedding. Wolverine is reluctant to welcome Rogue, but Mariko insists she is a guest and offers her the same hospitality as the rest of the X-Men. Outside, Silver Samurai is watching the X-Men, hoping to strike while the X-Men are off guard, when he is attacked by Yukio. Sensing the fight, Wolverine has Nightcrawler teleport him into the fray. Wolverine fights off Silver Samurai while Storm saves Yukio from a fall. As the X-Men discuss Silver Samurai's recent attack on the New Mutants and his possible connection to Shingen Yashida's criminal empire, Viper sneaks into the apartment and poisons the X-Men's tea just as Mariko leaves for a secret meeting. Wolverine senses the poison in time to warn Storm, but not before the rest of the X-Men succumb to it.