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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Last Week in TV #27



Due to some other projects, the never ending crush of time (and some laziness), I'm once again leaving some stuff in the queue, so Glee, Community and Parks and Rec reviews will have to yet once again. In the meantime, here's what I've got for this week. 

Bob's Burgers: It Snakes a Village


The thing I loved the most about this episode was the way Bob was not only not grossed out by the elderly swingers, but actually amused by them. It was a nice, subtle subversion of how you'd normally expect the character to act. Everything else with the kids was, of course, fantastic, especially the inconsistent dimensions of the "forest" and Gene's fear of snakes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #25

"The Only Thing to Fear..."
March 1985

In a Nutshell
Cloak and Dagger reclaim their powers, curing Rahne and Roberto. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Orzechowski & Buhalis
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Presenter: Stan Lee
Stars: New Mutants

Plot
Cloak and Dagger announce their willingness to help the New Mutants, and then Dagger is reunited with Father Bowen, who is her uncle. Scared that this means she'll leave him, Cloak angrily lashes out at her and storms off. Illyana tells Professor X about her attempts to cure Roberto and Rahne through magic, which failed due to the need of Cloak and Dagger's abilities be hosted by someone. Then Xavier telepathically speaks with Cloak, and helps him realize that even though his powers aren't a curse, his fear of them makes them one. Cloak agrees to do his best to not let his fear overwhelm him, and Xavier decides on a course of action. He has Illyana teleport everyone to Limbo, and with Sam and Dani guarding against any demonic incursions, helps Rogue use her power to purge Rahne and Roberto of Cloak and Dagger's abilities.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #190

"An Age Undreamed Of"
February 1985

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men find themselves in a world transformed by the evil wizard Kulan Gath.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Kulan Gath has transformed New York City into a medieval world of magic under his control. In Washington, DC, Val Cooper briefs the NSA on the situation, revealing that anyone or anything who crosses the mystical barrier around the city is transformed into their historical equivalent. As a result, any hope to prevent the spread of Gath's spell and save the world may reside with the handful of transformed superheroes that have been spotted inside the city. In New York, Storm awakens a prisoner of Kulan Gath's Morlock guards. Attempting to escape, she fights with Callisto, the captain of the guard. The pair end up in the river, where the current takes them through the magical threshold, returning them to normal. Meanwhile, Kulan Gath taunts the imprisoned and mutilated Dr. Strange as he magically fuses Professor X and Caliban into one being, who summons the New Mutants.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Walking Dead 3x15: This Sorrowful Life



When Merle has become the voice of reason, you know you have problems.

Granted, Rick wisely came to his senses and realized handing Michonne over to the Governor was the wrong move about fifteen minutes into the episode, but that it took that long, that it was even an issue at all, felt wrong. Not because it made Rick look heartless (though it did), but because it made him look stupid. I could buy that the Rick of this season would sacrifice Michonne to save everyone else, even if I wouldn't like it, but to believe that the Governor would keep his word is just idiotic. Sacrificing someone in exchange for certain safety is at least worth a debate; sacrificing someone for, as Merle said, the chance of safety, particularly when you know that chance is small because the person you're bargaining with is batshit insane, is just idiotic.

Monday, March 25, 2013

X-aminations in April

After a couple weeks of relative normalcy things get crazy once again, as a gap in time Claremont writes into the closing pages of an issue creates a window for coverage of a ton of ancillary stuff, including the next X-Men annual and a pair of limited series.

April will also see the debut of a post with a slightly different format, as I'm taking Blam's suggestion and trying out an "X-amining X-Men Elsewhere" style post, covering a pair of issues in which the X-Men make appearances that are worthy of discussion but probably not worthy of full posts in and of themselves. We'll give it a shot, and if it works out, don't be surprised to see some more posts like it in the future.

April 3rd: Uncanny X-Men #191
April 4th: New Mutants #26

April 10th: Uncanny X-Men #192
April 11th: New Mutants #27

April 17th: Uncanny X-Men Annual #8
April 18th: X-Men and Alpha Flight #1-2

April 24th: Beauty and the Beast #1-4
April 25th: Alpha Flight #17 & Dazzler #38

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Week in TV #26



A short post this week, not because I didn't watch more but because I didn't make the time to write about more. So hopefully we'll double up on some stuff next week. 

The Simpsons: Dark Knight Court


While I appreciated the way the A plot and B plots came together in the end (which isn't something that happens too often on this show), and enjoyed the B plot involving Bart being put on trial, presided over by the hilariously-random Janet Reno, the A plot was disappointing. Mr. Burns becoming a Batman-esque superhero is the kind of thing I should eat up, but everything about it, from the random motivation to the name of his costumed identity, was rushed and half-formed, as if someone tossed out an idea and then nobody bothered to flesh it out before writing the script. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #24

"The Hollow Heart"
February 1985

In a Nutshell
Professor X attempts to cure Roberto and Rahne. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Orzechowski and Buhalis
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
The horribly transformed Roberto begs Moira MacTaggert to run before he consumes her, but Moira refuses to abandon the unconscious Xavier. Just then, Rahne enters the room and transforms into a beautiful woman, who is able to generate a light that sates Roberto's hunger and returns him to normal. But when Sam and Dani burst into the room, Roberto panics and teleports away with Rahne. Sam and Dani tell the awakened Xavier about their discovery of Cloak and Dagger's involvement in Rahne and Roberto's condition. They worry that their friends can't be cured, but Xavier says their first concern is finding them. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Cloak and Dagger leave the hospital, worried the New Mutants will return and force them to take back their powers. In the Bermuda Triangle, Magneto apologizes to Lee for his ingratitude. Back in Manhattan, Roberto and Rahne arrive at St. Anne's, the church of Father Bowen. Roberto begs him for help, then collapses, unconscious. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #189

"Two Girls Out to Have Fun!"
January 1985

In a Nutshell 
Magma and Rachel fight Selene at the Hellfire Club

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.  
Guest Inker: Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Rachel and Amara are visiting the Statute of Liberty. As Rachel gazes out over the city, she remembers her time as a Hound in the future, tasked with hunting down fellow mutants. Nearby, the X-Men have gathered on a cruise ship bound for Africa to say goodbye to Storm. At the South Street Seaport, Jamie Rodriguez chases off two dock workers trying to steal the necklace he found. The necklace tells Jamie that in exchange for his soul, it will grant him the world, but he resists the temptation and decides to destroy the necklace. Meanwhile, after some shopping, Rachel and Amara visit a recreation of the Roman baths at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Suddenly, Rachel senses the presence of Selene, and rushes out into the street to see a limo pulling away. Rachel realizes Amara knows Selene as well, and Amara tells her that Selene killed her mother. The two women follow the limo to the Hellfire Club and sneak inside, dressing themselves as staff to blend in better.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walking Dead 3x14: Prey



Whether intentional or not, this episode felt like an attempt to redeem Andrea's character, after she spent most of the season making mooney eyes at the Governor, refusing to see Woodbury for what it is, and then passively trying to broker a peace. Unfortunately, in finally driving Andrea to positive action, this episode also unintentionally highlighted the show's often problematic relationship with its female characters, in the process leaving Andrea worse off than ever. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Last Week in TV #25



Some new Fox shows, otherwise, more catch-up!
 
American Dad: For Black Eyes Only


Like the August: Osage County theatrical parody earlier in the season, this was another episode that was more amusing for the way it parodied the James Bond/spy genre conventions than it was riotously funny. Which is fine; there were definitely some funny bits along the way (I particularly enjoyed the various Roger clones turning on each other and alternately killing or making out with one another), but in the end, the episode was mostly concerned with staying true to its parody.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

X-amining Iceman #1-4

"The Fuse!/Instant Karma!/Quicksand!/The Price You Pay!"
December 1984 - June 1985

In a Nutshell 
Iceman visits his parents and confronts the physical manifestation of oblivion. 

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Alan Kuppenberg
Inker: Mike Gustovich
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Bob Budiansky
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Issue #1: In a far off land, a hidden being dispatches two servants, White Light and Idiot, to retrieve someone for him. On Earth, Iceman returns to his hometown of on Long Island for his dad's retirement party. Along the way, he becomes smitten by a young woman named Marge. That night, fed up with being harrassed by his family and upset by the constant needling from his parents about being a superhero, Iceman storms out of the party and bumps into Marge. They grow closer as they discuss their families, but then White Light and Idiot attack. Iceman holds them off as Marge and her family mysteriously vanish, but Marge's home is destroyed in the process, and Iceman's parents are furious that he exposed his mutant powers to the his whole family. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

X-amining Marvel Team-Up #150

"'Tis Better to Give!"
February 1985

In a Nutshell 
Spider-Man and the X-Men team up to fight Juggernaut and Black Tom. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Greg LaRocque
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In New York, Spider-Man returns home and unsuccessfully attempts to dodge his landlady. In Asia, Juggernaut returns to the temple where he received his powers and takes the Ruby of Cyttorak, intending to give it, and thus the power of the Juggernaut, to Black Tom for his birthday. Back in New York, the X-Men complete a training session in the Danger Room, after which they see a news report on Juggernaut's Asian rampage. Seeing the same report, Spider-Man leaves his apartment to check the city for Juggernaut. Meanwhile, Juggernaut arrives at Black Tom's birthday party in Manhattan, and gives him the Ruby of Cyttorak. When he touches it, Tom suddenly grows in size and mass to match Juggernaut. At the X-Mansion, Nightcrawler uses Cerebro to locate Black Tom, and the X-Men head into the city. In Manhattan, an angry Tom demands that Juggernaut turn him back to the way he was, and a fight breaks out between them that spills out into the streets.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Walking Dead 3x13: Arrow on the Doorstep



While not as tightly focused as the last episode, this one was still largely concerned, to its benefit, with telling one complete story, and continued to displayed a greater-than-average level of craft, with some fantastically acted and directed scenes (I particularly enjoyed the various shots that cast Rick in shadow, making him look like he had an eye patch as well, underlining the similarities between the two men). It also that managed to be effective and tense despite a relative lack of action. However, the episode was somewhat let down by a couple of distracting points.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last Week in TV #24



Another short week, thanks to Mrs. Teebore's absence and the end of February sweeps, so the networks are safe to go back to scheduling new episodes intermittently until May. I am about three episodes from the end of Last Resort (which is really picking up some plot momentum as it goes along; I'm enjoying it) and finally finished the first season of Revenge, and started the second.

Anyways, here's some newer stuff I did watch this week. 

The Simpsons: Gorgeous Grampa


Someone on the writing staff must really like Grampa. In just a few months this season, we've got one episode that revealed he used to be a lounge singer married to a heroin addict, and now we've leaned he also used to be a famous professional wrestler. While it's never a good idea to get too worked up about continuity when it comes to this show (and nothing in this episode overtly contradicted this), when Mr. Burns was trying to convince Grampa to wrestle once again, I couldn't help but recall the time we learned the pair had been in the same company in World War II, and then Mr. Burns tried to kill Grampa to get the Hellfish bonanza for himself. Seems like something that would have been worth mentioning.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #23

"Shadowman"
January 1985

In a Nutshell
Dani and Sam investigate Rahne and Roberto's strange behavior. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Seinkiewicz
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
At the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw introduces the newest members of the Inner Circle, Emmanuel Da Costa and Selene. In Salem Center, at a local tavern, Colossus finishes a game a chess with the owner when a waitress asks for his help in escorting a sullen Roberto out of the bar. When Colossus confronts him, Roberto lashes out and attacks. Mentally alerted by Colossus, Professor X sends Sam and Dani to assist. At the bar, Roberto is knocked out by Colossus, but Colossus mysteriously falls unconscious in the process. Meanwhile, in the Bermuda Triangle, Lee Forrester returns an injured Magneto to his island home, and though he rebuffs her assistance, stays to help him. At Xavier's mansion, as Xavier and Moira examine Roberto and Colossus, Dani receives a phone call from Rahne. Dani and Sam fly to a ritzy Manhattan hotel, where they find a confused Rahne, clutching a necklace, with no memory of how she got to the hotel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #188

"Legacy of the Lost"
December 1984

In a Nutshell 
The Wraiths are defeated and Nightcrawler questions the purpose of the X-Men. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In Eagle Plaza, the X-Men and Forge are attacked by a mass of mystical Shadowbeings called forth by the Dire Wraiths. In Forge's sanctum, the Wraith who has taken Naze's form attempts to contact the Great Spirit, offering Earth in exchange for its help, but another entity reaches out, destroying the Wraith and claiming Naze's form. Nightcrawler teleports into the building along with Amanda Sefton, followed shortly by Illyana, who are able to disrupt the Shadowbeings enough to free the X-Men. However, they aren't able to seal the rift in reality through which the Shadowbeings are coming to Earth. Storm suspects the Wraith she stranded on the roof is still alive and countering Amanda's magic. Nightcrawler teleports Forge to the roof, and he slays the Wraith, ending the threat. Storm tells Forge the X-Men are leaving and not to try and find them. She says she and Forge will meet again, though he may well wish they had not.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Walking Dead 3x12: Clear



The idea of a side quest on this show, when its narrative momentum already usually exists somewhere between "stalled" and "nonexistent", wasn't the most exciting idea ever. Yet Rick, Carl and Michonne's otherwise innocuous supply run turned out to be one of the series' better episodes, thanks in large part to the fact that the character central to this side quest was someone we already knew, and because the episode used its narrow focus to its advantage.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Last Week in TV #23



Another quiet week as we continue to catch-up on some older stuff, and talk about the finale of Top Chef season 10.

Once Upon a Time: Manhattan


This show is always at its best when its forced to engage with its own mythology, and this episode was no exception. While Neal being Baelfire was the most obvious reveal possible (I mean, who else who could he be at this point?), that reveal was wisely gotten out of the way early, leaving the bulk of the episode to focus on the history between Neal and Emma, Rumpelstiltskin and Baelfire, and Henry and his birth parents. This led to some great scenes between all involved that were as good for what they didn't say as what they did say (showing a remarkable level of restraint on the part of the writers, I really appreciated that Neal didn't call back Emma's assertion that nothing good came of their relationship when he learned about Henry). The complicated, often bizarre history between these characters (wonderfully remarked upon in that brief scene between Charming and Snow in which they list off all of Henry's relatives) is far more engaging than random business about giants or fiery demon dogs.