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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Week in TV #36

 

With Revolution running out its string for the season, we've got a chance to catch up on some shows on which I've fallen behind. 

Revolution: Clue/Children of Men


Once again things are moving at a breakneck pace, and while that works for a penultimate episode like "Children of Men", the speed at which events move undermines "Clue". A locked-room mystery could be interesting, if done well, especially since so many of the characters in question have legitimate, non-forced reasons to be suspects, but it's clear this show has no interest in slowing down enough to do it justice nor a deft enough hand when it comes to characterization. And so Hudson gets killed off for fairly arbitrary reasons, and the entire cast goes from "not at the Tower" to "banging on its door" within an episode.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #31

"Saturday Night Fight"
September 1985

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants shut down the Gladiators and reunite with an old friend. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the arena, Roberto and Amara face off against a gigantic robot containing Kitty Pryde, much to the delight of the Gladiator's mysterious telepathic leader. As a possessed Dazzler uses her power to amp up the crowd, Kitty manages to free herself of her possession, and phases out of the robot. Dazzler is then forced to fight Roberto, Amara and Kitty. Just then, Sam, Illyana and Rachel arrive and join the fight. Illyana teleports Dazzler into Limbo, which frees her of her possession, but leaves the rest of the Gladiators believing Illyana killed their friend. They rush into the arena and attack the New Mutants. Illyana recalls Dazzler from Limbo and when the police arrive, Dazzler urges her friends to break up the Gladiators once and for all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #196

"What Was That?!!"
August 1985

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men work with Magneto to prevent a murder at Columbia University. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Romita Jr.  
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Professor Xavier is conducting a lecture at Columbia University when he telepathically picks up on a stray thought regarding a planned murder. Due to the limitations on his power as a result of his recent injuries, he's unable to probe deeper and identify the culprit, but resolves to bring in the X-Men to help prevent the crime from being carried out. Meanwhile, in Kenya, Storm is shot and left for dead by the hunters she had earlier fought at the bush station. Back in New York, the X-Men gather at Columbia and are briefed on the situation by Professor X. They are joined by Magneto, something which, despite their previous alliance against the Beyonder, leaves many of them feeling uneasy. Rachel is distracted by a familiar presence, and realizes the Beyonder is at the school, but he disappears before Rachel can confront him. Elsewhere, Nightcrawler meets with Father Bowen and discusses with the crisis of faith the existence and power of the Beyonder have triggered in him. That evening, a group of students sneak into an office at Columbia and set a bomb.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

X-aminations in June

We are drawing ever closer to the launch of X-Factor and the resultant end of my sanity (which, unless I stumble across something else that should be covered between now and then, is currently scheduled to start coverage on the second of August), but first we continue the run-up to Uncanny X-Men's two hundredth issue, including another Chris Claremont/Barry Windsor-Smith Storm-centric collaboration, more Secret Wars II (hooray...) and one of the oddest X-Men miniseries yet.

June 5th: Uncanny X-Men #197
June 6th: New Mutants #32

June 12th: Uncanny X-Men #198
June 13th: New Mutants #33

June 19th: Longshot #1-6
June 20th: Secret Wars II #5

June 26th : Uncanny X-Men #199
June 27th: New Mutants #34

Friday, May 24, 2013

Last Week in TV #35



The 2012-2013 network TV season officially ended this week (as of Wednesday night, I believe), but thanks to Revolution continuing to run out its thread, my usual backlog of shows (as well as a few more weeks of Game of Thrones), I've got at least a few more "Last Week in TV" posts coming your way before I take a much needed summer break.  

The Simpsons: The Saga of Carl/Dangers on a Train (season finale)


As far as latter day Simpsons episodes go, "The Saga of Carl" is one of the more original episodes we've seen in a long time. Carl as a character isn't someone who's received a lot of attention, and the concept of male friendship is something the show hasn't really examined much before. There was also some really strong animation in the Iceland scenes, giving the whole thing a look that was different than Springfield but still very much in the show's aesthetic.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #30

"The Singer and Her Song"
August 1985

In a Nutshell
Kitty, Rachel and Dazzler help the New Mutants infiltrate the Gladiators.

Presenter: Stan Lee
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Sam, Kitty, Rachel and Dazzler find themselves in Limbo, where Illyana had teleported them in the wake of their encounter with the Beyonder. As a result of that encounter, Illyana's Darkchilde side has been released, causing Limbo to go as mad as its mistress. Wresting her Soul Sword from her, Kitty uses the weapon to restore Illyana to normal. Still seeking to free the captured Roberto and Amara from the Gladiators, Illyana returns the group to Los Angeles, where they once again track down the Gladiators. Dazzler offers to infiltrate the group, and though everyone else decides against it for fear she won't be able to resist the lure of fame, she goes anyway. Welcomed back by her old friends, Dazzler is forced to take an inhibition-lowering drug to prove her loyalty. Later, Kitty, posing as a technician, gets a job working for the Gladiators. As Dazzler revels once more in being a star, she tries to win the trust of Roberto and Amara. Following a practice session, Kitty triggers a blackout and seeks out Roberto.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #195

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
July 1985

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men rescue Power Pack from the Morlocks.

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

Plot
Awoken by a thunderstorm, the Power children realize their parents don't know who they are, and discover that all traces of their existence have been removed from their home. Remembering they recently met a Morlock who could alter peoples memories, they change into their costumes and head into the sewers. However, a group of Morlocks is waiting for them, and all but Katie are captured. However, Masque manages to disfigure her face before she gets away. Fleeing through the subways, Katie is found by a police officer and taken to the hospital. The next morning, Kitty overhears a news report about Katie, and recognizing Masque's work, realizes the Morlocks have broken their word not to attack surface dwellers. She brings Rogue, Rachel and Wolverine to the hospital where they rescue Katie and learn what happened to her siblings.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x08: Second Sons



On the Road
So the Hound professes to be taking Arya to her family after all (for the money), which probably means the Hound is about to meet a grisly end, since I continue to doubt Arya will ever be reunited with her family. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the dig at the Brotherhood Without Banners, as the murderous Clegane is actually trying to do what the Brotherhood promised but ultimately failed to do.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Last Week in TV #34



It's finale time, but unfortunately, due to Mothers Day and SpringCon setup (if you're in the neighborhood, swing by the Grandstand on the State Fair grounds this weekend and say hello), I didn't have as much time to watch TV as I'd have liked. But we soldier on nonetheless!  

The Simpsons: The Fabulous Faker Boy


This almost the perfect example of a cromulent episode: neither good nor bad enough to get too worked up over. It shows up, does its thing, and leaves, with little lasting impression. I honestly don't have much to say about it. It's always nice when Bart goes nuts for a girl (though such stories would work better if he was a scootch older). The tie-in to Mothers Day was nice, I suppose, though nothing we haven't seen before. That's about it. Oh, there was the Justin Bieber cameo, which like much of the episode, was hard to get too worked up over either way.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

X-amining Power Pack #12 & Secret Wars II #1

Power Pack #12
"Underground!"
July 1985

In a Nutshell
The Morlocks kidnap Power Pack

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: June Brigman
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Carl Potts
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
As Power Pack heads back into the sewers to retrieve their schoolbooks, left behind rescuing a kitten, they're attacked and captured by a group of Morlocks. Elsewhere in the tunnels, Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde are meeting with Callisto. As they leave, they catch sight of the captured children and investigate. Power Pack, their powers suppressed by the power-dampening Morlock Leech, is told they were kidnapped to replace Annalee's recently murdered children. They manage to escape their bonds and trick Leech into leaving the room, enabling them to use their powers. Together with Nightcrawler and Kitty, they overpower the Morlocks. Power Pack explains to Annalee why she can't just steal other people's children, then leaves their kitten with Leech. The X-Men accompany them home, but later that night, Annalee tracks them down and vows to make them her children forever.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

X-amining Nightcrawler #1-4

"How Much is that Boggie in the Window?/A Boggie Day in L'un D'un-T'wn/To BAMF or Not to BAMF!/The Wizard of OOPs!
Nov 1985 - Feb 1986

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler goes on a cross-dimensional swashbuckling adventure

Writer/Artist: Dave Cockrum
Colorist: Paty
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Issue #1: Nightcrawler tells Kitty of a past adventure in which he journeyed to another dimension, meeting Sevh the Oracle and encountering the Well at the Center of Time. Intrigued, Kitty attempts to recreate the well in the Danger Room, but somehow manages to create the real thing. She's horrified when Nightcrawler and Lockheed are dragged into the well. They find themselves transported to a strange world, and are made members of a pirate crew. Minutes pass as Kitty and Illyana scramble to find Nightcrawler, but weeks pass for him. However, he refuses to participate in the pirates' attack on another ship, instead disabling their ship and leaving with their target. Taken to the nearest port, Nightcrawler attempts to help a young women in trouble, but it knocked unconscious by one of the pirates. Awakening back aboard their ship, he discovers he's been sold to the sorcerer Shagreen.  

Issue #2: Shagreen takes Nightcrawler and Lockheed to his fortress, where he intends to study Nightcrawler to learn the secret of his teleportation abilities. Escaping, Nightcrawler rescues a princess Shagreen means to sacrifice, dueling the sorcerer aboard his skyship. After Shagreen falls to his apparent death, Nightcrawler is taken aboard the royal ship and knighted for his actions. Just as Nightcrawler is getting to know the princess, however, Kitty tries again to bring him home, but instead he lands in another world, face-to-face with a childlike-version of himself.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x07: The Bear and the Maiden Fair



Harrenhal
He still tried to murder a kid, but Jamie continues to be a far more nuanced and interesting character than I ever imagined he'd be. Granted, he had a pretty good idea the guy that was tasked with delivering him to Kings Landing wouldn't let the bear eat him, but it was still pretty ballsy to leap into that pit unarmed (pun intended), and to do so entirely for Brienne's benefit.

Also, while getting mauled to death by a bear for the entertainment of others is pretty rough, I was expecting Jamie to walk-in on something far worse (ie sexually depraved) at the end there.

I'm curious just how far Jamie will be willing to go in keeping his word to deliver the Stark girls to their mother. Assuming he ever does make it back to Kings Landing (and the way most people on this show rarely make it where they're heading, that's a pretty big assumption), will he go so far as to defy his father and send Sansa home? Would he venture out to track down Arya?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Last Week in TV #33



We are now well into May sweeps, and shows are starting to wind down. To that end, I held off on some Glee, Parks and Rec and Community coverage (three shows that have already bowed but which I'm behind on) from this post in order to maximize my time and not fall behind on others, so expect some multi-episode coverage of those shows in the remaining last few weeks of the season. 

The Simpsons: Whiskey Business


I probably would have enjoyed this episode more if Moe's misanthropy and self-loathing hadn't, through the years, become quite so broad. Before he was a complete and utter sad sack whose suicide attempts were so commonplace they went uncommented on by other characters, there was something interesting and occasionally funny about a constantly-down-on-his-luck Moe. But that character trait has been so beaten into the ground over the years that it's lost all meaning and impact (I mean, how many times now has Moe almost achieved success only to have it snatched away because of his ugliness, be it physical or emotional?), thus undercutting some of the more interesting things in this episode.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #29

"Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion..."
July 1985

In a Nutshell
Roberto and Amara are kidnapped by the Gladiators. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Orzechowski & Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Sam and Illyana race through the Westchester County airport after a kidnapped Roberto and Amara. They catch up to the van containing their friends on the tarmac, only to realize they've been placed on a departing plane. Sam attempts to catch up to the plane, but is unsuccessful. Illyana teleports Sam to Limbo, where they interrogate the driver of the van. They learn that their friends have been captured by a group known as the Gladiators, operating out of Los Angeles. Illyana teleports them to LA, but also accidentally shifts them in time, leading them to arrive a week after they left. They head for Lila Cheney's house, where Sam explains the situation and they learn that one of Lila's recently-hired sessions singers is Dazzler, who has a past history with the Gladiators. Elsewhere, a captive Roberto is taken before Alexander Flynn, the apparent leader of the Gladiators. He and Amara are told they will fight to the death for sport in the arena, or else a group of runaway children the Gladiators have captured will be killed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #194

"Juggernaut's Back in Town!" 
June 1985

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men save Juggernaut from Nimrod

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.  
Finishers: Dan Green & Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
A bemused Juggernaut walks the streets of New York as the town reacts to news of his return. Upstate, the X-Men, still recovering from their confrontation with Thunderbird and the Hellions, are awoken to reports of the Juggernaut being seen in New York. Though Nightcrawler is reluctant to send the weary X-Men into a confrontation with the villain, he agrees they're best suited for the job. Meanwhile, at a bush station in Kenya, Storm encounters a hunter assaulting a waitress. She intervenes, fighting off both the hunter and his sister. In New York, Rachel and Kitty keep watch as Juggernaut conducts some legitimate business in a bank. Suddenly, Nimrod, having located Juggernaut, attacks the villain, as well as Kitty and Rachel, whom he identities as members of the outlaw X-Men. Nimrod blasts Juggernaut across town, where he lands at a construction site, dazed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x06: The Climb



The Fiery Batcave
I'm a little bit ashamed that when Melisandre left Stannis two episode ago, saying she was off to find more royal blood, I didn't immediately suspect that she was going after Gendry, one of the last of Robert Baratheon's copious amount of bastards (instead I was thinking, "wait, does Stannis have another brother out there?).

Nevertheless, here she is, buying Gendry from the Brotherhood, affirming for Arya that they're not as good a group of guys as they like to pretend. The most interesting thing here (aside from Melisandre's predictions concerning Arya; lots of eyes?) was the theological discussion between Melisandre and Thoros, as they compared notes about the Lord of Light. Apparently, this is a religion in its relative infancy, as much of it hasn't been codified or even shared with all parties (Melisandre, for all her cryptic knowledge, seemed genuinely surprised to learn the extent and frequency to which Beric has been resurrected). 

While Gendry certainly has a right to feel betrayed, at least he's (presumably) in for a better fate than the last time he was taken somewhere against his will. I mean, I have to think sex with Melisandre is better than that rat torturer guy at Harrenhal.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow & Don Cheadle
Directed by Shane Black
Written by Drew Pearce & Shane Black
Original Score by Brian Tyler 

After a brief in media res opening (they're all the rage these days) which establishes the story that follows to be a narrative told by Tony Stark to an unseen someone, Iron Man 3 finds Tony Stark struggling to come to terms with the events of The Avengers. He's become more of a celebrity and hero than ever, even while he's having problems sleeping and clearly suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. What follows from this setup is a surprisingly introspective summer blockbuster. With the country under attack by a terrorist known as the Mandarin, Tony finds himself pulled out of his comfort zone, stripped of his usual resources and forced to once more rebuild himself from the ground up in order to expose the real threat of the Mandarin.

Movie Review: Jurassic Park 3D

This review kept getting pushed aside by other posts and is thus a little out of date, but I figured what the heck, I had it written so I may as well post it...

Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern & Jeff Goldblum
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Michael Crichton & David Koepp
Original Score by John Williams

Because Mrs. Teebore had never seen it on the big screen, we made a point to check out the recent 3D re-release of Jurassic Park, more to experience the film in a theater than for the 3D conversion. As expected, that conversion added very little to the experience; like most post-conversions, the goal here was simply to add some depth to the film, creating layers out of, say, the foliage in the background. The end result is meant to create a more immersive experience, but this was undercut for us somewhat by the fact that the screen we saw it on was one of the theater’s smaller ones, and thus, there was an obvious edge on either end that shortchanged that immersive experience (of course, that’s not the fault of the film). There was also the usual 3D problem of the film seeming dimmer than usual because one has to watch it through colored lenses.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Last Week in TV #32



Still behind on Revolution, as Dr. Bitz says the one I missed is worth watching. So I'll check that out online, but in the meantime, here's some thoughts on stuff on I did watch. 

The Simpsons: Pulpit Friction


I don't like to play this card too often, because New Simpsons is what it is and if you're still watching it you know what to expect, but man, did this episode feel like it had more recycled plot elements than usual. The destruction and replacement of the couch, a plague shipped in via mail order, a crisis of faith for Reverend Lovejoy, etc. It wasn't a bad episode, necessarily, but it felt especially unoriginal.

Friday, May 3, 2013

To Better Know a Hero: Iron Man

I was going to do a post on the Mandarin in preparation for Iron Man 3, but time got away from me, laziness, etc., etc., so instead, here's a reformatted and slightly updated version of my original "To Better Know A Hero" post on Iron Man, from back in May of 2008.

Real Name

Anthony "Tony" Stark  

First Appearance 
Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)

Nicknames and Aliases 
Shellhead, Iron Avenger, the Cool Exec with a Heart of Steel     

Powers and Abilities 
Tony Stark is a mechanical and engineering genius, as well as a wealthy industrialist, able to create and upgrade fantastic technologies, including his ever-evolving Iron Man armor. He’s also been trained in hand-to-hand combat by Captain America, and of late, taken to calling himself a “futurist”, with the ability to scientifically predict future events. It’s unclear if this is a super power or not, and is mainly used as validation for some of his more recent dick-ish actions.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #28

"Soulwar"
June 1985

In a Nutshell
Professor X and the New Mutants fight to save Legion's mind. 

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

Plot
Within David Haller's mind, Professor X and Jack Wayne climb a mountain, hoping to reach the Arab who is trying to take control of David's mind. Suddenly, they are joined by the rest of Xavier's companions, though that group is unaware of how they found Xavier so easily. As they climb the mountain, they are attacked, first by fighter jets and then a massive storm. Meanwhile, in the Bermuda Triangle, Lee and Magneto discuss their growing relationship, with Lee admitting she's afraid of Magneto. He asks Lee for help in becoming a better person, but she refuses. Back in David's mind, Xavier and Dani combine their powers to attack the Arab, whom they learn is named Jemail. In doing so, they realize the obstacles in their path are illusory. Piercing the dome thanks to this realization, they discover crystals representing David's memories and personality, many of which have been damaged. Jack claims it to be the work of Jemail, attempting to destroy David's consciousness so he can take over, but Professor X realizes someone has been trying to repair the crystals, something that could only be done by a telepath like Jemail. As Jemail attacks the group once more, Gabby is forced to relive the terrorist attack that shattered David's psyche. She viciously attacks Jemail and overpowers him. Just then, Xavier is felled by a tremendous psychic force, leaving Jack face to face with Jemail.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #193

"Warhunt 2"
May 1985

In a Nutshell
Thunderbird kidnaps Banshee to avenge his brother's death.

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

Plot
On Muir Island, Banshee is attacked and captured by John Proudstar's brother, James, who has taken up his brother's mantle as Thunderbird. Meanwhile, Professor X awakens in the Morlock tunnels, taken there by a Morlock who found him after he was left for dead by the group of students who attacked him. His life saved by the Healer, Callisto warns him he must allow his body time to heal, then takes him back to the mansion. In the Rocky Mountains, Thunderbird visits the site of his brother's death, declaring his intent to extract revenge on Xavier. Despite having stated his desire to carry out this attack alone, he's joined by three of his Hellion teammates: Empath, Roulette and an enthralled Firestar, who merely want to cause trouble. Meanwhile, Storm's ship nears Africa. In New York, the X-Men are contacted by Thunderbird, who tells them he's taken Banshee to the NORAD facility within Cheyenne Mountain, and will kill him in 24 hours unless the X-Men intervene. Though doing so will invariably brand them as outlaws in the eye of the government, they agree they cannot abandon Banshee.