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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #31-38

"Having a Wild Weekend" / "Dark Shadows" / "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" / "Like a Housewife" / "A Day at the Circus" / "Keep the Fire Burning" / "Dragon in Distress" / "There's No Place Like Home"
Nov - Dec 1989

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur battles Arcade and his Loonies. 

Writer: Michael Higgins
Penciler: Erik Larsen
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Issue #31: Excalibur is enjoying a quiet evening at home when Kitty's computer begins to act strangely. Suddenly, six bizarre beings emerge, calling themselves the Loonies. They attack and capture a surprised Excalibur, much to the delight of their imprisoned employer. Issue #32: Alone, Kitty encounters a massive cat named Rochester and discovers that he's a mechanical construct. Reprogramming him to go to sleep, she sets off to find whomever is responsible for the attack on Excalibur. Issue #33: Captain Britain awakens in a sea of alcohol and makes his way to a beach, where's he attacked by two earlier versions of himself. Meanwhile, Kitty discovers some kind of control room. Captain Britain is then rescued by a family hillbillies, who give him a ride towards the town of Blurberry, where he meets the patrons of a bar called Sneers. But the real Captain Britain remains a captive of the Loonies, plugged into some kind of mind-altering helmet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

...on account of my son making an earlier-than-expected arrival. I was planning to have this week's Marvel Comics Presents post ready to go before taking a break for the holidays (and anticpating his arrival) but he decided to head out early!

So enjoy this "It's Genetic" comic from Kyle Baker, originally appearing in Marvel Age #31, and look for this week's post to go up next week!


Friday, December 19, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #15-16

Wolverine #15

"Homecoming"
Early November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine returns to Madripoor in the hunt for the Gehenna Stone. 

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Boss: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Madripoor, Wolverine rescues Lindsay from a group of police officers attacking her for information about the stone O'Donnell recently acquired. Returning to the Princess Bar as Patch, he oversees a confrontation between Lindsay and O'Donnell, and learns that both of them, like Jessica, knew Patch was actually Wolverine. Just then, Archie bursts in saying Burt has gone missing. O'Donnell tells them of how the Prince acquired the stone from O'Donnell, just as a group of cops arrive led by Chief Tai. Out on the streets, Burt helps save a woman from Ba'al's followers. who want to use her as a blood sacrifice. When he's overwhelmed, Jessica intervenes, helping fight off the last of the followers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #14

"Too Many Heroes"
November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur arrives on a world populated with superheroes created by the Impossible Man. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Chief Correspondent: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At Westminster Palace, Excalibur attends the engagement party of Prince William and Princess Katherine. Kitty, not wanting to watch Alistair and Rachel dance together, returns to Excalibur's train to find Widget awake. She tries to understand how he works, but is interrupted by Rachel, storming out of the castle after reading the inappropriate thoughts of that world's Nigel Frobisher. As she and the rest of Excalibur come aboard the train, Rachel's Phoenix energy interacts with Widget, causing the train and everyone in it to disappear. The train reappears not far from what appears to be Excalibur's lighthouse, but at the same time a massive tidal wave is bearing down on Great Britain. To protect them, Rachel places everyone inside an energy cocoon, but when the rest of the team emerges, they find Rachel missing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #252

"Where's Wolverine?!?"
Mid November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine and Jubilee escape the Reavers. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Rick Leonardi
Guest Inker: Kent Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Overlord: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As the Reavers search the town for the missing Wolverine, Jubilee uses the tunnels to evade the villains as she steals food and medicine for the badly injured Wolverine. She returns to her hidden room as Wolverine is hallucinating Carol Danvers and Nick Fury, and, not recognizing Jubilee, he attacks her, even though both Danvers and Fury tell him to stop. Using her fireworks to defend herself, Jubilee knocks him out. Meanwhile, Bonebreaker and Pierce attempt to use the town's computer system to locate Wolverine, while Lady Deathstrike acquires the Honor Sword of Clan Yashida from Wolverine's room. Unable to locate Wolverine on the computers, Pierce turns to a trio of cybernetic dingoes to track him down.

Friday, December 12, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #46

"Exchange"
November 1989

In a Nutshell 
Marvel Girl wakes up and Seera is found out. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Paul Smith
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the Reject city, Zharkah remains suspicious of Beast, and plans to use the upcoming prisoner exchange involving Marvel Girl to test his loyalties. In the Chosen city, Iceman and Lev entertain bets on Iceman's upcoming arena battle with Archangel while a distracted Seera rushes back to her home, unknowingly spied on by a flying Dualer. In the Beginagain dwellings, Ryest shows Cyclops his telepathic discovery of Marvel Girl amongst the Rejects, but doesn't want to disrupt the prisoner exchange for fear of making the war worse and hastening the judgement of the Celestials. But Cyclops rushes out after her. In the Chosen city, Rask oversees the practice of a drugged Archangel, but Archangel manages to wound Rask in the leg. As the Rejects depart for the prisoner exchange, Beast oversees the unconscious Marvel Girl and rushes to her side, exposing himself as a Dualer spy in Zharkah's eyes.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #81

"Faith"
November 1989

In a Nutshell
Magma questions her faith during an encounter with Hercules. 

Guest Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Louise Williams
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker (pp 1-3, 25)
Guest Inker: Josef Rubinstein 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Greg Wright
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Bob McLeod

Plot
In Nova Roma, Amara and Empath discuss religion, with Amara asking Empath to prove his God is real. He counters with the same request, and Amara says she's met hers. In the past, Amara and the New Mutants watch a movie starring Hercules. While her friends find the movie unintentionally funny, Amara is troubled by the buffoonish portrayal of someone who is one of her gods. That night, she prays to Jove, who answers her prayers by sending Hercules to visit her. However, Amara just believes him to be the actor from the movie. Rousing the New Mutants out of bed, they go outside, where Hercules tries to prove his validity by showing off his powers, but the New Mutants, who can match his feats themselves, are unimpressed. When Hercules attempts to transport himself and Amara to Olympus, he gets no response from his father who, watching from Olympus, explains to the rest of the gods that he's punishing Hercules for the travesty of a movie he made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #251

"Fever Dream"
Early November 1989

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men enter the Siege Perilous and Wolverine is crucified by the Reavers. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Marc Silvestri & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief Inquisitor: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Chained to a large wooden X outside the X-Men's Outback town, Wolverine awakens as Donald Pierce and the Reavers approach. Pierce taunts the defeated X-Man, but Wolverine manages to make him angry, and Pierce storms off. The Reavers proceed to search the town, believing they saw someone, but Jubilee manages to evade them. Outside, Wolverine slips into a fever dream, hallucinating the arrival of first the X-Men and then some of his old foes before entering Dreamtime and reliving first his capture, and then the X-Men returning from the Savage Land and being telepathically coerced by Psylocke to enter the Siege Perilous in order to escape the Reavers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Force Awakens: Five Intriguing Things


Hey, remember a couple weeks back, when the first The Force Awakens teaser hit theaters and the internet and everyone was buzzing about it? Let's go back in time to then and pretend this post was written in a timely manner.

Back in the day, you had to actually go to a movie theater in order to see a new trailer, and so in 1999 I plunked down actual money alongside Paul Zenisek for a ticket to Wing Commander, just to see the Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace trailer. The movie was pretty awful, but hey, the trailer was pretty awesome (arguably better than the movie itself), plus we got to see a couple of girls who were just there to ogle Freddie Prince Jr. walk out when they realized it was a sci-fi movie.

This time, I just had to pull up the teaser on my laptop the afternoon of Black Friday, and it's entirely possible that not having to watch Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lilliard mug their way through a terrible movie afterwards added to my appreciation of it. So here's five things from an 88 second teaser specifically designed to whet appetites and reveal nothing concrete that caught my attention.

Friday, December 5, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #13-14

Wolverine #13 

"Blood Ties"
Early October 1989

In a Nutshell 
The origin of the Gehenna Stone is revealed.

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Madripoor, twin brothers enter the Princess Bar carrying a stone they claim they're going to make a lot of money selling. In San Fransisco, Wolverine helps Archie evade the police as Burt agrees to tell everyone about the Gehenna Stone. In Madripoor, the two brothers rent a room from O'Donnell. In San Fransisco, Archie tells the history of the Gehenna stone, which is the repository of the soul of a demonic being named Ba'al who, in Biblical times, was slain outside Jerusalem by a warrior named the Hand of God. The warrior smashed the stone into fragments and scattered them, never to be reassembled. However, over the last few year, archaeologists have begun unearthing the stone fragments, after which the fragments started to disappear.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #13

"The Marriage of True Minds"
October 1989

In a Nutshell 
Kitty deals with the ramifications of William's proposal. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Couturier: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
At Prince William's castle, Captain Britain shows off his new costume just before the Queen arrives for an audience with Excalibur. Noting her resemblance to Saturnyne, Captain Britain greets her warmly, but the Queen then announces that, by the laws of their land, Kitty is unable to refuse William's marriage proposal. When she objects, the Queen magically teleports herself and Kitty away. The rest of Excalibur try to find her, but are stopped by the palace's giant guards. Meanwhile, back in Brighton, Nigel Frobisher reverts to normal, and manages to engage Technet's services in rescuing James Braddock from the African tyrant Doc Croc. Back in the alternate England, the Queen's sorcerers transform Kitty, body and mind, into a more ideal image of a princess, and she insists to Excalibur that she's happy that way.

The Walking Dead 5x08: Coda


Well, when it comes to the *sigh* mid-season finale* and The Walking Dead, you can always count on someone dying and this episode was no different. When a main character dies I always try to figure out why and how it served the plot. Of course, on a nihilistic show like this that may be a fool's errand.

On The Walking Dead people die all the time. Some would say that's the point of the show. It doesn't matter if you're good or bad, smart or stupid. People die. Sometimes it's their fault, sometimes it's not but the world keeps on turning. I think my thoughts about that is well explored territory for me so maybe I should just move on.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #250

"The Shattered Star"
Late October 1989

In a Nutshell 
Zaladane steals Polaris' powers

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Guest Finisher: Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Antarctica, a Soviet research station is destroyed as Zaladane calls forth one of the High Evolutionary's hidden bases from the ground beneath it. Leading her horde inside, she takes the surviving Soviets captive, executing the ones who won't be of use, then prepares to use one of the High Evolutionary's devices to transfer Lorna's power to her. Havok, hidden amongst Zaladane's army, attempts to stop her, but his subterfuge was noticed by the Mutates and he's easily subdued, forced to watch as Zaladane steals Lorna's power. Zaladane returns to her Savage Land citadel, where the Mutate Worm takes control of the Soviets. Psylocke and the remaining X-Men witness this telepathically, but they fall under Worm's control as well. Rendered unsconscious, Psylocke is pulled into Gateway's Dreamtime, where she witnesses a vision of the X-Men's deaths in Australia.

Friday, November 28, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #45

"Arena!"
October 1989

In a Nutshell 
Archangel fights in the Arena and Iceman battles Lord Rask. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Paul Smith
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the arena of the Chosen, Archangel is forced to battle a large Reject named Agrom. Though he is initially reluctant to fight and kill for the amusement of the Chosen, Lord Rask orders the guards to release the goads, small barbed spheres laced with a drug which saps his control over his wings. In the end, he nearly kills Agrom, and when he turns his rage on the Chosen, is zapped unconscious by the arena's force field, much to Seera's horror. Meanwhile, in the Reject city, Beast joins Zharkah for the birth of a child who unfortunately dies shortly after being born. That evening, at the child's funeral, Beast offers to look into the Rejects reproduction problems, but Zharkah insists that is the way of the Chosen. In the Chosen City, Seera steals nurtient for Christopher, using her telepathy to cover her tracks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #80

"Curse of the Valkyries"
October 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants get separated in Asgard. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bret Blevins
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the caverns beneath their castle, the possessed Valkyrie attack the New Mutants and the dwarf army. Watching from afar, Hela tasks Dani with capturing the New Mutants and bringing Eitri to her. Meanwhile, in New York, Rusty and Skids are still waiting out Freedom Force inside Skids' force field, prepared to tell the soon-to-arrive tourists everything they know about Freedom Force's nefarious plans. However, Crimson Commando arrives with a large laser and cuts out the ground beneath Rusty & Skids, enabling Blob to carry the pair of them away. Back in Asgard, Dani enters the fray, using a magic powder to freeze the New Mutants in place. Carrying off Eitri, she commands the New Mutants be imprisoned in the Immobilization Chamber. Inside the chamber, the New Mutants are unable to move, but Boom-Boom is able generate a time bomb, blowing a hole into the floor through which she falls.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #249

"The Dane Curse"
Late September 1989

In a Nutshell 
Zaladane captures Polaris

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Beneath the X-Men's town, Havok watches as the computers replay the events of Storm's death and funeral. Angry, he lashes out, knocking himself unconscious just as Lorna Dane, growing increasingly more independent of Malice, calls him from Punta Arenas. When he doesn't answer, Malice taunts her, causing her to destroy the phone booth and draw the attention of a local fisherman. Back in Australia, Colossus is unknowingly stalked by a group of Reavers performing recon. Later, Havok awakens in his bedroom, someone having moved him there and left him a note about Lorna's call. Havok and Psylocke trace the call, and Havok insists that the X-Men go to help her. In Punta Arenas, the fisherman tends to Lorna's wounds at a local tavern, when suddenly a group of primitive soldiers riding dinosaurs burst in, seeking Lorna.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x07: Crossed


Is season five the best season of The Walking Dead so far? I've heard speculation saying people think that it is. Frankly, I might be inclined to agree. At the same time, you could argue that (despite the incredible popularity of The Walking Dead) that's damning the show with faint praise.

The reason I bring up the quality of this season is that this episode was pretty good. I wouldn't call it excellent though. The Walking Dead has hit this sweet spot of being good enough to not rag on but not being so excellent that I feel the need to heap praise atop of it.

I suppose another way to put it is: I have no idea what to write about.

X-aminations in December


The year comes to a close with all five series in the midst of long-running storylines, including "Dissolution and Rebirth", which brings us, via Uncanny X-Men #251, one of the series' most iconic covers.

As of the end of December, the birth of my son will also be looming large (my wife is due the 29th), so with that and the holidays in mind, we'll finish out the year with a series of one-a-week posts that will give me a bit of a breather as I adjust to fatherhood, and give everyone else a chance to whoop it up over the holidays without fear of missing much here (because you totally worry about that, right?).

And if the little bugger arrives late, well, the slackened schedule will just give me a chance to get a head start on X-aminations: 2015!

On Sale June 1989
December 3rd: Uncanny X-Men #250
December 4th: Excalibur #13
December 5th: Wolverine #13-14

On Sale July 1989
December 10th: Uncanny X-Men #251
December 11th: New Mutants #81
December 12th: X-Factor #46

December 17th: Uncanny X-Men #252
December 18th: Excalibur #14
December 19th: Wolverine #15-16

December 24th: Marvel Comics Presents #31-38 (Excalibur story)

December 31st: Wolverine: Jungle Adventure

Friday, November 21, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #12

"Straits of San Fransisco"
Late September 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine and friends evade the Followers of Ba'al on the streets of San Fransisco

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the courtroom, Wolverine helps fight off the Followers of Ba'al, whom he quickly realizes aren't actually vampires. When Jessica arrives to court late, she's drawn into the fray, leaping onto the back of Burt's horse as he tries to escape. Two of the Followers waiting outside in a car see him leave, and take off after him. As the police arrive, Wolverine and Archie escape the courtroom, stealing a cop car to follow Burt while another group of Followers steals their own car and pursues them. Elsewhere, the Followers' leader waits for the ones he seeks to be driven to him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #11

"Brother's Keeper"
Early September 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine accompanies Archie Corrigan to San Fransisco. 

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Mark Chiarello
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In San Fransisco, two apparent vampires try to steal a jewel from a museum, but it turns out to be a fake. In Madripoor, Archie Corrigan storms into the Princess Bar and proceeds to tell Wolverine about his wealthy brother Burt, a film fanatic who's facing a competency hearing launched by their aunt. Worried the aunt will have his otherwise harmless brother committed, Archie is planning on going to San Fransisco to help his brother, and convinces a reluctant Wolverine to come along with him. Overhearing this, Jessica Drew decides to tag along as well. Arriving in San Fransisco, the three check in on Burt and thankfully find him seemingly normal, working on a dissertation on ancient cultures. He promises to attend the hearing the next day, but when everyone leaves, he pulls the jewel the vampires were after from his desk drawer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #12

"My Friends Call Me 'Billy the Kid'!"
September 1989

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur is transported to a fantasy world. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
As a young lord on horseback rides through a forest in search of a knightly quest, a train suddenly appears as if from nowhere and crashes nearby. At the crash site, the lord finds an unconscious Shadowcat having been flung from the train, and Lockheed hovering nearby. Immediately smitten with Shadowcat and believing Lockheed to be a threat, he attacks the dragon. Lockheed, however, drops a tree branch on the lord, knocking him out as the rest of Excalibur, as well as Alistair Stuart, emerge from the train. Back on Earth, Nigel Frobisher meets Technet in Brighton to enlist their services, but he's transformed by Joyboy into his heart's desire, a weird amalgamation of a perfect man and Courtney Ross. Meanwhile, the young lord regains consciousness surrounded by Excalibur. He introduces himself as William, heir to the throne, but says his friends call him Billy the Kid.

The Walking Dead 5x06: Consumed


This episode had its moments. My initial reaction was that it was perfectly decent. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized this wasn't a very good episode. Despite some decent moments, a lot of things bothered me. (And no, it's not because it was a Carol-centric episode.)

The episode started rough. The opening montage of what Carol was up to between her exile and her return didn't impress me. The flashback felt wholly unnecessary. Carol was the same person when she returned as when she left. There was no transformation we needed to see. Nothing was shown to us that we couldn't infer on our own.

Friday, November 14, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #44

"Another World!"
September 1989

In a Nutshell 
The scattered X-Factor take stock of the alien world. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Layouts: Paul Smith
Finishes: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With the Celestial descending rapidly above him, Cyclops realizes he has only one chance to survive, and blasts the ground beneath him. Elsewhere, Beast travels with the Rejects to their spired city, playing along with the idea that his memories were damaged by a Jammer attack to explain his lack of knowledge about the war. In the Chosen city, Lord Rask displays a captive Archangel to Lord Palik and Princess Seeraa. Archangel freaks free of his bonds, but is felled by Rask, though Seera finds Archangel magnificent. As Seera returns to her rooms, accompained by her robot companion ZeeZee, she walks past a lab where a scientist is examining Iceman. With no memory of who or what he is, the Dualer Lev is given responsibility for his re-orientation and good behavior. Elsewhere, the Celestial gone, Cyclops blasts free of the ground, having created a depression to protect himself. He is found by Zalph, a Beginagain to wishes to see the war end.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #79

"Asgard"
September 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants reunite with their Dwarf friends. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Bret Blevins
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Now in Asgard, Rahne transforms into a wolf, hoping to telepathically establish communication with Dani, but the evil entity in control of Dani's body attacks her. Watching from Hel, Hela is angry to see Dani in Asgard, as she was supposed to deliver the souls of Earth's greatest heroes to her, but she consoles herself with the knowledge that at least she can still acquire the souls of the New Mutants. As Dani flies off, the New Mutants discover that Rahne is still alive, which she believes is an indication that Dani still has some control over her actions. As the New Mutants debate their next move, they discover an army of dwarfs marching on the nearby castle. The dwarfs attack the New Mutants, but once Sam hears they're led by his old friend Eitri, he orders them to stand down and allows themselves to be taken prisoner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #248

"The Cradle Will Fall"
Early September 1989

In a Nutshell 
Longshot quits, Storm dies, and Jim Lee draws the X-Men for the first time.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Lord High Executioner: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As the newly reformed Reavers train against a robotic Wolverine, in Australia, Longshot grapples with his lack of memories and decides to leave the team to find himself. The next morning, Nanny and Orphan Maker launch their assault on the X-Men, starting by brainwashing Psylocke into thinking she's a child obedient to Nanny as Orphan Maker captures Havok and Dazzler. With the three X-Men locked into armored suits and their minds regressed to a child-like state by Nanny, they attack Storm and Colossus as Nanny tries to capture Jubilee. She overpowers Nanny, however, and with Storm holding her own against her armored teammates, Nanny decides to retreat.

The Walking Dead 5x05: Self Help


So, Eugene let the cat out of the bag. I can’t say that I’m surprised. I doubt other viewers were either. This is The Walking Dead after all. Somebody providing any sort of tangible hope was too good to last.

I had already read this revelation in the comics but even I was hoping-against-hope that this iteration of Eugene was actually telling the truth. (Although, I’m sure if he was he’d end up getting devoured by zombies just as he’s about to complete the zombie cure.) I have no idea how those who don’t read the comics felt about this. Was it at all surprising and/or did they feel jerked around?

Friday, November 7, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #10

"24 Hours"
August 1989

In a Nutshell 
Sabretooth stalks Wolverine on his birthday. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Buscema & Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Time Keeper: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Lowtown, Wolverine drinks at a bar, thinking back to an earlier saloon, when he found Sabretooth after Sabretooth had killed Wolverine's girlfriend, Silver Fox. In the present, Wolverine breaks up a bar fight, then heads out as the clock strikes midnight. In the past, an enraged Wolverine attacks Sabretooth. In the present, Wolverine helps save a pair of US Naval servicemen attacked by a gang of thugs, though one of them is shot. In the past, Wolverine and Sabretooth's fight spills outside, where Sabreooth buries Wolverine in a wood pile. In the present, Wolverine brings the wounded servicemen to Madame Joy'ss for treatment, where he meets Jessica and Lindsay, who have opened an office above the brothel. In the past, Wolverine flees into the woods, pursued by Sabretooth, and climbs up a nearby cliff face trying to escape. In the present, Wolverine meets with Chief Tai, who informs him the men from the bar fight are none too pleased with him, then confirms the individual Wolverine asked Tai to investigate is indeed dead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #11

"The Price"
August 1989

In a Nutshell 
Nazi Excalibur goes home just as Excalibur disappears. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Guest Inker: Terry Austin 
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Prime Minister: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
In London, Nigel Frobisher watches as Phoenix and Shadowcat fly overhead, then realizes he's running late. Rushing through Fraser's Bank, he reaches Courtney Ross office just a few seconds late. Meanwhile, Rachel and Kitty arrive back at the Lighthouse to find Illyana's Soulsword waiting for Kitty. Rachel tries to destroy it for her, but is unable to do so, and Kitty flies into a rage when she discovers Lockheed, injured by the Lightning Squad during their initial attack. Back in London, Nigel is dressed down by Courtney, then is tasked with engaging the services of Gatecrasher and Technet. A few days later, Alistair Stuart visits Rachel and Kitty at the lighthouse, while his sister and the rest of Excalibur are still hammering out an arrangement with the Lightening Squad, and gives Kitty the inert Widget. At the Tower of London, the Nazi Nightcrawler attacks Brigadier Stuart, who turns out to be Meggan in disguise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

X-amining Daredevil #269

"Lone Stranger"
August 1989

In a Nutshell 
Daredevil fights Blob & Pyro. 

Writer: Ann Nocenti
Penciler: John Romita Jr. 
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Max Scheele
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Blob and Pyro of Freedom Force, tasked with bringing in an unregistered mutant, arrive in a small town, teleported there by Spiral. They find the residents of the town less than welcoming, but their mutant powers and federal authority give them the run of the place. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock arrives in town and, feeling that the Mutant Registration Act is a violation of civil rights, decides to find the mutant before Freedom Force can. After getting Blob and Pyro drunk, he overhears one of the locals selling out the mutant to Pyro, and races to her location ahead of Freedom Force. As Daredevil, he gets the mutant, a young woman named Amanda, out of the bell tower where she's hiding just as Pyro attacks, but he's overwhelmed by Pyro's flames and passes out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x04: Slabtown


Alright then, apparently in the world of The Walking Dead you can't form any group without a megalomaniac being in charge. Well, unless the person is charge is named Rick. Even that could be debatable, I suppose.

We had one society in which you either eat people or get eaten by people. Another group decided that the only rule necessary for a functional society is the ability to call dibs on things…including young boys. This episode showed us people living in a hospital under control of an OCD police officer who oversees a society of indentured servants (who must keep the officers happy by doing whatever they say) and only brings in people she perceives weaker than herself.

You know The Walking Dead is a bleak show when you realize that living in Woodbury may not have been all that bad, relatively speaking. Sure The Governor went crazy in the end but at the beginning he was just your run-of-the-mill dictator who lied for personal gain. At least there if you kept your head down and just did your job you were relatively safe.

Friday, October 31, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #43

"Kidnaped!"
August 1989

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor gets embroiled in a war on an alien planet. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Breakdowns:Paul Smith
Finisher: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Compelled by some unknown force, Ship suddenly takes off, blasting into space. It creates a dome to protect X-Factor, but Marvel Girl smashes through it, possessed by the memories of Phoenix to fly into space. Working together, X-Factor manages to retrieve Marvel Girl and repair the dome just as Ship enters hyperspace. Emerging seconds later but light years from Earth, X-Factor finds themselves in orbit around an alien world. Just then, a massive Celestial appears and silently takes Ship in its hand. Suddenly, X-Factor finds themselves transported down to the planet, landing in the middle of a massive battle between two different groups of super-powered individuals.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #78

"Let's Make a Deal!"
August 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants battle Freedom Force en route to being sent to Asgard. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The New Mutants, still watched over by Dr. Strange, work together to gather up Dani and the massive ice machine keeping her fiery rampage in check, determined to get her back to Ship before the machinery fails. Watching from Hel, Hela plots to use the Valkyrie against Odin and get revenge on Thor, and moves to keep the pressure on the New Mutants. Back on Earth, Freedom Force arrives in Manhattan, called in by reports of Dani's attack and believing Rusty is responsible. They attack the New Mutants en route to Ship, with Destiny insisting Rusty must be apprehended to ensure Freedom Force's survival, and both teams land on Liberty Island.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #247

"The Light That Failed"
August 1989

In a Nutshell 
Rogue and Master Mold enter the Siege Perilous

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Foreman: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Just as Master Mold is about to blast Rogue, the X-Men arrive, called by Psylocke and teleported to New York by Gateway. Though there is nothing they can do to save Senator Kelly's wife, mortally wounded helping Rogue, they're able to destroy Master Mold, aided by their invisibility to his sensors. Back in Australia, Jubilee explores the town but decides to stick close to her hiding spot for fear of getting caught. In New York, the seemingly-destroyed Master Mold re-constituents himself. His integration of Nimrod's programming complete, he's now able to detect the X-Men and hold his own against them. As Dazzler stumbles into a crater created by a reflected blast and discovers the Siege Perilous in her jacket pocket, Rogue absorbs Colossus' mutant power, transforming her flesh into steel. She flies into space, then comes racing back down, her speed aided by gravity, and crashes into Master Mold with the force of a meteor.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x03: Four Walls and a Roof


So, everything came to a head pretty quickly, huh? I figured the Terminus group would be hunting our protagonists for a good half of a season. Instead, they barely got two episodes. Not that I'm complaining.

Not only did everything come to a head quicker than I thought, it came without much fanfare. The Terminus group tried to set a trap for Rick's group. However, Rick's group (predictably) flipped the tables on them, Gareth gets hacked by the machete Rick promised to hack him with and that was that.

The anticlimactic nature of the Terminus/Rick's group showdown fit with this episode. "Four Walls and a Roof" was mostly focused on character work. In the end the Terminus group weren't so much antagonists as they were catalysts for Rick's group to look at who they currently are and what they may become.

Monday, October 27, 2014

X-aminations in November


It's a relatively "normal" month, as we stay mostly within the realm of the five regular series. But we do welcome Jim Lee to Uncanny X-Men (only as a fill-in artist...for now!) as all five series kick off long, multi-part stories and both X-Men and Wolverine begin bi-weekly shipping for the summer.

On Sale April 1989
November 5th: Daredevil #269
November 6th: Excalibur #11
November 7th: Wolverine #10

On Sale May 1989
November 12th: Uncanny X-Men #248
November 13th: New Mutants #79
November 14th: X-Factor #44

November 19th: Excalibur #12
November 20th: Wolverine #11
November 21st: Wolverine #12

On Sale June 1989
November 26th: Uncanny X-Men #249
November 27th: New Mutants #80
November 28th: X-Factor #45

Also, just for fun, here's two pages of an interview with Bob Harras from Marvel Age #78 (on sale May of 1989), about upcoming stories in the X-Books. It's kind of interesting to see the stuff that comes true, and the stuff that doesn't.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

X-amining X-Factor Annual #4

"I Must Go Down to the Sea Again"
August 1989

In a Nutshell
Beast and Marvel Girl battle Attuma

Story and Pictures: John Byrne
Embellishment: Walt Simonson
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Down the Hall, Turn Left: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Pulled by a tractor beam cast by Ghaur, Beast grabs onto a flying, comatose Marvel Girl. Desperate to break the pull of the beam, he manages to get through to Jean enough for her to use her telekinesis to free them and send the two teammates crashing into the ocean, much to a watching Ghaur's dismay. In the water, Beast and the still-comatose Marvel Girl are attacked by an Atlantean force led by the warlord Attuma. Recognizing Marvel Girl as Phoenix, he claims her as his own and orders his troops to kill Beast. However, Beast is saved by the arrival of Attuma's daughter, Andromeda, and her rebel forces, and they agree to work together to thwart Attuma and rescue Jean.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem

"Mojo Mayhem"
1989

In a Nutshell 
The X-Babies enlist Kitty's help saving them from Mojo. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Arthur Adams
Inkers: Terry Austin, Bob Wiacek, and co. 
Letterers: Tom Orzechowski & Jade Moede
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh 
Assistant Editor: Kellp P. Corverse
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On Mojoworld, Ricochet Rita and the X-Babies run from Mojo's troops. They're chased into a massive building housing the entrance to the Forbidden Zone, and the ensuing fight collapses the structure, seemingly killing them, much to Mojo's dismay. However, Major Domo realizes the X-Babies have merely been dimensionally displaced, and Mojo tasks the Agent with retrieving them and forcibly signing them to long-term contracts. Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde is aboard a train bound for London, having attended a concert in Edinburgh, when the X-Babies suddenly appear. They introduce themselves and explain they've fled Mojoworld for Earth, but need Kitty's help finding Rita. Kitty realizes the best way to do that is to call on Excalibur, so they go to a local police station to call her teammates. However, Kitty discovers the phone lines are out, and when Psylocke signs a document offered by the officer on duty, the officer transforms into the Agent, absorbing Psylocke and adding her power to his own. Kitty and the X-Babies escape by stealing a car and head for London, losing Havok to the Agent along the way. In London, the Agent manages to absorb  more of the X-Babies, until only Storm and Longshot are left with Kitty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x02: Strangers


You can read my fellow Gentleman of Leisure Austin's X-aminations to find out all about the “Claremont quiet issue.” "Strangers" certainly had that feel. This episode came after a big climatic episode and, instead of non-stop action (like the preceding episode), it dealt with the characters and their interactions with each other. But that's not to say there weren't some big moments.

I suppose the most notable moment is the introduction of a new character. Father Gabriel Stokes is a priest who seems more-or-less unphased by the zombie apocalypse. However, he's obviously a coward which makes you wonder how he survived in this world for so long. They've made it very clear that Father Stokes is hiding something. I'm fairly sure I know what that something is but I should keep my mouth shut since I've read some of the comics.

I suppose the other big revelation is that some of the citizens of Terminus are still out there (including Martin whom I thought was killed by Tyreese) and they're stalking the group. They got to Bob, who was walking by himself while being upset about something. And while it was disturbing seeing them eat Bob's leg in front him at least Rick can make good on his promise to kill Gareth with his machete.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Retro Review: Secrets of a Successful Marriage

Original Airdate
May 19, 1994

Or the One Where
Marge kicks Homer out after he shares intimate secrets about their relationship. 

The Setup
Realizing that his family and friends consider him dumb, Homer decides to enroll in an adult education class, but ends up teaching one on marriage instead. 

Notable Notes
This is the second episode Greg Daniels wrote for the show, and it was built around the idea of Daniels trying to come up with something Homer could be really good at it (being a husband).

One of the secrets Homer tells his class is that Marge dyes her hair, and is, at this point, naturally gray. Though seemingly a throwaway bit like so many others, later writers will remember this fact and occasionally reference it, even building the plot of an episode ("The Blue and the Gray") around it. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #9

"Promises to Keep"
July 1989

In a Nutshell 
In a flashback story, Wolverine stalks a group of mercenaries.

Writer: Peter David
Art: Gene Colan
Inker: Al Williamson
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Mark Chiarello
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the past, a group of mercenaries, on the run from Wolverine, rent a cabin, but he tracks them down, killing one of them then disappearing into the night. One of the remaining mercenaries, Rollins, takes first watch. As another merc, Malone, sleeps, he dreams of when this first started, back in Iraq. He wakes with a start to find Rollins dead. Malone, along with the remaining mercs Bruno and Needle, head out into the woods, recalling their job in Iraq, in which they helped a group of militants take over the American embassy, and how Malone tormented one of the female hostages until special forces retook the embassy and they fled. They suddenly realize Wolverine was amongst the operatives that freed the hostages, an operation which ended five years ago tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #10

"Widget"
July 1989

In a Nutshell 
Captain Britain fights Hauptmann Englande

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Guest Inker: Terry Austin
Letterers: Mas & Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Referee: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
At the Tower of London, Captain Britain battles Hauptmann Englande, though Captain Britain, still suffering a decrease in his power, is easily over-matched by his foe. Below, Reichsminister MacTaggert and Callisto attempt to escape with their hostage, Brigadier Stuart, while the family of lizard-like tourists wander into the battle. As debris from the battle threatens the young Calvin, Captain Britain manages to save him, but it leaves Captain Britain open to an attack from the Lightning Squad's Shadowcat and Nightcrawler. Seemingly defeated, he musters enough strength to knock out Hauptmann Englande just as the Lighning Squad's Meggan reveals she's actually Excalibur's Meggan. She takes out the alternate Nightcrawler and rescues Brigadier Stuart as a revived Phoenix defeats the alternate Shadowcat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

X-amining The Punisher War Journal #6-7

"On the Track of Unknown Animals / "Endangered Species"
June-July1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine & the Punisher clash for the first time. 

Story/Layouts: Carl Potts
Layouts/Finished Art: Jim Lee
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Don Daley
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Issue #6: Worried that the Punisher has been pushing himself too hard lately, his associate Microchip insists he take a vacation, and sets him up with an African expedition to the Congo in search of rumored dinosaurs, being headed up by an old friend of Microchip's. Meanwhile, in Madripoor, Wolverine encounters a transporter for a ring of poachers specializing in endangered species. After taking care of the transporter, Wolverine sets out for Africa to shut down the ring. In the Congo, Punisher acts as security for the expedition, unaware that the leader's wife, Nora, and one of the African guides are secretly poachers. When they kill a local boy who discovered their secrets and blame it on a gorilla attack, Punisher investigates and is attacked himself by a gorilla who escaped the poachers. Forced to defend himself, Wolverine oversees him attacking the animal and assumes he's one of the poachers. The two come to blows, with Wolverine seemingly slaying the Punisher and leaving him for dead.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x01: No Sanctuary


Hey, I'm back after a summer filled with me thinking about things I'd like to write about but never actually getting around to it. But, the summer vacation is over and The Walking Dead is back. So now I get to dive right back into that joy-filled world!

So...The Walking Dead really loves itself some Carol, huh? She single handedly navigated a zombie hoard to Terminus, took down the walls and most everybody inside (including using one of the most unrealistic ways of igniting a propane tank I have ever seen) and saved the entire group! After all that she was welcomed back to the group with open arms.

I would call this a redemption episode for Carol but I don't think that's how the show sees it. I think The Walking Dead sees this as a redemption episode for Rick. He finally gets a mean streak, realizes the “error of his ways” for “foolishly” banishing Carol and lets her back into the fold. Finally Rick has come back to his senses! At least, I think that's what they want me to think.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Retro Review: Lady Bouvier's Lover

Original Airdate
May 12, 1994

Or the One Where
Grampa dates Marge's mother, until she falls for Mr. Burns instead. 

The Setup 
After they attend Maggie's birthday party, Marge realizes that both her mom and Grampa are lonely, and suggests they spend some time together.

Notable Notes
Though by no means her last appearance, this is pretty much the last time Marge's mother is directly featured in a story until, arguably, season 21's "Moe Letter Blues". Most of her subsequent appearances are in the background of scenes or briefly in flashbacks. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #42

"All That Glitters..."
July 1989

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor battles the Troll Associates. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Arthur Adams
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the tunnels under London, the Troll Associates gloat over the unconscious X-Factor, then leave with Thomas Jones to enact their plan to destabilize Britain's economy. X-Factor, however, quickly regains consciousness, and easily defeats the two trolls left to guard them. Above, the trolls try to force Thomas to turn the Tower of London into gold, but when he refuses and insteads transforms a dog, wounded by one of the trolls, to gold to end his suffering, they get a better idea, and attack Buckingham Palace, demanding to see the Queen. Just then, the police arrive, and their lights and sirens scare away the trolls. As they fly off, they encounter X-Factor, who manages to force the trolls out of the sky and back into the tunnels, where Thomas yells to X-Factor that sunlight will destroy the trolls.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #77

"Strange!"
July 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants battle a possessed Dani with help from Dr. Strange. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Layouts: Rich Buckler
Finisher: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Hel, Hela plots to regain lost power, using Dani. In Russia, the New Mutants return Illyana to her parents. Suddenly, Dani sees a vision of death coming for her, then collapses along with Brightwind, burning up with fever. The New Mutants rush back to Ship, who scans Dani and determines her illness is not physical but mystical in nature. He suggests the New Mutants check with Dr. Strange. Later, they arrive outside Strange's Greenwich Village home, but they are greeted by his housekeeper Wong, who tells them Dr. Strange is dead. Dr. Strange, however, is not dead, and senses something evil about Dani's illness. Just then, Dani cries out in pain as she and Brightwind burst into flame and begin attacking the New Mutants. Via his astral form, Dr. Strange intervenes, drawing Dani's astral form from her body. But this just allows the monster in control of her body to attack even more viciously than before.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #246

"The Day of Other Lights!"
July 1989

In a Nutshell 
Master Mold returns, and ends up targeting Rogue. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Beneath the X-Men's town, Dazzler gazes into the Siege Perilous, seeing images of her potential lives and deaths. In New York City, Nimrod busts up a drug deal, vaporizing the criminals. Back in Australia, Wolverine tells Storm he needs to take a leave of absence from the team. In Washington DC, Rogue, with Carol Danvers in control of her body, visits the Vietnam Veterans memorial, honoring her brother. In the desert just outside the X-Men's town, Havok, Longshot, Colossus and Dazzler train. At the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw meets with Robert Kelly, who tells Shaw resurrecting the Sentinel program is too risky. Downtown from the club, Carol retrieves some of her things from her old apartment, and is met by Psylocke. The pair discuss Carol and Rogue's unique situation.