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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

X-aminations in October


Next month, we wrap up the "Atlantis Attacks" annuals, check out an early Jim Lee-drawn Wolverine appearance, and look at a couple of Havok-centric tales, in addition to regular series coverage.

Also, this Saturday (the 4th) is Fallcon, the MCBA's annual one-day comic convention in the Education Building on the State Fair grounds. If you're planning on coming by, let me know!

Finally, I'm still taking suggestions for a category name under which to put various observations (good and bad) about Liefeld's art, so drop 'em in the comments if you have any ideas.

October 1st: Marvel Comics Presents #24-31 (Havok story)
October 2nd: New Mutants Annual #5
October 3rd: Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1-4

On Sale March 1989
October 8th: Uncanny X-Men #246
October 9th: New Mutants #77
October 10th: X-Factor #42

October 15th: Punisher War Journal #6-7
October 16th: Excalibur #10
October 17th: Wolverine #9

October 22nd: Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem
October 23rd: X-Factor Annual #4

On Sale April 1989
October 29th: Uncanny X-Men #247
October 30th: New Mutants #78
October 31st: X-Factor #43

Monday, September 29, 2014

Retro Review: Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song

Original Airdate
April 28th, 1994

Or the One Where
Principal Skinner gets fired. 

The Setup
After Bart brings his dog to school for show-and-tell, Santa's Little Helper escapes into the school's air ducts, creating a commotion that results in Superintendent Chalmers firing Skinner. 

Notable Notes
This is the show's one hundredth episode. Though this episode wasn't conceived as such, it was selected to air in that position because the staff wanted an episode which featured Bart to be the 100th.

It is also packed with a ton of firsts. Assistant Superintendent Leopold appears for the first time (a character built around one specific gag, in that he's tough and menacing but never in a position of power), and he'll pop up again in a later episode.

Friday, September 26, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #8

"If It Ain't Broke...!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine tricks Mr. Fixit into further damaging General Coy's operation. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Buscema
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Your Tour Guide: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Mr. Fixit awakens in his hotel room to discover that Wolverine has replaced all his clothes with tattered purple pants. Later that evening, Wolverine is at the Princess Bar when Fixit busts in, looking for Patch to ask him about General Coy. Wolverine agrees to help Fixit locate the general, and takes him to a brothel run by Coy which is actually a clearing house for the slave trade. Once there, Wolverine manipulates Fixit into taking out the criminals on guard and freeing the enslaved women. The next evening, Fixit awakens to angrily discover the female companionship arranged by Patch was enjoyed by Bruce Banner while Fixit slept, then sets out again to find Coy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #9

"The Two-Edged Sword!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur battles their Nazi counterparts from an alternate world. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterers: Orzechowski & Mas
Colorist: John A. Wilcox
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Death Commando: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
At Excalibur's lighthouse, Lockheed is attacked by the Lightning Squad, alternate reality counterparts of Excalibur seeking their Moira MacTaggert and Callisto. Meanwhile, in the subbasement of the X-Mansion, Kitty tests Brian's powers, finding his abilities to be far below their normal levels, while Meggan is unconsciously shifting her form to reflect the appearance of anyone near her. Just then, Nightcrawler receives a call from Commander Thomas, asking for Excalibur's help. At the London Branch of the Hellfire Club, Nigel Frobusher is drawn into a series of wagers with his boss, Courtney Ross. Unwilling to risk looking like a coward to the gathering crowd, he ends up owing her a million pounds. At the WHO headquarters inside the Tower of London, Widget appears and swaps a group of tourists for their lizard-like counterparts from another reality as the Lightning Squad infiltrates the building.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

X-amining X-Men Annual #13

"Atlantis Attacks Chapter Three: Double Cross"
1989

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men race the Serpent Society to collect pieces of the Serpent Crown. 

Writer: Terry Austin, Sally Pashkow (2nd Story)
Artist: Mike Vosburg, Jim Fern & Josef Rubinstei (2nd Story)
Letterer: Ken Lopez, Joe Rosen (2nd Story)
Colorist: Tom Vincent, Greg Wright (2nd Story)
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Early one morning, Dazzler seemingly tries to seduce Wolverine, but it's actually Serpent Society member Diamondback, her consciousness having been switched with Dazzler's. Elsewhere, Storm goes over the recording of Dazzler and Diamondback's story, trying to decide what course of action to take. After the Serpent Society was hired by Deviant priest Ghaur and his ally Lyra to find specific items of arcane power, Diamondback was captured trying to steal one of the items from the mystic Mr. Jip. Wanting the items for himself, Mr. Jip captured Dazzler, transferring the minds of the two women in order to blackmail the X-Men into finding the items for him. Unwilling to be blackmailed, Storm decides to take the fight to Mr. Jip and force him to restore Dazzler to normal, but when Gateway tries to teleport the team to him, Jip casts a spell that scatters the team to the locations of the various artifacts.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Retro Review: Burns' Heir

Original Airdate
April 14, 1994

Or the One Where
Mr. Burns names Bart heir to his fortune, prompting a rift between Bart and his family.

The Setup
After nearly drowning in the bathtub, a child-less Mr. Burns holds auditions for a child to be named his heir and carry on his legacy.

Notable Notes
A scene involving Mr. Burns unleashing a robotic Richard Simmons on Homer was cut from this episode, but was included in the "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" episode.

Friday, September 19, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #41

"Golden Boy!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell 
The first appearance of the winner of the Mutant Registration contest. 

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 London, a troll emerges from his lair, attracted to the scent of gold. It leads him to the house of Thomas Jones, and the troll watches as Thomas, studying for a chemistry test, unknowingly transforms his pen into gold. Called to dinner, Thomas leaves and the troll enters his room, determined to snatch the boy and use him to expand the Troll Associates treasure trove, thus restoring England to those who live by the old magical ways. Meanwhile, aboard Ship, X-Factor oversees the training of the newly-integrated X-Terminators and New Mutants. Back in London, Thomas returns to his room and his grabbed by the troll, prompting his mother to call X-Factor for help.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #76

"Splash!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell
The combined New Mutants & X-Terminators battle a sea monster. 

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

Plot
Leaving the wreckage of the mansion, the New Mutants ponder their next move. Deciding all that's left is to pack it in and return home, they stop at a mall to use a payphone to call their families. However, the crowd thinks they're demons who have kidnapped Illyana, and they quickly realize they don't want to return to their old lives. When the cops show up, they flee, and Warlock decides to take everyone back to X-Factor's ship for the time being. Meanwhile, the X-Terminators, having been instructed by Ship while X-Factor is away to do something educational, are exploring the ocean beneath Ship. They discover a large and unique-looking shell on the ocean floor, and bring it back inside.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

State of the Blog

(Or, as Blam likes to call it, the Slog).


With the summer movie season behind us and the fall TV season about to begin, I figured it was a good time to touch base on what to expect in terms of TV coverage moving forward. I've never felt terribly compelled to do one of these "state of the blog" posts before, usually sneaking them into the first TV post of the fall, but there's a bunch of stuff happening or about to happen that make a quick overall check-in worthwhile.

That is, I can't sneak this into this season's first TV post, because there won't be a regular TV post this year. I'm giving up the episodic TV review game, at least for the time being, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, for those of you haven't heard the news on Facebook or Twitter, my wife and I are expecting our first child (a boy!) at the end of the year (on either 12/29 or 1/3, depending on which medical professional you choose to believe). While I have every intention of continuing to write regularly while doing my best to prevent my son from becoming infected by a techno-organic virus and taken into the future for his own well being, I recognize that, realistically, the amount of time and mental energy I will have to write will be diminished come 2015.

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #245

"Men!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell 
The male X-Men repel an alien invasion. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Master Bomber: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In orbit above Earth, an alien coalition prepares to launch its invasion of the planet as an archivist discovers humanity's success against other alien foes. In Australia, a morose Havok observes his teammates through the town's computer system before getting into an argument with Storm and Wolverine over their use. Suspecting what worked for the women would help the men as well, Wolverine suggests a boys night out. In space, the invasion leader is shown the Jean Bomb, a weapon in the form of a red-headed woman with the power to destroy all bonds. Just then, the archivist tries to warn the leader about Earth, but is gunned down for getting too close. In Sydney, Wolverine leads the male X-Men into a bar, where Longshot proceeds to dance with all the women while the rest get drunk.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Retro Review: Bart Gets An Elephant

Original Airdate
March 31, 1994

Or the One Where
Bart, uh, gets an elephant (the episode titles of late have been particularly descriptive in terms of plot).

The Setup
Trapped in the house by Marge for a vigorous bout of spring cleaning, Bart wins KBBL Radio's call in contest. Given the choice between $10,000 or the gag prize of a full grown African elephant, he chooses the elephant.

Notable Notes
Though not named, this is the first appearance of Cletus Spuckler, as one of the "slack-jawed yokels" who pays to interact with Stampy. Cletus will, of course, earn a name and become one of the show's recurring supporting characters.

Friday, September 12, 2014

X-amining Wolverine #7

"Mr. Fixit Comes to Town"
May 1989

In a Nutshell 
The Hulk arrives in Madripoor. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Buscema
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Consigliere: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Tahoe, Nevada, Mr. Fixit is tasked by a mob don to check on the recent setbacks of his partner in the Far East. In Madripoor, the prince admonishes everyone present for fighting in his home, but when he spots Lindsay McCabe amongst them, he is delighted and declares everyone his guests, much to General Coy's consternation. En route to the airport, Mr. Fixit's car stops for gas and his driver is harrassed by a biker gang, prompting Fixit to fight them off. Back in Madripoor, Wolverine helps Tyger remove her protective armor, telling her the prince has agreed to allow both her and Coy to continue to operate, each focusing on their respective activities, a compromise that Wolverine believes to be good enough for now.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

X-amining Excalibur #8

"Excalibur's New York Adventure"
May 1989

In a Nutshell 
Brian searches for Meggan while the rest of the team follows up on some loose ends. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Ron Lim
Guest Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Letterers: Orzechowski & Mas
Colorist: John A. Wilcox
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Tour Guide: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
At the plaza hotel, Brian Braddock wakes up to discover Meggan and the rest of his teammates missing. While everyone else left a note, Meggan did not. Worried, Brian flies out into the city to search for her. Meggan, meanwhile, is at Coney Island, upset about her actions during Inferno. She runs into a group of women who befriend her and take her shopping. At the remains of Xavier's mansion, the New Mutants are picking through the rubble of the school when they're interrupted by Shadowcat. After she learns what happened to Illyana, Mirage offers Shadowcat a place with X-Factor, but she insists her place is with her team. In the city, Brian's powers begin to fail him, and he's forced to take a cab to continue his search, while Meggan dances with a handsome gentlemen at a street fair.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #17-24 - The Retribution Affair

"Blinded by the Light" / "Plague in the Night" / "The Price of Retribution" / "Conscience of the King" / "Best Laid Plans" / "Alliance of Convenience" / "Mind Your Conscience" / "Retribution and Resurrection"
Late April Late July 1989 -

In a Nutshell 
Cyclops battles Master Mold in Muir Island, Banshee gets his power back.

Writer: Bob Harras
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Bruce Patterson, Carol Riem (issue #21), Jeff Albrecht (issues #22-24),
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Andy Yachus
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Issue #17: Cyclops arrives on Muir Island, called there by Banshee on account of Moira MacTaggert's strange behavior of late. Upon arriving, Cyclops is attacked by the island's defenses. He calls out to a passing Moira but she doesn't respond, and he collapses. The next morning, however, there's no evidence of his battle, and Moira doesn't remember seeing him. Issue #18: At night, young Bobby and Mary Campbell are taken from their home by an entranced Moira. The next day, Cyclops and Banshee discuss Moira's odd behavior, before they're called to the home of Mary Campbell, who has become very ill. That night, an entranced Moira is transported to Master Mold, who congratulates her on making the young mutant Mary sick. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Retro Review: Homer Loves Flanders

Original Airdate
March 17, 1994

Or the One Where
Homer, uh, becomes friends with Flanders.

The Setup 
After Ned wins tickets to the big Springfield vs. Shelbyville football game and invites Homer, Homer has such a great time that he begins spending more time with Ned.

Notable Notes
This is the last episode to have been pitched by Conan O'Brien before he left the series.

Friday, September 5, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #40

"Dust to Dust"
May 1989

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor battles Nanny and the Orphan Maker.

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

Plot
Watched by Nanny and the Orphan Maker, X-Factor leaves Madelyne's funeral, ending a week of funerals for the heroes. Nanny tells Orphan Maker that once X-Factor leaves their ship with the babies kidnapped during Inferno, they'll make their move to take the babies for themselves. Returning to Ship, X-Factor is greeted by the X-Terminators and Jean's parents. Shortly thereafter, Iceman leaves to return Artie, Leech and Taki to school, while the rest of X-Factor heads to Washington, D.C. to hand the kidnapped babies over to the government. As they reach the city, Nanny captures X-Factor's plane above the city. She and Orphan Maker force their way aboard and attack. During the course of their battle, Beast is hurled into Nanny's ship, disrupting its ability to fly and sending it and X-Factor's plane hurtling to the ground.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #75

"King of the Hill!"
May 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants quit Xavier's school. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Bob McLeod 
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At the remains of the X-Mansion, the New Mutants are shocked by all the damage. Spotting a death glow amidst the rubble, Dani directs Roberto, who frees a badly injured Sabretooth. After a brief tussle, the villain seemingly dies of his injuries, but Dani doesn't see death coming for him. Just then, Magneto, along with the rest of the Inner Circle, arrive. Roberto impulsively attacks Magneto, and a fight between the two teams breaks out, which ends when Magneto encases his students in a ball of metal wreckage. He then learns what has happened to Illyana. Angry that he's lost the most powerful of all the New Mutants, Shaw attacks Magneto, declaring he be removed as White King. As they battle one another, the New Mutants learn that Magneto started bossing them around in the hopes of molding them into better soldiers, and that he made a conscious decision not to help the X-Men in Dallas. Having heard enough, the New Mutants endeavor to break out of their prison, but are unable to do so.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #244

"Ladies Night"
May 1989

In a Nutshell 
The ladies have a night out as Jubilee makes her first appearance. 

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

Plot
At the Hollywood Mall, a young mutant named Jubilee uses her power to create fireworks and entertain a small crowd, much to the consternation of some watching mall cops, who try to arrest her. She manages to escape, so the cops decide to call in the mutant hunting M-Squad. In Australia, Rogue freaks out upon learning that Carol Danvers, while in control of Rogue's body, redecorated her room, and when Storm suggests her struggles reconciling the two personalities in her mind are a worthy punishment for what she did to Carol, Rogue grows so angry that Carol is forced to take control once again. Dazzler, thinking the ladies could use some time away from their responsibilities, suggests a trip to the mall to blow off some steam.