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

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.