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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Walking Dead 5x11: The Distance


Trust. Trust is tough to earn and even tougher to give. How do you know who is trustworthy? What can someone do to gain a person's trust? Especially when the people whose trust they're trying to earn have been burned by trusting others so many times before.

In the zombie apocalypse, trust is even harder to give. If you trust the wrong person you could very well end up dead. Sure, Rick's group's incredible distrust of everyone can be annoying a lot of the time but I do sympathize with their dilemma. For the most part, Rick's group just runs into cannibals, kidnappers and megalomaniacs. So when a stranger named Aaron arrives offering to take them to a safe haven, who can blame them for being a bit suspicious?

Friday, February 27, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #19

"Heroes & Villains"
Mid December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine battles Tiger Shark in Tierra Verde. 

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Layouts: John Byrne
Finishes: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine arrives in Puerto Verde, the capital city of Tierra Verde, in the midst of a battle between Tiger Shark and freedom fighter La Bandera. He intervenes when Tiger Shark gains the upper hand, and helps drives him off. Urging the young La Bandera to go home, Wolverine meets with a CIA contact as Caridad expresses his anger at Kingpin for sending Tiger Shark to his country without permission. Caridad and Geist then meet with Caridad's top scientists, who have located the specific field from which the altered cocaine that enhances physical abilities hails.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #17

"From the Crucible -- A Captain?"
December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur oversees the selection of a new world champion. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Jade Moede
Colorist: Nel Yomtov
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Party Pooper: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
The narrator continues her story, telling her bar-bound audience of how Nightcrawler's plan to feed Phoenix to the alien being feeding on the life force of the planet succeeded, destroying the creature and releasing its victims. Though still powerless, a massive celebration ensued, during which Rachel slipped away, ruminating on life without the Phoenix force. On her own, she takes a job working for the world's version of Jean Grey until she's killed by a group of slavers, whom Rachel slays in turn. This leads the remaining slavers to send an assassin after Excalibur, who are in the midst of overseeing a tournament to determine a champion for the world. Quickly, the contest comes down to three candidates: Kymri, Lockheed and a masked woman whom Kitty easily recognizes as Rachel.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

X-amining "Acts of Vengeance" Part 2

Amazing Spider-Man #327, Avengers #312, Avengers Spotlight #27, Avengers West Coast #53, Captain America #365, The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger #9, Thor #412
December 1989

In a Nutshell 
The West Coast Avengers realize the team is under attack and heads east while the eastern Avengers deal with the fallout of the sinking of Avengers Island. 

Amazing Spider-Man #327 by David Michelinie & Erik Larsen
Avengers #312 by John Byrne, Paul Ryan & Tom Palmer
Avengers Spotlight #27 (second story) by Dwane McDuffie & Dwayne Turner
Avengers West Coast #53 by John Byrne
Captain America #365 by Mark Gruendwald & Kieron Dwyer
The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger #9 by Terry Austijn & Mike Vosburg
Thor #412  by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz & Joe Sinnott

Plot
Thor #412: Working with the New Warriors, Thor is able to defeat Juggernaut by transporting him to another dimension. Cloak & Dagger #9: As the Avengers hold a public forum to discuss the Superhero Registration Act, they're attacked by a group of villains led by the Jester. Amazing Spider-Man #327: Testing out his new, increased powers, Spider-Man is attacked by Magneto, believing the powers may be an indication that Spider-Man is a mutant. But he breaks off his attack when he realizes the sheer breath of Spider-Man's abilities mean he cannot be a mutant, and Magneto leaves hoping to find another way to utilize Spider-Man's powers for the betterment of mutants. Captain America #365: The Red Skull is offered a place with the Prime Movers, and while he stews on the offer, his agent Crossbones enlists the Controller in setting Namor the Sub-Mariner against Captain America. Dealing with the loss of Avengers Mansion, Captain America is attacked by Namor. During the fight, he manages to damage the Controller's control disc, knocking Namor out but leaving the disc attached. Meanwhile, the Red Skull decides to join the Prime Movers.

Monday, February 23, 2015

X-aminations in March 2015


Simpsons Retro Reviews will return next Monday. In the meantime, here's a a look at what's coming up in X-aminations in March, featuring the last stories of the 80s, including more "Acts of Vengeance", the end of two long-running storylines (but not "Cross Time Caper", because it will never end), and, at last, the official arrival of Rob Liefeld on New Mutants.

As always, let me know if you think something is missing!

On Sale November 1989
March 4th: Uncanny X-Men #257
March 5th: New Mutants #85
March 6th: X-Factor #50

March 11th: "Acts of Vengeance" Part 3: Amazing Spider-Man #328, Avengers #313, Avengers Spotlight #28 (Second Story), Avengers West Coast #54, Captain America #366
March 12th: Excalibur #18
March 13th: Wolverine #20

On Sale December 1989
March 18th: Uncanny X-Men #258
March 19th: New Mutants #86
March 20th: X-Factor #51

March 25th: "Acts of Vengeance" Part 4: Amazing Spider-Man #329, Avengers Spotlight #29 (Second Story), Avengers West Coast #55, Captain America #367, Avengers Annual #19 (Second Story)
March 26th: Excalibur #19
March 27th: Wolverine #21

Friday, February 20, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #49

"Power Struggle"
December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Iceman and Archangel battle in the arena. 

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

Plot
As the Chosen stream into the arena in anticpation of the Archangel/Iceman match, Lev continues to take bets against Iceman before flying off to visit him, where he tells her he'll kill Archangel if he can, and assure the ascendancy of the Dualers in the process. Meanwhile, Beast and Agrom lead a group of Rejects into the city through the sewers. They attack a group of guards, hoping to use their uniforms as a disguise, but the guards turn out to be Cyclops and his band of Beginagains, having already done the same. Meanwhile, Palik visits Archangel and blinds him. That way, he explains, Iceman will easily win, foiling Rask's grab for power, but an autopsy will reveal the blindness, which Palik can blame on the Dualers, thus crushing their newfound power. However, a Dualer overhears this and rushes off to warn Lev, but he arrives just as Iceman enters the arena and the fight begins. Meanwhile, on Earth, Apocalypse ponders if the strange alliances amongst Earth's villains are of a sign of the armageddon he's long anticpated.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #84

"The Sword's Edge"
Mid-December 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants acquire allies for the fight against Hela. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Hel, the New Mutants wait until Hela's forces retreat, then emerge from the volcanic smoke where they were hiding, protected by Sam's blast field. In Asgard's icy wastes, Tiwaz shows the rest of the New Mutants the location of the Warriors Three, who are being held by Queen Ula and her troll swarm, and they set out to rescue them. Meanwhile, Volstagg's children commandeer Thor's goats to take them to Balder and Karnilla, the Norn Queen, and they warn Balder of Hela's attack. Back in New York, the Vulture receives a package containing a set of wings created by the Tinkerer and uses them to escape his cell, but Rusty burns through his own cell and grabs the Vulture on his way out, trying to stop him.

The Walking Dead 5x10: Them


I think this week's episode of The Walking Dead should've been sponsored by the Mars candy company. Because everyone was hungry, crabby and in need of a Snickers. Of course, in this case it wasn't a caramel, peanuts and nougat candy bar that satiated everyone but dog meat. The Walking Dead everyone!

Actually I have very little to say about this episode. Not a whole lot happened. The group was on the road, struggling to survive and sad because, as we discussed last week, living in the zombie apocalypse sucks. That was pretty much the episode.

Daryl, Maggie and Sasha are all mourning Beth/Tyreese in their own ways. Daryl needed to find a private place to cry. Maggie just took her anger out on a cowardly priest. Sasha alienated everyone with her words and actions. She disregarded strategy in favor of head on combat with a horde of zombies. Rick and company help her out and nearly get killed in the process. Way to go Sasha.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #256

"The Key That Breaks the Locke"
Late December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Psylocke is transformed into an Asian ninja assassin by the Hand. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Taipan: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Having killed his guards, Matsuo Tsurayaba confronts the Mandarin in Hong Kong, offering him the services of the Hand. Elsewhere, Psylocke experiences a bizarre, shifting reality in which she's stalked by Mojo and Spiral as she relives moments from her past, growing older in the process: playing with her brother Brian, joy riding with her brother Jamie, and reconnecting with Dough Ramsey. Along the way, she picks up a series of rings. Eventually, she enters a salon called the Body Shoppe and is reunited with Storm before Mojo and Spiral transform her into an Asian woman. In reality, she is being held by the Hand. Her mind fractured by the Siege Perilous, one of the Hands' psychics works to reshape her mind as it heals, making her a loyal assassin, whom Matsuo offers to the Mandarin.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Presidents Day!


It's sort of a holiday in the US today, as most banks and federal offices are closed and the History Channel is running fun documentaries about the Presidents in celebration of America's leaders through the years (well, specifically, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose February birthdays got smooshed together into one "President's Day" for national celebratory purposes).

I'm a huge Presidential trivia nut, so to celebrate, here's some past posts I've written on the subject (nothing new, of course. Because it's a holiday).

Here are some (mostly accurate) fun facts about Washington and Lincoln.

Meanwhile, this post contains some fun trivia on America's lesser known and not-as-talked-about Presidents.

Finally, here's an old favorite in which I compare America's Founding Fathers to the founding Avengers.

Enjoy, and remember, if you're going to give a long speech in freezing, rainy March weather, wear a damn coat! No one will think less of you. 


Friday, February 13, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #18

"All at Sea"
December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine battles Roughhouse aboard Geist's ship. 

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Breakdowns: John Byrne
Finishes: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine battles Geist's soldiers, until Geist invites him into his cabin, offering to ease his fears. Inside, Wolverine finds a shaved, unconscious Roughhouse as Geist tells him that he currently serves a man named Caridad, the President of Tierra Verde. After watching the super-soldier Nuke, on loan from the US government, destroy a rival drug processing factory, Caridad tasked Geist with creating a national superhero for Tierra Verde, which Giest is attempting to do via the unique properties of Tierra Verde's cocaine. Outraged that he's using Roughhouse as a guinea pig, Wolverine attempts to free him, but Roughhouse wakes up and, confused, attacks Wolverine. During the fight, Geist hits Wolverine with several tranqulizer darts, slowing him down and giving Roughhouse the upper hand, before Geist knocks him out as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #16

"Warlord"
December 1989

In a Nutshell
Excalibur lands in a pulpy alien world. 

Script/Plot/Pencils: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver & Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Imperator: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
In a bar filled with strange creatures, an unnamed narrator tells the story of how Nightcrawler fell from Excalibur's train, landing on a skyship in the midst of a pirate attack. Siding with Anjulie, the woman seemingly being attacked, he fights off the pirates, but is knocked out from behind by Anjulie. Meanwhile, Rachel and Kitty awaken, powerless, inside a smokehouse. Kitty uses her martial arts training to free them, just as an alien cook arrives to kill them. They knock out the cook, but the fight spills out into a restaurant where a band of warriors is dining. Impressed by Rachel and Kitty, they induct the women into their confederacy. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler awakens in a bath along with Anjulie, who is quite affectionate towards him, though Nightcrawler grows suspicious of the woman.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Walking Dead 5x09: What Happened and What’s Going On


Did you know that living in the zombie apocalypse sucks? And that only the strong will survive? And those who try to be kind will always be taken advantage of and/or killed because of that kindness? Did you know that only ruthless, amoral people can survive the zombie apocalypse? Because if you didn't know these things then get ready to be educated because this episode desperately wants to teach you these lessons.

X-amining "Acts of Vengeance" Part 1

Avengers Spotlight #26, Avengers #311, Thor #411
December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Loki launches his opening salvo and the New Warriors make their first appearance. 

Avengers Spotlight #26 by Dwayne McDuffie & Dwyane Turner
Avengers #311 by John Byrne, Paul Ryan, and Tom Palmer
Thor #411 by Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz (words, pictures, plot) and Joe Sinnot (finishes).
(for full credits on each issue, please visit the GCD)

Plot
Avengers Spotlight #26: The Wizard is transferred to the high security super-villain prison the Vault, but after a strange man in a suit appears in his cell, the Wizard suddenly escapes, in full possession of his gear. Battling the armored Guardsmen, he frees the other prisoners, triggering a breakout as the guards calls for backup. Iron Man and Hawkeye respond to the distress call, and together, they get the Guardsmen out and, using an EMP arrow, seal off the prison, preventing at least a few of the prisoners from escaping. Avengers #311: Quasar arrives on Hydro-Base, the artificial island home of Avengers Mansion, amidst reports from the support staff of superheroes all over the country getting caught up in fights against foes they've never faced before. Elsewhere, the suited man watches from afar, then meets with Dr. Doom and the Mandarin, pretending to be their servant as Doom announces that his part in their plan is about to commence.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Retro Review: Another Simpsons Clip Show

Original Airdate
September 25th, 1994

Or the One Where 
The Simpsons family shares tales of past loves. 

The Setup 
Marge worries that she and Homer have neglected the kids' education in matters of the heart.

Notable Notes
As the title suggests, this is another clip show, the second of four (to date) pure clip shows the show has done. It features clips from episodes from all five previous seasons.

In true commitment to the form, pretty much all the footage in this episode is recycled: even the framing sequences are cut from existing footage, with new audio recorded for those sequences.

Friday, February 6, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #48

"Common Ground!"
December 1989

In a Nutshell
More Celestials arrive as prisoners are exchanged.

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 common ground between their cities, representatives of the Chosen and the Rejects exchange prisoners, with the Rejects successfully bargaining Marvel Girl for Agrom and ten other gladiators. Meanwhile, inside the Chosen City, Seera is told to prepare for her alliance with Rask, but she resists, telepathically attacking the guards and rushing off. Outside the city, Cyclops and the Beginagains plot their route inside as another Celestial lands on the planet. Inside, Seera frees a drugged Archangel just as Rask arrives. Archangel tries to flee with the woman, but is shot down and recaptured. Rask then strong arms Palik into tying Seera's fate to Archangel: should he fall in his battle with Iceman, so to will Seera die.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #83

"The Quick and the Dead"
December 1989

In a Nutshell
Hela gets her sword as the Hel-bound New Mutants seemingly perish. 

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

Plot
Caught by a Frost Giant, Boom-Boom, Warlock & Hrimhari work together to free themselves, but are ultimately saved by Tiwaz, the sorcerer whose help they were seeking against Hela. Watching from Hel, a furious Hela urges Eitri to hurry completion of her sword. As he pulls the finished weapon from the forge, the New Mutants take advantage of Hela's distraction to break free of their chains. With Mist's help, they free the Einherjar from Hela's dungeons and enlist their aid. In the ensuing battle, Sam manages to wrest the sword free from Hela and the New Mutants race off with it. However, Hela's control over Mist is slowly increasing, and she leads them down the wrong path.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #255

"Crash & Burn"
Mid December 1989

In a Nutshell 
Destiny is killed as Freedom Force helps repel the Reavers' attack on Muir Island. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Marc Silvestri & Dan Green
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On Muir Isle, Banshee joins the battle against the Reavers, destroying Bonebreaker's chassis then rescuring Lorna from Pretty Boy. However, as the pair try to free, they're knocked unconscious by an invisible wall and taken captive by the Reavers. In Cairo, Illinois, Jacob Reisz arrives to claim the young mutant girl, but he and Dr. Shen find her missing. On Muir Isle, Freedom Force arrives, dropping Blob and Avalanche into the fray, but Lady Deathstrike attacks and crashes their plane. On an island in the South China Sea, Matsuo Tsurayaba arrives at a Hand base where an amnesiac Psylocke is being held. Back on Muir Island, Forge pulls Mystique free of the plane wreckage as Pyro contains the flames. Mystique orders Forge to guard Destiny, while the rest of the team engages the Reavers. But Lady Deathstrike guts Avalanche while Reese traps Blob in quicksand, and Destiny insists that Forge is needed elsewhere to protect Mystique, ordering him away just as Legion arrives.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Retro Review: Lisa's Rival

Original Airdate
September 11th, 1994

Or the One Where
Lisa's academic supremacy is threatened while Homer attempts to become a sugar baron. 

The Setup
New girl Allison comes to town and immediately challenges Lisa, while Homer discovers an overturned sugar truck and claims the cargo. 

Notable Notes
Winona Ryder, near the height of her popularity as a movie star, guest stars as Allison Taylor, Lisa's titular rival. Apparently, she was a fan of the show and the creators fans of hers. Though I don't believe she speaks again, Alison does appear in later episodes, usually amongst crowd shots of the students.