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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

X-aminations in July 2015...and Beyond!


In the next batch of issues, the 90s ramp up the intensity, with the arrival of Gambit, the return of Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, the debut of Whilce Portacio on X-Factor, the end of New Mutants (paving the way for that most 90s-iest of series, X-Force), the first in a new sub-series of posts examining the Marvel Universe trading cards, and the next big X-Men crossover, "The X-Tinction Agenda", all leading up to the big linewide relaunch in 1991 and the departure of Chris Claremont. 

As always, sound off with any errors or suggestions of issues to review. 

On Sale June 1990
July 1st: Uncanny X-Men #265
July 2nd: New Mutants #92
July 3rd: X-Factor #57

July 8th: Uncanny X-Men #266
July 9th: Excalibur #25
July 10th: Wolverine #28

July 15th: Marvel Comics Presents #54-61 (Wolverine/Hulk story)
July 16th:  Excalibur #26
July 17th: Wolverine #29

On Sale July 1990
July 22nd: Uncanny X-Men #267
July 23rd: New Mutants #93
July 24th: X-Factor #58

July 29th: Alpha Flight #87-90

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #9

"Showdown on a Wasteland World!"
March 1978

In a Nutshell
Han and his group of spacers battle the Cloud Riders. 

Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Tom Palmer
Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letter: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
En route to the village they've been hired to protect, Han and his band of spacers help fight off an attack by a group of scavenging High-Hounds, rescuing a young woman in the process. Reaching the village, Han learns the woman he rescued is Merri, daughter of the village's spokesman, and the group begins preparing for the imminent attack by the Cloud Riders. Meanwhile, believing he's found a suitable location for a new Rebel base, Luke breaks communication silence to contact Leia, but is mysteriously cutoff, prompting Leia to declare she's going to find him. Back on Aduba-3, Merri introduces Han to her grandfather, who insists he has a mystical way to combat the Cloud Riders, but Han blows him off. Just then, the Cloud Riders attack. In the course of the battle, Effie is destroyed and Don-Wan is seemingly killed, with no end in sight to the Cloud Riders. But as the battle rages, Merri's grandfather conducts a ceremony, and suddenly, a massive reptilian creature emerges from the nearby mountain.

Friday, June 26, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #27

"The Lazarus Project Part 1: Predators and Prey!"
Late July 1990

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine is drawn into the Lazarus Project. 

Writer: Jo Duffy
Artists:John Buscema & Dan Green
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Lowtown, Wolverine and Tyger Tiger fight a group of street toughs, aided by Karma, then retire to the Princess Bar, where Wolverine learns that Prince Baran has hired Jessica Drew as his bodyguard. Meanwhile, on the island of Rumika, a group of villagers are given custody of the Master Form. Meanwhile, Andover discusses the Master Form, key to the Lazarus Project, with his business partners, General Coy and Prince Baran, as Jessica patrols the palace. She overhears a scientist named Page discussing an attack on Rumika, and Page orders a massive robot named Pinocchio to attack Jessica. Later, Wolverine finds a badly beaten Jessica in the streets, and sends both her and Lindsay McCabe back to America for their own safety. Investigating the palace himself, Wolverine discovers Page and is attacked by Pinocchio, who proves resistant to his claws. When Page tosses a beaker of chemicals in Wolverine's face, he dives in pain out of the palace, eventually staggering off the docks and into the ocean.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

X-amining New Mutants Summer Special #1

"A Mutant in Megalopolis"
May 1990

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants are transported to a strange world built around personifications of media. 

Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist: Bret Blevins
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Greg Wright
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Upset by the horrible state of the world she sees on TV, Rahne runs outside, chased by Boom-Boom, only to discover the nearby river is horribly polluted. Overhearing them, a group of local children resolve to clean up the river. Meanwhile, the TV-obsessed Warlock picks up what he believes to be a new TV channel, but is actually a signal generated by the alien Vidiot, who proceeds to transport Warlock, Boom-Boom, Rahne and Roberto into a strange world inside the TV. The New Mutants are immediately bombarded by personifications of media theorems like situational ethics, mutually assured destruction, and constant, blaring advertisements. Eventually, they journey to the center of the world, a city named Megalopolis, and help oust the leader, the Mediamogul, thereby freeing the people of Megalopolis. Back on Earth, the local children stage a sit-in at the river, creating enough of a spectacle to attract the local news, which then forces the company which polluted the river to clean it up in the name of publicity. Returning home, the New Mutants gather up their TVs and prepare to destroy them but, learning how the kids were able to use the media to clean up the river, they relent. Conflicted, the New Mutants ultimately decide to keep their TVs, if only to keep watching their favorite show, Twin Peaks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

X-amining X-Men Annual #14

"You Must Remember This"
1990

In a Nutshell 
The truth about Franklin is revealed as Ahab is defeated. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Art Adams
Inker:Dan Green, Bob Wiacek, Al Milgrom, Art Thibert, Steve Mancuse
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Manhattan, Rachel stops a diner robbery before sensing Franklin's presence. Flying off, the two meet again, and Rachel accepts that Franklin is the man she knew. The pair meet with the Fantastic Four and X-Factor at Four Freedoms Plaza, apologizing for all the recent damage Franklin did. When Mr. Fantastic tentatively broaches the subject of Franklin's younger self's continued torpor, along with the missing Christopher and the continuing threat of Ahab, Franklin alters the minds of his parents, as well as Cyclops and Marvel Girl, to assuage their concerns. However, after Rachel and Franklin depart, Ben Grimm makes them realize what Franklin has done. Meanwhile, Storm and her companion Gambit sneak into the X-Mansion subbasement, only to be caught by Cable. Apprised of the situation, Storm insists they must find Franklin at once, as the man the New Mutants have met is either an imposter or worse. At Four Freedoms Plaza, Ahab attacks Cyclops and Invisible Woman, capturing them and transforming them into Hounds.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #8

"Eight for Aduba-3"
February 1978

In a Nutshell
Han Solo assembles a team of spacers to defend a group of settlers. 

Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
Artist/Co-Plotter: Howard Chaykin
Embellisher/Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letterer: J. Constanza
Consulting Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
On Aduba-3, Han Solo gets in a bar fight, then listens to the proposition of a group of farmers, who every year are raided by Serji-X and his Cloud-Riders, who steal their livestock, burn their crops, and take their wives and daughters. Though they can't pay him much, they'd like to hire Han to defend their town from the raiders. Han agrees, on the condition that he can hire some additional help. Han interviews prospective candidates, assembling a team of eight (including himself and Chewbacca, as well as the carnivorous rabbit named Jaxxon) to confront the Cloud-Riders. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker departs Yavin 4 along with the droids, tasked with scouting the galaxy for a new Rebel base. Back on Aduba-3, Han and his team are confronted by Serji-X on the outskirts of the space port. Serji-X offers to pay Han to walk away, but he refuses, and Serji-X flies off, declaring Han will soon be one more lifeless corpse twisting in the desert wind, as Han tells his team of Star-Hoppers to mount their banthas and head out for the village. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

X-amining X-Factor Annual #5

"Act of Faith"
1990

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor joins the fight against Ahab as Rachel Summers and Franklin Richards meet in the present. 

Writer: Witty Weezie Simonson
Penciler: Jovial John Bogdanove
Inker: Amiable Al Milgrom
Letterer: Just Joe Rosen
Colorist: Brilliant Brad Vancata
Editor: Bib Boy Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom "Yah Readahs Are Dyin' Off" DeFalco

Plot
As X-Factor trains inside Ship, Franklin Richards appears outside, declaring it isn't right before making Ship disappear. As X-Factor scrambles to get to the ground safely, Franklin vanishes. As Ahab dispatches a pack of Hounds to attack Franklin, Ben Grimm, She-Thing, Human Torch and Forge, tracking Franklin's energy signature, meet up with X-Factor, and X-Factor agrees to help locate Franklin. They find him near Liberty Island, but just then, Rachel Summers arrives. Franklin, believing Rachel shouldn't be so powerful and Rachel, believing Franklin to be dead, battle one another until Franklin disappears again. Jean Grey, drawn to Rachel's Phoenix effect, confronts her, and learns the young woman is her daughter.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

X-amining New Mutants Annual #6

"The Once and Future Mutant"
1990

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants get drawn into the conflict between Franklin Richards and Ahab. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Pencilers: Terry Shoemaker, Chris Wozniak
Inkers: Williams, Milgrom, Thibert, Candelario
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Franklin Richards arrives at the X-Mansion. Disturbed to find it destroyed, he transforms it into the place he remembers. Meanwhile, Ahab dispatches ones of his Hounds and a group of scout ships to destroy Franklin. Back at the school, as the New Mutants finish a Danger Room session, a group of students, including Franklin and Doug Ramsey, suddenly appear. When Doug reacts violently to Rahne, Rictor attacks him, and fight between the two groups breaks out. Eventually, Cable leads the New Mutants out of the Danger Room, where they encounter an older Banshee, allowing cooler heads to prevail. When the New Mutants realize Doug and the rest are all illusions created by Franklin, Franklin freaks out and disappears, and the mansion returns to normal. Just then, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman and Banshee arrive, having tracked Franklin to the school. As they compare notes on the situation, Ahab's Hound and the drones suddenly materialize, and attack.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

X-amining Fantastic Four Annual #23

"When Franklin Comes Marching Home"
1990

In a Nutshell 
Adult Franklin Richards appears in the present, attracting the attention of the Fantastic Four, Forge & Banshee, and the villainous Ahab.  

Writer: Walter Simoson
Penciler: Jackson Guice
Inker: Geof Isherwood
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Richard Rasche
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Returning from a picnic, the Fantastic Four are stunned to discover their Four Freedoms Plaza headquarters replaced by their old Baxter Building. Going inside, they're attacked by the building's defenses, followed by past versions of themselves. Just then, an adult Franklin Richards appears, looking for someone named Rachel. Realizing Franklin is responsible for the changes, Mr. Fantastic tries to convince him everything he's created is an illusion, which prompts a disturbed Franklin to fly off. Everything then returns to normal, but a force field appears trapping the Fantastic Four inside the building. At Excalibur's lighthouse, Rachel Summers experiences a telepathic sensation she thought she'd never feel again, then flies off, telling Meggan this is something she has to do alone. In New York, adult Franklin appears before Banshee and Forge, but realizing they're younger than he remembers, he gets upsets and disappears again.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #7

"New Planets, New Perils!"
January 1978

In a Nutshell
After being robbed by pirates, Han and Chewbacca lay low on the planet Aduba-3.

Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
Artist/Co-Plotter: Howard Chaykin
Embellisher: Frank Springer
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Consulting Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Eager to pay off Jabba the Hutt with the treasure they received from the Rebellion, Han and Chewbacca say goodbye to Luke, Leia and the droids and head for Tatooine.  En route, however, they're boarded by pirates led by Crimson Jack, who take the treasure for themselves. Realizing Jabba will soon have a price on their heads, Han and Chewie resolve to lay low for awhile, and land on the remote world of Aduba-3. Nearing the local cantina, they spot a group of spacers mobbing a priest and scare them off, learning that the priest is intending to honor the dying wishes of a cyborg who wishes to be buried on Spacers' Hill, much to the objections of the spacers, who hate all kinds of robots.

Friday, June 12, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #26

"Memory of Peace"
Early July 1990

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine avenges an old friend. 

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Klaus Janson
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Outside the home of Bando Saburo, Wolverine battles a gang of street punks who killed the servants inside. Later, he plays poker with Gene Claymore, one of Madripoor's wealthiest citizens. As he plays, Wolverine recalls staying with Bando, and Bando showing him a beautiful glazed bowl, the family's most prized possession, and telling him that Bando has named his nephew Masaki, troubled by his father's poverty, his heir. In the present, Wolverine is besting Claymore thanks to his animal senses, raising the stakes with each win. In the end, he wins everything Claymore owns, but tells him all he wants is Bando's bowl, along with the name and location of the person Claymore got it from.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #24

"Tempting Fates"
July 1990

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur finally returns home as the "Cross-Time Caper" comes to an end. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Alan Davis
Finisher: Paul Neary
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Big High Muckety-Muck: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Claremont & Davis

Plot
Saturnyne, having transported Excalibur to her Omniversal Hub, dresses them down for all the damage they've caused the continuum during their alternate reality jaunts, and tells them she hopes to return Excalibur home and settle the Phoenix imbroglio once and for all. Meanwhile, on Earth, Courtney Ross presents Kitty with a birthday cake, and tells her she has a few ideas for how Kitty can celebrate her birthday. At the Hub, Nightcrawler decides to disguise Rachel as Kitty to prevent Saturnyne from claiming her, then Excalibur emerges from their train to meet with the waiting immigration officers. On Earth, Courtney arranges a makeover for Kitty, then takes her to dinner at a fancy restaurant. At the Hub, Excalibur is questioned to verify their identities, while Captain Britain flies off, hoping to use his past with Saturnyne to change her mind about Phoenix. But when he lands outside her office, he's refused entrance, and ends up fighting her guards as well as counterparts of himself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Game of Thrones 5x09: The Dance of Dragons


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen -> Dorne

War is erupting all over the world of Game of Thrones. Some are just recovering from it. Some are trying to avoid it. Some are in the midst of it. But, in the end, it's inevitable.

On the road
Stannis Baratheon is preparing for his war against Winterfell. Of course, what he doesn't realize is war is already coming to him. In the middle of the night many of his tents and one poor horse are engulfed in flames. (And yes, I know that more horses and some soldiers were also casualties off screen.)

In the aftermath Davos goes over the damage with Stannis. Basically, they're screwed. Apparently, Ramsay and his 20 good men were able to sneak in, start fires and sneak out without ever being seen. They were able to do this because...they know the land better? Yeah, I don't get it either. Stannis commands to have the guards on duty executed and I can't blame him. But those guards aren't the only deaths he's thinking of approving.

Stannis first sends Davos to the Wall to ask for more men and supplies. Davos reluctantly agrees but can't convince Stannis to let him bring Stannis' family back to the Wall with him. I think we all know why. I almost think Davos does too, but I'm not sure how he knows. Regardless, he does have a heartbreaking (in retrospect...or at the time if you figured out what was coming) good bye talk with Shireen before leaving.

Later, Stannis visits with Shireen. Stannis' daughter can sense that something is bothering her father and promises that she'll do anything in her power to help him. Sigh. We all know where this is going, right?

Yup, Melisandre burns the little girl at the stake. Shireen shrieks. Soldiers are forced to watch...for some reason. Selyse actually tries to save her daughter. All good will Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre have garnered is immediately gone. All the viewers feel icky.

X-amining X-Men #264

"Hot Pursuit"
Late July 1990

In a Nutshell 
The Genoshans launch another attempt to retrieve Jenny Ransome & Phillip Moreau. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Mike Collins
Inker:Josef Rubinstein
Letterer: Clem Robbins
Colorist: Nel Yomtov
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the run from a team of Genoshan magistrates, Forge is hit by a police car containing Charlotte Jones and her partner, Murph. When the magistrates appear and Murph draws his weapon, they gun him down, destroying the car as Forge and Charlotte escape into the sewers, where Forge gives her a spare X-Men uniform for protection. Meanwhile, Val Cooper meets with Colonel Vazhin, who warns her he's traced the Shadow King to America, and that he may end up targeting her. In Manhattan, Jean Grey returns to Ship, while Forge and Charlotte fight their way through the sewers, defeating a group of magistrates before emerging back onto the street. At Ship, where Phillip Moreau and Jenny Ransome, along with Peter Nicholas, Callisto and Banshee, have gathered, Wipeout uses his power to disrupt Ship's functions, allowing Pipeline to transmit the Press Gang and a group of magistrates inside.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Game of Thrones 5x08: Hardhome


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen -> Dorne

War's shadow has always loomed over the Game of Throne series. We've seen plenty of war already but it certainly isn't over. All over preparations for further wars are being made. We even end up seeing the first battle of, most likely, the most important war that will be fought.

Braavos
Arya is still training for her war against...bad people? She's playing “the game” with Jaqen. Arya is describing her life as an oyster salesperson. Her only flub is describing the street turns down. Even though Jaqen knows all this is a lie so, I don't know, I guess he can just tell what is a good lie and what isn't?

Anyway, Jaqen recommends Arya turns a different direction next time. Arya does and comes across one of the most evil kinds of people in the world, insurance salesmen! Basically, he sells life insurance to sailors. He vows to pay the sailor's family if said sailor doesn't survive a journey.

Arya returns to Jaqen who explains that this insurance salesmen doesn't always pay out to the families when a sailor dies. This just makes him a bad insurance salesmen. Insurance is like a casino, if you are doing things right you don't have to cheat.

Regardless of this man's ability as an insurer, Jaqen thinks he must die. He wants Arya to learn everything about the man and, with that, Arya is off. The other girl at the House of Black and White is worried about Arya. Jaqen isn't and I believe he thinks that, regardless of if Arya succeeds or fails, SOMEONE is going to die and that's enough to keep the Many Faced God happy.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Force in Focus: A New Hope Recolored

In its continued attempts to ring every last dollar out of its recent re-acquisition of the Star Wars comic book licensing rights, Marvel recently published a hardcover collection of the first six issues of its original 1970s series, which comprise their  adaptation of the first Star Wars film (later subtitled A New Hope, shared by the hardcover collection, most likely to keep it uniform with later collections of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi adaptations, two films more commonly referred to by their subtitles). But, in what is most likely an effort to get people, like me, who already read and/or own these particular issues in other formats (including digitally, via Marvel Unlimited) to fork over the money for yet another collection of the New Hope adaptation, this particular publication features all new, modern coloring by Chris Sotomayer, replacing the coloring as it originally appeared in the 70s.

Friday, June 5, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #56

"Ravens"
July 1990

In a Nutshell 
Crimson targets Archangel, hoping to use him to take the power of the Ravens for herself. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Steven Carr
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Ravens meet Crimson at a Manhattan bar, where she tells them of the new sensation she's discovered, mutants, and of her plans to dominate one of them, Archangel. One of the Ravens, Azure, psychically attacks a nearby stock broker for investment tips, but leaves him alive, as his pain isn't to Azure's tastes. The rest of the Ravens insist Azure follow him to the hospital and finish him, lest he tells someone about the Ravens. Meanwhile, a halluncinating Archangel patrols the city, intervening in a battle betwen rival drug pushers that draws the attention of both Officer Jones and Trish Tilby and her news crew. Later, the rest of X-Factor returns to Ship after another fruitless night of searching for Archangel, and Beast is bothered by how Trish's report on his latest attack is presented. Just then, Marvel Girl returns to the team. At St. Vincent's Hospital, Azure attempts to kill the stockbroker, but he proves surprisingly strong, resisting Azure and calling for help, which draws the attention of a passing Archangel, who bursts into the room.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #91

"Prey for the Living"
July 1990

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants rescue Rictor amidst Caliban and Sabretooth's battle. 

Plotter: Louise Simonson

Penciler: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Hilary Barta
Scripter: Fabian Nicieza
Letterer: Rick Parker
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Rictor watches as Sabretooth and Caliban savagely fight in the Morlock Tunnels, overcoming his fear to attack Sabretooth on Caliban's behalf. Meanwhile, Cable leads the New Mutants through the tunnels, and they run afoul of Masque and a group of Morlocks. But Cable convinces Masque to allow them to pass, and they quickly manage to track down Rictor. Seeing Rictor injured, they attack both Caliban and Sabretooth, knocking out the former. But Sabretooth manages to escape with Rictor in tow. When Sabretooth threatens to kill Rictor for intervening in his fight with Caliban, Rictor fights through his injuries to trigger a massive earthquake that brings the tunnel crashing down, drawing the attention of the New Mutants. They manage to pull Rictor from the rubble, but Sabretooth escapes as well. Just as the New Mutants prepare to attack him, Masque appears, declaring Sabretooth's fate belongs to the Morlock.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

X-amining X-Men #263

"The Lower Depths"
Early July 1990

In a Nutshell 
Forge, Banshee & Marvel Girl help rescue Peter Nicholas & Callisto from Masque & the Morlocks. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Bill Jaaska
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the Morlock Tunnels, Forge and Marvel Girl, her arms still a seething mass of tentacles thanks to Masque, are alerted to activity by a recon drone created and sent by Forge to scout the tunnels. They watch as the captive Peter Nicholas and Callisto are transformed by Masque, Peter into a facsimile of Colossus' armored form and Callisto into her old, scarred self. Masque then tells Callisto she has an hour to get Peter to the surface before the Morlocks hunt them down. Meanwhile, Val Cooper meets with Russian intelligence officer Colonel Vazhin at a nightclub in Washington DC, and they discuss the state of mutant affairs and the danger they pose to humanity.