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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Force in Focus: Force Awakens Theories


One more Force Awakens post before we return to the comic book Wheel saga, this one taking a closer look at two popular fan theories regarding the upcoming film that have been banging around the internet for awhile now (and gained additional traction/attention in the wake of the release of the final trailer for the film). Note: I'm mostly working only off of the teasers/trailers, some info gleaned from merchandise (like the toys) and some vague internet scuttlebutt (I haven't even read the big EW article on the movie, though my brother passed along a few details from it), but if you're a complete spoilerphobe or just trying to avoid any lengthy ruminations on the movie at this point, consider this your official spoiler warning and suggestion to not read below the cut.

Friday, October 30, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #35

"Blood Sand and Claws!"
January 1991

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine, Puck & Lady Deathstrike get sent back in time to the Spanish Civil War. 

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Vancouver, Wolverine visits Puck, who's filling in for a friend as a bouncer at a local bar. Meanwhile, Lady Deathstrike attempts to track Wolverine down, starting at Dai-Kumo's abandoned mansion in Osaka, where she ends up killing a pair of cops, learning from their database that Wolverine entered the country from Madripoor. Contacting Pierce, she's returned to Australia by Gateway, then immediately sets out for Madripoor. There, she confronts Tyger Tiger and, by threatening one of the waitresses at her casino, learns that Wolverine is in Vancouver. Just then, he and Puck are fishing, and Wolverine finds a picture of Puck with Ernest Hemingway, along with Inez, a woman whose name Wolverine somehow knows. Puck asks him if he was ever in Spain in 1937, as that's when and where the picture was taken. Wolverine doesn't think so, but says he can almost see the place, just as Lady Deathstrike, back in Australia, orders Gateway to send her to the place that Wolverine gazes upon at that moment.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #33

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
January 1991

In a Nutshell 
Mesmero captures Excalibur while Kitty devises a plan to save St. Searle's. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Ron Wagner 
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: John Wilcox
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Adjudicator: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
Responding to an invitation to appear on Meggan's favorite TV show, she and Captain Britain are hypnotized by Mesmero. At Excalibur's lighthouse, Nightcrawler is practicing teleporting when he's attacked by the ensnared Captain Britain just as Phoenix is attacked by Meggan. Soon, Mesmero has all four heroes under his control. Meanwhile, at St. Searle's school, Kitty hones her martial arts ability, much to the wonderment of some watching underclassmen. When Phoebe arrives and attempts to drive off the underclassmen, they stand up to her, inspired by Kitty, prompting Phoebe to take a new approach, telling her friends to spread the word that everyone is to simply ignore Kitty, as though she doesn't exist. Later one night, Kitty spots Phoebe sneaking around school and follows her to where she's eavesdropping on a meeting between Miss Rutherford and the school's finance council, which declares the school will soon be shut down.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

X-amining Wolverine: Bloodlust

"Bloodlust"
1990

In a Nutshell
Wolverine fights a renegade splinter group of an ancient evolutionary offshoot of humanity.

Story & Art: Alan Davis & Paul Neary
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Bernie Jaye
Assistant Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At a bar in Canada, Wolverine is suddenly overwhelmed by the same sensations as when he's violently attacking someone, drawing the ire of several of the patrons and triggering a bar fight. He's led outside by a woman named Saskia, and the pair are attacked by a group of savage bipedal creatures. Wolverine manages to slay several of them, but the rest capture Saskia during the attack. Feeling his animalistic side getting stronger, Wolverine mediates, then dons his X-Men uniform before setting off in search of Saskia. Along the way, he experiences another sensation of savage fury, and watches through someone else's eyes as a family is attacked by the creatures. Just then, he's confronted by another group of the creatures, who bring him onto the spirit plane of Alshra, where they introduce themselves as the Neuri, a race of beings who retreated to the north in the face of humanity's violence centuries ago, but have been forced south by pollution.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

X-aminations in November 2015


As our year draws to a close, the 90s are in full swing in the X-book, as it's time to meet Deadpool (and to a lesser extent, Domino, and to a much lesser extent, Gideon), say goodbye to two more New Mutants as the series transitions into X-Force, welcome Whilce Portacio, the final future Image artist to get a regular assignment on an X-book, to X-Factor, say goodbye to Chris Claremont on Excalibur, and meet a new Fantastic Four comprised of Spider-Man, Gray Hulk, Wolverine & Ghost Rider (all we're missing is the Punisher!).

On Sale December 1990
November 4th: Uncanny X-Men #273
November 5th: New Mutants #98
November 6th: X-Factor #63

November 11th: Fantastic Four #347-349
November 12th: Excalibur #34
November 13th: Wolverine #36

On Sale January 1991
November 18th: Uncanny X-Men #274
November 19th: New Mutants #99
November 20th: X-Factor #64

November  25th: X-Men Animation Special: Pryde of the X-Men



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Force in Focus: The Force Awakens Trailer


Unless you've been living in a cave on Mars with your eyes shut and fingers in your ears, you know that this week saw the release of the first (and likely last) full trailer for The Force Awakens. 

Not surprisingly, I had some thoughts.

The Music
I've seen conflicting reports as to whether or not the music used in the trailer was composed by John Williams, but either way, it's simply fantastic. The way it seamlessly transitions from tinkly and full of mystery as Rey explores the Star Destroyer, to a full-on funeral dirge as Kylo Ren (seemingly) addresses Vader's charred mask, to an ethereal chorus as the Falcon flies over Jakku is pretty astonishing. And I love that the Falcon shots sample the music from the very end of Empire Strikes Back (the "Rebel fleet" cue), which is a great little melody that doesn't get reused often enough.

Friday, October 23, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #62

"Capital Punishment"
January 1991

In a Nutshell 
Hodge is defeated and the Genoshan government overthrown. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterers: Task Force Z
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Rahne and Rictor track down Hodge and radio Storm & Cable for help, but Wolfsbane angrily attacks Hodge on her own, forcing Rictor to come to her aid. Hodge then turns his attention to Cable & Storm, prompting Cable to radio Cyclops for help. He sends Archangel, who arrives in time to save Storm, but his captured himself by Hodge. Just as Hodge is about to kill Archangel, Havok blasts him, and he's shortly joined by Cyclops, Wolverine and Marvel Girl. Elsewhere, Beast commandeers a group of Mutates to help carry his wounded teammates out of the Citadel, and they encounter Jubilee and the rest of the New Mutants, along with Chief Magistrate Anderson, who has arrested the Genoshan President and offers aid to Beast and his teammates. Above, Cyclops and Havok manage to force Hodge into retreat, but Wolverine and Marvel Girl are taken out of the fight. Cyclops orders Wolverine to get everyone to safety, then he and Havok pursue Hodge to the roof of the Citadel.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #97

"War"
January 1991

In a Nutshell
The combined X-teams fight back against Hodge, and 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Guang Yap
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Cyclops holds off Hodge as Storm restores Jean's power, but the three are nearly overwhelmed just an explosion in Hodge's lab causes the villain to flee in a panic, the result of Forge's secret bomb. Meanwhile, Rictor, Boom-Boom & Jubilee trail the Genegineer through his secret tunnel, which emerges into Hodge's lab just as the bomb goes off, killing the tunneling Mutate and knocking out the Genegineer. The three mutants hide with the Genegineer inside the lab as Hodge enters. Placated that his mainframe is still intact, he leaves, and as the Genegineer regains consciousness, Rictor orders him to take them to Wipeout to get their powers back. Meanwhile, Storm reactivates everyone else's powers, as the Chief Magistrate explains that the Genegineer is working against Hodge because he believes Hodge will destroy Genosha.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #272

"Capital Crimes"
January 1991

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men go on trial in Genosha.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas & Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Public sentiment in the US is mixed as the X-Men are put on trial in Genosha. Brought before a judge, the captive X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor are told they are subject to Genoshan laws, and if found guilty, will be put to death. The Chief Magistrate makes them an offer on behalf of the president: in place of the trial, they can willing submit to the mutate process. Speaking for everyone Jean refuses, and in the wake of an attack by Wolverine, the judge remands the captives to Hodge's custody. Hodge proceeds to torture and torment the mutants, removing both Forge and Cable's bionic limbs, prompting Psylocke to cry out that she's had enough and will accept the president's offer. Hodge is suspicious, but Havok intervenes, insisting she's under the Genegineer's care now. As Hodge proceeds to pit Wolverine and Archangel against one another, Jubilee, Boom-Boom and Rictor spot the Genegineer and a mutate creating a secret tunnel, and decide to follow him.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Walking Dead 6x01: First Time Again


I recently read an article from Cracked about anime. The part of this article I thought of when watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead, "First Time Again", was where Daniel Dockery  discusses anime series that never have a season break. Daniel posits that season breaks help bad series continue longer than they should. Basically, over the break people forget how bad a series is and\or hope the series will improve next season. I’m not saying this is the case with The Walking Dead but I think this episode would come off much different if not for the break.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #21

"Shadow of Dark Lord!"
March 1979

In a Nutshell
Luke & Leia are reunited on the Wheel just as Darth Vader sets course for the same. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Gene Day
Colorist: George Roussos
Letterer: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

Plot
Leia escapes from the Wheel's executive tower, helped by the fact that most of the Wheel's security forces have been dispatched by Greyshade for special duty. Meanwhile, Luke confronts his fears in the form of Darth Vader, regaining consciousness and escaping from the Wheel hospital in the process. Leia, having retrieved Artoo and Threepio from the casino, reunites with Luke, and he explains that he went unconscious when he felt an evil presence through the Force, confirming that Darth Vader is alive. On the planet Ultaar, Vader investigates a destroyed Rebel outpost, learning from one of the survivors that the attack was carried out by Valance the Hunter.

Friday, October 16, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #34

"The Hunter in Darkness"
December 1990

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine fights the Hunter in Darkness

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks:Dan Green
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Getting back to his roots in the Canadian Rockies, Wolverine is met by two RCMP officers who are tracking an escaped killer named Athabasca Ike who has taken a young woman hostage. The older Mountie, Doolin, to whom Wolverine seems familiar, is initially suspicious of him, but they accept his help when he catches Ike's scent on the wind. They track him deeper into the mountains, but with the sun at his back, Ike spots their approach, and shoots the younger Mountie, killing him and disabling their jeep. Stranded and with night falling, Doolin gives Ike up as lost, but Wolverine insists he can track them. As they hunt for the killer, they're stalked by the Hunter in Darkness, a large feral creature believed to be legend, whom both Wolverine and Doolin have encountered in the past.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #32

"Someone Will Die For This!"
December 1990

In a Nutshell 
Kitty begins her tenure at boarding school. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Ron Wagner 
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Principal: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
In London, the Queen's First Minister awakens from a hypno-therapy session in which she was Captain Britain leading an all-male Excalibur, unaware that the therapist is actually Mesmero. Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde begins her first day at St. Searle's boarding school. Though she takes an immediate liking to the headmistress, Miss Rutherford, she quickly runs afoul of Phoebe Huntsman and her cronies, who she discovers in her room going through her things. The girls fight, and Kitty discovers that she's somehow stuck in a solid state. In London, Vixen oversees a group of criminals robbing the National Gallery, but they're interrupted by Excalibur. Vixen flees, then transforms into Nigel in order to throw Excalibur off his trail.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

X-amining Thor #427-429

"The Homecoming! (Or How DO You Spend the Night After You've Saved the Universe?)" / "If This Be Juggernaut" / "This World Is Mine"
December 1990 - February 1991

In a Nutshell 
Thor and Excalibur battle Juggernaut

Plot, Pencils & Words: Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz
Finished Art: Joe Sinnot
Letterering: Heisler & Co. (issue #427), Mike Heisler 
Coloring: Yomtov & Rockwitz (issue #427), Mike Rockwitz
Editing: Ralph Macchio


Plot
#427: Thor arrives back on Earth after a lengthy time away, and begins reconnecting with the life of his alter ego, Eric Masterson. Meanwhile, Excalibur is tasked with recapturing Juggernaut, who was last seen battling Thor in New York. Just then the Wrecking Crew arrive in the city and begin a crime spree. Loki, worried about leaving the Wrecker's Asgardian power unchecked, tasks Enchantress and Ulik with capturing him. Using a psychic beacon, they lure the Wrecking Crew to the docks, just as Excalibur arrives, drawn to the beacon by Phoenix. The two groups fight, and when Thor arrives on the scene as well, the Wrecker casts a spell on him, making Excalibur view Thor as the Juggernaut, leading to Shadowcat trapping "Juggernaut" in the concrete dock. #428: A four way melee breaks out between Thor, Excalibur, the Wrecking Crew, and Code: Blue, the special police task force that deals with super-powered situations. When Lockheed discovers the invisible Ulik and Enchantress, driving them off, the Wrecking Crew soon follows suit, after which the illusion of Thor as Juggernaut ends.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #20

"Death Game"
February 1979

In a Nutshell
Han faces his first opponent in the Wheel's arena. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Colorist: George Roussos
Letterer: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

Plot
The patrons of the Wheel watch in outrage as an X-wing fighter attacks a pleasure ship departing the station, after which the fighter is quickly destroyed by nearby Imperial forces. Senator Greyshade then departs for a meeting with Commander Strom, leaving behind the captive Leia, who is outraged that Greyshade is going along with the Imperial scheme to frame the Rebels and gain control of the station. Greyshade assures Strom that aside from Leia, the rest of the Rebels aboard the Wheel will soon die, and they watch Han's scheduled arena fight begin. Intentionally slated into the wrong class, Han is forced to fight a massive being with four arms, who quickly overpowers him.

Friday, October 9, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #61

"Betrayal!"
December 1990

In a Nutshell
Havok regains his memories as the rest of the combined X-teams are captured.

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Jon Bogdanove
Assisted Pencils: John Caponigro (pgs 12-23)
Inker: Allen Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Mike Rockwitz
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Hodge gloats over the captured mutants, then orders the Magistrates to take them to their cells. As they pass a group of Mutates, they recognize the transformed Rahne, and Cable flies into a rage. He attacks Hodge despite being unable to use his bionic arm, but Hodge easily overpowers him. Meanwhile, the rest of the X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants prepare their assault on the Citadel from an abandoned warehouse, using gear provided by SHIELD and the US government. Back at the Citadel, Jean is placed in a cell along with a powerless, severely wounded Wolverine, and the pair kiss, just as Hodge, hoping to drive a wedge between Cyclops and Jean, had planned. Meanwhile, the Magistrates move on the abandoned warehouse, its location gleaned from the minds of their captives, but they discover the building empty moments before it explodes.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #96

"United We Stand"
December 1990

In a Nutshell
Rahne becomes a Mutate while a contingent of the X-teams get captured. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Rob Liefeld
Inkers: Art Thibert & Josef Rubinstein
Letterers: Task Force Z
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Jubilee, Boom-Boom & Rictor are attacked by a pair of Magistrates using a Mutate tracker, but they overpower the soldiers, prompting the Mutate to join them. Meanwhile, at an abandoned warehouse, Cable and the rest of X-Factor and the X-Men prepare their assault on the Citadel, with the members whose powers are "quiet" planting explosive charges and locating the prisoners while the rest act as shock troops. At the Citadel, Hodge orders the Genegineer to begin the Mutate transformation process on Rahne. Later that night, Boom-Boom, Rictor & Jubilee break into an empty apartment looking for food. But when they overhear a news broadcast of Rahne claiming she's willing to serve Genosha as punishment for her crimes,  Rictor insists on returning to the Citadel to rescue her.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #271

"Flashpoint!"
December 1990

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke join the fight in Genosha. 

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

Plot
In Genosha, Rictor & Boom-Boom are rescued from a group of Magistrates by Wolverine, Jubilee & Psylocke. After Psylocke reads the New Mutants' minds to find out the details of the situation, the group splits up, with Wolverine and Psylocke to infiltrate the Citadel and rescue Storm & Rahne while Jubilee helps get the powerless (and disgruntled) Rictor and Boom-Boom to safety. Meanwhile, the Genegineer appears on a televised debate with Moira MacTaggert, and afterwards, he's attacked in his office by Storm, who plans to kill him. The Genegineer insists that Hodge is her enemy, not him,  just as Hodge arrives and saves the Genegineer, demanding that he immediately begin the Mutate transformation process on Storm.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #19

"The Ultimate Gamble"
January 1979

In a Nutshell
Senator Greyshade learns of the Imperial's plans while Han tries to win enough to get his friends off the Wheel. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Colors: Gaff
Letters: Irv W.
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

Plot
As Stormtroopers corner Luke and the droids, Artoo manages to tap into the computer and lower a containment wall between them. Meanwhile, Leia and Han are similarly cornered by Stormtroopers, but are saved by the arrival of Wheel security forces sent by Greyshade, who take Leia to Greyshade and Han back to the Falcon to help them search it. Elsewhere, Chewbacca manages to reach the upper levels of the Wheel, but when he's confronted by security he attacks, and is ultimately kniocked out and taken to the gladiator pits. Meanwhile, Han is forced to help search the Falcon for the profits Greyshade believes he stole from the destroyed merchant ship, while Leia tries to explain to Greyshade that Strom is setting up the Rebels in order to enact a takeover of the Wheel. Just then Strom enters his office, enraged that Greyshade interfered in the apprehension of the Rebels and is harboring Leia.

Friday, October 2, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #33

"Grave Undertakings"
November 1990

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine foils Dai-Kumo's plans and defeats Goro. 

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker:Dan Green
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Tyger Tiger and Archie try to bring Wolverine's body into Japan, but Dai-Kumo, who controls the custom agents, refuses to let them and, believing Wolverine to be truly dead, claims the body for himself, in order to have him buried in a place of honor as a worthy foe. Later, Dai-Kumo and Dr. Malheur create the final batch of Raiden the Thundebolt, then kick off a party in celebration. Back at the cemetery, Wolverine, whose death-like state was the result of a drug given to him by Tyger Tiger, wakes up and claws his way out of his grave, where Reiko is still waiting. She directs him to Dai-Kumo's mansion, where the party is in full swing. As a demonstration of the Thunderbolt's power, he sets a drugged wolf against a trio of starving tigers, just as Wolverine bursts into the mansion.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #31

"No Man Is An IslanD (But No Island Is A Man So It Works Out)"
November 1990

In a Nutshell 
Nightcrawler battles the Son of Krakoa. 

Words: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Dave Ross
Inks: Allen Milgrom 
Letters: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Something Important: Terry Kavanaugh
We've Always Wondered: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Returning from a vacation, Nightcrawler is forced to abandoned his damaged airplane in the midst of a huge storm and teleport to a nearby island, where he discovers giant stone monuments to himself and his former X-Men teammates. The next morning, he observes some island natives preparing a woman for sacrifice. After he intervenes to save her, he is brought before the Son of Krakoa, an alien spore released after the X-Men sent his father flying off into space, who requires the occasional human sacrifice to build his strength. Declaring himself Vega-Superior, the spore attacks Nightcrawler via simulacrums of his former teammates composed of material from the island. But Nightcrawler is able to defeat these Vega-Men, then tricks the spore into following him into the ocean, where he dies just like the rest of Krakoa's offspring did. Sometime later, the rest of Excalibur arrives to retrieve Nightcrawler, who dodges questions about what happened to Captain Britain's crashed plane.