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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Slight Change In Plans

My examination of Deathtrap: The Vault was supposed to post today, but I ran into some difficulties finding a digital copy of the issue for the purpose of including images (note to Marvel: even if you don't want to make this available on Marvel Unlimited, I still would have paid for a digital copy if you'd have let me), so that will have to wait until a later date (continuity-wise, in only needs to occur prior to the disbandment of Freedom Force in the '91 annuals).

Unfortunately, I don't have anything else to offer in its place. I'm working on the six month look ahead schedule, which should be up in a few days, but otherwise, we're still in vacation mode here at Gentlemen of Leisure.

Next week, we'll return to our regular schedule, beginning with Uncanny X-Men #276. Until then, I dunno, re-read a favorite old review?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #72-84: Weapon X

"Weapon X"
March - September 1991

In a Nutshell 
The details of how Wolverine received his adamantium skeleton. 

Writer, Artist, Co-Letterer: Barry Windsor-Smith
Co-Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Downtrodden Canadian secret agent Logan is targeted by a mysterious group conducting Experiment X. He is captured and, against his will, undergoes an extremely painful process in which adamantium is bonded to his bones. Unbeknownst to everyone involved, Logan is a mutant, whose ability to heal quickly helps him survive the process. He also unexpectedly develops three adamantium claws on each hand. In the aftermath of the bonding process, the leader of the project, a man known as the Professor, attempts to condition the nearly-savage Logan, altering his behavior, honing his fighting skills, and making him loyal to the Professor. Following an extended virtual reality scenario in which Logan believes he's hunted down and killed the Professor, chief scientist Dr. Cornelius, and Cornelius' assistant Miss Hines, he's noticeably more calm and docile. However, realizing what he's become, he attacks his handlers, fighting his way into the facility and to the Professor's lab, before departing alone into the snowy wilderness. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Force in Focus: The Force Awakens

I held this post a few days both to let my own thoughts settle and to prevent any accidental spoilage, but at this point, consider what follows to be filled with tons of spoilers. I'm writing this assuming you've seen the movie already. If you haven't, and don't want to be spoiled, don't read below the image.


Friday, December 18, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #38

"See Venice & Die!
April 1991

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine runs afoul of Albert and Elsie-Dee. 

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

Plot
Storm arrives in California looking for Wolverine, and runs afoul of a pair of low level crooks named Sally & Jocko, who have placing wanted posters for Wolverine throughout the city, claiming he's been robbing them. Despite video evidence, Storm refuses to believe them, and continues to search. Across town, Reno & Molokai call Sally from the bus station, saying they've found Wolverine, who steps off a bus, saying goodbye to a pair of attractive women. They grab Wolverine, while at one of Sally's casinos, another Wolverine and a small girl rob the place. Overhearing a conversation between Reno & Sally, Wolverine learns of his duplicate, then breaks out of Molokai's trunk, stealing the car and heading off in the direction of the duplicate. Meanwhile, the Wolverine duplicate and the small girl, named Elsie-Dee, arrive at an abandoned warehouse. In Australia, Pierce explains to Lady Deathstrike that Elsie-Dee is a robotic trap for Wolverine, intended to lure him close before exploding, but unknownst to him, Bonebreaker erroenously installed an advanced program into her.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #36

"Xs and Os"
April 1991

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur battles Arnim Zola alongside Silver Sable's Outlaws. 

Writer: Lobdell
Penciler: Ross
Inker: Milgrom
Letterer: Eliopoulis
Colorist: Oliver
Editor: Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco
Creators: Claremont and Davis

Plot
Called to the Darkmoor Research Center, where Captain Britain once studied, Excalibur meets with Captain Britain's old mentor, Professor Walshe. But before he can tell them why he called them, the facility is attacked by Silver Sable and her Outlaw mercenary group, who claim the professor has stolen Symkerian technology. As Walshe denies the accusation, a fight breaks out between the two teams, until Shadowcat and Prowler discover the stolen tech in the facility. Walshe then admits he has been using the tech to experiment with clones, desperate to find a way to save humanity from the potential fallout of nuclear war, before revealing himself as a former vessel of the geneticist Arnim Zola.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

X-amining Excalibur: Weird War III

"Weird War III"
1990

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur's world merges with the Lightning Squad's Nazi-dominated world. 

Writer: Michael Higgins
Pencilers: Tom Morgan and Justin Thyme
Inkers: Joe Rubinstein and Tom Morgan
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorists: Brad Vancata and Joe Rosas
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Rachel wakes screaming from a nightmare, drawing the attention of her teammates, whom she starts to see as their counterparts in the Nazi-centric Lightning Squad, and shortly thereafter, a brusque Alistair summons them to register with the government. Meanwhile, Herr Xavier discusses his plan to experiment on mutants in order to elevate man to the next stage of evolution by creating the X-Man. As Red Skull visits an aging Hitler, expressing his concerns over Xavier's agenda, Excalibur is called before the Prime Minister, and after a fight breaks out, Excalibur is handed over to the Reichminister of Genetics, Moira MacTaggert. Arriving on Muir Island, Excalibur is attacked by the Reichsmen, before Moira explains that she is the Moira from Excalibur's reality, and that their reality is merging with the Nazi-dominated reality of the Lightning Squad, with the more dominant personality between the two realities controlling a single body. Disguising them as the Lightning Squad, Moira sends Excalibur off to stop Xavier.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Force in Focus: Aftermath

Even moreso than Shattered Empire, Chuck Wendig's Aftermath suffers under the weight of expectations. The novel counterpart to Shattered Empire's comic book series (in that it is the first novel, rather than comic book, of the new canon set after Return of the Jedi), it not only being billed as an important stepping stone towards the world of The Force Awakens, but the circumstances of its release automatically put it into comparison to Timothy Zahn's novel, Heir to the Empire. But not only was Heir the first post-Jedi novel of the old Expanded Universe (it certainly wasn't the first original fiction Star Wars novel, but it did kick off the modern resurgence in Star Wars that hasn't abated since and is generally considered to have begun what fans think of when they think "Expanded Universe), it also remains, to this day, the most acclaimed of Star Wars novels, routinely considered both the best of the lot and most fans' favorite.

Aftermath, then, is cursed twice over; before even a word was written, it was setup to both tell a new version of events post-Jedi and detail those events in a way comparable to everyone's favorite Star Wars book. Of course, it fails to live up to Heir, but that's not entirely its fault: nothing in this day and age could, and to Wendig's credit, he doesn't try to live up to it; the story he tells is an entirely different beast than Heir, at times both more and less concerned with the big picture of the galaxy than Heir was. And as much as this book invites circumstantial comparisons, it's also been released under vastly different circumstances: it's not ending a drought of new Star Wars stories, and it exists as but one narrative brick (albeit a large one) in a house that is being very carefully constructed, whereas Heir was written and released with relatively little oversight by LucasFilm, while most of the people reading Aftermath (especially the ones being overly-critical of it) are much older, with many more Star Wars stories under their belt, than when they first encountered Heir.

Friday, December 11, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #65

"Endgame Part 1: Malign Influences"
April 1991

In a Nutshell 
Apocalypse sends his Dark Riders against X-Factor & Ship. 

Plot: Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio
Script: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
Inker: Art Thibert
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Following a brief hiccough in Ship's systems, Cyclops leads X-Factor in a training exercise which is watched, unknownst to them, by Apocalypse and his new team of henchmen, who are told that their target is not X-Factor, but rather Ship. After the training session, Archangel visits Charlotte Jones and Iceman visits Opal, while Cyclops expresses his dissatisfaction with the team's performance to Jean, telling her he doesn't want any more of his friends and teammates to die. Later, as Cyclops and Beast are discussing the results of Beast's diagnostic on Ship, Apocalypse's henchmen crash their ship into Ship and proceed to attack X-Factor.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #100

"The End of the Beginning"
April 1991

In a Nutshell
The final issue of the series. 

Plot/Pencils/Inks: Rob Liefeld
Script/Words/Hair Loss: Fabian Nicieza
Letters/Calligraphy/Eye Strain: Joe Rosen
Colors/Hues/Passports: Brad Vancata
Edits/Zookeeping/Freelance Whipping: Bob Harras
Edits-in-Chief/Canolies/Two Fists: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Responding to an intruder alert, the New Mutants discover a strange, sword-wielding figure in the Danger Room. Calling himself Shatterstar, he attacks them, and it falls to Cable to subdue him, all of which is observed by Feral. As the New Mutants leave the Danger Room, three strange armored figures suddenly appear, at the same time that Masque and a pair of henchmen infiltrate the mansion, searching for Feral. In the infirmary, Shatterstar regains consciousness and explains that he hails from the Mojoverse and is part of a rebellion against Mojo V. Seeking the help of the X-Men, he was sent to Earth, but arrived disorientated and overwhelmed when the New Mutants first discovered him. Going to the kitchen, Boom-Boom discovers Feral, and she begs the New Mutants for their help against Masque. Just then, the armored soldiers find Shatterstar, and he explains they're members of the Imperial Protectorate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #275


"The Path Not Taken!"
April 1991

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men help Lilandra reclaim her throne while Rogue & Magneto defeat Zaladane. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Oliver/Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Special Thanks: Karl Altstaetter

Plot
The Starjammers board Deathbird's flagship and encounter the Imperial Guard. In the ship's lower decks, the X-Men take advantage of the distraction to free themselves from Deathbird's manacle pet. Pursuing Deathbird, the X-Men encounter Lilandra, and join the fight against the Imperial Guard. In the wake of their victory, the X-Men are introduced to the Shi'ar warlord, who turns out to be Professor X. In the Savage Land, the SHIELD force prepares to assault Zaladane's citadel, but Colonel Semyanov betrays them, blasting Magneto out of the sky as Zaladane's air force attacks. Crashing in the jungle, Rogue is reunited with Ka-Zar and Nick Fury, the only apparent survivors of the attack, and they proceed to the citadel. Meanwhile, Zaladane begins the process of transferring all of Magneto's power to herself. Sneaking inside, Rogue, Ka-Zar and Nick Fury interrupt the process, freeing Magneto as they battle the Mutates.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Force in Focus: Shattered Empire #1-4


Shattered Empire (whose full title is the mouthful Star Wars: The Journey to The Force Awakens - Shattered Empire) is series that, like the novel Aftermath (which we'll look at next week) suffers under the weight of expectations. Billed as the new story of what really happened after Return of the Jedi (with all the old stories that did the same now rendered non-canonical legends in the wake of Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm), anyone picking up this series expecting a sweeping overview of galactic history that tells exactly what Luke, Leia, Han and their friends were up in the thirty odd years between Jedi and the upcoming Force Awakens will be disappointed. But put aside those expectations, and what remains is an effective and entertaining little story, even if it is a bit sparse on those "historical" details.

Rather than focus on the Star Wars Big Three, the central character of Shattered Empire is Shara Bey, a Rebel pilot who flew in the Battle of Endor, and is the mother of Poe Dameron, the character played by Oscar Isaacs in the new movie (his father, Kes Dameron, appears briefly in the first and last issues). Through a variety of different circumstances, Shara ends up working alongside the Big Three in various capacities (she volunteers for the task force assembled by Han to hunt down Imperial remnants in the wake of Endor, ends up serving as a pilot/bodyguard for Leia on a trip to Naboo, and joins Luke on an important mission in the series finale), but she remains the central POV character, with the Big Three slotted in as supporting characters, at best.

Friday, December 4, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #37

"Fall Back & Spring Forward"
March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine, Lady Deathstrike and Puck return to the present. 

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

Plot
Defeating the Nationalist forces sent against him, Wolverine cries out to Lady Deathstrike, telling her to show herself so they can finish this. Having climbed up the sheer face of an overhead cliff, Lady Deathstrike leaps down, attacking Wolverine as a time vortex pops up nearby. When Wolverine tosses Deathstrike towards the watching Nazi tank, she attacks it in a rage, destroying the vehicle and killing Hauptmann Schlachter, causing the time vortex to grow bigger. On the south side of the pass, the injured Puck suddenly wakes up and rushes back towards Wolverine, not wanting to be left behind in the past. In the present, Pierce is completing work on his latest project when the time vortex appears and spits out a piece of paper with the name and location of Wolverine and Deathstrike's fight. Using that information, Pierce realizes that everyone the time travelers have killed were destined to die in the pass or during the war, except for Schlachter.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #35

"Heartbreaker"
March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Phoenix battles D'Spayre

Writer: Lobdell 
Penciler: Ross
Inker: Milgrom
Letterer: Lopez
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco
Created by Claremont & Davis

Plot
In the wake of the kidnapping of a young girl named Amy, Excalibur is participating in the city-wide search for her. With a suspect, Gunther Gyles, in custody, Rachel agrees to help Inspector Thomas interrogate him, though Rachel refuses to simply rip Amy's location from his mind telepathically. But when Gyles insists he has no memory of where Amy is, Rachel enters his mind and is violently repulsed by some kind of other-dimensional psychic entity that has taken over Gyles mind. However, she did learn that Amy is being held in an abandoned building on the moors, and she telepathically informs the rest of the team so they can begin searching possible locations.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

X-amining Ghost Rider #9

"Pursuit"
January1991

In a Nutshell 
X-Factor and Ghost Rider rescue children kidnapped by Morlocks. 

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Javier Saltares
Inker: Mark Texeira
Background Ink: Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Ghost Rider stops Blackout from killing an innocent bystander, but is then attacked by agents of HEART before being rescued by a Morlock, who promises to take him to some missing children. Meanwhile, X-Factor hears a news report about a rash of recent kidnappings in the city, and decides to investigate. Below the city, the Morlocks insist they've taken the children for their own good, but with dawn approaching, Ghost Rider must leave before investigating further. The next night, X-Factor arrives in Cypress Hills, the scene of the last reported kidnapping, while Ghost Rider is in the area, pursued once again by HEART. Abandoning his bike, he journeys once more into the Morlock tunnels and meets Pixie, a Morlock who has been deformed by Masque and led the charge to kidnap the children in order to save them from Masque, who intended to do the same to them.