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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Force in Focus: A Very Special Episode's Star Wars Extravaganza!


I swear I'll be back to reviewing old Star Wars comics very soon, but in the meantime, if you're the podcast-listening sort, this week sees the release of a very special Very Special Episode, the podcast which Dr. Bitz and I cohost (along with a pair of cartoonists & comedians from Portland), dedicated to Star Wars.

The idea behind it is a sort of "defense" of Star Wars. Anyone who's been reading these posts knows I'm a big Star Wars fan, and I generally like more than I dislike. My cohosts, whose Star Wars fandom ranges from the jaded to the casual to not-too-far-from-mine, decided to put forth a bunch of stuff they don't like about the various films, and then have me defend those decisions and explain why their nitpicks and dislikes aren't so bad (or, in some cases, confirm they are).

Ultimately though, it's just a big three hour episode celebrating Star Wars. I was fully prepared to bring my best pedantic nerd explanations for things, but in the end, I barely needed them, and nearly everyone spent about as much time talking about the stuff they love from the various films as the stuff that bugs them (needless to say, my faith in the franchise remains unshaken).

Amongst the topics of discussion were the unnecessarily-charred corpses of Luke's aunt & uncle, Han Solo's spiritual beliefs, and the stupid noise that lizard-thing Obi-Wan rides in Revenge of the Sith makes.

You can listen to and download the episode here, and it's also available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and PodBean.

PS this episode is a bit more SFW than some of our fare, but I still wouldn't recommend blasting it loudly from your desk. And in general, we work a little blue, so probably hold off on listening around the kids as well.

PPS if you haven't already, you can also listen to our episode discussing the infamous Star Wars Holiday special here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #75

"Nightmares Persist"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
In the wake of losing his adamantium, Wolverine discovers he has bone claws.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Dan Green & Mark Pennington
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Professor X & Jean Grey work to keep Wolverine alive, the rest of Xavier's strike team and Bishop fight to bring the Blackbird safely back to Earth. Despite their efforts, Wolverine is fading fast, but when damage to the plane causes Jean to get sucked out the hatch, Wolverine regains consciousness long enough to pull her back inside. Two weeks later, Wolverine orders the X-Men out of the Danger Room, determined to test his mettle in the wake of Magneto's attack on him. As the X-Men look on in growing concern, Wolverine battles a pair of robots, and when he instinctively pops his claws, he is horrified to discover he has claws made of bone. A few days later, he and Jubilee have a heart-to-heart, as each attempts to deal with the recent changes they've experienced. That night, Wolverine leaves Jubilee and the rest of the X-Men letters, explaining his decision to leave the mansion, then rides off into the night as a saddened Jubilee watches from her window.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #96

"In the Beginning"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
The debut of Haven.

Writer: JM DeMatteis
Penciler: Greg Luzniak
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Corvese
Group Editor: Harras
Chief: DeFalco

Plot
X-Factor responds to a terrorist attack at the Kennedy Center, working through the night to rescue as many people as possible. As they finish, Forge appears, and orders Havok into a meeting. Meanwhile, Random meets with his mysterious employer, but afterwards, is marked for termination. At the Pentagon, Havok lays into Forge, but Forge tells Havok there are lots of questions hanging over their heads, and he needs Havok's help to unravel them. At X-Factor headquarters, Rahne & Lorna share a midnight snack, and Rahne lashes out at Polaris, saying Havok hasn't done enough to help her, but would have if Polaris needed it. Elsewhere, one of Madrox' dupes takes Guido out on the town, while an increasingly-sick Madrox reads a mysterious book. Going for a walk to clear her head, Lorna realizes that Madrox' problems started in Genosha, just as she's attacked by a group of armored soldiers. She holds them off, but before the situation escalates further, the soldiers are teleported away by a mysterious woman who appears before Lorna, telling her to embrace the dawning new age, an age of hope for man, mutant, and the new humanity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #306

"Mortal Coils"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
Cameron Hodge returns.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: S. Bucce
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the anniversary of Candy Southern's death, Jean Grey accompanies Archangel to his home in Colorado, and the pair are stunned to find a very-much-alive Candy waiting for them there. Meanwhile, Xavier spars with Quicksilver in the Danger Room. Back in Colorado, Jean telepathically confirms Candy is who she says she is, while in New York, Storm meets Forge for dinner. In Colorado, Jean takes Archangel into Candy's mind, and he's horrified to learn she was conscious during his fight with Hodge that led to her death, and learns of the mysterious experiments conducted on her after that death. Just then, the group is attacked by a techno-organic Hodge, who says he is just one of many poised to eradicate mutants. Archangel manages to injure him, but he draws on Candy, who turns out to also be techno-organic, for replacement parts. However, Candy resists, and uses the connection between them to seemingly destroy them both. As she dies once again, she tells Archangel she is grateful for the love they shared. Jean tells Archangel it's over but, recalling Hodges words about others, Archangel isn't so sure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

X-aminations in December 2017


The year winds down with something of a whimper, as reviews shift to weekly for December, due to a combination of general holiday/end-of-year busy-ness and a desire to get further back on schedule after a rocky autumn. I also decided I didn't want to split "Bloodties" over the holiday break I was already planning on giving myself when I drew up the second half schedule last summer, so I've shifted some stuff around to move the beginning of that into 2018 (the downside being that the final chapter of "Fatal Attractions" gets pushed back further too, but given how late Excalibur #71 shipped initially, that seems appropriate).

Anyways, here's what I'll be reviewing in December, including the second '93 solo X-character limited series, the final in a long string of regular Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine stories, the second series of Marvel Masterpieces cards, and the conclusion to Tom DeFalco's unofficial "Thor vs. Juggernaut" trilogy.

December 6: Sabretooth #1-4

December 13: Marvel Comics Presents #137-142 (Wolverine Story)

December 20: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series II

December 27: Thunderstrike #2

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD, Season Three. “Something Pretty.”


People familiar with the actual history of Deadwood have criticized these final episodes for the purely malevolent portrayal of George Hearst, while the show continues to evolve Al Swearengen into a sympathetic man with his own moral code.  Apparently, the reverse was true, with Al as an even nastier figure than we’ve seen on the series (this is a man who recruited prostitutes from orphanages), and George Hearst as a positive influence on the development of the Deadwood community.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

X-amining X-Force Annual #2

"Extreme Measures"
1993

In a Nutshell
The debut of Adam-X the X-Treme!

Story: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Antonio Daniel
Inks: Mark Pennington/Bob Wiacek/Brad Vancata/Keith Williams/Kevin Conrad
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Kevin Somers
Managing Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Phoenix, a mutant named Michelle is hunted by Adam-X the X-Treme, but she is rescued by X-Force, who manage to fight off Adam. They leave the scene, taking Michelle with them, but Adam follows, not realizing that X-Force is well aware of his pursuit and tracking him as well. Meanwhile, at the Foundations research facility near Denver, Cannonball & Siryn, posing as interns, break into a secret vault and discover Feral being held captive. Elsewhere, X-Force gets the drop on Adam, and learns he is only helping Foundation head Martin Strong in exchange for info about his past. From Michelle, they learn that Strong is working to find a way to eliminate all mutations, and is being funded by Project: Wideawake, prompting Cable to launch an assault on the facility. Meanwhile, Strong attacks and captures Cannonball & Siryn. Later, X-Force infiltrates Foundation with the help of Adam, freeing their teammates and attacking Strong, only to be betrayed by Michelle, who genuinely wants Strong to remove her mutation. Adam takes her out, after which Cable defeats Strong, revealing his bulky form to be a cybernetic creation housing Strong's true, disfigured & diminutive, form. X-Force decides to leave Foundation running, albeit without the help of any unwilling mutants, so as to offer an alternative choice to other mutants with more physical disfigurements like Strong. X-Force then teleports away and bids goodbye to Adam, who leaves to search out details of his past.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD, Season Three. “Didn’t I Tell You How Well It Wafted?”


Although some claim that any talk of a four season plan for Deadwood only occurred after the show’s cancellation, it’s become accepted lore that the series was always intended to run this length.  The original Deadwood camp existed for four years before it was consumed by fire, and Deadwood the TV series, we’re now told, was conceived to have each season represent one year of the camp, before ending the show with the eradicating fire.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) Annual #2

"A Bluer Slice of Heaven" / "Beast Foot Forward"
1993

In a Nutshell
Jonathan Chambers sets up a haven for victims of the Legacy Virus.

Writers: Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell (2nd Story)
Pencilers: Aron Weisenfeld, Ian Churchill (2nd Story)
Inkers: Al Milgrom, Bob Wiacek & Keith Williams, Kevin Conrad (2nd Story)
Letterers: Steve Dutro, Dave Sharpe (2nd Story)
Colorists: Mike Thomas & Dana Moreshead, George Roussos (2nd Story)
Managing Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Avalanche & Crimson infiltrate island home of Jonathan Chambers, a mutant author & philanthropist. However, they are caught by their old teammates in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who are staying on the island. After a brief skirmish, two sides reunite, with the Brotherhood not knowing that Avalanche & Commando were sent by Henry Peter Gyrich, who is monitoring the island from a nearby boat, suspicious of Chambers recent activities. Later, in the wake of the spreading of the Legacy Virus and news that Chambers is hosting the Brotherhood, the X-Men arrive on the island as well. As Beast, Cyclops & Rogue meet with Chambers to feel him out, Gambit, Psylocke & Revanche secretly search the island. They too encounter the Brotherhood, and a fight breaks out which ends when Chambers intervenes, at which point both Pyro & Revanche reveal they have contracted the Legacy Virus. Pyro declares his intent to stay on the island, which Chambers wants to serve as a haven for those afflicted with the virus, despite Chambers intent to harvest the energy of the dying. The X-Men are reluctant to leave, but Revanche argues they have no right to tell other people how to spend their final days. As they depart, Gyrich arrives, but Cyclops vouches for Chambers, saying they've discovered nothing illegal on the island. The X-Men then warn Chambers not to take advantage of those seeking his help as they leave.

Friday, November 10, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #70

"Crime & Punishment"
 October 1993

In a Nutshell
Cerise & Feron leave the series.

Story: Scott Lobdell
Script: Richard Ashford
Art: Ken Lashley
Inks: Don Hudson / Parker / Gemdjian / Taverna
Letters: Lois Buhalis
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Edits: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Edits: Bob Harras
Chief Edits: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the prison world of Krag, Cerise is attacked by Fang and is forced to kill her in self-defense, an act which horrifies the arriving Nightcrawler, who appears along with the Starjammers and the rest of Excalibur. On Earth, Feron attempts to snap Meggan out of her catatonia by posing as Captain Britain, but he ends up getting caught in a similar state by her just as Kitty departs for America. Back on Krag, Excalibur & the Starjammers are attacked by prison guards, but the fight is interrupted when Lilandra, speaking through one of the prisoners, appears. Using the telepathic abilities of the prisoner's race, Lilandra is able to probe Cerise's memories and share them with Excalibur & the Starjammers, showing how Cerise destroyed the vessel on which she was stationed, along with its crew, in order to prevent it from carrying out more acts of genocide on alien worlds. Her name cleared, Lilandra insists that Cerise must serve out her sentence, but at Lilandra's side, working to root out those elements of the empire who would commit similar horrific acts. Cerise agrees, and bids a tearful goodbye to Nightcrawler with a kiss.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

X-amining X-Force #27

"Liberation through Subjugation"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
The New Mutant Liberation Front kidnaps Gyrich.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Matt Broome
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Battlin' Bob Harras
Big Cheese: Two-Fisted Tommy Dee

Plot
The Mutant Liberation Front attacks Henry Peter Gyrich's house, but when he activates a bio-Sentinel named Hardaway, their new teammates, Locus & Moonstar, are forced to intervene. Taking out Hardaway, they capture Gyrich. Later, X-Force eavesdrops on a Commission of Superhuman Activities meeting discussing the kidnapping, and decide to rescue Gyrich themselves. Arriving at the MLF's new base, they split into three teams. Cannonball, Rictor, Sunspot & Boomer get into the base first, but are attacked by Moonstar, stunned to realize she may be their old teammate, Dani. Elsewhere, Warpath, Siryn & Shatterstar battle Reaper, Forearm & Wildside while Cable & Feral locate Gyrich. But Reignfire is waiting, and incapacitates them, asking Cable if he'll join him in his war, or betray his kind and die.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #25

"Dreams Fade"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
Magneto rips out Wolverine's adamantium, and Professor X erases Magneto's mind.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The execution of the Magneto Protocols by the UN Security Council prompts Magneto to strike back by triggering a massive electromagnetic pulse that wipes out power across the planet, killing hundreds. In the wake of the attack, Professor X decides that Magneto has gone too far, and dons a Shi'ar exoskeleton that enables him to walk in order to lead a strike team against him. Teleporting onboard Avalon, the strike team is surreptitiously helped by Colossus, and they take control of Avalon's systems, allowing the X-Men to teleport Exodus & the Acolytes off the base before confronting Magneto. During the fight, Xavier & Jean attempt to use Magneto's memories of past tragedies against him while the rest of the force engages him physically, but when Wolverine lands a nearly-lethal blow, Magneto retaliates by using his power to remove the adamantium from Wolverine's bones and rip it out of his body. Horrified, Xavier responds by telepathically wiping Magneto's mind, to ensure he'll never be a threat to anyone again. Just then Colossus appears, telling his former teammates that their battle has damaged the teleportation systems, but that he has summoned Bishop to pick them up with a modified Blackbird. He suggests they leave quickly, but vows to stay behind to take care of the now-mindless Magneto.

Friday, November 3, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #74

"Jubilee's Revenge"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Jubilee escape the Sentinels and confront the killers of Jubilee's parents.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Jim Fern
Inks: Art Nichols
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine & Jubilee fight their way free of the Sentinels, running deeper into the Ant Hill. But the Sentinels seem oddly concerned with their own mortality, and when one expresses a fear of death, Jubilee refrains from destroying it. This draws the attention of Sentinel 3.14159, who is intrigued by the concept of compassion, and decides to study it further instead of wiping out humanity. Shutting down the plasma beam projector threatening the planet, it offers to send Wolverine & Jubilee anywhere they'd like, and Jubilee chooses Los Angeles. The pair track down Reno & Molokai, the men who killed Jubilee's parents. Jubilee incapacitates them, but is talked out of killing them by Wolverine. Instead, she furiously kicks both in the crotch, extracting a measure of revenge but not at the cost of her heart.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #95

"Fatal Repulsions"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
Polaris battles Random

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: JM DeMatteis
Penciler: Greg Luzniak
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Polaris meets Random on a DC rooftop, only to be attacked by him. Meanwhile, Havok meets with Forge, who questions whether or not he should start over with a new X-Factor roster. This prompts Havok to argue in defense of each of his teammates, which is enough to convince Forge he has the right people and that Havok is the right person to lead them. Meanwhile, Polaris manages to overpower Random, and leaves him in a puddle underneath his damaged car. Later, as Polaris describes the fight to Havok, she says it almost felt like Random was rooting for her to win, but the pair is interrupted by a sobbing, slobbering Wolfsbane, who has fled Muir Island, saying Havok's pull on her soul is too strong and she's got to be with him.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #305

"The Measure of the Man"
October 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men are attacked by mysterious soldiers.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Jan Duuresma
Inker: Jose Marzan
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Outside Opal's home, Rogue, Bishop & Iceman fight off a group of armored soldiers whom Cerebro detected as genetic anomalies, each of whom collapses into a chemical ooze upon defeat. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Professor X & Storm meet with Ambassador St. Croix, a member of Xavier's Mutant Underground. Aboard the Blackbird, the X-Men attempt to interrogate one of the soldiers they captured, but when he refuses to talk, Rogue touches him, causing her body to mutate horribly to mimic. In DC, Xavier asks Storm to steal an exo-suit designed to shield the wearer from Magneto's electro-magnetic senses. Aboard the Blackbird, Bishop tackles Rogue, causing her to absorb his memories before her body returns to normal, after which she tells her teammates that the soldiers were like skin & tissue stuffed into armor and programmed to destroy them, with the only thought she was able to discern a name: Hodge. Back in DC, Storm steals the design schematics for the exo-suit, but does not destroy the prototype, telling Xavier that humanity has a right to defend itself, and to not ask her to steal for him again, that the X-Men need to be better than that.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

X-aminations in November 2017


November brings us to "Fatal Attractions" big moment in X-Men #25, after which I've shuffled things around a bit as Thanksgiving and the December holidays loom, with reviews going (mostly) one per week for the rest of the year, as much to help me get back on a regular schedule as for the holidays (though the holidays certainly don't help in that regard either).

On Sale August 1993
November 1:  Uncanny X-Men #305
November 2: X-Factor #95
November 3: Wolverine #74

November 8: X-Men (vol. 2) #25
November 9: X-Force #27
November 10: Excalibur #70

November 15: X-Men Annual #2

November 22: X-Force Annual #2

On Sale September 1993
November 29: Uncanny X-Men #306
November 30:  X-Factor #96
December 1: Wolverine #75

Monday, October 30, 2017

An Unoffical Guide to NYPD Blue


Have you been enjoying G. Kendall's The Milch Studies? Or are you a fan of his comic book and cartoon writing, either at Not Blog X or Comic Book Resources, and would like to pay him back for all the entertainment you've gotten from his writing? Well, you're in luck, because he just released An Unofficial Guide to NYPD Blue through Amazon. For a cool ninety-nine cents, you'll get a Kindle version of his NYPD Blue Milch Studies posts, plus a whole host of extras and new material! Order a copy here! And be sure to come back here for his next installment in The Milch Studies.


Friday, October 27, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #69

"Exile Book Two: Blight and Fog"
 September 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur fights to clear Cerise's name.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Evan Skolnick
Pencils: Steve Buccellato
Inks: Don Hudson
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Edits: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Edits: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the verge of being transported to a prison planet, Cerise tells a fellow inmate about the crimes of which she's been convicted, when she served as part of a Shi'ar mission to recruit new worlds into the empire. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler & Micromax teleport onto the Starjammer. Back on Earth, Feron overhears Kitty trying to help Meggan, and concludes that Meggan simply needs to speak with Captain Britain. Back on the prison planet, Kylun & Phoenix attempt to rescue Cerise, but the sight of Phoenix riles up the inmates and guards, while back on the Starjammer, Corsair argues on Cerise's behalf with Lilandra. When the Empress refuses to intervene, Corsair decides to help Nightcrawler find out the truth. They arrive on the planet as Phoenix & Kylun end their fight, and learn that Cerise left a recording admitting her guilt shortly before destroying the ship on which she served. Elsewhere on the planet, Cerise is being hunted by a new Fang.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

X-amining X-Force #26

"Shadows on the Rock"
September 1993

In a Nutshell
Reignfire debuts as Cable deals with the changes in X-Force since he left.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Matt Broome
Inkers: Larosa (pp 1-12, 19-22), Hanna (pp 13-18)
Alphabets Through Thick and Thin: Chris Eliopolous
Colors in the Deadline Storm: George Roussos
Shadow on the Asylum: Bob Harras
Big Shadow Period: Tom DeFalco

Plot
X-Force holds vigil as Cable fights for his life in the wake of his fight with Magneto. Three days after he regain consciousness, Cannonball & Sunspot leave for Madripoor, much to Boomer's dismay. Later, a drunk Siryn hits on Shatterstar and Cable before passing out and being put to bed by Warpath. Later still, Shatterstar's TV watching habits irritate Rictor, who still doesn't like Cable. In the wake of his various observations of the team, Cable wonders if he can be a soldier, teacher, father and friend to the team, though he's decides to at least try. Meanwhile, Reignfire breaks former Mutant Liberation Front members Wildside, Forearm, Reaper and Tempo out of a Federal prison, and asks them to join a new iteration of the team, led by him. Their first mission: to capture and kill the head of Project: Wideawake, Henry Peter Gyrich.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #24

"Digging Deeper Between Hope and Sorrow"
September 1993

In a Nutshell
Rogue & Gambit go on a date.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Andy Kubert and company
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Paul Becton
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Looking for a brief respite from the gloom hanging over the X-Men in the wake of Illyana's death, Rogue & Gambit are on a date at a fancy restaurant. Meanwhile, Banshee returns to the mansion and is reunited with Moira, and Beast discusses the Legacy Virus with Professor X. At the airport, Jean reunites with Scott, returning from Alaska. At the mansion, Psylocke & Revanche spar, while Kitty tries to comfort Jubilee. In the city, Rogue & Gambit take a carriage ride through Central Park. Back at the mansion, Scott shares his encounter with Mr. Sinister with Xavier, Beast & Moira, and they worry that the Legacy Virus could be spreading into a full-on plague. Outside, Wolverine also tries to comfort Jubilee, while Psylocke & Revanche attempt to make peace with each other. As Scott & Jean go to bed, they vow to remain together in the face of all obstacles, despite everything else feeling like it's falling apart.

Friday, October 20, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #73

"The Formicary Mound"
September 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Jubilee fight the self-aware Sentinel.

Script: Larry Hama
Breakdowns: Dwayne Turner
Finishes: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Paul Becton
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The rogue Sentinel leaps into the vortex created by Gateway's bullroarer with Jubilee in tow. Wolverine follows, and they emerge outside the Ant Hill, an old Sentinel base. Wolverine manages to free Jubilee, but the Sentinel blasts them both before entering the Ant Hill, seeking the beam projector weapon with which the earlier Sentinels had attempted to eradicate life via solar flare. Outside, Wolverine & Jubilee wake up, but Wolverine needs time to heal. Jubilee drags him up to the top of the Ant Hill, and he recovers soon enough to fight off a pack of dingoes. They spot the Sentinel as it aims the beam projector at the spot where the sun will rise, and it attacks them again. Wolverine manages to cut off its head, but as it tumbles back into the Ant Hill, it activates the remaining older Sentinels inside the base, who immediately target Wolverine & Jubilee.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #94

"Evening Where: The Longest Day Part II"
September 1993

In a Nutshell
Havok & Polaris go on a date while Wolfsbane arrives on Muir Island.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Paul Ryan
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Lorna and a distracted Alex are on a dinner date, but their presence offends a nearby diner. Meanwhile, Guido accompanies Rahne to Muir Island, and Rahne tells Guido she knows he's more sensitive than he lets on. At X-Factor headquarters, a sculpting Quicksilver is interrupted by one of Madrox' dupes, hoping to escape Madrox' morose mood. Back at the restaurant, Lorna confronts the bigoted customer, much to the pleasure of a figure watching from the shadows, leading to a brawl in the restaurant among the customers. On Muir Island, Rahne fully reverts to her human form, becoming a mindless mutate, and is carried away by the scientists there. At the Pentagon, Forge deals with the situation caused by Lorna, then returns to his briefing with Val. Across town, Lorna is released from jail, and gives a brief statement condemning bigotry and declaring that mutants are a part of the world, and everyone had better get used to it. She is watched once again from the shadows by Random, who laments having to kill her.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #304

"...For What I Have Done"
September 1993

In a Nutshell
Magneto officially returns, and Colossus joins his Acolytes.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: John Romita Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson, Paul Smith
Inks: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Terry Austin, Tom Palmer, Keith Williams
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Exodus visits the Acolytes, revealing to them how Cortez betrayed and murdered Magneto, before turning his power on Cortez. Meanwhile, Xavier prepares for Illyana's funeral, while Magneto thinks back on his past before declaring that mutants need to be awoken from Xavier's dream before more innocents die. At the X-Mansion, Kitty & Storm are shocked to see a stone-faced Colossus burning his paintings, and in the wake of Illyana's funeral, he angrily lays into Xavier for failing him. Just then, Magneto and his Acolytes arrive. Magnetically holding the X-Men in check, he executes Senyaka for acting without his explicit permission, then offers everyone assembled sanctuary aboard Avalon, declaring that from this point forward, anyone who isn't with him will be considered an enemy. He then calls Avalon down from orbit, and the Acolytes board it. Just then, Bishop, who had been absorbing Magneto's energy, is able to break free and blast him, loosening his control. Rogue tries to take Magneto out, and when she fails, Bishop, charged up by his fellow teammates, attacks again. But Colossus strikes Bishop from behind, and agrees to join Magneto aboard Avalon. Devastated, Xavier telepathically takes control of Magneto's power, and though he can't bring himself to kill Magneto, he does hurl him and Avalon back into space, knowing full well it's only a matter of time before Magneto will return and threaten the world once again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Force in Focus: The Last Jedi Trailer


The first full Last Jedi trailer hit this week amid a bit of fanfare, after which tickets went on sale (I got mine!). Here's five things that especially caught my eye from the longest look at the movie yet

Kylo Ren in Observation


The opening shot of the trailer shows Kylo Ren from behind, looking over a busy First Order hanger bay, and it struck me for its resemblance to one of my favorite shots from the Prequels, in Attack of the Clones when Anakin is on the veranda as the sun rises on Naboo, just before he leaves for Tatooine.

Friday, October 13, 2017

X-amining Excalibur Annual #1

"Black Magic" / "Honey is Money"
 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur meets the extradimensional Khaos.

Writers: Evan Skolnick, Joey Cavalieri
Pencilers: Chris Marrinan & Audwynn Newman, David Boller
Inker: Mark Mckenna, Danny Bulanadi & Keith Williams, Kevin Conrad
Letterers: Janice Chiang, Richard Starkings
Colorists: Dana Moreshead & Mike Thomas, Glynis Oliver
Editors: Suzanne Gaffney & Terry Kavanaugh
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Cerise wakes up from a recurring dream in which she is hunted by a dark elf. Kitty believes elements of the dream reflect Excalibur,  but Cerise insists it is real, and leads Excalibur to the source of the dream, a castle containing a wizard named Ghath, who says he has been stranded on Earth from his alternate world home of Irth. Excalibur and Ghath are shortly thereafter attacked by Khaos, the figure from Cerise's dream. Excalibur captures Khaos and brings him back to Braddock Manner, where Cerise interrogates him and learns he is actually a freedom fighter on his world, opposing Ghath. Investigating his claims, Cerise returns to the castle and is captured by Ghath as he prepares to return to Irth. But Khaos, and shortly thereafter, Excalibur, arrive after her, and they follow Ghath back to Irth and help Khaos and his allies end Ghath's threat. But in his final revenge, Ghath once more strands Khaos back on Earth. Cerise offers him a place with Excalibur, but he declines, flying off instead in search of a way home.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

X-amining Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1-4

"Ducks in a Row" / "Rabbit Season, Duck Season" / "...And Quacks Like a Duck..." / "Duck Soup"
August - November 1993

In a Nutshell
Deadpool is embroiled in the hunt for Tolliver's Will, and the "ultimate weapon" prize it promises.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Harry Candelario (issues #3 & #4)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Bob Harras
Duck L'Orange: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Issue #1: In Sarajevo, Deadpool meets with Weasel, looking for information on Vanessa, who is being targeted for her perceived knowledge regarding Tolliver's will, but they're interrupted by Kane. Deadpool & Kane fight until Weasel points out they're both after the same thing, Vanessa, thiugh neither knows where she is. Meanwhile, Nyko, brother of Tolliver's assistant Pico, contacts Courier to put a hit on Deadpool for his involvement in his brother's death, while Slayback breaks into Department K looking for info on Deadpool & Kane and Juggernaut breaks Black Tom out of the genetic research facility to which Tolliver sent him.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #2

"Point Blank"
1993

In a Nutshell

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Jan Duursema
Inkers: Dan Panosian, Keith Williams, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Kellu Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
A former East German solider named Adrian Eiskalt recounts to his psychiatrist an encounter with Magneto in which Magneto killed Adrian's brother. In New York, Gabrielle Haller leads a symposium on Magneto, later meeting with Adrian to discuss their respective governments' desire to eliminate the threat he poses. Adrian insists he has no desire to kill Magneto, and Haller agrees to share information, but she can see the desire for vengeance in Adrian's eyes. Meanwhile, Exodus offers Phantazia a place on Avalon, but she reluctantly turns him down when he reveals her fellow Brotherhood of Evil Mutant teammates are not invited. As Adrian studies the information on Magneto provided by Haller, Haller compares notes with Moira MacTaggert. This leads to the creation of a suit which will mask Adrian's bio-electric signature, and a taser gun made of plastic. Later, Henry Gyrich briefs the Commission on Super-Human Affairs on Magneto's return, and while the group approves of sending Adrian to engage him, they're uncertain how to draw him out. Adrian has an idea, however, and lays in wait at the site of Magneto's wife Magda's grave, the same spot where Magneto killed his brother years ago. But when Magneto arrives and Adrian has him in his sights, he finds himself unable to act, having gained a better understanding of the man from his research, and realizing that when he killed Adrian's brother, he did so only in self-defense, after Adrian's brother attacked him. As Magneto leaves, Adrian is left alone, realizing all he's ever really had was his hate.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

X-amining Cable #4

"A Leader Among Men"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable reunites with the Six Pack.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Art Thibert; Reddington, Whylie (p16), Koblish (pg 18)
Art Assist: Rob Liefeld
Inks: Al Milgrom
Letter Man: Chris Eliopolous
Colors: Javins/Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras
Bigger Editor: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Kane makes a cup of coffee while Bridge & Cable fight, before the pair agree to a truce: Bridge will tell Cable everything he knows about X-Force's whereabouts, in exchange for Cable helping Hammer walk again. Meanwhile, Vanessa bring Domino, Grizzly & Hammer to X-Force's old base in the Adirondacks, promising she can locate X-Force's current location from inside. In the South Pacific, Sinsear is monitoring transmissions, stopping when he catches a reference to Cable. Later, Vanessa brings Domino, Hammer & Grizzly to X-Force's Camp Verde base, just as Cable, Kane & Bridge arrive. Hammer attacks Cable on sight, but Kane gets Hammer to stand down by insisting Cable can help him walk. However, Hammer refuses to become like Cable, more machine than man. Realizing Vanessa has slipped away, Domino insists on tracking her down, and the rest of the Six Pack, including Kane, agree to go with her, but Cable says he needs to stay behind to wait for X-Force, and Kane tells him to do for them what Cable tried to do for Kane, to do right by them.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Milch Studies - DEADWOOD Season Two


Deadwood was never a media darling in the same vein as The Sopranos, but its debut season did have respectable ratings, and with HBO eager to maintain its reputation as the place for literate, adult dramas, the series was able to enjoy a boost in its budget for the second season.  The money is clearly put on the screen, as the sets grow more elaborate, the thoroughfare becomes increasingly crowded with extras, and the number of featured players multiplies. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #68

"Dead Space Part One"
 August 1993

In a Nutshell
The Starjammers come to Earth looking to arrest Cerise.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Dan Slott
Pencils: Steve Buccellato
Inks: Harry Candelario
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Upon returning from the future, Excalibur mourns the loss of Captain Britain, to the dismay of Micromax, who is trying to organize a training session for the team. Only Kylun takes him up on his offer, but as they spar on the grounds outside Braddock Manor, they are attacked by the Starjammers. With the rest of the team responding to the attack, Corsair explains that they've come to arrest a Shi'ar fugitive. Excalibur, believing he means Phoenix, attack the Starjammers, and in the course of the fight it's revealed that the Starjammers are actually after Cerise, who emerges from the mansion wearing her armor and agreeing to go with the Starjammers, tearfully telling Nightcrawler that Corsair is right about her. But after the Starjammers & Cerise depart via stargate, Phoenix repowers the gate. Leaving Kitty behind to watch over Feron & Meggan, Nightcrawler leads the rest through the gate, determined to rescue Cerise.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

X-amining X-Force #25

"Back to Front"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable reunites with X-Force, then battles Magneto.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Wiacek, Green, Ryan, Palmiotti, Hanna, Conrad, Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorist: George Roussos
Platoon Leader: Bob Harras
Back is Front: Tom DeFalco

Plot
X-Force returns to Camp Verde and realizes somebody has infiltrated their base. They split up to search the complex, with each pair encountering the intruder, who turns out to be Cable. After Cable comes clean with the team, Exodus arrives, extending an invitation to Cannonball & Sunspot, as former members of the New Mutants, to join him on his master's sanctuary. Cannonball agrees, but only after Exodus agrees to bring the rest of the former New Mutants, including Rusty & Skids, with him. They depart, after which Cable reveals Cannonball gave X-Force the means to track them before leaving. The former New Mutants arrive on Avalon, an orbital station created from the remnants of Graymalkin, and meet Exodus' master: a revived Magneto. Just then, the rest of X-Force arrives, and as they battles Exodus, Cannonball rejects Magneto's offer to join him on Avalon. Cable sends the rest of the team away but, determined to save Professor, stays behind. He encounters Magneto, who uses his power to destroy all the metal in Cable's body, grievously wounding him, but Cable manages to retrieve Professor and teleport away. Magneto is disappointed that he failed to sway the next generation of mutants to his side, but tells Exodus it is time to offer sanctuary to the rest of Xavier's brood, and see how they respond.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #23

"Leaning Towards Oneself"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
Mr. Sinister kicks off a decades-long mystery.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Leaning Tower of Pizza: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Alaska, Mr. Sinisters insists he only wants to warn Cyclops about Stryfe's mutant-targeting virus, but their discussion is interrupted by the arrival of the Dark Riders, come to test the two. In Japan, Lord Nyoirin tells the X-Men they need to talk to Shinobi and Matsu'o for further answers, while at the X-Mansion, Wolverine reports to Xavier about his findings in the Savage Land.. In Alaska, Mr. Sinister attacks the Dark Riders, telling them they're welcome to fight Cyclops but can't kill him, before disappearing. In Japan, Beast & Gambit visit Shinobi, while Psylocke & Revanche attack Matsu'o. In Alaska, Cyclops fights the Dark Riders long enough for them to declare that he is strong enough to fight in the coming war, leaving Cyclops to ponder what he's learned that day, and decide that the time has come to ask others for help.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

X-aminations in October 2017


Just one review next week, as I'll be busy working on our local fall comic convention (stop by and say hi if you're in the area). After that, it's Joe Madureira and Deadpool's big breakout, Excalibur finally gets a proper annual, and Magneto makes his official return as "Fatal Attractions" continues.

On Sale June 1993
October 4: Cable #4

On Sale July 1993
October 11: X-Men Unlimited #2
October 12: Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1-4
October 13: Excalibur Annual #1

October 18: Uncanny X-Men #304
October 19: X-Factor #94
October 20: Wolverine #73

October 25: X-Men (vol. 2) #24
October 26: X-Force #26
October 27: Excalibur #69

Friday, September 22, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #72

"Sleeping Giant"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Jubilee encounter a revived Sentinel in the Outback.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Dwayne Turner
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Kevin Somers
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Wolverine & Jubilee explore the X-Men's old Outback base, discovering the remains of the Reavers and Fitzroy's Sentinels. As they expand their search outside, looking for Gateway, one of the Sentinels activates and uses Spiral's remaining equipment to repair itself. Outside, Wolverine & Jubilee discover Gateway missing, but a groove from his bullroarer remaining. When Jubilee touches it, she suddenly finds herself back in her parent's house, before they died, and realizes they were actually murdered by two hired goons sent to kill Jubilee's neighbors. As Wolverine pulls her back to the present, the activated Sentinel approaches them, declaring that it has overrode its prime directive to protect humans and intends to use the temporal vortex to make the world better for Sentinels by eradicating humanity. When Wolverine moves to stop him, the Sentinel grabs Jubilee, telling Wolverine that if he attacks, the Sentinel will snap her neck.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #93

"The Longest Day: Part 1"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Factor deals with the death of Illyana while Forge is appointed their new government liaison.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Havok & Wolfsbane arrive at the X-Mansion, and express their condolences for Illyana's death to a stone-faced Colossus before being taken to Professor X. Meanwhile, Polaris & Quicksilver try on their new X-Factor uniforms while Guido is teleported away by Lila Cheney. At the X-Mansion, Havok plays handball with his brother, while Xavier gives Wolfsbane the bad news that he can't cure her mental conditioning telepathically, without risking her ending up stuck as a mindless mutate. Someplace far away, Guido finds himself in front of an alien crowd during one of Lila's concerts, and demands that she take him him, turning down her offer to return as her bodyguard and live a life of luxury, much to her dismay. Back at X-Factor headquarters, Quicksilver reluctantly accepts his new costume after shedding it of some unnecessary accessories, while at the pentagon, Val Cooper meets with X-Factor's new government liaison: Forge.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #303

"Going Through the Motions"
August 1993

In a Nutshell
The death of Illyana

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Special Guest Artist: Richard Bennet
Inks: Dan Green (pp 8, 14-18)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Jean Grey seeks out Jubilee, asking if she wants to talk about what she's feeling. Jubilee is reluctant at first, but soon she opens up, admitting she shouldn't be surprised by what happened. A few hours ago, Jubilee was keeping an increasingly-ill Illyana company along with Kitty while Xavier & Moira worked desperately to stop the spread of the virus making her sick. Annoyed by how close Kitty & Illyana were, Jubilee left to check on Xavier, and was saddened by how despondent he was. Then Illyana suddenly went into cardiac arrest, and Xavier was forced to use a piece of Shi'ar technology to keep her alive, albeit in a coma. Kitty argued that consigning her to that fate was worse than death, and as they argued, Jubilee picked up Illyana's bamf doll and placed it in her arms, doing what she could to make the girl happy. Shortly thereafter, the X-Men returned from Dallas to find Xavier waiting to break the news of Illyana's passing to a stone-faced Colossus, leaving Jubilee to ask Jean why, if the X-Men can save the world every day, they couldn't do zip to save one little girl? She tells Jean that what she's feeling more than anything is that she wants to be left alone, but Jean hugs her, saying that while everyone enters and leaves the world alone, the time they spend in between, together with other people, is what makes life worth living.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #70

"The Stenex Shuffle"
April 1983

In a Nutshell
Jo Duffy debuts with a flashback tale featuring a trip of new characters.

Plot/Script: Mary Jo Duffy
Pencils: Kerry Gammill (pp1, 5-16, 18-21), Tom Palmer (pp2-4,17,22)
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Luke and Lando, their respective searches having led them in the same direction, approach the planet Stenex, a place which Luke visited earlier, shortly after he and Han joined the Rebellion. Luke proceeds to tell Lando of how he, Han and Leia came to the planet in search of a missing Rebel cell, finding instead Rik Duel, an old associate of Han's, and Rik's partners. Duel tells Leia that he was tasked by the Rebel cell's leader to stay behind after the rest of the cell fled the incoming Imperial occupation to search for a hidden artifact that could be valuable to the Rebellion. Leia and company agree to help Duel, but when they find the artifact, a statute of a local Stenaxes' god, Duel claims it for himself, intending to sell it to the local Imperial governor, after turning the Rebels over to him. As the Rebels fight back against the summoned Stormtroopers, the native Stenaxes intervene. After they defeat the Stormtroopers, Han points them towards Duel. They attack the exchange between Duel and the Imperial governor, leaving Duel to curse Han's name as the Millennium Falcon flies off. Luke tells Lando they never learned what happened to Duel and his crew, but Lando hopes the Stenaxes will be grateful enough to help them find the bounty hunters Luke & Lando are now seeking, for Han's sake.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

X-amining Wolverine: Inner Fury

"Inner Fury"
1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine gets infected with nanites that turn his healing factor against him.

Writer: D.G. Chichester
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
A Hydra scientist named the Whale breaks off from the group with the nano-technology he had been working on, but is pursued by the co-leader of the project. Later, SHIELD alerts Wolverine that they picked up a Hydra courier with a communique containing his name. Nick Fury cautions against Wolverine investigating, saying it's clearly a trap, but Wolverine insists on springingit. He is subsequently attacked by a group of Hydra soldiers, and gets infected with the nanotechnology, but he manages to kill all the soldiers except for one, who is finished off by someone named Mr. Big. Mr. Big tells Wolverine that the nanites are affecting his healing factor, causing it to reject the adamantium in his body. As the adamantium begins to leak out of his body, Wolverine and Mr. Big track down the Whale, after which it's revealed that Mr. Big is Hydra as well, the co-leader of the project with Whale. His healing factor too overtaxed for him to fight, Wolverine "reboots" his power by stabbing himself in the head with his claws, forcing it to prioritize healing that injury instead of rejecting the adamantium. When he regains consciousness, he kills Mr. Big, and then promises the Whale, who was genuinely only interested in exploring science and got tricked into working with Hydra, that he'll help him get in touch with Reed Richards or some other super-scientist.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

X-amining Cable #3

"Twenty Questions"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable answers some questions.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Ron Lim & Co. (1-4), Paul Smith & Tom Palmer (5-7), Klaus Janson (8-10), B. Peterson & H. Candelario (11-13), Kerry Gammil & Al Milgrom (14-16), Ian Churchill & Bob Wiacek (17-18), Ian Churchill & Al Milgrom (19), Paul Ryan & Al Milgrom 20-22
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Cable & Kane are back in the 20th century but stuck in the Time Displacement Core at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Cable pulls out some beer to pass the time, and Kane takes the opportunity to ask him some questions. Meanwhile, GW Bridge breaks into Cable's Swiss chalet, while in Sarajevo, Sinsear approaches Weasel, looking for Deadpool. Bridge is stunned to discover Professor running Cable's house, and even more shocked to learn Cable is still alive. Back at the Time Displacement Core, Cable reveals that while he and Kane have been drinking and talking, he's been re-powering the teleportation unit with his own personal power supply. With the unit fully charged, he and Kane teleport to Cable's chalet, and Cable is enraged to find Bridge there. But Bridge quickly tells him that he can tell Cable where X-Force is.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #69

"Death in the City of Bone!"
March 1983

In a Nutshell
Leia & Fenn Shysa team-up to free Mandalore from Imperial rule.

Writer: David Michelinie
Pencils: Gene Day
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Mandalorian Protector: Jim Shooter

Plot
Leia & Threepio are brought to the Imperial base on Mandalore, and taken before Suprema, the Imperial leader, who declares he will soon kill Fenn Shysa. But as Leia & Threepio are led away by Stormtroopers, one of the troopers turns out to be Shysa in disguise. He cuts a deal with Leia: help him rescue one of his soldiers, Tobbi, and he'll help her capture Dengar. They free Tobbi from his cell, after which Fenn signals his troops outside the base to attack. The group commandeers an airspeeder and heads for Suprema's headquarters, triggering a slave uprising inside the base. Confronting Suprema, Tobbi is lethally shot, but lives long enough to open the doors to the base, allowing the slaves to escape, and then close them before a squad of Stormtroopers can capture Leia, Threepio & Fenn. In the process, he triggers a chain reaction that destroys the base, killing Suprema. Catching up to Dengar, Fenn forces him to admit he wasn't working with Boba Fett, but gives Leia a clue to his possible whereabouts. Meanwhile, Lando & Chewbacca meet an informant about Bossk's whereabouts, but Lando is less than happy when he learns the location.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #132-136 - Brothers in Arms

"Trouble in Paradise" / "Alone Against the Coven" / "Chain Reaction" / "Off the Cuff" / "Cat's Game"
July - September 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Cyber on a tropical island

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Steve Lightle
Inker: Steve Lightle
Letterer: Ul Higgins, John Babcock (issue #136)
Colorists: Steve & Marianne Lightle
Editors: Terry Kavanagh, Richard Ashford (issues #133-136)
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Vacationing on a tropical island, Wolverine encounters a young woman named Kayla fleeing from a cult called the Coven, who intend to bring about a new Dark Age on Earth. After fighting off some members of the Coven, Wolverine & Kayla sleep together, which Kayla says marks Wolverine as her champion; now, the Coven will need to kill him to meet their goals. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Coven, who have hired Cyber, learn of Wolverine's involvement. Wolverine attacks them, but is knocked out, and when he wakes up, he discovers he's been chained to Cyber. The two fight, and Wolverine gets knocked out again. He regains consciousness just as he and Cyber are being lowered into a vat of acid, intended by the Coven as a sacrifice. Cyber manages to cut them free, and the pair escape along with a jewel the Coven needs for their ritual. Wolverine brings the gem to a temple housing a group resisting the Coven, including Kayla. They only want to let Wolverine inside, but are forced to allow Cyber in since he's still chained to Wolverine. Inside, Cyber immediately reveals this has all been a ruse to get him inside the temple, and unlocks the manacle. The temple defiled, the rest of the Coven enter, but Wolverine is able to defeat them by going into a berserker rage, and Cyber escapes in the melee. With the Coven defeated, Kayla reveals the gem they stole was a fake all along, and Wolverine notes that in being deceitful like the Coven, the group has traded a darkness they could see for one that lives in everyone.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x07: The Dragon and the Wolf



Opening Credits Map

King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Eastwatch -> Old Town

King's Landing
Well, if your dream was to see nearly all the main characters assemble in one area then your wish has been granted. We get banter between Tyrion and Bronn and the Hound and Brienne. Also, Podrick the Pink Taco Pounder talked with Bronn. Bronn mentioned the Casanova's “magic cock.” There it was. Five or so seasons of setup have finally paid off.

Daenerys and her allies meet with Cersei and her allies. The Hound makes sure the Mountain and everybody watching knows that they will have a showdown. There's more banter back and forth with Cersei thinking the talk of an invading White Walker army being some sort of ploy by Daenerys. That's when the Hound releases the captured zombie and Cersei is suitably scared and shows more emotion than I thought she'd allow herself to.

Euron wants no part of this and declares that he's sailing back to the Iron Islands where the White Walkers can't get him. Cersei agrees to a truce with Daenerys provided that Jon Snow vows to completely withdraw from this war and never aid Daenerys. Jon Snow, of course, says he can't do that because Daenerys is now his queen. Being too honest and letting love get in the way of your politicking? That's two Stark mistakes for the price of one!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series IV

Skybox 1993

Vital Statistics
180 cards (including the checklist), plus nine red foil chase cards featuring characters from Marvel's 2099 imprint, and one rare Spider-Man vs. Venom hologram card, available in three different colors (red, green or the rarest, blue), inserted at the odds of one in every 180 packs.

The big change in this series that the bulk of the cards, comprising the various heroes and villains cards, are 1/9 of a larger image that forms when each batch of nine cards are placed in a nine-pocket plastic sleeve.

As a result, the border around each card varies, depending on where in the grid it falls (so the middle card has no border, the bottom right card a border on it's right and bottom, etc.), with a line across the top of each card denoting whether the character is a hero, villain, rookie, or alien race, along with the Marvel logo with the year inside it.

The back of each card is laid out in landscape, with a large headshot and a smaller full body image of the character in the center. Their real name and team affiliation is listed, followed by their ranking (by numeric value) in four ve categories: Strength, Intelligence, Fighting Ability, and Speed. Beneath that is a one sentence origin for the character, along with their first appearance. On the very bottom of the card is a "did you know" fact for each character.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

X-aminations in September 2017


As you may or may not have noticed (depending on how closely you're watching for new posts), I've struggled a bit lately in getting posts up anywhere close to their scheduled release times/days, with both the last Wolverine and Excalibur reviews going up well into the week following their planned release date. A combination of a busier-than-usual summer workload and real life junk (nothing serious, just a surplus of mundane stuff that has eaten up my time at the computer and worn me down a bit mentally) is to blame, but with at least one more abnormal week ahead (thankfully due, in part, to having some legitimately fun stuff planned for at least part of Labor Day weekend), and in the hopes of getting caught up and back to something more closely approximating a regular schedule (and to get Force in Focus running regularly again), I've decided to split what was originally planned for review in the first week of September into two weeks.

That aside, this month is another one with several significant events, including a couple of big returns in X-Force as "Fatal Attractions" continues, the introduction of what will become one of the franchise's longest-running mysteries in X-Men, and a genuinely emotional issue of Uncanny X-Men as the X-Men say goodbye to one of their own. 

On Sale May 1993
September 6: Marvel Comics Presents #132-136 (Wolverine story)

On Sale June 1993
September 13: Wolverine: Inner Fury
September 14: Cable #3

September 20: Uncanny X-Men #303
September 21: X-Factor #93
September 22: Wolverine #72

September 27: X-Men (vol. 2) #23
September 28: X-Force #25
September 29: Excalibur #68

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue Season 12, The Final Wrap-Up


As recently as Season Ten, I was remarking on the show’s continued ability to create strong hooks for episodes, and consistently discover some new angle to make the aging show interesting in some way.  Then, Season Eleven happened.  That year did have some solid episodes, but overall, it’s hard to deny a sense of exhaustion.  Looking back on the later days of NYPD Blue, I can pinpoint two moments the series never recovered from. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x06: Beyond the Wall



Opening Credits Map

King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Eastwatch -> Old Town

Dragonstone
Daenerys bemoans Jon Snow's decision to go capture a White Walker. She tells Tyrion that she's glad he isn't a hero. Heroes are hot, hunky men who make your loins cry out for satisfaction but, instead of quenching you're deep, desperate thirst, heroes go off on stupid, ill-advised quests that will probably get them killed.

Tyrion is less concerned about Daenerys's carnal desires and more interested in her death. More specifically, he's worried about who will succeed her and how the succession will take place. Daenerys, however, isn't keen on thinking about her own mortality.

Not much is decided here accept some acknowledgement that a benevolent dictatorship is only a good form of government for one generation. Daenerys is focused on simply becoming a benevolent dictator before worrying about anything else. Tyrion is still concerned about the long game.

Friday, August 25, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #67

"Days of Future Yet to Come"
 July 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur defeats the Sentinels of the future.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorists: Moreshead & Thomas
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Tangerine senses the destruction of her RCX teammates by the Sentinels, she and the remaining members of the group help Excalibur prepare their assault on Sentinel headquarters to rescue Phoenix & Widget. Meanwhile, a captive Phoenix telepathically links with Widget, where she discovers that the Sentinels, having learned of alternate realities via Phoenix' escape to the past, are planning to wipe out mutants across all existence. Outside, Excalibur and the RCX are able to use a captive Sentinel to infiltrate the Sentinel base, just as Phoenix manages to escape her prison and free Widget. With Excalibur & RCX holding off the Sentienls, Phoenix & Widget work together to reprogram Master Mold, and through its link with them, all the Sentinels on the planet, to rewrite their first directive to protect all life, a directive immediately put into action as a Sentinel stops Ahab from killing Phoenix, but spares his life. As Ahab teleports away, Phoenix tells the RCX that the war is over, but it's up to them to win the peace. They ask Phoenix to stay with them, but she declines, saying that she has a new home, a new family and a new future with Excalibur.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

X-amining X-Force #24

"Prisoners of Fate"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Force rescues Rusty & Skids from the Friends of Humanity.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Inking: Richard Bennet
Lettering: Chris Eliopolous
Color: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Friends of Humanity attack a transport transferring Rusy & Skids from the Vault, and capture the mutants. Shortly thereafter, X-Force returns from their fight with the X-Ternals, and Cannonball announces they're heading out on another mission: to rescue Rusy & Skids. At the X-Mansion, Professor X tells Val Cooper that he's asked X-Force to retrieve Rusty & Skids, who were on their way to him for treatment. In Boston, Vanessa agrees to bring Domino, Grizzly & Hammer to X-Force, over Domino's protests. In space, a mysterious figure pulls together the scattered remains of Graymalkin. Back on Earth, X-Force infiltrates the Friends of Humanity's compound, easily overpowering the men stationed there and rescuing their former teammates, despite Rusty & Skids remaining thoroughly brainwashed and going on about Stryfe. Spotting some of the Friends' anti-mutant literature, Cannonball wonders to Boomer if there's any way for humans and mutants to get along, and Boomer replies they'd better, since there's nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #22

"The Mask Behind the Facade"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men learn "the truth" about Psylocke.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Gambit and the Psylockes attack and defeat Silver Samurai, with their battle revealing a hidden page from Lord Nyoirin's diary. Meanwhile, Shinobi Shaw meets with Matsuo, Lord Tatsu'o and Lord Nyoirin to discuss their territorial claims to Jigoku criminal enterprises. In Alaska, Cyclop's tells his grandparents the truth of what happened to his son, and meets their neighbor, Mike Milbury. Back at Nyoirin's estate, Gambit, Beast and the Psylockes read the diary page, which reveals that after Psylocke emerged from the Siege Perilous, she was found by Nyoirin's lover and assassin, Kwannon, and when Kwannon touched Psylocke, their minds fused. Losing all sense of her self, Kwannon fled, eventually encountering Matsuo and becoming transformed into the Hand's agent. Psylocke angrily refutes the revelations held in the diary, but just then, Lord Nyoirin returns, accompanied by Silver Samurai, and declares that both women are who they claim to be; the real question is if either can ever be whole again, or if they want to. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Cyclops checks on Milbury, only to learn he's actually Mr. Sinister, who has come to discuss Cyclop's family tree with him.