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

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.

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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x05: Eastwatch



Opening Credits Map

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

On The Road
Shockingly, Jaime's alive! Just kidding. We all knew he'd survive.

So, Bronn helps Jaime out of the water and they're apparently far enough away that Daenerys' army as to not get caught. Jaime is in shock. He says they just got their ass kicked by one dragon and she's got three of them! They're screwed!

Bronn corrects Jaime and notes that only Jaime and the Lannisters are screwed. Fighting dragons is where Bronn's service ends.

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue Season 12, Stars & Guest Stars


Once it was obvious that NYPD Blue would be on the air for a very long time, Dennis Franz made it known that he’d like the series to end with Season Twelve, thinking it a nice, even number.  The show was nearly clipped in Season Eleven, given the incredible cost of keeping such a long-running drama in the air.  (Typically, a series becomes more expensive to produce each year it’s on, if only due to the yearly raises that are expected.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #71

"Triassic Park"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine defeats Sauron

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Dwayne Turner
Inks: Bennet/Barta/Rubinstein
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Rogue flies into Sauron's citadel and attacks him, Wolverine climbs up out of the pit via the stampede of dinosaurs being dropped on him. He and Rogue capture Sauron and bring him to Brainchild's laboratory, intending to use Brainchild's genetic transformer to revert Sauron to Karl Lykos. But Sauron argues that he and Lykos are essentially two different people: to bring back Lykos is to kill Sauron. He maintains that, in the Savage Land, Sauron has a better right to life than Lykos, and Wolverine grudgingly agrees, setting him loose. Shortly thereafter, Storm and Bishop arrive in the Blackbird, sent by Xavier due to the lack of communication from Wolverine and Rogue. They load up the fist made of iron to bring back to the professor, and when Storm asks what he thinks of the evidence they found, Wolverine declares that he saw enough to know that a storm is brewing, with the X-Men caught in the middle of it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #92

"The Man Who Wasn't There"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Factor battles the Acolytes

Co-Plotter: Scott Lobdell
Penciler/Co-Plotter: Joe Quesada
Script: J.M. DeMatteis
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Background Artist: Cliff Van Meter
Colorist: Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the wake of an Acolyte attack on a hospice in Virgina, Havok, Quicksilver & Val Cooper interview one of the survivors, whose descriptions of the Acolytes' savagery stuns them. They are unknowingly watched by the Acolyte Scanner, who reports back to Cortez. Later, X-Factor interrogates Spoor, the one Acolyte captured during the attack. He is initially belligerent, but becomes reverential when Quicksilver, the son of Magneto, enters the room. Spoor proceeds to tell them the location of the Acolytes' next target, a low-level military base in Kentucky. But instead of bringing X-Factor, Val goes there only with Quicksilver, along with Random as hired help. Suspicious, the rest of X-Factor follows, and along the way they encounter a mysterious flying mutant who observes them briefly before flying off. At Camp Hayden, Quicksilver quickly learns the base is a front for Project: Wideawake, the government program to create Sentinels. Arriving shortly thereafter, X-Factor is stunned by the revelation. Just then, the Acolytes attack the base, and while they fight X-Factor, Cortez attempts to recruit Quicksilver. He rejects Cortez, who then calls for the Acolytes' retreat, saying they've succeeded in planting a seed. In the wake of their departure, Val coughs up green smoke, revealing she's been under the control of the Acolytes for the last several weeks. However, she says that she was just following the government's orders in keeping Project: Wideawake a secret from the team, and X-Factor walks away from her in disgust.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #302

"Province"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle Fitzroy in Dallas.

Writes: Lobdell
Pencils: Romita Jr.
Inks: Green & Panosian
Vacations & Lettering: Eliopoulos & Babcock
Colors: Buccellato
Edits: Bob Harras
Chiefs: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Storm struggles to contain the debris from the Aerie explosion, Bishop searches the rubble for any sign of Forge, Mystique or Fitzroy. Meanwhile, Xavier worries about Illyana's worsening health. In Dallas, Storm is attacked by a mob, but a local police officer comes to her defense. In the remains of the Aerie, Forge emerges from a protective shield along with an unconscious Mystique, while on the ground, the mob reasons they can probably overpower both Storm and the cop, just as Iceman arrives and helps contain the situation. Above. Fitzroy attacks Bishop & Forge, but his armor is destroyed by Jean, while Colossus leaps into the fray, pummeling him in rage to the point that Colossus has to be pulled off the unconscious villain by his teammates. Back at the mansion, a studying Jubilee is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Kitty Pryde, who came as soon as she heard about Illyana.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x04: The Spoils of War



Opening Credits Map

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

Winterfell
We start with Wun Wun sitting in a wheel chair. Finally! Wun Wun is independently mobile. Littlefinger skulks into the room and hands Wun Wun the knife used to killed Bran because he, of course, thinks Wun Wun is Bran too.

I think this is some kind of power play by Petyr but it doesn't work. Wun Wun is completely disaffected and simply tells Littlefinger that "chaos is a ladder." This unnerves Baelish. My sources say that that's a phrase Littlefinger told Varys in private earlier in the series. I think Littlefinger has no clue how handle someone he can't keep secrets from and can't play mind games with.

Meanwhile, Arya saunters up to the gates of Winterfell and two guards blunder their way through not letting her in (believing the idea that she is Arya Stark is too far fetched). While these two work on their three....er....two stooges routine, Arya up and sneaks by them.

This eventually ends up with reunion between Sansa and Arya. They're happy to see each other. It's sweet. That leads to Sansa, Arya and Wun Wun reuniting. It's...not as sweet. Wun Wun just, totally doesn't care about anyone anymore. He gives Arya that sweet Valyrian steel dagger though.

We go from the Three-Eyed Raven to the Three Legged Man. Podrick the Pornstar is sparring with Brienne. He's losing of course despite Brienne's advice. Arya's advice is not to spar against someone who has defeated the Hound. I would think that, despite everything else, Podrick's third leg is interfering with his footwork.

Anyway, Arya wants a go at Brienne. Brienne goes easy on Arya to start but we know how that works out. Eventually Arya pisses off Brienne and it's on like a 1980's ape based video game. The match ends in a draw and that's cool and all but it feels like if I was shooting hoops in my driveway and some dude walks up saying he's rusty and would like to get some practice in and then throws down a 360-tomahawk jam over me. I mean, that's sweet but I'm starting to think their intent wasn't to brush up on fundamentals.

Friday, August 11, 2017

X-amining Cable #2

"Mired in Destiny"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable & Kane return to the present.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Art Thibert
Inkers: Milgrom, Wiacek
Readouts: Chris Eliopolous
Alarmed: Marie Javins
Running Behind: Bob Harras
Takes a lick' an' keeps on tickin': Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Clan Chosen infiltrate the Tinex facility, but find a cadre of Canaanite guards waiting for them. Meanwhile, General Haight assures the Canaanite Commission on Strategic Maneuvers that his men can repel Clan Chosen and that they won't impact Sinsear's mission to eliminate the other who has gone off his programming before working to ensure the ascension of Apocalypse. Back at the Tinex, Cable asks Boak to sacrifice himself to overcome the Canaanite forces, which enrages Hope, but she still accesses the Tinex in order to send Kane home. In the process, she learns someone else has already used it to go back in time. In the present, Sinsear visits Tolliver's Austrian home, and when he's told Tolliver is dead, Tolliver kills the man who told him as much, insisting Tolliver is still alive. Back in the future, Hope finds the right timeline to send Kane back to, but Cable announces he's going back with him, leaving orders to blow up the facility once they're gone. Cable & Kane are sent back in time, and the Clan Chosen flies off as they destroy the facility. Arriving in the present, Cable & Kane are surprised to find Professor offline, and Graymalkin seemingly on the ocean floor.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

X-amining X-Factor Annual #8

"Charon" / "What Have You Got to Hide" / "Crawlin' From the Wreckage"
1993

In a Nutshell
The Chalkers return as part of Charon's first appearance.

Writer: Peter David, Skip Dietz (2nd & 3rd Story)
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker, Buzz (2nd Story), Chris Batista (3rd Story)
Inker: Mark McKenna, Al Milgrom (2nd Story). Jeff Albrecht (3rd Story)
Letterer: Lois Buhalis, Dave Sharp (2nd Story), Pat Brosseay (3rd Story)
Colorist: Joe Rosas, Carlos Lopez (2nd Story), Joe Rosas (3rd Story)
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Leaving a movie with his parents, Charlie Ronalds is devastated when his parents are killed by an attacker who says he is a mutant. Years later, Charlie is injured during an accident at his school involving Guido Carosella, another mutant. In the present, Guido, along with Polaris, appear on a talk show while the rest of X-Factor trains in the Danger Room. Charlie, his hatred for mutants and Guido in particular still raging, contacts a demon named Cloot. Learning of Charlie's hatred for X-Factor, Cloot grants him powers, and allies in the Chalker family, in exchange for Charlie delivering the souls of X-Factor to Cloot. As Charon, Charlie leads the Chalkers in an attack on X-Factor, but the Chalkers quickly die once more as Charon battles Strong Guy, and when he declares he simply wants Strong Guy to die, Cloot appears, telling Charlie he's broken their deal and sending Charlie to the same hell dimension where his parents reside, leaving X-Factor confused about what exactly has just happened.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #1

"Follow the Leader"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
Sienna Blaze attacks Storm, Cyclops & Professor X. 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Scott Bachalo
Inker: Dan Panosian 
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Assistant: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Nudge: Bob Harras
Evil Mutant: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Antarctica, a visor-less Cyclops searches the wreckage of the crashed Blackbird for Xavier, who then helps Cyclops find Storm. Elsewhere, new Upstart Sienna Blaze is angry to learn her attack on the three X-Men hasn't killed them yet. Back at the mansion, Psylocke & Bishop set out to rescue their comrades. In Antarctica, Xavier, Storm & Cyclops recall events leading up to the crash for any information about their attacker, remembering being hit by a massive energy blast on their way home from the Savage Land and how Cyclops lost his visor trying to bring the craft down safely. With the blizzard outside the remnants of the plane raging, Storm attempts to tame it, but its size overwhelms her, triggering a massive fever. The next morning, Cyclops & Storm awake to find Xavier gone, having set out in the night in search of a psionic imprint he detected, a search which ultimately leaves him stranded in the blizzard. Storm & Cyclops set out after him, encountering Blaze, who once again tries to kill them. But working with a returned Xavier, they manage to defeat her, though she uses her power to escape, triggering an electro-magnetic vacuum that nearly destroys the X-Men. But Storm is able to protect the trio until Xavier senses the arrival of Bishop & Psylocke, who retrieve them. Later, Xavier recalls his rescue by an unseen friend, as a shadowy figure watches the Blackbird depart.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x03: The Queen’s Justice


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Old Town

Dragonstone
Jon Snow shows up. That was fast! You know, I'm not necessarily upset at the show for speeding up certain things, like travel, but it is a bit jarring compared to the, possibly overly, deliberate pacing earlier in the series. However, despite not needing to spend several episodes with Jon Snow traveling, this show does seem to have difficulty conveying any passage of time between when Jon Snow left and when he arrived.

Anyway, Jon Snow and Tyrion are the first to meet and they do that Han Solo/Lando Calrissian thing where you act like you hate each other only to then show affection for each other. Not sure who they trying to initially fool but this wasn't the most egregious use of this trope. At least their “affection” was just a smile and head nod.

Tyrion and Jon Snow catch up a little bit since Jon Snow last saw Tyrion relieving himself off the Wall. Jon Snow is lead to Daenerys who, of course, immediately demands fealty because she is the rightful ruler of Westeros. She's nice enough to allow Jon Snow be warden of the North, though.

Jon Snow rejects this saying all this talk of ruling Westeros is pointless until the White Walkers are dealt with. He's not wrong but I can't help but feel he's going about this wrongly. Frankly, they both are. Daenerys needs allies but alienates them by demanding complete loyalty when they first meet doesn't seem the best way to garner support. And Jon Snow might want to try to explain the White Walkers better and not just immediately claim everybody is an idiot.

So, things are tense and seem to be going south. Beyond that, Jon Snow is kind of trapped because they took his boat. That's another way not to gain allies.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #68

"The Search Begins"
February 1983

In a Nutshell
Leia meets Fenn Shysa on Manadalore while searching for Dengar.

Script: David Michelinie
Layouts: Gene Day
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Corellian Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Luke, Leia & Lando depart Arbra, each in search of a different bounty hunter who may be able to provide information as to the whereabouts of Boba Fett & Han Solo. Leia, looking for Dengar, lands on the planet Mandalore. She and Threepio come across a group of Imperial-backed slavers, but before they can intervene, the slavers are attacked by soldiers wearing armor like Boba Fett's. Leia meets their leader, Fenn Shysa, and he takes her back to his village, where she learns about Boba Fett's past and discovers that Shysa has captured Dengar, who was attempting to claim a bounty on Shysa. Dengar agrees to tell Leia everything she wants to know in exchange for breaking him free. That night, while Leia distracts Shysa and knocks him out, Threepio frees Dengar. But as the three race for Leia's ship, Dengar reveals that he's altered their deal, having signaled the local Imperial troops in the hopes of capturing an even bigger bounty than Shysa, just as Leia & Threepio are surrounded by a contingent of Stormtroopers.

Friday, August 4, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #66

"Back to the Present"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
The truth between Widget is revealed as Excalibur travels to the future.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Dana Moreshead
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In 2013, Ahab attempts to harness the residual temporal energy surrounding Kate Pryde to follow Rachel Summers back in time. But the combination of that energy, radiation from the Sentinel attack that triggered Rachel's time jump, and Kate's phasing ability cause a malfunction that results in her being fused with a Sentinel and tossed into the timestream, emerging as Widget two years later before fleeing to warn Rachel. In the present, Excalibur returns to Braddock Manor, and Rachel immediately prepares to return to her future timeline. In 2015, Widget encounters the RCX, then senses Rachel entering the timestream just as Ahab launches a Sentinel attack, hoping to capture Widget. The link between Widget and Rachel opens a gateway stable enough for the rest of Excalibur to travel into the future, where they assist the RCX in repelling Ahab and the Sentinels. However, both Widget & Rachel are captured as Ahab retreats. Though the RCX insists Excalibur would be insane to go to the Sentinels headquarters, Nightcrawler declares that since they're stranded in the future, their choice is simple: defeat the Sentinels or die trying.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

X-amining X-Force #23

"Compromising Positions"
June 1993

In a Nutshell

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Mood: Beef Candelario
Alphabet: Spike
Our Ted Turner: Marie
MIA (Missing-in-Australia): Bob Harras
Muck-a-Muck: Tommy Dee

Plot
X-Force retrieves Crule from the hospital, offering to take down the X-Ternals if he helps them locate the group. Meanwhile, Cannonball confers with Xavier, hoping to find a way to rescue his friends while keeping his word to Gideon. In Canada, Domino & Grizzly escape Weapon: Prime with Hammer's help, while in Oregon, Gideon assures Saul that X-Force will come for their friends, likely sneaking in to attempt a rescue. But when X-Force, sans Cannonball, arrives near Saul's home, they decide to take the opposite approach, and blast their way in, taking Gideon & Saul by surprise. In Boston, Vanessa is confronted by Deadpool & Sluggo. However, they're shot from behind by Domino & Grizzly, and Vanessa tells Domino she knows where X-Force is. Back at Saul's home, X-Force has retrieved their captured friends, and Gideon expresses his dismay that Cannonball broke his word. Sunspot gives Gideon a letter written by Cannonball, explaining that while he promised to stay away, the rest of X-Force didn't. Saul says that without Cannonball, the X-Ternals may all die, to which Shatterstar declares, as X-Force departs, that if the X-Ternals don't leave X-Force alone, that will happen anyway.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #21

"The Puzzle Box"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men head to Japan in search of the truth about Psylocke.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Brandon Petersen
Inker: Dan Panosian
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The X-Men interrogate the two Psylockes, and when both telepathy and Wolverine's senses fail to determine which is the real deal, Xavier declares the team must go to Japan to find Lord Nyoirin to learn the truth. In Alaska, Cyclops reunites with his grandparents, while in Seattle, the Dark Riders target Mesmero, killing him for being unworthy before executing one of their own sickly teammates. In Japan, Lord Nyoirin meets with Shinboi Shaw, and agrees to use Kwannon to kill the X-Men in exchange for Shinobi supporting Nyoirin's claim on Clan Yashida's holdings. Elsewhere, Gambit, Beast and the two Psylockes infiltrate Nyoirin's ancestral home. Taking out his guards, they discover a secret painting of Kwannon, resembling Asian Psylocke, in Nyoirin's study. In Tokyo, Shinobi attacks Matsu'o, angry that Matsu'o has prevailed on Gamesmaster to block Shinboi's efforts to kill Psylocke. In Nyoirin's study, the suspicions of the X-Men grow, but as they question Psylocke, they're attacked from behind by Silver Samurai, who declares that in order to regain the place of honor lost to Clan Yashida, he must kill them all.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x02: Stormborn


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Old Town

Dragonstone
We start this episode in Dragonstone where Daenerys and Tyrion are finally talking! Since taking over Westeros with dragons would be too easy and narratively unsatisfying Daenerys wants to defeat Cersei...more cleanly?

To be fair, burning down everything wouldn't lead to a fun land to rule over. Lady Tyrell isn't buying that, though. Peasants loved Margaery but she still died. So, maybe a few peasant being burnt wouldn't be all that bad? In the end, Daenerys wants to be a responsible leader and keep innocent casualties to a minimum. Despite my sarcasm, I do agree. It is nice not to kill innocents.

Beyond that, Daenerys also grilled Varys on his shifting loyalties. Varys pretty much says that he's loyal to Westeros and will be loyal to her so long as she's a good queen. Daenerys excepts this on the condition that Varys let's her know if she's being a bad queen. They agree. Of course, neither of them think of the scenario of Daenerys being a bad queen in such a way that Varys fears repercussions for speaking up against her and thus plots against her in secrecy. But I did!

Anyway, the war plan is for the Tyrells and Dorne to lay siege to King's Landing because they believe the Lords won't rush to defend Cersei from local Westerosi armies. Meanwhile, the foreign armies of the Unsullied and Dothraki attack Casterly Rock. Everyone is amenable to this plan so Yara takes Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes back to Dorne to gather their army. What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men Annual #17

"The Gift Goodbye" / "Of Kings and Queens and Promises"
1993

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of the X-Cutioner and the death of Mastermind.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Jason Pearson, Tom Grummet (2nd Story)
Inker: Mark Farmer, Al Milgrom (2nd Story)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis, Steve Dutro (2nd Story)
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley & Eric Moran, Glynis Oliver (2nd Story)
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In San Miguel, the X-Cutioner kills Tower. Elsewhere, Jean is shopping with her son Nate when the pair is attacked by a group of Nimrod Sentinels. Thankfully, they are rescued first by XSE agents Bishop & Shard, then by Icemaster and his X-Men. In the real world, on Muir Island, Storm, Colossus & Archangel are trying to determine how to rescue Jean, Bishop & Iceman, who have been sucked into a dying Mastermind's mind after they arrived on the island following a strange letter Mastermind sent to Jean. Inside Mastermind's mind, the illusions he's created start to break down, while outside, the rest of the X-Men detect the arrival of the X-Cutioner, who wants to kill Mastermind. As the X-Men fight X-Cutioner, Jean is able to break Mastermind's illusion and send her teammates' minds back into their bodies, but she refuses to leave the dying Mastermind behind. But after he elicits a promise from Jean that she won't remember him with hatred, he uses the last of his strength to force her out, then dies. Outside, the X-Cutioner manages to escape, but he leaves behind a grievously-wounded Colossus.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

X-aminations in August 2017


A big month ahead, as we get the launch of yet another regular series (albeit a quarterly one) in X-Men Unlimited, the start of the next linewide crossover, "Fatal Attractions", in X-Factor, and, sadly, the end of Alan Davis' Excalibur run, along with a look at the fourth series of Marvel Universe trading cards.

On Sale April 1993
August 2: X-Men (vol. 2) #21
August 3: X-Force #23
August 4: Excalibur #66

August 9: X-Men Unlimited #1
August 10: X-Factor Annual #8
August 11: Cable #2

On Sale May 1993
August 16: Uncanny X-Men #302
August 17: X-Factor #92
August 18: Wolverine #71

August 23: X-Men (vol. 2) #22
August 24: X-Force #24
August 25: Excalibur #67

August 30: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series IV

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x01: Dragonstone


Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> The Twins -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Old Town

Hey, Game of Thrones is back! I...don't have much to say except that. So, let's get to the review!

The Twins
We start off with Walder Frey addressing his family at a feast. This is a bit odd since Walder died at the end of last season, so I at first I thought this was a flashback. Then he gave a toast with his clan where he obviously poisoned the wine. So, yeah, the Freys die and “Walder” reveals himself\herself to be, of course, Arya.

Later, Arya is wandering towards King's Landing to do some more killing when she comes across some Lannister soldiers. They turn out to be decent folk and even offer Arya some food and wine. I'm not sure what exactly the point of this scene was. Maybe it was to make Arya feel guilty about killing all the Freys when there may have been some good eggs in there or maybe it's to teach Arya to be more careful about indiscriminately Lannisters in the name of revenge or maybe it was an excuse to get Ed Sheeran to sing and appear on screen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #70

"Tooth & Nail"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Sauron.

Script: Larry Hama
Penciler: Dwayne Turner
Inker: Richard Bennet
Letterer: Steve Buccellato
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Wolverine fights Sauron, Jubilee escapes from her captors aboard a pterodactyl. Elsewhere, Rogue escapes from Brainchild's prison, and orders him to tell her who made the fist of iron and meddled with his mind. At Sauron's citadel, Sauron's followers join the fight, pummeling Wolverine with rocks and seemingly burying him alive. Meanwhile, Jubilee fights off one of her captors with her Walkman, knocking him off his pterodactyl, and when she urges her mount to save him, she earns the respect of his fellow riders. who declare she is now one of them. Elsewhere, Rogue spots a stampede of dinosaurs heading towards Sauron's citadel, and inside, Wolverine emerges from the rock pile to discover that he's in the path of the herd of dinosaurs Sauron has summoned.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #91

"Underpinnings"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
Multiple Man is infected by the Legacy Virus.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Quesada
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Underlord: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the tunnels beneath Genosha, X-Factor hunts for the escaped mutate, hoping to capture him before the Magistrates kill him. Finding an interactive map of the system, Polaris sees a trio of Magistrates approaching Wolfsbane, but when Havok & Strong Guy arrive to help, she has already overpowered them. Meanwhile, Val meets Quicksilver at the airport, and continues to manipulate him. Back in the sewers, Madrox finds the escaped mutate. He is near death, and in order to resuscitate him, Madrox is forced to create a duplicate, thus exposing himself to the same disease killing the mutate. After he's revived, the mutate reiterates that he doesn't want to die a lab rat, so X-Factor returns him to the treatment center and ensures he's allowed to die with dignity. The Genoshan president promises Havok they'll free the mutates of their mental conditioning once they've found the source and cure for the disease afflicting them, and as they leave, Wolfsbane tells Madrox he looks like death warmed over.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #301

"Dominion!"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
Fitzroy attacks Forge & Mystique.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Master Mold: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Fitzroy tortures Selene in order to attract the Gamesmaster's attention and call a meeting of the Upstarts. There, the Gamesmaster reveals their next high profile target will be Forge. At the X-Mansion, Colossus tends to his sick sister, while Moira & Xavier debate sharing their suspicions that Illyana is infected with the Legacy Virus. Xavier says he is bringing someone in to interface with the Shi'ar diagnostic equipment to be sure. Meanwhile, Storm & Bishop are en route to Forge's home in Eagle Plaza when they detect an energy surge in the area. At Eagle Plaza, Fitzroy attacks Forge & Mystique. Forge sends Mystique to call for help, then does his best to fend off Fitzroy. At the X-Mansion, Mystique's call sends the rest of the X-Men racing to respond. At Eagle Plaza, Fitzroy overpowers Forge, but is briefly distracted by Mystique returning in the form of Bishop. But after seeing through the ruse, Fitzroy triggers a massive explosion, just as Storm arrives outside Eagle Plaza.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #67

"The Darker"
January 1983

In a Nutshell
Chewbacca & Threepio battle an ancient evil inside Arbra

Script: David Michelinie
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Hoojib Wrangler: Jim Shooter

Plot
On the way to a briefing, Artoo overhears a call for help and follows it into one of the base's many tunnels, an action spotted by one of the Hoojibs. At the briefing, Leia announces that the Rebels have learned one of three bounty hunters worked with Boba Fett to capture Han Solo, and then was cut out of the deal by Fett, so the Alliance intends to find all three in the hopes they'll turn on Fett. As the Rebels prepare to depart, the Hoojibs tell Threepio about Artoo's absence, leading he & Chewbacca to journey deep inside the base. They eventually discover a massive ancient city protected by a force barrier, and inside, a damaged Artoo along with a creature called the Darker, who claims to be the dark energy of the original Arbrans taken physical form. Able to control emotions, he fills the Hoojibs with fear and turns Chewbacca's devotion to his friends into rage, setting him after Threepio. Stumbling across a library, Threepio learns that the Darker can be dispersed by coming into contact with the energy field surrounding the city. After Threepio breaks the Darker's control by calling on Chewbacca's affection for Han, Chewbacca throws the creature into the field, destroying him. Returning to the surface, they are greeted by a Rebel pilot who tells them Luke is looking for them, and to get ready to depart: their "vacation" is over.

Friday, July 14, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #65

"White Lies, Dark Truth"
 May 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur defeats Nigel and the RCX.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Nightcrawler realizes Kitty is an impostor, confirming that Nigel is up to no good. He & Cerise shake their Warpie guards and teleport to where their teammates are being held captive. Meanwhile, watching from Otherworld, Roma promises to keep her vow not to interfere, even though Captain Britain faces certain death. At Cloud Nine, Nigel attempts to coerce Captain Britain into serving his agenda, but Captain Britain discovers he's been tricked about Meggan's comatose state. His ruse revealed, Nigel sets the Warpies to attack Captain Britain. Elsewhere, a fight breaks out between more Warpies and the revived Excalibur, though some of the Warpies join the side of Excalibur, whom they've come to like. As word of the fight spreads, Nigel orders the rest of the Warpies away, leaving behind a badly beaten and dying Captain Britain. Roma then appears before him and revives him, paying him back for her previous manipulations. As the battle rages, Nigel gets the drop on Nightcrawler, but Captain Britain intervenes, saving him and allowing Nightcrawler to knock out Nigel, ending the fight. In the aftermath, Alistair agrees to look after the remaining Warpies, just as Rachel appears before her friends, declaring that with her memories fully intact, she now intends to return to the future, hoping the power of the Phoenix can make a difference there.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

X-amining X-Force #22

"Ordnance Weighed in Blood"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Force returns to Earth with Cable's stuff in tow.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Conrad/Candelario
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorists: Tinsley/Moran
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Graymalkin breaks up, Lila Cheney teleports Iron Man & the SHIELD force back to their shuttle and the rest of X-Force to Camp Verde, while Cannonball & Sunspot head back to Earth aboard an escape pod Professor managed to get them into before the station exploded. Elsewhere, the captive Boomer, Warpath & Siryn learn they've been captured by Gideon & the Externals. At Camp Verde, Cannonball & Sunspot touch down, and while they can't preserve Professor's programming, all of Cable's gear, jettisoned from Graymalkin, lands shortly thereafter. In Canada, Domino, Grizzly & Hammer break into Department K searching for info on Cable, only to be confronted by the new Weapon: Prime team. In Boston, Deadpool attacks Vanessa and her roommate, and Deadpool's associate Sluggo kills one of them. In Arizona, X-Force is inventorying the equipment they received from Graymalkin when they are contacted by the Externals, who declare that if Cannonball doesn't turn himself over to them, they will kill his captured teammates.