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

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #79

"The Big Con"
January 1984

In a Nutshell
Lando & Chewbacca go undercover to discover the final location of Han Solo.

Script & Plot: Jo Duffy
Breakdowns: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Lando & Chewbacca, looking for information on Han's whereabouts, arrive on Arcan IV to meet with a gang led by Lemo & Sanda, who had previous dealings with Han. Aware that the gang is hunting for a pair of relics, the Dancing Goddess & the Minstrel, Lando sells them the idea that Han is an accomplished treasure hunter who can help them, if they in turn can locate Han. The gang invites Lando to dinner, planning to find out what he knows about the relics, then kill him. At dinner, they get him drunk, but also let slip that Han will soon be arriving at Jabba's palace. However, the intoxicated Lando accidentally blows his and Chewbacca's cover, leading to a speeder chase that culminates in Dafi, one of Lemo & Sanda's gang, spotting the Minstrel in Lando's possession. Claiming it for herself, she turns on the rest of the gang when they arrive, and in the ensuing confusion, Lando & Chewbacca return to their ship, pleased to have finally located Han, and as they leave the planet, Lando wonders what the gang would have done had they known he also possessed the Dancing Goddess all along.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpiece Series III

Fleer 1994

Vital Statistics
140 cards (including the checklist card), plus a ten card holofoil insert set, available in four variants (red, bronze, silver & gold), a ten card Masterprints insert set, and a nine card PowerBlast insert.

Additionally, there is a parallel set in which all 140 of the main cards are produced with the Hildebrandt brothers' signatures reproduced on the front of each card in gold foil.

Cardfronts are full bleed, featuring only the character name center-bottom and the Marvel Masterpiece logo on the top left corner, both presented in gold foil.

Cardbacks are landscaped, featuring a zoomed-in reproduction of the cardfront image, along with a brief character bio and a behind-the-scenes quote from the Hildebrandt brothers regarding the creation of the card specifically (or the set in general).

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Force in Focus: Return of the Jedi #4

"The Final Duel!"
January 1984

In a Nutshell
The Rebels destroy the second Death Star as Darth Vader turns against the Emperor.

Adapted by Archie Goodwin
Art by Al Williamson, Carlos Garzon, Ron Frenz & Tom Palmer
Colored by Christie Scheele & Bob Sharen
Lettered by Ed King
Edited by Michael Higgins & Jo Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Based on the Story by George Lucas
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas

Plot
As the Rebel fleet arrives at the Death Star, Han's team of Rebels penetrate the shield generator bunker & Luke is brought before the Emperor, who revels he has orchestrated recent events to lead the Rebels into a trap. Outside, the Death Star begins targeting Rebel ships, while on Endor, Han's team is captured, prompting Luke to strike at the Emperor in anger. But Darth Vader stops him, and the two begin to duel. On Endor, the Ewoks mount a counter attack, allowing the Rebels to escape and get back inside the bunker to set charges. As the Rebel fleet holds its own against the Empire's ships, Luke gives in to his anger and overpowers Vader, cutting off his hand. Realizing he's becoming Vader, Luke tosses away his lightsaber, declaring he's a Jedi, like his father before him. The Emperor responds by blasting him with Force lightning, but the sight of his son in pain moves Vader into action, and he tosses the Emperor down a nearby shaft, killing him. Just then, the Rebels on Endor destroy the shield generator, allowing Lando to lead a group of fighters into the Death Star to destroy it. Aboard the Death Star, Luke removes Vader's helmet and says goodbye to his dying father, then escapes just as the station explodes. Luke returns to Endor, where he is reunited with his triumphant friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

X-amining Generation X #1


"Third Genesis"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
Generation X rescues new member Chamber from an attack by Emplate.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Dawn at the new Xavier's School for Gifted Youngers finds Paige, Jubilee & Monet preparing for class, while Jonothan Starsmore is flying to the school via the red eye from London. At the school, Synch trains with Skin, ending with the two tangled together. Banshee admonishes them for using their powers against each other before fully controlling them, but Emma tells him it was her idea. Meanwhile, the villainous Emplate waits at the airport for Jonothan's arrival. After Banshee, Jubilee & Synch leave to pick him up, Gateway suddenly appears at the school, and Monet realizes Emplate has returned. At the airport, Emplate attacks Jonothan, attempting to feed on his genetic material, but is interrupted by Banshee, Jubilee & Synch. He soon overpowers them, until the rest of the team, along with Emma, arrives via Gateway. Together, they drive off the villain, after which, Jubilee welcomes Jonothan to Generation X. Elsewhere, Emplate returns home to discover someone he's been holding prisoner is gone, At the school, Banshee confronts the mysterious Gateway, who speaks a single word - penance - before revealing he's left an unconscious young woman with red, diamond-hard skin on the lawn.

Monday, December 17, 2018

G. I. JOE: Season 3.5 -- Endings without Worlds


Gene Kendall here, announcing the release of my final G. I. Joe novel. It took several months to complete, and because I’m not in a mood to tease any lawyers, it's free for you to download in any format at Smashwords.
In an ideal world, this would’ve been published under the Kindle Worlds banner. That was not to be. Still, I felt an obligation to finish the story, and the mental gymnastics required to pull these threads together turned out to be quite the writing challenge.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #78

"Hoth Stuff!"
December 1983

In a Nutshell
Wedge Antilles reveals what happened to him after the Battle of Hoth.

Plot/Script: David Michelinie
Pencils: Luke McDonnell
Plot/Inks: Bob Layton
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
AT-ATitor: Jim Shooter

Plot
After their long range sensors detected a nearby Rebel transport, Luke, Leia & Lieutenant Hightower investigate, with Luke fervently hoping Wedge Antilles, missing since the Battle of Hoth, must be on board. But once they enter the ship, they find it abandoned, with a only the ship's log, left by Wedge, to tell the tale of how Wedge & Wes Janson survived the battle only to be marooned on the Hoth, unable to signal for help for fear of alerting the TIE fighters, left behind to monitor the planet by the Empire. After Wedge & Wes eeked out a survival existence for several months, a group of scavengers arrived on the planet. They killed Janson, but Wedge managed to steal one of their ships, leading the rest of their craft into the path of the TIE fighters. But Wedge's stolen ship was damaged in the escape, and the log ends with Wedge noting that it is now adrift. Just then, Wedge appears outside the viewport, having been performing exterior repairs using material in the ship's hold that had been previously scavenged. Luke is overjoyed to be reunited with his friend, and the Rebels return to Arbra for a lengthy celebration.

Friday, December 14, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #83

"Bend Sinister"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
Warren Ellis' run begins as forces converge on the Soulsword.

Writer; Warren Ellis
Artists: Terry Dodson & W.C. Carani
Letterer: Jon Babcock
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Chief Editor: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Bishop arrives on Muir Island with a shipment of research equipment, and new clothes for Kitty, courtesy of Jubilee. On vacation in Egypt, Amanda Sefton encounters her mother Margali, who warns her that Gravemoss, a sorcerer ahead of Margali on the Winding Way, is plotting to retrieve the Soulsword and use it to cement his power. Back on Muir Island, Meggan suddenly goes into convulsions while sprouting spikes all over her body. As Moira anesthetizes her, she asks Kitty for help, but Kitty ignores her. Instead, she disdainfully goes through the clothes Jubilee sent. In London, a sorceress who feels crippling pain whenever the Soulsword is drawn vows to kill the possessor of the weapon. On Muir, Kitty searches through Moira's room. When Moira discovers her, Kitty knocks her over, then draws the Soulsword from her chest & declares she'll have to kill Moira. Nightcrawler, responding to the crash of Moira's fall, attempts to teleport to her room, but in the split second he travels through an alternate dimension while teleporting, Gravemoss takes control of his body.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

X-amining X-Force #40

"Holding On"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
Thornn is arrested as X-Force moves into a new base.

The Ringleader: Fabian Nicieza
The Juggler: Tony Daniel
The Human Pretzels: Conrad (pp 1-18, 21,22) & Townsend (pp 19,20)
The Barker: Chris Eliopoulos
The Beardeed Lady (just kidding!): Marie Javins
The Elephant Trainer: Bob Harras
The Elephant: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the tunnels beneath Manhattan, Detective Hidalgo arrests Thornn for the murder of her family, murders she insists she didn't commit. Elsewhere, Domino introduces the rest of X-Force to their new headquarters: Arcade's abandoned Murderworld. Outside Hidalgo's Bronx precinct, protesters gather, stoked by the Friends of Humanity, and at X-Force's base, Cable reveals Thornn has contacted him for help. Cable, acting as Thornn's lawyer, convinces her to tell him what really happened to her family, and then convinces Hidalgo to help expose that truth. He arranges for Thornn to be transferred to Ryker's Island, and when her transport is commandeered by the Friends of Humanity, X-Force intervenes, rescuing Thornn. Along with Hidalgo, they return to Thornn's abandoned childhood home in the Bronx, where they find Feral waiting for them. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #38

"Smoke And Mirrors"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
In the wake of "Phalanx Covenant", the X-Men relax and recoup.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letters: Bill Oakley
Color Art: Kevin Somers
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Special Thanks: Aldred J. Kehn Jr. and Dr. David Berger

Plot
As Xavier, Scott & Jean ruminate on the recent changes to the school, Beast continues his research into the Legacy Virus while Iceman & Rogue hang out by the pool. Later, Psylocke & Phoenix train in the Danger Room before giving way for Cyclops, who is overseeing Sabretooth's daily exercise regimen. However, Gambit enters the control room tells him Jean needs his help, offering to oversee the session himself. Elsewhere, Carter Ryking is visited in prison by Adam X. Back at the school, Xavier & Bishop discuss the loss of data caused by Banshee's necessary destruction of Xavier's ready room. Elsewhere, a comatose Legion experiences a vision of Destiny. Back at the mansion, Gambit dials up the intensity of Sabretooth's Danger Room session, then attacks himself, soundly beating Sabretooth. With Sabretooth at his mercy, Gambit tells him won't kill him, because being part of the X-Men means too much to him now, and that the best way to fight Sabretooth is by being happy together with Rogue, a fight which a passing Rogue wonders if they can win. As Beast takes a break from his research to go out to dinner with Iceman, Xavier, Scott & Jean meet again, and Xavier finds that, despite the group's losses & setbacks, he remains more hopeful than ever for the future.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Force in Focus: Return of the Jedi #3

"Mission to Endor!"
December 1983

In a Nutshell
The Rebels arrive on Endor in order to destroy the protective force field around the Death Star.

Adapted by Archie Goodwin
Art by Al Williamson & Carlos Garzon
Colored by Christie Scheele & Bob Sharen
Lettered by Ed King
Edited by Michael Higgins & Jo Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Based on the Story by George Lucas
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas

Plot
At a fleet gathering, Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar & General Madine brief the Rebels on the plan to destroy the new Death Star, including the fact that Han has been chosen to lead the mission to neutralize the shield protecting the Death Star & that Lando is leading the attack on the station itself. Just then, Luke returns, and offers to join Han's team. Later, Han's team arrives on Endor, and gets split up when they encounter a group of Imperial Scout troops, with Luke & Leia giving chase when they speed off. During the chase, Luke & Leia are separated, with Luke returning just in time to be captured by the native Ewoks. Believing Threepio to be one of their gods, the Ewoks bring the Rebels to their village, where they are reunited with Leia. After Luke uses the Force to make Threepio appear to have god-like powers, the Ewoks release the Rebels & agree to help them. That evening, Luke tells Leia that Darth Vader is his father, and that she is Luke's sister, then leaves the Rebels, allowing himself to be captured & brought to a waiting Vader. Luke insists he can sense conflict in Vader, but Vader tells Luke he's being brought to the Emperor, prompting Luke to admit that his father is truly dead.

Friday, December 7, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #87

"Showdown in Lowtown"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Gambit team-up in Madripoor.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Farmer, Green, Townsend, Rubinstein
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Gambit, concerned about the presence of Sabretooth in the X-mansion, joins Wolverine in Madripoor, and the pair bust into the Princess Bar, suspecting foul play. But it simply turns out to be a surprise party thrown by Wolverine's friends, celebrating his return. The fun is cut short, however, when a pair of dead Hand ninjas break through the ceiling. As they investigate, Wolverine tells Gambit a tale of his past when he worked as a government operative alongside Maverick & Sabretooth, during which Sabretooth acted selfishly, yet also was instrumental in getting Maverick & Wolverine out alive. Shortly thereafter, they're attacked by the mysterious assailant who killed the ninjas, who turns out to be Maverick. Infected by the Legacy Virus, Maverick hoped to be slain in battle by Wolverine, a warrior he respected. Wolverine scoffs at the notion, telling him needs to face death head on. Maverick admits he's right, then adds that maybe Wolverine should take his own advice.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #108

"Promised Vengeance"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
X-Factor hunts Mystique who is hunting Legion.

Plot: John Francis Moore
Script: Todd DeZago
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Forge revisits the events of Mystique's apparent death with Rogue & Nightcrawler, suspecting she may have survived. His suspicions prove correct when Nick Fury shows Forge & Val Cooper footage of Mystique posing as a secretary at the Israeli embassy, in order to obtain a visa for Avalanche & gain info on Gabrielle Haller. After Havok & Strong Guy fail to capture Avalanche, X-Factor realizes Mystique is targeting Haller's son, Legion, to make him pay for killing Destiny. X-Factor travels to Te Aviv & confers with Haller at the hospital where the comatose Legion is being treated. As they hunt for Mystique, Mystique poses as Haller and prepares to inject Legion with a lethal drug via syringe. But the real Haller enters the room, and begs Mystique to spare her son. Shortly thereafter, X-Factor also arrives, triggering a standoff which ends when the syringe is telekintically suddenly flung from Mystique's hand by a now-conscious Legion.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #318

"Moving Day"
November 1994

In a Nutshell
Jubilee leaves the X-Men

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Roger Cruz
Guest Inker: Tim Townsend
Letters: Grover Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Skin, intending to return to Los Angeles, gets a ride to the airport from Beast, telling him not to bother trying to convince him to stay. Meanwhile, Banshee, Storm & Bishop take Jubilee, Monet, Everett & Paige shopping. On the road, Skin is distracted by Beast and loses control of his skin, lashing out at Beast. Back at the mansion, Iceman confronts Emma, demanding she tell him how she used his powers so effectively while in his body, but Emma tells him he needs to grow up and figure it out himself. On the road, Beast gives Skin the keys to the car, telling him he's free to go wherever he wants in order to ignore the world. At the mansion, Gambit helps Cyclops & Jean move into the boathouse, while Professor X bids goodbye to Banshee and wishes him luck as the headmaster of the new Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in Massachusetts. Then Jubilee emerges, quietly thanking Xavier for knowing when to hold on, and when to let go, before driving off with Banshee. Moments later, Skin returns, and tells Xavier he would like a place at his school. Xavier sends him after Banshee, then reflects on how he's reached a point where he has more to learn from his students now than he could ever possibly teach them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Miles & Austin X-Plain the X-Men!

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

I recently had the opportunity to fill in for Jay on an episode of "Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men", and that episode is now available for listening/downloading! If you're not familiar with it, "X-Plain the X-Men" is basically an aural version of my X-aminations reviews, in which the hosts review issues of X-Men and the assorted spin-offs in chronological order, often featuring funny voices and recurring gags along with their cunning analysis.

In this week's episode, Mile and I revisit New Warriors #10 and #31, in which we discuss the nebulous nature of Tarot's power, lament the lack of justice for Butter Rum, and I get to rant about the ill-advised Nova Roma/"Allison Crestmere" retcon once again! Give it a listen, and if you do, let me know what you think!

Check out the episode here (links to download via various podcasting platforms are there as well).

Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

Monday, December 3, 2018

G. I. JOE # 11 - May 1983 (The Commercial, Not the Comic)


Who's ready to revisit the most inventive dodging of FCC regulations of the 1980s?

The second wave of G. I. Joe figures has arrived -- Doc, Snow Job, and Gung Ho receive the bulk of the commercial’s attention (which teases Destro’s debut), while the published comic also brings in Wild Bill and Airborne.  New accessories you’ll have to bug your parents for include the Polar Battle Bear, the Falcon glider, and Wild Bill’s beloved Dragonfly copter.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars Annual #3

"The Apprentice"
1983

In a Nutshell
The Galactic Civil War comes to Belderone.

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Klaus Janson
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Joe Sharpe
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Aboard a Star Destroyer, Darth Vader discusses his plan for the subjugation of the Belderone system with a group of Imperial officers. On Belderone, Flint enthusiastically urges his friend Barney to come with him to see a landing Rebel ship, but Flint's mother warns him not to be late for his mandated shift in the Imperial factory. They spot Luke, Leia & Lando departing the Millennium Falcon, and when Flint sees Luke's lightsaber, he asks Luke if his father was a Jedi like Flint's. Luke lies, but Flint agrees to take the group into the city, bringing them to his mother's tavern. There, they are recognized, and the local Imperial general sends a trio of assassins to kill the rebels. However, the rebels fight them off, thanks in part to Luke's skills, which convinces Flint he is a Jedi. As Luke & Chewbacca return to the Rebel base on nearby Kulthis to warn them of the Imperial presence on Belderone, Flint & Barney take Lando & Leia to the Imperial factory to show them what the Empire is building.

Friday, November 30, 2018

X-amining Cable #16

"The Phalanx Sanction"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
The "Phalanx Covenant" concludes.

Script: Larry Hama
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inkers: Mike Sellers & Batt
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Cable, Cyclops, Phoenix & Wolverine approach the Phalanx citadel in the Himalayas, Stephen Lang, now fearing the Phalanx are out of his control & a threat to all humanity, enlists the captive Psylocke's aid in helping the X-Men oppose them. After the X-Men crash their jet into the citadel to create a distraction, they scale a nearby mountain without using their powers, in order to sneak into the citadel undetected. Once inside, Cable, Cyclops & Phoenix launch a frontal assault as Wolverine seeks out the captive X-Men. He manages to penetrate the containment unit holding Bishop, which allows him to  absorb the Phalanx' energy. Elsewhere, the Phalanx are on the verge of overwhelming Cable, Cyclops & Phoenix when Wolverine and the freed X-Men arrive. With the tide turning, Hodge draws on all the Phalanx energy resources around the world, effectively killing them all, in order to mount a defense. Lang, having expected this, then releases his hold on the citadel, sending it plunging down the mountain, destroying the remaining Phalanx. The X-Men manage to escape, but Hodge drags Lang down with him. Elsewhere, in a nearby galaxy, a techno-organic figure senses the loss of the Phalanx on Earth, and decides its time to take a more active role in the mission against the planet.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

X-amining X-Force Annual #3

"In Deep" / "Siryn Song"
1994

In a Nutshell
Moonstar and the Mutant Liberation Front team-up with the Chinese 3-Peace.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza, Jim Krueger (2nd Story)
Penciler: Mike Wieringo, Arnie Jorgensen (2nd Story)
Inker: John Lowe, Bud LaRosa & John Lowe (2nd Story)
Letterer: Pat Brosseau, Jeff Powell (2nd Story)
Colorist: Ariane Lenshoek, Dana Moreshead (2nd Story)
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Dani Moonstar leads the MLF in a training session, she contemplates the recent events in her life that have led her to the group. Meanwhile, in China, 3-Peace, consisting of mutants Jade Dragon, Collective Man, & Nuwa, are arrested by China Force. However, Reignfire comes to their aid, offering to help their cause if they join up with the MLF. The MLF help 3-Peace break into a government facility to get some information, during which Reignfire kills one of China Force. Later, the MLF & 3-Peace infiltrate a complex holding captive mutants, but China Force is waiting: Reignfire cut a deal with the Chinese government, double-crossing 3-Peace. However, Nuwa is able to use her power to help 3-Peace escape, and when they encounter a waiting Moonstar, she lets them go. Back at MLF headquarters, Reignfire tells her that the Chinese government doesn't suspect her of allowing 3-Peace to escape, but Dani knows that Reignfire does.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) Annual #3

"Heart & Soul" / "A Moment of Silence"
1994

In a Nutshell
Shinobi Shaw tries to recruit Storm to his new Inner Circle.

Writer: Ian Edginton, Jim Krueger (2nd Story)
Penciler: Gene Ha, "Steve Yeowell (2nd Story)
Inkers: Rubinstein, Lowe, Green, Wiacek, Sellers, Pepoy, Moy
Letterer: Joe Rosas, Dave Sharpe (2nd Story)
Colorist: Pat Brosseau, Dana Moreshead (2nd Story)
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Storm receives an invitation to dinner at the Hellfire Club, sent by Shinobi Shaw, along with a bouquet of roses, one of which pricks her finger. Storm accepts the invitation, but acts unusually cool towards her teammates on her way out. At dinner, Shaw presents himself as having changed, possessing a desire to make the world better, with her help. Storm is intrigued, but doesn't immediately accept his offer of an alliance. She returns home, and that night, has nightmares in which her powers are stripped away and given to someone who will use them to more directly to improve the world. Returning to the Hellfire Club, Storm finds Shaw amongst his new Inner Circle, and he reveals he drugged her in order to bring her dark side to the surface. She then rejects him outright, triggering a conflict with the Inner Circle. Just then, the X-Men arrive, having been alerted to Storm's trouble by Professor X. They defeat the Inner Circle, and Storm refuses to kill Shaw, an act which, when she returns home, Xavier cites as proof that Shaw wasn't able to corrupt her morals.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

X-aminations in December


After what seems like months and months of build up, this month finally sees the release of Generation X #1, the eighth(!) monthly X-book! Meanwhile, fresh off "Phalanx Covenant", X-Factor begins the lead-up to "Age of Apocalypse", all the books get the Deluxe treatment, and we look at the third series of Marvel Masterpieces cards.

On Sale September 1994
December 5: Uncanny X-Men #318
December 6: X-Factor #108
December 7: Wolverine #87

December 12: X-Men (vol. 2) #38
December 13: X-Force #40
December 14: Excalibur #83

December 19: Generation X #1

December 26: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series III

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Force in Focus: Return of the Jedi #2

"The Emperor Commands"
November 1983

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors escape from Jabba the Hutt, and Luke learns he must face his father again.

Adapted by Archie Goodwin
Art by Al Williamson & Carlos Garzon
Colored by Christie Scheele & Bob Sharen
Lettered by Ed King
Edited by Michael Higgins & Jo Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Based on the Story by George Lucas
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas

Plot
As Jabba's guards prepare to push Luke into the Sarlaac pit, Luke issues Jabba one final warning to free him and his friends, or die. Then Artoo launches Luke's lightsaber, hidden inside Artoo, and Luke attacks the guards, alongside the previously-disguised Lando. Aboard the sail barge, Leia takes advantage of the confusion to strangle Jabba to death. As the sail barge blasts the skiff hovering over the pit, Lando is knocked overboard, and as Han & Chewie try to rescue him, they inadvertently trigger Boba Fett's jetpack, sending him flying into the Sarlaac's maw. Luke leaps over to the sail barge as Han retrieves Lando and Artoo frees Leia before herding Threepio off the barge. Together, Luke & Leia turn the barge's gun on the ship, destroying it, and they fly away aboard the other skiff with their friends. As the group departs Tatooine, Luke promises to rendezvous with the Rebel fleet, but first goes to Dagobah. Meanwhile, the Emperor arrives on the Death Star, and assures Darth Vader everything is going as he has forseen. On Dagobah, Yoda confirms that Darth Vader is Luke's father, and the spirit of Obi-Wan reveals that Leia is his sister, before insisting to Luke that he must confront his father again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

X-amining Generation X Ashcan / Opening Volley / Collector's Preview


"Opening Volley"
1994

In a Nutshell
A trio of promotional books hyping Generation X.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Lettering: Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Bucellato & Electric Crayon

Plot
Banshee ruminates on his new charges and co-headmaster as he takes up the reins of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. After a game of volleyball, Jubilee writes Wolverine a letter sharing her thoughts about her new classmates.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Remembering Stan Lee

The question of the extent of Stan Lee's involvement in the creation of the plethora of characters he's frequently credited with creating (especially in more mainstream sources who aren't as intimately familiar with the longstanding, burning debates of comic book fandom) is both a valid one, and one to which we'll likely never have a definitive answer. Comics are a collaborative medium, and Stan Lee, essentially writing, editing and running Marvel Comics for much of the sixties, adapted a system which further blurred the lines between writer & artist when it comes to who is responsible for what within any given story. Those lines were further muddied by Stan himself (without malice, I genuinely believe), a consummate showman and modern day PT Barnum, who welcomed the media spotlight he received as the "creator" of Marvel Comics, was happy to use that spotlight to further the business interests of the company (and his own personal brand/persona) and wasn't particularly inclined to school audiences in the inner mechanics of comic book creation.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Force in Focus: Life Day

Happy Life Day everyone!


If you're looking for a way to celebrate this momentous Wookiee holiday, might I suggest checking out the Star Wars Holiday Special episode of A Very Special Episode, the podcast co-hosted by me & Doctor Bitz (and friends)?

However you choose to celebrate, we'll see you back here next week for Return of the Jedi #2!

Friday, November 16, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #82

"The Light of a Tainted Dawn"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
Douglock destrous the Babel Spire, and the Phalanx with it.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Todd DeZago
Pencils: Ken Lashley & Steve Epting
Inks, Inks & Inks: Moy, Carani, Floyd, Candelario & Livesay
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Chris Matthys
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
After revealing the Babel Spire, Shinar orders Douglock to capture Wolfsbane & Cannonball. He does, but Shinar sees through his intentions and the Phalanx capture Douglock as well, and Shinar orders all three to be made part of the spire. Meanwhile, Shinar takes Forge to the Phalanx nursery, where he compels Forge to regulate the power flow to the eggs so they're not disrupted when the spire activates. Elsehere, Douglock manages to break free, but Cannonball insists the three of them are going to destroy the tower together. At the same time, the "stealth" contingent of the combined X-Factor, X-Force & Excalibur arrives in the era, but decides to beat the Phalanx by acting illogically and making their presence known. As they battle Shinar & the Phalanx, Douglock determines the spire can be stopped by disrupting the energy flow, and he throws himself into the flow, shutting down the spire. At the nursery, Nightcrawler helps Forge break the hold the Phalanx have on him, and he allows the eggs to be destroyed along with the rest of the Phalanx. In the aftermath, Douglock reforms, saying that unlike the rest of the Phalanx, he still has something to live for, while Forge ponders the role his humanity played in his efforts to destroy a sentient race.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

X-amining X-Force #39

"Letting Go"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
Professor gains a body and a new identity as Prosh.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Hanging On: Bob Harras
Standing By: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Domino returns after scouting locations for a new X-Force base and is confronted by a strange robot who reveals himself to be Professor, Cable's computer system. He tells Domino to call him Prosh before collapsing from lack of energy. Days later, a recharged Prosh awakens and explains to the gathered X-Force how he overpowered a Phalanx sent to assimilate the team and downloaded his neural network into the Phalanx body, giving himself corporeal form. Though the power levels needed to keep him functioning threaten to overwhelm the base, X-Force agrees to make the necessary sacrifices to keep Prosh alive. However, days later it becomes clear that Prosh's energy signatures are disrupting equipment at the base and, more significantly, preventing Cable from holding his techno-organic virus at bay. Unwilling to risk Cable's life, Prosh declares he will give up his physical form, but Cable suggests an alternative: leave Earth, along with the components necessary to keep himself alive. Though this would mean Cable would, for the first time, be without his presence, and will rob X-Force of their base of operations, it's a sacrifice they're all willing to make to enable Prosh to live a full life. Shortly thereafter, Prosh gathers up the equipment he needs and takes control of a large ship, blasting off with himself at the head. Below, all that's left of the Camp Verde base is a desiccated husk, prompting Cannonball to ask a knowing Domino what they're going to do now. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #37

"The Currents Shift"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
"Generation Next" concludes as Blink sacrifices herself to save the rest of the nascent Generation X.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Ryan/Sellers
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Color Art: Kevin Somers
Collective Intelligence: Bob Harras
Assimilating Hot Dogs: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On board the Naval destroyer in San Diego Bay, Harvest attacks the escaped young mutants, as Banshee, Emma, Everett & Jubilee sneak aboard. But the young mutants are saved by the timely arrival of Sabretooth, who fights off Harvest before Banshee flies in to finish him off. However, Sabretooth realizes Paige has two scents and slashes her, forcing her to shed her skin - and the techno-organic material with which she had been infected. Just then, Harvest reappears, having reconstituted himself from the material of all other Phalanx aboard the ship. Emma orders everyone to escape the ship while Banshee & Sabretooth hold him off, but Blink realizes Harvest will just keep coming, and once he's killed them, he'll kill all other mutants and, eventually, all of humanity. Using her power to teleport away part of the ship's deck to prevent the others from interfering, she then turns her power on Harvest, creating a spatial disruption he can't counter. But as he disappears, Harvest grabs Blink, pulling her into the disruption & killing her as well. As the surviving mutants climb ashore, they're left to ponder where the sacrifice of one who might have been their friend was too steep a price to pay.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #77

"Chanteuse of the Stars"
November 1983

In a Nutshell
Luke & Leia sneak into a diplomatic summit in search of info left behind by Tay Vanis.

Script & Plot: Jo Duffy
Breakdowns: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louis Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Returning to the Rebel base on Arbra, Leia, Luke, Lando & Chewbacca are stunned to learn that the Rebellion has intercepted Imperial information on the whereabouts of Tay Vanis that was seemingly intercepted by Han Solo. Rebel command sends Lando & Chewie to follow up that lead, while Luke & Leia, accompanied by the Hoojib Plif, are sent to a diplomatic summit on Kabray station to follow another Vanis lead. Upon arrival, Luke & Leia split up to search the station for information reportedly left there by Vanis. Luke & Plif search the private suites and discover a data card left behind by Vanis, as well as a plot to kill an Imperial Governor visiting the station, while Leia searches the kitchens and is mistaken for Shirley, the Chanteuse of the Stars meant to perform for the Governor. As Leia begins the performance, Luke attempts to intercept a bowl of poisoned soup, but is waylaid by a group of Zeltrons until one of the Lahsbee delegates transforms into a monstrous Huhk. In the commotion, Luke knocks away the soup and Plif advises Leia to keep singing, as it seems to calm the Huhk. The crisis averted, Luke is left hoping Leia knows a lot of verses to the song she's singing.

Friday, November 9, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #86

"Claws Along the Mohawk"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
The untold tale of Albert & Elsie-Dee's adventure in the past is told.

Scribe: Larry Hama
Illuminator: Ron Garney
Maitres De Encre: Aly Vey & Bud LaRosa
Scrivener: Pat Brosseau
Applicator of Hues: Steve Buccellato
Fault Finder Emeritus: Bob Harras
Da Big Cheese: Tom DeFalco

Plot
After tracking Wolverine to Muir Island only to find the place destroyed and Wolverine shielded from Albert's sensors, Elsie-Dee proceeds to tell Bloodscream about her and Albert's adventure in the past with the Siksika tribe, where they met an elderly Forge who explained how he and Wolverine traveled back to this time from a point in Albert & Elsie-Dee's future, in pursuit of the Adversary, who has possessed a Siksika shaman. As Wolverine & Forge fight the shaman, Albert runs the Siksika gauntlet, becoming their war chief, but Wolverine & Forge end up getting displaced in time. In the present, Albert is suddenly able to detect Wolverine, and the trio rush off to find him, while in the future, Wolverine emerges from the timestream and meets up with Forge, Albert & Elsie-Dee's head. Forge explains that because Albert & Elsie-Dee traveled into the past to discover the origin of the adamantium skeleton they found, they caused Wolverine to be sent to the future, hence preventing the skeleton from being left in the past. Together, the four continue their fight for freedom.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #107

"Punch-O-Rama"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
Strong Guy battles the Blob.

Story: Todd DeZago
Pencils: Paul Borges
Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Edits: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At the airport to catch a flight to see Lila Cheney, Strong Guy sees Blob trying to hijack a plane and intercedes, triggering a fight between the two. In the process, Strong Guy ends up absorbing large amounts of kinetic energy. Meanwhile, the rest of X-Factor is training in the Danger Room when they hear news reports of Strong Guy's fight. Back at the airport, Strong Guy unleashes the excess kinetic energy on Blob, culminating in a fuel truck explosion that knocks out Blob. As X-Factor arrives on the scene, the press swarm the triumphant Strong Guy, who collapses from exhaustion before answering any questions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #317

"Enter Freely and of Your Own Will"
October 1994

In a Nutshell
Bannshe & Emma work to locate the captive young mutants, while Monet facilitates their escape.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Joe Madureira
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Paige Guthrie awakens to find herself being held captive along with four other young mutants: Angelo, Clarice, Gregor, and the mute Monet. Paige tries to lift their spirits, declaring that the X-Men will find them, but is stunned to discover she's seemingly been infected with the techno-organic virus. Elsewhere, Banshee, Emma Frost, Jubilee & Everett Thomas arrive at Frost's west coast home, Emma having telepathically tracked Paige to California. She suggests their best chance of locating the captive mutants is via a nearby SHIELD safe house. Elsewhere, the young mutants are checked on by their Phalanx jailer, Harvest, who Clarice is able to drive away using her power. As Banshee & Emma inflitrate the SHIELD base, Monet suddenly speaks. Using components cannibalized from the techno-organic suits they're all wearing, she blasts Gregor, revealing him to be a Phalanx plant. She then proceeds to punch an opening in their cell, leading them onto the deck of a battleship in the middle of the ocean. But just then, Paige collapses, overwhelmed by the techno-organic infection.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Force in Focus: Return of the Jedi #1

"In the Hands of Jabba the Hutt"
October 1983

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors infiltrate Jabba's palace to rescue Han Solo

Adapted by Archie Goodwin
Art by Al Williamson & Carlos Garzon
Colored by Christie Scheele & Bob Sharen
Lettered by Ed King
Edited by Michael Higgins & Jo Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Based on the Story by George Lucas
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas

Plot
Darth Vader arrives aboard the second Death Star, telling Moff Jerjerrod that soon the Emperor will be arriving to ensure the station is completed on schedule. Meanwhile, on Tatooine, Artoo & Threepio arrive at Jabba's palace. Brought before the gangster, they play a message from Luke, who gives the droids to Jabba as a gift. Later, a bounty hunter delivers a captive Chewbacca to Jabba. That evening, the hunter frees Han Solo from carbonite, removing her to reveal herself as Leia. But Jabba captures them before they can escape, and Han is thrown in the dungeon with Chewbaca. Later, Luke enters the palace and tells Jabba to free his friends, or die. Jabba responds by dropping Luke into the rancor pit, where he's forced to fight the massive rancor. Luke manages to slay the creature, after which Jabba declares that Luke, Han & Chewbacca will be executed by being thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon, where they will be digest by the Sarlaac. Jabba and his entourage fly out into the desert aboard his sail barge, the captives are taken to the pit aboard a smaller craft. Luke tells Han not to worry, he's taken care of everything, as below them, the Sarlaac stirs.

Friday, November 2, 2018

X-amining Cable #15

"In Shadows"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & Domino go on a date.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Guest Penciler: David Brewer
Inkers: Conrad, Champagne, Banning
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Months ago, Thornn tries to save a young Morlock named Sarah as Mikhail Rasputing floods the tunnels to kill the Morlocks, but is swept out into the river. Later, Cable & Domino go on a date, teleporting in to Central Park. They are interrupted by the arrival of Thornn, who needs their help. She keeps hearing voices in the empty Morlock tunnels, telling her the Morlocks were taken to another place and are too afraid to return, unless the Ceremony of Light is performed. Domino is suspicious, but Cable senses some truth to Thornn's words, and the three proceed to perform the Ceremony of Light, in which light from the surface is reflected into the tunnels for an hour. During the ceremony, Sarah appears, telling Thornn the others are still too scared to come out, but she promises to come back someday. Cable offers to help Thornn, but she insists she belongs in the tunnels, so Cable & Domino depart, with Domino telling Cable the night turned out to be a special one.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

X-amining Excalibur Annual #2

"The Interpretation of Dreams" / "Black Queen Rising" / "A Change of Worlds"
1994

In a Nutshell
Britanic & Psylocke try to redeem their brother Jamie, Daytripper & Nightcrawler battle Selene, and Shadowcat reminisces about Doug Ramsey.

Writer: Richard Ashford, Eric Fein (2nd Story), Kim Yale (3rd Story)
Pencilers: John Royle, Daerrick Gross (2nd Story), Hannibal King & Yancy Labat (3rd Story)
Inkers: Phil Moy, Bill Anderson & W.C. Carani, Bob Wiacek, Terry Austin & Bill Anderson (2nd Story), Jason Minor, Keith Champagne & W.C. Carani (3rd Story)
Letterers: Janice Chiang, Dave Sharpe (3rd Story)
Colorists: Ariane, Monica Bennet (2nd Story), Chris Matthys (3rd Story_
Plot Assist: Jaye Gardner (3rd Story)
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the wake an ominous recurring dream involving his brother that Britanic worries may be a glimpse of future events, he and Psylocke attempt to cure Jamie Braddock by telepathically traveling through his memories, in the hopes of finding an explanation for his madness. They are ultimately unsuccessful, leaving Jamie catatonic, but slightly happier for having relived memories of their childhood.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #6

"Primal Scream"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops, Phoenix, Havok & Polaris battle Sauron in the Savage Land

Writer: John Francis Moore
Storyboards: John Francis Moore
Pencilers: Mandel Alves Flor, Fabio Laguna, Al Rio, Eddie Wagner
Inkers: Ralph Cabrera, Keith Champagne, John Lowe, Mark McKenna, Al Milgrom, Joe Rubinstein, Tim Townsend
Letterers: Steve Dutro, Bill Oakley, Richard Starkings
Colorists: Joe Agostinelli, Ariane, Mel Sanchez, Andrew Triana, Matt Webb
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Cover: Kerry Gammill & Dan Panosian

Plot
As Sauron struggles to find a source of energy to keep him sated, Worm & Whiteout bring a captive Havok into the Savage Land, closely pursued by Cyclops, Phoenix & Polaris. After meeting with Nereel and learning Sauron's attacks have become increasingly vicious, the three mutants infiltrate his citadel in pursuit of Havok, but end up captured. Sauron proceeds to drain the energy of both Cyclops & Havok, but Polaris & Phoenix manage to escape and damage the machine regulating the power transfer. In the confusion, they flee the citadel but are attacked by a super-charged Sauron. Phoenix proceeds to enter Sauron's mind and discovers the lingering presence of Karl Lykos, who, with Phoenix' help, battles the mental representation of Sauron. Ultimately, he launches himself & Sauron over a cliff, killing them both, and leaving Sauron with nothing but his animal instincts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

X-aminations in November 2018


Next month, "The Phalanx Covenant" concludes, two more villain-centric '94 annuals come out, and we get to spend Thanksgiving with all the assorted preview material Marvel pushed out ahead of the launch of Generation X!

On Sale August 1994
November 7: Uncanny X-Men #317
November 8: X-Factor #107
November 9: Wolverine #86

November 14: X-Men (vol. 2) #37
November 15: X-Force #39
November 16: Excalibur #82

November 21: Generation X Ashcan/Generation X: Opening Volley/Generation X Collector's Preview

November 28: X-Men (vol. 2) Annual #3
November 29: X-Force Annual #3
November 30: Cable #16

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #76

"Artoo-Detoo to the Rescue"
October 1983

In a Nutshell
Artoo helps the Rebels escape Gamandar as Darth Vader targets Admiral Tower for endangering Luke.

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Breakdowns: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louis Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Darth Vader meets with his officers aboard the Executor to discuss the situation on Iskalon, but is enraged when he's contacted by K-3PX and learns Luke Skywalker was on the planet when Admiral Tower ordered the attack on Pavilion. On Iskalon, as Luke, Leia & Kiro tend to the dead, Kendle appears, having declared herself the head of the school and falsely blaming the Rebels & Kiro for the destruction. On Gamandar, Admiral Tower interrogates Mone & the captive Rebels, during which Mone learns Kendle betrayed them. Tower is interrupted when he is arrested on Vader's orders & dragged away. This gives Artoo an opening to free the Rebels, and they escape aboard the Falcon as Vader orders Tower's execution & prepares to go to Iskalon to search for Luke. On Iskalon, Luke, Leia & Kiro are outnumbered when the Falcon arrives. Kendle is killed in the ensuing conflict, and Mone mourns both her death & her betrayal. He then declares that from now on the school will reside in the depths of Iskalon, shunning contact with airbreathers as long as the Empire remains.

Friday, October 26, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #81

"Beginnings, Middles & Endings"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Professor X & Moira visit Paris

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Chris Cooper
Pencils: Klebs, Jr. & Paul Abrams
Inks: Andew Pepoy, W.C. Carani & Keith Champagne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colors: Chris Matthys
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At Excalibur's old lighthouse, Britanic tells Meggan about his journey through the timestream. Meanwhile, Kitty takes Douglock to a tavern in Aberdeen, hoping to determine how much of Doug Ramsey is in him, while Professor X takes Moira to Paris to give them both a much needed break. At the lighthouse, Meggan asks Britanic if he can tell her their future, but Britanic explains that all of human existence is such a small fraction of time, it's impossible for him to narrow down his perceptions to just their lives. Meggan reminds him of the recent changes she's experienced as well, and both confirm their love in the face of such changes. In Aberdeen, after Kitty stops a mugging, Douglock admits to being lonely, and Kitty offers him a place with Excalibur so they can figure out how much of Doug he is together. In Paris, Xavier & Moira reminisce about their past relationship, and take comfort in the fact that no matter what, there will always be a place in their hearts where they're still in love.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

X-amining X-Force #38

"Book Two Life Signs - Part Two The Faith Dancers"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Forge & Xavier discover the Phalanx plans to eradicate all life in the galaxy.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Forge, Cannonball & Wolfsbane are delivered to a seemingly-idyllic town in the Italian Alps by Douglock, but the town is comprised entirely of Phalanx. In France, Moira examines everyone who had previous contact with the techno-organic virus in the hopes of finding a way to stop the Phalanx, while Xavier uses the Astral Plane to telepathically locate Forge and the others. After Douglock infects Forge with the TO virus so he can more fully understand the Phalanx, Xavier merges with Forge's mind, and they are able to see the Phalanx for what they are, including their intention to destroy all organic life in the universe. Returning to his body in France, Xavier tells the assembled mutants the Phalanx must be stopped before they can summon more of their kind, and the group is split, with half staying behind to protect Moira as she continues her efforts, while the other half will go to the Alps to assist Forge and the others. Meanwhile, Douglock is forced to infect Cannonball & Wolfsbane in order to allow the group to penetrate deeper into Phalanx territory. Once they do, as they're unknowingly watched by Shinar, they discover the Babel Spire, a massive communications device with which the earthbound Phalanx will summon their alien brethren with the news that Earth is ready for assimilation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #36

"Drop the Leash: Book One - Generation Next Part Two"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
The Banshee's team rescues Everett Thomas from the Phalanx, but Paige Guthrie is captured.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The Phalanx continue their efforts to find a way to assimilate mutants, experimenting on the captive Monet, while Lang muses that the group is evolving beyond his expectations. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Banshee, Emma Frost, Sabretooth & Jubilee rescue Everett Thomas from the Phalanx, but in Kentucky, the Phalanx manage to abduct Paige Guthrie. Back in St. Louis, the Phalanx attack the X-Men, but Emma is able to help Everett use his power to sync Jubilee's power and trigger a massive explosion. Just then, Lang appears and taunts them with an assimilated Sara Grey and the captive Paige. Emma cautions him that in trying to save humanity, he may be dooming it, and when Lang disappears, she reveals that she was able to at least make telepathic contact with Paige and knows the general location where she is being held. Just then, Jubilee points out that Sabretooth has gone missing, and Banshee realizes Sabretooth has escaped.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #75

"Tidal"
September 1983

In a Nutshell

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
A revived Kendle seemingly leads Luke & Leia out of the underwater wreckage of Pavilion, but she abandons them when confronted by Kiro, a fellow native of Iskalon. Elsewhere, Lando, Chewbacca, Mone & the droids arrive on Gamandar. As Artoo goes off on his own, Lando, posing as a war profiteer by the name of Drebble, leads the rest of the group to a meeting with Admiral Tower. Though Tower plays along, unbeknowst to the Rebels, he is well aware of who they really are, thanks to a spy on Iskalon. Later, under the cover of looking for droids to resell at profit, Lando and the rebels seemingly discover Tay Vanis' former droid, K-3PX. Back on Iskalon, Kiro leads Luke & Leia to the surface, where he reveals that Kendle betrayed them to the Empire - he overheard her contacting Admiral Tower. Luke realizes what this means for their friends on Gamandar who, sure enough, are now imprisoned in an Imperial cell.

Friday, October 19, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #85

"The Phalanx Covenant Final Sanction Part One"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Cyclops, Phoenix & Cable reunite to battle the Phalanx.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Farmer & Rubinstein
Letters: Brosseau
Colors: Kindzierski & Andreani
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Cyclops & Phoenix arrive on Muir Island to find it overrun by Phalanx trying to access the genetic information stored in the computer systems. Their plane is attacked & sent crashing to the ground, but the timely arrival of Wolverine allows the three to retreat to a different part of the island. After checking in with Lang, the Phalanx track down the three X-Men, but just then, Cable arrives and helps push them back. The foursome formulate a plan in which Phoenix & Cable will telepathically disguise them while Cyclops & Wolverine infiltrate Moira's lab and retrieve a Cerebro component they can use to locate the captive X-Men. But when on the Astral Plane, Cable's proximity to Jean trigger memories of his childhood, which breaks their connection & attracts the attention of the Phalanx. Cyclops & Wolverine retrieve the component & prime the lab to explode, and Cable tells them he'll stay behind to cover everyone else's escape. But Wolverine goes back for Cable, and Phoenix manages to telekinetically protect them when the lab explodes. Picked up by Wolverine's pilot friend Harry, Wolverine tells him to make for Tibet, where the Phalanx are holding the X-Men captive.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #106

"The Phalanx Covenant Life Signs Part 1"
September 1994

In a Nutshell

Plot: Scott Lobdell & Todd DeZago
Script: Todd DeZago
Pencils: Jan Duursema, Roger Cruz
Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Cover: Steve Lightle
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
X-Factor arrives at the former monastery base of the Acolytes, called there by Professor X. They find X-Force & Excalibur waiting for them, and Xavier explains how the Phalanx infiltrated Muir Island, prompting Excalibur's flight to the monastery. During the briefing, Cannonball notices that Wolfsbane has gone missing, and he follows her deeper into the monastery, where Douglock is being sequestered. Elsewhere, Stephen Lang grapples with the sudden influx of rebelliousness within the Phalanx hive mind, including the canine-esque Shinar who is making his way through the European countryside. Back at the monastery, Wolfsbane & Cannonball are are soon joined by Xavier & Forge, who is overwhelmed when his perception of Douglock mixes with Xavier's telepathy. He asks Xavier to leave, and Douglock proceeds to tell them the history of the Phalanx, including their biological imperative to eliminate organic life inherited from Warlock's DNA. He then tells Forge he needs his help to learn more about the Phalanx, then fights his way past Nightcrawler, Polaris & Shadowcat to escape the monastery with a captive Forge, Wolfsbane & Cannonball in tow. The group then disappears, and Xavier declares he can't locate them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #316

"Generation Next Part One: Encounter"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
The Phalanx Covenant begins!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Joe Madureira
Inks: Terry Austin & Dan Green
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Buccellato
Edits: Harras
Chiefs: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Monaco, the mute Monet St. Croix & her guardian are attacked by the Phalanx. Meanwhile, Banshee returns to the mansion after a trip to Massachusetts to find the X-Men acting strangely: Archangel acts accusatory after Banshee takes a call from Scott & Jean, Psylocke fails to sense him telepathically, and Gambit & Bishop don't bat an eye when he tests them by saying that Professor X is walking again. Fearing the worst, he checks on Sabretooth, and when Rogue tries to stop him, he attacks, revealing her to be one of the Phalanx. Releasing Sabretooth, Banshee tasks him with freeing Jubilee & the White Queen while he sees to exterminating the Phalanx. But when he discovers the Phalanx have breached the X-Men's computer and are planning on capturing the next generation of young mutants, he sets the system to explode, then rendezvous with Sabretooth, White Queen & Jubilee in the tunnels under the mansion, telling them they need to find the young mutants before the Phalanx do!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Force in Focus: Star Wars #74

"The Iskalon Effect"
August 1983

In a Nutshell
The search for Tay Vanis begins on the waterworld of Iskalon.

Script & Plot: Jo Duffy
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Sent by Rebel command to the watery world of Iskalon in search of missing Rebel agent Tay Vanis, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca & the droids meet with Primor, leader of the planet's aquatic School. They learn that Vanis' droid, K-3PX, contained all the information Vanis had gathered about the Empire's secret project, and was last seen at the Gamandar Citadel, an Imperial base on the nearby planet Gamandar. Lando & Chewbacca decide to infiltrate the citadel along with the droids & Mone, Primor's son, leaving behind the more recognizable & notorious Luke & Leia on Iskalon. Instead, Primor takes them exploring underwater, during which Luke spots Kendel, Mone's wife, inside the air-breathing underwater city of Pavilion, her breathing apparatus smashed. As he & Leia rush to get her back in the water, on Gamandar, Imperial Admiral Tower, upon receiving news of the Rebel presence on Iskalon from his spy, fires a massive missile at the planet. The missile flies past the Millennium Falcon, then impacts near Pavilion, creating a massive tidal wave that floods the city.

Friday, October 12, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #80

"Out of Time"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
The "Douglock Chronicles" conclude, and it's revealed that Moira is infected with the Legacy Virus.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Chris Cooper
Pencils: Amanda Connor
Inkers: Harry Candelario, Randy Elliot, Keith Champagne
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Colors: Chris Matthys
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With Stryfe's base beneath the Pentagon self-destructing, Shadowcat works to remove a similar self-destruct component from Zero. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler & Daytripper return from Germany, and Nightcrawler meets with Professor X to discuss the Legacy Virus. Back in the base, Britannic & Meggan manage to create a tunnel, enabling everyone to escape the base, but Zero, attempting to find a way to access the Legacy Virus data inside his mind, gets his face blown off. On Muir Island, Daytripper admits to Rory she too saw the vision of him as Ahab, but insists that the future is not absolute. Meanwhile, everyone reaches the surface before the base explodes except for Zero, prompting Douglock to go back for him. Just then, Zero hears a recording from Stryfe who tells him that, with his death imminent, he's released the blocks on Zero's mind, giving him access to the Legacy Virus data as one final taunt. Just then, Douglock returns, and Zero plunges Douglock's hands into Zero's damaged face, transmitting the data and telling Douglock to remember him before the base, and Zero, are destroyed. Back on Muir Island, invigorated by his discussion with Nightcrawler, Xavier seeks out Moira, only to learn that she knows the Legacy Virus can infect humans because she herself is infected.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

X-amining X-Force #37

"The Young and the Restless"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
The Externals visit Cannonball at his family farm.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inkers: Harry Candelario, Scott Hanna, Charles Barnett
Guessed Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Gassed Colorist: Monica Bennet
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Confronted by newfound mortality in the face of the Legacy Virus, the Externals seek out Cannonball at his family home. Nicodemus & Burke have died already, and Absalom is infected. Gideon tells Cannonball they've come to him because he represents hope. Meanwhile, at Campe Verde, Domino & Cable discuss a new base of operations for the team, while in the Bronx, Detective Hidalgo receives new information that may help him nail the Callasantos' sisters for the murder of their family. Back in Kentucky, Cannonball asks what the Externals want from him, and Absalom tells him Burke had a precognitive vision that Cannonball or someone close to him holds the key to curing the Legacy Virus. Just then, Absalom's power flares, one of the death knells of the virus, and Cannonball tells the Externals that when the time comes, he'll do whatever he can to help them. After they leave, Cannonball & Boomer declare their love for one another, then Cannonball says it's time to go back to Camp Verde to be with their friends and continue using whatever time they have left to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #35

"Sunset Grace"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Phoenix return from the future/their honeymoon.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Liam Sharpe
Guest Inker: Robin Riggs
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Color Art: Digital Chameleon
Sunrise Smile: Bob Harras
Glowing Orb: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Cyclops & Phoenix awaken in their bodies, their minds having been returned from the far future by Mother Askani, aboard a SHIELD helicarrier. Nick Fury explains that he brought them  on board after a local woman they met on their honeymoon named Sunset used her powers to open a dimensional rift. With the rift threatening the entire planet, Sunset has asked for Cyclops & Phoenix. The pair enter the rift & encounter Grace. She explains that once her powers allowed her to escape into this pocket dimension, but after she tried to save her family by sending them into it at the time of their deaths, she lost control, and Charles Xavier had to help her regain control of her power. In the process though, she lost the ability to access the dimension, until she encountered Cyclops & Phoenix and their mission to the future unlocked her abilities. Phoenix is able to locate her family inside the rift, and after they're reunited, Sunset closes the doorway, sending Cyclops & Phoenix through. The world spared, Phoenix confirms to Cyclops that Sunset's family died, and that, as Sunset created the alternate dimension in the first place, Jean merely helped her subconsciously create facsimiles of them so she could live out her final years in peace & happiness.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Force in Focus: Solo Deleted Scenes

Taking another brief break from Star Wars reviews to look at the deleted scenes from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Proxima's Den


Less a deleted scene than an alternate take on Han's arrival in Proxima's den and his first (onscreen) encounter with Qi'ra, this take arguably serves Qi'ra better, as she's introduced holding a knife to Han's throat before realizing it's him, establishing early her capacity to take care of herself and strike hard when necessary.

There's also a bit of banter from Han when he's ultimately captured by Moloch and dragged away to Lady Proxima that is, intentional or not, reminiscent of his later pleas to Jabba after being thawed from the carbonite in Return of the Jedi.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '94

Fleer 1994

Vital Statistics 
150 card (including the checklist card) plus a 18 card "Power Blast" chase set, featuring foil on one side and a larger portion of the front image, without foil, on the back. The last 18 cards of the set (before the checklist) are dedicated to "Maximum Carnage" and "Mutant Genesis" (the story which launched the second X-Men book).

The card fronts feature previously used artwork (including from covers, internal pages, and other trading cards), featuring both specific characters and significant moments from Marvel history, recolored with computer coloring techniques and, occasionally, added computer-generated effects. The character name/moment is written in shiny foil lettering.

The landscape orientated cardbacks feature a brief description of the historical moment featured on the card front, alongside a sphere overlaid with the cover of the issue featuring the moment (usually).