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

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).

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

X-amining Cable #14

"Feat & Loathing Part 3"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & Lee battle S'ym

Writer: Glenn Herdling
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Mike Sellers
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
After quickly dispatching D'Spayre, Belasco tells Cable & Lee that he's brought him to the Nexus of All Realities. It has been growing of late, encroaching on his realm of Limbo, and he believes Cable can help stop it. He tells him that the same individual who once corrupted Cable's mother and tried to forge a link between Earth & Limbo is using the Nexus to try again. Meanwhile, Cannonball & Siryn try to track down Cable, but can't locate him anywhere on Earth. Back in the Nexus, Belasco leverages Lee in order to get Cable's help, at which point S'ym reveals himself. He's pleased to meet the son of the Goblin Queen, but when he threatens Cable, Cable fights back, eventually gaining the upper hand via his mutant powers. He seemingly kills S'ym, at which point Belasco sends Lee & Cable back to Earth.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Gentlemen of Leisure on Patreon!

The moment you've all been waiting for has come: the opportunity to give us money! Yes, it's true, Gentlemen of Leisure now has a Patreon, allowing you, noble & generous reader, to support our creative endeavors at a variety of different financial levels, just like all your other favorite websites & podcasts (never let it be said that we won't eventually catch up to trends within about five years or so of when they're first trendy)!

In all seriousness, launching a Patreon is something I've considered doing for awhile - there aren't a ton of costs associated with the work we do here, but there are a few (mostly annual domain hosting fees, and the occasional issue I need to buy for scans). I've also had a few people tell me over the years that they'd like the opportunity to support our work, so after talking it over with some trusted confidants, Dr. Bitz and I decided to pull the trigger. Nobody here has delusions of getting rich on the internet, but hopefully, we can get those costs covered this way, and if there's enough support, maybe free up some time to write some new stuff for the site (I've got about a million ideas for various review series, and I'd love to bring back my Simpsons Retro Reviews), or even get a collected edition of "X-aminations" reviews put together (which has also long been a dream of mine). 

For the most part, no one will really notice a difference between this site pre- and post-Patreon. One of the big things I've always been adamant about it when considering doing this is making sure nobody has to pay for content they're already used to getting for free - not only does that feel a little like a dick move on my part, as a writer (particularly a writer who would like to someday support himself financially by writing), I want as many people as possible to read my writing, and hiding a chunk of it behind a paywall doesn't seem like a good way to make that happen.