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

Friday, February 14, 2020

X-amining Cable #24

"Lost Souls"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable learns he has to go back to the future while Domino battles Grizzly.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Sal Larroca
Inks: Bud LaRosa, Al Milgrom & Bob McCloud
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Grizzly attacks Domino, and their fight spills out of Grizzly's cabin and into the woods. Meanwhile, Cable brings the unconscious Jenskot to Blaquesmith. When she wakes up, she tells them she was sent to the past to bring Cable to the future in order to save the life of her beloved, Nathan Dayspring. In the Rockies, Domino & Grizzly's fight escalates, and Domino is forced to kill him in self-defense. Before he dies, he tells her Tyler, Cable's son, made him savage as an act of revenge. Back on Blaquesmith's ship, Jenskot realizes that Cable is an older version of Nathan, and reveals that she needs him to go back to the night of an important battle for the Clan Chosen, when Nathan has grown mysteriously ill. He agrees, and Blaquesmith sends them to the future, after which Mother Askani appears, reminding him his work isn't done. In the Rockies, Domino buries Grizzly, then disappears as Blaquesmith also sends her into the future, while Grizzly's cabin burns.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #90

"Dream Nails Part 3: Blood Eagle"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Kitty & Pete Wisdom take down the Dream Nails base.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Ken Lashley, David Williams, Carlos Pacheco & Larry Stroman
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Mike Miller, Cam Smith & Larry Stroman
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas, Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
A captive Wisdom awakens to find himself being tortured by Shrine, a telepath who intends to trigger painful memories of Wisdom's past which will stress him out, thereby activating the Blood Eagle virus Black Air has created which causes physical pain tuned to stressful reactions. Elsewhere, Kitty searches Dream Nails for Wisdom. Meanwhile, Wolfsbane arrives on Muir Isle. Back at Dream Nails, Kitty discovers specimens of alien species encountered by Black Air, and runs into the escaped Uncreated, the aliens whom Black Air weaponized to create Blood Eagle. At Muir Island, Rory assures Amanda Sefton he has no intention of letting anything happen to put him on the path to becoming Ahab, but when he resumes his treatment of Spoor, Spoor reveals he knows that Rory has run out of the mood stabilizers which make him immune to Spoor's powers. At Dream Nails, Kitty phases past the Uncreated while Wisdom turns the tables on Shrine, overwhelming him with the horror of Wisdom's memories, allowing him to escape. At the same time, Spoor goads Rory into attacking him, which triggers the defensive laser grid, slicing off Rory's leg. At Dream Nails, Wisdom & Kitty reunite, then trigger an explosion which destroys the base. Flying back to Muir, they set the Midnight Runner on autopilot as they succumb to their romantic feelings for one another.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

X-amining Generation X #8

"What Happened to Cassidy Keep?!"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation X investigates the disappearance of Cassidy Keep.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Mark Buckingham and Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Standing on the edge of a vast canyon, Banshee, alongside Emma and the rest of Generation X, wonders where the heck his ancestral home, Cassidy Keep, has gone, something which interests Black Air agent Scicluna as well. As the adults discuss the situation, Synch discovers he can use his powers to connect to the dimension into which the castle disappeared, which pulls him and the nearby Chamber into that realm. The rest of the group follow them by jumping into a plume of purple mist, and end up scattered in the realm of faerie. Elsewhere, Mondo's friend Cordelia dives into the ocean, and when she fails to emerge, Mondo goes in after her. Back in the faerie land, Chamber & Synch are battling a group of armored knights, while Banshee & Emma wake up in a dungeon alongside Eamon O'Donnell, the leprechaun keeper of Cassidy Keep. The rest of the students are confronted by Grand Dame, a fairy queen, who needs their help to repair the glamour machine, the source of the realm's magical power. Approaching the machine, M once more goes catatonic, then begins working, even as an angry dragon beats down the door, wondering who is messing with the glamour machine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

X-amining Champions #2 - Patreon First

"Whom the Gods Would Join..."
January 1976

In a Nutshell
Pluto steps up his plan as the Champions battle the Huntsman.

Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Don Heck
Inker: John Tartag
Letterer: Irv Watanabe
Colorist: Phil Rache
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, Venus & Ghost Rider fight Pluto, Hippolyta & Ares, forcing the gods back to Olympus through a portal, which Iceman then seals with ice. On Olympus, Pluto reveals how he's formed a mutual defense pact with other underworld lords, which he uses as leverage to force Zeus into enforcing Pluto's arranged marriages. Back on Earth, Ghost Rider completes a sweep of the UCLA campus and reports all their previous mythological foes have vanished, but just then, the Huntsman, sent by Zeus, attacks Hercules and his allies. The Huntsman in turn summons the massive Menoetius to battle the heroes. Under Black Widow's leadership, the group fights back, but the Huntsman manages to trick Ghost Rider into turning his hellfire on his allies, knocking them out. Huntsman then escapes to Olympus with Hercules & Venus, leaving Black Widow, Angel, Iceman & Ghost Rider despairing over how four mortals can possibly track somebody to Olympus.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Black Hat Blues -- Now on Audible!


Gene Kendall here, promoting the audio release of my book Black Hat Blues as if I were born with no shame. This is my first excursion into the world of audio, and to be honest, it’s an avenue I never thought I’d explore.
But, I received an email out of the blue, raising the possibility of creating an audiobook through Audible’s ACX site. Investigating, I became intrigued at the prospect, but a little nervous about how this would play out.

Friday, February 7, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #93

"Tavern in the Town"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Cannonball & Juggeranut walk into a bar.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green & Matt Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Scotland, the Dark Riders break Cyber out of prison and take him to their leader. At the X-Mansion, Cannonball & Wolverine are racing each other through the woods around the mansion when Juggernaut suddenly regains consciousness. Still worried about Onslaught, he quickly busts his way out of the mansion. Later, Wolverine & Cannonball are having beers at a local bar when Juggernaut comes in. Cannonball drunkenly picks a fight but is no match for the Juggernaut. Wolverine then confronts him and urges him to leave, which Juggernaut agrees to do; he knows what's coming, and has no desire to stick around. As Juggernaut leaves out the back, he's teleported away by Zoe Culloden and her associate, who say he'll no longer be a problem. When Wolverine follows behind him and finds Juggernaut gone, he's once again struck with the feeling of being watched.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

X-amining X-Force #46

"Behind Closed Doors"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
X-Force battles Mimic

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
At the Weisman Institute, the institutionalized Siryn is caught by Dr. Wesiman searching computer files. Siryn tries to tell Weisman that she's an associate of Professor Xavier's, but Weisman has Siryn knocked out & carried away. Meanwhile, X-Force is attacked by Mimic, who destroys the PACRAT after copying Warpath's powers and being overwhelmed by his heretofore unknown enhanced senses. Back at the X-Mansion, Boomer continues to visit Sabretooth. In Siberia, Mimic turns on Cable, and Sunspot defies orders to engage him, which causes their powers to enter an energy loop, triggering an explosion. At the X-Mansion, Wolverine wakes Boomer up in the middle of the night to warn her away from Sabretooth. In Siberia, X-Force regains consciousness to discover Mimic missing and a massive crater being left in his wake. At the Weisman Institute, Siryn, unknowingly watched by the young Jeremy Stevens, debates her options. With Cable failing to respond to her calls for help and her unwillingness to involve Xavier directly, she makes a call to the only person left who can help her: Deadpool.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #45


"The Enemy of My Enemy..."
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit confronts Rogue over the memories she absorbed from him.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers & Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As they make their way towards Seattle, Iceman continues to push Rogue to discuss the memories she absorbed from Gambit, but she relents. Meanwhile, Gambit arrives in Seattle himself, hoping to find Rogue and settle things between them. He tracks down Iceman at a local college bar, shortly after Rogue flew off, exposing her and Iceman as mutants. In New York, Graydon Creed watches a news report on Gene Nation's attack, and toys with the idea of running for President. In Seattle, Gambit & Iceman track Rogue to an rundown theater, a place she was led by Gambit's memories. Gambit tries to convince Rogue to return with him to the X-Men, but she refuses, saying she needs to find out for herself what the memories she took from Gambit are and why they cause him so much pain. When she presses Gambit to tell her about the memories, he won't do it, fearing it would destroy everything he's attained for himself. But he does offer himself to Rogue completely, extending a hand to allow her to touch him once again. Rogue, however, turns away. They both declare their love for one another, but Rogue says she needs more time away to settle her feelings, and flies off. Gambit tells Iceman to return to the mansion, but remains in Seattle himself for a few more days to clear his head. During his wanderings, Mr. Sinister appears, telling him that nothing is settled, and he'll need to reckon with their past together eventually.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

X-amining Champions #1 - Patreon First

"The World Still Needs Champions!"
October 1975

In a Nutshell
Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, Hercules & Ghost Rider come together against the forces of Pluto!

Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Don Heck
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Dave Hunt
Colorist: Petra G.
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
Former X-Men Angel & Iceman are wandering the campus of UCLA, lamenting the lack of superhero adventure in their lives now that they're no longer X-Men. Just then, a group of monstrous green Harpies appear and start attacking students. Elsewhere on campus, Black Widow and her associate Ivan, at the school for a job interview, are attacked by a group of Amazons seeking Venus, who is working at the university under the name Dr. Victoria Starr. Black Widow helps Venus fight off the Amazons, and the two escape onto the school's grounds. Also on campus is Hercules, who is attacked by a group of mutates. Driving nearby, the demonic Ghost Rider is confronted by the massive Cerberus, the guardian of Hades. Fearing its power, Ghost Rider retreats, and runs into Hercules. Together, the pair come across Black Widow, Iceman & Angel battling the Amazons and the Harpies. Working together, along with Venus, the five heroes defeat their respective foes, at which point Pluto, God of the Underworld appears, flanked by Ares and the Amazon's leader Hippolyta. He declares that Venus must wed Ares, and Hercules must wed Hippolyta, before the day is done or else the universe will die!

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Friday, January 31, 2020

X-amining X-Man #8

"Hitting Bottom"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Nate battles Rex on a yacht.

Story: Jeph Loeb
Guest Script: John Rozum
Pencils: Steve Skroce & Scott McDaniel
Inks: LaRosa, Miller, Russell, Pennington & Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas & Malibu’s Hues
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Still mourning the absent Madelyne, Nate has taken a job as a deckhand on a small yacht. His powers fluctuating, he acts churlish towards the rest of the staff and passengers. In Maryland, Blaquesmith detects his energy output and recognizes it as being similar to Cable's. Meanwhile, Rex arrives on the yacht and begins slaughtering the crew. Sensing something amiss, Nate goes up on deck and finds Rex, who he blasts with a massive burst of telekinetic energy. Detecting this surge, Blaquesmith decides such power can't go unchecked, and heads out to find Nate. Back on the boat, Nate & Rex fight, but Nate's fluctuating powers leave him vulnerable. Rex gains the upper hand and is about to kill Nate when he suddenly collapses. Standing behind him is Dark Beast, who offers Nate some long overdue answers.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #115

"Reaching Out to Yesterday"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Mystique & Forge and Cyclops & Havok have heart-to-heart talks.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Still struggling to control his powers, Havok has returned to Alaska, and is thinking back on the plane crash that separated him and his brother from their parents when Cyclops finds him, telling him they're going to get through this together. Meanwhile, in X-Factor's new base, Mystique tries to hack into Forge's files but is stopped by her inhibitor. Observed by Wild Child, the pair agree to keep each other's secrets for now. Elsewhere, Forge is visited by a vision of his deceased mentor Naze, who tells him he must return to the ways of the shaman, but his meditation is interrupted by Mystique. She tries to get Forge to open up, and he does, activating his holographic files to show her a collage of important moments in his life. One that catches her attention is Destiny telling Forge he's destined to be with Mystique. He is still pondering what she meant, while Mystique insists Destiny just wanted them to be happy together, something Forge won't accept. In Alaska, Cyclops & Havok go to a bar, and eventually get into a bar fight with some ignorant locals to blow off steam. After the fight, Cyclops insists that, no matter what, they'll always be there for each other. Elsewhere, Dark Beast reforms Random, telling him to infiltrate X-Factor, and bring him the head of Havok. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #325


"Generation of Evil"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Gene Nation launches their attack on the anniversary of the Morlock Massacre.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Townsend & Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
The X-Men & the visiting Generation X are enjoying a spirited game of baseball when Colossus suddenly teleports onto the mansion grounds, holding an injured Callisto. When she regains consciousness, she informs the X-Men that Gene Nation, comprised of renegade Morlocks, is planning to kill one human for every mutant who died during the Morlock Massacre, on the anniversary of the massacre, which is today. Meanwhile, a recovering Gambit receives a phone call from Rogue, and learns she & Iceman are heading towards Seattle. Later, the X-Men arrive in Manhattan, their movements watched by Mr. Sinister & Threnody, who also note Gambit's departure, heading towards Seattle. Storm, Colossus & Wolverine enter the Morlock tunnels alongside Callisto. After skirmishing with Gene Nation, Storm confronts their leader, Marrow, who reveals she has attached a series of bombs to a group of captured commuters, and rigged a device to her heart that will soon detonate the bombs, unless Storm kills her first. As payback for Storm's failures as leader of the Morlocks, Marrow challenges Storm to a duel, forcing her to either let the humans die, or sacrifice her morals to kill Marrow. Storm draws first blood, and eventually triumphs, ripping out Marrow's heart, disarming the bombs but killing the young woman. In the aftermath, Wolverine tells her she did the right thing, and Storm agrees, troubled by how relatively easy the decision was for her.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

X-amination in February & May 1995 Power Rankings


The anniversary of the All New, All Different X-Men continues, "Dream Nails" concludes, and X-Force & Wolverine catch-up!

On Sale August 1995

February 5: X-Men (vol. 2) #45
February 6: X-Force #46
February 7: Wolverine #93

February 12: Generation X #8
February 13: Excalibur #90
February 14: Cable #24

February 19: X-Force #47
February 20: Wolverine #94

February 26: X-Men Unlimited #8

Monday, January 27, 2020

Coming Soon: Champions & Hellions!

Couple of announcements regarding new review series to start off the week!

First, as patrons may have seen earlier today, next week will mark the beginning of my next "Patreon First" review series, as I take a look at the oft-derided mid-70s Champions book, a series which earns its X-adjacent status thanks to the presence of Angel & Iceman on a roster that is delightfully hodgepodge (also, John Byrne gets involved later in the run). Become a patron now in order to gain access to X-aminations of Champions before everyone else, and read along as I tackle such topics as Angel's trippy new costume, being a superhero in LA, and sentient Nazi bees.


Friday, January 24, 2020

X-amining Cable #23

"Family Secrets"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable searches for Tyler as Domino tracks down Grizzly.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ian Churchill (pgs 1-5, 8-9, 12-15, 21-22)
Inkers: Scott Hanna & Mark Buckingham
Art: Tim Sale (pgs. 6-7, 10-11, 17-20)
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Cable is meditating on the lawn of the X-Mansion when he is interrupted by Storm. He shows her a postcard he received recently, addressed to "Nathan Dayspring", a name not many know him by. She suggests he speak to Professor X about it. Meanwhile, Domino tracks Grizzly in the Rockies. At the X-Mansion, Cable & Xavier discuss Tyler. Cable decides to seek help to find his villainous son. In the Rockies, Domino comes across a cabin belonging to Grizzly. Meanwhile, Cable meets with Blaquesmith, who points him to Tyler's previous sanctuary, where Blaquesmith has recently detected computer activity. After Cable leaves, Blaquesmith contacts Mother Askani, who tells him the Askani'son's trials are only beginning. In the Rockies, Domino discovers multiple bodies in the attic of Grizzly's cabin, along with a near-feral Grizzly. He blames someone for turning him into a monster, and says that only one of them will get out of the situation alive. Elsewhere, Cable searches Tyler's abandoned sanctuary and discovers the unconscious form of Jenskot, his deceased wife.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #89

"Dream Nails Part 2: Easy Tiger"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Shadowcat & Wisdom infiltrate the Dream Nails airbase.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: David Williams
Inkers: Mike Miller, Mike Christian & Phil Moy
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
After surviving an attempted assassination by Black Air, Kitty & Pete Wisdom return to the neutral ground of the Crown pub. There, Jardin, an old friend of Wisdom's, passes along info that reveals Dream Nails involves aliens. Meanwhile, Amanda Sefton returns to Muir Island, where Rory is in the midst of psycho-analyzing Spoor. In London, after searching his deceased friend's Cully's flat, Wisdom decides the only way to shake things loose is to break into the Dream Nail's base. On Muir Island, Moira discusses the Legacy Virus with Meggan & Douglock. At Dream Nail's, Kitty helps Wisdom infiltrate the base, but their presence eventually triggers an alarm that calls out Black Air troops. They manage to capture Wisdom, and he seemingly convinces Kitty to save herself and escape before they knock him out.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

X-amining Generation X #7

"Nights and Bolts"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
The school deals with the loss of the girls' dorm, while Banshee receives a mysterious call from Ireland.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Banshee, having dreams about an old case from his Interpol days, accidentally draws Emma into his dreams, now that the two are sharing Banshee's cottage in the wake of the girls' dormitory being destroyed. The next morning, Chamber laments having lost control and destroying the dorm. Paige thanks him for not telling anyone that she tried to kiss him, and though he thinks this is because she would be embarrassed if anyone knew she was attracted to a monster like him, she does have feelings for him, something which isn't lost on a watching Jubilee. Meanwhile, Synch & Skin build Artie & Leech a treehouse inside the school's biosphere. In Ireland, a woman named O'Brien rushes into a pub, desperate to get ahold of Banshee. Back at the school, Monet confronts Gateway, asking why they need to stay at the school before ultimately agreeing to the necessity. As Banshee watches them, Emma approaches and confesses to having kicked Leech when being held captive by Gene Nation, something she feels terrible about, offering to leave the school. Banshee says he's not about to send her away just as she's becoming a better person, but they are interrupted by Jubilee, alerting Banshee to the call from Mrs. O'Brien. Banshee takes the call and is stunned to learn that Cassidy Keep, his family castle, has disappeared.

Friday, January 17, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #92

"A Northern Exposure"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine's recent changes are tested by the Hudsons.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digitial Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
With James and Heather Hudson on hand, Wolverine & Sabretooth are run through a battery of tests. Wolverine is sure that Sabretooth is faking being harmless, but no one believes him. Once the tests are done, Wolverine is taken to the Danger Room for further analysis. There, he is faced with a simulation of the first time he met the Hudsons. Overwhelmed by the memories of his near-attack on them, he flees the mansion, desperate for fresh air and solitude. Outside, he observes a motorcycle and a car on a collision course. Instinctively, he intervenes, getting run over by the car, which is driven by the abusive neighbor Wolverine almost killed recently. Almost instantly, his body heals itself, to the bewilderment of his watching friends, and he acts to save the driver, despite his earlier animosity towards him, making his friends believe Wolverine will be okay after all. As he heads back to the mansion, he feels for a moment like he's being watched, before shrugging it off. However, the cloaked Zoe Culloden and her associate were indeed watching him, having been sent to observe his actions.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

X-amining X-Force #45

"Under One Roof "
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Caliban battles Sabretooth before X-Force heads out on a mission.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Caliban attacks the now-docile Sabretooth, intent of gaining his revenge for the Morlock Massacre. A horrified Boomer tries to stop him, but it takes Cable to talk Caliban down, pointing out that killing Sabretooth in his current state would be dishonorable. Later, as Warpath & Caliban train together & Beast examines the recently injured Shatterstar, Cable meets with Professor X, who asks Cable to go on a mission for him. Cable proceeds to gather the team, but Beast holds back Shatterstar, and Boomer begs off, telling Cable she isn't feeling well in the hopes of spending some time with Cannonball. The rest of the team heads out for Siberia, to check on a relay station that has gone offline. They find the station destroyed and most of the crew dead, seemingly at the hands of Mimic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #44

"Lost and Found"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
In the wake of Avalon's destruction, Cyclops fights to keep himself and the Acolytes alive.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
After crashing to Earth in the wake of Avalon's destruction, Colossus is found in Antarctica by an armored figure. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier strains to telepathically search the globe for any sign of Cyclops or Phoenix. Just then, he is contacted by Bishop. Tracking an emergency signal given to the X-Men by Amelia Voght, he & Psylocke have found Phoenix & Skids, alive and well. Meanwhile, Cyclops and a group of Acolytes have landed in the Australian Outback, with Cyclops doing his best to keep them alive while sending Scanner out on recon missions to get their bearings. In Antarctica, Colossus is taken inside Magneto's former citadel. Later, Xavier approaches Voght about using her powers in concert with his to locate Cyclops, though Voght balks at the risk in doing so to Xavier's life. In the Outback, Cyclops manages to lead the Acolytes to the X-Men's old Australian base, using the equipment there to call the mansion for help. In Antarctica, Colossus regains consciousness and learns his rescuer is Callisto. She tells him that in exchange for saving his life, she needs his and the X-Men's help to save the world.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 08

"Redemption"

Plot
Outside of town, two Scout Troopers retrieve the child, then await further orders. However, IG-11 soon arrives and, following its programming as the child's nurse, kills the troopers. Meanwhile, Moff Gideon gives the Mandalorian, Cara & Greef until nightfall to turn themselves over to him. The Mandalorian suggests escaping via the tunnels beneath the city, used by the Mandalorian covert, but they are unable to open the access hatch. Just then, IG-11, the child in tow, blazes into town. During the ensuing melee, the Mandalorian is injured. Regrouping inside the tavern, Cara & Greef take the child into the tunnels while IG-11 removes the injured Mandalorian's helmet in order to administer medicine. Everyone reunites in the tunnels, where only the Armorer remains of the covert. She tasks the Mandalorian with returning the child to his people, calling them a clan of two and awarding him a Mudhorn signet (along with a jet pack). The group then follows her directions out of the city as she holds off a group of Stormtroopers. But another squad is waiting for them outside the tunnels, and IG-11 sacrifices himself to take them out. Outside, Moff Gideon attacks from his TIE fighter, and the Mandalorian takes to the sky via jetpack to send him crashing down. In the aftermath, Cara decides to remain on Nevarro to work as Greef''s enforcer, while the Mandalorian sets out with the child to find his people. Elsewhere, Moff Gideon emerges from the wreckage of his TIE fighter, wielding the Mandalorian Darksaber.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

X-amining Strange Tales #120

"The Torch Meets the Iceman!"
May 1964

In a Nutshell
The Torch meets the Iceman

Deftly Written: Stan Lee
Dazzlingly Drawn: Jack Kirby
Dramatically Inked: Dick Ayers
Distinctively Lettered: S. Rosen

Plot
The Human Torch, reading an article about the X-Men calling Iceman a cold version of him, expresses an interest in meeting Iceman. He then heads out for a date on the Hudson River with Doris. Meanwhile, Iceman, lamenting his lack of success asking Jean Grey out on a date, is given the night off by Professor Xavier. He decides to head into the city and boards the same boat cruise as Human Torch. After Iceman bumps into Human Torch & Dorrie (neither of whom realize he is Iceman), the boat is attacked by pirates led by Captain Barracuda. Human Torch & Iceman spring into action. Working together, they are able to block the pirates' efforts to counteract their respective powers, and Captain Barracuda is defeated and left for the police. As Iceman walks back to shore alone, Human Torch returns to his date with Doris. Both are certain that a guy like Iceman must have dozens of girlfriends.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

X-amining 2099: Manifest Destiny - Patreon First


March 1998

In a Nutshell
The heroes of 2099 band together with a returned Captain America to conqueror the stars!

Writer: Len Kaminski
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Mark McKenna
Letterer: Jason Wright
Colorist: Comicraft
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Xina and Spider-Man's brother Gabe follow a "treasure map" underwater and discover a figure trapped in ice: Captain America. Meanwhile, Spider-Man, now the head of Alchemax, argues with Xi'an, governor of Xavier City, about the Meta Genome Project. He is interrupted by the arrival of Gabe & Xina with Captain America. Once Cap awakens, Spider-Man asks him for information about the end of the "Age of Heroes", in the hope of preventing a similar outcome in his time. Later, Spider-Man reveals that he's found Don Blake's old walking stick, and hopes Cap will use it to adopt the powers of Thor and serve as an inspiration to people. Cap reluctantly agrees. Time passes, and the Watcher, along with the Fantastic Four, creations of the Watcher, approach Spider-Man & Cap and ask them to gather Earth's heroes in the hopes of assaulting an invisible barrier placed around Earth by a group of aliens, preventing humanity from exploring the stars.

Working together, the heroes assault the barrier, but it reflects their energy, hitting the Watcher. Enraged, he sacrifices himself to destroy the barrier, and in the ensuing collapse, Captain America is thrown further into space. He passes Thor's hammer to Spider-Man, who realizes his purpose is to be a less action-oriented hero. As the head of Alchemax, he releases the Meta Genome Project for free, much to the consternation of his board. Over the next thousand years, the world grows increasingly better: Reed Richards helps the Atlanteans resettle on Europa, most of humanity gains superpowers and extra long life, enabling them to migrate into space. Eventually, Captain America returns, and tells an ancient Spider-Man he intends to travel deeper into the frontier, to hopefully inspire new generations. Spider-Man gives him Thor's hammer, and when Cap wonders why the gods left Earth, Spider-Man suggests that perhaps they did so once they saw a noble-enough people rise to take their place.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 07

"The Reckoning"

Plot
Receiving a message from Greef Carga calling for a truce in an effort to free both Navarro and the Mandalorian of the client, a suspicious Mandalorian recruits backup in the form of Cara, Kuiil, and a reprogrammed IG-11. Arriving on Navarro, Carga promises them the client remains lightly guarded, and tells the Mandalorian he plans to use the child as bait to get them close so the Mandalorian can kill the Client.. As the group journeys towards the city, they are attacked by flying creatures who badly injure Carga. However, the child uses the Force to heal his wounds, and this act of compassion prompts Carga to reveal that he intended to double-cross the Mandalorian. Instead, they will truly take out the Client together. The Mandalorian then sends Kuiil back to his ship with the child; he & Cara will pose as Carga's prisoners, along with the empty hover pram. But when they reach the city, they find the Imperial presence to be greatly increased, and when they reach the client, they are interrupted by a call from Moff Gideon, who arrives on the scene and targets the group with a furious volley of shots, killing the client. The Mandalorian and his allies survive, but are pinned down, while on the outskirts of the city, Kuiil is killed by a pair of Imperial scout troopers, who scoop up the child and head back to a waiting Gideon.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

X-amining Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1

This review comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Bob McClennan. After supporting the site at the "Extraordinary" level for twelve months, he chose this issue for review. To get the chance to pick your own issue for review, and support the site, become a Patron here

"High Tide!"
February 1987

In a Nutshell
Spider-Man battles Wolverine in Berlin!

Writer: James C. Owsley
Penciler: Mark Bright
Inks: Al Williamson
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Petra Scotese
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Years ago, before joining the X-Men, Wolverine helped defend his friend Charlie from KGB agents. Afterwards, Charlie disappeared. In the present, Spider-Man runs afoul of a series of murders. Frustrated by his inability to help the victims and screwing up his relationship with Mary Jane in the process, he swears off being Spider-Man. Meanwhile, reporter Ned Leeds believes the murders to be connected, that all the victims were former KGB agents targeted by the freelance mercenary Charlemagne. He prevails on J. Jonah Jameson to send him to West Berlin to investigate further, and Jameson sends a reluctant Peter Parker with him. Meanwhile, Wolverine also recognizes the work of Charlemagne in the killings, and heads to Berlin himself. There, he runs into Peter Parker and identifies him by scent as Spider-Man. Confronting him, Wolverine convinces Peter that he is in over his head, and Peter agrees to go home. However, when he returns to the hotel, he finds Ned dead, murdered by the KGB.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

X-aminations in January 2019...and Beyond!


And we're back!

Obviously, posting in general has been a bit hit or miss of late, on account of the holidays & my late-year international travel taking a lot more out of me than I expected (important safety trip: don't try to cram a months' worth of holiday activities into a week-and-a-half). But I've built a little cushion into the first reviews of the year (I cushion I'm currently taking advantage of) so that by mid-January, I should be primed and ready to dive back into the thick of things.

The first is a special Retro X-amination that comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Bob McLennan, whose twelve months of patronage earned him the opportunity to select an issue for review.

After that, I'll be doing another Retro X-amination from the Silver Age, something that teases the next "Patreon First" series I'll be reviewing now that the 2099 material is winding down.

After that, we return to regular series coverage with the conclusion of "Fall of Avalon", another "All New, All Different" anniversary celebration issue, a double dose of X-Force & Wolverine as both series get back on the proper shipping schedule, a bunch of '95 annuals, the end of the "Sabretooth in the mansion" plotline and, of course, more "Onslaught" build-up!

As always, let me know if there's anything you think should be reviewed that I may have missed.

(Also, I'm skipping the overall series' Power Rankings since we're still so early in the immediate post-AoA era; Power Rankings will return in the next X-aminations Ahead post).

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #8 - Patreon First

"The Quiet Earth"
April 1997

In a Nutshell
Humanity's survivors begin to rebuild in the wake of the Phalanx' defeat.

Writers: Ben Raab & Joe Kelly
Pencilers: David Brewer & Jason Armstrong
Inkers: Allen Martinez & Hack Shack Studios
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
At the Last Refuge, Xi'an & Victor Ten Eagles reflect on the remarkable unity between humans & mutants in the wake of the Phalanx attack, as both groups work together to rebuild their home. Morphine Somers is less thrilled, however, and when he notices Luna struggling with her urges to feed on psychic pain, plots to turn her to his side. Elsewhere, Metalhead is reunited with Rosa & Joachim, while Cerebra decides to revive the Sisterhood of Howling Commandments. In Latveria, the survivors of the Phalanx attack receive a posthumous message from Dr. Doom, who labels Xina an official ally of the state, gives Spider-Man information regarding the location of his missing brother, and, apologizing for using him, names Nostromo his heir and ruler of Latveria. Out at sea, Uproar & Wulff are adrift. Wulff, marveling at his new animalistic senses, decides to swim out on his own to find himself, but alerts Uproar to the presence of a nearby ship before leaving. Elsewhere, a diver discovers the Ghost Rider, excited that he will finally belong to D/Monix.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Monday, December 30, 2019

G. I. JOE #25 - July 1984 (The Commercial, Not the Comic)


Evil master of disguise
(Zartan)
Changes color before your eyes
(Zartan)
Zartan has an evil plan just for G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe, a real American hero
Fighting fiendish new foes

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 06

"The Prisoner"

Plot
The Mandalorian reunites with an old crew run by a man named Ran, which includes an old flame named Xi'an. One of the crew's members has been captured, and they need the Mandalorian's help - specifically his ship, the Razor Crest - to break him out of the prison ship on which he's being transported. After a risky maneuver executed by the droid Zero piloting the Crest, the Mandalorian joins the crew, led by Mayfield, as they board the prison ship. The Mandalorian & Mayfeld butt heads over whether or not the kill the lone New Republic officer aboard the ship, and in the ensuing scuffle a beacon is activated that will call a New Republic kill team to the ship within twenty minutes. The crew quickly locates their associate, Xi'an brother Qin, and double-crosses the Mandalorian, locking him in Qin's cell before heading to the Razor Crest. But the Mandalorian escapes and hunts down Mayfeld, Xi'an & Burg before reaching his ship just as Qin is boarding. Qin offers to give the Mandalorian the rest of the crew's cut to let Qin leave with him. The Mandalorian & Qin then return to Ran's station and, after receiving his payment, the Mandalorian quickly departs. As Ran orders his station to fire on the Mandalorian, three New Republic X-wings drop out of hyperspace, and Qin realizes the Mandalorian stashed the emergency beacon on him. As the Mandalorian flies away, the New Republic opens fire on Ran's station, while the rest of the crew awaken inside a cell on the prison ship.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Mutant Genesis & Invasion / X-Force Series VI

Year of Release
1995

Roll Call
X-Men: Mutant Genesis


Sunfire, Cameron Hodge, Senyaka, Wolverine (Fang costume), Maverick, X-Cutioner

X-Men: Invasion


Archangel II, Sabretooth Captive, Iceman II, Wolverine (Battle Ravaged), Eric the Red, Havok, Spiral

X-Force Series VI


Cable (Cyborg), Caliban, Deadpool, Domino, Genesis, Nimrod, The Blob

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #7 - Patreon First

"Blitzkrieg"
March 1997

In a Nutshell
The Phalanx are defeated!

Writers: Ben Raab & Joe Kelly
Pencilers: David Brewer & Jason Armstrong
Inkers: Art Thibert & Hack Shack Studios
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
With the help of Metalsmith & Twilight, the Takers' ship crashes into the Phalanx ship, and the Takers launch an assault. In Latveria, Xina battles the Phalanx as a distraction while Spider-Man prepares to kill Nostromo, hoping his death will end the invasion. But he is relieved to be stopped by Doom, who tells the Phalanx he has the best of them, and in return for re-establishing Latveria's borders, will allow the Phalanx to leave the planet. Magus of course refuses, and Doom reveals that Winn is in fact Doom's agent, and he slays Magus, after which Doom triggers a Trojan horse in the Phalanx code, removing the Scout program from Nostromo, thereby rendering their invasion inert. Doom then seemingly sacrifices himself, detonating his castle and wiping out the Phalanx. Meanwhile, in the Last Refuge, Victor Ten Eagles leads the human residents in battle against the Phalanx alongside the X-Men. When Doom's efforts bring the attack to a halt, Franklin connects to the Phalanx in orbit. Determining them to be evil, he destroys their ship. Metalsmith & Twilight die with it, but the threat of the Phalanx is over, and the future is bright with possibilities.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Force in Focus: The Rise of Skywalker

**Spoilers, of course; if you haven't seen the movie yet, skip this. If you haven't seen the movie but read this anyways, don't yell at me.**



Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Unstacking the Deck: Fleer Ultra X-Men Chromium

Fleer 1995

Vital Statistics 
100 cards (including the checklist card) plus a twenty card "Alternate X" chase set, a nine card "Lethal Weapons" chase set, and a gold signature parallel set.

Categorically Speaking
Teams/Superheroes/Supervillains, Wolverine Timeline, Haunted Mansion

Firsts and Other Notables
The cards in this set are all "chromium", which as far as I can tell, means they have a slicker finish and a more embossed, nearly-3D look to the art (it's the same gimmick that was applied to the covers of Generation X #1, X-Men: Alpha and X-Men: Omega). All of the card art is fully painted and from either Andy Kubert (the regular X-Men artist), his brother Adam (the artist on Wolverine) or their father Joe (a classic artist of the Silver Age who founded a school for comic book art).

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #6 - Patreon First

"Final Decision"
February 1997

In a Nutshell
The Phalanx press their attack in multiple locales.

Writers: Joe Kelly & Ben Raab
Pencilers: Jason Armstrong & David Brewer
Inkers: Alan Martinez with Hack Shack Studios, Rob Hunter & Al Milgrom
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: Brian Buccellatto
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
The Phalanx launch simultaneous attacks in both Latveria & the Savage Land. In Latveria, Doom sacrifices himself to allow Spider-Man & Xina to escape, and Xina comes to the conclusion that the only way to stop the Phalanx is to kill their source on Earth: Nostromo. Meanwhile, the X-Men and their allies work to repel the Phalanx attack on the Savage Land, even as tensions between the humans and mutants in the Last Refuge continue to flare. Elsewhere, Wulff & Uproar manage to escape from the Wild Boys, but have to find a way back to shore - and civilization - on their own. On Mars, Dr. Isaac discovers the clones taken by the Takers, including that of her son. Meanwhile, December & Metalsmith desperately try to convince Twilight that the Takers are up to no good, but Twilight is determined to help them. Metalsmith decides to stick with the girl he leaves, and joins her as they blast off Mars, leaving December behind.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 05

"The Gunslinger"

Plot
Following an outer space dogfight with another bounty hunter, the Mandalorian lands on Tatooine. Looking for work to cover the repairs to his ship, the Mandalorian sets out on the streets of Mos Eisley, leaving the Child in the care of mechanic Peli Motto. Inside a cantina, he meets a young bounty hunter named Toro Calican. Toro is hunting notorious assassin Fennec Shand; needing the bounty get into the Guild, he agrees to give the Mandalorian all of the monetary bounty for his help. The two set out over the Jundland Wastes in pursuit of Fennec. Working together, they overpower her, but when the Mandalorian leaves Toro alone with Fennec, she tries to convince him to betray the Mandalorian. Instead, Toro blasts Fennec, intent on capturing the Mandalorian and the child and becoming a legend in the process. When the Mandalorian returns to Mos Eisley, he finds Toro holding Peli & the child hostage, but manages to distract & kill Toro. Giving Toro's credits to Peli as payment, the Mandalorian and the child board the repaired Razor's Crest and blast off into space once more.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

X-amining Wolverine '95

"Lair of the N’Garai" / "What the Cat Dragged In"
1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles a resurgent N'Garai.

Script: Larry Hama, Chris Golden (2nd Story)
Pencils: J.H. Williams II, Ben Herrera (2nd Story)
Inkers: Mark McKenna with Gray & Palmiotti, Vince Russell (2nd Story)
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers, Ian Laughlin (2nd Story)
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
On the grounds of the mansion, Wolverine comes across the Cairn, the interdimensional portal used by the N'Garai to enter the world from their dimension. Spotting one of the demons, Wolverine attacks, and ends up following the demon into the Cairn. When the mansion's motion detectors sense the fight, Nightcrawler, visiting the X-Men to check in on Wolverine, teleports into the woods and follows Wolverine through the Cairn. In the N'Garai home dimension, he sees Wolverine fighting a large number of the demons. Shocked by Wolverine's ferocity, he nevertheless comes to his friend's aid. Their fight draws the attention of the N'Garai leader, Kierrok, but Wolverine is able to match whatever Kierrok dishes out. When Kierrok dispatches a wave of demons to attack the mansion, Wolverine & Nightcrawler escape through the Cairn and fight them back. Wolverine then wants to return and finish the job, but Nightcrawler stops him, and Kierrok reveals he intentionally led the mutants out of the dimension; Wolverine's savagery made it clear he'd kill every N'Garai if possible, something Kierrok won't allow, so he closes the portal. As Wolverine returns to the woods, the rest of the X-Men arrive on the scene, and Nightcrawler expresses his concern over Wolverine's mental state, even as Wolverine himself realizes it's only a matter of time before he loses control, and that no longer scares him.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #5 - Patreon First

"Finders Keepers"
January 1997

In a Nutshell
The origin of the Takers is revealed as the Phalanx press their attack.

Writers: Joe Kelly & Ben Raab
Pencilers: David Brewer & Jason Armstrong
Inkers: Rob Hunter, Jamie Mendoza & Alan Martinez with Hack Shack Studios
Letterer: Al Higgins
Colorist: Brian Buccellatto
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Betraying his former allies, Winn teleports away with Nostromo. In the Fatherland, Doom emerges from the procedure to purge his armor, reinvigorated and technology free. He, Spider-Man & Xina prepare to fight Magus. On Mars, December, Metalsmith & Dr. Isaacs are reunited with Twilight, who explains the Takers' origins and tells her friends the Phalanx are targeting Earth. Meanwhile, Garokk toys with the defeated Dr. Strange, making her relive her worst memories. Elsewhere, Wulff & Uproar battle Vulture and the Wild Boyz, and Wulff is seemingly killed. Back in Fatherland, Winn arrives with Nostromo, and Magus convinces him to give in to his Phalanx nature. Just then, Doom, Spider-Man & Xina attack, but are no match for the Phalanx, with Nostromo absorbing Xina. With Doom defeated, the Phalanx are now poised to consume the entire planet!

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 04

"Sanctuary"

Plot
Seeking a place to lay low with the Child, the Mandalorian arrives on the planet of Sorgan. There, he meets Cara Dune, a former solider with the Rebellion. When he encounters a pair of villagers from a remote area of the planet looking to buy help repelling a band of raiders, the Mandalorian convinces Cara to help him lead the villagers in defense of their homes. When they discover the raiders are in possession of an Imperial Scout Walker, the Mandalorian & Cara try to convince the villagers to leave, but they insist on fighting back. Working together, the Mandalorian, Cara, and the villagers succeed in destroying the walker and repelling the raiders. In the wake of their victory, Cara suggests the Mandalorian could settle down in the village; instead, he plans on leaving the Child there for safe-keeping. However, when bounty hunters track down the Child, the Mandalorian realizes the Child will only be safe with him, and the pair depart the planet together.

Friday, December 6, 2019

X-amining X-Man #7

"Whispers in the Night"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Selene lures Madelyne away from Nate.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Steve Skroce & Phil Hester
Inkers: Bud LaRosa with Matt Ryan & Keith Williams
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate & Madelyne arrive in Paris, their presence noted by Selene, who is intrigued by Madelyne's power. Meanwhile, Sugar Man rages about the lack of updates from Rex. In Paris, Nate & Madelyne take in the town, unknowingly watched by Rex, until Selene lures Madelyne to her side, promising her power and telling her Nate will be safer on his own. As Madelyne agrees to join Selene, Rex decides to make his move, but Selene has other plans, and kills Rex as Sugar Man watches on a monitor. Just as Nate reaches the women, they disappear in a swirl of mist, and Nate is once more left alone, mourning the loss of someone special to him.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

X-amining X-Factor #114

"That Certain Mystique"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
X-Factor grapples with the recent changes on their team as Mystique officially joins.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Forge & Val Cooper test the limits of Mystique's new power inhibitor; satisfied it will keep her under control, she is told she will work for X-Factor, or go to jail. Elsewhere, Fatale checks in with her mysterious boss, while Havok & Polaris pack up X-Factor's brownstone headquarters. Forge checks in, and Havok, upset over the loss of control of his powers, lashes out at Forge for bringing Mystique & Wild Child onto the team without consulting him, then storms out. He visits Strong Guy, who is recuperating in a medically-induced coma. Later, Wild Child tries to talk to Val Cooper about Alpha Flight, but she blows him off, while Mystique meets with Forge, interrupting a holographic trip down memory lane involving his Vietname experiences. She says she can tell something more than X-Factor is bothering him; he denies it. But Mystique is not deterred, and insists she'll find out what the's hiding sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #324

"Deadly Messengers"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle Sack & Vessel.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Townsend, Russell, Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Psylocke probes Gambit's mind, searching for the source of the darkness she sensed in him when he woke from his coma, but he senses her presence and forces her out. Meanwhile, in New York, the fight between the X-Men and Gene Nation members Sack & Vessel spills out into the streets. Graydon Creed is caught in the middle of it, but is rescued from some falling debris by Beast, arriving on the scene following his confrontation with Trish Tilby. As Cannonball defeats Sack, Wolverine realizes that the energy of the deceased which Vessel harnesses can be released, weakening him. Storm blasts Vessel with lightning, releasing the souls he'd harvested, but the arrival of the police force the X-Men to retreat rather than pursue Sack & Vessel into the Morlock Tunnels. Elsewhere, Rogue & Iceman arrive at a bar in Arizona, seemingly at random. But Rogue realizes Gambit's memories of the place led her there, while Iceman, who has begun having visions of Emma Frost, tries to call Xavier's School, but Emma refuses to answer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #4 - Patreon First

"De-Evolution"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Garokk defeats strange as Winn stands revealed as Phalanx!

Writer: Joe Kelly & Ben Raab
Penciler: Jason Armstrong, Karl Moline & Yancy Labat
Inker: Jaimie Mendoza with the Hack Shack Studios, John Lowe & P-Scum
Letterer: Michael Higgins, Jon Babcock & Sue Crespi
Colorist: Brian Buccelato
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Beneath the Savage Land, Dr. Strange battles Garokk. When he touches her, she transforms to stone, and Garokk becomes Sorcerer Supreme. At the Last Refuge, Maddy finds Metalhead, who summons Xi'an to help Cerebra, mentally damaged following her encounter with Franklin the Robot. He believes he will have to rebuild her entire nervous system. Later, Xi'an & Victor settle tensions amongst a segment of the human population who believe the mutants are conspiring against them. On Mars, December, Metalsmith and Dr. Isaacs meet the Takers, and learn they are trying to terraform Mars. In Doomworld, Magus attacks. As Spider-Man battles him, Doom & Xina teleport away. Doom needs Xina's help to infect him with the techno-organic virus to ensure he doesn't come under the control of Magus. She does, and though the process is extremely painful, Doom emerges triumphant. Meanwhile, Fiona leads Uproar & Wulff in an attack on the Wild Boys new leader, who turns out to be Vulture, but then Fiona reveals she was really leading them into a trap. In the Savage Land, Jade retrieves the cocooned Nostromo, after which the group is attacked by agents sent by Doom to retrieve Nostromo. Just then, Winn reveals himself as Phalanx and claims Nostromo, saying the boy belongs to the Phalanx now, body and soul!

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 03


"The Sin"

Plot
The Mandalorian hands over the Child to his eager client in exchange for his payment of Beskar. He then gives the Beskar to the Armorer, who crafts a new set of armor for him. As she works, the Mandalorian is hassled by his fellow Mandalorians for taking the Beskar as payment, considering the Empire stole it from Mandalore in the first place. Later, clad in his new armor, the Mandalorian meets with Greef Carga, eager for a new job. But unable to shake his concern for the Child, he instead breaks into the client's facility, taking out his Stormtroopers and escaping with the Child. The Mandalorian heads for his ship, but finds his way blocked by Greef and every bounty hunter in town. A fight breaks out, and just when the Mandalorian is almost overwhelmed, his fellow Mandalorians intervene, helping the Mandalorian reach his ship and blast off-world with the Child.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

X-amining Wolverine & Gambit: Victims #1-4

"In Harm's Way" / "In Deep" / "No Way Out" / "A Woman Scorned"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit & Wolverine get embroiled in a series of London murders reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Gregory Wright & Digital Chameleon
Separations: Malibu (issue #3-4)
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Gambit, looking to put some distance between himself and his complicated relationship with Rogue, Gambit heads to London to look up an old flame. Upon his arrival, he discovers the city in the grip of a murder spree reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings; one of the victims is the woman he intended to look up, with evidence suggesting Wolverine may be the culprit. After coming to blows and being tormented by realistic illusions inspired by their memories, Gambit & Wolverine discover the killings have been orchestrated by Arcade and a woman named Martinique Jason, the daughter of Mastermind. Arcade claims he is framing Wolverine to pay him back for killing Miss Locke, his longtime associate, but when Martinique learns Arcade actually killed Locke, she turns against him, helping clear Wolverine's name & turning Arcade over to the authorities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #3 - Patreon First!

"Revelations"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Mysteries deepen as Magus & Garokk reveal themselves!

Writers: Joe Kelly & Ben Raab
Pencilers: Karl Moline & David Brewer
Inkers: John Lowe, Jaime Mendoza & The Hack Shack Studios
Letterer: Michael Higgins & The Chaise Lounge
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Inside the alien ship beneath the Savage Land, Willow is consumed by the alien form she's adopted & attacks Winn. At the Last Refuge, an angry mob confronts the X-Men in the wake of the Fantastic Four's disappearance. It is quelled by the timely arrival of Victor Ten Eagles, who vouches for the X-Men. Inside Reed Richard's old lab, Cerebra discovers a young girl named Maddie, and Franklin, the child-like robot Richards was working on before he left. At Fatherland, Spider-Man is brought before Doom, who explains he is aiding the Phalanx only long enough to turn their techno-organic code against them, and enlists Spider-Man's help. On Mars, Metalsmith & December enlist the colonist's to help them find Twilight, but are rebuffed. Below the Savage Land, Dr. Strange fights off a group of Mole Men, before going deeper in search of the source of the attacks. Outside the Last Refuge, Morphine Somers tries to enlist Victor Ten Eagles in his bid for power, and though he refuses, a human observer believes that Victor & the mutants are conspiring against humans, and runs off to warn everyone.

On the Wild Boys' ship, Uproar is forced to fight Wulff, who has transformed into a massive dog-like creature. He manages to get through to Wulff, and together, they trash the arena, until a woman named Fiona arrives to help them escape. Back in the alien ship, Nostromo forces Willow to transform back to her original form, but the effort leaves him suspended in a techno-organic cocoon. In the Fatherland, Doom & Spider-Man are confronted by the Phalanx' emissary, who turns out to be Magus. On Mars, Dr. Isaacs helps Metalsmith & December leave the colonists' compound, but they are attacked by unseen assailants. Inside the Last Refuge, Cerebra detects a mental presence inside Franklin, but when she probes his mind, she is knocked out. Below, Dr. Strange finally reaches the source of the attacks: Garokk the Petrified Man!

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Monday, November 25, 2019

X-aminations in December 2019 & Age of Apocalypse Power Rankings


A quiet month as we bid adieu to the year (and decade!) and I try to keep my head above water in light of some major real-life job deadlines. I'll be traveling aboard the first part of the month, so things may be a bit later than usual, but I should be back to normal by mid-month, when we take a look at the next batch of X-Men trading cards and action figures!

On Sale July 1995
December 4: Uncanny X-Men #324
December 5: X-Factor #114
December 6: X-Man #7

December 11: Wolverine '95

December 18: Unstacking the Deck: Fleer Ultra X-Men '96

December 25: X-amining X-Men Action Figures: X-Men Mutant Genesis & Invasion and X-Force Series VI

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 02

"The Child"

Plot
Returning to his ship with the child in tow, the Mandalorian is attacked by a group of Trandoshans. He defeats them, but when he returns to his ship, he discovers it being scavenged by Jawas. He pursues the scavengers, reaching the top of their sandcrawler before being blasted off it. The Mandalorian returns to Kuiil, who agrees to help him bargain with the Jawas. After some haggling, they agree to return his ship's parts in exchange for "the egg". This leads to the Mandalorian disturbing the nest of a massive horned creature, which brushes off most of his attacks & damages his armor. Just as the creature moves in for the kill, however, the child uses the Force to suspend the creature in midair, allowing the Mandalorian to get close enough to kill it. Retrieving the creature's egg, the Mandalorian gets his parts back and with Kuiil's help, restores his ship. After offering Kuiil a job crewing his ship (which Kuiil turns down), the Mandalorian blasts off into space, at which point the exhausted child awakens.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

X-amining What If? #77

"One Dream"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Legion kills Magneto in the past, leading to a world where Xavier dies battling Apocalypse & mutants become more feared & hated than ever.

Story: Benny Powell
Dialogue: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Hector Gomez
Inkers: John Livesay & Mike Halblieb
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Sam Parsons
Editor: Marcus McLaurin
Chief: Carl Potts

Plot
Legion goes back in time and kills Magneto as a young man, just after he escapes from Auschwitz. In the future, mutants are beloved celebrities, the X-Men, under the auspices of Forge, the most famous mutants of all and lacking purpose; they are currently preparing for a public appearance involving a mock battle with the old Hellfire Club. Meanwhile, at the New York headquarters of the Hellfire Club International, the wealthiest & most ambitious mutants are attacked by mutants loyal to Apocalypse, in the name of Apocalypse's "survival of the fittest" code. In the wake of the attack, a distraught Xavier visits a retired Scott & Jean in Alaska, asking them to return for a mission, but they refuse. Later, as the X-Men are about to begin their performance in Washington DC, Apocalypse attacks. Seeing the fight on TV, Scott & Jean go back into action, with Jean using her Phoenix powers to teleport them to DC. After Apocalypse kills Xavier, in the face of his unrelenting attack, Jean uses the Phoenix Force to destroy him and his followers along with hundreds of thousands of bystanders. In the wake of Apocalypse's attacks, mutants have become hated & feared, creating an ominous feeling as Scott & Jean re-open Xavier's school to further his dream of co-existence and Apocalypse's forces regroup to continue his mission.