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

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #97

"Escape"
July 1985

In a Nutshell
Luke & Kiro evade the Nagai invasion force as they attempt to rescue Dani.

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Art Nichols
Coloring: Petra Scotese
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Luke, Kiro and the captive Lumiya watch as the combined Nagai-Imperial forces deploy on Kinooine, then depart for their ship to regroup. Inside the Nagai base, Den tortures Dani. Back at the ship, Luke restrains Lumiya before he and Kiro depart to rescue Dani, but they are interrupted by a trio of Nagai soldiers. Luke attempts to use the Force to send them on their way, but Lumiya breaks his hold on them, forcing Kiro to kill them. Meanwhile, Mon Mothma & Admiral Ackbar confirm that a state of war exists between the Alliance and the Nagai/Imperial faction. When Han announces his intention to locate Luke on Kinooine, Mon Mothma forbids him from going, saying they need all their soldiers here, but Han angrily storms off, intending to go with or without her permission. Back on Kinooine, Kiro rescues Dani while Luke steals some data for the Alliance from the Nagai computers. But as they leave the base, Dani & Kiro are confronted by Den, prompting a fight which ends with Kiro & Den falling into a nearby river, from which neither emerges. Determined to warn the Alliance about the Nagai so that Kiro won't have died in vain, Dani & Luke return to their ship, only to find that Lumiya has escaped.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

X-amining X-Man #2

"Choosing Sides"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Forge & Essex argue over the development of Nate's powers as Nate stretches their limits.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inkers: Mike Sellers, LaRosa, Conrad & Hanna
Letters: Richard Starkings & comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas & Digital Chameleon
Goddess: Lisa Patrick
Oh, Everything Else: Bob Harras

Plot
Domino, Grizzly & Toad interrogate Rossovich, looking for information about the telepath they've been tasked with locating. Meanwhile, Forge trains in hand-to-hand combat with Nate, hoping to teach him the importance of not relying on his powers, but Forge worries all he's doing is pushing Nate into the arms of Essex. To his point, Essex, who is more open to the idea of Nate exploring his powers, helps Nate turn his power on himself in order to fly. Essex then tries to sell the troupe on making a nearby bio-engineering plant their next target, and Forge reluctantly agrees to recon the site. But when Nate sees the atrocities being committed there, he impulsively springs into action, drawing the attention of the Madri and overexerting his powers, forcing the troupe to retreat. That night, Nate astral projects himself & Theresa back to the strange mansion he recently visited, where he briefly encounters Magneto and learns it's the home of the X-Men. Returning to their bodies, Nate wants to know why Forge was so adamant to keep him away from the biggest gun in the resistance. Meanwhile, Brute confronts Essex, having figured out who he really is, only to be killed. Shortly thereafter, Forge confronts Essex, but the pair are interrupted by the arrival of Domino and her bounty hunters.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #2

"Hither Comes the Sugar Man!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation Next infiltrates the Core in order to rescue Colossus' sister Illyana.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Lettering: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Worried Over: Bob Harras

Plot
Within the vast energy-producing Core, Illyana does her best to avoid the monstrous Sugar Man. Outside, Skin & Chamber capture a pair of human guards in order to steal their uniforms, while Colossus & Shadowcat prepare to sneak into the Core through its backdoor. In a nearby town, Husk & Vincente kill Quietus, one of the plant foremen at the Core, in order to pose as him, with Husk transforming into his massive head and Vincente filling out the rest of his bulky form. As dawn breaks, they enter the Core, with a camouflaged Mondo watching their backs. They spot the disguised Skin & Chamber, entering the plant as workers, and demand they be assigned to Quietus' detail, while inside the Core, Illyana is forcefully awoken for another day of back-breaking labor.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #26 - Patreon First!

"Broken Halo City of the Dead Part One"
November 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Undead in Halo City.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
City Comissioner: Joey Cavalieri
Boss Tweed: Bobbie Chase

Plot
In the wake of the collapse of Doom's presidency, journalist Gunnar Heywood arrives in the newly formed Halo City, to report on the situation there. He observes Meanstreak & Krystalin foil an attempted suicide bombing, then visits a clinic where Xi'an is exhausting himself healing as many people as he can. In Nevada, a group of shadowy figures dig a crystal coffin out of the ground, while back in Halo City, Gunnar meets with Morphine Somers, who introduces him to the X-Men, who are acting as the city's protectorate. Somers then briefs them on the political situation, saying that Halo City is all that's left of Doom's legacy, but that the new administration is content to let them be for now. Shortly thereafter, one of the clinics is attacked by a group of zombie-esque superhumans called the Undead. During the ensuing battle between the X-Men and the Undead, Fitz chases one of the Undead down an ally, only to pull up short, shocked, when he encounters a familiar figure with snake tattoos on her arm, who promptly shoots him with a poison dart, killing him.

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


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #96

"Duel with a Dark Lady"
June 1985

In a Nutshell
Luke duels Lumiya!

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Lumiya deposits the defeated & unconscious Luke inside a holding cell, telling Den she didn't kill him as there are worse things than death. They then discuss the impending arrival of the Nagai fleet, and Den, having learned of the defeat of his allies on Kabaray, asks Lumiya if he can take custody of the captive Dani, in order to learn more about the Zeltrons and how they helped best his fellow Nagai on the station. Meanwhile, Kiro regains consciousness and fashions new breathing equipment for himself before stocking up on tools & weapons and going off in search of Luke & Dani. He infiltrates the Nagai base and frees Luke, who uses the equipment Kiro brought along to fashion a new weapon to help counter Lumiya's lightwhip. The pair then track down Lumiya, and with the help of his new second, shorter-bladed, lightsaber, Luke is able to gain the upper hand on Lumiya, shattering her armor to reveal the scarred face of Shira Brie. Luke tries to convince her to let go of her anger, as the man who made her Lumiya, Darth Vader, did before he died, but Lumiya insists she only wants to see Luke rendered bereft of hope and the will to live. Then she looks up and says he may as well despair now, as the Nagai invasion fleet emerges from hyperspace above them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

X-amining Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen #1


April 1995

In a Nutshell
A look inside Apocalypse's files on allies and enemies alike.

Cover: Ian Churchill/Scott Hanna
Cover Graphics: Ashley Underwood
Colorist: Ashley Underwood
Designer: Ronnie Lawler
Computer Imaging: Steve Alexandrov
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
One of the Madri, desperate to learn whether they are considered one of the Chosen or Forgotten by Apocalypse, breaks into Apocalypse's personal files. After scanning several entries, he finds the one on the Madri and is relieved to see them listed as "Chosen". Just then, however, Apocalypse enters the chambers and kills him for his trespass.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 Special #1 - Patreon First!

"Tin Man" / "Sally & Sylvester Stay at Home" / "The Frog Prince"
1995

In a Nutshell
Cerebra fights a Sentinel, Halloween Jack gets literary, and Cerebra fights an evil circus.

Writer: Ian Edington (1st Story), John Francis Moore (2nd Story), Matthew Morra (3rd Story)
Artist: Steve Pugh (1st Story), Graham Higgins (2nd Story),  J Calafiore (3rd Story)
Inker: Peter Palmiotti (3rd Story)
Letters: Dave Sharpe (1st Story), Phil Felix (2nd Story), Steve Dutro (3rd Story)
Colors: Megan McDowell (1st Story), Paul Becton (2nd & 3rd Story)
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Chief: Bobbie Chase
Computer Coloring: Malibu

Plot
1st Story: Cerebra is drawn by a recurring series of nightmares to the small town of Siddon. Upon arrival, she finds the townspeople amiable, but under the control of a mysterious overseer. Cerebra discovers the overseer is a Sentinel, who has manipulated the townspeople into killing all the mutants in it and any who travel through the town. Explaining to the townspeople what the Sentinel is and what it does, she leads them in an attack on the machine, destroying it.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #95

"No Zeltrons"
May 1985

In a Nutshell
Han & Leia run afoul of Knife while Luke confronts Lumiya.

Plot & Script: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Cynthia Martin
Inks: Steve Leialoha
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Lumiya interrogates a captured Alliance solider, learning he was sent to the world they're on by Luke Skywalker. Later, on Endor, Leia is appalled when a group of four Zeltron males arrive in order to accompany her and Han to a diplomatic meeting of Alliance leaders on Kabray. They leave at the same time as Luke, who, along with Dani & Kiro, are checking out a scouting party on Kinooine that have failed to check-in. Threepio assures everyone he and Artoo have packed the appropriate gear for each party, but when Leia, Han and the Zeltrons arrive on Kabray, they learn Threepio mistakenly gave them Luke's gear. On Kinooine, Luke sends Dani & Kiro to scout, while the Zeltrons cobble together a dress for Leia. As Dani & Kiro are attacked by an unseen assailant, Leia & Han discover the Alliance delegation is being held hostage by a group of aliens led by Knife. On Kinooine, a badly injured Kiro stumbles back to camp, prompting Luke to set out in search of his attacker, while the Zeltrons help Leia & Han plot their escape from the holding cell in which they've been placed. Luke eventually finds Lumiya, and as they duel, the Zeltrons overpower Knife, allowing Han & Leia to escape and free the Alliance delegation. But as Han & Leia celebrate their victory, Lumiya stands over the unconscious body of Luke.

Friday, June 28, 2019

X-amining X-Calibre #2

"Burn"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler runs afoul of a group of pirates led by Callisto on his way to Avalon.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencilers: Roger Cruz & Renato Arlem, with Charles Mota & Eddie Wagner
Inkers: Phil Moy, Tom Wegrzyn & Harry Candelario
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas/Digital Chameleon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As Destiny sees a vision of Avalon burning, the Madri attack the abandoned warehouse where the Infernal Gallop begins. Meanwhile, the submarine carrying Nightcrawler towards Avalon experiences technical difficulties, forcing it to surface and to hail a nearby cargo ship to save the refugees trapped inside. Nightcrawler, who teleported to the outside of the sub as soon as it surfaced, watches as the sub captain meets Callisto, captain of the cargo ship. Above, the Pale Riders are following Nightcrawler from the air, and Damask receives revised orders from Apocalypse to burn Avalon once she finds it. Later, with the submarine beyond repair, Callisto agrees to finish ferreting the refugees to Avalon, and transfers all of them into the ballast tanks of her ship in order to hide them from detection, first taking all their valuables to help their cover as a salvage operation. However, once in deeper waters, Callisto opens the ballast tanks, killing everyone inside. Enraged, Nightcrawler attacks Callisto's crew before confronting Callisto, but their standoff is interrupted by the arrival of Mystique, who tells Callisto to leave her son alone.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

X-amining Gambit & the X-Ternals #2

"Where No X-Ternal Has Gone Before!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit and the X-Ternals find themselves cast in the role of galactic saviors on an alien world.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inkers: Conrad, Milgrom, Christian
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Galactic Warden: Bob Harras

Plot
The X-Ternals find themselves on an alien world, confronted by the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. They fight their way past the Guard, fleeing into a nearby forest, leaving behind Rictor. Captured, he tells the Guard he can locate the X-Ternals thanks to a tracking device planted in one of them. Just then, all of reality momentarily blinks out of existence, and the Guard realizes D'Ken's spies were right: this is the next world to suffer from the nexus expansion. Elsewhere, the X-Ternals are captured by Jonath, the leader of a force exiled for failing to protect the emperor from his murderous eldest children. He tells them of how the new emperor, D'Ken, harnessed the power of the M'Kraan crystal, a power which now threatens all of reality. He also says that, for some reason, the planet wanted them to come here, a sentiment Lila agrees with, as she can somehow sense the same. Just then, the Imperial Guard attack, led to the location by Rictor. During the ensuing fight, the reality blinks happen with increasing frequency, until everything starts to crystallize. Just as the crystallization wave is about to hint the X-Ternals, they are teleported away by the Starjammers. Their leader, Deathbird, reiterates that the M'Kraan crystal is more than a simple jewel, and that it wanted them to see the destruction of the planet, and Gambit declares that if they have to save the universe, then that's exactly what they're going to do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #2

"Sacrifical Lambs"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Quicksilver defeats Abyss as the Great Airlift continues.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
The Great Profundity: Bob Harras

Plot
In Maine, Abyss kidnaps a human boy, while the X-Men attempt to stop the Brotherhood from infiltrating the human evacuation by Sentinel. Their efforts are hampered by the reprogrammed Sentinels, until Storm arrives and is able to use lightning to temporarily confuse their sensors. Searching for the Madri, Banshee comes across Abyss, learning of his captive. When he relays the information to Quicksilver, Quicksilver & Storm leave to confront Abyss while Banshee uses harmonics to backup the work Storm did to reprogram the Sentinels. Together, Quicksilver & Storm rescue the boy, and Quicksilver defeats Abyss by drawing him into his Abyss' own dimensional void. Meanwhile, Rex & Sebastian Shaw interrogate Karma for information regarding the defenses around Xavier's mansion, with Apocalypse declaring that, at last, he will confront Magneto and they shall see which of them is truly fit enough to survive.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #25 - Patreon First!


"Final Curtain"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men reunite and take down the Theater of Pain.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Artist: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Chief: Bobbie Chase
Computer Color: Malibu

Plot
As President Doom & Morphine Somers discuss their plans for the X-Men, Brimstone Love & Xi'an kick off their show, using the comatose Zhao & the Mindfire machine to heighten & manipulate the pain of the Slaughterhouse denizens & broadcast it to their audience. Elsewhere, in the garbage dump, Fitz encounters Junkpile, tossed their after his battle with Brimstone Love, and together, they escape. In the Keewazi Nation, Glitterspike incapacitates Metalhead, closing in on the in-labor Rosa, but Rosa's unborn baby uses its powers to defend her. In the Slaughterhouse, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk help Sham & Quiver, then are attacked by Zhao's X-Men, brainwashed by the Theater. As the show continues, Brimstone Love confronts Luna, placing her back in a Theater slave collar. He sets her against  Fitz & Junkpile, but Fitz manages to remove her collar. As the battle with Zhao's X-Men spills out into the auditorium, Meanstreak uses the broadcast to target the Theater's clientele, while Cerebra shuts down the Mindfire machine as the rest of the X-Men attack Brimstone Love. Xi'an then turns on the weakened Brimstone Love, causing him to abandon the Theater & teleport away. Xi'an then attacks the X-Men, but Luna feeds on his inner anguish to augment her strength, overpowering him. Just then, SHIELD agents led by Morphine Somers burst into the theater, and a holographic Doom declares that he's relocating all the people who turned themselves over to the Theater to a new city he's created, and that he intends for the X-Men to be the city's guardian angels, a mission they reluctantly accept. Meanwhile, Rosa successfully gives birth to a healthy mutant boy.

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

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


The rest of 2019 sees the end of "Age of Apocalypse", the return of the prime reality in X-Men: Prime, and, of course, the start of build-up for the next big crossover event, "Onslaught". It also sees X-Man stick around even after the end of the reality which birthed it, setting it on the path to become the nadir of 90s X-Men comics.

You'll also notice, with the introduction of the post-AoA X-Man as the line's ninth regular monthly series, that I've shaken up the order of reviews a bit, mostly to place one of the three solo series (Wolverine, Cable and X-Man) into each week's coverage, so as to prevent Cable & X-Man from being reviewed in the same week (I can only handle so much Nate Grey at a time...). So basically, the order each week is main team book- spinoff team book - solo title.

This run of issues also brings us to the precipice of the launch of two series which I can't decide whether or not to cover. One is Professor Xavier and the X-Men, part of Marvel's line of $0.99 comics (of which Untold Tales of Spider-Man is the most remembered/best), which retells the early Silver Age stories with minor continuity tweaks (most of which are ignored; I don't believe anyone ever gave the series much canonical weight). The other is All New Exiles, a book published as part of Marvel's attempt to keep the Malibu Universe a thing after they bought the company, which features a cast that includes Reaper (of the MLF), Sienna Blaze, and Juggernaut (and ties into a brief Malibu-based revival of the Phoenix Force that is also mostly ignored these days).

I can make a case either way for reviewing and not reviewing each series as part of regular X-aminations coverage, so I throw open the question to the group: should either book (or both) be reviewed, or should they be held for potential coverage as Patreon-First or collected edition bonuses?

And as always, sounds off with any potential omissions or questions about exclusions in the comments, as well.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #94

"Small Wars"
April 1985

In a Nutshell
The Ewoks and the Lahsbees go to war.

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Threepio laments the looming war between the Ewoks and the Lahsbees, triggered in part by him inadvertently sharing sensitive information. As Ackabr prepares the rest of the Galactic Alliance to remain neutral in the conflict, his aide Hirog contacts his people, the Hiromi, telling them the time to strike is now, as he's managed to orchestrate the conflict between the two races by implying impropriety on the part of the Lahsbee ambassador towards an Ewok princess, thereby enraging Tippet, a prominent Ewok. With the Alliance's unity threatened by the impending war, Hirog believes the Hiromi can take advantage to conquer the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke attempts to get both the Lahsbees and the Ewoks to help him train, in the hopes of helping them blow off steam, but his efforts just heighten tensions between the races. Lando then intervenes, setting up the Lahsbee ambassador & Tippet to settle their differences one-on-one, and Han provides the Lahsbee with his blaster to even the odds. But an errant bolt strikes the bomb Hirog was planning to trigger to further heighten tensions, and one of the frightened Lahsbee transforms into a monstrous Huhk. However, the Lahsbees & Ewoks come together to knock out the Huhk and disable the bomb in the process, prompting the Hiromi to strategically retreat, fearing the apparent savagery of the two races.

Friday, June 21, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #2

"Fire in the Sky!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X attempt to stop an attack on the Human High Council's nuclear weapons.

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

Plot
Weapon X follows the traces of his psi-link with Jean to coast of Bristol, England, where she's assisting with the arrival of refugees from the Sentinel airlift. Amongst the crowd are three men, led by Pierce, who recognize Weapon X, as well as mutants Copycat & Box, who attack the refugees. The attack triggers memories of Jean's time in the Pens, which in turn triggers a berserker rage in Weapon X, allowing him to easily overpower the evil mutants. Their attack only galvanizes Weapon X's support for the upcoming nuclear strike on North America, but Jean remains opposed. Weapon X proceeds to meet with an old acquaintance, Lady Mariko, who expresses apprehensions about Brian Braddock. Just then, Pierce and his Pretty Boys attack one of the Council's airships, targeting the guidance system for the nuclear missiles. Weapon X leaps through the ensuing fireball to stop them, but Pierce manages to take out the system with a suicidal attack. Weapon X emerges from the flames, having sensed Jean's goodbye through their psi-link. He follows her to a small airfield, arriving just as she's about to take off. Weapon X says he can't let her warn anyone about what's coming, but when she tells him he'll have to kill her to stop her, he can't do it, instead leaping off the plane and watching as she flies away.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

X-amining Factor X #2

"Abandoned Children"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Cyclops is caught smuggling Polaris out of the Pens.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corevese
Father: Bob Harras

Plot
A mysterious figure Polaris believes to be her father helps two mutants escape from the Pens; he tells her the risk of discovery is too great if he takes her as well. Later, Havok & Cyclops meet with Apocalypse, after which Havok interrogates Polaris along with the Guthries while Cyclops meets with the Bedlam Brothers. When Polaris is unable to provide useful information, Havok turns her over to the Beast, while Cyclops & the Bedlam Brothers confirm that Sinister had a secret lab inside Apocalypse's statute. While there, Angel meets with Cyclops, telling him he's heard rumors of a full scale war with the humans in Europe, which would be bad for business. At Angel's Heaven nightclub, Havok has a post-coital drink with Scarlet. At the Pens, Cyclops angrily halts Beast's experimentation on Polaris, telling him he's jeopardizing the efforts at peace with the Human High Council. That night, the mysterious figure comes for Polaris, and sneaks her out of the Pens. They encounter Northstar & Aurora, but Polaris' benefactor fights them off. However, unbeknownst to them, Havok is following. When Polaris is delivered to a member of the underground, he watches as the hooded figure reveals himself to be Cyclops, much to Havok's delight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #2

"No Exit"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men assist with the evacuation of Chicago while Sabretooth faces Holocaust alone.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As the X-Men attempt to help humans escape Chicago ahead of Holocaust's culling, Sunfire loses control and begins blasting Apocalypse's probes, which does little beyond panic the already-panicked crowd further, prompting Rogue to use her power to absorb his and settle him down. At the X-Mansion, Magneto visits with his son, prompting Bishop to chide him for hanging back while his X-Men endanger their lives; Magneto reminds him that if the X-Men are successful in rewriting reality, his son will cease to exist. In Manhattan, Rex manages to triangulate the Blink's teleportation trajectory to locate the X-Men's base, much to Apocalypse's pleasure. In Chicago, Sabretooth convinces Blink to teleport him and Wild Child to Holocaust, in order to delay his arrival as much as possible, even if it means Sabretooth's death. Blink reluctantly does so, and after Sabretooth taunts Holocaust into revealing valuable intel, he sends Wild Child running back to the rest of the team with the info. He then proceeds to attack Holocaust, slipping into a berserker rage that enables him to crack Holocaust's life support armor before collapsing, but Holocaust is ultimately unfazed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #24 - Patreon First!

"Twitch & Writhe"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Rosa goes into labor, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk head off to help their friends, and Xi'an reveals his plan to Cerebra.

Writer: John Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario & Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
As Quiver & Sham attempt to escape the Slaughterhouse, Brimstone Love defeats Junkpile. Below, Luna & Fitz are captured by the Norns, and Fitz is tossed into a garbage pit where he is confronted by a monstrous figure emerging from the garbage. In Oklahoma, Glitterspike escapes from the Shadow Dancer and confronts Metalhead & Rosa, who goes into labor, while in the Sierras, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk reunite before making for the Slaughterhouse to help Fitz, Luna, and Cerebra. Inside the Slaughterhouse, Controller X reveals his plan to a captive Cerebra: to harness the power of the comatose Zhao to create a sympathy of suffering that will devastate the minds of thousands.

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


Monday, June 17, 2019

Dark Phoenix and the Fate of X-Men Film Franchise


**Minor spoilers for Dark Phoenix below; if you care, don't say you weren't warned**

Dark Phoenix, a film which, judging by the box office returns, very few of you have actually seen, is the final film in Fox's X-Men franchise (not counting that New Mutants film which may or may not be a collective fever dream and whose hopes for an actual theatrical release if it does exist are dimming by the day). It's not very good, and though not the worst of the various X-Men films (it's more coherent than the Wolverine origin movie and, really, X-Men: Apocalypse; it also sidesteps some of the problems that bedevil Last Stand even as it repeats some others), in adapting the "Dark Phoenix Saga" for a second time, it continues to display a fundamental ignorance of what makes that story so great on the part of Dark Phoenix writer/director/producer (and Last Stand co-writer) Simon Kinberg (hot tip, things "The Dark Phoenix Saga" isn't about: Jean's childhood trauma, Professor Xavier's hubris, Magneto). But while many of the films' flaws are clearly Kinberg's doing (notably the sequences which are, inexplicably, almost beat-for-beat recreations of similar sequences in Last Stand), many of the flaws are inherited, and not entirely the fault of the film, as they are endemic of the franchise as a whole. Which is to say, the X-Men movies just aren't very fun and exciting. Or, at least, just aren't very fun and exciting in the context of modern superhero movies.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #93

"Catspaw"
March 1985

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors help reunite rival factions of the cat-like Cantrosians!

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inks: Tom Palmer
Coloring: Petra Scotese
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
When an X-wing appears in the skies above the Rebel base on Saijo, the visiting Han, Luke & Leia leap into action, shooting down the pursuing ships and bringing the crashed pilot in for medical treatment. The pilot, Minka, tells them that the Rebel forces on her home planet of Cantros 7 are under attack by Imperial forces, prompting the trio to accompany her home. Once there, they meet Minka's friends Sami & Durne. Puzzled by the reports of Imperial activity, given the relative decline of the Empire, Han, Luke & Leia travel to the far side of the planet, accompanied by Minka & Sami. Shot down en route, Han, Luke & Sami are captured, while Leia & Minka escape. The captives are taken before a group of Cantrosians who claim to be part of the Rebel Alliance, believing their captives to be Imperial agents. As they argue over what to do with the captives, Durne appears, and it becomes clear he's been playing both sides against each other. Just then, Leia & Minka arrive, helping free the captives, and in the ensuing shootout, Luke blocks a kill shot fired by Durne at the leader of the other faction. This confirms for the rival faction that Luke and his friends aren't Imperial agents, and they take Durne captive, with the two sides reconciling. Leia is pleased with their victory, but Luke remains troubled, pondering who Durne was working for, the latest in a string of odd incidents that have left him wondering what is going on in the galaxy.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

X-amining X-Man #1

"Breaking Away"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Nate Grey yearns to use his power for good, even as he draws the attention of Apocalypse.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Sellers, Smith, LaRosa, Conrad
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate Grey dreams of his escape from Apocalypse's pens, then finds himself at a strange mansion, witnessing a conversation between Magneto & Bishop. Suddenly, Forge appears in the dream, and Nate wakes up to find that, while dreaming, he destroyed much of the landscape around him. Later, the rebel group posing as a traveling actor troupe of which Nate & Forge are a part put on a show. When they're hassled by the local prelates, Nate uses his telepathic powers to alter their minds, much to Forge's dismay, who worries Nate using his powers will attract unwanted attention. Sure enough, the Shadow King has detected Nate, and Apocalypse charges Domino with assembling a team of hunters to either collect or kill him. In Kansas, a young woman named Theresa is rescued from Apocalypse's forces by Forge's band, and when Nate is threatened, Theresa manifests an unknown sonic power to save him. Nate insists on bringing her along as the troupe moves on, and Forge reluctantly agrees. Later, the band comes across a fellow traveler named Essex, who says he may be of some help to them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #1

"From the Top"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto arrives with a mission for Colossus, Shadowcat and their students.

Creators: Bachalo & Lobdell
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer:Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato/Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Following a training session with their students, Colossus & Shadowcat are visited at their Colorado school by Magneto. He has a mission for them and their students: with Gambit & Nightcrawler working to substantiate Bishop's claim of being from an alternate, better, reality, he needs them to find the mutant that will enable him travel back in time to restore it. Shadowcat says that Apocalypse has eliminated all mutants with time manipulating powers, but Magneto counters he's only eliminated the known ones. Know It All suggests their hope may lie with a mutant whose power has not yet manifested, and she begins searching for one who fits their need. After discarding a few candidates, she finds one, currently a "resident" of the Core prison facility in Portland, Colossus' thought-death sister, Illyana.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #23 - Patreon First!

"Junkpile: Agent of SHIELD"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men infiltrate the Theater of Pain as Junkpile is sent to destroy it.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Commander-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Morphine Somers revives Junkpile, and President Doom appoints him an Agent of SHIELD, answerable only to the pair of them. Meanwhile, Fitz, Luna & Cerebra attempt to infiltrate the Theater of Pain through Floodgate, the facility used to process the dregs of society coming to the theater in search of a new life. However, Controller X quickly spots them. Elsewhere, a mutant named Sham learns her friend Quiver is still alive somewhere inside the facility, and sets off in search of him. As Luna & Fitz are captured by Floodgate guards, Junkpile suddenly crashes into the facility, allowing Cerebra to evade capture. She encounters Sham just after Sham has freed Quiver from being tortured by the Theater, but Cerebra declines Sham's offer to escape together. Instead, she heads deeper into the facility, only to encounter Controller X, whom she immediately recognizes as Xi'an. A few levels up, Junkpile continues to tear into Floodgate, acting on orders from President Doom to shut the place down, only to come face-to-face with Brimstone Love.

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

Saturday, June 8, 2019

X-amining What If? #27 - Patreon First!

"What If Phoenix Had Not Died?"
July 1981

In a Nutshell
The Phoenix Force resurfaces in Jean, leading to the destruction of all existence.

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: Jerry Bingham
Inker: John Stuart
Letters: Simek & Chaing
Colorist: Carl Garford
Editors: DeFalco & Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
After Jean and Cyclops are overwhelmed by the Imperial Guard, the Shi'ar perform a psychic lobotomy on Jean, removing her mutant powers. Life goes on for Jean and the rest the X-Men, including the arrival of their newest member, Kitty Pryde. Some time later, Lilandra calls for the X-Men's help in repelling Galactus from a planet within the Shi'ar empire. A still-powerless Jean joins the team as they travel to the planet, but when Terrax, herald of Galactus, threatens the lives of the team, including Cyclops, the Phoenix Force manifests in Jean once more. She proceeds to strip Terrax of his cosmic powers, then chases Galactus away from the planet. With a reborn Phoenix on their side, the X-Men make short work of their enemies in the following months, but Jean's hunger for power continues to grow, and she takes to consuming stars to feed it. Returning from one such trip, flush with power, she is confronted by Kitty, who tells her she needs to stop. Jean's joy & exhilaration quickly turning to anger & hatred, she incinerates Kitty in front of the horrified X-Men. Xavier once again tries to contain the Phoenix Force within Jean, but this time, Jean refuses to help him, instead turning him into a vegetable. She then kills the X-Men one by one, but when she kills Cyclops, her grief allows the Phoenix Force to engulf her. From there, it grows larger, consuming the city, then the planet, spreading across the universe, destroying everything in its path.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

X-amining X-Calibre #1

"The Infernal Gallop"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler heads to Antarctica to meet with his mother.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Ken Lashley
Inkers: Wegrzyn, Moy and LaRosa
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nearing the end of the "infernal gallop", a mutant named Switchback is delivered to a massive monk named Cain. He proceeds to lead her through the freezing Antarctic to the tropical haven of Avalon. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Nightcrawler meets with Angel, looking for travel arrangements to Antarctica in order to meet his mother, on Magneto's orders. Angel reluctantly directs him to a nearby warehouse and a man named Proudstar. Meanwhile, Magneto contacts Mystique, and asks her to help Nightcrawler enter Avalon & find Destiny, over Mystique's objections. Back in the city, Nightcrawler meets with Proudstar, who is none too pleased with the way Mystique extracts payment from the refugees he sends her way, but Nightcrawler defends his mother, then demands Proudstar get him to the antarctic. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by Danielle Moonstar, an agent of Apocalypse. Upon hearing her report, he sends her and the rest of the Pale Riders to follow Nightcrawler to Avalon. Later, as Nightcrawler leaves the city aboard a submarine, Switchback meets Destiny in Avalon, but when Destiny reads Switchback's future, all she sees is the apocalypse.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

X-amining Gambit and the X-Ternals #1

"Some of Us Looking to the Stars!"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto sends Gambit and the X-Ternals into space to retrieve the M'Kraan Crystal.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Kahuna: Bob Harras

Plot
Jubilee, Guido & Sunspot of the X-Ternals steal medical supplies, delivering them to a human safehouse where Lila Cheney is waiting. Joining Lila, they head into the former Morlock Tunnels to join Gambit, who is waiting with Magneto, who has a mission for the X-Ternals: steal the M'Kraan crystal. Meanwhile, Commandant Richter receives a report from the squadron which engaged the X-Ternals. In the tunnels, Magneto leads the X-Ternals to a doorway leading to Apocalypse's Science Chamber. Fully expecting a trap, they enter, and are attacked by the Madri. As they fight them off, Sunspot discover Peter Corbeau, the human tasked with overseeing the chamber, whose life Magneto once saved. Accessing Apocalypse's star maps, he locates the Shi'ar galaxy, then he & Magneto help Lila access her latent teleportation powers in order to transport the group to the alien world. Just then, Richter & his forces attack. Magneto holds them off as the X-Ternals pass through Lila's portal, but Richter manages to follow behind them just before the portal closes. Magneto thanks Corbeau for his help, but Corbeau knows Apocalypse will learn of his betrayal and execute him for it. However, he at least he sets the chamber to explode, while Magneto worries that if the X-Ternals fail, an entire universe will die.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #1

"The Crossing Guards"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men arrive in Maine to assist in the Sentinel-led evacuation of human refugees.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Separation: Digital Chameleon
En Sabah Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Maine, a mutant named Vanessa mingles with a group of humans heading north, then reports back to the Madri, confirming their suspicions that an evacuation is imminent. Meanwhile, on the grounds of the X-Mansion, Bishop watches the remaining X-Men training to assist in the evacuation. Magneto then gives the team a disc encoded with their mutagenic signatures; inserting it into one of the Sentinels will thereby mask from the robots' sensors. He then guides Exodus, the newest X-Man, in how to use his powers to teleport the team to Maine. Later, as the X-Men ingratiate themselves into the humans gathered at the coast, Storm takes out one of the stations in Apocalypse's seawall, paving the way for the arrival of the Sentinels. The X-Men succeed in reprogramming the Sentinels, but once the program takes effect, they continue to target the X-Men. Just then, Apocalypse's Brotherhood emerges from the woods, explaining they've scrambled the programming to mark themselves as non-threats instead of the X-Men, and Quicksilver realizes Apocalypse's forces have been on to them the whole time.

Game of Thrones 8x06: The Iron Throne


Opening Credits Map
Last Hearth -> Winterfell -> King's Landing

We did it! We've reached the final episode of the series. It's kind of bittersweet...well...these last few episodes are more just bitter but, overall, it's bittersweet. Let's dive into it.

King's Landing
We start with Jon Snow, Davos and Tyrion walking through the burnt out husk that was King's Landing. The three are stunned by the destruction. They come across Grey Worm hungrily executing captured soldiers. Jon Snow objects to these executions but Grey Worm says it's the Queen's command. Jon Snow and company decide there's nothing more they can do and move on as Grey Worm continues his murders.

Tyrion goes into the Red Keep where he finds some rubble with, conveniently, a metal hand sticking out. He removes approximately two pieces of debris to reveal the corpses of Cersei and Jaime holding each other. Tyrion weeps for his garbage siblings. Status of my heartstrings: Still Untugged.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #22 - Patreon First!

"Gauntlet of Pain!"
July 1995

In a Nutshell
Xi'an is initiated into the Theater of Pain.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterers: Ken Lopez & Janice Chiang
Colorist: Tom Smith
Stage Manager: Joey Cavalieri
Executive Producer: Bobbie Chase
Computer Color: The Wolf Pack with Salvador Mancha

Plot
Ahead of his initiation into the Theater of Pain, Brimstone Love introduces Xi'an to Charon, the Prime Controller, and Felicity, commander of the Norns. He then blasts Xi'an with his hellfire, seemingly teleporting him to his childhood home of Aspen. There, Xi'an encounters an old foe named Chainlink, before Brimstone Love orders Charon to move on to the next scene. Suddenly, Xi'an finds himself with the Lawless in Nogales, battling the cyborg Gearbox, who severely injures Haiku before Xi'an escapes. Meanwhile, Cerebra, Fitz & Luna visit Haiku, looking for info on the location of the Theater of Pain. Elsewhere, Xi'an finds himself facing the assassin Quickdeath in Saigon, then Noah Synge at Nuevo Sol. Xi'an collapses, and Felicity emerges from the shadows, impressed with how long he lasted. Brimstone Love then declares it's time to remake Xi'an in their image. Inside his mind, Xi'an refuses the help of his heroic self, after which he is formally initiated into the Theater of Pain. Meanwhile, Morphine Somers meets with President Doom in Arizona, reporting that the X-Men have scattered to the winds, but that he was able to find Junkpiles pieces, whom he assures Doom will serve their needs.

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


Monday, June 3, 2019

To Better Know a Hero 2.0: The X-Men


This week sees the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the final X-Men film from Fox (unless that New Mutants movie whose creation may or may not be a collective pop culture fever dream ever gets released). With the X-Men, however briefly, back in the zeitgeist for the moment, I figured it was a good excuse to give the X-Men a Phoenix-focused "To Better Know a Hero 2.0" treatment.

Top 5 Phoenix Hosts

Friday, May 31, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #1

"Unforgiven Trespasses"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X & Jean Grey battle Havok in advance of the Great Evacuation.

Script: Larry Hama
Breakdowns: Adam Kubert
Finishes: Karl Kesel, Dan Green, Chris Warner
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Mike Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
On a mission for the Human High Council, Weapon X & Jean Grey ride a Sentinel to one of the stations that make up Apocalypse's Atlantic Seawall. Responding to their attack, Havok is teleported to the base, but Jean Grey is able to hold him off while Weapon X disables the station's defenses, creating a gap in the defensive network that allows the council's massive fleet of Sentinels & transport ships to fly through, with the intent of evacuating the remaining humans in North America from the continent. Returning to London, Weapon X stops an attack on the council by Magma, but her assassination attempt galvanizes support for Brian Braddock's plan: to follow up the evacuation with a nuclear strike on Apocalypse. Weapon X is all for it, but Jean worries it is the beginning of a descent into madness.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

X-amining Factor X #1

"Sinister Neglect"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
In the wake of Sinister's disappearance, Cyclops takes charge of the Breeding Pens, much to Havok's dismay.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In the shadow of Apocalypse's Manhattan citadel, Sinister's Elite guard, led by Cyclops, hunt down a group of escaped prisoners. Meanwhile, Sinister prepares to disappear & enact his plan to oppose Apocalypse. Later, Cyclops returns the recaptured prisoners to the Pens, while Havok meets with Beast, sussing out his loyalties as he plots against his brother. Cyclops then tries to meet with Sinister, encountering the Bedlam brothers and turning down an invite to join them at Heaven along the way, but is stunned to learn Sinister has disappeared. That night, Havok joins the Bedlam brothers at Angel's Heaven nightclub. As they foil an attack by a human terrorist, Havok has a rendezvous with Angel's star performer, a human woman named Scarlet. When they return to the pens, Cyclops enlists the Bedlam brothers' aid in breaking into Sinister's lab, which they're shocked to find destroyed. With Sinister clearly gone for good, the Bedlam brothers suggest Cyclops is now in charge, though Havok has plans of his own in that regard.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #1

"Once More, With Feeling"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
A group of X-Men depart to stop Holocaust from culling Chicago.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Hot Seat: Bob Harras
Separations: Digital Chameleon

Plot
Magneto is preparing the X-Men for their next mission when they're suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Blink & Sunfire. After Blink closes her teleportation portal on the prelate who followed through after her, killing him, Sunfire announces that he & Blink have discovered Apocalypse is still carrying out cullings, despite the Kelly Pact, and that Holocaust is personally carrying them out. At Apocalypse's citadel in Manhattan, Rex confirms to Apocalypse that he was able to track Blink's teleportation enough that, soon, he'll be able to pinpoint the X-Men's base. At the X-Mansion, Gambit says goodbye to Rogue before departing for the mission Magneto gave him, then Rogue begins preparations to lead a group of X-Men in an attempt to stop Holocaust. She promises Quicksilver they'll be back, then the group departs, leaving Bishop to wonder why they're willing to throw their lives away in so futile a fight. Quicksilver responds that this is their world, and they will fight for it, no matter what. And while Bishop doesn't remember much, he's certain the professor wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

X-aminations in June 2019 & Reality-Ending Cliffhanger Rankings!


June is a pretty straighforward month, as we plunge deeper into the Age of Apocalypse, finishing up the first round of #1s and heading into the series' second issues.

On Sale January 1995
June 5: Amazing X-Men #1
June 6: Gambit and the X-Ternals #1
June 7: X-Calibre #1

June 12: Generation Next #1
June 13: X-Man #1

On Sale February 1995
June 19: Astonishing X-Men #2
June 20: Factor X #2
June 21: Weapon X #2

June 26: Amazing X-Men #2
June 27: Gambit and the X-Ternals #2
June 28: X-Calibre #2

Monday, May 27, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #21 - Patreon First!

"Unreality Bites"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
President Doom battles Halloween Jack for the fate of Las Vegas.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Lamenting Doom's sudden rise to power, Halloween Jack dresses down singer Celstia Amberlyn, star of the Synge Casino corporation, for creating a propaganda piece for the new president. But she refuses to back down and Jack, impressed, proceeds to show her his plan for bringing the physics-altering "virtual unreality" to Vegas, before activating the projector, over Meanstreak's objections. Meanwhile, Krystalin, responding to a call for help from Meanstreak, nears the city, while Lytton Synge abandons his sister in the desert, intent on getting revenge on Halloween Jack. With the virtual unreality tearing up the city, Meanstreak decides he's had enough, and races off, eventually finding Krystalin and telling her they need to stop Jack. But when they confront Jack, they're interrupted by the arrival of President Doom, who orders Jack to shut down the projector. Just then, Lytton attacks, but Doom casually blasts him away, and Jack agrees to shut down Virtual Unreality. But when he's unable to do so, Doom is forced to quarantine the city and leave Jack in charge, warning him that Doom will have him killed should he try to extend the virtual unreality to anywhere else in the country. As Doom leaves, Meanstreak tells Jack he's leaving, too, then departs with Krystalin, leaving Halloween Jack to rant that he doesn't need anyone, anyway.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

X-amining X-Men Chronicles #1

"Origins"
January 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto's X-Men battle Apocalypse's Horsemen at Cape Citadel

Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Terry Dodson
Inks: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Matt Webb
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Magneto oversees the training of his X-Men at their base on Wundagore Mountain, then introduces them to his newest recruit: Weapon X. Meanwhile, Apocalypse's ship appears above New York, and Candra declares that the time for the strong has come. Back at Wundagore, Mystique brings a young mutant named Rogue to Magneto, hoping to spare her from Apocalypse. Later, Apocalypse's Horsemen attack the Cape Citadel military base, targeting its nuclear weapons. Hearing of the attack, Magneto sends the X-Men into action, leaving Scarlet Witch behind with Rogue to watch over the base and the younger students, not knowing that the villainous Nemesis is watching from outside. After the X-Men leave, Nemesis attacks. At Cape Citadel, Sabretooth is unnerved when he learns the Horsemen intend to not just control the nuclear weapons, but use them. Just then, the X-Men arrive, and engage the Horsemen. They ultimately prevail, but  when the X-Men return home, they discover their base badly damaged by Nemesis and Scarlet Witch having died fighting him off and saving the school. Though devastated, Magneto vows the dream of humans & mutants peacefully co-existing will live on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #20 - Patreon First!

"Rust Never Sleeps"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Bloodhawk battles a monstrobot as Krystalin defeats the Free Radicals.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Tom Smith
Squeaky Wheel: Joey Cavalieri
Head Mechanic: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Bloodhawk tracks a giant robot through the desert to the Acme Pit Stop, but his efforts to stop the robot's progress prove futile. In California, Krystalin has been captured by the Free Radicals despite following through on her side of their deal and freeing Billy the Kid from her brother's Panthers. Billy is planning on launching a satellite that will trigger an EMP across the state. In the desert, Bloodhawk meets a woman named Jade whose father helped build the "monstrobot". They work together to stop its rampage, after which lawyers from the Stark-Fujikawa company arrive, claiming ownership over the robot. Jade happily signs it over to them, then triggers its self-destruct mechanism, which sends the robot blasting into space to safely explode. In California, Krystalin is able to use her powers to escape her bonds, and then free her brother. As he activates his homing beacon to alert the Panthers to their location, Krystalin destroys Billy's EMP weapon, causing the Free Radicals to flee. Just then, a message appears on the holomonitor from Doom, who declares that he is claiming the presidency of the United States as his own.

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Game of Thrones 8x05: The Bells


Opening Credits Map

Last Hearth -> Winterfell -> King's Landing

Who is the tyrant? The tyrant or the tyrant who opposes the tyrant? Beware of those who seek to overthrow oppressors for they just want to be oppressors themselves. Nobody wants to balance the scales they only want to tip the scales in their favor. Do not aid those who fight against injustice and inequality because you don't know what kind of injustice and inequality they will create.

You, on the right side of the scales. Do not help those on the wrong side of the scales for they will simply turn on you the first opportunity they get. And you, on the wrong side of the scales. Be happy. Be happy with your tyrant for they are known and the unknown is much scarier.

Also, bitches be crazy, yo! Amiright?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

X-amining Age of Apocalypse Ashcan & Year of the Mutants: Collector's Edition

December 1994

Firsts and Other Notables 
The Year of the Mutants Collectors Preview, is a magazine-style look at "Age of Apocalypse", mixing creator interviews, previews, and in-universe information. The articles include one on the AoA costume designs, excerpts from AoA Magneto’s journal, a Scott Lobdell interview, an update on the X-Men animated series, a look at the world of AoA in terms of its geography, a Fabian Nicieza article, "Blast From the Past", a look at the stories which inspired "Legion Quest" and "Age of Apocalypse" (like Uncanny #161), an interview with John Francis Moore, and the "X Files": excerpts from Professor Xavier's journal in which he analyzes various characters.

The ashcan issue is a more overtly promotional item, which presents the cover of the first issue of each of the X-titles along with a bit of text that segues into the name of the title replacing it, then lists all the "Age of Apocalypse" titles at the end.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #19 - Patreon First!


"Co-Dependent Behavior"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Desdemona retaliates against Halloween Jack as Krystalin frees Billy the Kid.

Writer: John Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
In New Mexico, Cerebra regains consciousness moments before the bomb Xi'an left is set to detonate, and she manages to get Fitz & Luna out before the base explodes. In Las Vegas, Desdemona reveals she's transformed her brother Lytton into a hulking brute whose actions she can control via a neural spike. She sends Lytton out to trash one of Halloween Jack's casino, drawing him into a confrontation. During the ensuing fight, Meanstreak realizes Lytton is being controlled, and tracks down Desdemona, breaking her connection. As punishment, Halloween Jack declares he's going to leave the siblings along together in the high desert. Meanwhile, Krystalin breaks Billy the Kid out of a holding facility, though she has to go through one of her brother's lieutenants to do so. Elsewhere, the unearthed giant robot begins its grim march.

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


Monday, May 13, 2019

G. I. JOE # 18 - December 1983 (The Commercial, Not the Comic)


Destro's got a plan
He's an evil man
The terrifying enemy of G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe a real American hero
Fighting Cobra and Destro

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Game of Thrones 8x04: The Last of the Starks


Opening Credits Map

Last Hearth -> Winterfell -> King's Landing

Winterfell
The battle against the Night King and his army of the undead is over. Winterfell still stands, barely. Daenerys still has two dragons and an army (diminished but still strong) behind her. All she needs to do is march down to King's Landing and take out Cersei. Should be smooth sailing, right? Well...if you think that then you haven't been watching Game of Thrones very long.

We start at a mass funeral pyre. We see rows of bodies waiting to be burned. I believe they're sectioned off by army. Jon Snow makes a pretty good speech about the sacrifice they made and the gratitude the entire world owes them. Then the fires are lit.

At first I thought the respective leaders of each army/family was doing the lighting. Like, Daenerys lit Jorah and, I believe, the Dothraki. Tormund lit the wildlings. Sansa burned Theon and presumably Winterfell. Jon Snow was burning the Mormonts but since that line is over it kind of made sense he did it. But then Sam and Arya are out there and I know they had personal connections to Edd and Beric respectively but I'm not sure who they're burning with those people and if they're the best ones to do it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

X-amining X-Men: Alpha #1

"Beginnings..."
March 1995

In a Nutshell
The Age of Apocalypse begins.

Story: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Pencils: Roger Cruz w/Steve Epting
Inks: Tim Townsend w/Dan Panosian
Letters: Starkings w/the Comicraftsmen
Colors: Steve Buccellato w/the Electric Crayons
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the wake of a culling in Seattle, a hooded figure is attacked by Prelate Unus and a squad of Infinites, soldiers of Apocalypse. The man is rescued by the timely arrival of Magneto and his X-Men. When the hooded figure, who turns out to be Bishop, recognizes Magneto, he attacks, telling Magneto the world is twisted and it's all his fault. Meanwhile, in Apocalypse's pens, Prelate Summers, called Havok, puts down one of Beast's experiments gone mad, after which Cyclops admonishes Beast for continuing his experiments despite the terms of the Kelly Pact. Just then, the Summer brothers' father, Mr. Sinister, appears, and pulls Cyclops aside. He tells Cyclops that he'll soon be leaving, and that Cyclops will have to face what's coming alone. Nearby, nightclub owner Angel meets with Gambit, who is looking for the location of the X-Men's base. At the X-Mansion, Rogue & Magneto visit with their son Charles before continuing the questioning of Bishop. Elsewhere, Apocalypse convenes a meeting of his Horsemen, while in London, Weapon X & Jean Grey meet with the Human High Council, delivering information given to them by Sinister. At the X-Mansion, Rogue & Magneto use their powers in tandem on Bishop, enabling them to see his memories of a reality like hers, but different. Just then, Gambit, having snuck inside, breaks the connection, believing Rogue to be in danger. In the wake of viewing Bishop's memories, Magneto dispatches Nightcrawler to find his mother, Mystique, while telling Gambit he has a mission for him as well. Meanwhile, Apocalypse discovers Mr. Sinister has fled, but Holocaust assures him operatives have already been dispatched to bring him back. At the X-Mansion, Magneto tells Rogue they have much to do, unaware that a new force is slowly but inexorably making its way toward Earth.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #18 - Patreon First!

"Free Radical Chic"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Krystalin meets the Free Radicals as Halloween Jack strengthens his hold on Las Vegas.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Ink Assists: Hector Collazo
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
60s Causality: Joey Cavalieri
90s Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
In search of her brother, Krystalin breaks into the Free Radicals' base, but is captured by one of them, Instant Karma. At Zhao's facility, the shadowy figures teleport away the frozen would-be X-Men, at which point Cerebra wakes up, sensing their presence. She attacks one of them who is trying to abscond with the comatose Zhao, but is knocked out, after which her assailant removes his mask to reveal it is Xi'an, who then teleports away, leaving behind a bomb. Back in Berkeley, Krystalin is brought before the assembled Free Radicals, whose leader, Trance, tells Krystalin she will break Billy the Kid out of the Panther's custody, or else Trance will use her power to force Krystalin's brother to kill himself. In Las Vegas, Halloween Jack takes control of the casino syndicate's finances, then releases Desdemona Synge, telling Meanstreak he's going to bring a new dimension to Las Vegas. Later, Desdemona visits her drug-addled brother Lytton, giving him an injection, telling him it'll give him the means to grind Halloween Jack into dust.

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

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #92

"The Dream"
February 1985

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors help free a planet being subjugated by an apprentice of Darth Vader.

Plot & Script: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Tom Mandrake
Colors: G. Wein
Letters: R. Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Luke awakens from a recurring dream in which he's haunted by Darth Vader in order to attend a meeting of the Alliance high command, where Admiral Ackbar discusses the disturbing reports of recent Imperial activity. Shortly thereafter, a lone starfighter lands on Endor, piloted by Denin, who says he is the sole survivor of the royal house on the planet Naldar. His world under Imperial occupation, he requests that Luke train him in the ways of the Force. Luke, unsure he can teach anyone, refuses, but Ackbar approves sending a recon mission with Denin, consisting of Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, Chewbacca, the droids and Barney, a young Alliance cadet from Belderone hoping to find his childhood friend Flint on the nearby Naldar. On the way to the planet, Luke experiences a vision in which Yoda, Obi-Wan & Anakin Skywalker explain that his dreams of Vader represent the rising of a new dark power.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '95

Fleer 1995

Vital Statistics
150 card (including the checklist card) plus a 12 card Chromium card chase set, a three card foil-enhanced Duo Card chase set (featuring cards with mirrored art on both sides of the card, ie Spider-Man & Scarlet Spider), a 10 card Flair Print chase set, a 12 card HoloBlast chase set in which each card features a battle (ie Wolverine vs. Cyber) in which one of the two combatants is holographic, and a 24 card Power Blast chase set.

Card layout and approach is the same as the initial Flair Annual set, and like that set, these cards are printed on thicker card stock, with foil-enhanced writing on the fronts, featuring re-used artwork culled from covers and interior pages of comics both within the covered year and without, with computer-enhanced backgrounds augmenting the sampled artwork.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #17 - Patreon First!

"Strange Daze"
February 1995

In a Nutshell
Halloween Jack makes his move in Las Vegas while Krystalin gets caught up in family drama.

Writer: John Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Lead Singer: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Meanstreak & Halloween Jack arrive in Las Vegas, and confront Desdemona Synge, but she calls for help in the form of the Rat Pack. In Oakland, Krystalin's brother Zak urges her to leave the X-Men and join his Soldiers of the Panther, but they are interrupted by Daze, an agent of the Free Radicals, who kidnaps Zak and demands the release of a prisoner named Billy the Kid. In Vegas, Meanstreak & Halloween Jack defeat the Rat Pack, then Halloween Jack touches Desdemona in order to replicate her physical form, at which point he uses her palm print to transfer her casino resources to him. Elsewhere, Bloodhawk returns from the Savage Land and reunites with Liebowitz, then leaves to return to his desert home. In Oakland, the Panthers ask Krystalin to let them handle Zak's kidnapping themselves, but she decides to investigate anyway. With the help of an old family friend named Havana, she tracks down the location of the Free Radicals' base. Meanwhile, Cerebra tells Fitz that she's managed to stop the cellular degeneration of Zhao's X-Men. After she leaves the room, three shadowy figures teleport inside, on orders to bring the frozen X-Men to the Director.

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

X-aminations in May 2019 & December 1994 Power Rankings


Reality has been wiped clean; now it's time for the Age of Apocalypse!

After another trading card set and some additional promotional material, of course.

May 1: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Flair Annual '95

On Sale January 1995
May 8: X-Men Alpha #1

May 15: X-Men - Year of the Mutants Collectors Preview

May 22:  X-Men Chronicles #1

May 29: Astonishing X-Men #1
May 30: Factor X #1
May 31: Weapon X #1