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

Thursday, June 27, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #34

"With a Little Bit of Luck!"
December 1985

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants defeat Karma.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Steve Leialoha 
Letterers: Buahlis & Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

In Limbo, Warlock attacks Illyana, believing that she's joined Karma. Illyana defends herself as she tries to explain to Warlock that she has a plan to save their teammates, but is ultimately forced to lower her defenses, telling Warlock that if he truly believes she's evil, he can kill her. Warlock is unable to do so, and finally accepts that Illyana isn't a traitor. Illyana calls up a scrying pool and looks in on Karma's nightclub. She and Warlock watch as Karma torments Storm. Inspired by some cryptic remarks Karma makes about her past with Xavier, Illyana and Warlock teleport twenty years into the past, where they observe Professor Xavier's encounter with the evil and powerful telepath Amahl Farouk. Illyana deduces that Farouk may have survived that encounter, and has now taken control of Karma, which accounts for her evil actions and increased telepathic abilities. After hatching a plan, Illyana seemingly returns to Farouk and takes him up on his offer of partnership.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #199

"The Spiral Path
November 1985

In a Nutshell 
Rachel becomes Phoenix, Freedom Force debuts, and Magneto surrenders. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Romita Jr. & Dan Green
Letterers: Orz & Parker
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

After working out in the Danger Room, a visiting Cyclops meets with Moira and Wolverine, and learns that Professor Xavier is dying. In Washington DC, Val Cooper arrives home to find Mystique waiting for her. In light of rising anti-mutant sentiment, she gives Val a proposal: so as to avoid ending up in jail, or worse, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants will work for the government as Freedom Force. Tempted by the offer, Val agrees, on the condition that the Brotherhood successfully completes a trial mission: the capture of the Brotherhood's founder, Magneto. In upstate New York, Rachel visits the home of her grandparents. Remembering the heroic actions of her mother, both in this timeline and her own, Rachel claims the mantle and power of Phoenix for herself, determined, in the event of Xavier's death, to defend mutants from both the forces of hatred and the Beyonder, and to make amends for all the bad things both she and her mother have done.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

X-aminations in July

We'll get to X-Factor, the third X-Men spinoff, next month (I ended up pushing it back a week by breaking up some of the ancillary stuff into their own posts). But before that, we've got some pretty significant (and good) comics to cover! Here's what's coming in July.

July 3rd: New Mutants Special Edition #1
July 4th: Uncanny X-Men Annual #9

July 10th: Uncanny X-Men #200
July 11th: New Mutants #35

July 17th: Uncanny X-Men #201
July 18th: New Mutants #36

July 24th : Alpha Flight #33-34
July 25th: Power Pack #20 & Secret Wars II #8

July 31st: Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men #1
August 1st: Avengers #263 & Fantastic Four #286

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fifteen Minutes & Dark Moon Digest

I try not to shill things too often here, because

A. Nobody comes here for that.
B. We all have plenty of drains on our income even before we get to potentially fun stuff.
C. There are some people out there who are getting irritated by the seemingly-constant shilling of crowd-sourcing projects via things like Kickstarter.

But, every once in awhile there's something I feel compelled to use my relatively-microscopic little corner of the internet to promote, and right now that's the original graphic novel Fifteen Minutes by Anthony Hary. In addition to being a supremely talented artist and all around good guy, Anthony is the co-author, along with yours truly, of Crimson Masquerade, a sci-fi/fantasy novel we are in the midst of revising, which will hopefully be out sometime this year (and I apologize in advance for shamelessly shilling that when the time comes). So supporting Anthony now will also help support me in the future, and who wouldn't want to do that?

If you're so inclined, you can donate to the Fifteen Minutes Kickstarter here. Even just a buck or two will help make a difference, and will be greatly appreciated.

Also, as long we're talking about things you can buy from talented friends of mine, my pal, crit partner and fellow blogger Sarah recently had a story published in Dark Moon Digest (her second to be published by that magazine); the latest issue of which, containing said story, can be purchased here.

So if you've got a few extra bucks and want to check out some great stories while also helping out some friends of mine, there's two ways you can do it. If not, no harm, no foul.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

X-amining Secret Wars II #5

November 1985

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Boom-Boom.

Scripter: Jim Shooter
Penciler: Al Milgrom
Inkers: Leialoha & Rubinstein 
Letterer: Rosen & Parker
Colorist: M. Hands
Editor: Bob Budiansky

After casually destroying a train, the Beyonder is confronted by one of the passengers, a young woman named Tabitha, whom everyone calls Boom-Boom. Since the Beyonder destroyed her train, she decides to tag along with him as she heads for a school in Westchester. Later, the Beyonder makes a campsite for them, and Boom-Boom tells him about her past and her mutant power, while the Beyonder tells her about his recently ended romantic relationship with Dazzler, and the emptiness he's been feeling since she rejected him. When they arrive at the school, which the Beyonder knows to be Xavier's school, he's attacked by the X-Men and the New Mutants. Bored, he drives away, leaving Boom-Boom behind, who angrily runs off into the woods. She threatens to kill herself, which convinces the Beyonder to rejoin her, and together, they fly off into space.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

X-amining Longshot #1-6

"A Man Without a Past/ ... I'll Wave To You From the Top!/ Just Let Me Die/ Can't Give It All Away/ Deadly Lies / A Snake Coils..."
Sept 1985 - Feb 1986

In a Nutshell 
The first appearances of Longshot, Spiral and Mojo. 

Writer/Co-creator: Ann Nocenti
Penciller/Co-creator: Art Adams
Inker: Brent Anderson & Whilcre Portacio (issue #1), Portacio (issues #2-6)
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Issue #1: On another world, an amnesiac man flees for his life, hunted by several monstrous pursuers. By luck, he stumbles across a dimensional portal and enters it, his pursers following. He arrives in New York City and befriends a survivalist named Elliot. Together, they track down a missing woman's baby and learn the child has been kidnapped by the stranger's foes, who intend to sacrifice the baby to return home. The stranger saves the baby, assisted by an odd creature he names Pup, who is actually one of his pursers. Elliot christens the stranger Longshot, and Longshot departs with Pup, uncertain whether he can trust him. Issue #2: Longshot and Pup inadvertently disrupt a movie shoot, after which Pup leaves Longshot. Impressed by his moves, the director of the film offers Longshot a job as a stuntman. In the ensuing days he grows close to fellow stuntwoman Ricochet Rita, but Rita is scared off when she realizes Longshot is from another world. Recalling vague memories of being both a star and a slave on his world, Longshot is attacked by more enemies from his home. Later, Longshot is seriously injured during a stunt. Fearing he'll be blamed for the accident, the director dumps Longshot's body in a river.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last Week in TV #38

While the 2012-2013 network TV season has been finished for a few weeks now, we finally reach the end of our coverage of it here, as I wrap up discussion of the final episodes of Glee and Community for the season. There's plenty of great TV to watch this summer (including Wilfred, Falling Skies, the end of Futurama, and The Newsroom, not to mention all the stuff I'm still behind on, like Revenge), but I won't be back writing about it until the fall, when this column will return in a likely-altered form, as I continue to search for a way to engage critically and write about TV in a manner that doesn't also leave me burnt out on those two things by Christmas.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #33

"Against All Odds"
October 1985

In a Nutshell
Dani, Illyana, Warlock and Storm attempt to free their friends from Karma's possession. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Buhalis & Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

At her nightclub in Cairo, Karma and the possessed New Mutants toy with the patrons until they're interrupted by the sudden arrival of Storm. Karma recognizes Storm, and Storm tells her she knows who she really is, and declares her intent to put an end to her once and for all. The New Mutants attack Storm, but Illyana and Dani join the fray. Using her psychic link with Rahne, Dani is able to free her teammate. Summoning an image of Karma's greatest fear to buy time, the unpossessed New Mutants flee with Warlock's assistance. They arrive at Storm's old neighborhood and attempt to plan their next move as Rahne comes to terms with her actions while possessed by Karma. Suddenly, Karma's thralls attack, and the New Mutants are forced to fight one another.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #198

"Lifedeath: From the Heart of Darkness"
October 1985

In a Nutshell
Storm heals and comes to term with her power loss in a small African village.

Produced by: Chris Claremont & Barry Windsor-Smith
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

In East Africa, a wounded and delirious Storm is caught in a sandstorm. Finding shelter in a cave, she hallucinates being joined by her fellow X-Men, who force her to choose between life and death. She chooses life, and when the storm clears, emerges to discover a bus crash caused by the storm. The only survivor is a very pregnant young woman named Shani, who is returning to her village after leaving to experience the city. She and Storm travel there together, and as they near the village, Storm is struck by the broken down farming equipment and once-fertile land that has been rendered dry and arid. When they arrive, Storm's wounds are tended to by the village elder, Mjnari, who remembers Storm from her previous time in Africa. Days later, Shani goes into labor, and lacking access to a hospital, asks Storm for help. Despite her lack of training, Storm is able to hep Shani with the difficult delivery, but the child isn't breathing when he emerges.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To Better Know A Hero: Superman

This week sees the release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. attempt to rejuvenate the Superman film franchise following the snoozefest that was Superman Returns, and, presumably, finally get around to launching a cinematic superhero universe to rival Disney/Marvel's. More importantly, the release of the film finally provides me with an opportunity to do a timely post examining the history of comics' first superhero (also, be sure to check out friend-of-the-blog Blam's Adventures in Comicology blog. where, amongst other things, he is in the midst of a daily Superman cover retrospective celebrating the character's 75th anniversary.  

Real Name
Clark Kent/Kal-El 

First Appearance
Action Comics #1, June 1938
Nicknames and Aliases
Supes, The Last Son of Krypton, the Big Blue Boy Scout.

Game of Thrones 3x10: Mhysa

The Twins
The episode opens at the site of the Red Wedding, making it clear that the majority of the Stark host is being slaughtered alongside its leader, his wife, and his mother. Arya also regains consciousness at just the wrong time, as she sees her brother's body, his dire wolf's head stitched on in place of his (creepy), paraded about while mockingly referred to as the King of the North.

Props to the Hound for grabbing that Frey banner, ensuring his safety as he and Arya pass through the crowd. I'm curious what his plan is now - with Robb and Catelyn dead, does he plan to take Arya to Kings Landing after all (assuming the Lannisters would pay for her, even if it would be less than he'd have gotten from the Starks), or is his aversion to that world great enough to keep him away? Are we lined up for a season where Arya continues her tutelage in killing under his supervision (because that would be the best buddy cop story of all time)?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dr. Bitz Ranks Every Television Series Ever...Sorta (Part 13)

Well, it took much longer than I expected but we've finally reached the top five. So, without further ado, my five favorite TV series (adhering to the rules found here) of all time:

5. Sports Night: I caught this show on reruns on Comedy Central. It was an odd fit for the network because, despite the abhorrent presence of an , ugh, laugh track in the first season and the fact that its episodes are only a half hour in length this show isn't really a sitcom. Sure there are comedic moments but no more than any other Aaron Sorkin television series. It's really a drama about the life and times of the cast and crew running a SportsCenter-esque show aptly labeled "Sports Night."
I’ve heard some criticize the show for not being a realistic take on how a sports show is produced but, in my opinion, that makes it no different than any other TV show depicting anything ever. Regardless of how closely it mimics actual TV production the fact is every episode enthralled me. The storylines were interesting and the acting was superb. Sports Night could seamlessly bounce from comedy to drama to social commentary. It's true that whatever social/political topic discussed on the show generally leaned towards my liberal bias (as most Sorkin written media does) but, at the same time, this is MY list of favorite television shows so leaning towards my biases can only help your ranking.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last Week in TV #37

Wrap-Up Weeks continue, as Revolution ends its first season and we finish our coverage of Parks and Recreation. Look for one final post before I take a break for the summer next week, finishing up Community and Glee.

Revolution: The Dark Tower

I'm not terribly surprised this show turned the power back on (though I will admit I was a little worried that the episode was going to end after Aaron clicked the enter key, leaving the reveal of whether the power turned on or everyone was killed by exploding nanobots for the second season premiere); there are plenty of stories to tell about a world where the power was off, and now is suddenly back on, just as there were many stories that could have been told about a world without power. After a relatively slow-building first half of the season, this show decided that breakneck plotting was the way to go, thus making it clear it wasn't all that interested in telling those smaller stories about a world without power. So yeah, let's move things forward. Characterization certainly isn't this show's strong suit, so at least it keeps the plot moving.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #32

"To the Ends of the Earth"
October 1985

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants track Karma to Madripoor.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Steve Leialoha
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letterer: L. Lois Buhalis
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

In California, Roberto recalls the events which led to Karma's seeming death, blaming himself and his failure to save her for her current condition. Sam arrives, and together they join the rest of the New Mutants aboard a plane. En route to their destination, Doug briefs them on the extent of Karma's criminal activities, gleaned from various computer searches. Arriving in the Pacific island nation of Madripoor, Amara creates a distraction that allows the New Mutants to sneak through customs. They track Karma to a mountaintop villa, and that evening storm her stronghold, leaving behind Doug and Warlock as backup. Karma quickly ensnares most of the team, but Illyana manages to resist long enough to teleport away with Dani. Returning shortly thereafter with a cadre of demons in tow, they find the villa deserted, Karma and their teammates gone.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #197

To Save Arcade?!?
September 1985

In a Nutshell 
Kitty and Colossus fight Dr. Doom for the life of Arcade. Sort of. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Colossus awakens from a dream in which he's unable to stop the women he loves from transforming into monsters to find himself, along with Kitty, in a strange place. Suddenly, Arcade enters the room, welcoming the X-Men to Murderworld. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Cyclops, having been contacted by Moira and asked to return to the mansion, packs for his trip and says goodbye to Madelyne. In Murderworld, Arcade explains to Colossus and Kitty that Dr. Doom is trying to kill him as payback for their previous failed partnership, and that if they don't help him, his associate Miss Locke will go after their families. Though Kitty and Colossus are suspicious of Arcade, they agree to play along simply to find out what's really going on.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x09: The Rains of Castamere

So, not a great time to be a Stark, amiright?

It's not often that a show surprises and shocks me to the extent this episode did. When it happens, it's usually just based on the sheer quality of an episode, or because a show did something I wanted it to do but feared it never actually would (like killing off a certain character on a certain zombie show). But the ending of this episode, particularly the death of Catelyn, was probably the most shocked I've ever been on this show (Ned's death I knew about long before this series was even a gleam in HBO's eye. Work in a bookstore with people who read fantasy long enough and you pick up on a few things, like "Ned dies unexpectedly early" and "Tyrion is awesome").

Anyways, let's get to it.