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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Force in Focus December 2015

No new reviews or content this week, on account of the holiday weekend (in the US, at least), but I did want to give a quick heads up about my plans for posts in December, in the run-up to the release of The Force Awakens.

My plan is hand over the first two Saturdays to reviews of Shattered Empire (the four issue series covering events following Return of the Jedi) and Aftermath (the first novel in the new canon to do the same). After that, Force Awakens will be out, so I'll probably have a reaction post to that up on the 19th (though probably not a formal review at that point). After that is Christmas, and it remains to be seen if the new movie prompts any more immediate posts after that, but before long, we'll return to regular reviews of the old Marvel series and kickoff "The Siege of Yavin"!

In the meantime, if you're jonesing for some Star Wars reviews, I've reviewed (nearly) every issue of Marvel's newest Star Wars series for Pop Optiq, and you can find all those here. My Pop Optiq editor and I are also trading off chapters of the "Vader Down" crossover for review as well, and those can be found here (and December is Star Wars Month at Pop Optiq as well, so look for a bunch of cool posts on all aspects of the franchise, from me and other writers, there).

Finally, for an additional Star Wars fix, the Star Wars Minute podcast recently returned from their between-movies hiatus earlier than expected, and have begun reviewing The Phantom Menace, one minute at a time. I was initially a little wary about this latest installment of the show, as the hosts' discussions of the Original Trilogy made it pretty clear that they're not big fans of the Prequels (and while those films are certainly not without their faults, I'm also not terribly interested in listening to nothing but negativity and cheap shots in every episode), but so far, they've managed to treat the film the same as they did the others: both reverently and irreverently in parts, not afraid to make jokes at the film's expense and call out what it gets wrong, but also not afraid to point out what works and is enjoyable, with a stated goal (called the "Phantom Menaissance") of re-analyzing the movie with fresh eyes and not just turning the show into a 126-episode screed against it. 

Check out their site here (or in iTunes/Stitcher), and for a brief, daily Star Wars fix on a wide variety of topics, check out the Star Wars 7x7 podcast as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

X-amining X-Men Animation Special

"The Pryde of the X-Men"

In a Nutshell 
Kitty Pryde joins the X-Men and helps defeat Magneto's plan to use a comet to wipe mankind off the planet.

Writer: Danny Fingeroth adapting the television screenplay by Larry Parr
Art: Marvel Productions
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Editor: Bob Budiansky
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The morning after the White Queen breaks Magneto out of a military convoy, Kitty Pryde arrives at the mysterious Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. She is greeted by a mental projection of Professor X, who leads her deeper into the school, confirming that she is in fact a mutant, and introducing her to the X-Men as they train in the Danger Room. Just then, a Stage Two Mutant Alert signals, and the X-Men rush off to investigate, despite Cyclops' reservations about leaving Professor X and Kitty behind alone. As they leave, Magneto orders Juggernaut into the mansion. The X-Men arrive at the Deep Space Observatory, where Blob and Pyro are holding a family hostage. They manage to free the family but the mutant terrorists escape, while back at the X-Mansion, Magneto and Juggernaut make short work of the mansion's defenses.Telepathically sensing that Magneto is after Cerebro's mutant power circuit, Professor X gives it to Kitty and tells her to protect it while he holds off the evil mutants. But Magneto overpowers Kitty and makes off with the circuit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

X-aminations in December 2015

In which we finish up the year by saying goodbye to both our first cancelled X-book and our first "cancelled so it can be relaunched as a new series with a new #1" X-book, and we celebrate the holidays with one of the most acclaimed Wolverine stories of all time (that I've never actually read before!).

On Sale January 1991
December 2nd: Ghost Rider #9
December 3rd: Excalibur #35
December 4th: Wolverine #37

On Sale February 1991
December 9th: Uncanny X-Men #275
December 10th: New Mutants #100
December 11th: X-Factor #65

December 16th: Excalibur: Weird War III
December 17th: Excalibur #36
December 18th: Wolverine #38

December 23rd: Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 ("Weapon X")

December 30th: Deathtrap: The Vault

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #24

"Silent Drifting"
June 1979

In a Nutshell
A flashback tale of Obi-Wan Kenobi's efforts to save a ship from pirates. 

Script: Mary Jo Duffy
Art: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Letters: R. Parker
Colors: P. Goldberg
Editor: A. Goodwin
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Dropping out of hyperspace to make repairs, the Millennium Falcon is attacked by a pair of TIE Fighters. To destroy them, Han uses a trick which Leia says was a favorite of the Jedi for centuries, recalling a specific instance in which Obi-Wan Kenobi used it as well, a story her father told her. While hitching a ride aboard a pleasure cruiser, Obi-Wan is befriended by a droid named 68-RKO, en route to enter the service of Bail Organa. Their conversation draws the ire of one particular droid-hating passenger, who attacks Obi-Wan. The ease with which he dispatches his foe then attracts the attention of known criminal Augustus Tryll, who offers Obi-Wan a partnership, which the Jedi turns down. Just then, the ship drops out of hyperspace as it approaches the Merson asteroid belt, and all passengers are ordered to take measures to avoid detection by the pirates which patrol the belt. Later, Obi-Wan is summoned by the captain, and learns the pirates have detected the ship despite their security measures.

Friday, November 20, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #64

"The Price"
March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Iceman battles Hiro to free Opal. 

Plot/Script: Louise Simonson
Plot/Penciler: Whilce Portacio
Inker: Art Thibert
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorists: Glynis Oliver & Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Special Thanks: Kimsen Agena

In the wake of their failed rescue attempt, Iceman rushes off to storm Tatsu'o's stronghold himself. Some time later, Hiro approaches Opal at the graveyard on Tatsu'o's estate, and at her insistence, tells the story of her parents and how Opal came to live in America. Another evening later, Opal attempts to escape the compound, but is stopped by Tatsu'o. Enraged when he realizes Hiro has told Opal about her parents, he declares he will choose her husband himself and that she will await that marriage in a cell, then proceeds to detain Hiro as punishment, leading the remaining two Cyberwarriors to believe they are next in line for Tatsu'o's favor. But when Iceman launches his attack on the stronghold, they are shocked to discover Hiro will be leading their defense, as Tatsu'o has spared him due to Opal's apparent feelings for him.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #99

"The Beginning of the End: Part Two"
March 1991

In a Nutshell
Roberto quits the team and James Proudstar joins it. 

Plot, Pencils, Inks: Rob Liefeld
Script: Fabian Nicieza
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Brad Vancata
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Beneath Manhattan, a Morlock named Feral refuses to join Masque's army, then flees through the tunnels until she finds an access hatch to the surface. Meanwhile, Cable meets James Proudstar, having left the Massachusetts Academy, for lunch and offers him a place with the New Mutants. He declines, saying he's returning home to his reservation, but Cable insists the time for not choosing sides is over, and leaves the offer standing. Unbeknownst to Cable, Gideon watches their meeting from afar, then returns to Roberto, helping him realize that he needs to leave Xavier's school to run his father's business. Back at the X-Mansion, Boom-Boom shows Cable Rictor's note, and though Sam argues they should go after him, Cable says that Rictor made his own choice. Later, James returns to his home at Camp Verde to find the place destroyed and his people massacred. Finding a Hellfire Club mask amidst the wreckage, he declares vengeance on Emma Frost.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #274

March 1991

In a Nutshell 
Magneto & Rogue battle Zaladane in the Savage Land. 

Script: Chris Claremont
Plot/ Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Letters: Pat Brousseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Edits: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In the wake of attacks launched by Zaladane, the UN authorizes a SHIELD force to enter the Savage Land to stop her. In the Savage Land, Magneto, Rogue and Ka-Zar shortly thereafter come across the wreckage of the force, brought down by Zaladane's power and the natural resistance of the Savage Land to higher-order electronics. Just then, they're attacked by the Savage Land Mutates, sent by Zaladane. Magneto overpowers them, but leaves them alive at Rogue's insistence, then all three return to Magneto's citadel. Studying Zaladane's power, Magneto realizes she will cause irrepable harm to the planet's biosphere if not stopped. That night, Rogue awakens Magneto as Zaladane and her forces attack the citadel. Magneto is easily overpowered by Zaladane, and her troops threaten to route Ka-Zar's until the SHIELD unit, led by Nick Fury, emerges from the jungle and turns the tide, driving them off.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #23

"Flight Into Fury!"
May 1979

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors escape the Wheel and evade Darth Vader. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

Luke exits Greyshade's yacht, angry that Leia agreed to leave with him and upset after watching Han die in the arena, gunned down by Chewbacca. In the arena, however, Han turns out to have faked his death, and after Chewbacca defeats the final contestant, he leaves carrying the "body" of his friend. Just then Commander Strom suddenly storms into the casino, having recovered from the drug Greyshade slipped him. He orders his troops to take control of the station, and to kill Greyshade and the rebels on sight. Master-Com manages to warn Greyshade, but the Stormtroopers destroy his body, just as another group of troops accost Han and Chewbacca en route to the Falcon. Just then, Luke senses the arrival of Darth Vader just outside the Wheel. Back aboard the station, Master-Com, in a new body, rendezvous with R2-D2 and helps him broadcast his recording of the Wheel's security guards reclaiming the money stolen by the Empire, inciting an uprising against the Imperial forces.

Friday, November 13, 2015

X-amining Wolverine #36

"...It Tolls For Thee!"
February 1991

In a Nutshell 
Lady Deathstrike stalks Wolverine during the Spanish Civil War. 

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker:Dan Green
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Mark Chiarello
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Heading for the partisan rebels hiding in the hills outside the city, Wolverine, Puck, Ernesto and Inez race through the streets of Guernica, with Wolverine single-handedly talking out a machine gun nest along the way. Meanwhile, Lady Deathstrike is hung by the Nazi's which captured her, but easily breaks the rope then introduces herself to them, not hiding the fact that she's from the future. In Australia, in the present, the Reavers experience a sudden time vortex, and Pierce realizes that Gateway has sent Deathstrike and Wolverine into the past, and that she could be threatening their existences. In the past, in Spain, Wolverine and his friends reach the partisan camp, while Lady Deathstrike promises the Nazi captain that if they can bring Wolverine's adamantium skeleton to her father, a pilot cadet in Japan, he can create an army of super-soldiers for Germany.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Walking Dead 6x02: JSS

Hey! Guess what? I’m finally officially moved AND I have internet and cable again. Fun!

This means I can watch and review The Walking Dead again. Of course, I’m a few episodes behind so I’ll try to catch up. However, you’re probably already caught up. I’ll make sure to write my reviews before watching the next episode so that means you’ll be able to laugh at how incorrect my wild speculations and predictions are!

On to the review!

X-amining Excalibur #34

"School Spirit (or Cheerleaders from Heck)"
February 1991

In a Nutshell 
Kitty helps save St. Searle's and is reunited with Excalibur. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Ron Wagner 
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: John Wilcox
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Kitty and her classmates see off Miss Rutherford, who is heading to London to meet with Courtney Ross in the hopes of acquiring a loan to save the school, then the girls board a train of their own for the cheerleading competition in London. Meanwhile, Mesmero tests Excalibur's capabilities against some Ministry of Defense drones. Later, Kitty and the girls arrive at Wembley Stadium and meet the professional cheerleaders they have to beat. Elsewhere in the stadium, Mesmero seemingly meets with the individuals extorting him, who turn out to be Fenris. Just then, Mesmero reveals himself as Meggan, destroying Fenris' robotic bodyguards. As Kitty and the St. Searle's girls perform their routine, the rest of Excalibur attack Fenris. Spotting the Phoenix effect, Kitty realizes her teammates are back on Earth, and leaves in the middle of the routine to help them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

X-amining Fantastic Four #347-349

"Big Trouble on Little Earth!" / "Where Monsters Dwell (or is it ... Where Creatures Roam?)!" / "Eggs Got Legs! ...or Love Conquers All!"
December 1990 - February 1991

In a Nutshell 
A renegade Skrull recruits a New Fantastic Four to unknowingly help her acquire a weapon to use against the Skrull Empire. 

Writer: Walter Simonson
Penciling: Arthur Adams
Penciling Assistant: Gracine Tanaka (issues #348-349)
Inking: Art Thibert, Al Milgrom (issue #348 pp 13-16, issue #349 pp4-24)
Letterering: Bill Oakley
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editing: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Issue #347: Fleeing pursuit, a renegade Skrull named De'Lila crashes on Earth shortly after the Fantastic Four's return from an inter-dimensional journey through time. De'Lila, using her shapeshifting abilities, proceeds to infiltrate Four Freedoms Plaza and take out the Fantastic Four one by one. Meanwhile, the Skrulls pursuing her arrive on Earth and are drawn to Monster Island by readings which suggest the monsters which dwell there share some Skrull DNA. They proceed to send the monsters out into the world to flush out De'Lila. De'Lila, in the guise of Invisible Woman, puts out a call for help, to which Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Ghost Rider respond. Though reluctant to help her at first, they acquiese upon seeing the apparent dead bodies of the Fantastic Four, and agree to become a new Fantastic Four to avenge them.

Issue #348: The New Fantastic Four depart Four Freedoms Plaza, using a device provided by De'Lila which they believe will lead them to the source of the attacking monsters and the murderers of the real Fantastic Four. En route, they stop a monster attacking a plane over Washington, D.C., then proceed to follow it to Monster Island. On Monster Island, Mole Man has captured the Skrulls pursuing De'Lila just as the new Fantastic Four arrive and proceed to interrogate them, learning of De'Lila, including her telepathic powers, which made duping them easier.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #22

"To the Last Gladiator!"
April 1979

In a Nutshell
Han and Chewbacca attempt to survive the Wheel's arena. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Colorist: B. Sharen
Letterer: C. Robbins
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

In the zero gravity environment of the Wheel's arena, Han and Chewbacca team-up against the other combatants, much to Commander Strom's costernation. But Senator Greyshade points out that they both signed contracts to participate, which state that the matches are to the death, and can have only one winner. Should they fail to abide by those rules, both can be killed. Just then, Strom passes out, the result of the drugged drink given to him by Greyshade. Elsewhere, Luke, Leia and the droids continue to follow Greyshade's security forces, taping their reclaimation of the funds stolen by the Imperials in the name of the Rebels. But they're spotted and a fight breaks out, which ends with the arrival of Greyshade, who ushers the Rebels aboard his private yacht at gunpoint.

Friday, November 6, 2015

X-amining X-Factor #63

February 1991

In a Nutshell 
Iceman and Marvel Girl go to Japan to rescue a captive Opal. 

Plot/Writer: Louise Simonson
Plot/Artist: Whilce Portacio
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Special Thanks: Kimson Agena
Special Assist: Homage Studios

While out on a date, Opal and Bobby are attacked by a group of Japanese men with cybernetic implants, who were sent by their master to retrieve Opal. They toss a surprised Bobby out the window of the high rise restaurant as Opal fights back, but she only manages to tear away one of their insignia. The cyber warriors' leader, Hiro, tells Opal they're taking her back to her grandfather, then they all teleport away. Outside, Bobby ices up and returns to the restaurant, picking up the insignia left behind. He takes it to Opal's parents, who recognize it as the insignia of the Tatsu clan, and explain that they adopted Opal as a way to free her from her grandfather, though they were unable to save her birth mother. In Japan, Opal's grandfather Tatsu'o tells her she is to marry one of his cybernetic warriors and provide him with an heir, and Opal meets her birth mother. Back in New York, Bobby prepares to head to Japan, insisting on going alone but ultimately acquiescing to Jean accompanying him.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #98

"The Beginning of the End Part One"
February 1991

In a Nutshell
Gideon, Deadpool & Domino make their first appearances as Rictor quits the team. 

Plot & Art: Rob Liefeld
Script: Fabian Nicieza 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: S. Buccellato
Caretaker: Bob Harras
Beginning, Middle and End: Tom DeFalco

In Colorado, the mysterious Gideon hones his mutant ability against a group of combat droids, then tells his assistant to inform Eve to proceed as planned with Emmanuel Da Costa. At the X-Mansion, Cable and Cannonball train together, while at the headquarters of Da Costa International, Eve delivers Emmanuel his coffee. Drinking it, he dies. At the X-Mansion, Rictor complains to Boom-Boom about leaving Rahne behind in Genosha, just as Cable is attacked in the library by a masked mercenary named Deadpool, sent by Mr. Tolliver to kill him. Cable and the New Mutants, drawn by the commotion, fight back, but it's ultimately a mysterious woman named Domino who defeats the attacker, answering Cable's request for help. Later, after mailing Deadpool back to Tolliver, Cable and Domino go over a list of former New Mutants, ultimately deciding they aren't left with much to work with, though Cable says he's taking steps to remedy it. That night, Rictor takes off on his own, leaving a note for Boom-Boom explaining that he's going to Genosha for Rahne. Later, Gideon steals into Roberto's room, waking up his old friend with the news that Roberto's father has died of a heart attack.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #273

"Too Many Mutants (Or Whose House Is This, Anyway?)!"
February 1991

In a Nutshell 
The gathered X-teams debate their future. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencilers: Whilce Portacio, Klaus Janson, John Byrne, Rick Leonardi, Marc Silvestri, Michael Golden, Larry Stroman, Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

With all three teams gathered at the remains of the X-Mansion, Storm, Cable, Cyclops & Marvel Girl debate their next course of action, with Cable insisting that they need to strike hard and fast at their enemies, while the others counter that Professor Xavier never intended for them to be soldiers. Eventually, Cable storms out, proclaiming that whatever course of action they take, somebody needs to step up, leaving the rest to ponder whether they're still fit caretakers for Xavier's dream. Meanwhile, Banshee contacts Moira MacTaggert while Beast & Forge work on a cure for Wolfsbane and Archangel leads Cannonball in a Danger Room flying lesson. As Storm walks the grounds, Gambit approaches her, eager to return to their former lifestyle as thieves, but Storm insists the team needs her. Later, Psylocke expresses her concerns over her transformed state to Jean, while Gambit and Wolverine spar in the Danger Room, watched by a concerned Jubilee.