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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x05: The Door

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

The Wall
Sansa gets a message which we will find out is from Petyr “Little Finger” Baelish. She goes to meet him with Brienne in tow. Brienne's going to kill Little Finger, right? Right? It's the only thing that makes sense. Just do it!

But no, Sansa does not order Brienne to kill Little Finger. Instead Sansa chastises him for giving her to Ramsey and tries to let him know just how badly she was assaulted. Frankly, it's even worse than I thought. After telling him to fuck off she heads back to the Wall. I still think her not killing him is a mistake.

Baelish did have one useful piece of information, though. Apparently Blackfish has gathered an army and retaken Riverrun. At the Wall proper Jon, Sansa and Davos discuss the various armies they could gather to attack Ramsey. Obviously, Blackfish is at the top of the list.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x04: Book of the Stranger

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> The Eyrie -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

The Wall
Now that Jon Snow has flown the coup...wait, what? He's still at the Wall? That's...kind of confusing. But it's not a bad thing because Sansa shows up and we have an honest to goodness reunion between two Starks! Seriously, that happened. On Game of Thrones!

Meanwhile, Davos finally remembers that one thing he was going to ask Melisandre. He says, "Remember that time I was Hand of the King to that guy, what's his name? Stannis Baratheon? That was crazy, wasn't it? You kind of mentioned he's no more, but what happened there? And, oh yeah, there was that little girl I kind of cared for like she was my own daughter, you know anything about her?" Melisandre is like, "Yeah...about that..." but then they're interrupted by Brienne who's all, "I was there, I saw what happened. Stannis and his army got their ass kicked. Then I killed Stannis myself. I might do the same to this red head here because she's also responsible for my King's death." Then they all go their separate ways lest the weight of all the awkwardness becomes so great it tears a hole in the space/time continuum.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

To Better Know a Villain: The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse is an idea astoundingly elegant for its simplicity: if you're going to have a villain named Apocalypse, giving him a group of henchmen and naming them after the biblical four horsemen is a no-brainer, and it's a concept that has survived right alongside Apocalypse as a character for several decades now (barring that brief period of time in which Apocalypse traded in horsemen for the Image-riffic Dark Riders/Riders of the Storm).

Though they weren't around for the first appearance of Apocalypse (as the character was a last minute swap for the Owl as the mysterious leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants wannabes, the Alliance of Evil), his next appearance immediately set about rectifying that, as he popped up in a handful of issues, gathering an assortment of mutants. That group (minus Death) was unveiled shortly before "Fall of the Mutants", and since that storyline, while their membership (and in some cases, the designation of who is which Horseman) has changed, it's not often that Apocalypse doesn't show up without some combination of Horsemen at his beck and call. Here then are some of the more notable arrangements.

The Originals
Abraham Kieros (War), Autumn Rolfson (Famine) the Morlock Plague (Pestilence), Angel (Death).

Apocalypse's first batch of Horsemen are a mix of new and existing characters, and aside from being the first, they remain a memorable group simply because their gathering was depicted in detail through early issues of X-Factor, as Apocalypse gathered his followers and transformed them, one-by-one, culminating in the reveal of the thought-dead founding member of the X-Men Angel as Death. With their unified gold masks and montrous-looking mechanical horses, it's tough to beat this original grouping.

They also briefly popped up again in "The X-Cutioner's Song" (albeit without Pestilence, who died during "Fall of the Mutants"), with Caliban (who left X-Factor to join Apocalypse in that story) taking over for Angel as Death, but the group is dispatched relatively early in the story, and only Caliban returns after that as a Horseman in future stories.

(This is also the iteration of the Horsemen that appeared in the X-Men animated series in the 90s).

Best of the Bunch: The reborn Angel is clearly the standout of this assortment, but I've always had a soft spot for Pestilence, the other existing character transformed into a Horseman.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #85-92: Blood Hungry

"First Scent" / "Two Scents Worth"/"Three Scents"/"Four Scents Worth"/"Five Scents Worth"/"Sixth Scents" / "Seven (And A Half) Scents" / "Eight Scents Worth"
September - December 1991

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Cyber

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Sam Keith
Letterer: Clem Robbins, David Sharpe (issues #87-89), Steve Dutro (issue #91-92)
Colorist: Glynis Oliver, Pat Garrahy (issues #88-89)
Editor: Terry Kavanugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Detecting a familiar scent on the air, Wolverine meets with Tyger Tiger, and learns that General Coy is meeting with a new drug supplier. Wolverine proceeds to investigate, and learns that the supplier is his old foe Cyber. The two fight and Wolverine manages to escape, but not before Cyber gashes his abdomen, drugging Wolverine with his claws. As Wolverine suffers vivid hallucinations, Cyber meets with Tyger, offering to sell the drugs to her instead of Coy. After settling on a price, he double-sells the drugs to Coy, setting up a conflict between the two, while Tyger finds the delirious Wolverine and helps bring him back to his senses. However, he is too scared of Cyber to help her, and when Tyger arrives to take possession of the drugs, she finds Coy waiting as well. Cyber proceeds to kill their men, but before he can attack them, Wolverine arrives. As he and Wolverine resume their fight, Coy and Tyger retire to discuss matters in the wake of Cyber's attack. Though Wolverine is once again doused with Cyber's hallucinatory drug, he fights the effects, and manages to gouge out Cyber's eye before sending him crashing into truck full of the drugs. With the drugs entering his system through his eye injury, Cyber freaks out, running into the ocean, where he ultimately disappears, leaving a weary Wolverine to return to Tyger Tiger for some much needed comfort.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

X-aminations in June 2016

A relatively straightforward month ahead, with nothing but the six main titles for five weeks straight. But it does see the end of issues published in 1991, a big year for the franchise, and the whole thing is led off by Chris Claremont's final issue of X-Men.

On Sale October 1991

June 1st: X-Men (vol. 2) #3
June 2nd: Excalibur #45
June 3rd: Wolverine #49

On Sale November 1991

June 8th: Uncanny X-Men #284
June 9th: X-Force #6
June 10th: X-Factor #74

June 15th: X-Men (vol. 2) #4
June 16th: Excalibur #46
June 17th: Wolverine #50

On Sale December 1991

June 22nd: Uncanny X-Men #285
June 23rd: X-Force #7
June 24th: X-Factor #75

On Sale January 1992
June 29th: X-Men (vol. 2) #5
June 30th: Excalibur #47
July 1st: Wolverine #51

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #36

"Red Queen Rising"
June 1980

In a Nutshell
Luke is manipulated by Domina into a duel with Darth Vader.

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Gene Day
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: John Costanza
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

In orbit around Monastery, the Millennium Falcon is captured by Darth Vader's Star Destroyer. Hiding Leia in one of the smuggling compartments, Han attempts to pass himself off as a legitimate spacer, but Captain Wermis knows him and his ship, and imprisons Han and Chewie. On the planet below, Luke rescues Domina from an attacking jungle cat, only to learn the creature was actually her docile pet, weakening him in the eyes of the watching elders, which was Domina and Darth Vader's (who goaded the creature into attacking) plan all along. In orbit, Leia climbs out of the hidden secondary compartment, telling Threepio to warn Luke, via Artoo, about Vader's apparent schemes. Just then, Domina arrives to take Luke to plead his case for the Rebellion before the elders. However, when he enters the chamber, he discovers that Domina has maneuvered to be named the All-High Priestess, who declares he and the Rebellion are threats to the natural cycle of galactic life. When he argues that Vader is influencing Domina in order to turn her order against the Rebellion, Vader challenges him to a duel, which Domina condones. Meanwhile, Leia manages to free Han and Chewbacca and arrange for the escape of the Falcon, but as they race away from the Star Destroyer, a revived Baron Tagge appears, leveling a blaster and ordering them to take him to the planet's surface.

Friday, May 20, 2016

X-amining X-Factor #73

"Crowd Control"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
X-Factor battles an army of Madrox duplicates.

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Larry Stroman
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Olver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

X-Factor's press conference explodes into a fight between X-Factor and the Madrox duplicate claiming to be the original, with each Madrox creating additional duplicates with each punch. Once they reach their limit and stop producing dupes, Havok orders everyone to start knocking out Madroxs, in the hopes that when the original falls unconscious, the rest will disappear. Eventually, all the Madroxs are rendered unconscious, but both their teammate and the duplicate claiming to be the real one remain. Elsewhere, Vic Chalker completes his suit of high-tech armor, but realizes he made it too big to operate. Back at X-Factor's headquarters, the team interrogates the two Madrox, but can't determine conclusively who is the original. Havok suggests submitting them to a lie detector, and Val says she happens to know one of the best polygraph experts, who happens to owe her a favor: her ex-husband. Meanwhile, the villain attacking X-Factor, having targeted first Quicksilver and now Madrox, ponders who to turn his ricochet power on next, and settles on Guido.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

X-amining X-Force #5

"Under the Magnifying Glass"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
Sauron is reborn as Toad sets about reforming the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Plot & Artist: Rob Liefeld
Words & Insomnia: Fabian Nicieza
Letters & Allergies: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors & Flat Feet: Murray & Witterstaetter
Edits & Hangnails: Bob Harras
Oil & Vinegar: Tom DeFalco

Deadpool delivers Juggernaut and the wounded Black Tom to Mr. Tolliver. Three days later, Dr. Karl Lykos returns home to find his girlfriend Tanya a captive of Toad & Blob, who intend to reform the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with Sauron as a member. Meanwhile, Gideon appears on TV, blaming X-Force for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but both Cannonball and Boom-Boom agree to stick it out with the team, despite their reservations about Cable's withholding nature. As Warpath runs through the forest, Shatterstar trains in the Danger Room and Cable offers Siryn a place with the team, which she accepts. In DC, the Commission on Superhuman Activities meets to discuss what to do about X-Force, with Bridge given a mandate to capture, but not kill, Cable. In Manhattan, Toad forces Dr. Lykos to absorb Tanya's lifeforce, killing her and transforming Lykos into Sauron once more.

Game of Thrones 6x03: Oathbreaker

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Vaes Dothrak -> Meereen

Varys has his ways of getting information, doesn't he? He can find little birdies of information even in foreign land of Meereen. This time his birdies pointed hm to a women. (A prostitute, I believe?) Whatever her profession, this woman is aligned with the Sons of the Harpy and Varys intends to get her to talk.

Varys' method of interrogation is threatening the woman's life and the life of her son. It's a little jarring to see him this ruthless. But he keeps at it. The woman rightfully says that the Sons of the Harpy would kill her if she talked so she's screwed either way. Varys says that if she talks she gets safe passage out of Meereen. It's her best option and she takes it.

Meanwhile, Tyrion tries to make small talk with Grey Worm and Missandei and it goes over exactly the way you'd think an affluent playboy trying to joke around with two people who grew up in squalor and servitude would go over. Varys interrupts the awkwardness with the “news” that the Slave Masters are behind the Sons of the Harpy. I wouldn't think it would take an interrogation to figure that one out but to each their own.

The party reviews their options. A full on attack of Astapor and Yunkai would leave Meereen vulnerable. Also, taking over those cities by force didn't work the first time. It looks like diplomacy is in order.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Four, Wrap-Up

A still from NYPD Green

Season Three was undeniably a good season; perhaps even a contender with the legendary opening year.  Season Four…is Okay TV for the most part, but the drop in quality is noticeable.  Some of the storylines are recycled from previous episodes (sometimes within the same season; notice that the beginning and end of the season both involve detectives reluctantly taking undercover assignments), and the number of recycled actors is also hard to forgive.

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #283

"Bishop's Crossing"
December 1991

In a Nutshell
Bishop battles the X-Men.

Pencils 'n' Plot: Whilce Portacio
Inks: Art Thibert
Words: John Byrne
Letters: Tom & Lois
Colors: Joe Rosas
Editing: Bob Harrass
X-asperation: Tom DeFalco

Bishop, Malcolm & Randall proceed to round up Fitzroy and his criminal cohorts, only to learn that Fitzroy's portals are one-way, preventing them from returning to their home time. With no other option, Bishop authorizes the immediate termination of all the criminals, something which Storm can't abide. The X-Men intervene to stop Bishop, and Fitzroy manages to slip away, only to be caught and taken away by agents of Shinobi Shaw. As Bishop battles the X-Men, he wonders if they really are the legends he grew up admiring, but slight variations between them and the stories he was told convince him they are just agents of Fitzroy. Meanwhile, Professor X returns Jean's consciousness to her body, while the captive Fitzroy demands the arbitration of the Gamesmaster, who finds in Shaw's favor. Back at Fitzroy's base, charges he set begin to detonate, allowing Bishop, Malcolm & Randall to escape. But as the X-Men fly home, Storm remains insistent on finding Bishop and answering the questions he's raised. Elsewhere, Gamesmaster meets with Selene, who is pleased with the progress of her Upstarts game.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Force in Focus: April's Star Wars Books

It's another crazy week, getting ready for MSP ComiCon this weekend. So in lieu of a full post, here's a link to my recap of April's Star Wars comics over at Pop Optiq.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Game of Thrones 6x02: Home

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen

Way the Hell Up North
Remember Bran? He was certainly a character at one point. But he's back! And he's having dream visions.

Bran is seeing Winterfell in the past. It's the far enough in the past that we're denied a Sean Bean cameo. Instead we see a very young Eddard Stark and his brother Benjen sparring with each other. Ned's sister Lyanna and a talking Hodor (real name Wylis, apparently) make appearances too!

After the vision Bran meets with Meera who is all sad that her brother died in a fiery blaze of agony and death. Meera doesn't know what to do with herself but is told that Bran will need her help. So, yeah, woman, stop moping about your brother. You've got a man to tend to!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #44

"Witless for the Prosecution"
Late November 1991

In a Nutshell
As Meggan searches for information about her past, Captain Britain is put on trial.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Captain Britain is brought before a tribunal of the Captain Britain Corps, with Hauptmann Englande prosecuting his case. On Earth, Rachel helps Meggan explore her memories, prompting a recollection of the Scotts, who may have some more information on Meggan's past. Meanwhile, Alistair arrives at the lighthouse, hoping to invite Rachel to join him on a trip, but in her absence, Kitty invites herself along instead. On E'erath, Kylun and Sa'tneen's rebellion continues. Back on Earth, Meggan and Rachel meet with the Scotts, a family which Meggan and Brian befriended early in their superhero career. They direct Meggan to one of the gypsies who took in Meggan as a child, Madame Zelda, who is working as a fortune teller in town. At the lighthouse, Inspector Thomas comes looking for Excalibur's help, but with everyone away, Nightcrawler is forced to consider using Technet in their stead. In London, while Meggan meets with Zelda, Rachel is drawn to an antique shop, where a strange energy being tries to steal a dagger and she runs afoul of FI6 agent Micromax. Meggan then emerges, saying the last Zelda heard of her parents suggested they were in France. On Otherworld, Hauptmann Englande runs down the list of Captain Britain's offenses, Fed up, Captain Britain declares that he refuses to recognize the authority of the court, which prompts the chief magistrate to thereby find him guilty and sentence him to death, to be carried out immediately.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Four, The Cast & Guest Stars

I’m sure if the producers knew NYPD Blue would last for twelve seasons, the major death at the end of the previous year would’ve been reserved for later in the show’s run.  Season Four sees the series inching closer towards a rigid formula, although a few standout episodes (usually the ones co-written by David Mills) successfully defy our expectations of what a Blue episode can be.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

To Better Know The Heroes: Captain America - Civil War

Catching Captain America: Civil War this weekend, and want to know more about all the characters running around in it? Below are links to all the available "To Better Know a Hero" articles featuring the movie's varied rosters. 

Team Cap

Team Iron Man

Friday, May 6, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #48

"Dreams of Gore: Phase One"
November 1991

In a Nutshell
Unknowingly exploring the old Weapon X base, Wolverine is bombarded by memories.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Dan Green
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine and Jubilee are led to an abandoned nuclear facility in Canada, one which seems familiar to Wolverine. Exploring further, they discover an old car with a medicine bag attached to the key ring; this triggers a memory of Wolverine being abducted from that car by agents of the Weapon X project. Going deeper into the facility and spotting claw marks on the walls and doors, he flashes back to the simulation in which he attacked Weapon X soldiers, hunting for the Professor. When Jubilee presents him with a small handgun she found in the glove box of his car, he remembers a mission he ran with Sabretooth and Mastodon on his birthday, in which they attacked a gang of revolutionaries that included Silver Fox. In the memory, Wolverine transforms into a spiky version of his post-Weapon X self, and takes the medicine bag from his keychain off Silver Fox's neck. Waking up, he tells Jubilee they're returning to the X-mansion, as he needs Xavier's help sorting through his memories, and the pair leave without noticing the large man-shaped mold labeled "Shiva".

Thursday, May 5, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #43

"Home Comforts (or Who Exploded the Toilet?)"
Early November 1991

In a Nutshell
The Nightcrawler/Meggan/Captain Britain triangle comes to a head.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Created by Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Kurt dreams of Meggan, murmuring her name in his sleep, which enrages Brian, who overhears him. Already on edge due to the presence of Technet in the lighthouse and the ongoing repairs, he storms out. Technet continues to be underfoot, disrupting Kitty's work on Widget, destroying the building's one bathroom, and pestering Brian. Giving up, he attempts to fly off to his home in London, but the recently installed anti-gravity elevator messes with his takeoff, sending him crashing into the device and sending pieces flying. Seeing Kurt tending to Meggan, Brian's temper flares again, and he attacks Kurt, who defends himself. Their fight spills out onto the grounds, and doesn't stop until after Kurt's leg is broken, when Meggan intervenes and declares that while she loves Brian, she's not an object to be fought over. Saying she no longer feels safe, she flies off. Rachel pursues her, while Kitty gets a medkit for Kurt's leg. In the aftermath, Brian and Kurt reconcile. Just then, members of the Captain Britain Corp arrive and take Brian to Otherworld for immediate court martial. Meanwhile, on another plane of existence, Kylun and his rebel forces rescue his beloved, Princess Sat'neen, from Necrom, and declares that they will defeat him.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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

November 1991

In a Nutshell
Magneto captures the Blue team, and learns that Moira altered his genetic structure as a child.

By: Chris Claremont & Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Firechief: Tom DeFalco

In Genosha, Magneto reiterates that the Acolytes are under his protection, then scatters the X-Men as the Genoshans attack him. Watching from the UN, the Soviet representative tells Nick Fury his country is deploying the Magneto Protocols, while at the X-Mansion, Professor X seeks out Moira. Back in Genosha, the X-Men are captured, and Magneto carries them back to Asteroid M, where Cortez informs him of an anomaly he discovered in Magneto's genetic scan. On Earth, Xavier finds Moira at the boathouse, and the pair are shortly thereafter joined by Magneto, who carries the structure into space. He forces Moira to admit that when he was an infant in her care, she tried to modify his genetic structure in order to reduce the apparent madness caused by using his powers. Outraged at this violation, Magneto forces Moira to do the same to the captured X-Men, bending them to his will. Meanwhile, on the Sakhalin Islands, Matsu'o Tsuryaba of the Hand acquires Omega Red from a Soviet general. At the X-Mansion, the Gold team, having learned of their teammates' apparent betrayal, practice fighting them, the Acolytes and Magneto in the Danger Room, to mounting losses. But their training is called short when Nick Fury reveals the extent of the Magneto Protocols: an orbital Russian plasma cannon designed to blow up Asteroid M. They need to move fast to save their friends, and despite the odds, Storm says they must at least try.

Game of Thrones 6x01: The Red Woman

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Braavos -> Meereen -> Dorne

Ramsay Bolton is acting all sad over the death of Myranda. It's an act. Hell, maybe he's trying to fool himself? Regardless, he's a sociopath so he's incapable of feeling sadness. To emphasize this fact he wants Myranda's body to be fed to the dogs.

Roose Bolton reminds Ramsay that their hold over the North is tentative and can only be solidified with a Stark. Unfortunately for Ramsay, he is now Stark-less. Roose then reminds Ramsay of Roose's unborn baby and how, if it is a boy, Ramsay is replaceable. If Roose actually loved his unborn baby he certainly wouldn't taunt Ramsay with it. That's a recipe for disaster. So either Roose is stupid or uncaring. My vote is for both!

Meanwhile, Theon and Sansa did indeed survive their jump from the castle walls. I know we were all worried! They are on the run from some hunters and their dogs. Theon wants to go through a river but Sansa is more apprehensive.

I know Sansa has been a bit of a whiner on occasion in this series but I'm with her! It looks cold out there and that water looks freezing. Walking through it is a very real danger.

But they don't die even after leaving the river. Walking in the cold in wet clothes is a recipe for hypothermia. They don't even get a fire going! It's not a big deal, though, because they're soon found. Luckily, Brienne shows up to kick some ass! Podrick is there too and he gets to penetrate one person. With his sword, of course.

Anyway, Brienne pledges allegiance to Sansa Stark. Sansa accepts and now Brienne, Sansa, Theon and Podrick are all together. Yay for characters coming together!