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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Walking Dead 7x01: The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be

The Walking Dead is back with a new season! Yay?

All summer long people were waiting for this new season. Were people excited about what new direction Rick’s character may go? Were they excited for cool and new interesting characters to arrive? Were they excited about how Alexandria would progress as a safe haven?

No, they were excited to see what main character was going to die. Frankly, I can’t think of a better descriptor of The Walking Dead than that.

Friday, October 28, 2016

X-amining X-Factor #80

"Belles & Whistles"
July 1992

In a Nutshell
X-Factor battles the Hell's Belles.

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Larry Stroman
Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: Michael Heisler
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Edits: Bob Harras
Chiefly Edits: Tom DeFalco

Alex, Guido, Rahne and Val visit Lorna at the hospital. Her jaw wired shut, she tells them how she was attacked from behind by someone who warned her not to protect Marilyn Maycroft, X-Factor's next assignment, and that they should go through with the job regardless. Meanwhile, in Maine, Madrox convinces Quicksilver to help him exonerate Rhapsody, and the pair set about trying to find dirt on Dick Roper, the business partner of the man Rhapsody is accused of killing. Elsewhere, a mutant named Flambe learns where Marilyn Maycroft is staying, while Madrox begins harassing Roper and Rhapsody seemingly kills a prison guard. Later, at the hotel where X-Factor is guarding Marilyn, Flambe and the rest of her teammates, the Hell's Belles, attack. As Havok & Wolfsbane battle Flambe, Strong Guy fights Tremolo & Briquette, with some help from Marilyn. In the process, Strong Guy ends up falling into the hotel's basement. But as he heads up the stairs to rejoin the fight, he's pricked from behind by Cyber, the Hell's Belles' leader, who tells him that his claw was tipped with poison. If X-Factor hands over Marilyn in the next twenty-four hours, Strong Guy will receive the antidote. If not, he can change his name to "Dead Guy".

Thursday, October 27, 2016

X-amining X-Force #12

"X-Ternals A Prologue" / "Traitors to the Cause"
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Gideon recruits Crule as Weapon: Prime prepares to attack X-Force.

Plot: Rob Liefeld
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Mark Pacella
Inker; Dan Panosian
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: John Cebollero
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In Madripoor, Gideon confronts fellow External Crule. After being bested by Gideon, Crule agrees to take out Cable on Gideon's behalf. Meanwhile, X-Force confronts Domino about working for Tolliver, and Cable comes up with a plan, while Weapon: Prime picks up their final member, Grizzly, then prepares to attack X-Force. At X-Force's base, Domino contacts Tolliver, telling him she's surreptitiously set charges that will detonate the base and kill everyone inside. But in actuality, Cable intends to use the explosion to fake X-Force's deaths. Elsewhere, Rictor tells Kane that Cable killed his father, the reason for his vendetta against him, while Gideon returns home with Krule, much to Roberto's dismay. The next morning, Weapon: Prime reaches X-Force's base, just as Cable promises that once they blow up the base, nothing is going to stop them from taking the fight to Tolliver.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #290

July 1992

In a Nutshell
Forge leaves the team, ending his relationship with Storm.

Plot & Script: Scott Lobdell 
Pencils: Whilce Portacio
Inks: Scott Williams
Letters: L. Lois Buhalis
Colors: Kevin Tinsley
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Iceman and Hiro battle the Cyberai, Colossus makes travel arrangements for he and his brother to return to Russia, and misses his brother accidentally turning a delivery boy into a tree. Meanwhile, Storm considers Forge's proposal, while Forge discusses Storm's reaction with Jean. When Jean refuses to tell Forge whether or not Storm truly loves her, he rushes off. Back at the restaurant, Hiro tells Iceman to get Opal to safety while he holds off the Cyberai. At the mansion, an increasingly-insane Mystique taunts Bishop about the death of Randall, but is shielded from his retaliation by Forge. As Iceman and Opal flee the restaurant, Hiro detonates his armor, killing the Cyberai and himself, to Opal's shock and horror. Back at the mansion, Storm prepares to give her answer to Forge, but he cuts her off, telling her he's leaving to help take care of Mystique, believing she needs him more than Storm ever will, that Storm will never leave behind her responsibilities with the X-Men to be with him. Saying he now knows she'll never marry him, he departs, leaving a crushed Storm to quietly whisper that she was going to say yes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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

The only season of the show that truly has a season-long arc is the first, although Season Seven comes pretty close with the extended drama of the Kirkendall family.  I sincerely doubt this was a plan; it seems as if David Milch had wrapped up Jill’s story with the death of her ex-husband, and was content to then move on with other ideas for the rest of the year.

Then, Andrea Thompson announced she was leaving the show.

X-aminations in November 2016

The Image Exodus concludes this month, as we look at Jim Lee's final X-Men issue, thus forcing reinvention on the X-universe once again now that the creators who forced reinvention on it less than a year before have all left.

Then we spend Thanksgiving week with the third series of Marvel Universe trading cards, and the month wraps up with a couple of X-centric one-off guest appearances in other titles as Wolverine continues its bi-weekly summer shipping.

On Sale May 1992
November 2nd: X-Men (vol. 2) #10
November 3rd: Excalibur #52
November 4th: Wolverine #57

On Sale June 1992
November 9th: Uncanny X-Men #291
November 10th: X-Force #13
November 11th: X-Factor #81

November 16th: X-Men (vol. 2) #11
November 17th: Excalibur #53
November 18th: Wolverine #58

November 23rd: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series III

November 30th: Avengers #350-351
December 1st: Spider-Man #25
December 2nd: Wolverine #59

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #50

"The Crimson Forever!" / "Rage in the Red Nebula" / "Against the Scarlet Night"
August 1981

In a Nutshell
Luke is inflicted with the Crimson Forever as part of Domina Tagge's revenge scheme.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Al Williamson, Tom Palmer & Walt Simonson
Colorist: Don Warfield
Letterer: Ed Stuart
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Lando & Chewbacca are pulled from their search for Han Solo by Leia. Luke has contracted the Crimson Forever, a disease he acquired when he led a team of Rebel pilots aboard a seemingly-derelict Star Destroyer carrying a large red jewel. Now near death, Leia needs Chewbacca's help to save Luke, as she recalls Han telling her of a similar encounter with such jewels. Through C-3PO, Chewbacca recounts the tale of his and Han's adventure in the Red Nebula, in which they were pressed into service by a pirate gang and forced to help steal a pair of red jewels from a planet inside the nebula. However, Han tricked the pirates into leaving with fake jewels, though one of the pirates died as a result of briefly separating the jewels, and Han leaves the jewels with their caretaker in exchange for a ship to take them off-world.

Friday, October 21, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #56

"We Got Cylla, Can Mothra Be Far Behind?"
Early July 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine's fight with Cylla leads to a confrontation with the Hand at the home of Clan Yashida.

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

As Wolverine fights Cylla, Gambit & Sunfire continue to battle Hand ninjas. In the course of their fight, Sunfire accidentally destroys the police station. When Cylla emerges from the wreckage to find herself facing Gambit & Sunfire as well as Wolverine, she flees. Meanwhile, Jubilee & Yukio set about finding Wolverine, while Reiko attempts to leave the country. However, she's captured by Hydra, led by Silver Fox, who offers to trade her protection from the Hand in exchange for use of her skills as a poisoner. Elsewhere, Wolverine decides to seek out Mariko's help in finding Jubilee. He arrives at the ancestral home of Clan Yashida, along with Gambit & Sunfire, just as Silver Samurai is admonishing Mariko for her leadership of the clan. Wolverine & Silver Samurai are poised to attack when they're interrupted by news that the Hand has surrounded the complex. Outside, Matsu'o sends an envoy to Mariko, telling her to give herself up, while Jubilee & Yukio watch from cover. When Jubilee asks who lives on the estate, she's shocked when Yukio answers that it's Wolverine's true love.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

X-amining Excalibur XX Crossing

"XX Crossing"
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Excalibur is forced to fight the original X-Men.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Steve Lightle, Ron Lim, Dweayne Turner, Joe Madureira, Jae Lee, Malcolm Jones, Rick Leonardi
Inkers: Jimmy Palmiotti, Al Gordon, Joe Runstein, Shawn McManus, Jae Lee, Malcolm Jones, Al Williamson
Letterers: Michael Higgins/Janice Chiang
Colors: Moreshead/Thomas/Corvese/Tinsley
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Auditioning to become Dr. Doom's personal assassin, Sidestep targets Excalibur, using his power to pit each member of the team and against a member of the original X-Men, plucked from the past and inserted into a different historical time period, with the X-Men having home field advantage in each era. One by one the members of Excalibur defeat the X-Men, Frustrated, Sidestep brings both teams to the present, before Doom, and the X-Men attack. But Professor X, using Nightcrawler's astral self as a temporal anchor, reads Sidestep's mind and learns all his power comes from his vest, a lost weapon of the Kree. With that knowledge, Nightcrawler teleports the vest away from Sidestep, at which point both Excalibur and the X-Men are returned to their places of origin. Dr. Doom proceeds to dispatch the now-powerless Sidestep, then calls forth the next applicant.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

X-amining Ghost Rider #27

"Vengeance. Pure and Simple."
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Ghost Rider and the X-Men defeat the Brood Queen beneath New Orleans.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Ron Wagner
Inker: Mike Witherby
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In the catacombs beneath New Orleans, the X-Men & Ghost Rider track down the Guild children captured by the Brood. While the rest of the X-Men work to free the kids, Ghost Rider, Gambit & Wolverine set out in search of the Brood Queen, seeking vengeance. Meanwhile, just outside the city, Johnny Blaze learns Ghost Rider is in the French Quarter and sets out in search of him. Beneath the city, the X-Men are attacked by more Brood, as well as the shadowy figure targeting members of the Thieves Guild, who taunts Gambit about his murders. Just then, the Brood Queen appears. Ghost Rider attacks her, and manages to use her tail spike to pull the skin from her body. But the skeletal queen rises up, declaring she has no need for flesh. Just then Blaze arrives, and blasts the queen in the head with his Hellfire shotgun, seemingly killing her. Just to be sure, Wolverine, Gambit & Cyclops each take a turn destroying the head. Later, the X-Men say goodbye to Ghost Rider & Blaze, with Gambit thanking him for helping avenge Bella Donna. But as the leave, the shadowy killer watches, declaring he'll be seeing them all again soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Milch Studies - NYPD Blue Season Seven, Cast and Guest Stars

Does anyone remember the Sela Ward drama Once and Again?  I don’t, but I do know that it’s responsible for the seventh season of NYPD Blue debuting in January 2000 instead of its normal Fall premiere date.  The deal Steven Bochco struck with the network, which wanted to permanently grant the struggling drama Blue’s time slot, was for Blue to stay on Tuesdays at 10:00, but to debut months later in the midseason.

Another drama signified more of an existential threat to the series -- by the end of 1999, The Sopranos had debuted on HBO, soaking up all of the critical accolades that used to belong to Blue.  Even though NYPD Blue did manage to defeat the Sopranos pilot for an Emmy this year, the writing was already on the wall.  Prestige programs had moved on to pay cable, and the shows critics and TV snobs wanted to dissect and discuss weren’t going to be on network TV anymore.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Force in Focus: Rogue One Trailer #2

The second full Rogue One trailer (and third look at the film counting the initial teaser) was released earlier this week (along with the official movie poster), and it was once again packed with a ton of cool images and teases about the film's story. By all accounts, this will be the final trailer for the film (barring the likely TV spots as it gets closer to release), so here are some final thoughts on the images presented thus far, at least until the movie is released.

Friday, October 14, 2016

X-amining Wolverine #55

"Thirty Slashes Over Tokyo (Or Sayonara Yellow Brick Road)"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Gambit go to Japan to bail out Jubilee.

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

Wolverine & Gambit board a plane for Japan, though they're forced to call Nick Fury for authorization due to Wolverine's metal bones. That call alerts the cyborg Cylla to Wolverine's whereabouts. In Japan, Jubilee uses her power to fend off a pair of fellow inmates, causing one of the inmates to recognize her and alert the Hand. When Wolverine & Gambit get off the plane, they're attacked by Hand ninjas sent by Matsu'o, who calls Mariko to confirm Wolverine isn't in the country at her behest. Wolverine & Gambit arrive at the police station just as Jubilee is driven away in a police van. Inside the van, Jubilee is joined by Reiko, who has been sent to kill Jubilee by Matsu'o in exchange for restoring Reiko's eyesight. At the station, Cylla attacks Wolverine, just as Sunfire arrives ahead of more Hand ninjas. He & Gambit fight the ninjas while Wolverine battles Cylla. Meanwhile, Reiko learns Jubilee is a friend of Wolverine's, so she releases her, saying that her debt to him is thus repaid. As she leaves, Jubilee is met by Wolverine's old friend Yukio.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

X-amining Excalibur #51

"Don't Drink the Water"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
The Dinosaur Excalibur of Earth-99476 works to returns some lost humans to Earth-616.

Writer: Alan Davis
Penciler: Dougie Braithwaite
Inkers: Jeff ALbrecth, Jose Marzan, Marck McKenna, Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Excalibur of Earth-99476 meets with WHO regarding a group of mammals that arrived on their world from Earth-616, and were recently kidnapped by the High Evolutionary and taken to the Savage Land. Meanwhile, on Earth-616 in Brighton, the mammals' saurian counterparts suddenly revert to more primitive forms. The Saurian Excalibur arrives in the Savage Land, accompanied by Dr. Lykos, while Dai Thomas is called in to deal with the now-rampaging dinosaurs, watched by a morose Gatecrasher, who vows revenge on Excalibur. On Earth-99476, Excalibur battles a brainwashed Fantastic Five and learn that the High Evolutionary plans to use the kidnapped humans to stabilize his artificial race of humans, whom he believes genetically superior to the Saurians. But Lykos destroys his machinery, prompting the Evolutionary to vanish and the Fantastic Five to regain their senses. As Dai Thomas attempts to call the exhausted Excalibur of Earth-616, the humans are taken back to the Saurian WHO, where a means of returning them home is devised. Excalibur and the Fantastic Five arrive on Earth-616 in the midst of the dinosaurs' rampage. They corral the dinosaurs through their portal, saying that the pollution on Earth-616 caused their transformation. At Braddock Manor, Excalibur wakes up to news of the dinosaur attack, as well as a message from Jean Grey saying she and Professor X are on their way to help Rachel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #9

"The Not So Big Easy"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Brood-possessed Ghost Rider.

Plot & Pencils: Jim Lee
Script: Scott Lobdell
Finishes: Lee & Thibert
Lettering: Orzechowski & Buhalis
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Old Warrior: Tom DeFalco

The X-Men & Bella Donna battle the Brood and the Brood-infected Ghost Rider until the floor of the chamber collapses, separating them. As Gambit & Bella Donna reconcile, Beast & Wolverine battle Ghost Rider, noting that for all the Brood says to the contrary, he passed up an opportunity to finish them off. Elsewhere, Jubilee & Rogue discover a group of captive Guild members, waiting to be transformed into Brood, when they're attacked by Ghost Rider. Psylocke & Bella Donna enter Ghost Rider's mind, and with the help of the lingering essence of Dan Ketch, Ghost Rider's most recent host, they're able to purge the Brood, though the act of doing so kills Bella Donna. Gambit gives her body to the freed members of the Assassins Guild, telling them to take her home, then joins the X-Men and Ghost Rider to seek out the Brood for vengeance.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Best There Is At What He Does: The Jason Powell Interview

Jason Powell, whom some of you know from his comments on my X-Men posts here, but many more of you likely know from his own series of articles reviewing every issue of Chris Claremont's X-Men over at Remarkable, has written a book about Claremont's X-Men writing, The Best There Is At What He Does, which is now available for purchase

I had the occasion to sit down with Jason (ie we exchanged some emails) to interview him about the book, what it's about, how it came about, etc., as well as get some thoughts from him on his favorite Claremont characters and collaborators. Check it out, but also, you know, go buy his book

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Marvel Comics Presents #101-108: "Male Bonding"

"In the Center Ring..." / "Wherever We Go" / "Whatever We Do..." / "You Know That We Do It Together" / "Through Thick and Thin..." / "All Out or All In" / "We'll Muddle Through Whatever We Do" / "Together Forever... a Pair"
March - June 1992

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Nightcrawler try to save the Neuri from Nightcrawler's former circus.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Gene Colan
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Rene Witterstaeter
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine tracks down Nightcrawler, who is working with his old circus, the Jahrmarkt. Nightcrawler is approached for help by a young boy with a monstrous appearance. He tells Nightcrawler he is a member of a race of creatures who live peacefully in secret with humanity, having sworn off violence, but that they are now being executed. However, the boy suddenly bursts into flame and is killed. Jutta, a member of the circus, theorizes that his own people killed him for breaking their code of silence, prompting Wolverine & Nightcrawler to track down his people. Initially, they attack, believing them responsible for the child's death, but their non-violence surprises them, and it's revealed that the real villains are Jutta and her fellow circus performers, who have all been genetically modified and want to wipe out the creatures, whom they blame for the death of Nightcrawler's brother. The creatures, who say they are part of the Neuri, retreat into a nearby castle, which is set on fire by a mob of angry villagers. As Wolverine defeats the Jahrmarkt, Nightcrawler attempts to free the Neuri, but they say it is time for them to exit this plane of existence. Nightcrawler returns to Wolverine, pondering if humanity will ever learn that not all "monsters" lack humanity, just as humanity as no lack of its own monsters.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

X-amining Ghost Rider #26

"Blood Feud"
June 1992

In a Nutshell
Ghost Rider & the X-Men descend on New Orleans to discover the Assasins Guild has been taken over by the Brood.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Ron Wagner
Inker: Mike Witherby
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In New Orleans, a member of the Assassins Guild kills one of the Thieves Guild, the latest in a string of such murders, attracting the attention of Ghost Rider. Meanwhile, the X-Men arrive in the city along with Bella Donna. Tracking the assassin, Ghost Rider interrupts another attempted murder, and chases the assassin into the catacombs under the city, where he finds a group of Assassins who have been taken over by the Brood, and is captured by the Brood Queen. Later, the X-Men pick up the trail of the thieves' murderer and follow it into the same catacombs, encountering the Brood as well. The X-Men attack, but are horrified to learn that Ghost Rider has been infected as well.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Force in Focus: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figures Wave 1

Friday, September 30th marked the second modern (ie post-Disney/tied-to-new-movies) Force Friday event, in which the new batch of Rogue One-specific merchandise was unveiled to the public. Though I knew going in it would be less substantial than last year's Force Awakens event, it was still rather underwhelming (in that it was mostly all toys, with little in the way of extra stuff like books, clothing, etc., and both the Target & Toys R Us I went to did a poor job of clearing out the Force Awakens stuff, so it seemed less like an event than a restocking). Nevertheless, in honor of Force Friday, let's take a look at the first wave of figures from The Empire Strikes Back.

Figures Released
Bespin Security Guard
Han Solo (Hoth Battle Gear)
Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) aka Snowtrooper
Lando Calrissian
Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues) yellow lightsaber, no telescope
Princess Leia (Bespin gown)
Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear)