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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #298

"...For the Children!"
March 1993

In a Nutshell
The reformed Acolytes attack a school.

Writer: S. Lobdell
Pencils: B. Peterson
Inker: A. Milgrom
Letterer: C. Eliopoulis
Colorist: M. Javins
Editor: B. Harras
Editor-in-Chief: T. DeFalco

While monitoring the news from his Ready Room, Xavier is interrupted by Bishop, who attempts to tender his resignation from the X-Men, feeling he has failed at assimilating to their methods. Xavier denies his request, reminding him that above all, Xavier's is a school. At another school upstate, Sharon Friedlander is attacked, while Jean & Archangel lead Gambit & Bishop in a Danger Room session. As Storm & Xavier meet in Central Park with Charlotte Jones, Xavier telepathically senses Sharon's distress, and sends the X-Men to the school. They arrive just as the reformed Acolytes attack Tom Corsi, also undercover at the school. They are attempting to capture a would-be mutant child, but upon learning the child has Downs Syndrome, they instead try to kill the boy. The X-Men manage to save the child and force the Acolytes into retreat, but in the wake of the attack, Senator Kelly spins the events to further his anti-mutant agenda, much to the concern of a watching Xavier.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

X-aminations in June 2017

A straightforward month as we power through a chunk of the six regular series, with nary an annual, special issue or guest appearance in sight! Along the way, we'll see the return of the Acolytes and John Romita Jr. in Uncanny X-Men, the departures of Mark Texeira from Wolverine and Peter David from X-Factor, and more solid work from Greg Capullo in X-Force and Alan Davis in Excalibur!

January 1993
May 31: Uncanny X-Men #298
June 1: X-Factor #88
June 2: Wolverine #67

June 7: X-Men (vol. 2) #18
June 8: X-Force #20
June 9: Excalibur #63

February 1993
June 14: Uncanny X-Men #299
June 15: X-Factor #89
June 16: Wolverine #68

June 21: X-Men (vol. 2) #19
June 22: X-Force #21
June 23: Excalibur #64

March 1993
June 28: Uncanny X-Men #300
June 29: X-Factor #90
June 30: Wolverine #69

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unstacking the Deck: X-Men Series II

Skybox 1993

Vital Statistics
100 cards (including one checklist card), with four hologram chase cards featuring original art, and nine 30th anniversary gold foil chase cards.

Categorically Speaking
Super-Heroes, Arch-Enemies, Super-Villains, Teams, Animated Series

Firsts and Other Notables
While the first series of X-Men-specific trading cards served as a showcase for the work of superstar artist Jim Lee, Lee had, of course, left Marvel in fairly notable fashion, and wasn't about to contribute to a second series of cards. But Marvel, at the height of not only the comic book speculator boom but really an overall boom market in collectible hobbies, wasn't about to not release a second series of X-Men cards. And so we have X-Men Series II.

In lieu of Jim Lee, this series features artwork from all the then-current X-book artists, including Alan Davis, Brandon Petersen, Andy Kubert, Joe Quesada and Greg Capullo, with each artist (more or less) drawing the cards of the characters from his respective series, with series fill-in artists Art Thibert, Liefeld clones Marck Pacella & Dan Panosian, and Joe Madureira also pitching in artwork, particularly in the Super-Villains category.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue, Season Eleven, The Wrap-Up

Entering what could've been its final season, NYPD Blue seemed willing to go in a direction it's stubbornly avoided for years -- extended story arcs in favor of done-in-one, easily solved cases.  Not that there aren't one-episode plots, of course, and plenty of cases starring the B-Team that just come across as filler, but for the first time the series splits the season up into numerous story arcs.  There's the Captain Fraker trial, the serial killer case that brings Det. Russell back into the squad, the drama between Baldwin and a killer named Craig Woodruff, the disruption caused by the amoral Det. Stan Hatcher, and finally, the reopening of the case of twelve-year-old Cindy Clifton, Sipowicz's first murder investigation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: X-Men Series III & IV, X-Force Series II

Year of Release

Roll Call
X-Men Series III
Apocalypse II, Bishop, Omega Red, Spy Wolverine (Wolverine V), Strong Guy, Tusk

X-Men Series IV
Ahab, Brood, Cyclops II, Longshot, Professor X, Sabretooth II

X-Force Series II
Cable II (Space Cable), Cable III, Cannonball, Grizzly, Kane II, Krule

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Milch Studies: NYPD Blue - Season 11, The Cast & Guest Stars

Season Eleven was potentially the last season of NYPD Blue, even though the series remained ABC's highest-rated drama at the time.  The cost of the show had ballooned over the years, while ABC was suffering from some rather pathetic ratings, overall.  A deal was struck to keep the series alive for one more year at a reduced budget, however, which meant massive changes to the cast list at the end of the season.

Were those departures handled with tact and respect for the characters?  Or did half the characters go out like Adrienne Lesniak?

Friday, May 12, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #62

"Of Birth, Death and the Confused, Painful Bit In Between"
February 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur is captured by the RCX.

Writer/Penciler: Alan Davis
Penciler: Mark Farmer (pgs 10-13)
Inker: Mark Farmer
Letterer: Chris Elipoulos
Colorists: Rosas/Moreshead/Thomas
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Alistair awakens to find himself a captive of Nigel Orpington-Smythe and the RCX, who captured him in order to set a trap for Excalibur. Above the RCX Cloud Nine base, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat & Cerise are trying to locate Alistair when they're attacked & captured by agents of the RCX called the Seraphim. Elsewhere, the Phoenix continues to mull its origins, while Alistair encounters Beetroot, one of the Warpies being held by the RCX. Dying, Beetroot's telepathy shows Alistair the history of the Warpies and the experiments which caused his death. On the coast, Brian and Meggan are stunned when Brian realizes he's lost the ability to fly. Back at Cloud Nine, Nightcrawler reveals he faked his unconsciousness and strikes out at the Seraphim holding his friends captive. Flying into a rage, he manages to defeat them, only to come face-to-face with Nigel Orpington-Smythe, who declares he's arresting Nightcrawler, Shadowcat & Cerise for being illegal aliens, and that Excalibur is disbanded.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

X-amining X-Force #19

"The Open Hand, The Closed Fist"
February 1993

In a Nutshell
The post-Cable fate of X-Force is decided.

Teacher's Pet: Fabian Nicieza
Charcoal Genius: Greg Capullo
Inking Bully: Harry Candelario
Penmanship Lad: Chris Eliopolous
Hue Kids: Buccellato & Javins
Cafteria Monitor: Bob Harras
"Math is Tough": Tom DeFalco

In the wake of creating a new costume for herself, Boomer receives Lila Cheney's blessing to pursue a relationship with Sam. As Roberto ruminates on recent events, Rictor, Feral & Shatterstar work out in the Danger Room while Warpath & Siryn steal some files for Xavier. Meanwhile, having returned from Nova Roma, Sam debates X-Force's continued existence and methods with Xavier. Elsewhere, Vanessa is checked on by her roommate, while Bridge is blamed for Weapon: Prime's failure to capture Cable, leading to him quitting SHIELD. Back at the X-Mansion, Boomer designs new costumes for the rest of the team, and Sam forces Xavier's hand, telling him it's time for X-Force to leave. He argues further with Xavier, illustrating that both their respective methods are capable of both doing harm and helping. Ultimately, Xavier concedes, declaring X-Force is free to decide their own destiny. As Lila teleports the team away, Xavier tells Sam about the theft of the files, telling him that is the path he's chosen, one of second guessing and moral comprises, then urges him to walk that path with care.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #17

"A Skinning of Souls Part One: Waiting for the Ripening"
February 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men go to Russia to visit Colossus' family.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Illyana Rasputin, excited about the imminent return home of her brother, is unknowingly watched by a Russian agent, Flagwatch #133. In the town of Neftelensk, Darkstar and Alexi Garnoff investigate the strange occurrence of everyone in the town having been mentally "turned off", but fall prey themselves to the unseen assailant. In Red Square, in the wake of Darkstar and Garnoff's loss, Colonel Vazhin agrees to acquire the help of Omega Red. Days later, the X-Men arrive at Colossus' family farm, an event which Flagwatch #133 reports to Vazhin. At the X-Mansion, Cannonball & Warpath plead with Xavier to let them go to Nova Roma, while in Tokyo, a woman with purple hair defeats a group of street thugs, declaring that it is time for revenge, and to find the X-Men. In Russia, Colonel Vazhin argues against using Red Flag #133 to stop the Neftelensk incursion even though Omega Red has been missing for 48 hours; instead, he's going to use the X-Men.

Friday, May 5, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #66

February 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine searches for information about Terry Adams.

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Mark Texeira
Art Assist: Steve Birsi
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccelato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In Canada, Wolverine enters a bar called Prophecy, looking for information about Terry Adams. At the X-Mansion, the X-Men are concerned about Wolverine's bedroom, which he appears to have destroyed himself, and Professor X admits he tampered with Wolverine's mind after Wolverine asked him to remove the blocks in his memory. In Canada, haunted by figures from the Sixties, as well as an angel and Janice Hollenbach, Wolverine discovers a cache of government IDs and guns, then rushes off. Storm tries to enlist the aid of Wraith in finding Wolverine, but he is less than helpful. Eventually, the X-Men track Wolverine to Kazakh, in the former Soviet Union. There, Wolverine is shot and left for dead by a pair of Russian soldiers, who make off with all his belongings, save for his yellow-and-blue costume.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #87

February 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Factor gets psychoanalyzed by Doc Samson.

General Practice: Peter David
Associate: Shana David
Doctor of Gynecology: Joe Quesada
Doctor of Opthamology: Al Milgrom
Doctors of Podiatry: Richard Starkings & Steve Dutro
Director of Veterinary Medicine: Marie Javins
Ear, Nose & Throat: Kelly Corvese
Doctor of Urology: Bob Harras
Doctor of Proctology: Tom DeFalco

In the wake of recent events, each member of the team meets with a psychiatrist for counseling. Wolfsbane discusses identity issues and her relationships with authority figures. Quicksilver offers up an explanation for his constant irritability. Polaris discusses her body image issues and fear of being controlled, then angrily shows off a new costume. Strong Guy tells the story of the first time his powers manifested, while Madrox admits to a fear of being alone. Finally, Havok talks about feeling inferior to his brother. After their sessions, Val Cooper meets with the psychiatrist, Doc Samson, and displays a shocking ignorance of the mental state of her team, something which outrages her when Samson points it out to her. As she storms out of his office, she is attacked by some kind of creature with massive tentacles, and dragged away.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #297

"Up and Around"
February 1993

In a Nutshell
The epilogue to "X-Cutioner's Song".

Writer: Lobdell
Pencils: Peterson
Inks: Panosian
Letterer: Eliopoulos
Colorist: Javins
Editor: Harras
Editor-in-Chief: DeFalco

As Beast & Archangel begin rebuilding Harry's Hideaway, Gambit joins Rogue on the roof of the mansion and tries to comfort her, while Jubilee encounters a walking Professor X. As Beast & Archangel work, they discuss how their lives have changed since they were kids in school together, and Jubilee decides to take Xavier rollerblading. Rogue tells Gambit that despite all the frustrations the X-Men face, she could deal with it all if someone, especially him, could just pat her on shoulder and promise her it would all be okay. When he tries to touch her, she angrily tells him she's not an object to be charged, and if he can't treat her with respect, he should leave. Which he does. Later, Beast & Archangel complete their work, and Gambit returns with a blanket, which he places on Rogue's shoulders, then promises her everything is going to be okay. Below, Xavier thanks Jubilee for the time they spent together, and gets up to leave. His legs visibly failing, Jubilee chides herself for not asking him if he needs help, before realizing she doesn't need to ask, and instead just silently helps him back to his wheelchair.