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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x02: Stormborn

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> Pyke -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Old Town

We start this episode in Dragonstone where Daenerys and Tyrion are finally talking! Since taking over Westeros with dragons would be too easy and narratively unsatisfying Daenerys wants to defeat Cersei...more cleanly?

To be fair, burning down everything wouldn't lead to a fun land to rule over. Lady Tyrell isn't buying that, though. Peasants loved Margaery but she still died. So, maybe a few peasant being burnt wouldn't be all that bad? In the end, Daenerys wants to be a responsible leader and keep innocent casualties to a minimum. Despite my sarcasm, I do agree. It is nice not to kill innocents.

Beyond that, Daenerys also grilled Varys on his shifting loyalties. Varys pretty much says that he's loyal to Westeros and will be loyal to her so long as she's a good queen. Daenerys excepts this on the condition that Varys let's her know if she's being a bad queen. They agree. Of course, neither of them think of the scenario of Daenerys being a bad queen in such a way that Varys fears repercussions for speaking up against her and thus plots against her in secrecy. But I did!

Anyway, the war plan is for the Tyrells and Dorne to lay siege to King's Landing because they believe the Lords won't rush to defend Cersei from local Westerosi armies. Meanwhile, the foreign armies of the Unsullied and Dothraki attack Casterly Rock. Everyone is amenable to this plan so Yara takes Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes back to Dorne to gather their army. What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men Annual #17

"The Gift Goodbye" / "Of Kings and Queens and Promises"

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of the X-Cutioner and the death of Mastermind.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Jason Pearson, Tom Grummet (2nd Story)
Inker: Mark Farmer, Al Milgrom (2nd Story)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis, Steve Dutro (2nd Story)
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley & Eric Moran, Glynis Oliver (2nd Story)
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

In San Miguel, the X-Cutioner kills Tower. Elsewhere, Jean is shopping with her son Nate when the pair is attacked by a group of Nimrod Sentinels. Thankfully, they are rescued first by XSE agents Bishop & Shard, then by Icemaster and his X-Men. In the real world, on Muir Island, Storm, Colossus & Archangel are trying to determine how to rescue Jean, Bishop & Iceman, who have been sucked into a dying Mastermind's mind after they arrived on the island following a strange letter Mastermind sent to Jean. Inside Mastermind's mind, the illusions he's created start to break down, while outside, the rest of the X-Men detect the arrival of the X-Cutioner, who wants to kill Mastermind. As the X-Men fight X-Cutioner, Jean is able to break Mastermind's illusion and send her teammates' minds back into their bodies, but she refuses to leave the dying Mastermind behind. But after he elicits a promise from Jean that she won't remember him with hatred, he uses the last of his strength to force her out, then dies. Outside, the X-Cutioner manages to escape, but he leaves behind a grievously-wounded Colossus.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

X-aminations in August 2017

A big month ahead, as we get the launch of yet another regular series (albeit a quarterly one) in X-Men Unlimited, the start of the next linewide crossover, "Fatal Attractions", in X-Factor, and, sadly, the end of Alan Davis' Excalibur run, along with a look at the fourth series of Marvel Universe trading cards.

On Sale April 1993
August 2: X-Men (vol. 2) #21
August 3: X-Force #23
August 4: Excalibur #66

August 9: X-Men Unlimited #1
August 10: X-Factor Annual #8
August 11: Cable #2

On Sale May 1993
August 16: Uncanny X-Men #302
August 17: X-Factor #92
August 18: Wolverine #71

August 23: X-Men (vol. 2) #22
August 24: X-Force #24
August 25: Excalibur #67

August 30: Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Universe Series IV

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Game of Thrones 7x01: Dragonstone

Opening Credits Map
King's Landing -> Dragonstone -> The Twins -> Winterfell -> The Wall -> Old Town

Hey, Game of Thrones is back! I...don't have much to say except that. So, let's get to the review!

The Twins
We start off with Walder Frey addressing his family at a feast. This is a bit odd since Walder died at the end of last season, so I at first I thought this was a flashback. Then he gave a toast with his clan where he obviously poisoned the wine. So, yeah, the Freys die and “Walder” reveals himself\herself to be, of course, Arya.

Later, Arya is wandering towards King's Landing to do some more killing when she comes across some Lannister soldiers. They turn out to be decent folk and even offer Arya some food and wine. I'm not sure what exactly the point of this scene was. Maybe it was to make Arya feel guilty about killing all the Freys when there may have been some good eggs in there or maybe it's to teach Arya to be more careful about indiscriminately Lannisters in the name of revenge or maybe it was an excuse to get Ed Sheeran to sing and appear on screen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #70

"Tooth & Nail"
June 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Sauron.

Script: Larry Hama
Penciler: Dwayne Turner
Inker: Richard Bennet
Letterer: Steve Buccellato
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Wolverine fights Sauron, Jubilee escapes from her captors aboard a pterodactyl. Elsewhere, Rogue escapes from Brainchild's prison, and orders him to tell her who made the fist of iron and meddled with his mind. At Sauron's citadel, Sauron's followers join the fight, pummeling Wolverine with rocks and seemingly burying him alive. Meanwhile, Jubilee fights off one of her captors with her Walkman, knocking him off his pterodactyl, and when she urges her mount to save him, she earns the respect of his fellow riders. who declare she is now one of them. Elsewhere, Rogue spots a stampede of dinosaurs heading towards Sauron's citadel, and inside, Wolverine emerges from the rock pile to discover that he's in the path of the herd of dinosaurs Sauron has summoned.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

X-amining X-Factor #91

June 1993

In a Nutshell
Multiple Man is infected by the Legacy Virus.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Quesada
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Underlord: Tom DeFalco

In the tunnels beneath Genosha, X-Factor hunts for the escaped mutate, hoping to capture him before the Magistrates kill him. Finding an interactive map of the system, Polaris sees a trio of Magistrates approaching Wolfsbane, but when Havok & Strong Guy arrive to help, she has already overpowered them. Meanwhile, Val meets Quicksilver at the airport, and continues to manipulate him. Back in the sewers, Madrox finds the escaped mutate. He is near death, and in order to resuscitate him, Madrox is forced to create a duplicate, thus exposing himself to the same disease killing the mutate. After he's revived, the mutate reiterates that he doesn't want to die a lab rat, so X-Factor returns him to the treatment center and ensures he's allowed to die with dignity. The Genoshan president promises Havok they'll free the mutates of their mental conditioning once they've found the source and cure for the disease afflicting them, and as they leave, Wolfsbane tells Madrox he looks like death warmed over.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #301

May 1993

In a Nutshell
Fitzroy attacks Forge & Mystique.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Master Mold: Tom DeFalco

Fitzroy tortures Selene in order to attract the Gamesmaster's attention and call a meeting of the Upstarts. There, the Gamesmaster reveals their next high profile target will be Forge. At the X-Mansion, Colossus tends to his sick sister, while Moira & Xavier debate sharing their suspicions that Illyana is infected with the Legacy Virus. Xavier says he is bringing someone in to interface with the Shi'ar diagnostic equipment to be sure. Meanwhile, Storm & Bishop are en route to Forge's home in Eagle Plaza when they detect an energy surge in the area. At Eagle Plaza, Fitzroy attacks Forge & Mystique. Forge sends Mystique to call for help, then does his best to fend off Fitzroy. At the X-Mansion, Mystique's call sends the rest of the X-Men racing to respond. At Eagle Plaza, Fitzroy overpowers Forge, but is briefly distracted by Mystique returning in the form of Bishop. But after seeing through the ruse, Fitzroy triggers a massive explosion, just as Storm arrives outside Eagle Plaza.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #67

"The Darker"
January 1983

In a Nutshell
Chewbacca & Threepio battle an ancient evil inside Arbra

Script: David Michelinie
Layouts: Ron Frenz
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Hoojib Wrangler: Jim Shooter

On the way to a briefing, Artoo overhears a call for help and follows it into one of the base's many tunnels, an action spotted by one of the Hoojibs. At the briefing, Leia announces that the Rebels have learned one of three bounty hunters worked with Boba Fett to capture Han Solo, and then was cut out of the deal by Fett, so the Alliance intends to find all three in the hopes they'll turn on Fett. As the Rebels prepare to depart, the Hoojibs tell Threepio about Artoo's absence, leading he & Chewbacca to journey deep inside the base. They eventually discover a massive ancient city protected by a force barrier, and inside, a damaged Artoo along with a creature called the Darker, who claims to be the dark energy of the original Arbrans taken physical form. Able to control emotions, he fills the Hoojibs with fear and turns Chewbacca's devotion to his friends into rage, setting him after Threepio. Stumbling across a library, Threepio learns that the Darker can be dispersed by coming into contact with the energy field surrounding the city. After Threepio breaks the Darker's control by calling on Chewbacca's affection for Han, Chewbacca throws the creature into the field, destroying him. Returning to the surface, they are greeted by a Rebel pilot who tells them Luke is looking for them, and to get ready to depart: their "vacation" is over.

Friday, July 14, 2017

X-amining Excalibur #65

"White Lies, Dark Truth"
 May 1993

In a Nutshell
Excalibur defeats Nigel and the RCX.

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

Nightcrawler realizes Kitty is an impostor, confirming that Nigel is up to no good. He & Cerise shake their Warpie guards and teleport to where their teammates are being held captive. Meanwhile, watching from Otherworld, Roma promises to keep her vow not to interfere, even though Captain Britain faces certain death. At Cloud Nine, Nigel attempts to coerce Captain Britain into serving his agenda, but Captain Britain discovers he's been tricked about Meggan's comatose state. His ruse revealed, Nigel sets the Warpies to attack Captain Britain. Elsewhere, a fight breaks out between more Warpies and the revived Excalibur, though some of the Warpies join the side of Excalibur, whom they've come to like. As word of the fight spreads, Nigel orders the rest of the Warpies away, leaving behind a badly beaten and dying Captain Britain. Roma then appears before him and revives him, paying him back for her previous manipulations. As the battle rages, Nigel gets the drop on Nightcrawler, but Captain Britain intervenes, saving him and allowing Nightcrawler to knock out Nigel, ending the fight. In the aftermath, Alistair agrees to look after the remaining Warpies, just as Rachel appears before her friends, declaring that with her memories fully intact, she now intends to return to the future, hoping the power of the Phoenix can make a difference there.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

X-amining X-Force #22

"Ordnance Weighed in Blood"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
X-Force returns to Earth with Cable's stuff in tow.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Conrad/Candelario
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorists: Tinsley/Moran
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Graymalkin breaks up, Lila Cheney teleports Iron Man & the SHIELD force back to their shuttle and the rest of X-Force to Camp Verde, while Cannonball & Sunspot head back to Earth aboard an escape pod Professor managed to get them into before the station exploded. Elsewhere, the captive Boomer, Warpath & Siryn learn they've been captured by Gideon & the Externals. At Camp Verde, Cannonball & Sunspot touch down, and while they can't preserve Professor's programming, all of Cable's gear, jettisoned from Graymalkin, lands shortly thereafter. In Canada, Domino, Grizzly & Hammer break into Department K searching for info on Cable, only to be confronted by the new Weapon: Prime team. In Boston, Deadpool attacks Vanessa and her roommate, and Deadpool's associate Sluggo kills one of them. In Arizona, X-Force is inventorying the equipment they received from Graymalkin when they are contacted by the Externals, who declare that if Cannonball doesn't turn himself over to them, they will kill his captured teammates.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #20

"Digging in the Dirt"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Revanche.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Mark Pennington, Bob Wiacek (pgs 22-23)
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Professor X & Jubilee visit Colossus & Illyana, after which Jubilee heads outside to rollerblade. On the way, she bumps into Psylocke, who approaches Cyclops in the hanger and kisses him. Rattled, he rushes past Jean, who grows suspicious when Psylocke emerges after him. Jean proceeds to check on Beast & Gambit in the Danger Room, then Storm & Rogue in the infirmary. Meanwhile, Cyclops packs a bag, telling Xavier he's going to visit his grandparents in Alaska. After he lukewarmly bids goodbye to Jean, she confronts Psylocke in the Danger Room and asks point blank if she & Cyclops are having an affair. Psylocke admits she's attracted to Cyclops, but that nothing has happened. When Jean asks if Psylocke is telepathically manipulating him, a fight breaks out, which is interrupted by the appearance of someone wearing Psylocke's old armor. Believing it to be a hologram conjured by Jean, Psylocke attacks, but the armored figure overpowers her. As the rest of the X-Men, drawn to the commotion, enter the Danger Room, the armored figure removes her mask to reveal Psylocke's original form, declaring she is the real Betsy Braddock, and that Psylocke is, and has always been, an impostor.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD Season One - “Suppose the Foot Says…”

As unbelievable as this might seem, the starting place for Deadwood can be found in the book of 1st Corinthians, Chapter 12:  Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars Annual #2


In a Nutshell
An untold tale of Han Solo.

Scripter: David Michelinie
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Rudi Nebres
Colorist: George Roussos
Letterers: Rosen & Chiang
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Word Speeder: Jim Shooter

Searching the planet Ventooine for a possible weapon called the Shadeshine, Luke, Lando & Threepio are chased into a temple by Stormtroopers. Inside, they discover a statue of Han Solo & a priest named Vetter Piin, who tells them that Han, having saved Piin's people from the Shadeshine, is considered the savior of Ventooine. He activates a recording made by Han, which recounts the tale. Landing on the planet in search of a valuable spice, Han inadvertently foiled an assassination attempt on Tieress Chrysala, consort to the ruling Satab. A grateful Chrysala took Han to the Satab's palace, where he learned the Satab was a cruel dictator ruling through the power of the Shadeshine, which burned out the user's body, forcing each Sataba to select a replacement while he entered the Hall of Satabs, to be placed in suspended animation until a cure is found. Having been selected to be the next Satab, Chrysala spared Han that fate by touching the Shadeshine first. Then Han & Chrysala prevented the former Satab from entering hibernation, forcing his body to burn out, after which Chrysala willing entered hibernation without naming a successor, thus ending the deadly cycle. Declared a hero, Han left the planet with the Shadeshine, which he destroyed aboard the Millennium Falcon. The story over, Luke manages to trick the pursuing Stormtroopers into entering the Hall of the Satabs, trapping them in suspended animation. As they Rebels leave the planet, despite not acquiring the Shadeshine, they are comforted by having once again heard the voice of their friend.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Very Special Episode - Amazing Spider-Man #96-98

As you may or may not know, Doctor Bitz and I are two of the co-hosts of "A Very Special Episode", a podcast which reviews "very special" episodes of pop culture - those stories where the usual rhythm or tone of an ongoing narrative is briefly interrupted to discuss a serious, topical or otherwise atonal issue, usually with little advance warning or subsequent follow-up. Most often, we review TV episodes, like the infamous child molester episode of Diff'rent Strokes or the episode of Family Ties where Alex Keaton grapples with the death of his previously-unmentioned best friend by turning the show into a one-act play.

But in our recent episode, we branched out  to review a very special comic book story for the first time, specifically the Comics Code-less anti-drug story in Amazing Spider-Man #96-98. Given that a lot of the regular readers of this site read, you know, comic books, and/or are generally fans of Spider-Man, I figured I'd give the episode a special plug here. Plus, Doctor Bitz and I (along with one of our other co-hosts, Full House Reviewed's Ryan Alexander-Tanner) are joined for the episode by the writer of the Chasing Amazing blog, Mark Ginocchio, who also recently wrote the book on Spider-Man, 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die

So while you're waiting in line for Spider-Man: Homecoming this weekend, give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, check out some of our other episodes (and if you want to buy Mark's book, too, I won't stop you...).

The link below will enable you to listen to and/or download the episode directly, but you can also listen via iTunes, Google Play, Podbean or Stitcher, with links to all four on the show's main website linked to above.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

X-amining Cable #1

"Rocks and Waves"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
Cable emerges in his future time and reunites with Kane.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Art Thibert
Inker: Danny Miki, Dan Panosian, Trevor Scott & Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Kane watches a recording of a battle involving Cable & his Clan Chosen teammates. Having become something of an expert on the Clan Chosen's exploits in the hopes of getting a better understanding of Cable, his activities draw the attention of the Citizens Protectorate's General Haight, who wants to prevent Kane from interfering with his plans. After Kane defeats some street thugs sent after him by Haight, he hires the Flatliners to capture or kill Kane. The Flatliners track Kane to the Clan Chosen's hideout, and they have the upper hand until Cable suddenly returns and helps turn the tide. Evacuating their base, Cable tells the Clan they need to go to Niagra, where the New Caananites have built a new Time Displacement Nexus. Meanwhile, General Haight offers Sinsear the opportunity get revenge on Cable by traveling back in time. At a base in the Adirondacks, Cable briefs the Clan Chosen on the Tinex, which is in Niagra Falls. Kane hopes it will enable him to return to his home time, and Cable reveals the New Caananites are planning on using it to maintain their control over the High-Lord ascension by killing someone in the past: Cable.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Milch Studies: DEADWOOD Season One - “Okay, What If We Do It As A Western?”

Following the fast cancellation of Big Apple, David Milch spent the next three years without a show on the air.  Still wanting to create something out of Steven Bochco’s shadow, most likely burned out on NYPD Blue scripts, and with a post 9-11 resolve to “never” write about contemporary America again (he’d later renege), Milch found himself pitching a new series to HBO.