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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

X-amining Avengers #368

"Bloodties Part One: Family Legacy"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
"Bloodties" begins as Cortez kidnaps Magneto's granddaughter and kicks off a civil war in Genosha.

Writer: Bob Harras
Pencils: Steve Epting
Inker & Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Ed-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Special Thanks: Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza

Fabian Cortez & the kidnapped Luna Maximoff look out over the burning capital city of Genosha. Meanwhile, Val Cooper, Nick Fury & Henry Peter Gyrich discuss the Genoshan situation and their plans for handling it, which leads to Nick Fury meeting with both teams of Avengers to explicitly inform them that the UN wants them to stay out of the situation. The Avengers are puzzled by the fervor of Fury's demand, until they realize that Luna, Crystal's daughter - Magneto's granddaughter - is likely to be a target. Crystal rushes to her daughter's room only to discover she has been replaced by a Genoshan mutate, who promptly blows herself up. Meanwhile, Gyrich tasks Professor X with attempting to broker peace in Genosha, and they depart for the country along with Beast and US Agent, with Xavier telepathically sending the X-Men on ahead of him as well. Back at the Avengers' complex, the group rushes to their hanger to depart for Genosha, only to find a contingent of heavily armed SHIELD forces ready to prevent them from leaving, while in Genosha, Cortez broadcasts a message declaring, in the name of Magneto, that all human forces in the country lay down their arms, or else the mutates will begin killing every human man, woman and child in the city.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

X-aminations in January 2018...and Beyond!

First, a quick scheduling note: it turns out I don't have a digital copy of Thunderstrike #2-3 (and finding one is turning out to be slightly more difficult than it should be), so I've put those issues on the list for a future Retro X-amination, and will instead be reviewing Avengers #368, the first part of "Bloodties", for my December 27th review.

The first half of 2018 brings the publication year of 1993 to a close, and with it, an end to the celebration of the X-Men's 30th anniversary, as both "Fatal Attractions" concludes (finally) and the whole anniversary shebang is closed out with the X-Men/Avengers crossover, "Bloodties". But Marvel, still flooding the market with product even as the effects of speculator market bubble bursting are starting to be felt, barely slows down, continuing to churn out additional one-shots and limited series in addition to the seven monthly X-books, the quarterly X-Men Unlimited, and the series' annuals (not to mention the reprint X-Men Classics, which is joined by Sabretooth Classics and X-Men: The Early Years in 1994, X-Men Adventures, the tie-in book to the animated series, the updated Official Marvel Index to the X-Men, and X-Men 2099). The X-books, long-established as the crown jewel, sales-wise, of Marvel's catalog, manage to stave off the effects of the market crash far longer than most other franchises; even as Marvel finally begins scaling back and cancelling series in the second half of '94 and into '95, the X-books continue to expand, adding another monthly book (Generation X) in 1994 and another (X-Man) in 1995, along with evermore extra limited series and one-shots.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpieces Series II

Skybox 1993

Vital Statistics 
90 cards (including checklist card) with an eight card subset of chase cards.

Card fronts feature series title on the top, with the character name on the bottom, with no other borders.

Cardbacks feature character's real name, group affiliation (where applicable). first appearance ( including publication date and art credit), with the cardback text laid over a scene from the character's first appearance. The bottom of the cardback lists a "In the Beginning" factoid.

Firsts and Other Notables
Whereas the first series of Marvel Masterpiece cards were all from artist Joe Jusko, for this series, Marvel enlisted multiple artists (including Jusko again).

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Force in Focus: The Last Jedi

Spoilers ahead, obviously. If you haven't yet seen the film, just...don't read this post. Certainly nothing beneath the picture below.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

X-amining Marvel Comics Presents #137-142: Rumble in the Jungle

"Rumble in the Jungle" / "Arena" / "Masque" / "Bedlam" / "Battleground" / "Afterburn"
September - November 1993

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Doc Samson team-up to defeat an alien invasion

Plot: Erik Larsen
Script: Chris Marrinan
Pencils: Chris Marrinan
Inks: Mike Machlan, Scott Koblish (issues #140 -142)
Letterer: Ul Higgins
Colorist: Joe Andreani
Editor: Richard Ashford
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

On another tropical vacation, Wolverine spots a group of stereotypically-garbed natives attempting to sacrifice a young woman. He rescues her, but in the process gets knocked out by a large ape and his armored companion. Wolverine awakens in an arena where he fights the ape, until the armored individual joins the fray. Knocking off his helmet, Wolverine is shocked to discover it is Doc Samson. Wolverine then manages to escape from the arena and a clearly-brainwashed Samson, but is recaptured by Samson's native-esque allies, all of whom speak a strange language. Wolverine is placed in a high-tech machine operated by Samson, but the feedback causes Samson to break free of the natives' control. He and Wolverine fight back, during which a portal opens. Wolverine leaps through, fighting back a group of robotic insectoid aliens, of whom the natives are an advance guard for their invasion. On Earth, Samson destroys the portal, just as Wolverine leaps clear. However, the gorilla remains under the aliens' control, and it attacks Wolverine & Samson. Wolverine maneuvers the ape into a nearby temple, which is then blown up by an unscrupulous scientist hoping to clear the land for development, trapping the ape inside.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

X-amining Sabretooth: Death Hunt #1-4

"Home is the Hunter" / "A Kiss Before Dying" / "City of Light" / "Sins of the Fathers"
August - November 1993

In a Nutshell
Sabretooth learns Graydon Creed is his son with Mystique.

Writer: Larry Hama
Artist: Mark Texeira
Art Assist: Michael Blair (issue #2)
Backgrounds: Steve Biasi (issue #4)
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Steve Buccellato, Marie Javins (issue #2)
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Issue #1: Sabretooth returns home to find a group of Hand ninjas waiting to attack him, but he and his assistant Birdy fight them off, after which the telepathic Birdy gives Sabretooth the "glow", a mental treatment that helps calm him down. That night, Birdy allows a group of mercenaries into the house to capture Sabretooth. They take him to an armored man named Tribune who has a bomb implanted in Sabretooth's chest. He then gives Sabretooth 48 hours to kill Mystique, warning that if he doesn't, Tribune will detonate the bomb. Issue #2: Sabretooth returns home and attacks Birdy, but he doesn't kill her, as he still needs her to provide his glow, but instead takes her with him to Paris, where Mystique is. Sabretooth chases her to the top of the Eiffel Tower, where Wolverine is waiting.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Force in Focus: A Very Special Episode's Star Wars Extravaganza!

I swear I'll be back to reviewing old Star Wars comics very soon, but in the meantime, if you're the podcast-listening sort, this week sees the release of a very special Very Special Episode, the podcast which Dr. Bitz and I cohost (along with a pair of cartoonists & comedians from Portland), dedicated to Star Wars.

The idea behind it is a sort of "defense" of Star Wars. Anyone who's been reading these posts knows I'm a big Star Wars fan, and I generally like more than I dislike. My cohosts, whose Star Wars fandom ranges from the jaded to the casual to not-too-far-from-mine, decided to put forth a bunch of stuff they don't like about the various films, and then have me defend those decisions and explain why their nitpicks and dislikes aren't so bad (or, in some cases, confirm they are).

Ultimately though, it's just a big three hour episode celebrating Star Wars. I was fully prepared to bring my best pedantic nerd explanations for things, but in the end, I barely needed them, and nearly everyone spent about as much time talking about the stuff they love from the various films as the stuff that bugs them (needless to say, my faith in the franchise remains unshaken).

Amongst the topics of discussion were the unnecessarily-charred corpses of Luke's aunt & uncle, Han Solo's spiritual beliefs, and the stupid noise that lizard-thing Obi-Wan rides in Revenge of the Sith makes.

You can listen to and download the episode here, and it's also available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and PodBean.

PS this episode is a bit more SFW than some of our fare, but I still wouldn't recommend blasting it loudly from your desk. And in general, we work a little blue, so probably hold off on listening around the kids as well.

PPS if you haven't already, you can also listen to our episode discussing the infamous Star Wars Holiday special here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

X-amining Wolverine #75

"Nightmares Persist"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
In the wake of losing his adamantium, Wolverine discovers he has bone claws.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkers: Mark Farmer, Dan Green & Mark Pennington
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Professor X & Jean Grey work to keep Wolverine alive, the rest of Xavier's strike team and Bishop fight to bring the Blackbird safely back to Earth. Despite their efforts, Wolverine is fading fast, but when damage to the plane causes Jean to get sucked out the hatch, Wolverine regains consciousness long enough to pull her back inside. Two weeks later, Wolverine orders the X-Men out of the Danger Room, determined to test his mettle in the wake of Magneto's attack on him. As the X-Men look on in growing concern, Wolverine battles a pair of robots, and when he instinctively pops his claws, he is horrified to discover he has claws made of bone. A few days later, he and Jubilee have a heart-to-heart, as each attempts to deal with the recent changes they've experienced. That night, Wolverine leaves Jubilee and the rest of the X-Men letters, explaining his decision to leave the mansion, then rides off into the night as a saddened Jubilee watches from her window.