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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #102

"The Polaris Plot"
May 1994

In a Nutshell
Polaris, Random & Forge seemingly uncover the plot behind the recent attacks on Polaris.

Writer: JM DeMatteis
Penciler: Jan Duursema
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Starkings
Colorist: Matt Webb
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco

In Maryland, Colonel Malone is cut loose by his superior, Beatrice Connors, for botching the Polaris situation, but he insists the best time to strike is now. In DC, Random awakens from a dream, while Storm uses her powers to create a reprieve from the winter weather, much to the delight of Rahne & Guido. At X-Factor headquarters, Polaris & Forge debrief Random in an effort to learn who has been targeting Polaris, which leads them to a front company, Beltway Travel. As Havok arrives in Hawaii, Polaris, Random & Forge are attacked at Beltway Travel by Commando & Avalanche, working for Colonel Malone. Random & Polaris defeat Commando & Avalanche, while Forge confronts Malone, who kills himself when it's clear he's defeated. Just then, Connors shows up, telling Polaris she's the head of the Polaris Project, but that Malone went rogue, hiring Random to test her, with the intention of then brainwashing her. Connors agrees to cooperate with a Congressional investigation into the matter, then leaves with Commando & Avalanche. At the airport, Polaris says goodbye to Random, then boards a flight for Hawaii, unknowingly being watched by Connors, who is fingering a familiar necklace.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #312

May 1994

In a Nutshell
Storm, Yukio & Gambit fight the Phalanx in New York

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Green & Candelario
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Kevin Somers
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As Storm & Yukio fight the Phalanx, Gambit arrives in the city. After Yukio is injured in a blast from the Phalanx, Storm is able to shatter the Phalanx into pieces. Just then, a human, determined not to let a mutant save him, attacks the Phalanx pieces with a baseball bat. But the Phalanx reconstitutes itself and assimilates the human, then tries to do the same to Storm. Just then, Gambit intervenes, and manages to dislodge the Phalanx' hold on Storm, allowing her to fly herself, Gambit & Yukio closer to the shore. There, they meet an agent of the National Security Council, but the Phalanx quickly follow, and the NSC agent turns out to be one of them. Back at the mansion, Beast revives the unconscious Iceman, but he remains in a coma, with Professor X unable to read his mind due to psychic interference that may be caused by the presumably-still comatose Emma Frost.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

X-aminations in June 2018 (-ish)

With the end of June looming and with it, the end of my current six month schedule of reviews, I am working on the schedule for the second half of 2018. Obviously, I have fallen way off my schedule (what with it being the end of June, and me still working on May reviews...). So I want to take the start of a new review schedule as an opportunity to get back on track and ahead of reviews (so that when the inevitable real world problems arise, it takes longer for me to fall behind). There are two ways I can do that, and rather than pick one myself, I'm going to turn the decision over to you, the readers.

One option, as I've done before, is to schedule a run of one-review-a-week Retro X-aminations, going back to review older issues I missed (for one reason or another) the first time around.

The other option is simply to take the next "on sale" month's worth of issues (in this case, May 1994) and spread them out to one review a week.

I can make the case for both (Retros are a fun look back at some older stories, the one-review-a-week-for-a-month approach slows things down but doesn't entirely halt the forward progress of reviews), which is why I'm punting the decision to you. Sound off in the comments as to which approach you'd like to see me take to lead off the second half of 2018.

In the meantime, the next batch of previously-scheduled reviews to finish up the first half of 2018 sees more Joe Madureira, the end of the Psylocke/Revanche story along with a look at Gambit & Sabretooth's past together, and the debut of everyone's favorite walking-unresolved-plotline, Douglock!

On Sale March 1994
June 6: X-Men (vol. 2) #32
June 7: X-Force #34
June 8: Excalibur #77

June 13: X-Factor Annual #9
June 14: Cable #11

On Sale April 1994
June 20: Uncanny X-Men #313
June 21: X-Factor #103
June 22: Wolverine #82

June 27: X-Men (vol. 2) #33
June 28: X-Force #35
June 29: Excalibur #78

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Force in Focus: Solo

Spoilers, obviously, if you haven't seen the movie yet (and based on those box office numbers, a fair number of you haven't).

I've been on the record as saying I've never been a big Han Solo guy, and as a result, I wasn't terribly excited by the prospect of a standalone Han Solo movie. Somewhat ironically, that perspective perhaps served me best, as I ended up going into this movie with a relative shrug (I mean, it's a Star Wars movie, so I had some excitement, but nothing like I had for the previous three films of the Disney era), but came out of it having greatly enjoyed the movie, hungry for more.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

X-amining Cable #10

"The Killing Field Part II: Like Lambs to the Slaughter"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
Cable & the Acolytes chase after Omega Red

Desription: Fabian Nicieza
Depiction: W.C. Wyman
Diction: Glen Herdlin
Delineation: Conrad & Milgrom
Dictation: Chris Eliopoulos
Dyes: Marie Javins
Delirious: Bob Harras
Dictator: Tom DeFalco

Omega Red attacks the Tyuratam space center, looking for information about Epsilon Red as part of his quest to cure himself of his death spore virus. Shortly after he leaves, Cable & the Acolytes arrive, and realize that the next step in Omega Red's quest will require him to be in space, meaning he is likely going to try to board Avalon from Magneto's old arctic base. Cable & Katu devise a way to breach the base's security, but once Cable & the Acolytes are inside, Cable is stunned to find Omega Red there, already a captive. He realizes he's been setup, and the Acolytes admit they need him in order to bring certain systems aboard Avalon back online. As Cable turns to attack his erstwhile allies, he is stopped by a voice behind him: Colossus, leading the rest of the Acolytes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

X-amining New Warriors #46

"Child’s Play (Fourth Move): Head Games"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
The Younghunt ends with Paige Guthrie starting a new game with Gamesmaster.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Darick Robertson
Inkers: Mahlstedt, Bulandi, & Akin
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Hallway Monitor: RobTokar
Shop Teacher: Tom DeFalco

The New Warriors & X-Force converge outside the Gamesmaster's Swiss chalet base. Assuming any plan they concoct will be foiled by Gamesmaster's telepathy, the two teams launch a frontal assault on the base. Gamesmaster responds by sending Siena Blaze and his captive mutants, all under his mental control, to fight the two teams, ultimately prevailing. With both teams unconscious, Gamesmaster declares himself the winner. Just then Paige Guthrie emerges and proposes a new game to Gamesmaster: let everyone live, and he gets to play against Paige, X-Force and the New Warrriors for the fate of the next generation of mutants. Amused, he agrees and declares Paige the winner, releasing his captives before disappearing. In the aftermath, the two teams ponder whether their lives are worth the price of this new game, and giving Gamesmaster the idea to influence new mutants. Ultimately, Cable concedes the point, but declares that if people like Gamesmaster are going to treat the survival of mutants like a game, then he intends to make sure it's a game they play to win.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

X-amining What If? #60

"What If Scott Summers and Jean Grey Had Married Earlier?" / "What If Scott Summers and Jean Grey had Never Fallen in Love at All?" / "What If Phoenix Had Fallen for Wolverine?"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
Three stories examine alternate outcomes to the Cyclops & Jean Grey romance

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Ron Randall
Inks: Art Nichols
Letterer: Bob Sharen
Colorist: Janice Chiang
Editor: Rob Tokar
Caterer-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As the guest arrive for the wedding of Cyclops & Jean Grey, the Watcher observes a reality in which the couple decide to get married much earlier, at the same time Beast leaves the X-Men for the Brand Corporation. This prompts the rest of the X-Men to go out on their own as well, to better spread Professor Xavier's views on human/mutant relations. However, whenever Xavier senses the awakening of Krakoa, he decides to accompany his still raw-team of new X-Men, leading him to be captured along with the rest of the mutants. While the Avengers & Sunfire eventually defeat Krakoa, it's too late to prevent the deaths of Xavier and the new X-Men.

Friday, May 11, 2018

X-amining Excalibur #76

"Dog Years"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
Nigthcrawler & Daytripper attempt to rescue their mother from D'Spayre

Words & Pictures: Ashford, Lashley, Elliot
Letters & Colors: Brosseau, Matthys, Garrahy
Edits, Bigger Edits, Biggest Edits: Gaffney, Harras, DeFalco
Plot Assist: Scott Lobdell

In a German town, D'Spayre gloats to a captive Margali Szardos as he compels the townspeople to attack one another. In Mississippi, Amanda Sefton visits Nightcrawler, recovering in a hospital from the attack by Graydon Creed. He tells her that Creed is his half-brother and Mystique his birth mother, which prompts Amanda to tell him she needs his help rescuing her mother from D'Spayre. Meanwhile, Kitty misses a call from her dad as Rory tries to stop Britanic from leaving with a hovercraft, saying they still need to study the effect of being lost in the timestream on him. However, When Meggan insists they must aid Britanic, Kitty agrees and the three leave together. Later, Nightcrawler & Amanda arrive in Germany. As Amanda recuperates from the strain of teleporting them across the world, Nightcrawler attempts to save a young child from the angry mob, but is knocked out himself, much to D'Spayre's delight. However, Margali is pleasantly surprised that Nightcrawler has come to her aid, despite her betrayal of him, and realizes D'Spayre has no idea what her son has just given her.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

X-amining X-Force #33

"Child's Play Third Move: Rules Were Made To Be Broken"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
X-Force battles Fitzroy

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: John Holdredge
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Guidance Counselor: Bob Harras (the mean one)
Cafeteria Monitor: Tom DeFalco (the meanest one)

Outside the Guthrie home, X-Force battles Fitzroy, tricking him into using his own life force to open a portal to the last place he's been. As X-Force jumps through, Cannonball's sister Paige follows them, over her mother's objections. Meanwhile, Justice delivers Firestar to Gamesmaster, who tells him he is well aware of Shinobi Shaw's plans to usurp him, that he knows Justice intends, in turn, to betray Shinobi, and that all the mutants captured in the Younghunt thus far are now connected to Gamesmaster, so to kill him would also kill them. In New York, the New Warriors blackmail Graydon Creed into telling them the Gamesmaster is at Shinobi's Swiss chalet, while X-Force arrives at Shinobi's penthouse and forces him to do the same. At the chalet, Karma wakes up and frees the captive mutants, revealing that she's been in control of Siena Blaze since Blaze attacked her in Madripoor. However, the Gamesmaster in turn reveals he's well aware of that, and takes control of Blaze himself, using her power to blast everyone into unconsciousness, declaring he'll use their powers against those coming to rescue them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #31

"Soul Possessions Part One: The Butterfly & the Hawk"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
Revanche dies as the truth about her & Psylocke starts to be revealed.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Lavern/Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Spiral watches through Revanche's bionic eyes as Revanche seemingly prepares to attack a sleeping Charles Xavier. Just then, however, the feed cuts out, and the next morning Xavier reveals to Psylocke that Revanche left him a note saying she was leaving. Psylocke declines to tell him that Revanche left Psylocke her bionic eyes. In Japan, Matsuo recalls his past relationship with Kwannon, then meets with Spiral. At the X-Mansion, Archangel invites Psylocke to breakfast while Xavier discusses his intentions to re-open Emma Frost's school with Beast, and Gambit checks on Rogue, who has been acting strangely since they returned from New Orleans. In Japan, Revanche tracks down Matsuo. She forces him to admit the truth of her origins. Dying of the Legacy Virus, she then asks Matsuo to end her life, and he does, a sensation Psylocke feels a half a world away, as she and Archangel return to the mansion to find Spiral waiting for her, offering to answer all the questions she has about her relationship to Kwannon.

Friday, May 4, 2018

X-amining Wolverine #80

"...In the Forest of the Night!"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
Wolverine fights Cyber en route to Muir Island.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Wolverine wakes up in Zoe's car, and starts freaking out when he remembers his broken bone claws. In Edinburgh, Cyber is loaded into an ambulance, but he wakes up and commandeers the vehicle. In Alberta, a couple is attacked & killed by Bloodscream, who steals their truck. Back in Scotland, Wolverine tells Zoe about the loss of his adamantium, and she shows him video of a lecture by a molecular biologist named Dr. Munoz, discussing how to bond adamantium to bone. Just then, Cyber catches up to them, and though Wolverine is able to fight him off by triggering an oxygen tank in the ambulance to explode, Cyber manages to slash Wolverine with one of his hallucinogenic claws. With Cyber seemingly dead once more, Wolverine & Zoe reach the ferry and ask to be taken to Muir Island.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

X-amining X-Factor #101

April 1994

In a Nutshell
X-Factor grapples with the loss of Madox.

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Jan Duursema
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterers: Richard Starkings & Jon Babcock
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Skipping Madrox' funeral, a morose Havok goes to a diner alone. Following the service, Polaris discusses her grief with Storm at X-Factor's townhouse, while Wolfsbane & Strong Guy do the same at a nearby the park. At the diner, Havok stops a robbery attempt but, blaming himself for Madrox' death, loses control, blasting away the front of the building. Meanwhile, Forge pays Random for his help with the fight against Haven, and asks him to stay on, but Random declines. Later, Professor X uses his telepathy to help Moira relive some memories of Madrox, while Forge & Storm share a moment together. Elsewhere, Havok finally visits Madrox grave. Hoping that wherever Madrox is, he's at peace, and hoping he can forgive Havok for what he's done, Havok quits X-Factor, leaving his ID card atop Madrox headstone, where it's caught by the wind and carried away into a raging storm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #311

"Putting the Cat Out"
April 1994

In a Nutshell
A power outage allows Sabretooth to escape

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inkers: Dan Green/Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Buccellato/Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

As an impatient Jubilee waits for Beast to finish checking the mansion's power core before taking her to a midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show viewing, Iceman checks on the comatose White Queen and Storm says goodbye to Bishop on her way to meet Gambit and an old friend in the city. Just then, the mansion suddenly loses power, and a surge blasts Iceman & the White Queen, knocking him out. With the power out, Sabretooth escapes from his cell and attacks Jubilee, who fends him off until Bishop arrives and blasts him through a wall. As Beast frantically works to restore power before the core explodes, Bishop chases Sabretooth into the tunnels beneath the mansion. With Jubilee's help, he manages to subdue Sabretooth without killing him, as Beast averts disaster and gets the power back on, but Iceman is still unconscious. In the city, Storm meets her friend, Yukio, who wanted to warn her about a threat against the X-Men. However, the threat has already found them, as members of the Phalanx appear before them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

X-aminations in May 2018 (-ish)

I mean, some of these reviews will get published in May...

Seriously though, I am continuing to work to get caught back up to a regular release schedule, and hope to be there soon. And as I work on the full schedule for the back half of 2018, I'm going to try to build in some time to get back ahead of the reviews, to prevent these kinds of delays (which will probably mean a few weeks of "retro X-aminations" at some point, but we'll see).

Anyways, our next set of issues feature the second departure of John Romita Jr. from Uncanny X-Men followed by the debut of Joe Madureira, the completion of the "Child's Play" crossover between X-Force & New Warriors, and the first ever review of an issue of What If?, which serves as an epilogue of sorts to the Cyclops/Jean Grey wedding!

On Sale February 1994
May 2: Uncanny X-Men #311
May 3: X-Factor #101
May 4: Wolverine #80

May 9: X-Men (vol. 2) #31
May 10: X-Force #33
May 11: Excalibur #76

May 16: What If? #60

May 23: New Warriors #46
May 24: Cable #10

On Sale March 1994
May 30: Uncanny X-Men #312
May 31: X-Factor #102
June 1: Wolverine #81