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Thursday, August 22, 2019

X-amining Gambit & the X-Ternals #4

"The Maze"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
Upon their return to Earth, Strong Guy betrays his teammates and turns both the M'Kraan Crystal and Magneto's son over to Apocalypse.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Salvador Larroca
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
The Mouse: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In the Morlock Tunnels, Dazzler & Exodus discover the remains of Nanny, but no sign of Magneto's son, Charles. Later, Apocalypse interrogates Rictor, who tells him of how he chased Gambit & Lila through the Morlock Tunnels upon their return to Earth, hoping to destroy the X-Ternals in Apocalypse's name. Unknownst to him, however, Gambit was leading Rictor away from Jubilee, who possessed both the M'Kraan crystal shard and Charles. But when she runs into Strong Guy, he reveals that he's working for Apocalypse, and takes both from her. Later, Gambit & Lila run into Strong Guy, and Gambit realizes Strong Guy is running in the wrong direction. Just then, Rictor catches up to them, and reveals that Strong Guy is working for him, During the ensuing fight, the tunnel collapses, and Gambit is forced to choose between saving Lila, and taking Charles & the shard from Strong Guy, who is supporting one of the columns. At Strong Guy's urging, Gambit saves Lila, trusting that Strong Guy will be able protect Charles from the collapsing tunnel. Rictor finishes his story, believing Gambit died in the collapse, and expecting a reward from Apocalypse. Instead, Apocalypse kills him for failing to realize the importance of the shard & Charles, both of which Apocalypse now possesses, thanks to Strong Guy. Back in the tunnels, Dazzler & Exodus discover Gambit & Lila, and proceed to take them back to the X-Mansion as Gambit hopes his choice hasn't come at the cost of the entire universe.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #4

"On Consecrated Ground"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
Quicksilver & Storm rescue Bishop as the rest of the X-Men complete their various missions.

Plot: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Color Art: Richard Somers & Digitial Chameleon
Confessional: Bob Harras

Plot
The Madri prepare to execute Bishop, but are interrupted by Storm, who arrives to rescue him. Meanwhile, Banshee & Quicksilver break into the chamber containing the source of all the Madri, the original Jamie Madrox who, abused & addled, begs them to kill him. Meanwhile, Rogue's team of X-Men arrives back at the mansion to find Colossus & Shadowcat waiting. When they learn Charles fled into the tunnels with Nanny, Rogue leads a group down into them, only to run into Dazzler & Exodus, returning with Gambit, Lila & Jubilee. But no M'Kraan crystal or Charles, prompting Rogue to attack Gambit for abandoning her son. Back at the Madri's tabernacle, Quicksilver & Banshee are debating whether or not to kill Madrox when Abyss attacks them. Banshee sacrifices himself by flying inside Abyss and destroying him from the inside. As Storm & Bishop are about to be overwhelmed by the Madri, Madrox kills himself to shut down the Madri once and for all. Back at the X-Mansion, Nightcrawler teleports in with Destiny. After Quicksilver, Storm & Bishop return, and with Magneto's various plans coming to fruition, Quicksilver declares they're now going to retrieve the piece of the M'Kraan crystal Gambit stole, rescue his father & brother, and ensure that this is the day Apocalypse falls.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

X-amining X-Nation 2099 #1 - Patreon First!


"Sixth or Seventh Genesis"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Nation sneaks out to a milk bar.

Writer: Tom Peyer
Penciler: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Jimm Palmiotti
Letterer: Jon Babcock
Colorist: James Brown
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Wulff, trying to leave the Wild Boys gang, is rescued by Morphine Somers and brought to the Xavier Shelter for Indigent Children, where he joins X-Nation just as they're preparing to sneak out for a night on the town. Meanwhile, Avian is tasked with assembling the mutant messiah candidates for Herod, including Willow. X-Nation ends up at the Negative Zone milk bar, where Wulff, unimpressed by his new companions, leaves, only to run into the Wild Boys, looking to kill him for abandoning them. Thankfully, X-Nation comes to his rescue, and defeat the Wild Boys. After seeing the gang members arrested, X-Nation decides to head home, where an irate Sister Nicholas is waiting for them.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #101

"Far, Far Away"
November 1985

In a Nutshell
Han is transported across the galaxy and helps save a star-crossed romance.

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Art Nichols
Coloring: Glynis Oliver
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Leia tries to convince Han to fly a mission for the Alliance, something he's reluctant to do, sparking an argument that's broken up by the newly-arrived Fenn Shysa, who is accompanied by Han's childhood friend, Bey. As Fenn & Leia catch up, Bey advises Han that if he cares about Leia, he should tell her. Later, Han, joined by Threepio, Artoo and Plif aboard the Falcon, investigates a series of strange energy bursts appearing in the skies over Endor. One of the bursts hits the Falcon, sending it careening across space to crash land on a strange planet. There, Han helps rescue a young couple from bandits. They are Risa & Gil, the princess & prince of two kingdoms, which each rule one side of the planet. Their upcoming wedding is intended to solidify the truce between the two sides. As Artoo & the Hoojibs work on repairing the Falcon, Han returns with Risa to her father's palace, where he helps expose Marius, Risa's uncle and the court vizier, as the person responsible for the attack on Risa & Gil. With his ship repaired, Han flies back to the Alliance, and to Leia, his feelings for her having inspired him to ensure Risa received a happy ending.

Friday, August 16, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #4

"Into the Maelstrom"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X defeats Pierce using his stump claws, allowing Gateway to send the Human Council's armada to Apocalypse.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
With the help of the Human Council, Weapon X convinces Gateway to navigate the nuclear armada across the ocean to attack Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Rex brings word of the armada and its potential threat to Apocalypse, but he is less than concerned. The armada departs from Paris, but as it nears Apocalypse's sea wall defenses, a storm kicks up, prompting Gateway to climb atop the lead airship to better navigate the storm. Just then,  Pierce and another enhanced human use the storm as cover to attack. Pierce sends his ally after Weapon X & Gateway while he radios the Infinites at the nearby defense platform to shoot down the armada. As Weapon X & Gateway realize Pierce's ally is their old friend Carol Danvers, Emma Frost tries to attack Pierce but is stopped by Brian Braddock, who reveals himself to be reluctantly working for Apocalypse. Braddock manages to briefly overcome his programming long enough to knock Pierce out the window, where he proceeds to climb on top of the ship and execute Carol Danvers for failing to kill Weapon X or Gateway. As Pierce turns on Gateway, Weapon X is forced to extend the claws from his missing hand to kill Pierce & save Gateway, who then uses his bullroarer to open a massive portal, allowing the armada to travel directly to Apocalypse.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

X-amining Factor X #4

"Reckonings"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Jean liberate the Pens & battle Havok.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Pencilers: Steve Epting w/Terry Dodson
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Havok gives the order to kill everyone in the Pens, a directive that doesn't sit right with both Beast, who considers their deaths a waste of good genetic material, and the Bedlam Brothers, who feel like the slaughter of the prisoners in cold-blood is beneath their status as alpha mutants. Bu when Havok receives word that his brother is still alive, he tasks the EMF with tracking him down instead. Elsewhere, Cyclops & Jean Grey are preparing to take out the Brain Trust so as to remove its stifling effect on the prisoners. They run into the Bedlam Brothers, who agree to help them hold off the Guthries, then cut the power. Meanwhile, Apocalypse's forces enter Haven to arrest Angel, who abandons his neutrality to fight them off and flee. Back at the Pens, Jean is able to destroy the Brain Trust, while Havok learns the captive Scarlett is pregnant. When the room goes dark, he knows it's his brother's doing. As Cyclops & Jean lead the newly-freed prisoners out of their cells, the animalistic mutants of the Kennel attack Beast, prompting him to flee. Havok tracks down Cyclops and attacks him, but Cyclops manages to knock out his brother. He then addresses the former prisoners, telling them they need to get off the island, promising them that somewhere out there is a better world. Later, Havok wakes up, and vows to find and kill his brother once and for all.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #4

"Holocaust"
June 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men defeat Holocaust.

Plot/Dialogue: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Joe Madureira
Inks: Townsend/Milgrom
Letters: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Enraged, Blink attacks Holocaust, chipping away at his armor with teleportation micro-strikes before dropping him into a vat of chemicals. Meanwhile, Apocalypse taunts a captive Magneto. Back at the Infinite Processing Plant, the X-Men stop the execution of Holocaust's human prisoners just as Holocaust emerges from the vat. Posing as Morph, Rogue is able to absorb a portion of his power, weakening him, before fighting him to a standstill. Holocaust positions himself and Rogue over a teleportation platform, hoping to bring her with him to Apocalypse's citadel, but as he teleports out, Iceman arrives and pulls Rogue away. He tells her he was sent by Quicksilver to bring back her team, and Rogue declares that tonight, one way or another, the age of Apocalypse is over.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #30 - Patreon First!

"Prophecies of Doom"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Cerebra quits the X-Men in order to guide the kids of X-Nation.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Doomsayer: Bobbie Chase
Special Thanks: Tom Peyer & Warren Ellis

Plot
After checking on her comatose father, Cerebra runs into Billy the Kid, who tosses her a coin that teleports her away. Meanwhile, Clarion & Nostromo arrive in Halo City, and are rescued from a mugger by Meanstreak. In the bowels of the city, Cerebra appears before Doom, who tells her that a mutant with the power to change the world is in the city, and needs her guidance. Later, Clarion & Nostromo are rescued from the Wild Boys by Cerebra, who directs them to the Xavier Shelter for Indigent Children, a shelter run by the Sisterhood of the Howling Commandments. She then meets with the X-Men, and tells them she's leaving the Protectorate in order to guide the young mutants in the city. Elsewhere, Doom expresses his disappointment in Morphine, earning Morphine's ire, who declares he's going to find the mutant messiah for himself. Cerebra then arrives at the Xavier Shelter to find the mutants of X-Nation waiting for her.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Force in Focus: The Power of the Force Action Figures

Roll Call
R2-D2 w/Pop-Lightsaber
A-wing Pilot
Han Solo in Carbonite Chamber
Imperial Dignitary
Imperial Gunner
Luke Skywalker (Imperial Stormtrooper Outfit)
Amanaman
Anakin Skywalker
Barada
EV-9D9
Lando Calrissian (General Pilot)
Luke Skywalker in Battle Poncho
Romba
Warok
Yak-Face

Firsts and Other Notables
With Return of the Jedi gone from theaters and no new Star Wars films on the horizon, "The Power of the Force" represents Kenner's attempt to keep their line of Star Wars action figures going in the absence of a specific film tie-in. In practice, this line is mostly composed of Return of the Jedi holdovers; there is no new Princess Leia figure, but Han, Luke & Lando are represented in their remaining Jedi costume changes not already be adapted in action figure form.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

X-amining X-Man #3

"Turning Point"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Domino & her assassins battle X-Man and his rebel group.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa & Mike Sellers
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Forge uses a flash grenade to escape from Domino and her assassins. As Nate & Theresa rush to help out, Mastermind uses his power to make it appear as though Apocalypse has arrived. But Domino sees through the ruse and kills Mastermind. Just then, Nate flies in and angrily flings Domino into the nearby woods, following close behind her. As they fight, Toad & Caliban duel, with Toad emerging victorious only to be killed by Grizzly, who, in turn, is killed by Forge. Elsewhere, Nate uses his telepathy to make Domino relive all of her kills, before killing her himself. He returns to Forge's side and apologizes for not listening to him, telling him that Forge was right and his powers need to be deployed carefully. As Nate, Theresa & Sauron bury the dead, Forge discovers the body of Brute. Essex claims Grizzly killed him, but Forge has had enough, telling Essex that whatever he wants Nate for, Forge will fight him until his dying breath to protect the boy, something Essex is all too happy to oblige. Moments later, Nate feels Forge dying, and rushes to his side. With his last words, Forge tells Nate to find Magneto. After he's gone, Nate turns on Essex, blasting him with his power, but all it does is strip away the facade of Essex to reveal Sinister.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #3

"It Only Hurts When I Sing"
May 1995

In a Nutshell

Creators: Lobdell & Bachalo
Inks: Buckingham
Letters: Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Edits: Bob Harras

Plot
Inside the Core, Chamber & Skin almost blow their cover when a guard carelessly murders a young girl & Chamber tries to intervene. Elsewhere, Husk & Vincente, posing as Quietus, pore through his office, hoping to find information on Illyana's location. They are visited by Sugar Man, but seemingly manage to maintain their ruse. Outside, Shadowcat & Colossus arrive at the gate to the Core. Shadowcat is doubting their mission, but Colossus remain determined to find his sister. Inside, Mondo locates Illyana and attempts to escape with her, but having used his power for so long, there's a risk he may accidentally digest her. Meanwhile, Husk & Vincente meet with Chamber & Skin, attracting the suspicions of Sugar Man, who demands that "Quietus" kill Chamber & Skin in order to prove he is who he says he is.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #29 - Patreon First!

"Undead Zone - City of the Dead: Conclusion"
February 1996

In a Nutshell
Morphine Somers defeats Graverobber an the Undead.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
As Fitz absorbs all of Halo City's power, plunging the city into darkness, Gunnar Heywood contacts the X-Men. When they arrive on the scene, a fight breaks out between the Undead and the X-Men. The X-Men are once again on the verge of defeat when Morphine Somers arrives with a captive Zail Haddad. He agrees to give Zail to Graverobber, but when Graverobber claims his prize, Morphine triggers a neuro-bomb in Zail's restraints, disrupting the bio-electric energy of Graverobber animating the Undead. They all collapse, dead again, including Tina, but Fitz is visited once more by Reiko, who tells him he is not dying, merely transforming, before he regains consciousness. Elsewhere, Victor Ten Eagles arrives in Halo City to warn Xi'an that someone is targeting the Lawless. Later, the X-Men hold another funeral for Tina, while Morphine meets with representatives of Herod. Per their bargain, he hands over Graverobber and the Undead to Herod's agent, and is told the contract on his head has been lifted. Giving the Undead to Herod doesn't sit right with Cerebra, but Morphine doesn't much care. However, as Herod's craft flies away from the city, it's shot down, allowing a returned Doom to claim the Undead for himself. He then turns his attention to Halo City, the city he built whose future, he believes, belongs to him.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #100

"First Strike"
October 1985

In a Nutshell
The Nagai attack the Alliance, triggering the Second Battle of Endor.

Story: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inks: Art Nichols & Sam De La Rosa
Coloring: Petra Scotese
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Admiral Ackbar administers a computer-based piloting exam to a group of pilots, including Han & Fenn Shysa, a test Han takes less than seriously. Later, Mon Mothma announces that a fleet of Nagai ships have been spotted near Endor. In order to spare the Ewoks from getting caught in the middle, she orders the evacuation of the base, with Lando to lead the aerial defense against the Nagai while Leia monitors the evacuation from Endor. Han & Luke, however, are grounded, having failed their exams due to the computer being unable to understand their unorthodox flying styles. Outraged, Han storms off, and learns from Tippet of strange activity the Ewoks have noticed. He & Luke investigate and discover a Nagai force already on the moon, led by Knife. They learn the aerial assault is being coordinate with information on Alliance tactics given to the Nagai by someone inside the Alliance, and race back to warn Leia and the others. However, Han falls behind and is confronted by Bey, who reveals he's the traitor in the Alliance. He gets the better of Han but is unable to kill him. Just then, Knife emerges, and attempts to kill Han himself, but Bey intervenes, seemingly killing Knife. In space, the battle is going poorly until Admiral Ackbar relays Luke's message to Lando. Abandoning all their plans, Lando leads the fleet using Han's piloting techniques, which is enough to force the Nagai ships into retreat. On the ground, Luke declares he and Han's grounding to be over; those were peace time orders. As of now, the Alliance is at war once again.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

X-amining X-Universe #1

"X-Universe: Last Stand"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Mikhail Rasputin arrives in London at the head of a peace mission.

Story: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Cam Smith
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Color Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor: Marie Javins
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In the ravaged nation of Wakanda, Gwen Stacy fends off an attack by the Marauders, assisted by the timely arrival of Tony Stark & Clint Barton. Stark & Barton are delivering relief aid, but have also been sent by the Human High Council to fetch Dr. Don Blake. In London, pilots Ben Grimm & Susan Storm watch with suspicion the arrival of Mikhail Rasputin at the head of a peace convoy. Just as they return to their base to land, the base explodes, killing every pilot capable of dropping a bomb on Apocalypse. They suspect Mikhail, but as they explore the wreckage, they're attacked by a massive hulking monster. Escaping the creature, they encounter Dr. Bruce Banner amongst the rubble. Meanwhile, with the Human High Council in an emergency session, the ranking security officer, Victor Von Doom, formally greets Mikhail amidst wild cheers from a gathered crowd, just as Blake and his envoy arrive in London. In the interest of transparency, Mikhail invites them aboard his ship to show he has nothing to hide, and they enter, joined by Doom, Ben & Susan. Once inside, Mikhail reveals that he's using the mutant Empath to manipulate the emotions of the crowd outside, and that he's lured the gathered group, those most resistant to Empath's power, to their deaths.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

X-aminations in August 2019 & January 1995 Power Rankings


As summer winds down, so too does "Age of Apocalypse", as we reach some of the series' fourth and final issues next month. Quick note: I've been traveling (somewhat unexpectedly) the last couple of weeks (and am again later this week), which has been the cause of some of the posting delays. I don't expect to be able to get X-Universe #1 posted until late this week or early next, but I should be staying put (with regular internet connections & my regular schedule) next week.

Also, I've never been terribly good at keeping up with current comics (in part because of the need to read stuff for these reviews, which always take priority), but I have read House of X #1 and am hoping to post some comments on it and the subsequent HOX/POX issues on Twitter, in an effort to force me to stay at least partially current. If I can find an easy (read: with minimal formatting effort) way to re-post those mini reviews here, I will, but otherwise, you can read them by following me on Twitter @AustinGorton.

On Sale March 1995
August 7: Generation Next #3
August 8: X-Man #3

Monday, July 29, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #28 - Patreon First!

"Funeral Party: City of the Dead Part Three"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
The Graverobber's origin is revealed.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Separations: Malibu
Mortician: Joey Cavalieri
Morticia: Bobbie Chase

Plot
Sham brings her brother Quiver to a concert featuring the band Disinterred, which is attacked by the Undead, including the newly-resurrected Fitz. Graverobber speaks to the crowd, telling them he wants the head of Zail Haddad within 24 hours, or else everyone in the city will die. The X-Men & Zail meet with Morphine Sommers to discuss Graverobber's ultimatium, and Zail shares the origin of Graverobber. As the X-Men comb the city for the Graverobber, Morphine contacts Herod, and offers him Graverobber's reanimation technology in exchange for a stay-of-execution. Later, Cerebra reiterates to Morphine that while she may not like her father, the X-Men don't trade lives, while in the tunnels beneath the city, Luna comes across the still-alive Gunnar Heywood. He leads Luna to where the Undead are attempting to access the city's power supply. When Fitz resists the Graverobber's orders to absorb the power & supercharge himself, Luna attacks, but she is overpowered by the Undead. His momentary hesitation gone, Fitz proceeds to absorb the city's power, while elsewhere, Morphine arrives to arrest Zail & turn him over to Graverobber, telling him that, unfortunately for Zail, Cerebra doesn't run the city; Morphine does.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #99

"Touch of the Goddess"
September 1985

In a Nutshell
Han & Lando race to retrieve a pair of artifacts in order to save a planet.

Writer: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Ron Frenz
Inks: Sam De La Rosa
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
On Endor, Luke reflects on the recent death of Kiro, while Han and his childhood friend Bey carry out a mercy mission to the planet Godo alongside Admiral Ackbar. The Godoans are dying of a strange virus that infects anyone on the planet who doesn't undergo a protective radiation bath before landing. Visiting the Godoan's Temple of the Goddess, Han realizes the temple is actually a techno-organic machine. Artoo & Threepio confirm the machine is meant to keep the Godoan's healthy, but is missing two critical statute-like components, which Han realizes are the Goddess & the Minstrel statutes Lando once possessed. Han races back to Endor where Lando tells him Lemo & Sando have the Goddess statute, while he gave the Minstrel to Drebble as a faux award. Han & Luke visit Lemo & Sanda in prison to learn the whereabouts of their base, agreeing to arrange their release in exchange for the Goddess. Meanwhile, Lando & Chewbacca visit Drebble on Stenos, who agrees to give Lando the Minstrel since, if he didn't, he wouldn't deserve the honorific it represented. Back on Godo, the two statutes activate the machine, curing the Godoans, who seal the temple to prevent further theft. But when the Alliance members leave the planet, Lando falls ill; too preoccupied with returning the statute, he forgot to undergo the preventative radiation treatments. When the Godoans refuse to let Lando inside for treatment, Han threatens to destroy the Godoan's city & the temple. Though Ackbar condemns his actions, most of the rest of the fleet back him up, prompting the Godoans to relent & allow Lando to be healed. Afterwards, he & Han discuss Han's threa, but Han refuses to acknowledge whether or not he was bluffing.

Friday, July 26, 2019

X-amining X-Calibre #3

"Body Heat"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Mystique & Nightcrawler reach Avalon & form X-Calibre.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencils: Ken Lashley
Inks: Tom Wegrzyn with Philip Moy
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas/Digitial Chamelon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
After wiping out Callisto and her pirate crew, Nightcrawler & Mystique head for Mystique's base of operations, unknowingly followed by Damask & Dead Man Wade. At Mystique's Antarctic castle, Nightcrawler convinces her to lead him to Avalon. Cain greets them upon arrival & leads them to Avalon, telling them along the way of his dead brother and how he's sworn a vow of non-violence. Upon arrival, Mystique is reunited with Destiny and meets her adopted son, Doug Ramsey, as well as Switchback. Meanwhile, Damask & Dead Man Wade arrive in Avalon, and Damask is struck by the beauty of the place. As Mystique tries to convince Destiny to leave Avalon with her, Dead Man Wade starts killing everyone in sight. Nightcrawler tries to push Cain into action, but he's torn between his vow of non-violence & his desire to help the people of Avalon, indecision which triggers an aneurysm that kills him. Horrified at the havoc being wreaked, Damask attacks Dead Man Wade, stopping his assault, at which point Nightcrawler is able to teleport in, grab him by the head, and teleport away with it. Damask tells Nightcrawler that she is defecting, but that Apocalypse has more forces on the way. So she joins with him, Mystique & Switchback to defend Avalon.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

X-amining Gambit & the X-Ternals #3

"To the Limits of Infinity"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit retrieves a shard of the M'Kraan Crystal.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Salvador Larroca
Inkers: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Javins, Rosa, Webb & Thomas
Separations: Electric Crayon
As the Beaver: Bob Harras

Plot
Arriving in orbit around the M'Kraan Crystal's planet, the Starjammers engage the waiting Shi'ar fleet while Deathbird leads the X-Ternals to the planet's surface. As Guido, Sunspot, and Jubilee hold off the Shi'ar forces on the ground, Gambit, Lila & Deathbird approach the crystal. When Lila is drawn inside the crystal, Gambit & Deathbird follow, and the trio meet Jahf, the crystal's guardian. Outside, the Imperial Guard arrive on the planet, with Rictor in tow. Inside the crystal, Jahf explains how the gem is a nexus point of all realities, and tasks Gambit with saving not just his reality, but all of them: without Charles Xavier to help train Jean Grey, the unrestrained energy of the crystal threatens all of existence. Therefore, Gambit must get a piece of the crystal back to Earth and send Bishop back in time. But to gain a shard, he must give something up. Outside, Gladiator attacks Sunspot, but when the crystal triggers another reality blink, Sunspot is able to absorb the energy & turn it against Gladiator. He then leads the rest of the X-Ternals & Rictor into the crystal to escape the increasing blinks. Inside, they see Gambit whisper Rogue's name, then receive a crystal shard. The mission complete, Lila prepares to teleport the group back to Earth, but Sunspot, having absorbed too much of the crystal's energy, is forced to stay behind. Lila promises not to let Sunspot's sacrifice be in vain as she triggers her power to send the team home.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #3

"Parents of the Atom"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto & Bishop are captured by Apocalypse.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
Atom Smasher: Bob Harras

Plot
Magneto & Bishop are on the grounds of the X-Mansion, awaiting the expected arrival of Apocalypse's forces. Suddenly, Vanisher teleports a squad of Infinites onto the grounds, then teleports away to track down Nanny & Charles. Magneto makes short work of the Infinites, but is overwhelmed when Apocalypse himself enters the fray. In the tunnels beneath the mansion, Vanisher locates Nanny, but she is ready for him. Later, Quicksilver's team of X-Men return to find Magneto & Bishop gone and a dead Vanisher in the tunnels. Quicksilver tasks Exodus & Dazzler with finding Nanny & Charles and sends Iceman to alert Rogue about Magneto's capture, then rushes off to learn where his father & Bishop are being held. Confronting Angel, he learns that Magneto is being held at Apocalypse's citadel while Bishop is with the Madri in Quebec, making him choose between his father and his father's mission. In Quebec, the Shadow King interrogates Bishop and learns about Magneto's plan to restore reality, while Quicksilver returns to the mansion. He tells Storm & Banshee he intends to rescue Bishop, and they depart, to save a man they barely know & salvage a plan they barely understand.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

X-amining 2099 AD: Genesis #1 - Patreon First

"Mad Day Sun"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
The mysterious Dust tracks down X-Nation.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Dale Eaglesham
Inks: Scott Koblish
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Calligraphy: Jon Babcock
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
A man named Dust arrives at Halo City. Fighting his way into the city, he locates Cerebra, and begs her to take him to the "Messiah children", as he's received divine word that he needs to tell them something important. Cerebra agrees to help, and cajoles Morphine Somers into bringing them both to a secret shelter where X-Nation is staying. Dust tells them that he is over 150 years old, and once knew the X-Men, who invited him to join them. He turned them down, being too afraid, and has regretted it ever since. He urges the kids of X-Nation to not be afraid, to not turn away from their roles as messiahs.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #98

"Supply and Demand"
August 1985

In a Nutshell
Han & Nien Nunb escort the last members of a royal mining family to their homeworld.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Al Williamson
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Ed King
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
With Chewbacca away, Nien Nunb is assigned to be Han's co-pilot on a mission to escort a pair of former Imperial prisoners - a woman and her son - to the mining world of Vandalheim, ruled by the Metalsmiths Guild who are supplying the Alliance with much needed ore. The current Guildmaster, Orrk, has secretly allied himself with the former Imperial Moff Mordur, who promises to kill the returning prisoners. However, his plan to destroy the Falcon using mines fails, and when Han lands on Vandalheim, he presents his passengers to Orrk, learning they are members of the royal family that founded the planet. Returning to the Falcon, he discovers Nien has been captured by Stormtroopers, while Orrk has taken the royals. But the child fights back, and in the ensuing commotion, Han & Nien kill Orrk & the Stormtroopers, fleeing with the royals aboard the Falcon. However, they quickly learn that Mordur has slaved all the ore ships in orbit to his command ship, and is preparing to lead them into the sun. Han battles Mordur in zero gravity, but can't stop the barges from drawing closer to the sun. Just then, Lando emerges from hyperspace at the head of an Alliance fleet. The royals reveal they knew the command codes to the barges all along, and Lando is able to shut down the procession and save the ore. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #3

"The Common Right of Toads and Men"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X recruits Gateway to assist the Human High Council's armada.

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inkerss: Dan Green & Mike Sellers
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Weapon X battles a pair of cyborgs en route to the former X-Men base at Wundagore Mountain, where he meets up with Carol Danvers, an old friend, who agrees to take him to Gateway. Back in London, the Human High Council debates their next move as they hope Weapon X is successful in his mission. Back at Wundagore, Carol brings Weapon X to Gateway, and he urges the aboriginal mutant to help lead the High Council's armada against Apocalypse. Gateway refuses, but just then another group of cyborgs, led by Pierce, attack. Gateway teleports himself, Weapon X, & Carol onto Pierce's airplane, and Carol sacrifices herself to push Pierce out of the plane, then detonate a cluster of grenades as the pair fall through the air. As Weapon X mourns his friend, Gateway agrees to at least go to Paris and allow the Human High Council to attempt to persuade him to help.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

X-amining Factor X #3

"Open Wounds"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
Jean Grey returns to the Pens, prompting a direct confrontation between Cyclops & Havok.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting with Terry Dodson
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As Cyclops returns to the Pens, Jean Grey sneaks inside herself, hoping to find Sinister. However, she finds Sinister's lab destroyed, and gets knocked out by a gleeful Havok. At Angel's Heaven nightclub, the Bedlam Brothers arrest Scarlett for espionage, warning Angel that between her arrest & Karma's, his much-professed neutrality may soon come under scrutiny. Back at the Pens, Havok shows Cyclops the captive Jean Grey. He reveals that he knows Cyclops helped Lorna Dane escape, and when Cyclops professes his innocence, Havok tells him to prove it by executing Jean. When Cyclops refuses, the Guthries, lying in wait, attack and knock him out. Havok proclaims himself the commander of the EMF and gives Cyclops to Beast, along with Jean. But Jean is able to use her power enough to remove Cyclop's visor, allowing him to blast Beast and free them. Cyclops agrees to help Jean liberate the Pens before the Human High Council's nuclear strike obliterates the city. Elsewhere, Apocalypse decrees that the Pens will be shut down, and the prisoners culled, such that the strong will survive and the weak perish.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #3

"In Excess"
May 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men infiltrate Holocaust's Infinite processing plant.

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inks: Townsend/Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Separations: Digital Chameleon

Plot
Wild Child, trailed by a group of Infinites, races back to the X-Men. Sunfire destroys the Infinites, then Wild Child licks Rogue in order to pass along the information he & Sabretooth learned about Holocaust's plans. As the X-Men race to stop Holocaust, he drags an injured Sabretooth to a hill overlooking a massive Infinite processing plant, gloating about his ability to wipe out all life in the area. At the X-Mansion, Magneto tries to convince Bishop that he may need to kill Legion in order restore his reality. Just then, Nanny goes into lockdown, forming a protective cocoon around Charles and fleeing into the tunnels beneath the school, a defensive measure Magneto knows means only one thing: Apocalypse is coming. Elsewhere, the X-Men infiltrate Holocaust's Infinite plant, only to discover Sabretooth, chained up and dying.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #27 - Patreon First!

"Angel of the Mourning: City of the Dead Part Two"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Graverobber resurrects Fitz

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
As the Undead deliver Fitz's body to Graverobber, Fitz encounters a vision of his former girlfriend in the afterlife. Meanwhile, with Luna insisting Fitz is still alive, the rest of the X-Men discuss how to track down the Undead before they attack the city again.  At the site of their last attack, Xi'an talks with one of the Sisters of the Howling Commandments, who advises him that sometimes even the spiritual must fight for their beliefs. Meanwhile, Gunnar tracks down the Undead, and finds their base just as the Graverobber attempts to revive Fitz. Elsewhere in the city, Meanstreak & Cerebra fight off another Undead attack, after which Cerebra's father turns up in the city. As Krystalin helps foil an assassination attempt on Morphine Somers, Gunnar is killed by the Undead, after which Graverobber completes his resurrection of the zombified Fitz.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #97

"Escape"
July 1985

In a Nutshell
Luke & Kiro evade the Nagai invasion force as they attempt to rescue Dani.

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Art Nichols
Coloring: Petra Scotese
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Luke, Kiro and the captive Lumiya watch as the combined Nagai-Imperial forces deploy on Kinooine, then depart for their ship to regroup. Inside the Nagai base, Den tortures Dani. Back at the ship, Luke restrains Lumiya before he and Kiro depart to rescue Dani, but they are interrupted by a trio of Nagai soldiers. Luke attempts to use the Force to send them on their way, but Lumiya breaks his hold on them, forcing Kiro to kill them. Meanwhile, Mon Mothma & Admiral Ackbar confirm that a state of war exists between the Alliance and the Nagai/Imperial faction. When Han announces his intention to locate Luke on Kinooine, Mon Mothma forbids him from going, saying they need all their soldiers here, but Han angrily storms off, intending to go with or without her permission. Back on Kinooine, Kiro rescues Dani while Luke steals some data for the Alliance from the Nagai computers. But as they leave the base, Dani & Kiro are confronted by Den, prompting a fight which ends with Kiro & Den falling into a nearby river, from which neither emerges. Determined to warn the Alliance about the Nagai so that Kiro won't have died in vain, Dani & Luke return to their ship, only to find that Lumiya has escaped.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

X-amining X-Man #2

"Choosing Sides"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Forge & Essex argue over the development of Nate's powers as Nate stretches their limits.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inkers: Mike Sellers, LaRosa, Conrad & Hanna
Letters: Richard Starkings & comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas & Digital Chameleon
Goddess: Lisa Patrick
Oh, Everything Else: Bob Harras

Plot
Domino, Grizzly & Toad interrogate Rossovich, looking for information about the telepath they've been tasked with locating. Meanwhile, Forge trains in hand-to-hand combat with Nate, hoping to teach him the importance of not relying on his powers, but Forge worries all he's doing is pushing Nate into the arms of Essex. To his point, Essex, who is more open to the idea of Nate exploring his powers, helps Nate turn his power on himself in order to fly. Essex then tries to sell the troupe on making a nearby bio-engineering plant their next target, and Forge reluctantly agrees to recon the site. But when Nate sees the atrocities being committed there, he impulsively springs into action, drawing the attention of the Madri and overexerting his powers, forcing the troupe to retreat. That night, Nate astral projects himself & Theresa back to the strange mansion he recently visited, where he briefly encounters Magneto and learns it's the home of the X-Men. Returning to their bodies, Nate wants to know why Forge was so adamant to keep him away from the biggest gun in the resistance. Meanwhile, Brute confronts Essex, having figured out who he really is, only to be killed. Shortly thereafter, Forge confronts Essex, but the pair are interrupted by the arrival of Domino and her bounty hunters.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #2

"Hither Comes the Sugar Man!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation Next infiltrates the Core in order to rescue Colossus' sister Illyana.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Lettering: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Worried Over: Bob Harras

Plot
Within the vast energy-producing Core, Illyana does her best to avoid the monstrous Sugar Man. Outside, Skin & Chamber capture a pair of human guards in order to steal their uniforms, while Colossus & Shadowcat prepare to sneak into the Core through its backdoor. In a nearby town, Husk & Vincente kill Quietus, one of the plant foremen at the Core, in order to pose as him, with Husk transforming into his massive head and Vincente filling out the rest of his bulky form. As dawn breaks, they enter the Core, with a camouflaged Mondo watching their backs. They spot the disguised Skin & Chamber, entering the plant as workers, and demand they be assigned to Quietus' detail, while inside the Core, Illyana is forcefully awoken for another day of back-breaking labor.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #26 - Patreon First!

"Broken Halo City of the Dead Part One"
November 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Undead in Halo City.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
City Comissioner: Joey Cavalieri
Boss Tweed: Bobbie Chase

Plot
In the wake of the collapse of Doom's presidency, journalist Gunnar Heywood arrives in the newly formed Halo City, to report on the situation there. He observes Meanstreak & Krystalin foil an attempted suicide bombing, then visits a clinic where Xi'an is exhausting himself healing as many people as he can. In Nevada, a group of shadowy figures dig a crystal coffin out of the ground, while back in Halo City, Gunnar meets with Morphine Somers, who introduces him to the X-Men, who are acting as the city's protectorate. Somers then briefs them on the political situation, saying that Halo City is all that's left of Doom's legacy, but that the new administration is content to let them be for now. Shortly thereafter, one of the clinics is attacked by a group of zombie-esque superhumans called the Undead. During the ensuing battle between the X-Men and the Undead, Fitz chases one of the Undead down an ally, only to pull up short, shocked, when he encounters a familiar figure with snake tattoos on her arm, who promptly shoots him with a poison dart, killing him.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #96

"Duel with a Dark Lady"
June 1985

In a Nutshell
Luke duels Lumiya!

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Lumiya deposits the defeated & unconscious Luke inside a holding cell, telling Den she didn't kill him as there are worse things than death. They then discuss the impending arrival of the Nagai fleet, and Den, having learned of the defeat of his allies on Kabaray, asks Lumiya if he can take custody of the captive Dani, in order to learn more about the Zeltrons and how they helped best his fellow Nagai on the station. Meanwhile, Kiro regains consciousness and fashions new breathing equipment for himself before stocking up on tools & weapons and going off in search of Luke & Dani. He infiltrates the Nagai base and frees Luke, who uses the equipment Kiro brought along to fashion a new weapon to help counter Lumiya's lightwhip. The pair then track down Lumiya, and with the help of his new second, shorter-bladed, lightsaber, Luke is able to gain the upper hand on Lumiya, shattering her armor to reveal the scarred face of Shira Brie. Luke tries to convince her to let go of her anger, as the man who made her Lumiya, Darth Vader, did before he died, but Lumiya insists she only wants to see Luke rendered bereft of hope and the will to live. Then she looks up and says he may as well despair now, as the Nagai invasion fleet emerges from hyperspace above them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

X-amining Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen #1


April 1995

In a Nutshell
A look inside Apocalypse's files on allies and enemies alike.

Cover: Ian Churchill/Scott Hanna
Cover Graphics: Ashley Underwood
Colorist: Ashley Underwood
Designer: Ronnie Lawler
Computer Imaging: Steve Alexandrov
Assistant Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
One of the Madri, desperate to learn whether they are considered one of the Chosen or Forgotten by Apocalypse, breaks into Apocalypse's personal files. After scanning several entries, he finds the one on the Madri and is relieved to see them listed as "Chosen". Just then, however, Apocalypse enters the chambers and kills him for his trespass.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 Special #1 - Patreon First!

"Tin Man" / "Sally & Sylvester Stay at Home" / "The Frog Prince"
1995

In a Nutshell
Cerebra fights a Sentinel, Halloween Jack gets literary, and Cerebra fights an evil circus.

Writer: Ian Edington (1st Story), John Francis Moore (2nd Story), Matthew Morra (3rd Story)
Artist: Steve Pugh (1st Story), Graham Higgins (2nd Story),  J Calafiore (3rd Story)
Inker: Peter Palmiotti (3rd Story)
Letters: Dave Sharpe (1st Story), Phil Felix (2nd Story), Steve Dutro (3rd Story)
Colors: Megan McDowell (1st Story), Paul Becton (2nd & 3rd Story)
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Chief: Bobbie Chase
Computer Coloring: Malibu

Plot
1st Story: Cerebra is drawn by a recurring series of nightmares to the small town of Siddon. Upon arrival, she finds the townspeople amiable, but under the control of a mysterious overseer. Cerebra discovers the overseer is a Sentinel, who has manipulated the townspeople into killing all the mutants in it and any who travel through the town. Explaining to the townspeople what the Sentinel is and what it does, she leads them in an attack on the machine, destroying it.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #95

"No Zeltrons"
May 1985

In a Nutshell
Han & Leia run afoul of Knife while Luke confronts Lumiya.

Plot & Script: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Cynthia Martin
Inks: Steve Leialoha
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Lumiya interrogates a captured Alliance solider, learning he was sent to the world they're on by Luke Skywalker. Later, on Endor, Leia is appalled when a group of four Zeltron males arrive in order to accompany her and Han to a diplomatic meeting of Alliance leaders on Kabray. They leave at the same time as Luke, who, along with Dani & Kiro, are checking out a scouting party on Kinooine that have failed to check-in. Threepio assures everyone he and Artoo have packed the appropriate gear for each party, but when Leia, Han and the Zeltrons arrive on Kabray, they learn Threepio mistakenly gave them Luke's gear. On Kinooine, Luke sends Dani & Kiro to scout, while the Zeltrons cobble together a dress for Leia. As Dani & Kiro are attacked by an unseen assailant, Leia & Han discover the Alliance delegation is being held hostage by a group of aliens led by Knife. On Kinooine, a badly injured Kiro stumbles back to camp, prompting Luke to set out in search of his attacker, while the Zeltrons help Leia & Han plot their escape from the holding cell in which they've been placed. Luke eventually finds Lumiya, and as they duel, the Zeltrons overpower Knife, allowing Han & Leia to escape and free the Alliance delegation. But as Han & Leia celebrate their victory, Lumiya stands over the unconscious body of Luke.

Friday, June 28, 2019

X-amining X-Calibre #2

"Burn"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler runs afoul of a group of pirates led by Callisto on his way to Avalon.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencilers: Roger Cruz & Renato Arlem, with Charles Mota & Eddie Wagner
Inkers: Phil Moy, Tom Wegrzyn & Harry Candelario
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas/Digital Chameleon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As Destiny sees a vision of Avalon burning, the Madri attack the abandoned warehouse where the Infernal Gallop begins. Meanwhile, the submarine carrying Nightcrawler towards Avalon experiences technical difficulties, forcing it to surface and to hail a nearby cargo ship to save the refugees trapped inside. Nightcrawler, who teleported to the outside of the sub as soon as it surfaced, watches as the sub captain meets Callisto, captain of the cargo ship. Above, the Pale Riders are following Nightcrawler from the air, and Damask receives revised orders from Apocalypse to burn Avalon once she finds it. Later, with the submarine beyond repair, Callisto agrees to finish ferreting the refugees to Avalon, and transfers all of them into the ballast tanks of her ship in order to hide them from detection, first taking all their valuables to help their cover as a salvage operation. However, once in deeper waters, Callisto opens the ballast tanks, killing everyone inside. Enraged, Nightcrawler attacks Callisto's crew before confronting Callisto, but their standoff is interrupted by the arrival of Mystique, who tells Callisto to leave her son alone.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

X-amining Gambit & the X-Ternals #2

"Where No X-Ternal Has Gone Before!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit and the X-Ternals find themselves cast in the role of galactic saviors on an alien world.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inkers: Conrad, Milgrom, Christian
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Galactic Warden: Bob Harras

Plot
The X-Ternals find themselves on an alien world, confronted by the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. They fight their way past the Guard, fleeing into a nearby forest, leaving behind Rictor. Captured, he tells the Guard he can locate the X-Ternals thanks to a tracking device planted in one of them. Just then, all of reality momentarily blinks out of existence, and the Guard realizes D'Ken's spies were right: this is the next world to suffer from the nexus expansion. Elsewhere, the X-Ternals are captured by Jonath, the leader of a force exiled for failing to protect the emperor from his murderous eldest children. He tells them of how the new emperor, D'Ken, harnessed the power of the M'Kraan crystal, a power which now threatens all of reality. He also says that, for some reason, the planet wanted them to come here, a sentiment Lila agrees with, as she can somehow sense the same. Just then, the Imperial Guard attack, led to the location by Rictor. During the ensuing fight, the reality blinks happen with increasing frequency, until everything starts to crystallize. Just as the crystallization wave is about to hint the X-Ternals, they are teleported away by the Starjammers. Their leader, Deathbird, reiterates that the M'Kraan crystal is more than a simple jewel, and that it wanted them to see the destruction of the planet, and Gambit declares that if they have to save the universe, then that's exactly what they're going to do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #2

"Sacrifical Lambs"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Quicksilver defeats Abyss as the Great Airlift continues.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
The Great Profundity: Bob Harras

Plot
In Maine, Abyss kidnaps a human boy, while the X-Men attempt to stop the Brotherhood from infiltrating the human evacuation by Sentinel. Their efforts are hampered by the reprogrammed Sentinels, until Storm arrives and is able to use lightning to temporarily confuse their sensors. Searching for the Madri, Banshee comes across Abyss, learning of his captive. When he relays the information to Quicksilver, Quicksilver & Storm leave to confront Abyss while Banshee uses harmonics to backup the work Storm did to reprogram the Sentinels. Together, Quicksilver & Storm rescue the boy, and Quicksilver defeats Abyss by drawing him into his Abyss' own dimensional void. Meanwhile, Rex & Sebastian Shaw interrogate Karma for information regarding the defenses around Xavier's mansion, with Apocalypse declaring that, at last, he will confront Magneto and they shall see which of them is truly fit enough to survive.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #25 - Patreon First!


"Final Curtain"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men reunite and take down the Theater of Pain.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Artist: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Chief: Bobbie Chase
Computer Color: Malibu

Plot
As President Doom & Morphine Somers discuss their plans for the X-Men, Brimstone Love & Xi'an kick off their show, using the comatose Zhao & the Mindfire machine to heighten & manipulate the pain of the Slaughterhouse denizens & broadcast it to their audience. Elsewhere, in the garbage dump, Fitz encounters Junkpile, tossed their after his battle with Brimstone Love, and together, they escape. In the Keewazi Nation, Glitterspike incapacitates Metalhead, closing in on the in-labor Rosa, but Rosa's unborn baby uses its powers to defend her. In the Slaughterhouse, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk help Sham & Quiver, then are attacked by Zhao's X-Men, brainwashed by the Theater. As the show continues, Brimstone Love confronts Luna, placing her back in a Theater slave collar. He sets her against  Fitz & Junkpile, but Fitz manages to remove her collar. As the battle with Zhao's X-Men spills out into the auditorium, Meanstreak uses the broadcast to target the Theater's clientele, while Cerebra shuts down the Mindfire machine as the rest of the X-Men attack Brimstone Love. Xi'an then turns on the weakened Brimstone Love, causing him to abandon the Theater & teleport away. Xi'an then attacks the X-Men, but Luna feeds on his inner anguish to augment her strength, overpowering him. Just then, SHIELD agents led by Morphine Somers burst into the theater, and a holographic Doom declares that he's relocating all the people who turned themselves over to the Theater to a new city he's created, and that he intends for the X-Men to be the city's guardian angels, a mission they reluctantly accept. Meanwhile, Rosa successfully gives birth to a healthy mutant boy.

What to read the rest before everyone else? Become a patron via Patreon!

Monday, June 24, 2019

X-aminations in July 2019...and Beyond!


The rest of 2019 sees the end of "Age of Apocalypse", the return of the prime reality in X-Men: Prime, and, of course, the start of build-up for the next big crossover event, "Onslaught". It also sees X-Man stick around even after the end of the reality which birthed it, setting it on the path to become the nadir of 90s X-Men comics.

You'll also notice, with the introduction of the post-AoA X-Man as the line's ninth regular monthly series, that I've shaken up the order of reviews a bit, mostly to place one of the three solo series (Wolverine, Cable and X-Man) into each week's coverage, so as to prevent Cable & X-Man from being reviewed in the same week (I can only handle so much Nate Grey at a time...). So basically, the order each week is main team book- spinoff team book - solo title.

This run of issues also brings us to the precipice of the launch of two series which I can't decide whether or not to cover. One is Professor Xavier and the X-Men, part of Marvel's line of $0.99 comics (of which Untold Tales of Spider-Man is the most remembered/best), which retells the early Silver Age stories with minor continuity tweaks (most of which are ignored; I don't believe anyone ever gave the series much canonical weight). The other is All New Exiles, a book published as part of Marvel's attempt to keep the Malibu Universe a thing after they bought the company, which features a cast that includes Reaper (of the MLF), Sienna Blaze, and Juggernaut (and ties into a brief Malibu-based revival of the Phoenix Force that is also mostly ignored these days).

I can make a case either way for reviewing and not reviewing each series as part of regular X-aminations coverage, so I throw open the question to the group: should either book (or both) be reviewed, or should they be held for potential coverage as Patreon-First or collected edition bonuses?

And as always, sounds off with any potential omissions or questions about exclusions in the comments, as well.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #94

"Small Wars"
April 1985

In a Nutshell
The Ewoks and the Lahsbees go to war.

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Threepio laments the looming war between the Ewoks and the Lahsbees, triggered in part by him inadvertently sharing sensitive information. As Ackabr prepares the rest of the Galactic Alliance to remain neutral in the conflict, his aide Hirog contacts his people, the Hiromi, telling them the time to strike is now, as he's managed to orchestrate the conflict between the two races by implying impropriety on the part of the Lahsbee ambassador towards an Ewok princess, thereby enraging Tippet, a prominent Ewok. With the Alliance's unity threatened by the impending war, Hirog believes the Hiromi can take advantage to conquer the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke attempts to get both the Lahsbees and the Ewoks to help him train, in the hopes of helping them blow off steam, but his efforts just heighten tensions between the races. Lando then intervenes, setting up the Lahsbee ambassador & Tippet to settle their differences one-on-one, and Han provides the Lahsbee with his blaster to even the odds. But an errant bolt strikes the bomb Hirog was planning to trigger to further heighten tensions, and one of the frightened Lahsbee transforms into a monstrous Huhk. However, the Lahsbees & Ewoks come together to knock out the Huhk and disable the bomb in the process, prompting the Hiromi to strategically retreat, fearing the apparent savagery of the two races.

Friday, June 21, 2019

X-amining Weapon X #2

"Fire in the Sky!"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Weapon X attempt to stop an attack on the Human High Council's nuclear weapons.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: D. Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Weapon X follows the traces of his psi-link with Jean to coast of Bristol, England, where she's assisting with the arrival of refugees from the Sentinel airlift. Amongst the crowd are three men, led by Pierce, who recognize Weapon X, as well as mutants Copycat & Box, who attack the refugees. The attack triggers memories of Jean's time in the Pens, which in turn triggers a berserker rage in Weapon X, allowing him to easily overpower the evil mutants. Their attack only galvanizes Weapon X's support for the upcoming nuclear strike on North America, but Jean remains opposed. Weapon X proceeds to meet with an old acquaintance, Lady Mariko, who expresses apprehensions about Brian Braddock. Just then, Pierce and his Pretty Boys attack one of the Council's airships, targeting the guidance system for the nuclear missiles. Weapon X leaps through the ensuing fireball to stop them, but Pierce manages to take out the system with a suicidal attack. Weapon X emerges from the flames, having sensed Jean's goodbye through their psi-link. He follows her to a small airfield, arriving just as she's about to take off. Weapon X says he can't let her warn anyone about what's coming, but when she tells him he'll have to kill her to stop her, he can't do it, instead leaping off the plane and watching as she flies away.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

X-amining Factor X #2

"Abandoned Children"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
Cyclops is caught smuggling Polaris out of the Pens.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corevese
Father: Bob Harras

Plot
A mysterious figure Polaris believes to be her father helps two mutants escape from the Pens; he tells her the risk of discovery is too great if he takes her as well. Later, Havok & Cyclops meet with Apocalypse, after which Havok interrogates Polaris along with the Guthries while Cyclops meets with the Bedlam Brothers. When Polaris is unable to provide useful information, Havok turns her over to the Beast, while Cyclops & the Bedlam Brothers confirm that Sinister had a secret lab inside Apocalypse's statute. While there, Angel meets with Cyclops, telling him he's heard rumors of a full scale war with the humans in Europe, which would be bad for business. At Angel's Heaven nightclub, Havok has a post-coital drink with Scarlet. At the Pens, Cyclops angrily halts Beast's experimentation on Polaris, telling him he's jeopardizing the efforts at peace with the Human High Council. That night, the mysterious figure comes for Polaris, and sneaks her out of the Pens. They encounter Northstar & Aurora, but Polaris' benefactor fights them off. However, unbeknownst to them, Havok is following. When Polaris is delivered to a member of the underground, he watches as the hooded figure reveals himself to be Cyclops, much to Havok's delight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #2

"No Exit"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men assist with the evacuation of Chicago while Sabretooth faces Holocaust alone.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As the X-Men attempt to help humans escape Chicago ahead of Holocaust's culling, Sunfire loses control and begins blasting Apocalypse's probes, which does little beyond panic the already-panicked crowd further, prompting Rogue to use her power to absorb his and settle him down. At the X-Mansion, Magneto visits with his son, prompting Bishop to chide him for hanging back while his X-Men endanger their lives; Magneto reminds him that if the X-Men are successful in rewriting reality, his son will cease to exist. In Manhattan, Rex manages to triangulate the Blink's teleportation trajectory to locate the X-Men's base, much to Apocalypse's pleasure. In Chicago, Sabretooth convinces Blink to teleport him and Wild Child to Holocaust, in order to delay his arrival as much as possible, even if it means Sabretooth's death. Blink reluctantly does so, and after Sabretooth taunts Holocaust into revealing valuable intel, he sends Wild Child running back to the rest of the team with the info. He then proceeds to attack Holocaust, slipping into a berserker rage that enables him to crack Holocaust's life support armor before collapsing, but Holocaust is ultimately unfazed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #24 - Patreon First!

"Twitch & Writhe"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Rosa goes into labor, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk head off to help their friends, and Xi'an reveals his plan to Cerebra.

Writer: John Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario & Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Bobbie Chase

Plot
As Quiver & Sham attempt to escape the Slaughterhouse, Brimstone Love defeats Junkpile. Below, Luna & Fitz are captured by the Norns, and Fitz is tossed into a garbage pit where he is confronted by a monstrous figure emerging from the garbage. In Oklahoma, Glitterspike escapes from the Shadow Dancer and confronts Metalhead & Rosa, who goes into labor, while in the Sierras, Meanstreak, Krystalin & Bloodhawk reunite before making for the Slaughterhouse to help Fitz, Luna, and Cerebra. Inside the Slaughterhouse, Controller X reveals his plan to a captive Cerebra: to harness the power of the comatose Zhao to create a sympathy of suffering that will devastate the minds of thousands.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Dark Phoenix and the Fate of X-Men Film Franchise


**Minor spoilers for Dark Phoenix below; if you care, don't say you weren't warned**

Dark Phoenix, a film which, judging by the box office returns, very few of you have actually seen, is the final film in Fox's X-Men franchise (not counting that New Mutants film which may or may not be a collective fever dream and whose hopes for an actual theatrical release if it does exist are dimming by the day). It's not very good, and though not the worst of the various X-Men films (it's more coherent than the Wolverine origin movie and, really, X-Men: Apocalypse; it also sidesteps some of the problems that bedevil Last Stand even as it repeats some others), in adapting the "Dark Phoenix Saga" for a second time, it continues to display a fundamental ignorance of what makes that story so great on the part of Dark Phoenix writer/director/producer (and Last Stand co-writer) Simon Kinberg (hot tip, things "The Dark Phoenix Saga" isn't about: Jean's childhood trauma, Professor Xavier's hubris, Magneto). But while many of the films' flaws are clearly Kinberg's doing (notably the sequences which are, inexplicably, almost beat-for-beat recreations of similar sequences in Last Stand), many of the flaws are inherited, and not entirely the fault of the film, as they are endemic of the franchise as a whole. Which is to say, the X-Men movies just aren't very fun and exciting. Or, at least, just aren't very fun and exciting in the context of modern superhero movies.