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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #89

"I'll See You in the Throne Room!"
November 1984

In a Nutshell
Luke helps overthrow an Imperial-aligned government on the planet Solay.

Story: Ann Nocentir
Art: Bret Blevins
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Fighting alongside local rebel leader Raggold on the planet Solay, Luke storms the throne room of the corrupt King Blackart. But during the battle, Raggold is shot, and with his dying breath, tells Luke he was struck down by a traitor in their midst. Luke immediately thirsts for vengeance, but is stopped by another rebel, Mary, who reminds him revenge is not the way. Weeks later, Imperial forces attack the planet, and Mary is killed. Enraged, Luke vows to find whomever killed Raggold, robbing the rebels of his leadership, which in turn led to the Imperial resurgence. Luke befriends a young thief named Scamp, who tells him the rebellion was an Imperial scam designed to fail all along, and eventually takes Luke to meet Braxas, a local information broker. Braxas agrees to tell Luke the identity of the rebel traitor in exchange for passage off Solay, and Luke agrees. Braxas gives him a data tape revealing Raggold was the traitor all along, and that he killed himself out of guilt. Shocked, Luke once more abandons his quest for revenge and leaves the planet with Braxas, vowing to return one day to finish what Raggold & Mary started.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: The Phoenix Saga / X-Force Series IV & V Action Figures

Year of Release
1994 - 1995

Roll Call
X-Men: The Phoenix Saga


Warstar, Corsair, Spacesuit Wolverine, Phoenix, Gladiator

X-Force Series IV


Black Tom, Cable (v5), Commcast, Killspree, Slayback, Warpath (v2), X-Treme

X-Force Series V


Avalanche, Cable (v6), Commando, Exodus

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #12 - Patreon First!

"Hit and Run"
September 1994

In a Nutshell
Xi'an tracks down the Driver.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Tom Smith
Leadfoot: Joey Cavalieri
King of the Road: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Intervention from the black market's security forces cool the tension between Fitz & Junkpile. As Brimstone Love watches from a distance, Luna explains how she encountered Junkpile & traded freeing him for help. Meanwhile, Xi'an receives the location of the Driver from Haiku, but Haiku warns the Driver that Xi'an is coming. In Texas, Metalhead helps the Freakshow settle into their new home. At the black market, Junkpile joins Luna, Fitz & Xi'an as they set out for the Driver's base. Brimstone Love, intrigued by Xi'an, decides to follow rather than confront them. The group arrives at the Driver's base in Arizona, but are caught in a laser grid after entering by the Driver, who tells them the place is called the Garage, and it is the final destination for all who enter it.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

X-aminations in April 2019 & November 1994 Power Rankings


Well, this is it. The month the X-books are all cancelled. Yep, this is the month Marvel decided to put out to pasture all eight of the books in their bestselling line, including one that was only four issues old after a months-long promotional push. So long, X-Men!

At least, that was what the early marketing for "Age of Apocalypse" would have had us believe, even if self-described Dumb About These Things Teenage Me was smart enough to know Marvel wouldn't *really* be cancelling my beloved X-books. But while an outright cancellation was marketing mumbo-jumbo, this upcoming months' worth of books does mark an ending of sorts for all the series, as they will be replaced after this by alternate reality books for four months. And the creators, to their credit, make the most of the "fake ending" device to "end" the series with a variety of different bangs, from declarations of love to shocking reveals to one hardcore lobotomy. 

But first, another Punisher, Ghost Rider & Wolverine team-up.

April 4: Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Dark Design 

April 10: Uncanny X-Men #321
April 11: X-Factor #111
April 12: Wolverine #90

April 17: X-Men (vol. 2) #41
April 18 X-Force #43
April 19: Excalibur #86

April 24: Generation X #4
April 25: Cable #20

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #88

"Figurehead"
October 1984

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Lumiya

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Bob McLeod
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Julianna Ferriter
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Princess Leia & Mon Mothma visit Herdessa, in the hopes of enticing the world to join the Alliance of Free Planets. At a reception, Leia is pelted with mud by disaffected citizens, and the ruling Herdessan Guild sets their cyborg head of security, Lumiya, after the culprits. But with diplomatic talks stalling, Leia goes for a walk, and sees Lumiya arrest Suzu, the woman who threw the mud. When Suzu claims she & her partner Finn will now be executed by the Guild as an example, Leia intervenes, helping Suzu escape. Leia is taken to a hideout where Suzu explains that anyone not affiliated with the Guild suffers and risks being sold into slavery, at which point Lumiya & her security forces attack the hideout. Most of the rebels are captured, but Leia escapes, just as the Guild captures the rest of the Alliance delegation, intending to sell them into slavery and revealing they've allied with the Imperial remnant. As Stormtroopers arrive on the planet, Leia rallies the suffering middle class, who rise up and attack the Guild, while Leia manages to injure Lumiya, forcing her out of the fight. With the Guild overthrown, Mon Mothma & Leia take their leave, needing to warn the Alliance that the Empire is operating at an increased capacity. Before she leaves, Leia warns Suzu & Finn to watch out for the still-at-large Lumiya, while Lumiya, watching from a distance, says that Leia will soon learn how dangerous she really is.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Unstacking the Deck: Fleer Ultra X-Men Series II

Fleer 1995

Vital Statistics
150 cards (including the checklist card), plus a nine card "Hunters & Stalkers" insert set in gold, silver & rainbow variations, a ten card "Sinister Observations" insert set, and a ten card "Suspended Animation" insert set.

Categorically Speaking
Teams, X-Overs, Greatest Battles, Spring Break

Firsts and Other Notables
As with the previous Fleer Ultra set, this series features high-end production values (though not as high end as the "Flair Ultra" line), such as thicker card stock, glossy fronts, and foil-embossed lettering featuring art from a variety of comic book, sci-fi & fantasy artists (including Boris Vallejo, John Romita Sr., and former X-Factor artist Larry Stroman).

The main card fronts feature simply the image, with a black box on the bottom listing the character's name. Cardbacks are fairly limited as well, just the character’s name(s), a short bio, and the card artist’s name. No first appearance or power info, no group affiliations, etc.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #11 - Patreon First!


"Crossed Signals"
August 1994

In a Nutshell
Junkpile returns!

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Mark McKenna
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Monster Trucker: Tom DeFalco

Plot
His business concluded, Xi'an tells Fitz they're leaving the roadhouse, and Luna decides to tag along. Shortly thereafter, Brimstone Love appears at the roadhouse, looking for Luna. At Zhao's complex, Meanstreak rages about Xi'an abandoning the team, while Victor Ten Eagles decides to return to Santa Fe. In the desert, Frostbite is picked up by the Driver. Meanwhile, Xi'an, Fitz & Luna arrive at a black market in El Paso, where Xi'an meets with Haiku as a shadowy figure watches Fitz & Luna. Elsewhere, the Driver uploads Frostbite into his database. Back at the market, Fitz tells Luna he can tell she's hiding something from him, and she reveals that she had plans to meet Junkpile in El Paso, prompting him to emerge from the shadows. Fitz immediately attacks him, but Luna intervenes, telling both of them fighting makes no sense if they're all going to work together.

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

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #87

"Still Active After All These Years"
September 1984

In a Nutshell
Kiro helps disable a doomsday device triggered by the Rik Duel gang.

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Artwork: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Michael Higgins
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Continuing his diplomatic mission, Luke & Plif land on the planet Shawken, along with Kiro & Rik Duel's gang. As Luke, Plif & Kiro meet with Santor, the planetary representative, to discuss the upcoming galactic parliament, Rik, Dani & Chihido explore some nearby ruins, hoping to find something worth pillaging. When Kiro learns this is their intent, he rushes off, determined to stop them, while Luke continues the talks. Kiro finds the gang inside an underground chamber, and his scuffle with Chihido triggers a mechanism that seals the chamber. When word reaches Luke & Santor about their predicament, Santor worries they may have activated one of his people's long-dormant weapons. Reaching the site, Luke is forced to disable a defense mechanism, which reveals to Santor which device has been activated: a doomsday weapon with the potential to destroy the galaxy. With Plif's help, Luke is able to unseal the chamber & release Rik, Dani, Chihido, then he & Kiro journey deeper into the chamber to try & stop the weapon. They soon reach an underground body of water, and Kiro insists on going ahead on his own. Guided by the Force, Kiro manages to disable the weapon, which triggers a massive explosion. As Luke fishes out the unconscious Kiro, Plif declares that he can sense some signs of life in Kiro, & Luke declares he's going to keep Kiro alive, as they all him at least that much.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

X-amining Cable #19

"The Dark Ride Part 3: In the Name of the Father"
January 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable's son declares himself Genesis, heir to Apocalypse.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Mike Sellers & Kevin Conrad
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Surrounded by the Dark Riders, Cable agrees to become Tyler's captive if he lets the rest of Cable's companions free, and the group teleports away after Cable slips Storm his X-insignia, enabling them to track him. At an old fortress of Apocalypse's, Tyler declares himself Genesis, intending to absorb the powers of the mutants captured by the Dark Riders, as well as Cable, so he can change the future. With Caliban's help, Storm & Domino find the fortress & sneak inside, confronting the Dark Riders. Their battle triggers explosions inside the fortress as Cable uses his telepathy to make Tyler feel all the regret Cable has for the turns Tyler's life has taken. With the base coming down around them, Tyler refuses to relinquish his power & teleports away, leaving Storm to pull everyone free as the fortress collapses. Cable once again mourns his lost son, while amidst the wreckage, a figure stirs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

X-amining Generation X #3

"Dead Silence"
January 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation X battles Penance.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Banshee escapes from Penance thanks to the intervention of Husk, but Husk is injured & Penance flees deeper into the woods surrounding the school. Elsewhere, a woman named Cordelia tries to convince Mondo to go back with her to the States. At Xavier's, Jubilee & Synch encounter Penance, with Synch's aura protecting them. Just then, Banshee catches up with them, and asks Jubilee & Synch to get Husk to the infirmary. Synch agrees, but Jubilee continues on after Banshee & Penance. Elsewhere, the Orphan Maker shows Nanny his falling-apart-armor, and she declares that he's growing up. Back at the school, M & Emma confront Penance, but their psychic abilities don't stop her either, and Banshee declares they're just going to have to work to wear her down. But Jubilee is still on her trail, suspecting that Penance doesn't truly mean them any harm since she was brought to them by Gateway, and she watches as Chamber reaches Penance and, drawing on their shared experiences of having paid a price for their mutant abilities, convinces her to stand down. Later, Skin visits a recovering Husk in the infirmary, resuming their game of Scrabble.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #10 - Patreon First!

"Roadwork"
July 1994

In a Nutshell
La Lunatica Returns as Xi'an leaves the X-Men.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inkers: Koblish, McKenna, Adams, Sanders
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Smith, Caponsacco
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Highway Patrol: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Xi'an gloats over the fallen Zhao, then storms out of complex, telling the X-Men he doesn't need any of them. Meanwhile, Bloodhawk arrives in the Savage Land. In Mexico, La Lunatica escapes from a Circuit-Skips sent after her by the Theatre of Pain, while Fitz catches up to Xi'an, who wants to tag along as Xi'an goes over the edge. Inside Zhao's complex, the X-Men help Frostbite put her teammates in a cryogenic freeze to hopefully stop their genetic deterioration, while the Driver returns to his base with the mutant he rescued, only to zap him with a beam of light. Elsewhere, Xi'an & Fitz stop at a roadhouse. Xi'an, still looking to find the Driver, now so he can locate other mutants to serve as his muscle, is looking to call in a favor, but Fitz spots Lunatica amongst the crowd. He chases her outside and the two fight until Lunatica gets the drop on Fitz, then kisses him. She tells him to stop holding back and to let the fire inside him rage, and he gladly agrees, calling himself her man.

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

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #86

"The Alderaan Factor"
August 1984

In a Nutshell
Leia encounters a Stormtrooper from Alderaan.

Writer: Randy Stradley
Penciler: Bob McLeod
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Over Luke's objections, Leia travels alone to the planet Yinchor, hoping to sway the local Yinchorri to the side of the Rebellion. Once on the planet, however, she learns the Yinchorri have betrayed her to the Empire, a result of the Empire having kidnapped the local Yinchorri ruling body. Her shuttle targeted by a pair of TIE fighters, Leia manages to destroy one and ground the other, but her ship crashes as well, with Leia managing to activate her emergency beacon before going down. As Luke, Lando & Chewbacca take off in the Falcon to rescue Leia, she discovers the pilot of the TIE fighter survived as well, and is a fellow survivor of Alderaan. Though Leia is appalled he would still be serving the Empire after they destroyed their homeworld, the two work together to stay alive in the desert wastes of the planet. Sensing conflict in him, Leia offers the Stormtrooper a place in the Rebellion, but he declines, unwilling to upend his life for a dream that may never come true. But when the local Imperial governor catches up to the pair and orders the summary execution of the Yinchorri leadership followed by Leia, the Stormtrooper is appalled by the governor's cruelty. Just then, the Falcon arrives, and both Leia and the Stormtrooper attempt to escape on the ship, but the Stormtrooper takes a shot intended for Leia, saving her but preventing him from getting aboard as the Falcon flies off, leaving Luke & Lando to pull a heartbroken Leia inside.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

X-amining Rogue #1-4

"An Affair to Remember" / "Choices" / "The Gauntlet" / "Back to Life!"
Jan - April 1995

In a Nutshell
Rogue must defend herself & Gambit from attacks by Belladonna and the Assassins Guild.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencils: Mike Wieringo
Inks: Terry Austin
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Dana Moreshead
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Issue #1: On the anniversary of the first manifestation of Rogue's power, in which she inadvertently put her childhood sweetheart Cody into a coma, Rogue tells Gambit about the incident before departing for her annual pilgrimage to the hospital where he resides. Meanwhile, as Belladonna assumes leadership of the Assassin's Guild on the death of her father, she is approached by Candra, who offers to renew her pact with the Guilds. Bella says she'll consider it, then kidnaps Cody as revenge on Rogue for stealing her memories, telling Rogue she'll do the same to everyone she holds dear. Issue #2: Rogue is contacted by Tante Mattie, warning her that Belladonna has Cody and is targeting Rogue's loved ones. After she helps Gambit defeat a group of Assassins sent by Belladonna, she urges him to let her handle things on her own. But when he learns his ex-wife is behind the attacks, he follows Rogue to New Orleans. Arriving in the city, Rogue is swarmed by Assassins, as Belladonna tells Candra she'll renew the Guild's pact once her business with Rogue is concluded.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #9 - Patreon First!

"Brand X"
June 1994

In a Nutshell
Xi'an battles Zhao!

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: James Sanders III
Letterer: Lopez & Dutro
Colorist: Tom Smith
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The X-Men arrive on Zhao's ranch, called there by Krystalin, who emerges from inside, along with Victor Ten Eagles; both are acting strangely. When the X-Men press her on it, Zhao emerges, declaring that she is one of his X-Men now, as they all will be, whether they like it or not. When the X-Men resist, they are attacked and captured by the brainwashed Krystalin & Zhao's X-Men. Elsewhere, Bloodhawk meets an old friend named Liebowitz who asks him to look into some aggressive developers operating in the Savage Land. Back at Zhao's ranch, Zhao prepares to insert a chip into each of the X-Men that will make them subservient to him. In Texas, a newly-manifested mutant is on the run, but is offered sanctuary by a mysterious figure. Back at the ranch, Xi'an attempts to use his disintegration power to free himself, but Zhao strikes first, entering his mind in order to activate the chip. In Xi'an's mindscape, he battles Zhao, but is overcome, until the manifestation of his dark side appears and offers to help. Reluctantly, Xi'an merges with his dark side, enabling him to overpower & defeat Zhao. In the real world, Xi'an breaks free of his restraints, and when Cerebra asks if he's alright, he grins evilly and replies he's never been better.

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

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Force in Focus: Return of the Jedi Action Figures Wave 2

Roll Call
The Emperor
AT-ST Driver
B-Wing Pilot
Han Solo In Trench Coat
Princess Leia in Combat Poncho
Prune Face
Rancor Keeper
Teebo
Wicket W. Warrick
Lumat
Paploo (not part of the pOTF line, late in wave 2)

Firsts and Other Notables
A decidedly smaller wave than the previous one, this contains figures of just two of the main characters, Han & Leia, in their respective Endor garb (Luke will get his Endor-specific release in the later Powers of the Force line, alongside a new Lando figure).