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

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.

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


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.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #93

"Catspaw"
March 1985

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors help reunite rival factions of the cat-like Cantrosians!

Script/Plot: Jo Duffy
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Inks: Tom Palmer
Coloring: Petra Scotese
Lettering: Rick Parker
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
When an X-wing appears in the skies above the Rebel base on Saijo, the visiting Han, Luke & Leia leap into action, shooting down the pursuing ships and bringing the crashed pilot in for medical treatment. The pilot, Minka, tells them that the Rebel forces on her home planet of Cantros 7 are under attack by Imperial forces, prompting the trio to accompany her home. Once there, they meet Minka's friends Sami & Durne. Puzzled by the reports of Imperial activity, given the relative decline of the Empire, Han, Luke & Leia travel to the far side of the planet, accompanied by Minka & Sami. Shot down en route, Han, Luke & Sami are captured, while Leia & Minka escape. The captives are taken before a group of Cantrosians who claim to be part of the Rebel Alliance, believing their captives to be Imperial agents. As they argue over what to do with the captives, Durne appears, and it becomes clear he's been playing both sides against each other. Just then, Leia & Minka arrive, helping free the captives, and in the ensuing shootout, Luke blocks a kill shot fired by Durne at the leader of the other faction. This confirms for the rival faction that Luke and his friends aren't Imperial agents, and they take Durne captive, with the two sides reconciling. Leia is pleased with their victory, but Luke remains troubled, pondering who Durne was working for, the latest in a string of odd incidents that have left him wondering what is going on in the galaxy.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

X-amining X-Man #1

"Breaking Away"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Nate Grey yearns to use his power for good, even as he draws the attention of Apocalypse.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Sellers, Smith, LaRosa, Conrad
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate Grey dreams of his escape from Apocalypse's pens, then finds himself at a strange mansion, witnessing a conversation between Magneto & Bishop. Suddenly, Forge appears in the dream, and Nate wakes up to find that, while dreaming, he destroyed much of the landscape around him. Later, the rebel group posing as a traveling actor troupe of which Nate & Forge are a part put on a show. When they're hassled by the local prelates, Nate uses his telepathic powers to alter their minds, much to Forge's dismay, who worries Nate using his powers will attract unwanted attention. Sure enough, the Shadow King has detected Nate, and Apocalypse charges Domino with assembling a team of hunters to either collect or kill him. In Kansas, a young woman named Theresa is rescued from Apocalypse's forces by Forge's band, and when Nate is threatened, Theresa manifests an unknown sonic power to save him. Nate insists on bringing her along as the troupe moves on, and Forge reluctantly agrees. Later, the band comes across a fellow traveler named Essex, who says he may be of some help to them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #1

"From the Top"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto arrives with a mission for Colossus, Shadowcat and their students.

Creators: Bachalo & Lobdell
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer:Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato/Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Following a training session with their students, Colossus & Shadowcat are visited at their Colorado school by Magneto. He has a mission for them and their students: with Gambit & Nightcrawler working to substantiate Bishop's claim of being from an alternate, better, reality, he needs them to find the mutant that will enable him travel back in time to restore it. Shadowcat says that Apocalypse has eliminated all mutants with time manipulating powers, but Magneto counters he's only eliminated the known ones. Know It All suggests their hope may lie with a mutant whose power has not yet manifested, and she begins searching for one who fits their need. After discarding a few candidates, she finds one, currently a "resident" of the Core prison facility in Portland, Colossus' thought-death sister, Illyana.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #23 - Patreon First!

"Junkpile: Agent of SHIELD"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men infiltrate the Theater of Pain as Junkpile is sent to destroy it.

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

Plot
Morphine Somers revives Junkpile, and President Doom appoints him an Agent of SHIELD, answerable only to the pair of them. Meanwhile, Fitz, Luna & Cerebra attempt to infiltrate the Theater of Pain through Floodgate, the facility used to process the dregs of society coming to the theater in search of a new life. However, Controller X quickly spots them. Elsewhere, a mutant named Sham learns her friend Quiver is still alive somewhere inside the facility, and sets off in search of him. As Luna & Fitz are captured by Floodgate guards, Junkpile suddenly crashes into the facility, allowing Cerebra to evade capture. She encounters Sham just after Sham has freed Quiver from being tortured by the Theater, but Cerebra declines Sham's offer to escape together. Instead, she heads deeper into the facility, only to encounter Controller X, whom she immediately recognizes as Xi'an. A few levels up, Junkpile continues to tear into Floodgate, acting on orders from President Doom to shut the place down, only to come face-to-face with Brimstone Love.

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

Saturday, June 8, 2019

X-amining What If? #27 - Patreon First!

"What If Phoenix Had Not Died?"
July 1981

In a Nutshell
The Phoenix Force resurfaces in Jean, leading to the destruction of all existence.

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: Jerry Bingham
Inker: John Stuart
Letters: Simek & Chaing
Colorist: Carl Garford
Editors: DeFalco & Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
After Jean and Cyclops are overwhelmed by the Imperial Guard, the Shi'ar perform a psychic lobotomy on Jean, removing her mutant powers. Life goes on for Jean and the rest the X-Men, including the arrival of their newest member, Kitty Pryde. Some time later, Lilandra calls for the X-Men's help in repelling Galactus from a planet within the Shi'ar empire. A still-powerless Jean joins the team as they travel to the planet, but when Terrax, herald of Galactus, threatens the lives of the team, including Cyclops, the Phoenix Force manifests in Jean once more. She proceeds to strip Terrax of his cosmic powers, then chases Galactus away from the planet. With a reborn Phoenix on their side, the X-Men make short work of their enemies in the following months, but Jean's hunger for power continues to grow, and she takes to consuming stars to feed it. Returning from one such trip, flush with power, she is confronted by Kitty, who tells her she needs to stop. Jean's joy & exhilaration quickly turning to anger & hatred, she incinerates Kitty in front of the horrified X-Men. Xavier once again tries to contain the Phoenix Force within Jean, but this time, Jean refuses to help him, instead turning him into a vegetable. She then kills the X-Men one by one, but when she kills Cyclops, her grief allows the Phoenix Force to engulf her. From there, it grows larger, consuming the city, then the planet, spreading across the universe, destroying everything in its path.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

X-amining X-Calibre #1

"The Infernal Gallop"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Nightcrawler heads to Antarctica to meet with his mother.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Ken Lashley
Inkers: Wegrzyn, Moy and LaRosa
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nearing the end of the "infernal gallop", a mutant named Switchback is delivered to a massive monk named Cain. He proceeds to lead her through the freezing Antarctic to the tropical haven of Avalon. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Nightcrawler meets with Angel, looking for travel arrangements to Antarctica in order to meet his mother, on Magneto's orders. Angel reluctantly directs him to a nearby warehouse and a man named Proudstar. Meanwhile, Magneto contacts Mystique, and asks her to help Nightcrawler enter Avalon & find Destiny, over Mystique's objections. Back in the city, Nightcrawler meets with Proudstar, who is none too pleased with the way Mystique extracts payment from the refugees he sends her way, but Nightcrawler defends his mother, then demands Proudstar get him to the antarctic. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by Danielle Moonstar, an agent of Apocalypse. Upon hearing her report, he sends her and the rest of the Pale Riders to follow Nightcrawler to Avalon. Later, as Nightcrawler leaves the city aboard a submarine, Switchback meets Destiny in Avalon, but when Destiny reads Switchback's future, all she sees is the apocalypse.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

X-amining Gambit and the X-Ternals #1

"Some of Us Looking to the Stars!"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto sends Gambit and the X-Ternals into space to retrieve the M'Kraan Crystal.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Marie Javins
Kahuna: Bob Harras

Plot
Jubilee, Guido & Sunspot of the X-Ternals steal medical supplies, delivering them to a human safehouse where Lila Cheney is waiting. Joining Lila, they head into the former Morlock Tunnels to join Gambit, who is waiting with Magneto, who has a mission for the X-Ternals: steal the M'Kraan crystal. Meanwhile, Commandant Richter receives a report from the squadron which engaged the X-Ternals. In the tunnels, Magneto leads the X-Ternals to a doorway leading to Apocalypse's Science Chamber. Fully expecting a trap, they enter, and are attacked by the Madri. As they fight them off, Sunspot discover Peter Corbeau, the human tasked with overseeing the chamber, whose life Magneto once saved. Accessing Apocalypse's star maps, he locates the Shi'ar galaxy, then he & Magneto help Lila access her latent teleportation powers in order to transport the group to the alien world. Just then, Richter & his forces attack. Magneto holds them off as the X-Ternals pass through Lila's portal, but Richter manages to follow behind them just before the portal closes. Magneto thanks Corbeau for his help, but Corbeau knows Apocalypse will learn of his betrayal and execute him for it. However, he at least he sets the chamber to explode, while Magneto worries that if the X-Ternals fail, an entire universe will die.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #1

"The Crossing Guards"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men arrive in Maine to assist in the Sentinel-led evacuation of human refugees.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Separation: Digital Chameleon
En Sabah Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Maine, a mutant named Vanessa mingles with a group of humans heading north, then reports back to the Madri, confirming their suspicions that an evacuation is imminent. Meanwhile, on the grounds of the X-Mansion, Bishop watches the remaining X-Men training to assist in the evacuation. Magneto then gives the team a disc encoded with their mutagenic signatures; inserting it into one of the Sentinels will thereby mask from the robots' sensors. He then guides Exodus, the newest X-Man, in how to use his powers to teleport the team to Maine. Later, as the X-Men ingratiate themselves into the humans gathered at the coast, Storm takes out one of the stations in Apocalypse's seawall, paving the way for the arrival of the Sentinels. The X-Men succeed in reprogramming the Sentinels, but once the program takes effect, they continue to target the X-Men. Just then, Apocalypse's Brotherhood emerges from the woods, explaining they've scrambled the programming to mark themselves as non-threats instead of the X-Men, and Quicksilver realizes Apocalypse's forces have been on to them the whole time.

Game of Thrones 8x06: The Iron Throne


Opening Credits Map
Last Hearth -> Winterfell -> King's Landing

We did it! We've reached the final episode of the series. It's kind of bittersweet...well...these last few episodes are more just bitter but, overall, it's bittersweet. Let's dive into it.

King's Landing
We start with Jon Snow, Davos and Tyrion walking through the burnt out husk that was King's Landing. The three are stunned by the destruction. They come across Grey Worm hungrily executing captured soldiers. Jon Snow objects to these executions but Grey Worm says it's the Queen's command. Jon Snow and company decide there's nothing more they can do and move on as Grey Worm continues his murders.

Tyrion goes into the Red Keep where he finds some rubble with, conveniently, a metal hand sticking out. He removes approximately two pieces of debris to reveal the corpses of Cersei and Jaime holding each other. Tyrion weeps for his garbage siblings. Status of my heartstrings: Still Untugged.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 #22 - Patreon First!

"Gauntlet of Pain!"
July 1995

In a Nutshell
Xi'an is initiated into the Theater of Pain.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Harry Candelario
Letterers: Ken Lopez & Janice Chiang
Colorist: Tom Smith
Stage Manager: Joey Cavalieri
Executive Producer: Bobbie Chase
Computer Color: The Wolf Pack with Salvador Mancha

Plot
Ahead of his initiation into the Theater of Pain, Brimstone Love introduces Xi'an to Charon, the Prime Controller, and Felicity, commander of the Norns. He then blasts Xi'an with his hellfire, seemingly teleporting him to his childhood home of Aspen. There, Xi'an encounters an old foe named Chainlink, before Brimstone Love orders Charon to move on to the next scene. Suddenly, Xi'an finds himself with the Lawless in Nogales, battling the cyborg Gearbox, who severely injures Haiku before Xi'an escapes. Meanwhile, Cerebra, Fitz & Luna visit Haiku, looking for info on the location of the Theater of Pain. Elsewhere, Xi'an finds himself facing the assassin Quickdeath in Saigon, then Noah Synge at Nuevo Sol. Xi'an collapses, and Felicity emerges from the shadows, impressed with how long he lasted. Brimstone Love then declares it's time to remake Xi'an in their image. Inside his mind, Xi'an refuses the help of his heroic self, after which he is formally initiated into the Theater of Pain. Meanwhile, Morphine Somers meets with President Doom in Arizona, reporting that the X-Men have scattered to the winds, but that he was able to find Junkpiles pieces, whom he assures Doom will serve their needs.

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Monday, June 3, 2019

To Better Know a Hero 2.0: The X-Men


This week sees the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the final X-Men film from Fox (unless that New Mutants movie whose creation may or may not be a collective pop culture fever dream ever gets released). With the X-Men, however briefly, back in the zeitgeist for the moment, I figured it was a good excuse to give the X-Men a Phoenix-focused "To Better Know a Hero 2.0" treatment.

Top 5 Phoenix Hosts