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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 03

"The Sin"

The Mandalorian hands over the Child to his eager client in exchange for his payment of Beskar. He then gives the Beskar to the Armorer, who crafts a new set of armor for him. As she works, the Mandalorian is hassled by his fellow Mandalorians for taking the Beskar as payment, considering the Empire stole it from Mandalore in the first place. Later, clad in his new armor, the Mandalorian meets with Greef Carga, eager for a new job. But unable to shake his concern for the Child, he instead breaks into the client's facility, taking out his Stormtroopers and escaping with the Child. The Mandalorian heads for his ship, but finds his way blocked by Greef and every bounty hunter in town. A fight breaks out, and just when the Mandalorian is almost overwhelmed, his fellow Mandalorians intervene, helping the Mandalorian reach his ship and blast off-world with the Child.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

X-amining Wolverine & Gambit: Victims #1-4

"In Harm's Way" / "In Deep" / "No Way Out" / "A Woman Scorned"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit & Wolverine get embroiled in a series of London murders reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Gregory Wright & Digital Chameleon
Separations: Malibu (issue #3-4)
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Gambit, looking to put some distance between himself and his complicated relationship with Rogue, Gambit heads to London to look up an old flame. Upon his arrival, he discovers the city in the grip of a murder spree reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings; one of the victims is the woman he intended to look up, with evidence suggesting Wolverine may be the culprit. After coming to blows and being tormented by realistic illusions inspired by their memories, Gambit & Wolverine discover the killings have been orchestrated by Arcade and a woman named Martinique Jason, the daughter of Mastermind. Arcade claims he is framing Wolverine to pay him back for killing Miss Locke, his longtime associate, but when Martinique learns Arcade actually killed Locke, she turns against him, helping clear Wolverine's name & turning Arcade over to the authorities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #3 - Patreon First!

November 1996

In a Nutshell
Mysteries deepen as Magus & Garokk reveal themselves!

Writers: Joe Kelly & Ben Raab
Pencilers: Karl Moline & David Brewer
Inkers: John Lowe, Jaime Mendoza & The Hack Shack Studios
Letterer: Michael Higgins & The Chaise Lounge
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Editor: James Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Inside the alien ship beneath the Savage Land, Willow is consumed by the alien form she's adopted & attacks Winn. At the Last Refuge, an angry mob confronts the X-Men in the wake of the Fantastic Four's disappearance. It is quelled by the timely arrival of Victor Ten Eagles, who vouches for the X-Men. Inside Reed Richard's old lab, Cerebra discovers a young girl named Maddie, and Franklin, the child-like robot Richards was working on before he left. At Fatherland, Spider-Man is brought before Doom, who explains he is aiding the Phalanx only long enough to turn their techno-organic code against them, and enlists Spider-Man's help. On Mars, Metalsmith & December enlist the colonist's to help them find Twilight, but are rebuffed. Below the Savage Land, Dr. Strange fights off a group of Mole Men, before going deeper in search of the source of the attacks. Outside the Last Refuge, Morphine Somers tries to enlist Victor Ten Eagles in his bid for power, and though he refuses, a human observer believes that Victor & the mutants are conspiring against humans, and runs off to warn everyone.

On the Wild Boys' ship, Uproar is forced to fight Wulff, who has transformed into a massive dog-like creature. He manages to get through to Wulff, and together, they trash the arena, until a woman named Fiona arrives to help them escape. Back in the alien ship, Nostromo forces Willow to transform back to her original form, but the effort leaves him suspended in a techno-organic cocoon. In the Fatherland, Doom & Spider-Man are confronted by the Phalanx' emissary, who turns out to be Magus. On Mars, Dr. Isaacs helps Metalsmith & December leave the colonists' compound, but they are attacked by unseen assailants. Inside the Last Refuge, Cerebra detects a mental presence inside Franklin, but when she probes his mind, she is knocked out. Below, Dr. Strange finally reaches the source of the attacks: Garokk the Petrified Man!

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

X-aminations in December 2019 & Age of Apocalypse Power Rankings

A quiet month as we bid adieu to the year (and decade!) and I try to keep my head above water in light of some major real-life job deadlines. I'll be traveling aboard the first part of the month, so things may be a bit later than usual, but I should be back to normal by mid-month, when we take a look at the next batch of X-Men trading cards and action figures!

On Sale July 1995
December 4: Uncanny X-Men #324
December 5: X-Factor #114
December 6: X-Man #7

December 11: Wolverine '95

December 18: Unstacking the Deck: Fleer Ultra X-Men '96

December 25: X-amining X-Men Action Figures: X-Men Mutant Genesis & Invasion and X-Force Series VI

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 02

"The Child"

Returning to his ship with the child in tow, the Mandalorian is attacked by a group of Trandoshans. He defeats them, but when he returns to his ship, he discovers it being scavenged by Jawas. He pursues the scavengers, reaching the top of their sandcrawler before being blasted off it. The Mandalorian returns to Kuiil, who agrees to help him bargain with the Jawas. After some haggling, they agree to return his ship's parts in exchange for "the egg". This leads to the Mandalorian disturbing the nest of a massive horned creature, which brushes off most of his attacks & damages his armor. Just as the creature moves in for the kill, however, the child uses the Force to suspend the creature in midair, allowing the Mandalorian to get close enough to kill it. Retrieving the creature's egg, the Mandalorian gets his parts back and with Kuiil's help, restores his ship. After offering Kuiil a job crewing his ship (which Kuiil turns down), the Mandalorian blasts off into space, at which point the exhausted child awakens.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

X-amining What If? #77

"One Dream"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Legion kills Magneto in the past, leading to a world where Xavier dies battling Apocalypse & mutants become more feared & hated than ever.

Story: Benny Powell
Dialogue: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Hector Gomez
Inkers: John Livesay & Mike Halblieb
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Sam Parsons
Editor: Marcus McLaurin
Chief: Carl Potts

Legion goes back in time and kills Magneto as a young man, just after he escapes from Auschwitz. In the future, mutants are beloved celebrities, the X-Men, under the auspices of Forge, the most famous mutants of all and lacking purpose; they are currently preparing for a public appearance involving a mock battle with the old Hellfire Club. Meanwhile, at the New York headquarters of the Hellfire Club International, the wealthiest & most ambitious mutants are attacked by mutants loyal to Apocalypse, in the name of Apocalypse's "survival of the fittest" code. In the wake of the attack, a distraught Xavier visits a retired Scott & Jean in Alaska, asking them to return for a mission, but they refuse. Later, as the X-Men are about to begin their performance in Washington DC, Apocalypse attacks. Seeing the fight on TV, Scott & Jean go back into action, with Jean using her Phoenix powers to teleport them to DC. After Apocalypse kills Xavier, in the face of his unrelenting attack, Jean uses the Phoenix Force to destroy him and his followers along with hundreds of thousands of bystanders. In the wake of Apocalypse's attacks, mutants have become hated & feared, creating an ominous feeling as Scott & Jean re-open Xavier's school to further his dream of co-existence and Apocalypse's forces regroup to continue his mission.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #2 - Patreon First

October 1996

In a Nutshell
The Fantastic Four return home while Twilight is captured on Mars.

Writer: Ben Raab & Joe Kelly
Penciler: Jason Armstrong
Inker: Thibert & Mendoza
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Brian Bucellato
Editor: Professor Felder
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Spider-Man awakens in a strange place, and is welcomed to "Fatherland' by a former acquaintance named Xina. Meanwhile, the X-Men assist Mr. Fantastic in building a device to research all remaining data in the world. When its discovered that the Negative Zone portal in New York is still active, Invisible Woman & Human Torch suggest they could all go home. Nearby, the jungle expedition team explores the crashed alien ship, triggering an alarm which traps them inside it, while deep underground Strange battles a creature named Umi. On Mars, Father Jennifer, December, Twilight & Metalsmith are taken into the Mars colony, and learn about the Takers. Back on Earth, the captive Uprorar & Wulff are forced to fight in the Wild Boyz arena. At the Fatherland, Xina explains how she is researching the techno-organic virus. When Spider-Man asks about Uproar & Wulff and learns they are captives in the contaminated zone, he breaks the rules to go after them. In the crashed alien ship, Willow takes the form of one of the deceased aliens, releasing them, but then reveals she can't change back. Back in Last Refuge, Human Torch & Invisible Woman decide to leave Mr. Fantastic behind and head to New York, while on Mars, Willow is captured by the Takers. Back on Earth, Mr. Fantastic comes to his senses and joins his family in New York, where they enter the Negative Zone portal hoping to return to their time.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 01

"Chapter One"

After successfully completing a round of bounty hunts, an unnamed Mandalorian accepts his next, higher-paying, job from Greef Carga. Meeting with the client, the Mandalorian receives a tracking fob to locate his quarry and a block of beskar steel as down payment. He brings the beskar to a Mandalorian armorer, who fashions it into a pauldron for the hunter adds to his armor. Later, the Mandalorian lands on a desolate planet. He encounters the diminutive Kuiil, who agrees to help him reach his destination. But first, the Mandalorian must tame a blurrg mount. After doing so, he ends up overlooking a fortified camp where his target is being guarded. Another hunter, the droid IG-11, is after the same target, and the two hunters agree to team-up. Together, they fight their way into the camp and reach their bounty, a small green infant with long ears. IG-11 is prepared the kill the child, but the Mandalorian blasts the droid to take it for himself.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

X-amining Knight of Terra

"Knight of Terra"

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Wolfsbane return to the land of Geshem to fight a great Beast threatening the kingdom.

Plot: Ian Edington
Script: John Ostrander
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inker: Rick Magyar
Letters: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Tom Vincent
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

In the land of Geshem, Wolverine battles the Beast, but is eventually overwhelmed. Inside Queen Rain's castle, Shaman, responsible for bringing Wolverine to this world, casts a spell to swap his Rain with Wolfsbane. Shaman explains how the Mage's machinations that first brought Rahne to Geshem have led to Princess Rain's metaphorical struggle with a mystical beast inside her becoming literal: she is becoming more savage, and her kingdom is being attacked by an external Beast. As Shaman leads the Queen's Guard in backup of Wolverine and put down the Beast, he needs Wolfsbane to act as Rain, to reassure the populace that everything is fine. As Wolfsbane familiarizes herself with court, the Beast continues to stalk the land, and is stalked in turn by Wolverine, who meets a woman named Lillian which provides him with a horse. Back on Earth, Professor X attempts to help Rain reconcile the beast inside her, while on Geshem, Wolfsbane holds court. Just then, the Beast reaches the castle, and easily defeats the Queen's Guard, fighting his way inside to confront Wolfsbane. She transforms into her werewolf form just as Xavier manages to make Rain come to terms with her animalistic side, thereby sending her back to Geshem. She arrives just as Wolfsbane & Wolverine defeat the Beast, killing its human host. Queen Rain knights Wolverine for his assistance, then Shaman sends Wolfsbane & Wolverine back to their world.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

X-amining 2099: World of Tomorrow #1 - Patreon First

"The World of Tomorrow"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
The survivors of the planet wide flooding begin building new lives in the Savage Land.

Writer: Ben Raab & Joseph Kelly
Penciler: Pascual Ferry
Inkers: Thibert, Mendoza, Milgrom, Ferry, Reinhold
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Editor: Professor Felder & Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

The Thing, having led a team to the Ares colony on Mars in search of resources, crash lands on the planet, and is taken from the crashed ship by a mysterious figure. Meanwhile, on Earth, some of the surviving Wild Boys have formed a boat colony, in which they participate in arena-style combat, while the rest of the survivors of the massive flood have gathered in the Last Refuge, in the Savage Land. As Morphine Somers, Cerebra, & Invisible Woman attempt to form a government, another team, including Bloodhawk, Willow & Nostromo, explore the surrounding jungle, hoping to make it more habitable. Back at the Last Refuge, Mademoiselle Strange uses her mystical powers to dig a hole in order to reach ground water. Back on Mars, the rest of Thing's crew, including Metalsmith, December, & Twilight, regain consciousness, and head towards the Ares colony. In the Savage Land, Wulff & Uproar discover a castaway washed up on shore, infected with the techno-organic virus. Before dying, he mentions a city in the mists, and Spider-Man sets out to investigate. Meanwhile, Mademoiselle Strange's spell summons an evil presence, which pulls her down into the water & triggers an earthquake, while the jungle team discovers a crashed alien space ship that causes Nostromo's powers to flare out of control. On Mars, the crash survivors are attacked when they reach the Ares colony, while Spider-Man discovers Uproar & Wulff have stowed away, hoping to settle scores with the Wild Boys. But as their ship nears their destination, the Wild Boys fire an ionic cannon, destroying it.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Force in Focus: The Future

Having finished reviewing every issue of the original Marvel Star Wars comic, the question becomes: what next? Star Wars is a huge part of my pop culture life, and I want to keep that reflected in my writing. Fortunately, the short-term answer is fairly straightforward; after that, it becomes more murky.

Beginning next week, I will be reviewing every episode of The Mandalorian, the hot new Star Wars show from Disney+. Not only will this maintain a steady flow of Star Wars content here for the next few months, it will also get me back into TV reviewing, something long-time readers may remember was once a far more regular part of this site's output than it is these days. My plan is to review one episode a week, which will put me behind the release of the show a tad (word is Disney is releasing the first three episodes upon the launch of Disney+ next week, then releasing subsequent episodes once a week after that) but not too far behind (Mandalorian coverage will probably also get extended a bit thanks to at least one or two Rise of Skywalker posts around the time of that film's release interrupting the regular reviews).

Based on the episode count, that should bring us well into the first of the year. After season one of The Mandalorian concludes, I've got a few additional posts wrapping up the comic book series in mind (including a straight-up review of the 2019-dated issue #108). All of that should carry us over to when Disney+ releases the final "season" of The Clone Wars animated season which, at this time, I am also planning on reviewing on an episode-by-episode basis.

After that, things get a little murky. There will undoubtedly be subsequent seasons of The Mandalorian to review, as well as, eventually, whatever the pre-Rogue One Cassian Andor series is called (and even more eventually, the Obi-Wan show). But in and around those shows, I'd still like to review something on a regular basis. So I turn to you, for suggestions and guidance: what would you like to see me review next(ish)? The Star Wars newspaper strips? The UK comics? Should I plunge forward and tackle the Dark Horse comics (and if so, would you prefer the usual issue-by-issue stories, or should I take a story-by-story approach)? Or jump even further ahead and do contemporaneous reviews of the current comic book output? Or is there something else entirely I'm not even thinking of you think I should cover? Sound off in the comments and let me know!

And in the meantime, check back next week for a review of the first episode of The Mandalorian

Friday, November 8, 2019

X-amining Cable #22

August 1995

In a Nutshell
Ian Churchill comes aboard as Cable fights some Genoshans at the airport.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Scott Hanna
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Colors: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Aboard an inbound flight to New York, former Genoshan Magistrate Renee Majcomb prepares to illegally enter the country. Meanwhile, Cable & Domino meet the departing Rictor at the airport. As Renee deplanes, she is observed by Hawkshaw & Pipeline, former members of the Press Gang. Rictor & Shatterstar arrive at the airport and enter amidst anti-mutant and anti-Genoshan protesters, then find Cable waiting at Rictor's gate. He tells him that there will always be a place in X-Force for him, and the pair part amicably. As Cable, Domino & Shatterstar leave, the protests grow violent, and Cable spots Pipeline & Hawkshaw abducting Renee. The three spring into action, and though Shatterstar's zeal causes him to be injured, they successfully rescue Renee & get Pipeline & Hawkshaw into custody. As Renee stays behind to work with the local authorities, she asks Cable to tells Charles she'll contact him soon. Later, Domino is watching the news and sees a story about a massive creature slaughtering people in the Rockies; upon seeing one of its footprints, Domino is shaken to realize it came from a man, not a creature, and one she considers a friend.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

X-amining Excalibur #88

"Dream Nails"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
The "Dream Nails Trilogy" begins as Pete Wisdom & Kitty investigate the death of  a friend & colleague of Wisdom's. 

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Larry Stroman with Darrick Gross, Ken Lashley & Jeff Moy
Inker: Cam Smith with Darrick Gross, Tom Wegrzyn, Phil Moy, Don Hudson & Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Color Seps: Digital Chamelon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

After Wisdom receives a message from an old friend & Black Air colleague named Culley begging for help, he asks Brian to use the Midnight Runner to go to London. Brian is reluctant, but agrees when Kitty offers to fly Wisdom there. Later, Moira discusses the hacking of her files with Professor X, while Kitty & Wisdom arrive in London. They go to Culley's bolthole and find the place ransacked. On Muir Island, Brian completes work on a new facility involving lasers for Rory, who intends to use the room to help treat the captive Spoor. In London, Kitty & Wisdom visit the favorite pub of the British Intelligence community, and learn that Culley had recently been stationed at the Dreams Nail air base, and also that he is dead. On Muir Island, Moira continues her research into the Legacy Virus, while in London, Wisdom & Kitty examine Culley's body, which has been ravaged by a strange disease. Leaving the morgue, they're attacked by a hit squad, and after working together to take out the shooters, Kitty & Wisdom discover the would-be assassins are agents of Black Air.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

X-amining Generation X #6

"Notes from the Underground"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation X helps rescue Emma Frost from Gene Nation.

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

In the tunnels beneath Manhattan, Marrow & Hemingway taunt a captive Emma, her powers held in check by an unwilling Leech, while Synch, Jubilee, & Skin try to locate their missing teacher. Back at the Xavier School, Chamber takes a drunk Paige back to her room, while in the tunnels, Synch manages to locate Emma. But before he and his friends can act, Emma distracts Marrow & Hemingway enough to kick Leech away, reactivating her powers, at which point she telepathically disables both of them. As her students rush into the chamber and Skin stops her from killing her captors, Dark Beast, monitoring from afar, triggers an explosion. Emma senses it moments before it occurs, enabling her to get most of the kids to safety, and Monet, come out of her catatonic stupor, arrives in time to save Jubilee & Leech from falling rubble. Later, Emma brings the kids to the X-Mansion in order to brief Xavier on Gene Nation. While they talk, Jubilee ventures onto the grounds and is reunited with Wolverine. Back the Xavier School, Banshee is walking with Penance when the girls' dormitory suddenly explodes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

X-amining X-Men 2099 Oasis - Patreon First

August 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men discover a new mutant haven built by an old flame of Cerebra's.

Writer: John Francis Moore
Painted Art: Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Editors: Joey Cavalieri & Bobbie Chase

In 2090, Cerebra is on the run from her father, and is rescued from a bounty hunter by Ryu Kobolt, who offers her safe haven. Nine years later, Bloodhawk is attacked in the New Mexico desert by two mutants, Pandora & Memphis. Later, Cerebra, Fitz & Luna discovers a fantastic domed city, inside of which they discover Bloodhawk. He tells them the city is called Oasis, and after being captured by Memphis & Pandora, he came to realize the place was a refuge for mutants, and that he belonged there. The X-Men are then introduced to the Oasis' architect, who turns out to be Ryu. He explains that he intends for Oasis to be a safe haven for members of all species to gather. The X-Men remain suspicious, but he allows them to explore Oasis on their own. As Fitz & Luna do so, Cerebra confronts Ryu, angry over him abandoning her all those years ago despite their feelings for one another. Ryu explains how he had contracted a deadly disease and left to spare her, wandering the country before finding new purpose. He then reveals that he intends to kill everyone who hasn't come to Oasis, in order to allow the Earth to heal itself. Cerebra is horrified, but Ryu places her in suspended animation while his agents attack Fitz & Luna. But Memphis has come to see the error of his ways, and sacrifices himself to stop the missiles Ryu intended to launch to wipe out the remaining life on the planet, killing Ryu and destroying Oasis in the process. The X-Men, including Bloodhawk, manage to survive, still hoping their dream of peaceful coexistence will someday come to pass.

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

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Force in Focus: Star Wars #107

"All Together Now"
September 1986

In a Nutshell

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciler: Cynthia Martin
Inker: Whilce Portacio
Colorist: Elaine Lee
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

On the planet Saijo, Luke leads his friends, as well as an alliance of Zeltrons, Nagai, former Imperials, and Fenn Shysa's Mandalorians, in an attempt to capture the Tof prince Sereno, whom they learned, via a deeply-entrenched double agent, is stationed on the planet. Amidst the simmering tensions between the disparate groups, they put their plan in motion, with the men posing as captives while Leia & Dani don veiled Tof dresses to disguise themselves as they infiltrate the prince's court. When the captives are brought before the prince, they learn that the Dark Lady Lumiya is in attendance as well. As a fight between the Tof, Lumiya and the Alliance breaks out, Prince Sereno orders an airstrike. But as the Tof ship in orbit attempts to respond, it is attacked by the waiting Gold squadron, led by Lando & Wedge. They force the ship to surrender, while on the ground, Lumiya targets Leia. However, Lumiya is suddenly shot by one of the Tof, who reveals himself to be the Alliance's entrenched agent: Bey. Luke then captures the prince, effectively bringing the war to an end. As Han, Bey, & Knife reunite, Luke expresses hope that in the wake of their victory over the Tof, the various allied factions will finally have a chance to make peace.