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

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

"Claremont's X-Men" by Jason Powell

Long-time readers of this site are likely familiar with Jason Powell, a fellow X-blogger and Chris Claremont aficionado who literally wrote the book on Claremont's X-Men run. But they (or you) may not know that Jason is also an accomplished stage actor and songwriter (having crafted at least one superhero-themed opera), and he has combined all these various areas of expertise into an epic musical ode to Chris Claremont's X-Men run, recapping, via song, the characters, events, and, yes, writerly tics that comprise Claremont's 15 years writing about the X-Men.  

Enjoy! 


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 02 - Patreon First!

"'Til Death Do Us Part: Part Two"

Original Airdate
October 30th, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Michael Edens

Plot
As Cyclops & Jean Grey set sail for the island where they're spending their honeymoon, Beast escapes from the Danger Room in which Morph had trapped him. Outside the mansion, Mister Sinister continues to manipulate Morph, and says he will take care of Cyclops & Jean himself. As the newlyweds approach their island destination, they're attacked & captured by the Nasty Boys, while Wolverine rescues Jubilee from the Friends of Humanity. Reconvening at the mansion, the X-Men begin to suspect someone is messing with them. Just then, Professor X enters, warning of a neural disruptor affecting their minds, but Wolverine immediately senses Morph's scent and exposes him as Xavier. Morph manages to escape, however, and flies off in the Blackbird. Meanwhile, Mister Sinister tells the captive Cyclops & Jean that he intends to use their DNA to create an army of powerful mutants. Morph arrives, and taunts Cyclops, revealing he was the minister at their wedding, but Sinister stops him from killing Cyclops. Just then, the X-Men, having tracked Morph, show up. As they fight the Nasty Boys, Cyclops appeals to Morph's better nature, and he turns on Sinister, allowing Cyclops to escape. Cyclops frees Jean and blasts Sinister, and the energy seems to harm him, prompting Sinister to retreat. Morph sneaks off on his own, but Wolverine vows to track him down, while in Antarctica, Magneto & Xavier meet and realize they've been setup, just before an avalanche crashes down on top of them. 

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

Monday, November 23, 2020

X-aminations in December 2020 & February 1995 Power Rankings


The ramp up to "Onslaught" continues as most the books start getting into their respective positions for the crossover (though Uncanny X-Men, in true 90s comic book fashion, first takes a moment to setup the next linewide crossover). Then we wrap up the year with another appropriate-for-Christmas action figure post and a Patron-selected review! 

On Sale April 1996
December 2: Uncanny X-Men #333
December 3: X-Factor #123
December 4: X-Man #16

December 9: X-Men (vol. 2) #53
December 10: X-Force #55
December 11: Wolverine #105

December 16: Generation X #16
December 17: Excalibur #98
December 18: Cable #32

December 23: X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Age of Apocalypse & X-Men 2099 Series I & II

December 30: What If? #87

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x04

"The Siege"

Plot
The Mandalorian decides his ship needs further repairs, and decides to return to Nevarro. On Nevarro, Cara Dune flushes a group of Aqualish raiding the old Mandalorian culvert. Shortly thereafter, the Mandalorian arrives, reuniting with Cara as well as Greef Carga. Greef offers to repair the Razor Crest in exchange for the Mandalorian's help destroying an old Imperial base on the planet, the last thing standing in the way of true independence for the planet. Leaving the child in the care of a protocol droid school teacher, the Mandalorian sets out with Cara, Greef and Greef's associate Mythrol, to the base. They plan to use the volcano generating power for the base to destroy it, but after initiating that process, they realize the base is actually a front for the cloning operations that had been targeting the child, run by Moff Gideon. The Mandalorian blasts off to retrieve the child while the other three fight their way out of the base before it explodes. They commander a Marauder troop transport but a squad of Scout Troopers followed by a trio of TIE fighters set out after them. Manning the guns, Greef is able to destroy one of the TIEs, but the guns are damaged in the process. Just then, the Mandalorian sweeps in aboard the newly repaired Razor Crest and destroys the rest of the TIEs, then departs. Later, Cara meets with New Republic Captain Teva, who tells her something nefarious is happening in the Outer Rim, while Moff Gideon receives word from a spy on Nevarro, one of the mechanics who repaired the Razor Crest, that the tracking device has been successfully installed, along with confirmation that the Mandalorian still travels with the child.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

X-amining Marvel Versus DC #1-4

"DC Versus Marvel Comics: Round One" / "Marvel Comics Versus DC: Round Two" / "Marvel Comics Versus DC: Round Three" / "DC Comics Versus Marvel Comics: Round Four
April - May 1996

In a Nutshell
The greatest heroes of the Marvel and DC universes battle one another for the fate of their universes! 

Writers: Ron Marz & Peter David
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens & Claudio Castellini
Inkers: Josef Rubinstein and Paul Neary
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colors: Gregory Wright
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editors: Mark Gruenwald & Mike Carlin

Plot
Across the worlds of two different universes, heroes find themselves being transported from their respective home realities into strange surroundings, coming into conflict with the natives of the new worlds. This is the result of the two cosmic entities who comprise each of the universes learning of the other's existence, triggering a battle between them. Caught in the middle is Axel Asher, a young man unknowingly imbued with a shard of the brothers' cosmic power. The two brothers each select champions from amongst their respective creations to do battle, with the winning universe continuing to exist and the losing one wiped out. Though reluctant, the heroes battle one another to save their worlds, until the result comes down to the evenly-matched Batman and Captain America. Axel, embracing his power and taking the name Access, imbues both heroes with a bit of their own universes just as the cosmic beings Spectre and the Living Tribunal force the universal brothers together, attempting a comprise to save both universes. This results in the heroes and villains of both worlds combing into amalgamated versions of themselves for a time, before Access forces the two worlds apart using the shards he embedded in Batman and Captain America. Their battle resumed, the two brothers easily overpower the Spectre & Living Tribunal, leaving Batman & Captain America to convince Access to bring them into the fight. He does, and the two brothers read their minds, realizing the two heroes are like the brothers: unique amongt their worlds, with little interest in the conflict the brothers are perpetuating. This brings them to a halt as they realize the pointlessness of their fight, and the brothers allow both universes to continue, shaking hands and declaring that each has done well. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 01 - Patreon First!

 "'Til Death Do Us Part, Part 1


Original Airdate
October 23, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg

Plot
Cyclops and Jean are married, with all the X-Men in attendance save Wolverine, who instead battles robots modeled after Cyclops in the Danger Room. Meanwhile, Senator Kelly is sworn in as President of the United States and issues a full pardon to Beast, while the reverend who officiated Cyclops & Jean's wedding turns out to be Morph, who survived the Sentinel attack and now plots revenge, though he seems torn on the matter. He poses as Magneto and calls Xavier, urging him to come to "Magneto's" aid at a location in Antarctica. Later, Gambit, Beast & Wolverine are playing pool when the bar is attacked by the Friends of Humanity, an anti-mutant group formed by Graydon Creed. He uses footage of the ensuing fight to depict the X-Men in a negative light, helping tarnish mutants in the media. Meanwhile, Morph infiltrates the mansion and, posing as the various X-Men, sows discord amongst them, tricking Rogue into knocking out Gambit and sending Jubilee away to the Friends of Humanity's headquarters. When another anti-mutant riot breaks out, Storm & Rogue respond, but Morph uses his powers to pose as the police chief and orders his men to shoot down Storm. As she's taken away in an hospital, Mister Sinister monitors events, pleased things are going according to his plans.   

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

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 03

"The Heiress

Plot
The Razor Crest (just barely) makes it to Trask, but crashes into the water upon landing. Leaving repairs in the hands of a Mon Calamari dockmaster, the Mandalorian reunites Frog Lady with her husband, who directs the Mandalorian to a nearby inn for further info about the whereabouts of his people. There, he makes a deal with a Quarren sailor, who promises to take him to other Mandalorians. They head out to sea, but the Quarren have set a trap, intending to feed the child and the Mandalorian to a mamacore in order to harvest his armor. They are saved by three Mandalorians led by Bo-Batan Kryze, heiress to the throne of Mandalore. Hoping to free the planet of Imperial occupation, she agrees to direct the Mandalorian to a Jedi in exchange for his help stealing a cargo of weapons from an Imperial transport. The four Mandalorians storm the ship and easily capture the cargo bay, but then Bo-Katan reveals she intends to capture the entire ship, and use it to find Moff Gideon, whom she believes possesses the Darksaber she needs to reclaim her throne. The Mandalorians manage to capture the ship before it crashes, but the captain kills himself before Bo-Katan can get any info out of him. Bo-Katan then honors her word and directs the Mandalorian to the planet Corvus and a Jedi named Ahsoka Tano. He departs, and shortly thereafter, he and the Child blast off Trask aboard the (just barely) repaired Razor Crest

Friday, November 13, 2020

X-amining X-Man #15

"Turning Point"
May 1996

In a Nutshell


Co-Plotter: John Ostrander
Co-Plotter/Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Colorworks
Editor: Jaye Garnder
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate dreams he is back in his home reality, and talks with Forge. His dream shifts and suddenly he is with Madelyne, who gives way to Threnody as he wakes up. They are in a Red Cross shelter setup in the wake of the avalanche caused by his fight with Exodus. Still unsure if he can trust Threnody, he enters her mind, and realizes the tremendous pain and mental anguish she carries with her. Hoping to help, he removes one of the mental inhibitors from her forehead, which causes her powers to trigger an explosion. Meanwhile, in Paris, the real Madelyne discovers her recent knife wound has already healed. Back in Switzerland, Threnody wakes up to find Nate still unconscious: he protected her and the rest of the refugees from her blast, but knocked himself out in the process. She briefly considers abandoning him, then relents. Elsewhere, Shaw meets with Holocaust, but the two are interrupted by Onslaught, who tasks Holocaust with capturing Nate for him. A week later, Nate is lounging on a beach in Greece, where Threnody has brought him to recover. Unbeknownst to him, Holocaust, who has been shielded from mental detection by Onslaught, looms over him, preparing to strike. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #97

"Counterfire"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Captain Britain joins the Hellfire Club

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Casey Jones
Inker: Tom Simmons
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Separations: Malibu
Colorist: Ariane Lenshoek
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Returning from America with Alistair Stuart, Nightcrawler & Meggan work together to dispatch the Black Air attack helicopters targeting them. Meanwhile, Kitty & Wolfsbane fly Captain Britain to London in the Midnight Runner, warning him to be careful as he enters the Hellfire Club. On Muir Island, Moira comes across Douglock having planted himself in the ground. She then heads back inside to find Pete Wisdom chasing after Lockheed, who has stolen his cigarettes. In London, Black Air agent Scratch arrives outside an arcane door in the tunnels beneath the city. Inside the Hellfire Club, Captain Britain meets with the Inner Circle and claims his father's title of bishop. His application is met by resistance from the Red Bishop, but the rest agree, elevating him to the position of Black Bishop. Back at Muir Island, the rest of Excalibur meets with Alistair, who tells them that Black Air has taken over W.H.O and formed an alliance with the Hellfire Club, his knowledge of which being what led them to target him. Outside, Douglock is impaled by a harpoon from a passing plane, which proceeds to rip him out of the ground and carry him away. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

X-amining Generation X #15


"Death in the Family"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X travels to St. Louis to stop an Emplate-possessed Synch from harming his family. 

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Todd Dezago
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Under the influence of Emplate, Synch breaks into his childhood home and almost feeds on his infant foster sister, but is scared off by his parents. The next day, the police are investigating the incident when Generation X arrives. Emma uses her telepathy to freeze the cops in place, while Banshee speaks to Synch's parents, taking full responsibility for what's happened to their son. Outside, Jubilee, Paige and and Monet, the members of the class who can pass for normal most easily, are waiting for their teachers, when Monet suddenly flies off, prompting the other two girls to follow. Back at the school, Chamber talks to Skin about his encounter with Onslaught. In St. Louis, Synch has returned to his old high school, where he encounters the janitor with whom he used to be friends. Jubilee, Paige, and Monet arrive shortly thereafter and attempt to stop Synch from feeding on the janitor, but Monet realizes their mistake too late: they've gotten too close to Synch, and as he copies their powers, he tells them somebody is going to die, and it won't be him! 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x02

"The Passenger"

Plot
Raising across the Tatooine desert, the Mandalorian is attacked by a gang of bounty hunters after the child. He fights them off, but his speeder bike is damaged, forcing him to walk back to Mos Eisley. There, he meets with Peli, who introduces him to Frog Lady, an amphibious being willing to trade him information on the whereabouts of some Mandalorians in exchange for transporting her and her eggs to the moon of Trask - without traveling through hyperspace, which would destroy her eggs. As they slowly make their way towards the moon, two New Republic pilots perform a fly-by. When they attempt to identify his ship, the Mandalorian races towards a nearby planet, successfully evading the pilots but damaging the Razor's Crest in the process. Settling inside an ice cave for repairs, the child draws the attention of a pack of ice spiders, which quickly overwhelm the Mandalorian. Just then, the New Republic pilots return, blasting away the ice spiders and saying that after they looked him up, they decided the Mandalorian's good deeds while participating in a recent prison break just barely outweigh his bad, and let him off with a warning. Later, the Mandalorian manages to repair the ship's engines, but not its hull, so the trio resumes their journey, all crammed inside the Razor Crest's cockpit as they slowly make their way through space. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #101


"The Helix of an Age Foretold"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine saves Cyclops & helps the X-Men defeat Ozymandias

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Val Semeiks
Inks: Chad Hunt
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
With the rest of the X-Men occupied fighting Ozymandias' stone avatars, the now-feral Wolverine dives into the chasm surrounding Ozymandias' historical helix after Cyclops. On his way down, Cyclops hits his head against the wall, but Wolverine is able to catch up to him and dig his claws into the rock, stopping their descent. Above, Jean briefly senses that someone is watching them during the fight; it is Elektra, who covertly intervenes to destroy two statues threatening Wolverine & Cyclops as they reach the top of the chasm. As the X-Men gain the upper hand against the avatars, Ozymandias senses that his defeat is imminent, and destroys the helix so as not to give up its secrets, before turning to dust himself. As the X-Men escape the collapsing temple, Wolverine briefly senses Elektra watching him from the shadows. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

X-amining X-Force #54

"Q & A"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
In custody, X-Force tells the New York Police about Selene's devastation of the Externals. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins & Bellman
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Taken into custody by the NYPD, each member of X-Force is interrogated individually by a series of detectives, including Charlotte Jones. Collectively, they tell of their encounter with Selene and the death of the Externals at her hands: how Siryn tried to find Warpath but couldn't, how Selene absorbed the life force of Absalom and Krule, how Cable arrived on the scene and Selene tried to absorb his life force as well, but couldn't, due to the techno-organic virus inside him, and how Selene proceeded to overpower the rest of X-Force, telling Meltdown that the Externals had outlived their usefulness, and revealing that Cannonball is not an External, as X-Force had been led to believe, before teleporting away. Unbeknownst to X-Force, Blaquesmith was present, but he removed the memories of his presence, as well as Cable's, from their memories just as the police arrived. Having heard their protestations of innocence, Charlotte Jones releases X-Force, but is then confronted by a mysterious stranger, upset that she released the mutants, telling her he and his organization have "zero tolerance" for the kind of injustice she has perpetrated by letting the mutants walk free. 

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #52


"Collector's Item"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Gambit, Bishop and (Dark) Beast stop the mutant train but are captured by Mister Sinister. 

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Trying to stop a runaway commuter train filled with passengers infected by a virus mutating their genetics, Gambit charges up the train with kinetic energy, then advises Bishop to absorb that energy and re-channel it; the resulting kinetic backlash brings the train to a stop. However, the X-Men, including Beast, are knocked out by Mister Sinister. Meanwhile, Rogue rents an apartment in South Carolina, hoping to start a new life away from the X-Men. Back at the site of the train incident, local investigators have their evidence confiscated by the mysterious Bastion. In Sinister's lab, Beast awakens to find himself restrained. Sinister tells the captive X-Men the effects of the virus are temporary, then turns his attention to Bishop, who, hailing from the future, isn't part of Sinister's vast collection of mutant DNA. As he proceeds to examine Bishop's memories, Beast (who is actually Dark Beast in disguise) becomes terrified that Sinister will discover him. However, Gambit is able to escape and free sBishop & Beast, and in the ensuing fight, Sinister is chased away as his work on the virus is destroyed. The X-Men emerge from Sinister's lab, which Gambit recognizes as being outside St. Louis, prompting Dark Beast to suspect Gambit & Sinister shares some secrets, a revelation he plans to keep to himself until it proves useful. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 - Patreon First!

 The plan is to continue reviews of X-Men: The Animated Series through season 2 (at which point, I'll probably take a break and cover another X-adjacent comic book series before returning for season 3; that seems like a logical break point, as the first two seasons of the show are structurally very similar, whereas the third starts to do some different things). But before diving in to those reviews, I thought I'd review the first season and see how all the episodes stack up against one another. 

13. "Cold Vengeance


The series' sixth episode is the first season's worst; Wolverine's artic sojourn leaves him too isolated from the rest of the cast, robbing the episode of the team dynamics that make the series so much fun, while the most interesting material is all setup for the next episode. 

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

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x01

"The Marshal"

Plot
Hoping to find other Mandalorians to aid him on his quest to reunite the Child with its people, the Mandalorian learns from fight promoter and beskar-dealer Gor Karesh that someone in beskar armor has been seen recently on Tatooine. He and the Child proceed to Tatooine and reunite with mechanic Peli, who points them to the city of Mos Pelgo. There, the Mandalorian meets Cobb Vanth, who is serving as the town's marshal and wearing the beskar armor. He strikes a deal with the Mandalorian: help him rid the town of a krayt dragon threatening it, and he'll hand over the armor. Together, Vanth and the Mandalorian form an alliance with a local tribe of Tusken Raiders, and both the tribe and the townspeople come together to destroy the dragon. In the aftermath of their success, Vanth hands over the armor, and the Mandalorian and the Child speed back to the ship, as they're unknowingly watched by someone familiar with Vanth's now-former armor. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

X-amining Cable #31

"There is a Reaction!
May 1996


In a Nutshell

The Cable/X-Man crossover concludes 


Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill

Inker: Scott Hanna 

Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas 

Corner Man: Mark Powers

Towel Thrower: Bob Harras


Plot

With Exodus defeated, Nate turns his attention to Blaquesmith & Cable. Blaquesmith insists Nate needs to be killed, to prevent him getting in the way of Cable's true mission, the defeat of Apocalypse. Cable, on the other hand, recognizes much of his own past struggles in Nate's experiences, and wants to try to help him. Blaquesmith tries to deploy a failsafe technique designed by the Askani to handle someone of Nate's power, and the reverberations of his attack are felt by psychics all over the globe. Blaquesmith ultimately comes up short, but in the course of the ensuing fight with Cable, Nate's power finally reaches its upper limits, and he collapses. Cable enters his mind, finding it deeply shattered. Mustering his own psychic strength, Cable helps repair Nate's mind, finding a place deep inside which is willing to accept Cable's help. He ultimately succeeds in saving Nate, but finds the techno-organic virus in his body resurgent. Cable & Blaquesmith leave Nate in Threnody's care as they depart to help Cable recover, but just then, he receives a psychic call from Domino, saying X-Force is in trouble, and Cable orders Blaquesmith to take him to New York despite his condition. Meanwhile, Onslaught, having observed Cable and Nate's confrontation and disappointed it wasn't more conclusive, tasks Post with eliminating Cable, saying he has plans yet for young Nate Grey. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #122

"The Faces of Truth"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Sabretooth (and Jeff Matsuda) join the team. 

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Jeff Matsuda
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Val Cooper contacts Forge, telling him the government has located the person they believe attacked Mystique at the Belle Fource dam a few weeks ago. However, Forge is actually Mystique in disguise, faking electrical interface in order to cover for her shifts between Forge and her true form forced by her inhibitor implant. When Val arrives at Falls Edge, Mystique absconds with her jet. Meanwhile, Wild Child laments Shard's absence to Polaris while Forge says goodbye to Naze. When they learn about Mystique, the team heads out to a government facility on the US/Canada border. Mystique arrives at the facility to find it filled with dead scientists, as well as her apparent attacker. She attempts to ambush him, but is instead captured herself. X-Factor reaches the facility and discovers that Sabretooth has captured Mystique, though he insists he didn't ambush her at the dam; rather he was sent specifically to find whomever did. Val is then forced to admit to the rest of X-Factor that Sabretooth has been placed on the team, shortly before he leaps to attack her. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #332

"The Road to Casablanca"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men try to find the devolved Wolverine, and encounter Ozymandias in the process. 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Tim Townsend
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Team Bucce
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Wolverine - transformed by his recent encounter with Genesis - pauses on a hilltop overlooking a temple. He senses the presence of someone nearby, watching him, but when he turns, the person is gone. Meanwhile, Professor X confronts Zoe Culloden at the Casablanca office of Landau, Luckman and Lake, trying to find Wolverine. She is reluctant to help, citing attorney-client privilege, but outside the office, Jean suddenly senses Wolverine nearby, and leads Cyclops, Iceman and Cannonball towards him. Meanwhile, Wolverine draws closer to the temple, and falls through a trap door. Deep inside the temple resides Ozymandias, a former disciple of Apocalypse transformed into animate stone. He confronts Wolverine, threatening to kill him if he doesn't explain why he's there. Just then, the X-Men arrive, and Ozymandias animates stone representations of assorted friends and foes of the X-Men, setting the constructs against them. During the ensuing fight, Cyclops is knocked into a deep chasm. Wolverine attempts to save him, but Ozymandias grabs him and prepares to throw him after Cyclops as well. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 13 - Patreon First

 "The Final Decision"

Original Airdate
March 27 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg

Plot
As the X-Men search for the kidnapped Senator Kelly, Magneto explains to Kelly how he'd hoped Kelly's death would trigger a war between mutants & humans. But before he can kill Kelly himself, Sentinels attack, rescuing Kelly. The X-Men are able to track Magneto's location and arrive shortly thereafter, bringing the injured Magneto back to the X-Mansion. Senator Kelly is brought before Bolivar Trask & Master Mold, who reveals his plan to replace the brains of world leaders with computers. Meanwhile, using Gambit's memories of his experiences on Genosha, the X-Men track down Henry Peter Gyrich. When Gyrich calls Trask for help, Gyrich learns of Master Mold's plans. The X-Men resolve to stop the Sentinels, despite the tremendous odds against them. Arriving outside the Sentinel's base inside a mountain, Storm, Rogue & Jubilee distract the Sentinels while Cyclops, Gambit, Wolverine and Jean Grey penetrate the base to find Kelly. As Wolverine & Gambit engage Sentinels inside a mine and Magneto joins the fray outside, Cyclops & Jean rescue Kelly & Trask, who triggers an explosion he hopes will destroy Master Mold. But as the X-Men themselves barely escape the explosion, Master Mold bursts out of the mountain. Professor X, flying the Blackbird loaded with explosives, crashes into Master Mold, destroying it. Xavier is rescued by Magneto, and the pair depart on reasonable terms. Later, Senator Kelly, having seen the errors of his way, calls for tolerance for mutants, and arranges Beast's release from prison. Cyclops & Jean enjoy a picnic together, and Cyclops proposes to Jean. But the pair are being unknowingly watched by something...sinister. 

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

Monday, October 26, 2020

X-aminations in November 2020 & January 1995 Power Rankings


Another month turns, apparently, as the end of the year and the holiday season draws near. And with it, the looming specter of "Onslaught". I called an audible on Wolverine #100 once I remembered it explicitly takes place before Uncanny X-Men #332 (but since they were both published in the same month, I could get away with that), which caused this month's reviews to get rejiggered a bit, but the general thrust remains the same as X-Men wraps up its last pre-"Onslaught" story, Rogue meets Joseph in X-Men Unlimited #11, and Marvel fights DC! 

On Sale March 1996
November 4: X-Men (vol. 2) #52
November 5: X-Force #54
November 6: Wolverine #101 

November 11: Generation X #15
November 12: Excalibur #97
November 13:  X-Man #15

November 18: Marvel vs. DC #1-4

On Sale April 1996
November 25: X-Men Unlimited #11

Power Rankings - On Sale January 1996

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #100

"Furnace of His Brain, Anvil of His Heart"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine rejects the adamantium bonding process, becoming more feral than ever before slaughtering the Dark Riders. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Genesis and his Dark Riders begin the process of bonding Cyber's adamantium to Wolverine's bones, while Cannonball, joined by Zoe Culloden, watch from a hidden alcove. Cannonball wants to jump in and try to stop the process, but Zoe insists they need to observe longer. She shows him the place where Genesis intends to use the prisoners he's captured to restore Apocalypse, encased in a sarcophagus in the center of the room. They then return to the bonding chamber to find Wolverine resisting the process, prompting Genesis to order more power given to the procedure. Cannonball wants to intercede but Zoe says they need to wait for the right time, then teleports away to take care of other matters. But as the Dark Riders announce Wolverine is finally accepting the metal, Cannonball springs into action. He manages to damage some of the equipment, but is caught by the Dark Riders. The sight of them beating Cannonball to a pulp stirs something in Wolverine, and he wills the adamantium out of his body, triggering an explosion that sends adamantium shrapnel flying. Cannonball & Wolverine, now feral, flee deeper into the citadel, where Wolverine picks off the Dark Riders, one by one, before turning to face Genesis. Meanwhile, Cannonball opens the sarcophagus to find it empty, with no sign of Apocalypse or his body. He returns to Wolverine's side to find Genesis dead. Wolverine growls an apology, then runs off on his own. Elsewhere, Stick visits Elektra and tells her a warrior has fallen; she leaves to begin her journey to help him regain his path. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 12 - Patreon First

"Days of Future Past Part 2"

Original Airdate
March 20, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg

Plot
Bishop accuses Gambit of being the assassin who will bring about the terrible future from when Bishop hails. Though the X-Men stop Bishop from killing him, the X-Men aren't vehement in their support of Gambit, prompting him to storm out. Later, Bishop catches Gambit in the hanger, preparing to leave for Washington DC. Bishop thinks he's caught Gambit red-handed, but Gambit insists he's going to clear his name. The rest of the X-Men arrive, and Xavier deems Gambit's plan too risky; he and the rest of the X-Men are going to Washington for a summit on mutant affairs, but Gambit, Bishop and Wolverine will stay behind. In Washington, the X-Men assume lookout positions, determined the catch the assassin, as the mutant affairs committee begins their discussions. At the X-Mansion, Gambit triggers a distraction, and heads for Washington himself. At the summit, Pyro, Blob & Avalanche attack, targeting Senator Kelly. The X-Menspring into action, but Senator Kelly is seemingly targeted by Gambit. Just then, the real Gambit appears, followed closely by Bishop. He prepares to kill both Gambits, but Rogue damages his temporal transceiver, sending him back to the future, after which, the Gambit who tried to kill Kelly revels herself to be Mystique, who is also Rogue's foster mother. With Kelly safe, Rogue reluctantly lets her mother go free. Bishop finds himself back in the future, but little has changed. He believes he's failed, but Forge says that some other terrible event must have occurred. Back in the present, Professor X tries to meet with Senator Kelly in the aftermath of the failed assassination, but the X-Men discover he's been kidnapped from his office. Professor X believes he knows who took the senator, because as he entered the office, his watch became...magnetized. 

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Friday, October 16, 2020

X-amining X-Man #14

"Fallen From Grace"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate battles Exodus 

Plot: John Ostrander
Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Color Works
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As Nate battles Exodus, Cable avoids the avalanche triggered by their fight. Nate finds he can easily outmatch Exodus in terms of power, but also that Exodus draws strength by absorbing Nate's power, so he switches tactics and hits Exodus with a massive uppercut, sending him reeling. Meanwhile, in Paris, Madelyne Pryor is staying with Selene and preparing some food when she cuts herself, and realizes it only hurt after she noticed the cut. Meanwhile, back in Switzerland, Nate and Threnody put some distance between themselves Exodus, while Blaquesmith argues with Cable, who refuses to consider killing Nate, wanting instead to talk with him. Exodus catches up with Nate, and they resume their fight. Cable tries shooting Exodus, but he easily blocks the bullets. Exodus seems poised for victory, until Nate senses his connection to Apocalypse in his mind. Fueld by his rage at Exodus' association with a being Nate hates, Nate pours enough power into Exodus that he exceeds his' capacity to absorb it. He then throws Exodus into a crevasse in the Earth and seals it behind him. Flush with power and seething with fury, Nate then turns to Cable, Blaquesmith & Threnody. He mocks the fear he senses in all of them, saying he senses it in every mind he encounters on this unspoiled Earth, yet he's only just begun...

Thursday, October 15, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #96

"Fireback"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Shinobi Shaw asks Captain Britain to infiltrate the London Hellfire Club as its Inner Circle puts their plans in motion. 

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Ariane Lenshoek
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In Westchester, Jean Grey finds Alistair Stuart at the gates of the X-Mansion, asking for help in reaching Excalibur, before they are all killed. Meanwhile, at the New York Hellfire Club, Shinobi Shaw laments his lack of agents inside the Inner Circle of the club's London branch, and reluctantly decides to reach out to Brian Braddock. At Muir Island, Nightcrawler is showing off his new look to Kitty & Colossus while practicing soccer, when Meggan interrupts to tell him he has a phone call. At the London Hellfire Club, the Black and Red Kings verbally spar as they discuss their plans for Black Air. Back on Mur Island, Nightcrawler, Kitty, and Colossus take a call from Alistair, who warns them of trouble afoot involving Black Air. Nightcrawler says he will take the Midnight Flit to retrieve him. Meanwhile, Sebastian Shaw meets with Black Air agent Scratch, trading him a mysterious box for files, before departing for a rendezvous with Tessa. Back on Muir Island, Nightcrawler departs in the Flit as Brian receives a call from Shinobi, who asks him to infiltrate the London club, warning him that the Inner Circle has a new member: Mountjoy. Outside, Douglock contemplates his being, and decides to put aside logic in favor of chaos. Later, as the Midnight Flit crosses into British air space with Alistair aboard, it is attacked by Black Air attack helicopters, which send it crashing to the ground. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

X-amining Generation X #14

"Jubilee's Top Ten Reasons Why Emplate is a Loser"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Jubilee frees Generation X and Bishop helps Monet fight off Emplate. 

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

Plot
Jubilee continues to goad Emplate, prompting him to feed on her and absorb her powers, at which point he loses control of them on account of being so angry. The resulting explosion frees the captive Generation X, as Jubilee's plan comes to fruition. Meanwhile, Bishop and Monet work together to defeat Emplate's minions. Emplate, preparing to retreat, tries to grab Monet, but Bishop intervenes, telling Emplate he's going to die for his future crimes. Just then, Penance enters the fray, targeting Monet, but Monet doesn't resist, saying she wants to atone for her brother's sins. Meanwhile, Chamber forgives Gayle Edgerton for helping Emplate, saying nothing can change what they once meant to each other. As Bishop and Emplate fight, Emplate begins to worry, as he's growing weaker, making it harder for him to remain in this dimension. Just then, Penance turns on Emplate, slashing him from behind. Shocked at her betrayal, he phases into the extradimensional Beyond, telling Generation X they'll be too busy searching for their teammate to find him. As Generation X regroups, Banshee realizes Synch is missing, and Monet says she knows where he is. Given her brother's feelings about family, Synch has been transformed by Emplate and sent to his family, to either turn them, or kill them. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 11 - Patreon First

 "Days of Future Past - Part 1"

Original Airdate
March 13, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Julia Jane Lewald 

Plot
In the year 2055, Wolverine leads a pair of fellow rebels in battle against the Sentinels, but they are captured by a mutant tracker named Bishop. He takes them to a mutant internment camp, but upon delivery, the Sentinels inform him he's met his quota, and must be incarcerated as well. As the four mutants are led into the camp, Wolverine and his companions counterattack, and Bishop joins the fray. When the super-Sentinel Nimrod arrives, Wolverine's companions stay behind to hold it off. Wolverine & Bishop arrive at the mutant rebel headquarters where they meet Forge. Bishop learns the rebels have a time machine and plan to travel to the past in order to stop a political assassination by a mutant in the hopes of creating a better world. The Sentinels arrive, and as Wolverine engages them, Bishop goes back in time. Bishop arrives in the past, his memories fuzzy. He studies the time transceiver which keeps him anchored in the past, and deduces he must have come back in time to stop the assassination by killing the X-Men. He attacks the mansion but is captured by the X-Men; Xavier reads his mind and learns about the horrible future awaiting mutants. Just then, the transceiver alerts Bishop that something else has come back in time: Nimrod. Bishop joins the X-Men and they manage to destroy the Sentinel, but it starts reassembling itself until Bishop blasts its transceiver, sending it back to the future. As Bishop and the X-Men return to the mansion, they discuss the possible identity of the assassin. Just then, Rogue & Gambit return from visiting Beast. Upon seeing Gambit, Bishop remembers that he is the assassin, and proceeds to blast him with his gun. 

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

X-amining X-Force #53


"Even an X-Ternal Can Die!"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force battles Absalom & Crule as someone stalks the X-Ternals

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inks: Mark Morales
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As Sunspot & Caliban stare in disbelief at Gideon, Absalom & Crule attack, believing them to be responsible for his death. While Caliban is injured, Sunspot sends a distress call to the rest of the team, spurning them into action just as Domino, Siryn & Meltdown are returning from their encounter with Blob. As X-Force arrives on the scene and joins the fray, Warpath is drawn by his heightened senses to office out of which Gideon was flung. Climbing up the building, he enters Gideon's office and finds another X-Ternal, Saul, similarly drained of life; he can also sense that whomever did the killings is still inside. Outside, X-Force gains the upper hand, but Domino stops Shatterstar from killing Crule. In Gideon's office, Warpath is briefly able to track the X-Ternals' assailant, only to be taken out himself from behind. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #51

"Deathbound Train"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Bishop, Gambit & (Dark)Beast attempt to stop an out-of-control train filled with wildly-mutating humans.

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Pascual Ferry
Inkers: John Dell, Mark Morales, Vince Russell 
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
After finishing the repairs on Cerebro, Professor X detects a sudden surge of mutant energy in New Jersey. Bishop takes Gambit & Beast to investigate, and they find a commuter train out-of-control & overrun with mutates, humans infected with a disease that triggers mutations and is passed by physical contact. Meanwhile, Cyclops & Jean Grey are visiting Jean's parents when Graydon Creed announces his candidacy for president on TV. This prompts Xavier to contact Ambassador St. Croix and prepare him for the fact that the X-Men may need to take drastic action to stop Creed. Back on the train, Bishop & Gambit head for the engine while Beast cobbles together an anesthetic to knock out the mutates. After he does, Mr. Sinister appears on the train, claiming credit for the virus. At the head of the train, Bishop & Gambit are unable to stop the train, but Gambit comes up with an idea, and begins charging the train with kinetic energy, effectively turning it into a massive bomb heading right into Manhattan!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 10 - Patreon First!

"The Unstoppable Juggernaut"

Original Airdate
March 6th, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers

Plot
The X-Men return home from Genosha to find the mansion destroyed; they search the wreckage and discover a message from Xavier saying he is leaving the school for a time, recorded before the destruction. Wolverine picks up the scent of the culprit and, against Cyclops' orders, heads out on his own to follow the trail. He is followed by Jubilee, Rogue & Storm. In the city, Jubilee encounters Colossus, who is tearing down a building. Wolverine briefly believes him to be the one who attacked the mansion, but when he gets close enough to smell him, he realizes he is not. When Colossus is wrongly arrested for a bank robbery, Storm & Rogue break him out of jail, while Wolverine & Jubilee find the real culprit: Juggernaut. They try to stop him, but he is too strong. The rest of the X-Men arrive, and Jean says she can't control Juggernaut's mind because of his helmet. Working together along with Colossus, the X-Men manage to remove Juggernaut's helmet, at which point Jean wipes his mind. Back at the mansion, Colossus offers to help rebuild it, while Wolverine & Jubilee both realize they've come to think of the place as home.

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Monday, October 5, 2020

X-Men: The Art and Making of The Animated Series

 


The publisher sent me a review copy of Eric and Julia Lewald's new art book, X-Men: The Art and Making of The Animated Series a few weeks back. I'm coming at this from a biased perspective, admittedly, as a kid introduced to the X-Men on a spinner rack in 1988 and firmly planted in front of the television on October 31, 1992 awaiting the animated premiere of my favorite characters. But if you're a fan of this show, it's difficult to justify not picking this up.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Force in Focus: Star Wars #108

"Forever Crimson"
May 2019

In a Nutshell
Domina Tagge returns and attempts to retrieve the Crimson Forever jewels, but is stopped by Valance the Hunter.

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Pencilers: Guiseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Broccardo, Kerry Gammill, Ze Carlos, Jan Duursema, Stefano Landini, Luke Ross, Leonard Kirk,
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Mark Paniccia

Plot
On Centares, a group of scavengers discuss the history of Valance the Hunter as they harvest scrap metal. Meanwhile, on Stenos, Han & Chewbacca meet with a potential client with a large bounty on his head. When hunters turn up trying to capture him, a fight breaks out, and their client is killed. During the melee, Han & Chewie run into Jaxxon & Amaiza, who were also looking for their client, and learn that the bounty was placed by Domina Tagge. On Centares, the scavengers turn their find over to agents of Domina, while Han warns Leia about her re-emergence and they speculate she is attempting to once again unleash the Crimson Forever. In deep space, Valance's damaged body - lost amidst the scrap scavenged on Centares - reactivates, and he attacks Domina's agents. Meanwhile, Han & Leia lead a force to the outskirts of the galaxy, to the drifting Star Destroyer where they abandoned the Crimson Forever jewels. Domina and her forces arrive shortly thereafter, and the parties race aboard the Star Destroyer to retrieve the jewels. Jaxxon manages to get ahold of the jewels but refuses to hand them over to Leia, triggering a standoff that is interrupted by the arrival of Valance. He uses the jewels to restore his lost flesh, but is blasted by Domina. In the ensuing fight, one of the jewels is tossed out into space, thereby infecting everyone in the vicinity of the other jewel with the Crimson Forever plague. But Valance grabs the remaining jewel and, paying Luke back for saving his life, dives out of the ship.  In space, Valance brings the two jewels together, thereby curing the infected, before drifting into the nearby star, sacrificing himself to end the threat of the Crimson Forever once and for all.

Friday, October 2, 2020

X-amining Cable #30

"For Every Action"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Cable tracks down Nate Grey

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Scott Hanna
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Malibu Hues
Knight in the Realm: Mark Powers
King: Bob Harras

Plot
Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, Exodus emerges from his tomb, just as he once did 800 years ago, refreshed yet hungering for the power he senses nearby. Meanwhile, Cable is flying over the Alps in pursuit of Nate Grey; as he draws closer to the boy, he begins to experience Nate's memories. Nate, leading Threnody to an unknown destination to which he feels himself drawn, begins to experience Cable's memories. They end up at one of Cable's safehouses. Nate sees a photo of Cable, recognizing him as an older version of himself. Just then, Cable arrives and offers to help Nate, but Nate reacts instinctively and blasts Cable out of the house. Cable responds by letting Nate read his mind, but when he sees images of Xavier, Moira, Sinister, and Apocalypse, his suspicion deepens, and when Blaquesmith arrives to warn Cable of the presence of someone powerful coming closer, Nate destroys the safe house. In the aftermath of the explosion, Nate finds himself face to face with Exodus.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #121

 "The True Path"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Forge defeats the Adversary

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Forge awakens from a dream in which his teammates have been cast as the members of his Vietnam platoon to find Naze watching over him. Roma appears, and tells them she will hold the Adversary at bay while Naze prepares Forge. Meanwhile, Val Cooper confronts her superior about Sabretooth, but he uses the opportunity to show off Sabretooth's control collar; Val remains reluctant about the idea of him joining X-Factor. Meanwhile, Forge & Naze travel to the Rocky Mountains, where Naze helps rebuild Forge's magical strength, and offers him a choice of weapons, a knife and his Neutralizer gun, each representing magic or science. As Roma falters, the Adversary confronts Forge, who uses a combination of both magic and science, channeling his sorcerous abilities through the knife and into the gun, to blast the Adversary and banish him back to his home dimension. Though both Forge & Naze believe he will return again, his defeat revives the rest of X-Factor, and Forge is content, for now, to live in peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #331

"The Splinter of Our Discontent"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Iceman seeks out Emma Frost while Archangel & Psylocke take a leave from the X-Men.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Guest Inker: Paul Neary
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Members of X-Force respond to an explosion at Beast's lab, pulling him out and extinguishing the fire. He is taken to the medlab, saying he'll be his loveable old self soon enough. Meanwhile, in New York City, Iceman confronts Emma Frost at the offices of Frost Enterprises. In Colorado, Gambit, Bishop & Xavier see that Archangel & the recovering Psylocke are settled in Archangel's home. Back in New York, Iceman tells Emma he needs her help to transform back to his human form. Elsewhere, Cyclops & Phoenix have returned to the site of Post's attack on the X-Men, only to find the landscape vastly different than during their battle. In New York, Banshee & Jubilee wait outside Frost Enterprises, while inside, Emma uses her telepathy to taunt Iceman with a series of illusions, forcing him to push himself and finally unlock his powers, enabling him to return to flesh-and-blood.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 9 - Patreon First!

"Come the Apocalypse"

Original Airdate
February 27, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Mark Edward Edens 

Plot
On Muir Island, Mystique begins the process of transforming Warren Worthington into Apocalypse's slave. Later, Cyclops, Jean, Rogue & Xavier gather at a nearby pub, where a group of mutants is gathered, eagerly awaiting news of Adler's cure. When Warren runs in, free of his wings, and declares the cure is a success, many in the crowd enthusiastically volunteer. Apocalypse proceeds to transform three of those volunteers into his Horsemen of War, Famine and Plague, to be led by the not-actually-cured Warren as Archangel, the Horseman of Death. Apocalypse and his Horsemen proceed to attack a peace conference in Paris. The X-Men spring into action, with Xavier sending Rogue back to Muir Island to find Dr. Adler. As Apocalypse's Horseman ravage Europe, Rogue finds Adler, and learns he is actually Mystique, who also impersonated the wingless Warren. During the ensuing scuffle, Adler's machine is destroyed & Mystique escapes, but Rogue learns Apocalypse has a base near Stonehenge. After the X-Men manage to fight off the Horsemen, they retreat to that base, followed by the X-Men, who are joined by Rogue. During the ensuing fight, Rogue touches Archangel, absorbing his rage and the power given him by Apocalypse. Appalled at what he's become, Archangel turns on the other Horsemen, prompting Apocalypse to flee. Archangel helps Rogue come back to herself, then flies off, consumed with guilt.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #10

"Need to Know"
 March 1996

In a Nutshell
Dark Beast captures Beast in order to take his place amongst the X-Men.

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Frank Toscano & Nick Gnazzo
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Matt Webb
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Determined to learn more about his counterpart in order to better hide from Mr. Sinister amongst the X-Men, Dark Beast visits Beast's now-elderly principal and learns about young Beast's insatiable curiosity, then kills him. Meanwhile, at the X-Mansion, Beast continues his near-obsessive study of the Legacy Virus, much to the growing consternation of his teammates, unaware that Dark Beast has hacked his computers. As he observes Beast, Dark Beast injects himself with a serum, triggering further physical changes. Later, posing as Beast, he meets with Mindy, a high school sweetheart of Beast's. Learning what he can from her, he kills her, too. At the X-Mansion, Iceman tries to get Beast to take a break, but he refuses. Elsewhere, Dark Beast meets with Beast's priest and, after a brief interview, blows up the church. At his lair, he continues to experiment on himself, further changing his appearance. He proceeds to visit Beast's parents, but finds himself unable to kill them. Later, a message appears on Beast's computer screen with information about the Legacy Virus; determined to find the source, Beast tracks it to the abandoned Brand Corporation building. Dark Beast is waiting, and the two fight. Learning of the deaths Dark Beast has perpetuated, Beast snaps, becoming more beast-like than ever, but Dark Beast snaps him back to his senses by telling him that if Dark Beast dies, Beast will never learn where he came from. This gives Dark Beast an opening to knock Beast out. He awakens to find himself being walled up by Dark Beast. He pleads with Dark Beast, asking him why he's doing this, but Dark Beast simply says "because" as he lays the last brick.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 8 - Patreon First!

 "The Cure"

Original Airdate
February 20th 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Mark Edward Edens 

Plot
In Switzerland, Warren Worthington and his girlfriend are attacked by Cable, who is looking for Dr. Adler, the scientist responsible for the power-suppressing collars used in Genosha. Warren is able to fight Cable off, but, believing his girlfriend has rejected him for being a mutant, he flies off.  Meanwhile, at the Muir Island Research Center, Professor X tries to meet with Dr. Adler, but is rebuffed, and receives visions of a strange being when trying read Adler's mind. Xavier then contacts the X-Men and tells them about Adler's purported "cure" for being a mutant. Rogue, unhappy with her inability to touch anyone, flies off for Scotland to investigate. She encounters Pyro & Avalanche at a local pub, waiting for Mystique; after a brief scuffle with them, Rogue forces her way into Adler's facility, demanding the cure; he tells her to return in an hour, then transforms into Mystique, who is told by her secret master, Apocalypse, to user Adler's machine to make Rogue his slave. Later, Adler begins the process on Rogue, but is interrupted by Pyro & Avalanche, who kidnap him. As Cyclops and Jean arrive & meet with Xavier, worried that Rogue wants the cure, Rogue attempts to rescue Adler, but is stopped by Cable. When he attempts to kill Adler, Mystique reveals herself. Just then, the X-Men arrive, and Mystique shifts back. The X-Men attack Cable, attempting to save "Adler". Both Cable & Jean get thrown over the cliff, but while Rogue saves Jean, Cable disappears. Back at Adler's lab, Rogue helps repair his machine, but declines to use it, having come to appreciate her mutants powers for their capacity to help people. She meets Warren on the way out, who has arrived to receive the cure himself. Later, Mystique reveals to Apocalypse that Warren is actually a mutant. Apocalypse says he already knew this, as he knows more about the world than she can imagine, which is why it must be destroyed.

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

Monday, September 21, 2020

X-aminations in October 2020 & December 1995 Power Rankings


Wolverine's big centennial issue was delayed, so that gets delayed to the end of October, but otherwise, this is a pretty straight-forward month, with no goofy one-shots or limited series. Aside from Wolverine #100, we've got the bulk of the Cable/X-Man "Identity Crisis" crossover (with the order of review swapped around to allow for better crossover reading), the arrival of Mark Waid on X-Men, and the climax of the Adversary story (and, sadly, Steve Epting's run as regular artist) in X-Factor!

On Sale February 1996
September 30: Uncanny X-Men #331
October 1: X-Factor #121
October 2: Cable #30

October 7: X-Men (vol. 2) #51
October 8: X-Force #53

October 14: Generation X  #14
October 15: Excalibur #96
October 16: X-Man #14

On Sale March 1996
October 21: Uncanny X-Men #332
October 22: X-Factor #122
October 23: X-Man #15 

October 28: X-Men (vol. 2) #52
October 29: X-Force #54
October 31: Wolverine #100

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer


Disney finally released a trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian (a season which, reportedly, completed filming before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, preventing it from being impacted in any way by that, so whatever we're getting, it's being presented as intended), which is set to debut on Disney+ on October 30th. Here are five things of note which caught my eye from the trailer. 

(And, quick note on future Force in Focus posts - my plan is to run a series of posts closing out the original Marvel Star Wars comic in the next few weeks, leading up the release of Mandalorian Season 2. Then I'll review each episode of the season as with the first, and after that...maybe something a little different, at least in terms of my approach).

Friday, September 18, 2020

X-amining Cable #29

 "Man in the Mirror"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
After learning about his tremendous power, Cable sets out in search of Nate Grey. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Scott Hanna 
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft 
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Color Works
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Cable greets Blaquesmith, who has come to the X-Mansion for a summit to discuss Nate Grey along with Professor X, Cyclops, Phoenix, and Moira MacTaggart. Moira shares information on Nate culled from their recent encounter, and theorizes that his power levels may rival or exceed that of Dark Phoenix. This sparks a series of discussions, but given the dearth of information about Nate's origins. they quickly reach an impasse. This prompts Blaquesmith to freeze the discussion, wiping all memory of it from everyone's minds except for Cable and him. Cable is upset, but Blaquesmith insists it's better that fewer people know of his existence. Cable resolves to go after Nate alone, but makes Blaquesmith promise that if he doesn't return, Blaquesmith will unlock everyone's memories of the day. Blaquesmith wishes Cable a good journey, then Cable departs for a confrontation with X-Man! 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #95

"Amplified Heart"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate Grey gets yelled at by Moira.

Writer; Warren Ellis
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Following an explosion, Excalibur converges on Muir Island's communications room, where Nate Grey is accusing Moira MacTaggart of running a shady operation to experiment on mutants. But Moira stands up for herself, and admonishes Nate for consistently reacting to half-truths from untrustworthy sources. She opens her mind to him, and he sees the truth: that his own powers - not Moira or Xavier or anyone else - will kill him before he turns 21. Excalibur then tries to calm him down further, allowing him to read all their minds to show him their commitment to helping mutants and improving the world. Convinced he was in the wrong and that neither Moira nor Excalibur is out to get him, he flies off, leaving Moira to wonder if he'll live long enough to ever return.