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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

X-amining What If? #87

This review comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Michael Langenmayr. After supporting the site at the "Extraordinary" level or higher for twelve months, he chose this issue for review. 
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"Cat and Mouse"
July 1996

In a Nutshell
Jubilee must survive against an escaped Sabretooth

Plot: Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning
Script: Dan Abnett
Pencils/Inks: Frank Teran
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Letters: Steve Dutro
Colors: Christie Scheele
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In the tunnels beneath the X-Mansion, Jubilee discovers that Bishop has been killed by Sabretooth, who escaped his cell when Beast accidentally overloaded the mansion's power core. She runs back to the mansion, past the unconscious forms of Iceman and Emma Frost, only to find Sabretooth attacking Beast. He manages to fight Sabretooth off long enough to tell Jubilee to reboot the power core. Jubilee succeeds in doing this as Sabretooth finishes off Beast. She then blasts him with fireworks, allowing her to run elsewhere into the mansion. Drawing Sabretooth into the Danger Room, she attacks him with simulacrums of Hellfire mercenaries and Brood drones, then lures him into piercing one of the mansion's power conduits, frying him with dangerous amounts of energy, before managing to engage the room's laser grid defenses to keep him safely locked away. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 07 - Patreon First!

"Time Fugitives Part 1"

Original Airdate
December 11, 1993

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

Plot
In the year 3999 AD, Cable is fighting Apocalypse when a temporal storm begins erasing the timeline. Cable consults with this A.I., which tells him how Bishop, upon arriving back in his native timeline following his successful efforts to stop Senator Kelly's assassination, learned that instead a plague targeting mutants was released, leading to mutantkind still being wiped out. Bishop then proceeded to go back in time again, to stop the plague from spreading. Meanwhile, an agent of the Friends of Humanity spots Jubilee at the mall and infects a shopkeeper there with the virus, telling a gathering crowd that Jubilee - a mutant - infected him. She is rescued by Storm and Beast gives her a clean bill of health, but he investigates the virus further. Elsewhere, an attempt to quarantine some mutants in the city leads to a riot, attracting the attention of Bishop and the X-Men, reuniting them. Learning the ultimate fate of the virus from Bishop. Beast then testifies before the senate, during which Graydon Creed heckles him and ends up infecting himself with the plague. The X-Men track Creed to the base of Friends of Humanity, where the scientist who engineered the virus is revealed to be Apocalypse. Bishop manages to destroy the vials containing the virus, but an enraged Apocalypse kills the X-Men. In 3999, Cable watches all this, then learns that without the antibodies formed to combat the mutant plague, it eventually leads to more mutant deaths and the eradication of Cable's timeline. Cable is horrified as he realizes that in order to save his world, he has to help Apocalypse destroy a past one...

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Age of Apocalypse & X-Men 2099

Years of Release
1995-1996
 
Roll Call
Age of Apocalypse: Apocalypse, Magneto, Weapon X, Cyclops, Sabretooth 

X-Men 2099 Series I: Bloodhawk, Brimstone Love, Meanstreak, Metalhead, Skullfire 

X-Men 2099 Series II: Breakdown, Halloween Jack, Junkpile, La Lunatica, Shadowdancer 

Firsts and Other Notables
Embracing the "themed" approach that inspired the earlier Phoenix Saga, Mutant Genesis, and Invasion lines, "Age of Apocalypse", not surprisingly (given the storyline's popularity) receives its own line of action figures, spotlighting arguably the most popular (non-female) characters from the storyline (or at least the ones with a significant impact on the narrative), with Sabretooth's turn in the story as a gruff killer with a heart of gold essentially letting Toy Biz populate it with two Wolverines. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 06 - Patreon First

 "X-Ternally Yours"

Original Airdate
December 4, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Julianne Klemm 

Plot
Cyclops is training in the Danger Room when Gambit, who is supposed to be monitoring the session, gets a phone call urging him to come home, leading Cyclops to be injured when a distracted Gambit disengages the safety settings accidentally. Rogue lays into him for his carelessness, but Gambit explains he has to go home, or else his brother may die. Gambit thinks back to when he was younger and responsible for delivering the Thieves Guild's tithe to the X-Ternal Candra, alongside their rival Assassins Guild's tithe. Returning to New Orleans, he discovers his brother has been captured by the Assassins, a trap laid by Bella Donna, whom Gambit once left at the altar. She agrees to let Gambit's brother go if Gambit honors their marriage, giving him a ring through which she can trigger pain in Gambit. As the X-Men arrive in New Orleans, Bella Donna reveals that she has exchanged the Thieves' latest tithe with a fake, so that Candra will destroy all of them. As the two guilds gather to deliver the latest tithes, Gambit breaks with Bella Donna, telling Candra the Thieves' tithe is a fake. With the X-Men's help, he and his family defeat the Assassins and expose Bella Donna's ruse to Candra, who strips Bella Donna of her powers as punishment. Gambit then leaves with the X-Men, telling Bella Donna and his family he's never coming back. 

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x08

"The Rescue"

Plot
Using Slave I, the Mandalorian and his allies capture an Imperial shuttle carrying Dr. Pershing, and confirm the presence of the child aboard Moff Gideon's ship. He then enlists the aid of Bo-Katan & Koska Reeves, offering Bo-Katan Gideon's ship and to reconsider joining her fight for Mandalore in exchange for their help. The group then uses the captured shuttle & Slave I to force a landing onto Gideon's cruiser, with Cara, Fennec, Bo-Katan, and Reeves heading for the bridge while the Mandalorian attempts to shutdown the Dark Troopers and rescue the child. As his allies capture the bridge, he manages to blow the Dark Troopers into space, then finds Gideon waiting for him in the child's cell. Gideon attacks him with the Darksaber. Using his beskar staff, the Mandalorian defeats Gideon, but leaves him alive for Cara Dune. They enter the bridge, and Gideon reveals to the Mandalorian that by defeating him in battle, he has claimed the Darksaber for himself, not Bo-Katan. Just then, the Dark Troopers, under their own power, reboard the ship, and proceed towards the bridge. As the Mandalorian and his allies brace for a battle they're unlikely to win, an X-wing flies into the cruiser's landing bay, and a figure in black emerges wielding a lightsaber. As Gideon realizes who it is, he grabs a fallen blaster and tries to kill the child and then himself, but the Mandalorian blocks his shot and Cara disarms him. As the figure in black cuts through the Dark Troopers and arrives on the bridge, he reveals himself to be the Jedi Luke Skywalker, and offers to take the child for training. The Mandalorian tells the child to go with him, and assures him they will meet again. He then removes his helmet to say goodbye, and Luke takes the child, leaving behind a teary Din Djarin. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

X-amining Cable #32

"Venting"

June 1996


In a Nutshell

Cable & Domino infiltrate Camp Hayden for information about Onslaught. 


Writer: Jeph Loeb

Breakdowns: Ian Churchill

Finishes: Scott Hanna

Letterer: RS & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Separations: Graphic Color Works

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras


Plot

Cable & Domino return to Camp Hayden, former site of the Nimrod project. They are hoping to find information about Onslaught, who recently wiped out the contents of the facility. As they infiltrate the facility, Domino pushes Cable to open up about the recent death of his son, Tyler, while also noticing that he is having trouble controlling his techno-organic infection. The pair are being unknowingly watched by Onslaught's herald, Post, who has a past with Cable. As Cable & Domino penetrate deeper into the facility in search of the memory chips from the security cameras which might have captured an image of Onslaught, bits of the abandoned Nimrod project come to life and attack them. While fighting it off, they locate the memory chips, but discover they've been magnetized, wiping out any info they might have contained. His frustration mixing with his grief for Tyler, Cable lashes out, destroying the last bits of Nimrod. Meanwhile, Blaquesmith is studying the changes in Cable's techno-organic infection when someone enters his base, declaring he has studied Cable too and knows he can't face the challenges ahead without Blaquesmith. Then the base explodes. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #98

"Fireflies"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Excalibur takes out a Black Air base in search of Douglock

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: 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 the wake of Douglock's abduction by Black Air, Nightcrawler decides it's time for Excalibur to strike back. Wisdom reasons that Black Air would have either taken Douglock to their acquisition station, or directly to their London headquarters. Nightcrawler proceeds to plot out a surgical strike on the acquisition station, which the team carries out efficiently & effectively. They discover Douglock isn't there, but do confirm he is at the London HQ. Meggan then uses her elemental powers to destroy the station. Meanwhile, Brian Braddock is briefed on the Inner Circle's recent activities by the Black Queen, after which he meets with Scribe, who is scared of the club's plans and tells him of the strange behavior of the Red King following the arrival of the Red Queen, prompting Brian to wonder if the Red King is Mountjoy in disguise. Just then, strange lights appear in the skies over London, which Scribe days is a glimpse of what is about to happen. Elsewhere, two Black Air techs begin dissecting Douglock and discover files about the Legacy Virus buried in his programming.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

X-amining Generation X #16

"Out of Sync!"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X fights to free Synch of Emplate's control

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Todd Dezago
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Team Buccellato
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Banshee & Emma are flying to Jubilee, Paige, and Monet's aid when Emma abruptly halts Banshee's flight. She tells him if they get any close, Synch can copy their powers, making him even harder to beat; the girls are on their own. In Synch's old high school, he turns Jubilee's power on his classmates, but Paige takes the brunt of the attack as Jubilee urges him to fight Emplate's influence. Torn, he runs off. Back in Massachusetts, Skin decides to take a worsening Chamber to see Professor X. In St. Louis, Synch contemplates killing himself to save his friends, but Paige tracks him down and talks him out of it. He attacks her, causing her to shed her skin before she is ready and trapping her in a mixed form, but she manages to knock him down before collapsing from the pain. Just then, Monet confronts Synch and allows him to fully tap into her aura. When he does, he learns the truth about her, which purges him of Emplate's influence. Meanwhile, Skin & Chamber are on the road when they're attacked by the X-Cutioner, who is targeting Skin for murder. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 05 - Patreon First!

 "Repo Man"

Original Airdate
November 20th, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Len Wein  

Plot
Arriving in Canada in response to a call from Heather Hudson, Wolverine is attacked by his old friend Vindicator and Alpha Flight, but Wolverine manages to hide in the trees to escape. Overhearing Vindicator say they need to bring him to a lab, Wolverine thinks back to when he received his adamantium skeleton. In the present, Jean Grey continues to search for Professor X, while in Canada, Alpha Flight manages to capture Wolverine. They bring him to a lab where Heather is waiting, and Wolverine recalls how she and Vindicator found him in the woods once, wild, and helped nurse him back to humanity and become part of Alpha Flight. General Chasen, Heather's superior, says they intend to find out how Wolverine survived the adamantium bonding process, with Heather adding she only agreed to help so she could be the one examining him. Meanwhile, Xavier & Magneto are confronted by a woman named Vertigo, who tries to kill them; Xavier & Magneto manage to escape. Back in Canada, Heather gives up on her examination of Wolverine and resigns, after which Wolverine breaks free. While Vindicator remains angry that Wolverine left them, the rest of Alpha Flight rush to Wolverine's aid, clearing out the robot guards ordered in by Chasen. Wolverine & Vindicator's fight is halted by Heather, and Wolverine leaves, telling Alpha Flight not to come looking for him again. 

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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x07

"The Believer"

Original Airdate
December 11th, 2020

Plot
With Cara Dune's help, the Mandalorian retrieves Migs Mayfeld from a New Republic prison, pressing him into helping locate Moff Gideon. To do so, Mayfeld says he will need to access an internal Imperial terminal, with one nearby on the world of Morak. On Morak, Mayfeld and the Mandalorian commandeer an Imperial transport and, disguised as Shoretroopers, proceed to a rhydonium refinery. Along the way, the transport is attacked by pirates attempting to destroy the rhydonium, but the Mandalorian manages to fight them off until they reach the refinery, where they are greeted as heroes. Inside, Mayfeld & the Mandalorian head toward the officer's mess; Mayfeld spots the terminal, but his former superior officer, Hess, is inside, requiring the Mandalorian to access it instead. To do so, he must remove his helmet. He gets the location of Gideon's ship, but draws the attention of Hess, and Mayfeld is forced to intervene, which leads to Mayfeld and the Mandalorian getting a drink with Hess. When Hess notes Mayfeld's familiarity, Mayfeld reminds him of their service together, and how Hess ordered the execution of a number of Mayfeld's fellow soldiers as part of Operation: Cinder. Mayfeld then shoots Hess, and the refinery explodes in gunfire. With Cara Dune & Fennec Shand providing cover from a nearby ridge, Mayfeld and the Mandalorian head to the roof of the refinery, where Boba Fett retrieves them in Slave I. As they fly off, Mayfeld fires back at the refinery, hitting the rhydonium and triggering an explosion that destroys the entire facility. Impressed with his actions, Cara Dune allows him to go free, suggesting he was officially killed in the explosion. Later, Moff Gideon receives a message from the Mandalorian, who tells him that soon the child will be back with him. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #102

"Unspoken Promises"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
A quasi-silent issue that formally introduces Elektra to the book. 

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

Plot
Wolverine, still in a devolved, animalistic state, steals out of the X-Mansion and heads into the city atop a commuter train. In the city, a teen boy sneaks out of his apartment to meet a friend; his mother gives money to a beggar, then bumps into Wolverine. His appearance startles her, but she gives him money regardless, thinking him a beggar. The boy and his friend rob a drug dealer, but the friend shoots a young couple who witness the encounter. Drawn by the shots, Wolverine kills the friend and chases after the boy. He fires a few shots at Wolverine, wounding him, before falling onto the tracks of an approaching train. Wolverine draws nearer and smells the boy's mother on him; remembering her kindness, he pulls the boy off the tracks, then collapses from the gunshot wounds. Just then, the drug dealer catches up to them, but Elektra steps in, stabbing the drug dealer and saving Wolverine & the boy. Wolverine gives the boy back his mother's money, and sends him home. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

X-amining X-Force #55

"Without a Net"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force invades the SHIELD helicarrier to rescue Cyclops

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

Plot
Split into pairs, X-Force breaks into the SHIELD helicarrier on a mission for the X-Men. Their intrusion is not undetected by SHIELD, but head of security Dum-Dum Dugan is forced to defer his response to someone else. As the team penetrates deeper into the facility, Siryn wonders why the team isn't looking for the missing Warpath instead, while Meltdown hacks into a SHIELD computer and discovers Sabretooth is still alive. The team convenes outside the massive door to a locked chamber, and works together to crack the door open. Inside, they find the captive Cyclops - their mission objective - as well as a cadre of SHIELD agents led by GW Bridge, who has been placed in command of the operation. Cable telekinetically removes the apparatus holding back Cylops' blast then ricochets the blast throughout the chamber, knocking out the SHIELD forces. X-Force and Cyclops escape to the waiting Blackbird, cloaked nearby, piloted by Jean Grey, leaving Dum-Dum furious with Bridge. Meanwhile, in Florida, Warpath is recovering from his encounter with Selene, tended to by Risque, who despite his recovery, doesn't want him to leave. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #53

"False Fronts"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Onslaught reveals himself to Jean Grey

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Cam Smith & John Dell
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Jean Grey is shopping in Salem Center. Entering a dressing room to try on a dress, she is pulled onto the Astral Plane by Onslaught. Meanwhile, an imprisoned Beast accidentally breaks the apparatus delivering him food & water, but in doing so, reveals a possible escape route. On the Astral Plane, Onslaught confronts Jean with the duplicity & hypocrisy of humans, showing her the thoughts of the clerks at the clothing store then taking her Graydon Creed's campaign headquarters. Jean is nonplussed, saying that she buoys herself up by being surrounded by honest friends. In Colorado, Juggernaut emerges from the shadows threatening Archangel & Psylocke. Frightened, he tries to tell them crucial information, but discovers his mind is blocked from speaking it. He proceeds to march off towards the X-Mansion, convinced only Xavier can help him. Back on the Astral Plane, Onslaught brings Jean to the mind of Xavier, revealing his one-time romantic love for Jean, a secret she never knew. Onslaught ponders the possible consequences of Xavier keeping his emotions locked away so tightly. In South Carolina, Joseph wanders into a county fair. Elsewhere, Onslaught asks Jean to join him. She refuses, attacking him and asking who he really is. He says that he is a god, then sends her crashing back into the dressing room, his final words echoing in her mind - "know my name" - as she looks in the mirror and sees the word "Onslaught" telepathically etched onto her forehead. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 04 - Patreon First!

 "Red Dawn"

Original Airdate
November 13, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Francis Moss & Ted Pedersen

Plot
Xavier & Magneto survive their plunge over the falls, but upon climbing out of the water, are attacked by a massive dinosaur. Magneto manages to lure it towards a geyser, which explodes, scaring it off. Meanwhile, in Russia, a group of former Soviets, aided by the mutant Darkstar, revive Omega Red. In New York, Jubilee is attacked by a group of Friends of Humanity thugs, but is saved by Colossus, who is looking for the X-Men's help to liberate his homeland from Omega Red. Leaving a note, Jubilee goes with Colossus to Russian, where they find his home destroyed and his parents captive, but his sister alive. Meanwhile, Wolverine sees Jubilee's note and flies to Russia, knowing Omega Red as an old enemy. When Jubilee & Colossus try to liberate Colossus' parents, Omega Red attacks them. Just then, Wolverine arrives and manages to fight him off. They are soon joined by Rogue, Storm and Gambit. Colossus rallies a small army of people against Omega Red and the Soviet forces, and they are joined by Darkstar, who defects to their side in the face of Omega Red's cruelty. She suggests Storm use her powers to plunge Omega Red back into the deep freeze he was previously held in, ending his threat for the time being. Colossus is offered a place with the X-Men but declines, preferring to stay in Russia and help rebuild his family's farm.

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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x06

"The Tragedy"

Original Release Date
December 4, 2020

Plot
The Mandalorian and the child arrive on Typhon, and proceed to a temple-like structure. But when the child is placed on a plinth surrounded by ritualistic stones, nothing happens. Just then, the Mandalorian spots an approaching ship. Spooked, he prepares to leave with the child, but when he turns to get him, he discovers Grogu in some kind of trance, surrounded by an impenetrable field of blue energy. Checking on the new arrivals, he is forced into a stalemate by Fennec Shand and her ally, Boba Fett, seeking the armor the Mandalorian acquired from Cobb Vanth.. The trio make a deal: safe passage off the planet by the Mandalorian and the child in exchange for Boba Fett's armor. Just then, Imperial forces arrive on the planet. As Stormtroopers swarm towards the child, the Mandalorian & Fennec fight to hold them back, while Boba Fett dons his armor and joins the fray. However, Moff Gideon's Star Destroyer arrives in the atmosphere and destroys the Razor Crest, after which he dispatches a force of Dark Troopers which manage to capture the child. As the Imperials depart, Boba Fett tells the Mandalorian he intends to honor their agreement and ensure the child is safe, and brings him to Navarro, where the Mandalorian enlists Cara Dune's aid to find someone who can help him track Moff Gideon. Meanwhile, Gideon visits the captive Grogu, marveling at the Force abilities which exhaust him, then leaving the child along in his cell, shackled and powerless. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

X-amining X-Man #16

"Survivors of the Storm"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate battles Holocaust 

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Guest Penciler: Val Semeiks
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Enhancement: Graphic Colorworks
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Holocaust attacks Nate, dropping the psychic shield Onsalught gave him in order to see the look of surprise on Nate's face when he reveals himself. Their fight threatens innocent bystanders, whose pain draws Threnody's attention. In Paris, Madelyne discovers Selene has returned. In Greece, Threnody tries to save whomever she can while Nate & Holocaust fight. Back in Paris, Selene outfits Madelyne in new risque attire, then sends her off to London to meet one of Selene's associates. In Greece, Holocaust tries to persuade Nate to join him; when he refuses, Holocaust taunts him with knowledge of Onslaught. When Threnody absorbs the dying energy of one of the bystanders, she attracts Holocaust's attention, who grabs her as a hostage, telling Nate to come with him willingly, or Threnody will die. Nate grudgingly agrees. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #123

"It Begins...Again!"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Sabretooth helps X-Factor defeat the Hound

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

Plot
Sabretooth lunges at X-Factor, seemingly to attack them, but instead, he strikes the Hound that was threatening them from behind. He tells Val Cooper this is why he was sent to this facility, to take out the Hound that had previously targeted Mystique. He & Wild Child distract the Hound while Polaris drops enough rubble on him to incapacitate him. The threat seemingly nullified, Forge proceeds to search the base's computer for information. Meanwhile, government operatives break into Fall's Edge, hoping to hack into Forge's computers, but the holographic Shard emerges and chases them off. Back at the mysterious base, the Hound emerges from the rubble. Polaris taps deep into her power and is able to briefly take control of the Hound and interrogate him, but he knows very little about his own origins. Just then, more government agents enter the facility, ordering X-Factor to stand down. At Graydon Creed's campaign headquarters, Creed receives a visitor who gives him a large sum of money, but also tells him Mystique will be kept alive in order to keep him in check. Base at the base, the Hound is taken into custody, and X-Factor - along with Sabretooth - is told to leave, with little explanation. When Val returns the next day with Senator Kelly, the base is gone, with nothing but a government farm in place. Later, she returns to Fall's Edge, and is confronted by Sabretooth, who tells her he's pleased with his current arrangement, but she should watch out, as she may be the next one to be fixed with a restraining collar. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #333

"The Other Shoe"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men infiltrate the Pentagon and encounter Bastion, leader of the new multi-national anti-mutant Operation: Zero Tolerance. 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Pascual Ferry
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Hunter, Morales & Hunt
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Team Bucce
Editor-in-Chief: Bob "Don't Call Me Chief" Harras

Plot
Late one night, Senator Kelly receives an expected visitor: Cyclops. He tells Cyclops he needs help. Meanwhile, a group of X-Men are hovering, cloaked, over the Pentagon, as Gambit & Jean Grey infiltrate the building in an attempt to observe an important meeting. They join a crowd entering a room labeled "Operation: Zero Tolerance". Meanwhile, in Colorado, Archangel is training with Psylocke as both attempt to recover from their recent injuries, when they are attacked by a massive psionic presence asking for help, which knocks them both out. At the Pentagon, Gambit & Jean watch a presentation from Bastion, the leader of the multi-national Zero Tolerance operation that hopes to end the threat of mutants once and for all. At Senator Kelly's home, Kelly warns Cyclops about Operation: Zero Tolerance, saying it's worse than previous anti-mutant government programs. Just then, one of Graydon Creed's men tries to assassinate Kelly, with Cyclops moving to protect the senator as his house explodes in flames. At the Pentagon, Bastion reveals he is aware of Gambit & Jean's presence, and they are forced to fight their way out, though Jean is disturbed to find the guards waiting outside fast asleep, a gift from Onslaught. In Colorado, Psylocke & Archangel wake up, but an ominous shadow looms over them. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 03 - Patreon First!

"Whatever It Takes"

Original Airdate
November 6th, 1993

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

Plot
Playing with his friends in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, the young mutant M'jnari spots a seeming tear in the air his friends can't see; the Shadow King emerges from it, and possesses the boy. At the X-Mansion, Jean Grey, while using Cerebro to search for Professor X, detects the Shadow King's emergence, which Beast attributes to a rift in the Astral Plane. Realizing the rift is near her former village, Storm sets out for Africa with Rogue. Meanwhile, Wolverine tracks Morph to a bar in South America. Later, Storm & Rogue arrive in Africa and confront the Shadow King-possessed M'jnari, who agrees to give up the boy to take control of Storm. She agrees. In South America, Wolverine and Morph fight, with Wolverine trying to convince Morph to come home. Morph refuses, saying he needs to figure things out on his own, and Wolverine eventually relents. Back in Africa, Storm is able to assert control long enough to fly into the upper atmosphere, driving the Shadow King from her body. With the tear in the Astral Plane closing, M'jnari races through, drawing the Shadow King with him. He then turns around, and manages to get through the opening, with a little help from Rogue, just before it closes, trapping the Shadow King once more. Meanwhile, Magneto & Xavier emerge from the avalanche to find themselves in a tropical jungle which Magneto recognizes as the Savage Land. Powerless, they are attacked by natives riding on Pteranodons, and end up diving into a river, with the current carrying them over a waterfall.  

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x05

"The Jedi"

Plot
On Corvus, the local magistrate and her hired gun deal with a series of attacks carried out by former Jedi Ahsoka Tano, who is looking for information from the magistrate. Shortly thereafter, the Mandalorian and the child arrive on the planet. They are taken to the Magistrate, who offers the Mandalorian a staff made of beskar to eliminate Ahsoka. He proceeds out into the woods surrounding the city, but after a brief skirmish, convinces Ahsoka he needs her help, telling her Bo-Katan sent him. He introduces her to the child, and through the Force, Ahsoka learns his name is Grogu. The Mandalorian asks Ahsoka to train him, but she refuses, citing Grogu's clear attachment to the Mandalorian. He makes a deal with her: if he helps her defeat the magistrate, she will train Grogu. The pair work together to assault the town, with the Mandalorian taking on the magistrate's guards and her hired gun while Ahsoka duels the magistrate, fighting her with the beskar staff. When the magistrate is defeated, the town appoints one of its own to lead in her place, and Ahsoka gifts the Mandalorian the beskar staff. However, she still refuses to train Grogu, and instead directs the Mandalorian to a temple on the world of Typhon, which may draw another Jedi to their side. The Mandalorian and the child depart Corvus, while Ahsoka walks off into the forest alone. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #11

"Adrift"
June 1996

In a Nutshell

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavangh
Pencilers: Steve Epting & Mike Miller
Inks: Sellers, Milgrom, Koblish, Candelario
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft 
Colorist: Matt Webb
Enhancement: Malibu
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Concerned that Rogue may be a mutant (and therefore a danger to her young son Stevie), Rogue's landlady Melody visits the local chapter of Humanity's Last Stand. That evening, when Rogue returns from her shift waitressing at a nearby restaurant, a tear-filled Melody, realizing she made a mistake, apologizes to Rogue, shortly before armored members of Huamnity's Last Stand attack. Rogue is able to fight them off, but then Bastion appears. With Bastion threatening Melody & Stevie, Rogue stands down, and is taken to Huamnity's Last Stand's headquarters, where Bastion tells her he plans to kill everyone in the facility and frame Rogue for the act. Just then, one of the guards reveals himself to be Joseph, who frees Rogue. Recognizing him as a younger version of Magneto, she is is initially distrustful, but the two work together to fight off their armored foes. Outside the facility, they are confronted by the townspeople, who ask them to leave town. The pair flies off, but are attacked by Humanity's Last Stand leader Simon Trask, who targets them with a pair of missiles. Joseph is able to detonate the missiles, however, faking their deaths, and the pair return to Melody's home to retrieve Rogue's car. Joseph is trying to make sense of the X-Men's commitment to protecting a world that fears and hates them, when Stevie runs up to Rogue, telling her he knows he can't touch her, but says that if he could, he would hug her. As the pair drives off, Rogue tells Joseph that is why the X-Men do what they do, for the innocents who haven't yet been taught to hate. 

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.   

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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!