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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

X-amining X-Men Creators Choice #1-2 (Pizza Hut Exclusive)


This review comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Scott Church. After supporting the site at the "Extraordinary" level for twelve months, he chose these issues for review. To get the chance to pick your own issue for review, and support the site, become a Patron here

"One Good Mutant Part One & Two"
December 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle Mr. Sinister over control of a new mutant

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Alex Saviuk (issue #1), Ron Lim (issue #2)
Inker: Greg Adams (issue #1), Bill Anderson (issue #2)
Letters: Rick Parker
Colors: Paul Beacon (issue #1), George Roussos (issue #2)
Editor: Glenn Herdling
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
The X-Men arrive at a football stadium in Dallas, Texas, where a young player named Derrick Beacon's mutant power is manifesting for the first time. The X-Men try to help him control his power, but this leaves them open to attack by Mr. Sinister, who manages to knock out all the X-Men, save Jubilee. With the X-Men captive, Mr. Sinister tries to convince Beacon to join his efforts at bringing about mutant supremacy, but while Iceman taunts Sinister, Jubilee convinces Beacon to help free the X-Men, after which Mr. Sinister teleports away, defeated. The X-Men proceed to offer Beacon a place at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, but he declines, opting instead to finish high school & go to college.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

X-amining Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #17 - Patreon First

"Whatever Happened to the Iceman?"
April 1978

In a Nutshell
Spider-Man learns the fate of the Champions as Rampage returns!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: David Hunt
Letterer: Bruce D. Patterson
Colorist: Janice Cohen
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Peter Parker is sent to Los Angeles to cover the disbandment of the Champions for the Daily Bugle. Arriving outside their now-abandoned headquarters, he is almost killed by a pair of falling panes of glass, but is saved by Angel's quick response and his own (well-disguised) Spider-Man abilities. Meeting with Angel, Peter learns of how the Champions split up following their battle with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. However, Angel acts evasively when Peter asks after Iceman, arousing his suspicions. He returns later that night to the building as Spider-Man, where he discovers Angel arguing with a bandaged and wheelchair-bound Stuart Clarke, the former Rampage, as well as someone wearing Rampage's armor. When they discover Spider-Man, Clarke sets Rampage to attack Spider-Man but Angel, much to Spider-Man's shock, intervenes to prevent Spider-Man from harming Rampage. Forced to knock out Angel, Spider-Man is in turn grabbed by Rampage. Regaining consciousness, Angel manages to disable a set of controls on Clarke's wheelchair, causing Rampage to release Spider-Man as his armor begins to fall apart, revealing Iceman underneath!

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Monday, June 29, 2020

X-aminations in July 2020...and Beyond!


The second half of the year puts us on the cusp of "Onslaught", as Marvel continues to crank out X-product left and right even as the industry on the whole is in the midst of collapsing in on itself (in large part due to Marvel's switch to Heroes World for distribution earlier in 1995). Highlights from this run of titles include Storm's first solo miniseries (featuring a questionable return to the Gene Nation characters), the next big "Onslaught" tease (that ultimately makes little sense in the context of the larger story, making it especially prescient in an unintended way) in X-Men #50, and Wolverine almost getting his adamantium back as the story his book has been building towards since the return from "Age of Apocalypse" reaches its climax! Also: more Gene Ha futuristic Cable stuff, and Marvel vs. DC!

As always, if anything seems missing, let me know!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

X-amining Sabretooth Special #1


"In the Red Zone"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men hunt the escaped Sabretooth.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Gary Frank
Inkers: Joe Holdredge with Mark McKenna
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Dana Moreshead
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Having escaped from the X-Mansion, Sabretooth is being hunted by the X-Men. He is found by Caliban in the Morlock Tunnels, but manages to knock out Caliban, eliminating the X-Men's best chance of tracking him, as Jean finds it difficult to locate Sabretooth telepathically. A series of confrontations between Sabretooth and the original five X-Men ensue as they hunt him across New York City, with Sabretooth always managing to escape. Analyzing Sabretooth's movements in one consistent direction, Jean realizes he is heading to Massachusetts in order to target Xavier's School and the next generation of mutants in Generation X. The X-Men converge on Sabretooth once more, and hold him in place long enough for a government strike team led by Val Cooper to arrive on the scene. The X-Men ultimately overpower Sabretooth, but when he moves to attack one of the soldiers, they open fire at close range, killing him. Val orders the body taken away and congratulates the X-Men on limiting the causalities to Sabretooth. The problem, Cyclops tells her, is that Sabretooth is the one they were trying to save.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

X-amining Champions #17 - Patreon First

"The Sentinels Hunt Again"
January 1978

In a Nutshell
In the final issue of the series, the Champions battle Sentinels sent by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: George Tuska
Embellisher: John Byrne
Letterer: John Constanza
Colorist: Phil Rachelson
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Black Widow & Hercules are enjoying a quiet evening at Champions headquarters when the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - Blob, Unus, & Lorelei - burst in, followed closely behind by a group of Sentinels. Offering the mutants sanctuary, Hercules attacks the robots while Black Widow signals the rest of the team for help, unaware that her call for help fits the plans of a mysterious figure watching from the shadows. Outside, Angel is flying above the city when he spots Black Widow's signal, and quickly gathers the rest of his teammates. The combined Champions defeat the Sentinels, at which point the Vanisher emerges from the shadows, revealing that he and the Brotherhood are working together, using the reprogrammed Sentinels to stage an attack in order to lure out the X-Men after killing Angel & Iceman. But Darkstar intervenes, re-animating one of the Sentinels to attack the Brotherhood. When Vanisher attempts to teleport away, she uses her Darkforce power to trap him mid-teleport, with half his body elsewhere. Frightened by what she's done, she seeks comfort from Iceman, while the rest of the Champions wonder what they can do now.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

X-amining Cable #27

"Rebels"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Cable leads an investigation into the secrets of Genosha

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Scott Hana with help from Ben Herrera & Al Milgrom
Letterer: Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Patrick & Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In the midst of the battle between the Genoshan rebels & the Magistrates, Cable recognizes Pipeline & Hawkshaw from their encounter at JFK airport. As the rebels begin to overwhelm the Magistrates, Pipeline teleports them all out, but Cable, prepared for the move, manages to knock him out before he gets away. In the aftermath of the fight, Phillip Moreau tells Cable about the rebels' recent assistance from the mysterious Essex, and they discuss the growing likelihood that Phillip's father didn't create the mutate bonding process himself. Deciding to investigate, Cable urges Pipeline to help the rebels and end the destructive madness in Genosha, but when he refuses, Cable telepathically takes over his mind in order to teleport himself, Cable, Domino, Phillip and Jenny Ransome to Genosha's Ridgeback Mountains, the site of bizarre energy readings. Following the readings, they discover a cave obscuring the entrance to a high tech lab, confirming Phillip's suspicions about his father's work. However, the group is being unknowingly watched by both Mr. Sinister and Sugar Man, the latter of which prepares to defend his work from those who seek to take it all away from him.

Gene Kendall's New Novel -- Love is Dead(ly)!


Gene Kendall here, shamelessly borrowing a post to talk about my new novel, Love is Dead(ly), which is available for preorder on Amazon right now for just ninety-nine cents.
This novel has been in the works for quite a while now, with an early draft sitting in the drawer before I even began work on the Kindle Worlds G. I. Joe series. Love is Dead(ly) will be my first novel available as physical media, and the first time I’m working with a traditional publisher instead of going it alone. (This means the guy who spent so, so much time blogging about bad ’90s comics will now have a spot in libraries and bookstores worldwide. Scary.) The folks at Burning Chair have been great throughout the process, offering some insightful commentary while also respecting my creative peccadillos.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #93

"The Spire"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolfsbane confronts Reverend Craig

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Casey Jones
Inker: Tom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Ariane Lenshock with Malibu Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
A recovering Wisdom jokingly imitates Professor X, prompting Moira to haul him inside for more medical tests, leaving Kitty & Meggan to go for a walk together along the island's shore. Along the way, they encounter Wolfsbane, who though she'd spotted some kind of trouble on the mainland. Using her powers, Meggan confirms a fire burning through the forest, and she flies herself, Kitty and Wolfsbane across the water. After Meggan puts out the fire, they discover a young mutant girl at the heart of it, who reveals that she was chased into the woods by the local reverend. Wolfsbane immediately knows who she is talking about, and the women head into town, where Wolfsbane confronts Reverend Craig, her former guardian and the man who led a lynch mob after her. Unwilling to be cowed again following everything she's experienced since joining the New Mutants, she uses her knowledge of Craig's activities to scare him, telling him he no longer has any power over her, defeating him without ever actually touching him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

X-amining Generation X #11

"Death Wail Part 2"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Chamber battles Omega Red

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Scripters: Scott Lobdell and Todd DeZago
Penciler: Val Semekis
Inker: Al Milgrom, and Andy Lanning
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colorist: Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Chamber pulls himself out of the river to find Omega Red standing over the bodies of his teammates. He fights him off, then is relieved to discover his teammates are still alive. Skin weakly tells Chamber Omega Red is afraid of him, since his death spores don't affect Chamber, and urges him to go after Omega Red. Meanwhile, Emma Frost is still inside Banshee's mind, and watches as he meets up with Interpol Inspector Deveraux. At the school, Jubilee worries about Penance, but Mondo assures her everything will be all right because Penance has a friend who cares about her. Elsewhere, Chamber catches up to Omega Red at a nearby dam. In Banshee's mind, Emma sees Banshee & Deveraux confront the serial killer they're chasing: Arkady Rossovich, the man who would become Omega Red. She watches as Arkady kills Deveraux, and Banshee shoots Arkady a dozen times. At the dam, Chamber manages to overpower Omega Red, sending him flying across the dam, after which he runs off. Later, everyone gathers at the school and a recovered Banshee tells everyone how proud he is of them, but they don't know that Emplate is spying on them from a distance, as he prepares to launch his attack and retrieve Penance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

X-amining Champions #16 - Patreon First

"A World Lost!"
November 1977

In a Nutshell
Magneto & Beast battle the Champions & Hulk to free the world from Dr. Doom's control

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Bob Hall
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Denise Wohl
Colorist: Phil Rache
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Seeking help to defeat Dr. Doom, Magneto & Beast are instead attacked by the Champions, already under Doom's control. Overhearing that Doom has arrived at the White House, Magneto gives up on seeking aid and heads there with Beast, but the Champions follow close behind them via Darkstar's powers. At the White House, Doom grows increasing bored with the fawning politicians paying him homage just as the Hulk appears, under Doom's control. Just then Magneto & Beast, followed by the Champions, arrive, and a melee breaks out between Magneto, Beast, Hulk, the Champions, Doom and the US Army. In the course of the fight, Ghost Rider, who is free of Doom's control thanks to his inability to breath while in in his Ghost Rider form, blasts Doom with hellfire. This causes Doom to rip off his mask, at which point, he breathes in his own mind control gas without his mask to filter it out. This causes a feedback loop, as Doom can neither do as Doom commands nor issue new commands, effectively nullifying his control over the world. As everyone returns to their senses and the fighting stops, Magneto considers it a victory and departs, leaving behind a babbling Doom, a man who rules the world but not himself. 

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Friday, June 12, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #97

"...Bump in the Night"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine battles Chimera in Landau, Luckman & Lake's home office.

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

Plot
In Scotland, Wolverine & Jean Grey are investigating Cyber's disappearance from prison. After determining Cyber was broken out, they proceed to the local Landau, Luckman & Lake office, which has been destroyed. Wolverine finds the "WC" door amidst the wreckage, and standing it up, steps through the warp chamber into the other dimension where the Landau, Luckman & Lake's central office is. He and Jean find the place similarly trashed, with several agents dead. One of the survivors, a plucky boy named Emmet, blames a "gaslight frail" for the attack. Wolverine tracks her to a nearby chamber where she's watching Wolverine's de-evolution play out on a series of monitors. Introducing herself as Chimera, she attacks Wolverine, but he manages to fight her off. After she leaves, Jean & Emmet catch up with Wolverine, at which point Zoe Culloden teleports into the chamber. She gives Wolverine a package then sends he and Jean back to their dimension. As they fade away, Emmet asks if the package will help or hurt Wolverine, and Zoe assures him they intend to give Wolverine a fighting chance against what Genesis has planned for him, a notion Emmet greets with skepticism.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

X-amining X-Force #50


"Target: Cable"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Cable battles a brainwashed X-Force.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inkers: LaRosa, Morales & Delperdang
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins & Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
X-Force is assembled by their leader, Sebastian Shaw, excited to be given their next mission: to kill Cable! Meanwhile, Cable & Domino are in New York City, tracking the last known locations of the missing X-Force. Just then, they're attacked by X-Force itself. As X-Force engages their former mentor, Tessa warns Shaw that her hold on the three members of the team whose minds have been recently manipulated is especially tenuous. Sure enough, Cable is able to use his recent experience purging Reignfire from Sunspot's mind to get inside and break Tessa's hold on him, returning him to his senses. Shatterstar manages to wound Domino, but Sunspot flies her and Cable to safety. Their respite is short-lived, however, as the rest of the team converges on them in Central Park as Shaw urges them once more to kill Cable. But Cable fights back by triggering their memories of former teammates & past adventures, showing them what they mean to each other and the team. It's enough to break Tessa's control once and for all, and Holocaust admits that while Shaw lost, he respects his actions and will stick with him, for now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #48

"Five Card Studs"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Dark Beast & Sugar Man plot to capture Bishop while the X-Men play poker

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Pencils: Luke Ross
Guest Inker: Andy Lanning
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Pit Boss: Bob Harras

Plot
As a group of X-Men play poker along with the Thing, Cyclops & Phoenix meet with Bishop at Harry's Hideaway to discuss the strange memories of living another life with which he's been grappling. They are unknowingly being monitored by Dark Beast, who is visited by Sugar Man, upset that Beast hasn't told him that Bishop knows of their home reality. Meanwhile, Professor X tends to the gravely wounded Psylocke in the wake of Sabretooth's attack. Back at the poker game, Cannonball turns out to be a surprisingly adept player while, during a break in the game, Iceman asks Storm for help with his powers, and Beast is hit with a sudden revelation about the Legacy Virus. Back at Dark Beast's lair, Sugar Man & Dark Beast realize that Bishop's knowledge of their world threatens their plans, and they need to kill him before Mr. Sinister realizes Bishop holds all the answers to the questions that have plagued him for the last twenty years. At the poker game, Gambit & Cannonball are the two players left standing, but after Cannonball shows his final hand, Gambit blows up the table rather than show his, despite having held the winning hand.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

X-amining Super-Villain Team-Up #15 - Patreon First

"A World For the Winning"
October 1977

In a Nutshell
Magneto teams up with Beast to take down Dr. Doom

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Bob Hall
Inkers: Don Perlin & Duff Vohland
Letterer: Irv W.
Colorist: Don Warfield
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Magneto storms into Latveria and confronts Dr. Doom, proposing an alliance between the two to rule the world. But Doom reveals he already rules the world: he released a gas into the atmosphere which puts everyone in the world - including Magneto - under his control. But bored with the ease of his victory, he proposes a challenge to Magneto: Doom will release Magneto and allow him to attempt to free the world from Doom's control. Magneto proceeds to Avengers Mansion to seek their help, but they of course think he's attacking them. Magneto manages to overpower the Avengers without causing serious harm, but when he explains his purpose, he discovers the Avengers are already under Doom's control. Just then, Doom appears before Magneto and allows him to select one Avengers to aid him; Magneto chooses Beast. After he frees Beast from Doom's control, the pair seek out additional allies, but find both the Fantastic Four & X-Men to be away. Beast then brings them to Los Angeles, where his old teammates Angel & Iceman are now part of the Champions, only to discover that the Avengers have warned the Champions about Magneto, and they believe Beast has joined him in his villainous ways!


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Friday, June 5, 2020

X-amining X-Man #11

"The X-Cutioner's Song"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate & Rogue battle the X-Cutioner

Writer: John Ostrander
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Color Works
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As the X-Cutioner prepares to attack his next target, Nate, flying away from his fight with Xavier, crashes onto the beach near Rogue. Worried about losing control of his power, he blasts her and flies off again, but crashes into the ocean when his powers burnout, forcing Rogue to pull him out of the ocean herself. Meanwhile, Xavier warns Moira MacTaggert about Nate. Back in North Carolina, Nate wakes up, and once Rogue makes it clear she's not currently associated with the X-Men, he asks her what she knows about Moira & the Legacy Virus, both of which he has recently learned about. Just then, the pair are attacked by the X-Cutioner, who is targeting Rogue. Though Nate easily overpowers him, the X-Cutioner has better control of his weapons than Nate does his powers, and thus is able to hold his own until Rogue joins the fray. Together, she & Nate easily defeat the X-Cutioner, who teleports away as Rogue warns him that next time he attacks, she won't be so kind. After he leaves, Rogue tries to convince Nate to see Xavier, but he insists he won't. So instead, Rogue suggests he visit Moira, and offers to put in a call with her as Nate flies off, bound for Muir Island.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #118

"Havok's Fall"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Havok battles Random as Roma & Naze battle the Adversary

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Paul Neary
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
As the Adversary attacks Naze & Roma, Naze insists Roma focus on protecting Forge as Naze holds the Adversary off. Meanwhile, Havok & Random battle at a coal plant near X-Factor's base, their confrontation monitored from afar by Dark Beast & Fatale. Eventually, they cause part of the factory to collapse on them. In the desert, Naze is blasted off a cliff by the Adversary as he uses the last of his energy to save Roma. At Fall's Edge, Forge is in a training session with Polaris when he is overcome by a strange feeling he attributes to Naze. At the coal plant, Random regains consciousness. Fatale teleports in and takes the unconscious Havok, telling Random he did well. Random is not happy, though, and warns Fatale that Polaris will be trouble when she finds out what happened. Fatale tells him she has already taken care of Polaris. At Fall's Edge, Roma suddenly appears via portal before Forge & Polaris, followed closely by the Adversary. Roma manages to repel the Adversary and close the portal before collapsing. Forge tells Polaris to gather the team, but when she goes to find Havok, she instead discovers a note telling her he had to leave the team, and asking her not to follow after him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #328

"Precipice"
January 1996

In a Nutshell
Sabretooth escapes captivity & brutally injures Psylocke.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Tim Townsend
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Having realized during a telepathic scan that Sabretooth was faking his recent docile behavior, Professor X finally gives up hope of curing him of his homicidal rages, and prepares to turn him over to Val Cooper for government incarceration. As they wait for her arrival, Boomer confronts the restrained Sabretooth in the Danger Room, angry at him for making her think he was helpless & appreciative of her care. As Psylocke watches from the control room, Sabretooth taunts Boomer, and Psylocke telepathically urges her to get out. But Boomer loses control and launches a massive bomb at Sabretooth, intending to kill him. But instead, it simply destroys his restraints as his healing factor works to repair his injuries. Just then, Psylocke intervenes, saving Boomer as she engages Sabretooth in a vicious fight. As Boomer calls for help, Psylocke is forced to resorts to giving Sabretooth the telepathic "glow" to calm his homicidal urges, only to discover it no longer affects him. As Cyclops, Beast & Archangel rush into the Danger Room in response to Boomer's calls, they discover Sabretooth gone, and Boomer cradling a badly injured Psylocke.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

X-amining Godzilla #3 - Patreon First

"A Tale of Two Saviors"
August 1977

In a Nutshell
The Champions try to stop Godzilla's San Franciscan rampage!

Writer: Doug Moench
Penciler: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Tony DeZuniga
Letterers: Gaspar Saladino, Denise Wohl, Irv Watanabe
Colorist: Don Warfield
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
As Godzilla approaches San Francisco, threatening the Golden Gate bridge, the Champions spring into action, flying their Champscraft to the city. Arriving on the scene, Angel distracts the monster while Iceman creates an ice ramp to get the pedestrians off the bridge. As Godzilla turns for the shore, Black Widow & Hercules prepare for his arrival, with Hercules managing to toss the creature back into the bay. Just then, the SHIELD Godzilla Squad, led by Dum Dum Dugan, arrives on the scene. He is dismayed to see the presence of superheroes, and as he and his team attempt to capture Godzilla without causing further damage, the Champions' well-meaning efforts to stop Godzilla trip up the agents, causing Godzilla to lash out and destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. Hercules, hoping to finish Godzilla once and for all, hurls a piece of the bridge at his head, but Godzilla dodges it, causing the piece to collide instead with SHIELD's helicarrier, sending it crashing into the bay. As Godzilla, seemingly bored, wanders back into the ocean, Dugan admonishes the Champions: thanks to them, the bridge is destroyed as well as the helicarrier, and Godzilla is none the worse for wear. As the Champions depart, Black Widow thinks to herself that the Champions still have much to learn about being a team.

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

Monday, June 1, 2020

X-aminations in June 2020 & September 1995 Power Rankings


Up next: the "Sabretooth in the mansion" plotline comes to a close, The run-up to Wolverine #100 begins, and Rob Liefeld returns (sort).

On Sale November 1995
June 3: Uncanny X-Men #328
June 4: X-Factor #118
June 5: X-Man #11

June 10: X-Men (vol. 2) #48
June 11: X-Force #50
June 12: Wolverine #97

June 17: Generation X #11
June 18: Excalibur #93
June 19: Cable #27

June 24: Sabretooth Special #1

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

X-amining Starjammers #1-4

"Cepheid Variable" / "Nebulae" / "Collapsar" / "Nova"
October 1995 - January 1996

In a Nutshell
The Starjammers are caught in a war between the Shi'ar and the Uncreated!

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: Carlos Pacheco
Inkers: Cam Smith, Mike Miller (issue #2), Mike Christian, Art Nichols & Andew Pepoy (issue #3),  Bob Wicek, Dan Panosian & Mark Pennington (issue #4)
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Computer Color: Malibu
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Following the annexation of the Kree Empire by the Shi'ar, the Starjammers have been helping resettle Kree refugees on worlds of the Clench, a loose confederation of worlds independent of the Shi'ar, operating out of a Clench world called Standing Still. Meanwhile, planets - both Clench & Shi'ar - are being wiped out by the alien Uncreated who, having killed the being they believed to be their god, are wiping out all worlds which practice any sort of religion. When a small fleet of Shi'ar battlecruisers engage the Uncreated, they discover they only possess three ships, despite their massive power. During the ensuing fight, one of the three craft is damaged, though the Shi'ar sustain heavy losses. The Starjammers get caught in the crossfire, and end up hiding inside a nearby nebula. As Lilandra orders her Minister of Peace, a former supporter of her mad brother, to assemble an armada to face the Uncreated, the Starjammers discover the damaged Uncreated ship is hiding in the nebula as well. They manage to destroy it - gaining access to valuable intel about the Uncreated in the process - but the Starjammer is badly damaged and stalled as the Shi'ar close in.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

X-amining Avengers #163 - Patreon First

"The Demi-God Must Die!"
September 1977

In a Nutshell
Typhon coerces the Avengers into attacking Hercules and the Champions.

Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciler: George Tuska
Inker: Pablo Marcos
Letterers: Gaspar Saladino & Denise Wohl
Colorist: Don Warfield
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Black Widow, Hercules & Iceman arrive in New York, responding to a distress call sent by the Avengers, but on their way to Avengers Mansion, they're suddenly attacked by Iron Man, who focuses all his energy on taking out Hercules. However, Hercules recovers faster than Iron Man expected, and he laments that Thor wasn't on duty when Hercules' old foe Typhon suddenly appeared in Avengers Mansion earlier that day. He thinks back to Typhon's appearance; sent by Pluto to kill Hercules and believing him to still be an Avenger, Typhon captured Beast and used him as leverage to force Iron Man to lure the Champions to New York, then attack them, softening them up for Typhon. Refocusing on the task at hand, Iron Man, who had hoped to slip Black Widow a communicator in order to fill her in on the situation while attacking Hercules, is forced to lead Hercules to the mansion, where he's finally able to incapacitate him using the high voltage wiring in the mansion walls, knocking both of them out. Just then Typhon emerges, but he is attacked by Black Widow & Iceman, who are joined by the escaped Beast. The three hold off Typhon long enough for Hercules & Iron Man to recover. When faced with the combined might of all five heroes, Typhon suddenly disappears, having been recalled back to Tartarus by Pluto, who deemed him unlikely to best the combined might of the Avengers & Champions. Learning of the situation, Hercules absolves Iron Man of any blame, but Beast broods over his recent ineffectiveness as an Avenger. 

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #9

"Horse Latitudes"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Beast, & Psylocke battle Bloodscream & Belasco in the Bermuda Triangle.

Writer: Larry Hama
Pencils: Val Semeiks
Inkers: Bob McLeod
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Separations: Malibu’s Hues
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
After Lee Forrester encounters her thought-dead crewman Paolo raving about a vampire pirate, Wolverine, Beast, & Psylocke travel down to Florida to investigate. Heading out to sea with Lee & Paolo, they are attacked by Bloodscream, leading a crew of "zombie" pirates, local sailors he's impressed into his service. Bloodscream calls off their battle when he spots an island encased in magic. The X-Men follow him and discover their one-time base, the island in the Bermuda triangle which also servers as a nexus point to Limbo. Just then, Belasco emerges and captures the X-Men. He then opens the N'Garai cairn, intending to tame the demons inside and unleash them on the world, something which doesn't sit right with his ally, Bloodscream. The X-Men break free and attack Belasco, and Lee manages to shatter Belasco's power crystal with a shot from her rifle, at which point Bloodscream attacks his master, pushing them both into the cairn. The X-Men and Lee then escape, just as the island itself is pulled into the N'Garai dimension. Stranded in the ocean, they float on a discarded palm tree until they're spotted by Lee's ship and rescued.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

X-amining Iron Man Annual #4 - Patreon First

"The Doomsday Connection!"
1977

In a Nutshell
The Champions team-up with Iron Man to battle MODOK!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: George Tuska
Inker: Don Perlin
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Phil Rachelson
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Iron Man tracks MODOK across the country to an AIM base in Nevada. MODOK is gone, but Iron Man discovers an energy cradle which is relaying energy from the West Coast to another facility, causing a blackout. Seeking help from some old Avengers teammates, Iron Man heads to the Champions' headquarters, but is unable to contact them due to the blackout. When he lands inside, he attacks Ghost Rider, suspicious of his appearance, but Black Widow soon puts an end to their ensuing fight. Iron Man explains the situation, and the heroes agree to split up and search out three nearby AIM bases for the captured energy. Black Widow, Hercules & Angel investigate a base in the redwood forest, and are captured by AIM agents. Iceman, Darkstar & Ghost Rider check out an undersea base in San Francisco Bay, where they are attacked by mutated sea creatures and Darkstar is injured. Iron Man checks out an abandoned mission in the Mojave desert, front for another base, and is attacked by Stryke, a biologically-enhanced AIM agent, making him realize he's been setup. He heads back to the Nevada base, contacting the Champions to meet him there. Black Widow's group, which had faked their defeat, break free, while Iceman puts Darkstar on life support inside the Champscraft en route to Iron Man's location. Inside the base, they discover MODOK channeling the stolen energy into his Doomsday Chair, boosting his mental powers. Iron Man manages to fight him off, but MODOK destroys the base, trapping Iron Man and the Champions. As Hercules holds up the rubble of the base, Iron Man supercharges his armor with the lingering energy from the energy cradle to blast them free. He flies off after MODOK and, hitting him with the repurposed energy, accidentally destroys him.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

X-amining X-Force & Cable '95


"Fun, Fun, Fun!" / "The Gamut"
1996

In a Nutshell
Cable & X-Force help the Impossible Man motivate his kids

Writer: Jeph Loeb, Todd Dezago (2nd Story)
Pencilers: Matt Ryan & Ruric Tyler
Inkers: Mark Pennington, Andrew Pepoy, & Ian Akin
Art: Daerick Gross (2nd Story)
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Matt Webb, James Houston (2nd Story)
Color Enhancement: Malibu Hues
Editors: Lisa Patrick & Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras
Special thanks to Mark Waid: Ambassador to Poppup

Plot
X-Force & Cannonball are vacationing on a South Sea island when they're interrupted by the Impossible Man, who wants their help disciplining his three kids. Cable refuses, but as the Impossible Man proves more and more of a nuisance on their vacation, he eventually relents, only to learn that the Impossible Man's three kids are teenaged slackers. However, when the sea monster known as the Kalinator attacks the island and swallows X-Force, Cable is able to motivate them into action, driving off the beast and rescuing X-Force. With his kids newly inspired to become superheroes, Impossible Man thanks Cable and finally departs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

X-amining Champions #15 - Patreon First

"Death Drone"
September 1977

In a Nutshell
The Champions battle Swarm!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Patterson
Colorist: I. Vartanoff
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
As the Champions attempt to block the massive swarm of bees from infiltrating their headquarters, another group of bees constructs a hive atop the building. Despite the Champions' best efforts, Swarm enters the building, and his robot drones capture Iceman & Darkstar, bringing them inside the hive. As Hercules tries to break into the hive, the swarm begins attacking innocent bystanders outside, prompting Angel & Ghost Rider to leave & assist the authorities as best they can in protecting people. Inside the hive, Swarm tells Iceman & Darkstar his origin, revealing the briefcase they brought into their headquarters to contain the queen bee of the swarm that comprises his body, encased in amber. Darkstar can feel a connection to the bee, so she frees it, and it breaks into the hive, growing in size. However, Hercules manages to overpower the queen & hurl the massive insect out of the city and into the ocean, which prompts the rest of the swarm - including the bees comprising Swarm's body - to follow her. Swarm, now little more than bones & a hooded cloak, tumbles to the ground, though the Champions fail to see the single bee emerging from his skull.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 12

"Victory & Death"

Plot
Rex & Ahsoka, with the assistance of A7 and the other droids, manage to escape the medbay without killing any of the clones attacking them. With all the escape pods destroyed, Ahsoka suggests they try to find a shuttle to use for escape. Meanwhile, Maul, still intent on serving as the distraction Ahsoka released him to be, destroys the Star Destroyer's hyperdrive, dropping it into real space and into the gravity well of a moon. Inside the hanger, Rex & Ahsoka find the remaining clones predicted their move, and are waiting. Pretending to have captured Ahsoka, Rex tries to reason with the clones, telling them Order 66 doesn't apply to Ahsoka, who is no longer a Jedi, in order to give the droids time to work. They manage to drop the hanger elevators down, removing most of the clones. As Rex & Ahsoka battle the few remaining, Maul enters the hanger, and takes off in the sole remaining shuttle. Ahsoka grabs it with the Force, but releases it in order to save Rex. The pair drop into the hanger's lower levels and find a Y-wing. Ahsoka gets Rex aboard just as the Star Destroyer begins to break up as it enters atmosphere. Falling through the wreckage as the ship crashes onto the moon, Ahsoka manages to get aboard the Y-wing as the Star Destroyer slips below the clouds. Later, Ahsoka stands before the graves of dozen of clones, and drops her lightsaber to the ground. Much later, an Imperial shuttle lands on the now snow-swept moon. Imperial Stormtroopers & probe droids emerge, followed by Darth Vader. He finds Ahsoka's fallen lightsaber, ignites it, then takes the saber and returns to his shuttle, passing a cracked clone trooper helmet bearing Ahsoka's markings.

Friday, May 8, 2020

X-amining Cable #26

"The Long Way Home"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable & Domino return from the future but end up in Genosha

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencilers: Rob Haynes & Randy Green
Inks: John Lowe & BVD Larosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In Genosha, Phillip Moreau & Jenny Ransome meet with Essex, a mysterious contact who is helping feed their rebel operation supplies and info. He tells them they're close to discovering the truth about Genosha, but warns he can no longer interfere, as he's too close to being discovered himself. However, he promises more help will soon be on the way. Shortly thereafter, Cable & Domino materialize in Genosha on their way back from the future, and are found by Phillip & Jenny. Elsewhere, Cable's arrival is detected by Sugar Man, who believes it is Nate Grey, and thinks that the time has come to reveal himself. In Hammer Bay, the Press Gang laments their fall from grace, but receives a message indicating they may soon have a chance to get back into the good life. Meanwhile, Phillip & Jenny bring Cable & Domino their base, dubbed Safehaven. Cable is impressed by their operation, but Domino is reluctant to stay and fight, especially since Phillip won't let them contact X-Force for fear their communications are being monitored. Cable prevails on Domino, however, and they agree to stay and help the rebels. Just then, however, the Press Gang teleports into the base.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #92

"I Want You"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Colossus joins Excalibur after jealously beating Wisdom to a pulp

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Casey Jones
Inkers: Mike Miller, Tom Simmons, Joe Rubinstein & W.C. Carani
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Ariane Lenshock with Malibu’s Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Returning from their trip to the pub, Kitty bids Wisdom goodnight as he remains outside for one more cigarette. Out of the darkness, Colossus attacks, enraged at having seen Wisdom with "his Katya". Colossus savagely beats Wisdom, who manages to use his power to slice into Colossus' back. As the rest of the team responds, Brian & Meggan knock out Colossus, and the injured parties are taken to the medlab. Moira is able to repair Colossus' spinal injury with relative ease, but Wisdom remains in critical condition. Colossus is moved to a holding cell and, when he wakes up, receives a dressing down from Nightcrawler. However, Nightcrawler is sympathetic given all that Colossus has gone through, and gives him the cover story of needing to remain with Excalibur for observation of possible neural problems as a way for Colossus to stay with the team and make amends. Later, Kitty visits Colossus as well, telling him Wisdom will live, barely. Colossus insists he cares about Kitty, but she says if that were true, he never would have left her for someone else, or hurt someone she cared about. He asks if Wisdom is good to her, and she says yes, adding to herself as she phases away, "just like you were".

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

X-amining Generation X #10

"Death Wail Part 1"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Omega Red attacks Banshee

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inkers: Buckingham, Milgrom, Pennington and Fern
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Paige & Skin arrive at Proudstar Hall for Mondo's welcome party, and are greeted boisterously by their newest classmate. Jubilee, however, is bummed about Penance's relapse into a coma, and Banshee is late to the party. Monet flies off to check on him, and discovers him near death. Emma arrives and enters his mind in order to try and keep him alive, while sending the kids out after his attackers. Elsewhere, Emplate returns to Gayle Edgerton's estate, as their plans will soon be coming to fruition. In Banshee's mind, Emma relives specific memories of Banshee as an Interpol agent, hunting a serial killer with the assistance of a pre-Magneto Erik Lensherr. At the school, Jubilee ponders if the only way to help Penance is to enlist the aid of someone who knew her before she came to the school - like Emplate - while the rest of her classmates, with the help of Synch's aura, track down Banshee's attacker: Omega Red, who grabs Chamber with a tendril and announces he will them just like he killed their headmaster! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

X-amining Champions #14 - Patreon First

"The Creature Called Swamp!"
June 1977

In a Nutshell
Swarm debuts as the Champions' headquarters turns against them!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Irving Watanabe
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
A brooding Hercules is suddenly attacked by the automated defenses of the Champions' headquarters, and Iceman soon gets drawn into the attack as well. Meanwhile, Black Widow, Darkstar & Ghost Rider are at the port, saying goodbye to Ivan, who is returning to Russia. Elsewhere at the port, a nervous man rushes through stacks of packing crates, determined to get the briefcase he is carrying to the authorities, though he is unknowingly watched by a strange being. After Ivan boards the ship, he's confronted in his cabin by armed men, while outside, the departing Champions are suddenly attacked by a series of robotic bees which trigger explosions on the dock. During the attack, the strange figure tries to take the briefcase but can't grab it, as if there is some kind of repellent on it. He departs along with the mechanical bees, and the Champions find the nervous man dead, as if stung to death. Checking his wallet, they discover he is an Interpol agent. Back at their headquarters, Iceman & Hercules manage to shutdown the building's power, stopping the attacks against them. Iceman realizes the defense equipment has similar faulty wiring to their Champcrafts, but just as he shares this news with with the rest of the newly-returned team, Angel crashes through a window, desperate to escape the massive swarm of bees heading towards the Champions!

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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 11

"Shattered"

Plot
As the Mandalorians take Gar Saxon and his rebels into custody, Ahsoka joins a call with the Jedi Council, informing them of Maul's capture. Later, she bids goodbye to Bo-Katan as she and the rest of the 501st board a transport to bring Maul, locked inside a Mandalorian Vault, onto their Star Destroyer for the trip back to Coruscant. Later, as the ship is traveling through hyperspace, both Maul & Ahsoka sense a disturbance in the Force. Moments later, Rex receives a holographic message from Chancellor Palpatine, telling him to execute Order 66. As Ahsoka approaches to tell him about her premonition, he manages to utter "find Fives" before he and the rest of the clone troopers open fire on her. She manages to escape, then prevents Maul's extermination at the hands of the clones, setting him free in order to serve as a distraction. As Maul attacks the troopers, Ahsoka, with the help of A7 and two other droids, follows Rex' clue to learn how Fives discovered the presence of inhibitor chips which turn the clones against the Jedi. She then manages to capture & stun Rex, bringing him to the medical bay where, with the assistance of the Force, she's able to remove his chip. As a squad of troopers close in on them. Ahsoka asks Rex how many of the clones have the chips: he responds to her horror that they all do. The entire Grand Army of the Republic has been set against the Jedi.

Friday, May 1, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #96

"Campfire Tales"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Storm, Cannonball & Caliban go camping; Cyber dies.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert & Luciano Lima
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In the Canadian Rockies, Storm & Wolverine bring Cannonball & Caliban camping. As they sit around the fire telling X-Men "war stories", a bear stumbles into camp, nearly disrupting the cloaked surveillance being conducted by Zoe & Noah of Landau, Luckman, & Lake. After Wolverine, recognizing that the bear is merely hurt & afraid, stops its attack peacefully, Zoe begins to have second thoughts about their operation, and transports herself & Noah away, while Wolverine wonders to himself how he's going to tell his friends that the feral side of him is taking control. Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Dark Riders usher Cyber into a vault-like chamber. Suspicious, he attacks, but they manage to lock him inside, at which point a swarm of deathwatch beetles are released in the room, which devour Cyber, leaving behind only his adamantium skin, thereby giving Genesis the means to his end.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

X-amining X-Force #49

"Target: X-Force"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Shaw & Holocaust ambush X-Force

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Guest Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inkers: Lanning, Morales, Russell
Letterer: Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Holocaust tests out the new armor he's been given by Sebastian Shaw, but when he kills a Hellfire Club mercenary, Shaw's aide Tessa is forced to take telepathic control of him. Later, Boomer returns to her hometown & reunites with her estranged father. In New York, Caliban & Sunspot are exploring the Morlock tunnels when both are ambushed & captured by Shaw & Holocaust. Elsewhere in the city, Warpath & Siryn are out on the town, and are ambushed when Siryn stops to do some shopping. That night, Shatterstar leaves the club he once visited with Rictor and intervenes to save a young gay man from an attack, only to be attacked himself by Shaw & Holocaust. Back at Boomer's father's trailer, Boomer learns her mother is still alive, but just then, Shaw & Holocaust attack, blowing up the trailer. With all of X-Force now his captives, Shaw compliments himself on a well-executed plan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #47

"Big Trouble in Little Italy!"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men help prevent the cancellation of the X-Babies

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Cam Smith & Jesse Delperdang
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As Gog & Magog chase the X-Babies through Little Italy, Gambit & Bishop pick themselves out of the wreckage of the nightclub destroyed in their fight with the bounty hunters, then set out in pursuit of them. Meeting up with the X-Babies, Gambit & Bishop engage Gog & Magog again, but are close to being overwhelmed again when Iceman & Phoenix arrive. But even their combined power isn't enough to stop Gog from trying to swallow the X-Babies whole. Just then, Dazzler arrives from the Mojoverse, and orders Gog & Magog back there, before offering to let the X-Babies live with her. With everyone pleased by the arrangement, Dazzler and the X-Babies return to the Mojoverse. Back at the X-Mansion, Professor X calls Boomer into his office; he's made a decision about Sabretooth.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

X-amining Champions #13 - Patreon First

"The Doom That Went On Forever!"
May 1977

In a Nutshell
Darkstar helps stave off the end of all existence.

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Bob Layton
Letterer: Irving Wantanabe
Colorists: Bruce Patterson & George Roussos
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Returning to the Champions' HQ following his battle with Stilt-Man, Black Goliath is sucked inside the Null-Life Bomb which has consumed the building. Meanwhile, the Champions are attacked by Kamo Tharn's beast men even as Hercules reveals he'd already brought to Earth the Runestaff the Stranger sent them to retrieve! During the ensuing battle, Darkstar discovers the portal they traveled through slowly closing, and jumps through, followed closely by Iceman. Back on Earth, Black Goliath attacks the bomb, which triggers its defense mechanisms, manifesting a series of robots to fight him. Meanwhile, Iceman & Darkstar finds themselves drifting through space, while the rest of the Champions are eventually overwhelmed by Kamo Tharn's forces. However, their battle has all been an illusion, as the team remains in the hypnotic thrall of Kamo Tharn. Just then, Darkstar emerges in the null life field surrounding the bomb, and explains to the Stranger what has happened. He fetches the Runestaff from its place on Earth, and Darkstar uses it to restore the universe to its pre-Null-Life Bomb state. With existence saved, the Stranger departs, returning the Champions to Earth. They celebrate their victory, with Darkstar finally feeling as though she belongs, though Hercules finds himself wondering if he, half human, half god, can belong in either world.

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Monday, April 27, 2020

X-amination in May 2020 & August 1995 Power Rankings


May wraps up the October '95 titles as Mondo arrives in Generation X, Colossus comes to Excalibur, and we reach the final annual of 1995!

On Sale October 1995
May 6: Generation X #10
May 7: Excalibur #92
May 8: Cable #26

May 13: X-Force & Cable '95

May 20: X-Men Unlimited #9

May 27: Starjammers #1-4

August 1995 Power Rankings

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 10

"The Phantom Apprentice"

Plot
Confronted by Maul, who taunts her knowledge of Darth Sidious' plans, Ahsoka activates a signal on her gauntlet to alert Rex to her location. As her Clone Troopers arrive, Maul and his forces escape into the tunnels. Later, Ahsoka contacts Obi-Wan, hoping to receive more troops, but he tells her he's setting out to find General Grievous, and that Anakin has been tasked with reporting on the chancellor for the Jedi Council. Just then Rex enters: Maul has captured one one of the Clone Troopers, Jesse. After dispatching Gar Saxon to eliminated the captive Almec, Maul uses the Force to plumb Jesse's mind of knowledge about Ahsoka. At the prison complex, Bo-Katan & Ahsoka question Almec, who is killed by Saxon. Bo-Katan gives chase, but he manages to escape. Ahsoka & Bo-Katan then oversee the shepherding of the city's civilian population to safety, before returning to the throne room to find Maul waiting. As his forces engage the Mandalorians, he tells Ahsoka's he's seen a vision of the future in which they foil Sidious together, and offers Ahsoka the chance to join him. She agrees, until he reveals that he saw Anakin serving as Sidious' new apprentice. Knowing Anakin could never turn to the dark side, and that therefore Maul's vision of the future is wrong, she attacks him. They duel, eventually ending up in the beams of the canopy over the city. As the Republic forces overwhelm Gar Saxon's forces, Maul tries to escape, but Ahsoka manages to grab him with the Force long enough for Rex and a detachment of troopers to arrive and bind him, as Ahsoka looks up at the cracked canopy above her.

Friday, April 24, 2020

X-amining X-Man #10

"Confrontation"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Nate meets Professor X!

Writer: John Ostrander
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Additional Pencils: Jan Duursema and Casey Jones
Inks: Bud LaRosa, Ian Akin and and Rob Hunter
Letters: Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas and Matt Webb
Separations: Malibu
Editors: Jaye Gardner and Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate Grey heads north, towards the X-Mansion. But he is waylaid by a hurricane and, struck by lightning, crashes onto a North Carolina beach. Meanwhile, Blaquesmith arrives at the mansion to warn Xavier about Nate. Meanwhile, Nate wakes up in a jail cell and is taken to breakfast at a nearby diner by the local sheriff who found him. At the X-Mansion, Blaquesmith tells Xavier about Nate's immense psychic power, , and they begin trying to locate the boy. At the diner, Nate learns about the Legacy Virus and prejudice against mutants, innocently announcing to everyone there that he's a mutant. Just then, Xavier & Blaquesmith locate him, and Xavier astrally projects to his location. He arrives just as Nate uses his power to put the increasingly angry crowd at the diner to sleep, and when he tries to scan Nate, he is detected, prompting Nate to pull Xavier out of the astral plane and into the real world. He then attacks Xavier, and though Xavier tries to reason with him, he quickly realizes Nate is too angry to listen, and that the only way to end their fight is to make Nate think he's killed Xavier. Returning to his physical body, Xavier tells Blaquesmith the encounter went poorly, as he fears Nate will never trust him or his X-Men now, but for the sake of the world, they must find him again.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #117

"Adversaries...Old and New"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Dark Beast lures out Havok

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

Plot
In India, Haven struggles with the imminent birth of her child. She is confronted by Roma, and begs her help. But Roma tells her there is nothing she can do to stop the rebirth of the Adversary. Meanwhile, X-Factor is awoken by an attacking Sentinel, which turns out to be a test of their teamwork abilities overseen by Forge & Val Cooper. It ends when Havok uses his power to destroy the robot. They are watched by Random, transmitting what he sees back to Dark Beast & Fatale, but refuses to move in on Havok as ordered while the rest of the team is around. During the fight with the Sentinel, Wild Child gets knocked into Forge's lab, where he encounters the holographic Shard and is immediately smitten. Later, Mystique pulls Forge out of the team debrief and confronts him about his mood lately. He admits he's worried about the return of the Adversary, but insists he's dead, just like his mentor, Naze. However, a very much alive Naze wearily drives through the desert, knowing he must fight on. Back at Falls Edge, Havok receives a letter from someone claiming to be Scarlet, wanting to meet him at a nearby abandoned coal plant. He goes off alone, knowing full well the letter isn't from Scarlet, and finds Random waiting for him, ready to attack. Meanwhile, Roma meets Naze in the desert and notifies him that Haven has died, and the Adversary has returned!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #327

"Whispers on the Wind"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
An amnesiac Magneto stumbles across an orphanage and is given the name Joseph.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Tim Townsend & Al Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crauon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
A mysterious man stumbles across an orphanage, speaking German & displaying magnetic powers before falling unconscious. Later, he awakens and is tended to by Sister Maria, caretaker of the orphanage. As the man reveals he has amnesia tells him he can stay until he is well enough to travel. He is christened Joseph by one of the children. Time passes, and having grown fond of the children, he remains at the orphanage, helping work the land and look after the kids. Eventually, word of his mutant abilities reaches Colonel Ramos, who is eager to have a mutant's power at his disposal to further his criminal efforts. To that end, he has Sister Maria and the children kidnapped, to be used as leverage to coerce Joseph's cooperation. It doesn't work, however, as Joseph uses his power to force the location of the captives from Ramos. Joseph then goes to an old church where Maria and the children are being held in the basement. Sister Maria knows Joseph has come to save them, but when they emerge from the basement, they are shocked by the horror Joseph visited upon their captors. Seeing their disappointment in him, Joseph decides to leave the next morning, with Maria pointing him towards the X-Men as a potential place where he could find a home. Later, Maria recounts the tale of Joseph to Father Heclio, wondering if she has loosed the villain Magneto out into the world. Helcio responds that perhaps instead, she has given him the faith he needs to use his power to help humanity. All they can do now is pray that he finds his place in the world, and that the place is on the side of the angels. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

X-amining Champions #12 - Patreon First

"Did Someone Say...the Stranger?"
March 1977

In a Nutshell
The Champions battle Stilt-Man, then the Stranger.

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Bob Layton
Letterer: A Kawecki
Colorist: Don Warfield
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
The Champions return to their headquarters in the midst of a battle between Black Goliath and Stilt-Man, who is seeking the strange glowing box brought inside by a young woman. The Champions help drive Stilt-Man into a retreat, and while Black Goliath pursues him further, they meet with the woman, Regina Clayborne. As she tells them how she came into possession of the box, the cosmic Stranger suddenly appears. Taking his appearance as an attack, the Champions leap into action. As they battle the Stranger, the glowing box increases in size, absorbing Regina and part of the Stranger, prompting him to end the fight. He explains that the box contains the Null-Life Bomb, a weapon which threatens the entire universe, as it is designed to absorb all existence before exploding & destroying everything. As the bomb increases in size, the Stranger, who says he came to Earth to stop the weapon, teleports the Champions away to collect the only object capable of destroying the bomb. Moments later, they find themselves in the realm of Kamo Tharn, who bears a grudge against Hercules and vows his revenge!

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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 09

"Old Friends Not Forgotten"

Plot
On the planet Yerbana, Anakin & Obi-Wan work together to overwhelm a droid force and win the battle, after which Anakin learns he's been contacted by an old friend: Ahsoka. Shortly thereafter, Ahsoka lands on Anakin's flagship with Bo-Katan. They have arrived looking for Anakin & Obi-Wan's help in capturing Maul & freeing Mandalore from his control, action Obi-Wan insists he must run by the Jedi Council, much to Ahsoka's dismay. As he does, Ahsoka reconnects with Anakin & Rex. Eventually, they are interrupted by a klaxon as Obi-Wan rushes in to announce that Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped; he and Anakin have been recalled to Coruscant to rescue him. Wanting to help Ahsoka, Anakin splits the 501st Legion and gives it to Rex to command, under Ahsoka's guidance. Newly reinforced, Ahsoka & Bo-Katan return to Mandalore and assault the capital of Sundari. As Ahsoka leads a group of troops into the undercity, Bo-Katan storms the palace & captures Prime Minister Almec, who tells them Maul always intended for her to return with the Jedi, though perhaps not the one she brought. Just then, in the sewers beneath the city, Ahsoka comes face to face with Maul, who says disappointedly that he was hoping for Kenobi as he draws his lightsaber.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpiece Series IV

Fleer 1995

Vital Statistics
151 standard cards (including the checklist card), plus a 22 card "Canvas", 8 card "Holoflash" and two card "Mirage" insert sets and a "E-Motion Signature Series" parallel set.

The cards are almost presented entirely in portrait layout, with the card fronts featuring only the Marvel Masterpieces logo in the bottom left corner and the character's name in gold-foil writing in the other corner.

The cardbacks feature the name of the artist who painted the front image, along with a relevant quote about the character written from the perspective of a specific ally, enemy, or love interest of the character, all overlaid atop of smaller, skewed, copy of the cardfront's main image.

Firsts and Other Notables
Art for this series cards came from four artists: Dave Devries, Dimitrios Patelis, Peter Scanlan and Nelson, with each artist painting 38 characters along with two other artists, so that the first 114 cards represent 38 character who each receive three cards, each painted by one of the four artists. Each artist then contributed paintings of nine unique characters each, such that the final 36 cards represent characters receiving one card each (each of those "solo" cards features a comment on the cardback from the artist, usually explaining why they picked that character or detailing their artistic choices).

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

X-amining Champions #11 - Patreon First

"The Shadow From the Stars"
February 1977

In a Nutshell
John Byrne comes aboard as the Champions battle aliens in the desert!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Bob Layton
Letterer: Patterson
Colorist: Don Warfield
Editor: Archie Goodwin

Plot
The Champions try out their new "Champscraft" vehicle, only to have it experience mechanical issues and threaten to crash. Thankfully, Black Goliath, sent over to check on the vehicle by the manufacturer, is on hand to prevent further damage. As they discuss the near-accident, Darkstar arrives and reveals that Nick Fiury has made arrangements to allow her to stay in the country. Meanwhile, Ghost Rider is traveling through Arizona and runs into some ranchers who are being helped by Hawkeye & Two-Gun Kid. Suddenly, the group sees what appears to be a flying saucer in the distance. Back at the Champions headquarters, Black Goliath helps fix the Champscraft, just as the team hears of the disturbance in Arizona. In Arizona, the superheroes have learned the ranchers are being attacked by the alien Warlord Kaa and his shadow soldiers. Working with the newly-arrived Champions, including Darkstar, the heroes are able to drive off Kaa and his forces. Just then, Black Goliath contacts the team, saying that a woman has showed up at their headquarters with a glowing box that was stolen from his lab last week, and that Stilt-Man has shown up as well, demanding the box in order to become master of the world!

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 08

"Together Again"

The Moral of the Story
You can change who you are, but you cannot run from yourself.

Plot
Brought before the Pykes, Ahsoka offers a deal: set the Martez sisters free to retrieve the missing spice, and Ahsoka will remain behind; if the sisters don't come back, Ahsoka will give the Pykes info on their family to use as leverage. They agree, and the Martez sisters are released. Trace believes Ahsoka is sacrificing herself for them, since they have no family to be used as leverage, but Rafa, not wanting to be one-upped, vows to return with spice and free Ahsoka. Meanwhile, Ahsoka uses the Force to escape from her cell and sets out to plant charges in the Pyke's spice processing facilities. She overhears a conversation between the Pykes & Maul, and tracing the transmission to Mandalore, she gets recaptured & exposed as a Jedi in the process. Elsewhere, Trace & Rafa arrive at a Pyke loading facility, and fight the Trandoshan manager there in order to make off with a replacement spice shipment. They return to Oba Diah and are brought before Marg Krim, who reveals Ahsoka as a Jedi. Just then, the charges she set exploded, which she and the Martez sisters use as cover to escape. As they fight their way off the planet, Ahsoka explains how she left the Jedi Order, and when the three return to Coruscant, they are on friendly terms. Just then, Bo-Katan enters Trace's workshop, having followed them from Oba Diah, and says she needs Ahsoka's help to take down Maul. Ahsoka is reluctant, but Trace says she needs to help the Mandalorians just as she helped them, and Ahsoka ultimately agrees, leaving her bike with Trace, just in case, before boarding the Mandalorians' ship.