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Friday, January 31, 2020

X-amining X-Man #8

"Hitting Bottom"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Nate battles Rex on a yacht.

Story: Jeph Loeb
Guest Script: John Rozum
Pencils: Steve Skroce & Scott McDaniel
Inks: LaRosa, Miller, Russell, Pennington & Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas & Malibu’s Hues
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Still mourning the absent Madelyne, Nate has taken a job as a deckhand on a small yacht. His powers fluctuating, he acts churlish towards the rest of the staff and passengers. In Maryland, Blaquesmith detects his energy output and recognizes it as being similar to Cable's. Meanwhile, Rex arrives on the yacht and begins slaughtering the crew. Sensing something amiss, Nate goes up on deck and finds Rex, who he blasts with a massive burst of telekinetic energy. Detecting this surge, Blaquesmith decides such power can't go unchecked, and heads out to find Nate. Back on the boat, Nate & Rex fight, but Nate's fluctuating powers leave him vulnerable. Rex gains the upper hand and is about to kill Nate when he suddenly collapses. Standing behind him is Dark Beast, who offers Nate some long overdue answers.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

X-amining X-Factor #115

"Reaching Out to Yesterday"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Mystique & Forge and Cyclops & Havok have heart-to-heart talks.

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

Still struggling to control his powers, Havok has returned to Alaska, and is thinking back on the plane crash that separated him and his brother from their parents when Cyclops finds him, telling him they're going to get through this together. Meanwhile, in X-Factor's new base, Mystique tries to hack into Forge's files but is stopped by her inhibitor. Observed by Wild Child, the pair agree to keep each other's secrets for now. Elsewhere, Forge is visited by a vision of his deceased mentor Naze, who tells him he must return to the ways of the shaman, but his meditation is interrupted by Mystique. She tries to get Forge to open up, and he does, activating his holographic files to show her a collage of important moments in his life. One that catches her attention is Destiny telling Forge he's destined to be with Mystique. He is still pondering what she meant, while Mystique insists Destiny just wanted them to be happy together, something Forge won't accept. In Alaska, Cyclops & Havok go to a bar, and eventually get into a bar fight with some ignorant locals to blow off steam. After the fight, Cyclops insists that, no matter what, they'll always be there for each other. Elsewhere, Dark Beast reforms Random, telling him to infiltrate X-Factor, and bring him the head of Havok. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #325

"Generation of Evil"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Gene Nation launches their attack on the anniversary of the Morlock Massacre.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Townsend & Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

The X-Men & the visiting Generation X are enjoying a spirited game of baseball when Colossus suddenly teleports onto the mansion grounds, holding an injured Callisto. When she regains consciousness, she informs the X-Men that Gene Nation, comprised of renegade Morlocks, is planning to kill one human for every mutant who died during the Morlock Massacre, on the anniversary of the massacre, which is today. Meanwhile, a recovering Gambit receives a phone call from Rogue, and learns she & Iceman are heading towards Seattle. Later, the X-Men arrive in Manhattan, their movements watched by Mr. Sinister & Threnody, who also note Gambit's departure, heading towards Seattle. Storm, Colossus & Wolverine enter the Morlock tunnels alongside Callisto. After skirmishing with Gene Nation, Storm confronts their leader, Marrow, who reveals she has attached a series of bombs to a group of captured commuters, and rigged a device to her heart that will soon detonate the bombs, unless Storm kills her first. As payback for Storm's failures as leader of the Morlocks, Marrow challenges Storm to a duel, forcing her to either let the humans die, or sacrifice her morals to kill Marrow. Storm draws first blood, and eventually triumphs, ripping out Marrow's heart, disarming the bombs but killing the young woman. In the aftermath, Wolverine tells her she did the right thing, and Storm agrees, troubled by how relatively easy the decision was for her.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

X-amination in February & May 1995 Power Rankings

The anniversary of the All New, All Different X-Men continues, "Dream Nails" concludes, and X-Force & Wolverine catch-up!

On Sale August 1995

February 5: X-Men (vol. 2) #45
February 6: X-Force #46
February 7: Wolverine #93

February 12: Generation X #8
February 13: Excalibur #90
February 14: Cable #24

February 19: X-Force #47
February 20: Wolverine #94

February 26: X-Men Unlimited #8

Monday, January 27, 2020

Coming Soon: Champions & Hellions!

Couple of announcements regarding new review series to start off the week!

First, as patrons may have seen earlier today, next week will mark the beginning of my next "Patreon First" review series, as I take a look at the oft-derided mid-70s Champions book, a series which earns its X-adjacent status thanks to the presence of Angel & Iceman on a roster that is delightfully hodgepodge (also, John Byrne gets involved later in the run). Become a patron now in order to gain access to X-aminations of Champions before everyone else, and read along as I tackle such topics as Angel's trippy new costume, being a superhero in LA, and sentient Nazi bees.

Friday, January 24, 2020

X-amining Cable #23

"Family Secrets"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable searches for Tyler as Domino tracks down Grizzly.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ian Churchill (pgs 1-5, 8-9, 12-15, 21-22)
Inkers: Scott Hanna & Mark Buckingham
Art: Tim Sale (pgs. 6-7, 10-11, 17-20)
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Cable is meditating on the lawn of the X-Mansion when he is interrupted by Storm. He shows her a postcard he received recently, addressed to "Nathan Dayspring", a name not many know him by. She suggests he speak to Professor X about it. Meanwhile, Domino tracks Grizzly in the Rockies. At the X-Mansion, Cable & Xavier discuss Tyler. Cable decides to seek help to find his villainous son. In the Rockies, Domino comes across a cabin belonging to Grizzly. Meanwhile, Cable meets with Blaquesmith, who points him to Tyler's previous sanctuary, where Blaquesmith has recently detected computer activity. After Cable leaves, Blaquesmith contacts Mother Askani, who tells him the Askani'son's trials are only beginning. In the Rockies, Domino discovers multiple bodies in the attic of Grizzly's cabin, along with a near-feral Grizzly. He blames someone for turning him into a monster, and says that only one of them will get out of the situation alive. Elsewhere, Cable searches Tyler's abandoned sanctuary and discovers the unconscious form of Jenskot, his deceased wife.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #89

"Dream Nails Part 2: Easy Tiger"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Shadowcat & Wisdom infiltrate the Dream Nails airbase.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: David Williams
Inkers: Mike Miller, Mike Christian & Phil Moy
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

After surviving an attempted assassination by Black Air, Kitty & Pete Wisdom return to the neutral ground of the Crown pub. There, Jardin, an old friend of Wisdom's, passes along info that reveals Dream Nails involves aliens. Meanwhile, Amanda Sefton returns to Muir Island, where Rory is in the midst of psycho-analyzing Spoor. In London, after searching his deceased friend's Cully's flat, Wisdom decides the only way to shake things loose is to break into the Dream Nail's base. On Muir Island, Moira discusses the Legacy Virus with Meggan & Douglock. At Dream Nail's, Kitty helps Wisdom infiltrate the base, but their presence eventually triggers an alarm that calls out Black Air troops. They manage to capture Wisdom, and he seemingly convinces Kitty to save herself and escape before they knock him out.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

X-amining Generation X #7

"Nights and Bolts"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
The school deals with the loss of the girls' dorm, while Banshee receives a mysterious call from Ireland.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Banshee, having dreams about an old case from his Interpol days, accidentally draws Emma into his dreams, now that the two are sharing Banshee's cottage in the wake of the girls' dormitory being destroyed. The next morning, Chamber laments having lost control and destroying the dorm. Paige thanks him for not telling anyone that she tried to kiss him, and though he thinks this is because she would be embarrassed if anyone knew she was attracted to a monster like him, she does have feelings for him, something which isn't lost on a watching Jubilee. Meanwhile, Synch & Skin build Artie & Leech a treehouse inside the school's biosphere. In Ireland, a woman named O'Brien rushes into a pub, desperate to get ahold of Banshee. Back at the school, Monet confronts Gateway, asking why they need to stay at the school before ultimately agreeing to the necessity. As Banshee watches them, Emma approaches and confesses to having kicked Leech when being held captive by Gene Nation, something she feels terrible about, offering to leave the school. Banshee says he's not about to send her away just as she's becoming a better person, but they are interrupted by Jubilee, alerting Banshee to the call from Mrs. O'Brien. Banshee takes the call and is stunned to learn that Cassidy Keep, his family castle, has disappeared.

Friday, January 17, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #92

"A Northern Exposure"
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine's recent changes are tested by the Hudsons.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digitial Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

With James and Heather Hudson on hand, Wolverine & Sabretooth are run through a battery of tests. Wolverine is sure that Sabretooth is faking being harmless, but no one believes him. Once the tests are done, Wolverine is taken to the Danger Room for further analysis. There, he is faced with a simulation of the first time he met the Hudsons. Overwhelmed by the memories of his near-attack on them, he flees the mansion, desperate for fresh air and solitude. Outside, he observes a motorcycle and a car on a collision course. Instinctively, he intervenes, getting run over by the car, which is driven by the abusive neighbor Wolverine almost killed recently. Almost instantly, his body heals itself, to the bewilderment of his watching friends, and he acts to save the driver, despite his earlier animosity towards him, making his friends believe Wolverine will be okay after all. As he heads back to the mansion, he feels for a moment like he's being watched, before shrugging it off. However, the cloaked Zoe Culloden and her associate were indeed watching him, having been sent to observe his actions.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

X-amining X-Force #45

"Under One Roof "
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Caliban battles Sabretooth before X-Force heads out on a mission.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Caliban attacks the now-docile Sabretooth, intent of gaining his revenge for the Morlock Massacre. A horrified Boomer tries to stop him, but it takes Cable to talk Caliban down, pointing out that killing Sabretooth in his current state would be dishonorable. Later, as Warpath & Caliban train together & Beast examines the recently injured Shatterstar, Cable meets with Professor X, who asks Cable to go on a mission for him. Cable proceeds to gather the team, but Beast holds back Shatterstar, and Boomer begs off, telling Cable she isn't feeling well in the hopes of spending some time with Cannonball. The rest of the team heads out for Siberia, to check on a relay station that has gone offline. They find the station destroyed and most of the crew dead, seemingly at the hands of Mimic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #44

"Lost and Found"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
In the wake of Avalon's destruction, Cyclops fights to keep himself and the Acolytes alive.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

After crashing to Earth in the wake of Avalon's destruction, Colossus is found in Antarctica by an armored figure. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier strains to telepathically search the globe for any sign of Cyclops or Phoenix. Just then, he is contacted by Bishop. Tracking an emergency signal given to the X-Men by Amelia Voght, he & Psylocke have found Phoenix & Skids, alive and well. Meanwhile, Cyclops and a group of Acolytes have landed in the Australian Outback, with Cyclops doing his best to keep them alive while sending Scanner out on recon missions to get their bearings. In Antarctica, Colossus is taken inside Magneto's former citadel. Later, Xavier approaches Voght about using her powers in concert with his to locate Cyclops, though Voght balks at the risk in doing so to Xavier's life. In the Outback, Cyclops manages to lead the Acolytes to the X-Men's old Australian base, using the equipment there to call the mansion for help. In Antarctica, Colossus regains consciousness and learns his rescuer is Callisto. She tells him that in exchange for saving his life, she needs his and the X-Men's help to save the world.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 08


Outside of town, two Scout Troopers retrieve the child, then await further orders. However, IG-11 soon arrives and, following its programming as the child's nurse, kills the troopers. Meanwhile, Moff Gideon gives the Mandalorian, Cara & Greef until nightfall to turn themselves over to him. The Mandalorian suggests escaping via the tunnels beneath the city, used by the Mandalorian covert, but they are unable to open the access hatch. Just then, IG-11, the child in tow, blazes into town. During the ensuing melee, the Mandalorian is injured. Regrouping inside the tavern, Cara & Greef take the child into the tunnels while IG-11 removes the injured Mandalorian's helmet in order to administer medicine. Everyone reunites in the tunnels, where only the Armorer remains of the covert. She tasks the Mandalorian with returning the child to his people, calling them a clan of two and awarding him a Mudhorn signet (along with a jet pack). The group then follows her directions out of the city as she holds off a group of Stormtroopers. But another squad is waiting for them outside the tunnels, and IG-11 sacrifices himself to take them out. Outside, Moff Gideon attacks from his TIE fighter, and the Mandalorian takes to the sky via jetpack to send him crashing down. In the aftermath, Cara decides to remain on Nevarro to work as Greef''s enforcer, while the Mandalorian sets out with the child to find his people. Elsewhere, Moff Gideon emerges from the wreckage of his TIE fighter, wielding the Mandalorian Darksaber.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

X-amining Strange Tales #120

"The Torch Meets the Iceman!"
May 1964

In a Nutshell
The Torch meets the Iceman

Deftly Written: Stan Lee
Dazzlingly Drawn: Jack Kirby
Dramatically Inked: Dick Ayers
Distinctively Lettered: S. Rosen

The Human Torch, reading an article about the X-Men calling Iceman a cold version of him, expresses an interest in meeting Iceman. He then heads out for a date on the Hudson River with Doris. Meanwhile, Iceman, lamenting his lack of success asking Jean Grey out on a date, is given the night off by Professor Xavier. He decides to head into the city and boards the same boat cruise as Human Torch. After Iceman bumps into Human Torch & Dorrie (neither of whom realize he is Iceman), the boat is attacked by pirates led by Captain Barracuda. Human Torch & Iceman spring into action. Working together, they are able to block the pirates' efforts to counteract their respective powers, and Captain Barracuda is defeated and left for the police. As Iceman walks back to shore alone, Human Torch returns to his date with Doris. Both are certain that a guy like Iceman must have dozens of girlfriends.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

X-amining 2099: Manifest Destiny - Patreon First

March 1998

In a Nutshell
The heroes of 2099 band together with a returned Captain America to conqueror the stars!

Writer: Len Kaminski
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Mark McKenna
Letterer: Jason Wright
Colorist: Comicraft
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Xina and Spider-Man's brother Gabe follow a "treasure map" underwater and discover a figure trapped in ice: Captain America. Meanwhile, Spider-Man, now the head of Alchemax, argues with Xi'an, governor of Xavier City, about the Meta Genome Project. He is interrupted by the arrival of Gabe & Xina with Captain America. Once Cap awakens, Spider-Man asks him for information about the end of the "Age of Heroes", in the hope of preventing a similar outcome in his time. Later, Spider-Man reveals that he's found Don Blake's old walking stick, and hopes Cap will use it to adopt the powers of Thor and serve as an inspiration to people. Cap reluctantly agrees. Time passes, and the Watcher, along with the Fantastic Four, creations of the Watcher, approach Spider-Man & Cap and ask them to gather Earth's heroes in the hopes of assaulting an invisible barrier placed around Earth by a group of aliens, preventing humanity from exploring the stars.

Working together, the heroes assault the barrier, but it reflects their energy, hitting the Watcher. Enraged, he sacrifices himself to destroy the barrier, and in the ensuing collapse, Captain America is thrown further into space. He passes Thor's hammer to Spider-Man, who realizes his purpose is to be a less action-oriented hero. As the head of Alchemax, he releases the Meta Genome Project for free, much to the consternation of his board. Over the next thousand years, the world grows increasingly better: Reed Richards helps the Atlanteans resettle on Europa, most of humanity gains superpowers and extra long life, enabling them to migrate into space. Eventually, Captain America returns, and tells an ancient Spider-Man he intends to travel deeper into the frontier, to hopefully inspire new generations. Spider-Man gives him Thor's hammer, and when Cap wonders why the gods left Earth, Spider-Man suggests that perhaps they did so once they saw a noble-enough people rise to take their place.

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

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Episode 07

"The Reckoning"

Receiving a message from Greef Carga calling for a truce in an effort to free both Navarro and the Mandalorian of the client, a suspicious Mandalorian recruits backup in the form of Cara, Kuiil, and a reprogrammed IG-11. Arriving on Navarro, Carga promises them the client remains lightly guarded, and tells the Mandalorian he plans to use the child as bait to get them close so the Mandalorian can kill the Client.. As the group journeys towards the city, they are attacked by flying creatures who badly injure Carga. However, the child uses the Force to heal his wounds, and this act of compassion prompts Carga to reveal that he intended to double-cross the Mandalorian. Instead, they will truly take out the Client together. The Mandalorian then sends Kuiil back to his ship with the child; he & Cara will pose as Carga's prisoners, along with the empty hover pram. But when they reach the city, they find the Imperial presence to be greatly increased, and when they reach the client, they are interrupted by a call from Moff Gideon, who arrives on the scene and targets the group with a furious volley of shots, killing the client. The Mandalorian and his allies survive, but are pinned down, while on the outskirts of the city, Kuiil is killed by a pair of Imperial scout troopers, who scoop up the child and head back to a waiting Gideon.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

X-amining Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1

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

"High Tide!"
February 1987

In a Nutshell
Spider-Man battles Wolverine in Berlin!

Writer: James C. Owsley
Penciler: Mark Bright
Inks: Al Williamson
Letters: Bill Oakley
Colors: Petra Scotese
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Years ago, before joining the X-Men, Wolverine helped defend his friend Charlie from KGB agents. Afterwards, Charlie disappeared. In the present, Spider-Man runs afoul of a series of murders. Frustrated by his inability to help the victims and screwing up his relationship with Mary Jane in the process, he swears off being Spider-Man. Meanwhile, reporter Ned Leeds believes the murders to be connected, that all the victims were former KGB agents targeted by the freelance mercenary Charlemagne. He prevails on J. Jonah Jameson to send him to West Berlin to investigate further, and Jameson sends a reluctant Peter Parker with him. Meanwhile, Wolverine also recognizes the work of Charlemagne in the killings, and heads to Berlin himself. There, he runs into Peter Parker and identifies him by scent as Spider-Man. Confronting him, Wolverine convinces Peter that he is in over his head, and Peter agrees to go home. However, when he returns to the hotel, he finds Ned dead, murdered by the KGB.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

X-aminations in January 2019...and Beyond!

And we're back!

Obviously, posting in general has been a bit hit or miss of late, on account of the holidays & my late-year international travel taking a lot more out of me than I expected (important safety trip: don't try to cram a months' worth of holiday activities into a week-and-a-half). But I've built a little cushion into the first reviews of the year (I cushion I'm currently taking advantage of) so that by mid-January, I should be primed and ready to dive back into the thick of things.

The first is a special Retro X-amination that comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Bob McLennan, whose twelve months of patronage earned him the opportunity to select an issue for review.

After that, I'll be doing another Retro X-amination from the Silver Age, something that teases the next "Patreon First" series I'll be reviewing now that the 2099 material is winding down.

After that, we return to regular series coverage with the conclusion of "Fall of Avalon", another "All New, All Different" anniversary celebration issue, a double dose of X-Force & Wolverine as both series get back on the proper shipping schedule, a bunch of '95 annuals, the end of the "Sabretooth in the mansion" plotline and, of course, more "Onslaught" build-up!

As always, let me know if there's anything you think should be reviewed that I may have missed.

(Also, I'm skipping the overall series' Power Rankings since we're still so early in the immediate post-AoA era; Power Rankings will return in the next X-aminations Ahead post).