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

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7 Episode 02

"A Distant Echo"

The Moral of the Story
The search for truth begins with belief.

Plot
Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker joins Rex and the Bad Batch on a mission to Skago Minor, following the signal Rex believes to have come from Echo. Shortly after arriving on the planet, they are attacked by the native Poletec, but with translation help from Tech, they learn the Poletec merely want to avoid becoming embroiled in the war, and agree to help the Republic forces oust the Separatists, guiding them to the city of Purkoll. Their approach is noticed by Techno-Union foreman Wat Tambor, who decides to set a trap. Anakin and the clones attack his citadel, but Wrecker quickly ignores Anakin's orders to take a more stealthy approach. Fighting their way inside instead, Rex and Tech follow the signal to a locked chamber. Inside, they find Echo, alive but attached to a stasis pod, unsure of where he is. Rex promises him that he's going home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #8

"First Contact"
 October 1995

In a Nutshell
Chris Bradley learns he's a mutant, meets the X-Men, and is diagnosed with the Legacy Virus.

Writer: Howard Mackie
Pencilers: Dan Lawlis & Tom Grummet
Inker: Iam Akin
Letterer: Matt Webb
Colorist: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover: Adam Pollina & Ian Akin
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
High school freshman Chris Bradley is excited to get to school and ask out his crush, Donna, but when his mutant ability to control electricity manifests, he's has to stay home as his parents try to figure out what's happening to him. Later, when he returns to school, he gets up the nerve to ask out Donna, but when his power again manifests, he runs out of the school and into Jean Grey & Gambit, who have been watching him. They meet with Chris' parents and offer him a place at the Xavier Institute, but Chris turns them down, until his friend Jeff rejects him for being a mutant. At the X-Mansion, Chris meets the X-Men and learns about the Danger Room. He begins learning to control his powers under the mentor-ship of Iceman. However, a routine blood test reveals that Chris has also contracted the Legacy Virus. He is overwhelmed by the news, but after a heart-to-heart with Iceman, comes to accept his fate. His powers under control, he decides to return home and live the best life he can. He attempts to reunite with Jeff, but Jeff still wants nothing to do with him. Donna, however, does, even after Chris tells her about his terminal illness, and Chris rushes home to call Iceman and tell him all about it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

X-amining Champions #4 - Patreon First

"Murder at Malibu"
March 1976

In a Nutshell
The Champions battle a scientist trying to recreate the Super Soldier serum.

Guest Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: George Tuska
Inker: Vince Colleta
Letterer: I Watanabee
Colorist: P. Rache
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
Black Widow & Hercules are attacked on the beach by an old man with surprisingly-superhuman strength and agility. They overpower him, but are then attacked by armed mercenaries, who take all three into custody. They are taken to San Marino mental hospital and brought before Dr. Lansing, who explains the old man was the first successful test of his efforts to recreate the Super Soldier serum which created Captain America. He then brainwashes Black Widow & Hercules and sets them, along with a group of mutates he's created, against Angel, Iceman, Ghost Rider and Ivan. During the course of the ensuing battle, Black Widow manages to regain her senses enough to shatter Lansing's control box, freeing herself and Hercules. Lansing attempts to escape, but without the control box, the mutates turn on him, killing him. By dawn, the police arrive, and Angel reminds everyone that world needs people like them: Champions.

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

Monday, February 24, 2020

X-amination in March 2020 & June 1995 Power Rankings


A pair of annuals (including Generation X's first) lead off the month, followed by more developments in the Sabretooth plotline, an Age of Apocalypse reunion, and the beginning of Adjectiveless' post-Nicieza life!

On Sale August 1995
March 4: X-Men (vol. 2) '95

March 11: Generation X '95

On Sale September 1995
March 18: Uncanny X-Men #326
March 19: X-Factor #116
March 20: X-Man #9

March 25: X-Men (vol. 2) #46
March 26: X-Force #48
March 27: Wolverine #95

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Force in Focus: The Clones Wars Season 7x01

"The Bad Batch"

The Moral of the Story
"Embrace others for their differences, for that makes you whole."

Plot
Facing mounting losses in their defense of the Republic shipyards on Anaxes, Clone commanders Rex & Cody approach generals Mace Windu & Anakin Skywalker with a theory: using analytics, the Separatist droid army has learned to counter Rex's various strategies. They propose a mission behind enemy lines to steal any info on the process from the Separatist Cyber Center. Privately, Rex confesses to Cody that he believes Echo may still be alive, as he and Rex devised many of the strategies currently being blunted. Shortly thereafter, Clone Force 99, the four-man "bad batch" of troopers, arrives on Anaxes for the mission. Alongside Rex & Cody, they travel behind enemy lines, but are shot down. Traveling on foot, the force comes across a Separatist outpost en route to the Cyber Center. Though it possess little strategic value, the clones capture it, hoping to keep the Separatists off guard. They then proceed to the Cyber Center, where they intercept a signal being broadcast from Skagos Minor by someone who identifies himself as CT-1409. In the wake of a mounting Separatist counter-attack, the clones escape from the center. Rex, brooding in the wake of the mission, is more certain than ever that Echo is alive: CT-1409 was his identification number.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #94

"The Lurker in the Machine"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine visits Generation X

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Chris Alexander
Inks: Mike Sellers & Al Milgrom
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Coloring: Joe Rosas
Separations: Violent Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
The Dark Riders arrive in the devastated city of Akkaba, and proceed from there with Cyber to their master's citadel. Meanwhile, Wolverine arrives at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters at Jubilee's request, and Emma declares him the school's first guest lecturer. He gathers the students inside the biosphere for a lesson in hand-to-hand combat, but during the session, he senses something and orders everyone out. The next day, Jubilee & Skin tell their classmates about waking up in the middle of night and witnessing Wolverine enter the biosphere. As they watched, Wolverine confronted some sort of malevolent spirit, one which forced him into a berserker rage and radiated anger in visible waves. Wolverine managed to drive it out, before leaving the school himself. Banshee says he believes Wolverine encountered a Token, a spirit of the dead which can't abide its own kind, which is how Wolverine forced it to leave. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

X-amining X-Force #47

"Breakout"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Deadpool breaks Siryn out of the Weisman Institute.

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

Plot
Deadpool breaks into the Weisman Institute and frees Siryn from her power inhibiting collar. However, the pair are unknowingly watched by young Jeremy Stevens. Meanwhile, working together, X-Force manages to fly the damaged PACRAT back to the mansion. At the Weisman Institute, Siryn & Deadpool fight their way to Dr. Weisman, who insists she's done nothing wrong before a brief moment of seeming clarity. Just then, Siryn & Deadpool are telepathically knocked out by Jeremy. Back at the X-Mansion, the boys check in on Shatterstar in the med bay, while Boomer calls her father. Later, Siryn suddenly returns to the mansion, much to Warpath's delight, but Siryn simply tells him she needs to speak to Cable, to whom she declares that everything is fine at the Weisman Institute. Outside, Sunspot laments endangering the team in Siberia, but Cable telepathically assures him everyone makes mistakes. Sunspot thanks him in the language of Askani, shocking them both. Inside, Boomer visits Sabretooth, and is dismayed to learn he can talk. He asks for the Danger Room setting be changed to the forest outside, but gets scared when a holographic Wolverine is included in the simulation. Meanwhile, back at the institute, Dr. Weisman interrogates Deadpool under the direction of Jeremy, who is pleased to have another player in his game.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

X-amining Champions #3 - Patreon First

"Assault on Olympus"
February 1976

In a Nutshell
Black Widow, Angel, Iceman & Ghost Rider storm Olympus to rescue Hercules & Venus!

Plot: Tony Isabella
Script: Bill Mantlo
Pencils: George Tuska
Inks: Vince Colleta
Letters: Karen Mantlo
Colors: George Roussos
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
As Angel, Black Widow and Iceman lament their inability to stop Hercules & Venus from being taken to Olympus, Ghost Rider returns, having found a way for the group to reach the mythical realm: the mountain of ice created by Iceman to block one of the portals Pluto used to come to Earth remains, meaning the portal itself still exist behind the ice. On Olympus, Zeus bemoans his inability to change Hercules' fate. Just then, the Huntsman, passing near the clogged portal, sees the wall of ice explode, revealing the four heroes charging through behind it. They attack Pluto's forces, with Angel knocking out the Huntsman, prompting Hercules & Venus to join the fray. Pluto himself enters the battle, but Ghost Rider convinces Zeus of Pluto's lies & machinations, prompting him to banish Pluto from his sight, ending Pluto's plans. Zeus apologizes to his son, and offers him his choice of punishment for the offenders, but Venus urges forgiveness, with which the rest of the heroes agree. The group, joined by Hercules, then departs for Earth, with Angel wondering what will happen next.

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



Friday, February 14, 2020

X-amining Cable #24

"Lost Souls"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Cable learns he has to go back to the future while Domino battles Grizzly.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Sal Larroca
Inks: Bud LaRosa, Al Milgrom & Bob McCloud
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Mike Thomas
Editor: Lisa Patrick
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Grizzly attacks Domino, and their fight spills out of Grizzly's cabin and into the woods. Meanwhile, Cable brings the unconscious Jenskot to Blaquesmith. When she wakes up, she tells them she was sent to the past to bring Cable to the future in order to save the life of her beloved, Nathan Dayspring. In the Rockies, Domino & Grizzly's fight escalates, and Domino is forced to kill him in self-defense. Before he dies, he tells her Tyler, Cable's son, made him savage as an act of revenge. Back on Blaquesmith's ship, Jenskot realizes that Cable is an older version of Nathan, and reveals that she needs him to go back to the night of an important battle for the Clan Chosen, when Nathan has grown mysteriously ill. He agrees, and Blaquesmith sends them to the future, after which Mother Askani appears, reminding him his work isn't done. In the Rockies, Domino buries Grizzly, then disappears as Blaquesmith also sends her into the future, while Grizzly's cabin burns.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #90

"Dream Nails Part 3: Blood Eagle"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Kitty & Pete Wisdom take down the Dream Nails base.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Ken Lashley, David Williams, Carlos Pacheco & Larry Stroman
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Mike Miller, Cam Smith & Larry Stroman
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas, Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
A captive Wisdom awakens to find himself being tortured by Shrine, a telepath who intends to trigger painful memories of Wisdom's past which will stress him out, thereby activating the Blood Eagle virus Black Air has created which causes physical pain tuned to stressful reactions. Elsewhere, Kitty searches Dream Nails for Wisdom. Meanwhile, Wolfsbane arrives on Muir Isle. Back at Dream Nails, Kitty discovers specimens of alien species encountered by Black Air, and runs into the escaped Uncreated, the aliens whom Black Air weaponized to create Blood Eagle. At Muir Island, Rory assures Amanda Sefton he has no intention of letting anything happen to put him on the path to becoming Ahab, but when he resumes his treatment of Spoor, Spoor reveals he knows that Rory has run out of the mood stabilizers which make him immune to Spoor's powers. At Dream Nails, Kitty phases past the Uncreated while Wisdom turns the tables on Shrine, overwhelming him with the horror of Wisdom's memories, allowing him to escape. At the same time, Spoor goads Rory into attacking him, which triggers the defensive laser grid, slicing off Rory's leg. At Dream Nails, Wisdom & Kitty reunite, then trigger an explosion which destroys the base. Flying back to Muir, they set the Midnight Runner on autopilot as they succumb to their romantic feelings for one another.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

X-amining Generation X #8

"What Happened to Cassidy Keep?!"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation X investigates the disappearance of Cassidy Keep.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Mark Buckingham and Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Standing on the edge of a vast canyon, Banshee, alongside Emma and the rest of Generation X, wonders where the heck his ancestral home, Cassidy Keep, has gone, something which interests Black Air agent Scicluna as well. As the adults discuss the situation, Synch discovers he can use his powers to connect to the dimension into which the castle disappeared, which pulls him and the nearby Chamber into that realm. The rest of the group follow them by jumping into a plume of purple mist, and end up scattered in the realm of faerie. Elsewhere, Mondo's friend Cordelia dives into the ocean, and when she fails to emerge, Mondo goes in after her. Back in the faerie land, Chamber & Synch are battling a group of armored knights, while Banshee & Emma wake up in a dungeon alongside Eamon O'Donnell, the leprechaun keeper of Cassidy Keep. The rest of the students are confronted by Grand Dame, a fairy queen, who needs their help to repair the glamour machine, the source of the realm's magical power. Approaching the machine, M once more goes catatonic, then begins working, even as an angry dragon beats down the door, wondering who is messing with the glamour machine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

X-amining Champions #2 - Patreon First

"Whom the Gods Would Join..."
January 1976

In a Nutshell
Pluto steps up his plan as the Champions battle the Huntsman.

Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Don Heck
Inker: John Tartag
Letterer: Irv Watanabe
Colorist: Phil Rache
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, Venus & Ghost Rider fight Pluto, Hippolyta & Ares, forcing the gods back to Olympus through a portal, which Iceman then seals with ice. On Olympus, Pluto reveals how he's formed a mutual defense pact with other underworld lords, which he uses as leverage to force Zeus into enforcing Pluto's arranged marriages. Back on Earth, Ghost Rider completes a sweep of the UCLA campus and reports all their previous mythological foes have vanished, but just then, the Huntsman, sent by Zeus, attacks Hercules and his allies. The Huntsman in turn summons the massive Menoetius to battle the heroes. Under Black Widow's leadership, the group fights back, but the Huntsman manages to trick Ghost Rider into turning his hellfire on his allies, knocking them out. Huntsman then escapes to Olympus with Hercules & Venus, leaving Black Widow, Angel, Iceman & Ghost Rider despairing over how four mortals can possibly track somebody to Olympus.

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

Monday, February 10, 2020

Black Hat Blues -- Now on Audible!


Gene Kendall here, promoting the audio release of my book Black Hat Blues as if I were born with no shame. This is my first excursion into the world of audio, and to be honest, it’s an avenue I never thought I’d explore.
But, I received an email out of the blue, raising the possibility of creating an audiobook through Audible’s ACX site. Investigating, I became intrigued at the prospect, but a little nervous about how this would play out.

Friday, February 7, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #93

"Tavern in the Town"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
Wolverine, Cannonball & Juggeranut walk into a bar.

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green & Matt Ryan
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Scotland, the Dark Riders break Cyber out of prison and take him to their leader. At the X-Mansion, Cannonball & Wolverine are racing each other through the woods around the mansion when Juggernaut suddenly regains consciousness. Still worried about Onslaught, he quickly busts his way out of the mansion. Later, Wolverine & Cannonball are having beers at a local bar when Juggernaut comes in. Cannonball drunkenly picks a fight but is no match for the Juggernaut. Wolverine then confronts him and urges him to leave, which Juggernaut agrees to do; he knows what's coming, and has no desire to stick around. As Juggernaut leaves out the back, he's teleported away by Zoe Culloden and her associate, who say he'll no longer be a problem. When Wolverine follows behind him and finds Juggernaut gone, he's once again struck with the feeling of being watched.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

X-amining X-Force #46

"Behind Closed Doors"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
X-Force battles Mimic

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

Plot
At the Weisman Institute, the institutionalized Siryn is caught by Dr. Wesiman searching computer files. Siryn tries to tell Weisman that she's an associate of Professor Xavier's, but Weisman has Siryn knocked out & carried away. Meanwhile, X-Force is attacked by Mimic, who destroys the PACRAT after copying Warpath's powers and being overwhelmed by his heretofore unknown enhanced senses. Back at the X-Mansion, Boomer continues to visit Sabretooth. In Siberia, Mimic turns on Cable, and Sunspot defies orders to engage him, which causes their powers to enter an energy loop, triggering an explosion. At the X-Mansion, Wolverine wakes Boomer up in the middle of the night to warn her away from Sabretooth. In Siberia, X-Force regains consciousness to discover Mimic missing and a massive crater being left in his wake. At the Weisman Institute, Siryn, unknowingly watched by the young Jeremy Stevens, debates her options. With Cable failing to respond to her calls for help and her unwillingness to involve Xavier directly, she makes a call to the only person left who can help her: Deadpool.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #45


"The Enemy of My Enemy..."
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit confronts Rogue over the memories she absorbed from him.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers & Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As they make their way towards Seattle, Iceman continues to push Rogue to discuss the memories she absorbed from Gambit, but she relents. Meanwhile, Gambit arrives in Seattle himself, hoping to find Rogue and settle things between them. He tracks down Iceman at a local college bar, shortly after Rogue flew off, exposing her and Iceman as mutants. In New York, Graydon Creed watches a news report on Gene Nation's attack, and toys with the idea of running for President. In Seattle, Gambit & Iceman track Rogue to an rundown theater, a place she was led by Gambit's memories. Gambit tries to convince Rogue to return with him to the X-Men, but she refuses, saying she needs to find out for herself what the memories she took from Gambit are and why they cause him so much pain. When she presses Gambit to tell her about the memories, he won't do it, fearing it would destroy everything he's attained for himself. But he does offer himself to Rogue completely, extending a hand to allow her to touch him once again. Rogue, however, turns away. They both declare their love for one another, but Rogue says she needs more time away to settle her feelings, and flies off. Gambit tells Iceman to return to the mansion, but remains in Seattle himself for a few more days to clear his head. During his wanderings, Mr. Sinister appears, telling him that nothing is settled, and he'll need to reckon with their past together eventually.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

X-amining Champions #1 - Patreon First

"The World Still Needs Champions!"
October 1975

In a Nutshell
Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, Hercules & Ghost Rider come together against the forces of Pluto!

Writer: Tony Isabella
Penciler: Don Heck
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: Dave Hunt
Colorist: Petra G.
Editor: Marv Wolfman

Plot
Former X-Men Angel & Iceman are wandering the campus of UCLA, lamenting the lack of superhero adventure in their lives now that they're no longer X-Men. Just then, a group of monstrous green Harpies appear and start attacking students. Elsewhere on campus, Black Widow and her associate Ivan, at the school for a job interview, are attacked by a group of Amazons seeking Venus, who is working at the university under the name Dr. Victoria Starr. Black Widow helps Venus fight off the Amazons, and the two escape onto the school's grounds. Also on campus is Hercules, who is attacked by a group of mutates. Driving nearby, the demonic Ghost Rider is confronted by the massive Cerberus, the guardian of Hades. Fearing its power, Ghost Rider retreats, and runs into Hercules. Together, the pair come across Black Widow, Iceman & Angel battling the Amazons and the Harpies. Working together, along with Venus, the five heroes defeat their respective foes, at which point Pluto, God of the Underworld appears, flanked by Ares and the Amazon's leader Hippolyta. He declares that Venus must wed Ares, and Hercules must wed Hippolyta, before the day is done or else the universe will die!

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