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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.

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

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!

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

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.