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

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. 

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

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