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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #331

"The Splinter of Our Discontent"
April 1996

In a Nutshell
Iceman seeks out Emma Frost while Archangel & Psylocke take a leave from the X-Men.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Guest Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Guest Inker: Paul Neary
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Members of X-Force respond to an explosion at Beast's lab, pulling him out and extinguishing the fire. He is taken to the medlab, saying he'll be his loveable old self soon enough. Meanwhile, in New York City, Iceman confronts Emma Frost at the offices of Frost Enterprises. In Colorado, Gambit, Bishop & Xavier see that Archangel & the recovering Psylocke are settled in Archangel's home. Back in New York, Iceman tells Emma he needs her help to transform back to his human form. Elsewhere, Cyclops & Phoenix have returned to the site of Post's attack on the X-Men, only to find the landscape vastly different than during their battle. In New York, Banshee & Jubilee wait outside Frost Enterprises, while inside, Emma uses her telepathy to taunt Iceman with a series of illusions, forcing him to push himself and finally unlock his powers, enabling him to return to flesh-and-blood.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 9 - Patreon First!

"Come the Apocalypse"

Original Airdate
February 27, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Mark Edward Edens 

Plot
On Muir Island, Mystique begins the process of transforming Warren Worthington into Apocalypse's slave. Later, Cyclops, Jean, Rogue & Xavier gather at a nearby pub, where a group of mutants is gathered, eagerly awaiting news of Adler's cure. When Warren runs in, free of his wings, and declares the cure is a success, many in the crowd enthusiastically volunteer. Apocalypse proceeds to transform three of those volunteers into his Horsemen of War, Famine and Plague, to be led by the not-actually-cured Warren as Archangel, the Horseman of Death. Apocalypse and his Horsemen proceed to attack a peace conference in Paris. The X-Men spring into action, with Xavier sending Rogue back to Muir Island to find Dr. Adler. As Apocalypse's Horseman ravage Europe, Rogue finds Adler, and learns he is actually Mystique, who also impersonated the wingless Warren. During the ensuing scuffle, Adler's machine is destroyed & Mystique escapes, but Rogue learns Apocalypse has a base near Stonehenge. After the X-Men manage to fight off the Horsemen, they retreat to that base, followed by the X-Men, who are joined by Rogue. During the ensuing fight, Rogue touches Archangel, absorbing his rage and the power given him by Apocalypse. Appalled at what he's become, Archangel turns on the other Horsemen, prompting Apocalypse to flee. Archangel helps Rogue come back to herself, then flies off, consumed with guilt.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #10

"Need to Know"
 March 1996

In a Nutshell
Dark Beast captures Beast in order to take his place amongst the X-Men.

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Frank Toscano & Nick Gnazzo
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Matt Webb
Separations: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Determined to learn more about his counterpart in order to better hide from Mr. Sinister amongst the X-Men, Dark Beast visits Beast's now-elderly principal and learns about young Beast's insatiable curiosity, then kills him. Meanwhile, at the X-Mansion, Beast continues his near-obsessive study of the Legacy Virus, much to the growing consternation of his teammates, unaware that Dark Beast has hacked his computers. As he observes Beast, Dark Beast injects himself with a serum, triggering further physical changes. Later, posing as Beast, he meets with Mindy, a high school sweetheart of Beast's. Learning what he can from her, he kills her, too. At the X-Mansion, Iceman tries to get Beast to take a break, but he refuses. Elsewhere, Dark Beast meets with Beast's priest and, after a brief interview, blows up the church. At his lair, he continues to experiment on himself, further changing his appearance. He proceeds to visit Beast's parents, but finds himself unable to kill them. Later, a message appears on Beast's computer screen with information about the Legacy Virus; determined to find the source, Beast tracks it to the abandoned Brand Corporation building. Dark Beast is waiting, and the two fight. Learning of the deaths Dark Beast has perpetuated, Beast snaps, becoming more beast-like than ever, but Dark Beast snaps him back to his senses by telling him that if Dark Beast dies, Beast will never learn where he came from. This gives Dark Beast an opening to knock Beast out. He awakens to find himself being walled up by Dark Beast. He pleads with Dark Beast, asking him why he's doing this, but Dark Beast simply says "because" as he lays the last brick.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 8 - Patreon First!

 "The Cure"

Original Airdate
February 20th 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Mark Edward Edens 

Plot
In Switzerland, Warren Worthington and his girlfriend are attacked by Cable, who is looking for Dr. Adler, the scientist responsible for the power-suppressing collars used in Genosha. Warren is able to fight Cable off, but, believing his girlfriend has rejected him for being a mutant, he flies off.  Meanwhile, at the Muir Island Research Center, Professor X tries to meet with Dr. Adler, but is rebuffed, and receives visions of a strange being when trying read Adler's mind. Xavier then contacts the X-Men and tells them about Adler's purported "cure" for being a mutant. Rogue, unhappy with her inability to touch anyone, flies off for Scotland to investigate. She encounters Pyro & Avalanche at a local pub, waiting for Mystique; after a brief scuffle with them, Rogue forces her way into Adler's facility, demanding the cure; he tells her to return in an hour, then transforms into Mystique, who is told by her secret master, Apocalypse, to user Adler's machine to make Rogue his slave. Later, Adler begins the process on Rogue, but is interrupted by Pyro & Avalanche, who kidnap him. As Cyclops and Jean arrive & meet with Xavier, worried that Rogue wants the cure, Rogue attempts to rescue Adler, but is stopped by Cable. When he attempts to kill Adler, Mystique reveals herself. Just then, the X-Men arrive, and Mystique shifts back. The X-Men attack Cable, attempting to save "Adler". Both Cable & Jean get thrown over the cliff, but while Rogue saves Jean, Cable disappears. Back at Adler's lab, Rogue helps repair his machine, but declines to use it, having come to appreciate her mutants powers for their capacity to help people. She meets Warren on the way out, who has arrived to receive the cure himself. Later, Mystique reveals to Apocalypse that Warren is actually a mutant. Apocalypse says he already knew this, as he knows more about the world than she can imagine, which is why it must be destroyed.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

X-aminations in October 2020 & December 1995 Power Rankings


Wolverine's big centennial issue was delayed, so that gets delayed to the end of October, but otherwise, this is a pretty straight-forward month, with no goofy one-shots or limited series. Aside from Wolverine #100, we've got the bulk of the Cable/X-Man "Identity Crisis" crossover (with the order of review swapped around to allow for better crossover reading), the arrival of Mark Waid on X-Men, and the climax of the Adversary story (and, sadly, Steve Epting's run as regular artist) in X-Factor!

On Sale February 1996
September 30: Uncanny X-Men #331
October 1: X-Factor #121
October 2: Cable #30

October 7: X-Men (vol. 2) #51
October 8: X-Force #53

October 14: Generation X  #14
October 15: Excalibur #96
October 16: X-Man #14

On Sale March 1996
October 21: Uncanny X-Men #332
October 22: X-Factor #122
October 23: X-Man #15 

October 28: X-Men (vol. 2) #52
October 29: X-Force #54
October 31: Wolverine #100

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer


Disney finally released a trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian (a season which, reportedly, completed filming before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, preventing it from being impacted in any way by that, so whatever we're getting, it's being presented as intended), which is set to debut on Disney+ on October 30th. Here are five things of note which caught my eye from the trailer. 

(And, quick note on future Force in Focus posts - my plan is to run a series of posts closing out the original Marvel Star Wars comic in the next few weeks, leading up the release of Mandalorian Season 2. Then I'll review each episode of the season as with the first, and after that...maybe something a little different, at least in terms of my approach).

Friday, September 18, 2020

X-amining Cable #29

 "Man in the Mirror"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
After learning about his tremendous power, Cable sets out in search of Nate Grey. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inker: Scott Hanna 
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft 
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Color Works
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Cable greets Blaquesmith, who has come to the X-Mansion for a summit to discuss Nate Grey along with Professor X, Cyclops, Phoenix, and Moira MacTaggart. Moira shares information on Nate culled from their recent encounter, and theorizes that his power levels may rival or exceed that of Dark Phoenix. This sparks a series of discussions, but given the dearth of information about Nate's origins. they quickly reach an impasse. This prompts Blaquesmith to freeze the discussion, wiping all memory of it from everyone's minds except for Cable and him. Cable is upset, but Blaquesmith insists it's better that fewer people know of his existence. Cable resolves to go after Nate alone, but makes Blaquesmith promise that if he doesn't return, Blaquesmith will unlock everyone's memories of the day. Blaquesmith wishes Cable a good journey, then Cable departs for a confrontation with X-Man! 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #95

"Amplified Heart"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate Grey gets yelled at by Moira.

Writer; Warren Ellis
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Following an explosion, Excalibur converges on Muir Island's communications room, where Nate Grey is accusing Moira MacTaggart of running a shady operation to experiment on mutants. But Moira stands up for herself, and admonishes Nate for consistently reacting to half-truths from untrustworthy sources. She opens her mind to him, and he sees the truth: that his own powers - not Moira or Xavier or anyone else - will kill him before he turns 21. Excalibur then tries to calm him down further, allowing him to read all their minds to show him their commitment to helping mutants and improving the world. Convinced he was in the wrong and that neither Moira nor Excalibur is out to get him, he flies off, leaving Moira to wonder if he'll live long enough to ever return.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

X-amining Generation X #13

"It's All Relative"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Monet stands alone against Emplate and his allies

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

Plot
Though shocked to find her classmates captives of her brother, Monet is able to escape from Emplate as he turns his attention to Chamber. Though Gayle objects, saying Chamber belongs to her, Emplate has them both buried up to their necks in the ground. Meanwhile, Monet is able to get a call for help out before she's attacked by one of Emplate's minions, Bulwark. As Jubilee does her best to distract Emplate and keep him from feeding on Banshee, Monet & Bulwark's fight takes into the biosphere, where Leech is able to suppress Bulwark's power, allowing Monet to knock him out. She tells Leech & Artie to stay put, then flies off, but is attacked by Vincente. As she falls to the ground choking Bishop suddenly appears, telling Monet that she called for him, and he came.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 7 - Patreon First!

"Slave Island"

Original Airdate
February 13, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writer: Mark Edward Edens 

Plot
Storm, Jubilee, & Gambit are press-ganged into joining Genosha's mutant slave labor pool, using their powers to help build a massive dam & hydroelectric plant. When the power-dampening collars they all wear are deactivated for the work day, Storm immediately rebels; she is captured by a Sentinel and placed in "the Box". Meanwhile, the rest of the X-Men head off to Genosha to check-in on their overdue teammates. In Genosha, Jubilee tries to lead a slave revolt of her own, but the guards are wise to her, and she ends up in the Box as well. Elsewhere, Genoshan officials meet with Bolivar Trask & Henry Peter Gyrich, who are supplying the Sentinels via the massive Master Mold. Trask reveals Gambit turned in Jubilee; Gambit also promises to take the Genoshans to the X-Mansion. But on his way back to the prison, Gambit is able to escape, with a little help from a mercenary named Cable, who gives him a key to release the dampening collars. Gambit proceeds to free Storm & Jubilee & release the rest of the prisoners who, free of their collars, quickly overpower the guards. As Trask & Gyrich flee, Storm destroys the dam & Master Mold with it, just as the rest of the X-Men arrive. The team heads for home, but they arrive to find the professor missing and the mansion destroyed!  

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Friday, September 11, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #99

"Of Mythic Metal Forged"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine is captured by the Dark Riders, who intended to rebond his bones with adamantium!

Script: Larry Hama
Guest Penciler: Val Semeiks
Guest Inkers: Dan Green, Dan Panosian, Chad Hunt
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Wolverine & Zoe Culloden emerge from the Madripoor warp chamber in Akkaba, birthplace of Apocalypse. Spotting Chimera's trail, she tells Wolverine she'll meet him at Apocalypse's former citadel, then departs. Just then, the young mutant Jamil appears, offering to guide Wolverine to the citadel. Meanwhile, in Madripoor, Cannonball, on the trail of Wolverine, is accosted by a group of thugs amidst the wreckage of the Princess Bar, but they are chased off by Tyger Tiger. In Egypt, the citadel emerges from the sand as Wolverine & Jamil draw closer, and Wolverine, sensing Jamil is leading him into a trap, breaks off, entering the place his own way. Back in Madripoor, Tyger Tiger brings Cannonball to the Landau, Luckman & Lake warp chamber door, and sends him through to Egypt. In the citadel, Wolverine observes the Dark Riders herding prisoners into the citadel, as Cannonball takes off, following Wolverine & Jamil's footsteps towards the citadel. Inside, Wolverine is spotted by Dirt Nap, who brings him before Genesis. After Wolverine is captured, Genesis reveals he intends to brainwash him into serving as the captain of the Dark Riders, once they've completed bonding the adamantium taken from the deceased Cyber to Wolverine's bones!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

X-amining X-Force #52

"Bad Girls"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Domino, Siryn & Meltdown fight Blob

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Color Enhancement: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Domino, Siryn & Meltdown have returned to Camp Hayden, site of the aborted Nimrod project, to ensure the project has indeed been shutdown. But they find the entire facility empty, with the word "Onslaught" scrawled on one of the walls. Just then, an enormous Blob - displaying a finer control of his mutant abilities - drops into the facility, attacking them. Meanwhile, Warpath & Shatterstar spar in the Danger Room, with Shatterstar worrying that as he grows more human, he is losing his fighting edge. Back at Camp Hayden, Blob, claiming to serve Onslaught, quickly gains the upper hand, until Meltdown's new attitude and control over her powers forces him to stand down. The ladies of X-Force ponder what to do with him, just as Mimic - his powers also surprising stable - flies in and carries out Blob. In New York, Caliban & Sunspot arrive outside Gideon's building, responding to a call for help he made to Sunspot. Just then, Gideon flies out an upper story window and crashes to the ground in front of them, dead.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #50


"Full Court Press"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Cyclops, Storm, Iceman & Wolverine are captured by Post, herald of Onslaught!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inker: Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Waking up in a strange location with no memory of how they got there, Cyclops, Storm, Iceman & Wolverine are shocked by the apparent damage they've sustained: Cyclops is missing his visor, while Iceman is missing a sizeable chunk of his chest. Back at the X-Mansion, Xavier awakens to find Gateway on the verge of teleporting him away. Quick action from Bishop & Phoenix knock out Gateway. Meanwhile, Wolverine senses the presence of a cloaked figure, and is able to force a mutant named Post to reveal himself. He briefly battles the X-Men, stating that Onslaught is impressed, before re-cloaking himself. At the X-Mansion, Xavier & Jean attempt to telepathically interrogate a revived Gateway, but are unable to do so, and the assembled X-Men are probed by a violent psionic entity. As the missing X-Men continue their fight with Post, Beast reasons they were captured specifically because their powers are not psionic in nature. Just then, Cyclops & Wolverine are able to pierce Post's armor, completing Onslaught's test and sending the four captive X-Men back home.After they arrive, the psionic entity addresses Gateway, telling him that while he thought these beings would serve as the last line of defense against the coming danger, he was wrong. Their victory today was minimal at best: Post was the weakest of Onslaught's emissaries, and his coming will be the X-Men's devastation!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 6 - Patreon First!

"Cold Vengeance"

Original Airdate
Feburary 6 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Michael Edens

Plot
Seeking comfort in the solitude of the Canadian arctic, Wolverine is attacked by Sabretooth. Their fight ends when Wolverine tumbles into the ocean. Sabretooth believes the cold will kill even him, but is outraged when he spots Wolverine being rescued by a group of indigenous fisherman. Back at the X-Mansion, Professor X breaks up an argument between Cyclops & Gambit, giving Gambit leave to investigate the rumors that the island nation of Genosha is welcoming mutants. Cyclops dispatches Storm & Jubilee to join him. Back in the Arctic, Wolverine makes himself useful - and popular - within the Inuit village, much to the dismay of the young Kiyoek. Storming off on his own, Kiyoek is approached by Sabretooth. In Genosha, Storm, Gambit & Jubilee arrive and are immediately identified as mutants, despite their intent to keep that information to themselves. In the Arctic, Kiyoek lures Wolverine away from the village, allowing Sabretooth to kidnap the villagers. Enraged that Sabretooth attacked his people, Kiyoek helps free the villagers as Wolverine battles Sabretooth, ultimately sending him falling into a massive ravine. In Genosha, the local authorities attempt to capture Storm, Gambit & Jubilee; the X-Men fight back, but are ultimately apprehended when a Sentinel joins the fight.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

X-amining Storm #1-4

"Sunburst & Snowblind" / "The Ghost Has No Home" / "The Tinderbox of a Heart" / "She Will Destroy You
February - May 1996

In a Nutshell
Storm is transported to the Hill, where she encounters Mikhail Rasputin and a new Gene Nation.

Story/Dialogue: Warren Ellis
Artist/Storyteller: Terry Dodson
Inkers: Karl Story
Letters: Ricjard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Rosas/Lenshoek, Ariane Lenshoek (issues #2 & 4), Lenshoek & Hoston (issue #3)
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Issue #1: Struggling with her recent murder of Marrow, Storm asks Cable to show her the Ceremony of Light, so she might apologize to the dead Morlocks for failing them. As the she performs the ceremony, a dimensional portal opens, pulling her through. When Cable returns to the site of the ceremony, he finds a disfigured corpse and no psychic trace of Storm; he informs the X-Men she has died. However, Storm awakens in another world, and realizes the energy effect which took her there was similar to Mikhail Rasputin's.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 1 Episode 5 - Patreon First!

"Captive Hearts"

Original Airdate
January 30th, 1993

Producer: Larry Houston
Story: Steven Melching
Storyboard Artist: Larry Houston
Story Editor Developer: Eric Lewald
Writers: Robert N. Skir & Marty Isenberg

Plot
After Storm's claustrophobia proves problematic during a Danger Room session, she is left questioning her effectiveness as a leader. Meanwhile, Cyclops & Jean are on a date when they come across a young mutant child being chased by an angry mob. They follow the mob into the subway, hoping to protect the mutant, but when they reach the station, they find a group of mutants attacking the mob. Cyclops & Jean fight the mutants, but one of them uses her power to lull them to sleep on the orders of their leader, watching from the shadows. Later, Cyclops wakes up to find his powers turned off. He is brought before the mutant gang's leader, Callisto, who declares her followers to be Morlocks. Jean wakes up long enough to send a telepathic distress call to Professor X, who sends the rest of the X-Men into the tunnels under New York to rescue their teammates. As Storm struggles with her claustrophobia, the rest of the X-Men battle the Morlocks. Eventually, Storm manages to pull herself together well enough to challenge Callisto to a duel for leadership of the Morlocks. The two women fight, with Storm eventually winning. The Morlocks reject Storm's offer to join the X-Men in the X-Mansion, and she leaves Callisto in charge again before leaving with her teammates, including Cyclops & Jean. Later, Cyclops & Jean go to Wolverine's room to thank him for his help, only to find him gone without explanation.

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