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

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x05

"The Jedi"

On Corvus, the local magistrate and her hired gun deal with a series of attacks carried out by former Jedi Ahsoka Tano, who is looking for information from the magistrate. Shortly thereafter, the Mandalorian and the child arrive on the planet. They are taken to the Magistrate, who offers the Mandalorian a staff made of beskar to eliminate Ahsoka. He proceeds out into the woods surrounding the city, but after a brief skirmish, convinces Ahsoka he needs her help, telling her Bo-Katan sent him. He introduces her to the child, and through the Force, Ahsoka learns his name is Grogu. The Mandalorian asks Ahsoka to train him, but she refuses, citing Grogu's clear attachment to the Mandalorian. He makes a deal with her: if he helps her defeat the magistrate, she will train Grogu. The pair work together to assault the town, with the Mandalorian taking on the magistrate's guards and her hired gun while Ahsoka duels the magistrate, fighting her with the beskar staff. When the magistrate is defeated, the town appoints one of its own to lead in her place, and Ahsoka gifts the Mandalorian the beskar staff. However, she still refuses to train Grogu, and instead directs the Mandalorian to a temple on the world of Typhon, which may draw another Jedi to their side. The Mandalorian and the child depart Corvus, while Ahsoka walks off into the forest alone. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #11

June 1996

In a Nutshell

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavangh
Pencilers: Steve Epting & Mike Miller
Inks: Sellers, Milgrom, Koblish, Candelario
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft 
Colorist: Matt Webb
Enhancement: Malibu
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Concerned that Rogue may be a mutant (and therefore a danger to her young son Stevie), Rogue's landlady Melody visits the local chapter of Humanity's Last Stand. That evening, when Rogue returns from her shift waitressing at a nearby restaurant, a tear-filled Melody, realizing she made a mistake, apologizes to Rogue, shortly before armored members of Huamnity's Last Stand attack. Rogue is able to fight them off, but then Bastion appears. With Bastion threatening Melody & Stevie, Rogue stands down, and is taken to Huamnity's Last Stand's headquarters, where Bastion tells her he plans to kill everyone in the facility and frame Rogue for the act. Just then, one of the guards reveals himself to be Joseph, who frees Rogue. Recognizing him as a younger version of Magneto, she is is initially distrustful, but the two work together to fight off their armored foes. Outside the facility, they are confronted by the townspeople, who ask them to leave town. The pair flies off, but are attacked by Humanity's Last Stand leader Simon Trask, who targets them with a pair of missiles. Joseph is able to detonate the missiles, however, faking their deaths, and the pair return to Melody's home to retrieve Rogue's car. Joseph is trying to make sense of the X-Men's commitment to protecting a world that fears and hates them, when Stevie runs up to Rogue, telling her he knows he can't touch her, but says that if he could, he would hug her. As the pair drives off, Rogue tells Joseph that is why the X-Men do what they do, for the innocents who haven't yet been taught to hate. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

"Claremont's X-Men" by Jason Powell

Long-time readers of this site are likely familiar with Jason Powell, a fellow X-blogger and Chris Claremont aficionado who literally wrote the book on Claremont's X-Men run. But they (or you) may not know that Jason is also an accomplished stage actor and songwriter (having crafted at least one superhero-themed opera), and he has combined all these various areas of expertise into an epic musical ode to Chris Claremont's X-Men run, recapping, via song, the characters, events, and, yes, writerly tics that comprise Claremont's 15 years writing about the X-Men.  


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 02 - Patreon First!

"'Til Death Do Us Part: Part Two"

Original Airdate
October 30th, 1993

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

As Cyclops & Jean Grey set sail for the island where they're spending their honeymoon, Beast escapes from the Danger Room in which Morph had trapped him. Outside the mansion, Mister Sinister continues to manipulate Morph, and says he will take care of Cyclops & Jean himself. As the newlyweds approach their island destination, they're attacked & captured by the Nasty Boys, while Wolverine rescues Jubilee from the Friends of Humanity. Reconvening at the mansion, the X-Men begin to suspect someone is messing with them. Just then, Professor X enters, warning of a neural disruptor affecting their minds, but Wolverine immediately senses Morph's scent and exposes him as Xavier. Morph manages to escape, however, and flies off in the Blackbird. Meanwhile, Mister Sinister tells the captive Cyclops & Jean that he intends to use their DNA to create an army of powerful mutants. Morph arrives, and taunts Cyclops, revealing he was the minister at their wedding, but Sinister stops him from killing Cyclops. Just then, the X-Men, having tracked Morph, show up. As they fight the Nasty Boys, Cyclops appeals to Morph's better nature, and he turns on Sinister, allowing Cyclops to escape. Cyclops frees Jean and blasts Sinister, and the energy seems to harm him, prompting Sinister to retreat. Morph sneaks off on his own, but Wolverine vows to track him down, while in Antarctica, Magneto & Xavier meet and realize they've been setup, just before an avalanche crashes down on top of them. 

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

Monday, November 23, 2020

X-aminations in December 2020 & February 1996 Power Rankings

The ramp up to "Onslaught" continues as most the books start getting into their respective positions for the crossover (though Uncanny X-Men, in true 90s comic book fashion, first takes a moment to setup the next linewide crossover). Then we wrap up the year with another appropriate-for-Christmas action figure post and a Patron-selected review! 

On Sale April 1996
December 2: Uncanny X-Men #333
December 3: X-Factor #123
December 4: X-Man #16

December 9: X-Men (vol. 2) #53
December 10: X-Force #55
December 11: Wolverine #105

December 16: Generation X #16
December 17: Excalibur #98
December 18: Cable #32

December 23: X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Age of Apocalypse & X-Men 2099 Series I & II

December 30: What If? #87

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x04

"The Siege"

The Mandalorian decides his ship needs further repairs, and decides to return to Nevarro. On Nevarro, Cara Dune flushes a group of Aqualish raiding the old Mandalorian culvert. Shortly thereafter, the Mandalorian arrives, reuniting with Cara as well as Greef Carga. Greef offers to repair the Razor Crest in exchange for the Mandalorian's help destroying an old Imperial base on the planet, the last thing standing in the way of true independence for the planet. Leaving the child in the care of a protocol droid school teacher, the Mandalorian sets out with Cara, Greef and Greef's associate Mythrol, to the base. They plan to use the volcano generating power for the base to destroy it, but after initiating that process, they realize the base is actually a front for the cloning operations that had been targeting the child, run by Moff Gideon. The Mandalorian blasts off to retrieve the child while the other three fight their way out of the base before it explodes. They commander a Marauder troop transport but a squad of Scout Troopers followed by a trio of TIE fighters set out after them. Manning the guns, Greef is able to destroy one of the TIEs, but the guns are damaged in the process. Just then, the Mandalorian sweeps in aboard the newly repaired Razor Crest and destroys the rest of the TIEs, then departs. Later, Cara meets with New Republic Captain Teva, who tells her something nefarious is happening in the Outer Rim, while Moff Gideon receives word from a spy on Nevarro, one of the mechanics who repaired the Razor Crest, that the tracking device has been successfully installed, along with confirmation that the Mandalorian still travels with the child.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

X-amining Marvel Versus DC #1-4

"DC Versus Marvel Comics: Round One" / "Marvel Comics Versus DC: Round Two" / "Marvel Comics Versus DC: Round Three" / "DC Comics Versus Marvel Comics: Round Four
April - May 1996

In a Nutshell
The greatest heroes of the Marvel and DC universes battle one another for the fate of their universes! 

Writers: Ron Marz & Peter David
Pencilers: Dan Jurgens & Claudio Castellini
Inkers: Josef Rubinstein and Paul Neary
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colors: Gregory Wright
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editors: Mark Gruenwald & Mike Carlin

Across the worlds of two different universes, heroes find themselves being transported from their respective home realities into strange surroundings, coming into conflict with the natives of the new worlds. This is the result of the two cosmic entities who comprise each of the universes learning of the other's existence, triggering a battle between them. Caught in the middle is Axel Asher, a young man unknowingly imbued with a shard of the brothers' cosmic power. The two brothers each select champions from amongst their respective creations to do battle, with the winning universe continuing to exist and the losing one wiped out. Though reluctant, the heroes battle one another to save their worlds, until the result comes down to the evenly-matched Batman and Captain America. Axel, embracing his power and taking the name Access, imbues both heroes with a bit of their own universes just as the cosmic beings Spectre and the Living Tribunal force the universal brothers together, attempting a comprise to save both universes. This results in the heroes and villains of both worlds combing into amalgamated versions of themselves for a time, before Access forces the two worlds apart using the shards he embedded in Batman and Captain America. Their battle resumed, the two brothers easily overpower the Spectre & Living Tribunal, leaving Batman & Captain America to convince Access to bring them into the fight. He does, and the two brothers read their minds, realizing the two heroes are like the brothers: unique amongt their worlds, with little interest in the conflict the brothers are perpetuating. This brings them to a halt as they realize the pointlessness of their fight, and the brothers allow both universes to continue, shaking hands and declaring that each has done well. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series Season 2 Episode 01 - Patreon First!

 "'Til Death Do Us Part, Part 1

Original Airdate
October 23, 1993

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

Cyclops and Jean are married, with all the X-Men in attendance save Wolverine, who instead battles robots modeled after Cyclops in the Danger Room. Meanwhile, Senator Kelly is sworn in as President of the United States and issues a full pardon to Beast, while the reverend who officiated Cyclops & Jean's wedding turns out to be Morph, who survived the Sentinel attack and now plots revenge, though he seems torn on the matter. He poses as Magneto and calls Xavier, urging him to come to "Magneto's" aid at a location in Antarctica. Later, Gambit, Beast & Wolverine are playing pool when the bar is attacked by the Friends of Humanity, an anti-mutant group formed by Graydon Creed. He uses footage of the ensuing fight to depict the X-Men in a negative light, helping tarnish mutants in the media. Meanwhile, Morph infiltrates the mansion and, posing as the various X-Men, sows discord amongst them, tricking Rogue into knocking out Gambit and sending Jubilee away to the Friends of Humanity's headquarters. When another anti-mutant riot breaks out, Storm & Rogue respond, but Morph uses his powers to pose as the police chief and orders his men to shoot down Storm. As she's taken away in an hospital, Mister Sinister monitors events, pleased things are going according to his plans.   

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

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 03

"The Heiress

The Razor Crest (just barely) makes it to Trask, but crashes into the water upon landing. Leaving repairs in the hands of a Mon Calamari dockmaster, the Mandalorian reunites Frog Lady with her husband, who directs the Mandalorian to a nearby inn for further info about the whereabouts of his people. There, he makes a deal with a Quarren sailor, who promises to take him to other Mandalorians. They head out to sea, but the Quarren have set a trap, intending to feed the child and the Mandalorian to a mamacore in order to harvest his armor. They are saved by three Mandalorians led by Bo-Batan Kryze, heiress to the throne of Mandalore. Hoping to free the planet of Imperial occupation, she agrees to direct the Mandalorian to a Jedi in exchange for his help stealing a cargo of weapons from an Imperial transport. The four Mandalorians storm the ship and easily capture the cargo bay, but then Bo-Katan reveals she intends to capture the entire ship, and use it to find Moff Gideon, whom she believes possesses the Darksaber she needs to reclaim her throne. The Mandalorians manage to capture the ship before it crashes, but the captain kills himself before Bo-Katan can get any info out of him. Bo-Katan then honors her word and directs the Mandalorian to the planet Corvus and a Jedi named Ahsoka Tano. He departs, and shortly thereafter, he and the Child blast off Trask aboard the (just barely) repaired Razor Crest

Friday, November 13, 2020

X-amining X-Man #15

"Turning Point"
May 1996

In a Nutshell

Co-Plotter: John Ostrander
Co-Plotter/Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Colorworks
Editor: Jaye Garnder
Chief: Bob Harras

Nate dreams he is back in his home reality, and talks with Forge. His dream shifts and suddenly he is with Madelyne, who gives way to Threnody as he wakes up. They are in a Red Cross shelter setup in the wake of the avalanche caused by his fight with Exodus. Still unsure if he can trust Threnody, he enters her mind, and realizes the tremendous pain and mental anguish she carries with her. Hoping to help, he removes one of the mental inhibitors from her forehead, which causes her powers to trigger an explosion. Meanwhile, in Paris, the real Madelyne discovers her recent knife wound has already healed. Back in Switzerland, Threnody wakes up to find Nate still unconscious: he protected her and the rest of the refugees from her blast, but knocked himself out in the process. She briefly considers abandoning him, then relents. Elsewhere, Shaw meets with Holocaust, but the two are interrupted by Onslaught, who tasks Holocaust with capturing Nate for him. A week later, Nate is lounging on a beach in Greece, where Threnody has brought him to recover. Unbeknownst to him, Holocaust, who has been shielded from mental detection by Onslaught, looms over him, preparing to strike. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

X-amining Excalibur #97

May 1996

In a Nutshell
Captain Britain joins the Hellfire Club

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Casey Jones
Inker: Tom Simmons
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Separations: Malibu
Colorist: Ariane Lenshoek
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Returning from America with Alistair Stuart, Nightcrawler & Meggan work together to dispatch the Black Air attack helicopters targeting them. Meanwhile, Kitty & Wolfsbane fly Captain Britain to London in the Midnight Runner, warning him to be careful as he enters the Hellfire Club. On Muir Island, Moira comes across Douglock having planted himself in the ground. She then heads back inside to find Pete Wisdom chasing after Lockheed, who has stolen his cigarettes. In London, Black Air agent Scratch arrives outside an arcane door in the tunnels beneath the city. Inside the Hellfire Club, Captain Britain meets with the Inner Circle and claims his father's title of bishop. His application is met by resistance from the Red Bishop, but the rest agree, elevating him to the position of Black Bishop. Back at Muir Island, the rest of Excalibur meets with Alistair, who tells them that Black Air has taken over W.H.O and formed an alliance with the Hellfire Club, his knowledge of which being what led them to target him. Outside, Douglock is impaled by a harpoon from a passing plane, which proceeds to rip him out of the ground and carry him away. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

X-amining Generation X #15

"Death in the Family"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X travels to St. Louis to stop an Emplate-possessed Synch from harming his family. 

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Todd Dezago
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Separations: Malibu Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

Under the influence of Emplate, Synch breaks into his childhood home and almost feeds on his infant foster sister, but is scared off by his parents. The next day, the police are investigating the incident when Generation X arrives. Emma uses her telepathy to freeze the cops in place, while Banshee speaks to Synch's parents, taking full responsibility for what's happened to their son. Outside, Jubilee, Paige and and Monet, the members of the class who can pass for normal most easily, are waiting for their teachers, when Monet suddenly flies off, prompting the other two girls to follow. Back at the school, Chamber talks to Skin about his encounter with Onslaught. In St. Louis, Synch has returned to his old high school, where he encounters the janitor with whom he used to be friends. Jubilee, Paige, and Monet arrive shortly thereafter and attempt to stop Synch from feeding on the janitor, but Monet realizes their mistake too late: they've gotten too close to Synch, and as he copies their powers, he tells them somebody is going to die, and it won't be him! 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Force in Focus: The Mandalorian Season 2x02

"The Passenger"

Raising across the Tatooine desert, the Mandalorian is attacked by a gang of bounty hunters after the child. He fights them off, but his speeder bike is damaged, forcing him to walk back to Mos Eisley. There, he meets with Peli, who introduces him to Frog Lady, an amphibious being willing to trade him information on the whereabouts of some Mandalorians in exchange for transporting her and her eggs to the moon of Trask - without traveling through hyperspace, which would destroy her eggs. As they slowly make their way towards the moon, two New Republic pilots perform a fly-by. When they attempt to identify his ship, the Mandalorian races towards a nearby planet, successfully evading the pilots but damaging the Razor's Crest in the process. Settling inside an ice cave for repairs, the child draws the attention of a pack of ice spiders, which quickly overwhelm the Mandalorian. Just then, the New Republic pilots return, blasting away the ice spiders and saying that after they looked him up, they decided the Mandalorian's good deeds while participating in a recent prison break just barely outweigh his bad, and let him off with a warning. Later, the Mandalorian manages to repair the ship's engines, but not its hull, so the trio resumes their journey, all crammed inside the Razor Crest's cockpit as they slowly make their way through space. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

X-amining Wolverine #101

"The Helix of an Age Foretold"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine saves Cyclops & helps the X-Men defeat Ozymandias

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Val Semeiks
Inks: Chad Hunt
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Malibu's Hues
Editor: Bob Harras

With the rest of the X-Men occupied fighting Ozymandias' stone avatars, the now-feral Wolverine dives into the chasm surrounding Ozymandias' historical helix after Cyclops. On his way down, Cyclops hits his head against the wall, but Wolverine is able to catch up to him and dig his claws into the rock, stopping their descent. Above, Jean briefly senses that someone is watching them during the fight; it is Elektra, who covertly intervenes to destroy two statues threatening Wolverine & Cyclops as they reach the top of the chasm. As the X-Men gain the upper hand against the avatars, Ozymandias senses that his defeat is imminent, and destroys the helix so as not to give up its secrets, before turning to dust himself. As the X-Men escape the collapsing temple, Wolverine briefly senses Elektra watching him from the shadows. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

X-amining X-Force #54

"Q & A"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
In custody, X-Force tells the New York Police about Selene's devastation of the Externals. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins & Bellman
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Taken into custody by the NYPD, each member of X-Force is interrogated individually by a series of detectives, including Charlotte Jones. Collectively, they tell of their encounter with Selene and the death of the Externals at her hands: how Siryn tried to find Warpath but couldn't, how Selene absorbed the life force of Absalom and Krule, how Cable arrived on the scene and Selene tried to absorb his life force as well, but couldn't, due to the techno-organic virus inside him, and how Selene proceeded to overpower the rest of X-Force, telling Meltdown that the Externals had outlived their usefulness, and revealing that Cannonball is not an External, as X-Force had been led to believe, before teleporting away. Unbeknownst to X-Force, Blaquesmith was present, but he removed the memories of his presence, as well as Cable's, from their memories just as the police arrived. Having heard their protestations of innocence, Charlotte Jones releases X-Force, but is then confronted by a mysterious stranger, upset that she released the mutants, telling her he and his organization have "zero tolerance" for the kind of injustice she has perpetrated by letting the mutants walk free. 

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #52

"Collector's Item"
May 1996

In a Nutshell
Gambit, Bishop and (Dark) Beast stop the mutant train but are captured by Mister Sinister. 

Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Trying to stop a runaway commuter train filled with passengers infected by a virus mutating their genetics, Gambit charges up the train with kinetic energy, then advises Bishop to absorb that energy and re-channel it; the resulting kinetic backlash brings the train to a stop. However, the X-Men, including Beast, are knocked out by Mister Sinister. Meanwhile, Rogue rents an apartment in South Carolina, hoping to start a new life away from the X-Men. Back at the site of the train incident, local investigators have their evidence confiscated by the mysterious Bastion. In Sinister's lab, Beast awakens to find himself restrained. Sinister tells the captive X-Men the effects of the virus are temporary, then turns his attention to Bishop, who, hailing from the future, isn't part of Sinister's vast collection of mutant DNA. As he proceeds to examine Bishop's memories, Beast (who is actually Dark Beast in disguise) becomes terrified that Sinister will discover him. However, Gambit is able to escape and free sBishop & Beast, and in the ensuing fight, Sinister is chased away as his work on the virus is destroyed. The X-Men emerge from Sinister's lab, which Gambit recognizes as being outside St. Louis, prompting Dark Beast to suspect Gambit & Sinister shares some secrets, a revelation he plans to keep to himself until it proves useful. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

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

 The plan is to continue reviews of X-Men: The Animated Series through season 2 (at which point, I'll probably take a break and cover another X-adjacent comic book series before returning for season 3; that seems like a logical break point, as the first two seasons of the show are structurally very similar, whereas the third starts to do some different things). But before diving in to those reviews, I thought I'd review the first season and see how all the episodes stack up against one another. 

13. "Cold Vengeance

The series' sixth episode is the first season's worst; Wolverine's artic sojourn leaves him too isolated from the rest of the cast, robbing the episode of the team dynamics that make the series so much fun, while the most interesting material is all setup for the next episode. 

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