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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

X-amining Wolverine '96


"The Last Ronin"
1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine & Sunfire battle Red Ronin

Plot: Jeph Loeb (1st Story)
Script: Ralph Macchio, Joseph Kelly (2nd Story) 
Pencils: Ed McGuiness, Tommy Lee Edwards (2nd Story)
Inks: Nathan Massengill with Norman Lee, Rich Case (2nd Story)
Letters: RS & Comicraft, John Workman (2nd Story) 
Colors: Gloria Vasquez, Paul Becton (2nd Story)
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Japan, Wolverine visits Mariko's grave. He is approached by Silver Samurai, who wants his help freeing Sunfire from government custody. Meanwhile, Bastion meets with Japanese officials, trying to get their support for his anti-mutant Zero Tolerance operation. General Hirito tells him Japan as its own anti-mutant weapon already: Red Ronin. As Hirito executes the seizure of Red Ronin from the Fujikawa Corporation, he is watched by Yukio. Later, Wolverine frees Sunfire, who is struggling to control his powers, and Silver Samurai tells the pair the Hand is plotting to take control of Red Ronin for themselves. Working together, they stop the Hand, but Hirito orders Red Ronin's controller to activate the robot. As Red Ronin charges into action, Sunfire manages to create an opening to allow Wolverine inside, where he damages enough critical systems to stop the robot. Sunfire, however, almost loses control of his powers, prompting Wolverine to take him to Canada, in the hopes that James & Heather Hudson can help him regain control. Meanwhile, Red Ronin's controller is executed by Hirito, on orders from his mysterious benefactor, the government still intent on using Red Ronin to take control of the mutant problem. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #14 - Patreon First

"Fear Stalks Floor 40"
February 1978

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel fights to protect her father and win his respect

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Carmine Infantino 
Inker: Steve Leialoha
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Janice Cohen
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Checking on her father Joe at his construction site, Ms. Marvel manages to save him when he's trapped in a cascade of falling girders. Once he's safely on the ground, she transforms into Carol and overhears Joe angrily accusing the site's owner, Maxwell Plumm, of skirting codes & using substandard material. Carol offers to help investigate & gather evidence on Plumm, but her father refuses, saying it's man's work. Meanwhile, at Woman magazine, Frank Gianelli chases out someone trying to burgle Carol's office. Back in Boston, Carol suddenly feels as though she's being followed, and transforms into Ms. Marvel before flying off, not realizing she barely missed an encounter with Dracula. Just then, she gets a flash of her seventh sense, showing her father being threatened by a villain named Steeplejack. The strength of the flash makes her realize the events are happening in the present, and she races to the construction site, where she once again saves her father and defeats Steeplejack, who turns out to be Maxwell Plumm. Joe remains cold to the idea of a female superhero, despite having his life saved by one twice. Carol's mother, however, who immediately recognizes Ms. Marvel as Carol, insists that Joe loves her, while Carol comes to accept that her father will likely never change, and she no longer really cares if he does.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

X-amining Onslaught

I have long been frustrated with the way Blogger presents older posts and limits page results (frankly, I've long been frustrated with a lot when it comes to Blogger, but who has the time or mental bandwidth to change to something else now?). In an effort to somewhat combat that, this is the first in what I hope will be numerous posts collecting links to all the reviews of a relevant storyline/run in one handy place, in order. I will then post a link to this post on the site's X-aminations page (where I currently have links to assorted runs and storylines, but which are presented in Blogger's stupid "newest first and then only some" model). 

First up, of course, is "Onslaught". I'll update this with the link to Onslaught: Epilogue, once I review it (it wasn't published until December of 1996, roughly three months after the story to which it is meant to serve as an epilogue ended, a testament to its role as more of an "Operation: Zero Tolerance" prelude than an "Onslaught" epilogue), but for now, here's a handy guide to reviews of every issue of the crossover for your reading pleasure (?). 



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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Ultra Onslaught

Fleer Skybox 1996

Vital Statistics
100 cards, plus a three card promo set (featuring Heroes Reborn Captain America, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man), a four card Autographs chase set, a three card "Mirage" chase set featuring lenticular cards, and four exclusive Overpower hero cards and nine exclusive Overpower mission cards. 

Categorically Speaking
The majority of these cards are standard hero/villain portraits, with the standard 100th card checklist, plus twelve cards smack in the middle of the set that summarize the plot of "Onslaught" (these basically functions as an additional category but are not labeled as such). 

Firsts and Other Notables
"Marvel Ultra Onslaught" functions, essentially, as a trading card set featuring the major players in the "Onslaught" crossover. Each card front image is full bleed (no borders) and enhanced with CGI coloring/effects. Card backs list the character's real name, team affiliation and power, with brief biographical information about the character written either from the perspective of Professor X or Onslaught, along with information about the artists who worked on the card. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #13 - Patreon First

"Homecoming!"
January 1978

In a Nutshell
Carol Danvers visits her parents and battles Golden Blade & Sapper. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Mooney
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letters: Gaspar Saladino & Peter Iro
Colors: Francise Mouly
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Carol Danvers, along with Michael Barnett, visit her parents in Boston. In the wake of her recent encounter with Hecate and the Silver Scarab, Carol is now in full control of her transformations into Ms. Marvel, able to shift between the identities at will, and feeling more like herself than ever. Later, Carol & Michael attend a ball held on the deck of the USS Constitution, anchored at the Portsmouth Naval shipyard, in honor of a visit by the nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Halsey. When two alien robots - Sapper and Golden Blade - attack the Halsey, trying to absorb the radiation from its nuclear reactor, Carol springs into action as Ms. Marvel. Sapper tries to absorb Ms. Marvel's energy, but when she manages to damage Golden Blade, he orders a retreat. The two robots flee, but Carol suspects she hasn't seen the last of them. 

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

X-amining X-Men Action Figures: Onslaught

Year of Release 
1996

Roll Call
Apocalypse (aka "Apocalypse Rising"), Jean Grey, Onslaught, Wolverine (aka "Wolverine Unleashed")

Firsts and Other Notables
"Onslaught" gets its own line of action figures, the second comic book-specific story to inspire its own line of figures (following after the "Age of Apocalypse" figures, as well as the animated series-inspired "Phoenix Saga" figures). These figures are on the whole larger in size than previous ones (both in height and overall girth) and most come with a smaller, less poseable, second figure: Franklin Richards with Wolverine, Ozymandias with Apocalypse, and Jean Grey with a small Juggernaut trapped inside the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak

Rather than a second figure, Onslaught comes with additional snap-on armor pieces that mimic his transformation from his original Magneto-inspired form to the more monstrous form he assumes in Uncanny X-Men #336.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

X-amining The Road To Onslaught

"The Road to Onslaught
October 1996

In a Nutshell
An overview at the events leading up to "Onslaught" & a look at the story's original plot outline. 

Firsts and Other Notables
A special promotional one-shot released the same month as the end of "Onslaught", this issue combines reprints of specific panels to layout the important story points leading up to the start of the crossover (including some of Professor X's history and assorted plot beats from the "Road to Onslaught" stories) along with text pages summarizing the intended overall plot outline of the crossover's story. 

In doing so, the plot outline pages layout a vastly more coherent story than what was presented in the issues themselves, one in which Onslaught has specific goals and his actions are intended to help carry them out. Here, it's said that his overarching plan is to create a worldwide collective intelligence, thereby eliminating prejudice (and free will). To that end, in order to boost the psionic energy of the world upon which he can gain more power, he makes his presence known to the world in order to increase fear & anxiety (hence the creation of his big citadel). The Sentinels were then intended to also generate fear and anxiety, and to serve as batteries to store all that energy for Onslaught. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #12 - Patreon First

"The Warrior and the Witch-Queen!"
December 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel battles Hecate & the Elementals

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letters:  Annette Kawecki 
Colors: George Roussous
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Ms. Marvel battles Hecate, who conjures images from Ms. Marvel's mind to attack her, until she learns that Hecate is not leading the Elementals, but rather, trying to stop them from acquiring the Ruby Scarab. She and Hecate face them down together, during which Hecate summons a mass of energy that begins to affect the space flight of Salia Petrie, as Ms. Marvel previously foresaw. Their fight spills out into the nearby Cape Canaveral facility, and though Carol Danvers desperately wants to help Salia, Ms. Marvel stays in control in order to prevent the Elementals from ending more lives. Ultimately, Hecate defeats the Elementals by transforming into their one true fear, the Living Mummy, but the resultant energy feedback following their defeat further imperils Salia, triggering the Cavorite crystal she's carrying to create a gateway into warp space. Finally gaining control, Carol Danver emerges with the Ruby Scarab in hand, furiously blaming Hecate for the death of her friend.

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Monday, May 24, 2021

X-aminations in June 2021 & June 1996 Power Rankings


If all goes according to plan, a week from today my wife and I will be welcoming our second child into the world, so I'm shifting into a more leisurely review pace for this month and next as I settle into the life of being a father of two (and also, you know, continuing the seemingly never-ending post-move unpacking). Fortunately (?), Marvel released a ton of additional content the same month as it was wrapping up "Onslaught", so there's plenty to cover ("hey kids, you just bought a ton of extra tie-in issues, why not an annual, too. Plus a limited series? How 'bout these trading cards?!?"). 

On Sale August 1996
June 2: "Onslaught" Action Figures 

June 9: Unstacking the Deck: Ultra Marvel Onslaught 

June 16: Wolverine '96 

June 23: X-Force/Cable '96

June 30: X-Men/Brood #1-2

Friday, May 21, 2021

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #57

"Man"
October 1996

In a Nutshell
Professor X leaves the X-Men! 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas 
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As Xavier ponders his lack of powers & culpability for the damage wrought by Onslaught, Val Cooper arrives at the mansion, intent on taking Xavier into custody in order to prevent the emergence of another Onslaught. The X-Men object. Meanwhile, Beast meets with Trish Tilby, and the pair begin to rekindle their relationship together. Elsewhere in the city, J. Jonah Jameson meets with Bastion, who orders him to end his investigation into Graydon Creed; instead, Jameson says he intends to look into Bastion's "Operation: Zero Tolerance" as well. Back at the X-Mansion, the arguments between the X-Men and Val continue, until Xavier himself intercedes, and agrees to leave with Val, saying that in order for the world to know peace, he must allow himself to be taken into custody. Xavier departs as the X-Men say goodbye to their mentor, while at Archangel's loft in Soho, Psylocke arrives looking for him, but finds, curiously, only feathers. 

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #337

"Know Thy Enemy"
October 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men gather for breakfast while Wolverine has a heart-to-heart with Xavier.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Tim Townsend & Vince Russell
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Bucce & TB
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As Xavier sits in the early morning rain, looking upon the damaged X-Mansion, Wolverine tries to assuage the guilt wearing heavy on Xavier. Meanwhile, Bastion looks out over the massive crater left in the wake of Onslaught's defeat, while presidential candidate Graydon Creed gives an impassioned speech about the dangers of mutants, which prompts a watching J. Jonah Jameson to launch an investigation into Creed. At the boat house, Cyclops & Beast discuss Beast's recent captivity at the hands of his dark doppelgänger, while in the kitchen, Jean works on making breakfast while consoling a distraught Quicksilver. Elsewhere, Bastion arrives at a facility where his Zero Tolerance organization is examining the Sentinels co-opted by Onslaught. Back at the X-Mansion, Wolverine continues to argue with Xavier, while the rest of the X-Men slowly come together at the boat house for breakfast. Finally, Wolverine arrives, saying that Xavier isn't up for company, but that he tried. He joins the table, and appreciates that, for the moment at least, things may be slowly returning to normal. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

X-amining Cable #36

"The Gift"

October 1996


In a Nutshell

Cable fights for his life as the techno-organic virus rages! 


Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Bernard Chang

Inker: Scott Hanna

Letterer: Richard Starking & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras


Plot

With the techno-organic virus ravaging his body, Cable is attended to at Four Freedoms Plaza by Nathanial Richards, while a worried Franklin Richards, as well as Cannonball, Domino, Storm, and Caliban, look on with concern. There is little Nathanial can do, however, and Cable slips into unconsciousness. As his watching friends begin to speak to him, hoping the sounds of their voices will keep him going, he is visited by his son, Tyler, who urges him to keep fighting for a better tomorrow, then by his wife, Jenskot, who urges him to open up his heart to those who would help him. Inspired, Cable is able to fight back the TO virus. Waking up, he thanks his friends for their support, wondering if a part of his heart that had remained closed off for so long has now opened. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #11 - Patreon First

"Day of the Dark Angel!"
November 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel is drawn into a conflict with Hecate and the Elementals

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Glynis Wein
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
After breaking up a bank robbery, Ms. Marvel transforms back into Carol Danvers in order to get to work on time. However, when Ms. Marvel took over, Carol was still in her pajamas, so she's forced to return home to change, making her late for work. At Woman magazine, she's reminded that she's due to return to Florida in order to cover the space mission of her old friend Salia Petrie. Meanwhile, not far from the site of the launch, thieves Miles Oldaan & the Asp are attacked by strange elemental forces. At the launch site, Carol greets Salia, but suddenly experiences a premonition thanks to her seventh sense. She sees Salia's rocket exploding, trapping her in space. However, before she can act on the premonition, Ms. Marvel takes over and flies to where Oldaan & the Asp are being attacked. Upon arrival, she in turn is attacked by a trio of Olympian-style soldiers made of sand, but manages to defeat them, only to be blasted from behind. Turning, she comes face-to-face with Hecate, leading the villainous Elementals.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

X-amining Onslaught: Marvel Universe #1


"With Great Power..."
October 1996

In a Nutshell
The Avengers & Fantastic Four sacrifice themselves to defeat Onslaught!

Script: Mark Waid
Plot: Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid 
Pencils: Adam Kubert & Joe Bennet
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccelato
Enhancement: Team Bucce
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Uatu the Watcher watches as the heroes of Earth make their last stand against Onslaught. Though the X-Men rescue Professor Xavier from the clutches of Onslaught, they are quickly overwhelmed, until they are joined by the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, and Hulk. As Onslaught, determined to wipe out man and mutant alike, creates a second sun in the skies above the planet, the heroes work together to disrupt his force field. Meanwhile, the captive Franklin Richards & Nate Grey work to escape & cutoff Onslaught from their power. After the heroes manage to breach Onslaught's shields, Hulk asks Jean Grey to turn off the Bruce Banner part of his mind; completely savage, he attacks Onslaught, destroying his armor & seemingly killing him. But Onslaught survives, now as a being of pure psionic energy. Thor, seeking to contain the energy in a vessel that can then be destroyed, flies into the energy. Onslaught remains, but Mister Fantastic realizes the energy diminished. One by one, the various heroes enter Onslaught, each disappearing & taking a bit of his energy with them, save for the X-Men, whose mutant nature would risk empowering the mutant Onslaught. Once all the heroes have entered Onslaught, the X-Men strike, killing him just as Franklin & Nate emerge, safe and sound. Franklin looks for his parents, but finds only the weary X-Men, left behind to suffer the blame for the loss of Earth's greatest heroes, and mourn their loss. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

X-amining Marvel Team-Up #61-62 - Patreon First

"Not All Thy Powers Can Save Thee!" / "All This and the QE 2
September - October 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel teams up with Spider-Man to battle the Super-Skrull!

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Byrne
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Dave Hunt
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Spider-Man & Human Torch team-up to battle the Super-Skrull, who has escaped from the prison in which Mister Fantastic trapped him during their last encounter. Their fight spills out into the city, attracting the attention of Carol Danvers, departing on a cruise ship. When Super-Skrull manages to overpower both heroes, he flies off after the cruise ship, drawn by the presence of a cavorite crystal on board, which he hopes to use to power a spaceship home. He is attacked by Ms. Marvel, who manages to get ahold of the crystal before Super-Skrull punches her off the ship. She's caught by a recovered Spider-Man, and the two team-up to defeat Super-Skrull by super-charging the energy that empowers him and then transferring it into the cavorite crystal, which triggers a doorway into warp-space that sucks in Super-Skrull.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

X-amining "Onslaught" Tie-Ins Part 2


"Dancing in the Dark" / "Night Neverending" / "The End of the Line" / "Unfinished Business
October 1996

In a Nutshell
The Avengers, Fantastic Four and Hulk prepare for the final battle against Onslaught. 

Incredible Hulk #445 by Peter David & Angel Medina
Iron Man #332 by Terry Kavangh & Joe Bennett
Avengers #402 by Mark Waid, Mike Deodato & Tom Palmer
Fantastic Four #416 by Tom DeFalco & Carlos Pacheco
(Please visit the GCD for full credits from each issue)

Plot
Incredible Hulk #445: After rescuing a subway car full of stranded passengers, Hulk, angry with the way Onslaught used him & frustrated by the heroes' lack of action, decides to take the fight to Onslaught. Though Captain America cautions against it, Hulk is joined by Falcon, Hawkeye, Vision & Crystal. Together, Hulk & Crystal dig a tunnel beneath the city & into Onslaught's citadel. They attack, and though his allies are killed, Hulk succeeds in destroying Onslaught, happy to have won despite the losses. Suddenly, he's back in Four Freedoms Plaza, the entire attack a result of a telepathic illusion created by Onslaught and shared amongst the heroes, leaving the group more distrustful of Hulk than ever. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #10 - Patreon First

"Cry Murder -- Cry MODOK!"
October 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel defeats MODOK & Deathbird

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Phil Rachelson
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Trapped between AIM and the rogue faction led by MODOK & Deathbird, Carol Danvers tries to defend herself without transforming into Ms. Marvel. But when she is threatened with bodily harm, Ms. Marvel forces the transformation to save them both. As Deathbird engages Ms. Marvel, MODOK is able to take control of AIM's missile launchers and co-opt their plan to take over NASA's Skylab. Back at Woman magazine offices, Tracy Burke tries to manage things in Carol's absence. Elsewhere, Ms. Marvel follows MODOK & Deathbird to AIM's South Bronx launchpad, and MODOK leaves Deathbird behind to stall Ms. Marvel as he boards the rocket. The fight between Deathbird & Ms. Marvel puts them into the path of the rocket's blast, and when it launches, Deathbird is seemingly killed, though Ms. Marvel manages to survive. She then rushes to abort the launch, destroying the rocket in midair. But when she tracks down the command capsule after it parachutes to the ground, she discovers that MODOK has somehow disappeared. 

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X-amining Uncanny X-Men '96

"Destiny's Child"
1996

In a Nutshell
Bishop, Shard, Storm & Wild Child battle the Hound & Shard gets a new body! 

Writers: Howard Mackie & Terry Kavanagh
Pencilers: David Perrin & Nick Gnazzo
Inkers: Art Thibert & Harry Candelario 
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Kevin Somers
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
The precognitive Preacher flees from government forces, who manage to capture only some of his paintings. This isn't good enough for their boss, still angry at the way they failed to retrieve the data from X-Factor's computers recently. Recognizing Shard from both the data retrieval failure and one of Preacher's paintings, he orders the Hound to be deployed in order to capture her. Later, Storm & Bishop arrive in Las Vegas to meet Shard & Wild Child. Shard wants to reconnect with her brother, while Bishop, cautious after having lost Shard twice, struggles with accepting the holographic representation of her as his sister. Just then Preacher finds them, and warns of the Hounds approach, but the hand manages to capture Shard's holographic matrix projector. Shard awakens in a government facility as the agents are trying to access her knowledge of the future. Bishop, Storm & Wild Child soon break into the facility and engage the Hound. During the battle, Shard destroys her projector and all the secrets it contains, then disappears. This leaves Bishop distraught, much to his surprise, and though the X-Men manage to defeat the Hound, they are forced to flee the base as it self-destructs. Aboard the Blackbird, Wild Child laments the loss of Shard, but she suddenly appears, now a photon-based life form, free of the projector. Bishop accepts her as is sister, though Storm worries about the government agency they battled, and whether Bishop & Shard's future may yet comes to pass. Elsewhere, Preacher has been found by another organization, one which watches over him and his paintings, an organization led by Bastian, which has zero tolerance for mutants. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #9 - Patreon First

"Call Me Death-Bird!"
September 1977

In a Nutshell
Deathbird makes her first appearance! 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Keith Pollard
Inkers: Joe Sinnott, Sam Grainger 
Letters: Gaspar Saladino, John Costanza 
Colors: Janice Cohen
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
After a premonition from her seventh sense showing someone breaking into her apartment interrupts her date, Carol transforms into Ms. Marvel and flies towards her home. On the way, she is attacked by Deathbird, who is trying to kill her to fulfill a debt to MODOK. Spotting her apartment on fire and children in danger, Ms. Marvel fakes her death to ward off Deathbird, then rescues the children and helps put out the fire. Carol's apartment, however, is destroyed, save for some documents in a firebox which were the target of Ballard, who started the fire. The next morning, Carol works with the staff of Woman magazine to get out the next issue, and J. Jonah Jameson introduces his latest hire, Tabitha Townshend, to serve as Carol's assistant. Later, Carol heads off on her own, returning to the department store where she escaped from AIM, hoping to find their base. As she snoops around, she is spotted by AIM security, who recognizes and captures her before she can transform into Ms. Marvel. She is taken below into the base, just as MODOK & Deathbird, leading their faction of AIM, attacks. 

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

X-aminations in May 2021 & May 1996 Power Rankings

We made it. While "Onslaught" will continue to linger into June, this next month represents the conclusion of the story itself (as well as an ending, of sorts, to the Marvel Universe as it existed up to that point). Then it's time to start dealing with the fall-out, both in-universe and in the real world.  

On Sale August 1996
May 5: "Onslaught" Tie-Ins: Avengers #402, Incredible Hulk #445, Iron Man #332 & Fantastic Four #416

May 12: Onslaught: Marvel Universe #1

May 19: Cable #36
May 20: Uncanny X-Men #337
May 21: X-Men (vol. 2) #57

May 26: The Road to Onslaught #1

Thursday, April 22, 2021

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #12

"The Once and Future Juggernaut"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
With the help of Gomurr the Ancient & Tar, Juggernaut reclaims his power!

Writer: John Francis Moore
Pencils: Steve Epting & Ariel Olivetti
Inks: Kevin Conrad & Ariel Olivetti
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Drawn to the X-Mansion, Doctor Strange discovers Juggernaut trapped inside the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak. Unnoticed, one of sorcerer Tar's neon spiders tries to grab the gem, but the newly-arrived Gomurr the Ancient stops it. He asks Strange to guard the gem as he goes inside to free Juggernaut. Inside the gem, Gomurr finds Juggernaut being psychically tortured by Spite, sister of D'Spayre. Freeing him from Spite, Gomurr takes Juggernaut on a journey through his past, hoping to make him realize the mistakes he's made and reject the power of Juggernaut as the curse it is. However, Spite appears & offers Juggernaut even more power, and he accepts. She takes him to Cyttorak, who reveals he intends to take over Juggernaut's body in order to escape to Earth. As he takes away Juggernaut's power, Juggernaut realizes he's been played. Elsewhere, Tar joins Gomurr, and the rivals team up to help Juggernaut in order to prevent the even worse Cyttorak being unleashed on the world. His power restored via Tar's magics, Juggernaut attacks Cyttorak, destroying him, which forces Cyttorak's power into Juggernaut as the dimension crumbles around them. As Gomurr & Tar flee, Juggernaut emerges from the gem, much to Doctor Strange's surprise. Having survived a grudge match with a god, he declares that nothing's ever going to stop him now, though Doctor Strange knows that the true legacy of Juggernaut's power is the ruination of his soul. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #56

"Invasion"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Joseph meets Xavier & Dr. Doom joins the fray as the heroes prepare for their final assault on Onslaught! 

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Mark Waid
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Atop Four Freedoms Plaza, Joseph tells Captain America of he and Rogue's recent encounter with a Sentinel, and how they were saved by Doctor Doom. Cap then proceeds downstairs to continue planning for the assault on Onslaught, while Joseph is greeted by Professor Xavier. The two commiserate on the roles they played in the creation of Onslaught. Xavier tries assuage Joseph's fears of becoming like Magneto, then sends him down to join the others. Meanwhile, in his Citadel, Onslaught reads the mind of the captive Nate Grey to learn more about Nate's home reality; he becomes enraged upon seeing how even in a mutant-dominated world, mutants cast off their domination, then absorbs Nate's power for himself. Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, Professor Xavier disables the tracking on his hover chair and sets out alone. Jean senses his departure during Captain America's briefing, and warns Cyclops that Xavier intends to face Onslaught himself. Cyclops tells her to telepathically rally the X-Men: Xavier won't have to face Onslaught alone. Meanwhile, Xavier arrives outside Onslaught's citadel. Onslaught leaps down to confront him, and Xavier insists that humanity's destruction is not mutantkind's gain. To his surprise, Onslaught agrees, then declares that no one, neither human nor mutant, will survive Onslaught!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #8 - Patreon First

"The Last Sunset... ?"
August 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel battles Grotesk (again)

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Mooney
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letters: Don Warfield
Colors: Gaspar Saladino, John Costanza
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Acting on a tip from Carol Danvers, SHIELD agents sweep Alden's department store for any trace of AIM. Finding nothing, they depart, none too pleased with Carol, while AIM, pleased to have skirted by SHIELD, plots against her. Later, Carol meets Tracy Burke, a respected photojournalist, at a bar, hoping to hire her as an assistant editor for Woman magazine. During their conversation, a group of thugs try to rob the bar, and Carol manages to fight them off without transforming into Ms. Marvel. A few days later, Carol goes to the beach with Michael Barnett, and is drawn to a nearby research facility. Transforming into Ms. Marvel, she discovers Grotesk, attempting to use the Cavorite Crystal to create a warp generator that will destroy the world. The two fight, and Grotesk nearly drowns Ms. Marvel. But she is able to use Kree battle techniques to trick Grotesk and gain the upper hand, knocking him into the warp generator, seemingly destroying them both. She transforms back into Carol, and with the Cavorite Crystal in tow, heads back to Michael. 

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Friday, April 16, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #105

"Faces in the Fire"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine helps save people from a burning building. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Val Semeiks 
Inks: Chad Hunt with V. Russell and H. Candelario  
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft 
Colors: Chris Lichter and Joe Andreani 
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Leaving Onslaught to the heavy hitters, Wolverine helps a group of fire fighters evacuate a burning building. Learning a boy named Sean is still inside, Wolverine has himself doused in water, then goes back into the building. He finds Sean, but their exit route is blocked. Just then, a mysterious old man appears, able to see through the smoke, and helps lead them out. Handing Sean to his mother, Wolverine goes back into the building to find the old man. He refuses to leave, however, and leads Wolverine to the roof, where he knocks Wolverine down with his cane. Wolverine realizes he is Stick, Elektra's ghostly mentor. Wolverine assumes Stick's there to help him regain his humanity, but Stick tells him only Wolverine can do that. He does, however, lead Wolverine away from the burning building, at which point Human Torch appears, telling him all the heroes are regrouping at Four Freedoms Plaza to plan their final assault against Onslaught. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

X-amining Generation X #19


"Don't Wait Up..."
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Toad attacks as Emma realizes what she's done

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham 
Letterer: RS / Comicraft / DL
Colorist: The Bucce
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Emma calls down Monet, Paige, Jubilee, & Everett to breakfast, each dressed in a silly costume & blissfully unbothered by anything. They are watched from outside by Toad, who is trying to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, Banshee is met at the abandoned headquarters of Alpha Flight by Sasquatch, who thinks he may have a device that will help Banshee locate Emma and the kids. Back at Emma's estate, the kids are attacked by a mass of cybernetic toads sent by Toad, as Monet's subconscious, in the form of a small girl, telepathically convinces Emma that she's being subconsciously affected by Onslaught, leading her to instinctively protect her students by placating them. But she needs to release their hold on them in order to save them from Toad. Snapping out of it, Emma admonishes Toad for his actions, just as Banshee & Sasquatch arrive. Having heard the news about Onslaught, Banshee absolves Emma of any blame for kidnapping the kids, while Jubilee & Monet agree to a truce. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

X-amining X-Man #19

"Shades of Grey"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Onslaught captures Nate Grey

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Jate Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Mister Sinister tells the captive Nate Grey how he instructed Threnody to get close to Nate, and used her neuro-locks to map Nate's brain, giving him control over his abilities. Meanwhile, Threnody is in New York, a captive of Marauders Scalphunter & Arclight. Elsewhere, Onslaught compels the captive Franklin Richards to call out to Nate for help. Back at Sinister's lair, Nate hears the cry, faintly, and Sinister urges him to ignore it. In New York, Threnody is able to capture a rat, and absorbs the energy released when she snaps its neck. Elsewhere, Nate realizes that Sinister's control over his power was temporary, and turns on Sinister. In New York, the escaped Threnody runs from the Marauders, who are attacked from behind by a hulking, shadowy figure. At Sinister's lair, Nate is distracted by the opening of a portal, through which he can see Franklin, asking for help. Nate reaches out as Sinister cries out that it's a trap; as Franklin's hand becomes Onslaught's, he tells Sinister that it was indeed a trap, then disappears with Nate in tow. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #7 - Patreon First

"Nightmare!"
July 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel is captured by AIM and battles MODOK!

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Mooney
Inker: Joe Sinnott 
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Don Warfield
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
As the refinery explodes around her, Ms. Marvel falls into an underground cavern & is knocked unconscious. She awakens a captive of AIM, whose leader, MODOK, wants to use the circuitry in her costume to create an army with Ms. Marvel's abilities. However, when her costume, damaged in the fight with Grotesk, fails to transfer her powers to an AIM agent, MODOK instead tries to take control of Ms. Marvel's mind. Thanks to her dual identity as both Ms. Marvel & Carol Danver, she is able to resist MODOK's control and fight her way free of AIM, emerging in a department store. Realizing the department store is a cover for AIM's base, she transform back into Carol Danvers and blends in with the other shoppers in order to escape, vowing to return and both shut down AIM & get revenge on MODOK! 

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Friday, April 9, 2021

X-amining Excalibur #101

"Quiet"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Excalibur deals with the aftermath of the Hellfire Club's attack & the revelation of Onslaught. 

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

Plot
Moira watches a pre-recorded message from Xavier, telling her that if anything happens to him, she and Muir Island are the last outpost for his dream. Rory then tells her that Excalibur is on their way home, and she braces herself to tell them about Onslaught. Upon hearing the news, everyone prepares to leave for America, but Moira insists the rest of the X-teams have the matter in hand; Excalibur is too beat-up to be of much help. As the team settles in, they watch news coverage of Onslaught's attack, and grow increasing horrified by what is happening. Meanwhile, Alistaire Stuart meets with Rory, telling him that he's been assigned to head up a new agency incorporating the remnants of Black Air and WHO. He asks Rory to be the mutant liaison to the new agency. Later, following more news of Onslaught's attacks, a reinvigorated Excalibur makes moves to once again head to New York, but Moira puts her foot down, saying if they go to New York they may very well be killed, and there are people outside New York who need their help. They have to stay here - Professor X would want them to stay here - in order to ensure his dream is kept alive. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

X-amining X-Force #58

"...Before the Dawn"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force is rescued from Onslaught by a representation of Professor Xavier's goodness.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Anthony Castrillo 
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Sunspot finds himself back in Brazil, playing soccer, his father & Julianna looking on. But instead of the Hellfire Club attacking, he wins the game and the adulation of the crowd. Later, in the locker room, he is approached by a small boy, who tells him he needs the help of Sunspot, the heart of soul of X-Force, to gather the others. At the X-Mansion, Siryn emerges from the wreckage caused by Mister Sinister's attack to find her teammates unconscious; she telepathically calls out for Cable, but he is caught up fighting Onslaught and can't immediately help her. She proceeds to do what she can, and tries to revive Meltdown. Meanwhile, Meltdown confronts Sabretooth, but Sunspot & the young boy arrive, and convince her to join them. They then retrieve Caliban, followed by Warpath, who is once again forced to say goodbye to his brother, and then Shatterstar, and finally Domino. With the team gathered, the young boy urges them to step into the light to fulfill their dreams. But the boy, believing himself to have won, arrogantly reveals himself as Onslaught, and Sunspot leads them in standing up to him, refusing to go into the light. Just then, in the real world, X-Force wakes up, much to Siryn's delight. They then see the young boy again, but this time, he reveals himself to be a manifestation of Xavier's goodness; he reminds them they are the next generation of mutants, and X-Force finds renewed hope amidst the ongoing tragedies. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

X-amining Cable #35

"It is Always Darkest..."

September 1996


In a Nutshell

Cable & Apocalypse team-up to take down Onslaught! 


Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill

Inkers: Scott Hanna & Art Thibert

Letterer: RS & Comicraft

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Enhancements: Malibu

Editor: Mark Powers

Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras


Plot

In the midst of the psionic storm created by Onslaught, Cable & Invisible Woman are met by Apocalypse, who proposes they join forces against Onslaught & rescue Franklin Richards, thereby cutting off Onslaught from his reality-warping powers. Though Cable reacts to this proposal violently, he ultimately relents when Invisible Woman agrees, saying she'll do what is necessary to save her son. Cable & Apocalypse enter the Astral plane as a way to get inside Onslaught's citadel, but are forced to leave the non-telepathic Invisible Woman behind. Inside the citadel, the pair is attacked by psychic manifestations of Post, Hulk, and Magneto. During the fight, Apocalypse takes advantage of Onslaught's split attention to try and kill Franklin, but he is stopped by Invisible Woman, whom Cable helped smuggle onto the Astral plane. Ultimately, Onslaught proves too powerful for all three, and they retreat back to the physical world, forced to leave Franklin behind. Apocalypse scoffs at the heroes for allowing their feelings to stop them from doing what was necessary, but inside the citadel, Franklin's resistance has become emboldened by the actions of Cable and his mother. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #6 - Patreon First

"And Grotesk Shall Slay Thee!"
June 1977

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel battles Grotesk 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Jim Mooney
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letters: Gaspar Saladino & John Costanza
Colors: Janice Cohen
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
In the wake of the successful launch of Woman magazine's first issue, J. Jonah Jameson storms into Carol Danvers' office. While pleased with the success, he's enraged that her feature on Ms. Marvel, which he specifically demanded be included, paints the superhero a positive light. While he is berating her, Carol suddenly passes out as she experiences a premonition of flames, fighting, and explosions. When she regains consciousness, she slips out of the Daily Bugle offices and transforms into Ms. Marvel, then flies off towards the refineries of New Jersey, all the while being unknowingly watched. Following her premonition, she discovers a refinery under attack by Grotesk, who has come to the surface to claim the Cavorite Crystal being studied at the plant. Caught in the midst of the flames and Grotesk's strength, Ms. Marvel is overwhelmed and seeming killed when part of the refinery explodes. Grotesk then emerges from the flames carrying the crystal and declaring to the bystanders & emergency workers that Ms. Marvel is dead, and their world will be next!

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Friday, April 2, 2021

X-amining "Onslaught" Tie-Ins Part 1

"Siege" / "Even the Brave Can Fall" / "...the World's Gone Mad!" / "Manhattan Onslaught"
September 1996

Amazing Spider-Man #415 by Tom DeFalco & Mark Bagley 
Green Goblin #12 by Tom DeFalco & Josh Hood
Spider-Man #72 by Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr. & Al Williamson
Punisher #11 by John Ostrander & Tom Lyle
(Please visit the GCD for full credits from each issue)

Plot
Amazing Spider-Man #415: Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane return to New York to find the Sentinels controlling access to the city. With the nearest Sentinel detecting enhanced abilities in Peter despite his recent retirement as Spider-Man, he & Mary Jane are forced to use his waning spider powers to flee into the city. Meanwhile, one of the Sentinels cuts the power to the Daily Bugle, after which the Sentinel is attacked by the new Green Goblin while elsewhere, Ben Reilly dons his Spider-Man costume and heads out into the city to help. When the Sentinels stop chasing Peter after his powers briefly give out, he & Mary Jane proceed to the Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson is determined to put out a paper no matter what, and offer to help, while Spider-Man helps prevent looting, then manages to destroy one of the Sentinels before heading off to find more to smash. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

X-amining X-Factor #126

"The Beast Within"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Factor helps free Beast from Dark Beast's imprisonment

Writer: Howard Mackie
Layouts: Herb Trimpe
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Enhancement: Malibu
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Forge splits X-Factor into three groups, leaving Polaris & Shard to watch the captive Random & Havok, while sending out Mystique & Wild Child along with Sabretooth & himself to search for the real Beast. Forge & Sabretooth end up finding Beast chained to a wall while outside, Random tries to apologize to Polaris, and warns her about the effectiveness of Dark Beast's brainwashing. Inside, Forge frees Beast, but Sabretooth attacks him, saying there's something off. Just then, Mystique & Wild Child arrive, and Wild Child agrees with Sabretooth. Outside, Havok tells Polaris he's broken Dark Beast's control, and urges her to keep him restrained until Professor X can permanently fix his mind. This convinces Polaris he is telling the truth, and she removes his restraints. A protesting Random maxes out his powers to break free of his own restraints, at which point Havok blasts him. Inside, Sabretooth & Wild Child discover the real Beast trapped behind a wall, and he attacks Dark Beast, knocking him out. But when X-Factor emerges with the captive Dark Beast & Fatale, they discover Havok has escaped. Forge orders Fatale to teleport Polaris to the nearest hospital; when she looks to Dark Beast, he tells her to do as Forge says; they can bide there time as prisoners, as they are now exactly where he wants to be. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #336

"A Voice as Deep as Thunder"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Professor X is freed as Onslaught evolves! 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Tim Townsend with Dell, V. Russell, and Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Inside Onslaught, Franklin Richards tries to wake up the prone form of Professor X. Outside, as the Watcher & Apocalypse watch from afar, the combined Avengers, X-Men & Fantastic Four work to help those affected by Onslaught's EM pulse. At Four Freedoms Plaza, Bishop & Giant-Man tend to the heroes felled by the blast while Mister Fantastic continues gathering data on Onslaught. At his citadel, Onslaught begins to evolve, and Professor X wakes up, telling Franklin he needs to fight Onslaught no matter what. But the newly-transformed Onslaught appears and disappears with Franklin. Outside, Joseph attacks Onslaught, and is quickly joined by a contingent of heroes. When Onslaught reveals the form of the trapped Xavier, existing on both the physical & astral planes at the same time, the heroes combine their powers to crack Onslaught's armor, creating an opening which allows Thor to pull Xavier free. However, rather than end Onslaught, he declares that he is at last free, and triggers a psionic maelstrom to swirl around his citadel, causing further damage. Nearby, the Watcher & Apocalypse agree that Onslaught has become a greater threat than ever. When Apocalypse asks what's to be done, the Watcher tells Apocalypse he already knows the answer, and shows him an image of Cable.