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

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

X-aminations in September 2021 & July 1996 Power Rankings


A relatively straightforward month, as most series continue to deal with the fallout from "Onslaught"/lead-up to "Operation: Zero Tolerance" and/or continue the stories they began last month as they moved out of the crossover's shadow. 

September 1: Generation X #21
September 2: X-Force #60

September 8: Pryde & Wisdom #1-3
September 9: Excalibur #103

On Sale October 1996
September 15: Uncanny X-Men #339
September 16: X-Man #22

September 22: X-Men (vol. 2) #59
September 23: Wolverine #108

September 29: X-Factor #129
September 30: Cable #38

Monday, August 30, 2021

G. I. JOE #54 - December 1986 (The Commercial, Not the Comic)

 


Cobra's got the right materials

Cobra's got the perfect home

Cobra Terror Drome (Cobra Terror Drome)

Cobra's got a threat more evil

than G.I. Joe has ever known

Cobra Terror Drome  (Cobra Terror Drome)

G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero

Thursday, August 26, 2021

X-amining Cable #37

"True Lies"

November 1996


In a Nutshell

Cable & Domino reunite with Kane & Vanessa as they're targeted by Psycho Man


Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciler: Ian Churchill

Inker: Scott Hanna 

Letterer: RS/Comicraft/AD

Colorist: Mike Thomas

Separations: Graphic Color Works

Editor: Bob Harras


Plot

G.W. Bridge leads a SHIELD contingent into the Weapon X facility in Canada, which has been abandoned and its files ransacked, which Bridge worries may mean someone is targeting former Weapon X subjects, including his former colleague Kane. Meanwhile, Cable and Domino arrive in San Francisco and head to an old theater where they find Kane and Vanessa. Kane explains how the pair tried to live a normal life, but someone found out they were mutants and targeted them, burning the theater. Now, Kane wants Cable to use his telepathic abilities to find whomever did it. However, all four begin acting strangely towards one another: Domino & Vanessa begin to feel intense rage towards each other, while Kane becomes wracked with doubt and Cable with fear. Just then, the cause of their heightened emotions emerges: the villain Psycho Man, who is seeking Kane's bionic parts in the hopes that the future technology will help him conquer a universe. He then disappears with Kane, and shortly thereafter, a massive ship suddenly appears in the theater announcing it's programmed to find Kane. As Cable & Domino debate boarding it, Kane appears, revealing the "Kane" with whom Psycho Man absconded was Vanessa in disguise. Vowing not to abandon her, he enters the ship, followed by Cable & Domino. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

X-amining X-Factor #128

"Night of the Hounds"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Jamie Madrox returns as Forge finds himself questioning X-Factor's purpose. 

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Jeff Matsuda
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's KF
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In Georgia, a group of locals are hunting some masked mutant fugitives through the wood until X-Factor arrives and takes over the chase, citing jurisdiction over the matter. Though Forge is dismayed to have X-Factor tasked with hunting down their own people, he oversees the team as they split up to track down the fugitives. Meanwhile, in New York, Graydon Creed receives a warning from Bastion's aide Harper to not deviate from their plans for him, as he did recently when he had the Friends of Humanity target Mystique. Back in Georgia, Shard and Mystique each capture one of the fugitives. A third is spotted by Polaris, and he's relieved, because he believes she will listen to him. However, Polaris simply knocks him out from afar, not in the mood to talk. Elsewhere, Wild Child and Sabretooth corner the fourth fugitive. Forge catches up to them, and the fugitive taunts him about what he and X-Factor have become. He then hits his hands together, and three more of him appear. He removes his mask, and Forge is stunned to realize X-Factor has been hunting Jamie Madrox. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #22 - Patreon First!

"Second Chance!"
February 1979

In a Nutshell
Carol Danvers is fired as Deathbird returns! 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Mike Zeck
Letters: Jim Novak
Colors: Bob Sharen
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
After being fired as editor of Woman magazine, Carol Danvers transforms into Ms. Marvel to fly home, only to be attacked by Deathbird. They briefly fight before Deathbird flies off. Arriving at her apartment, Caeol discovers her friends and former co-workers have gathered for a surprise party to boost her morale. Michael Barnett is there as well, determined to make Carol his wife, but an intense flash of her seventh sense forces her to leave the party. She follows the sense to a warehouse where Deathbird is leading a group of hired goons in the theft of some Stark Enterprises computer systems. During their ensuing fight, a father and his daughter in a passing car are hit by debris, becoming trapped in their burning car. Deathbird, who says she has no interest in seeing innocents harmed, helps Ms. Marvel free the bystanders. Once they're safe, she drops some rubble on Ms. Marvel and escapes. When Ms. Marvel emerges from the rubble, the father and daughter thank her for saving them, but Ms. Marvel remains furious that Deathbird got away, and certain that whatever Deathbird was after, she'll try again. 

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

Thursday, August 19, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #107

"Once Upon a Time in Little Tokyo"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine returns to Japan and is targeted for revenge. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Anthony Winn
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Gloria Vasquez 
Separations: D. Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Wolverine returns to Japan, intending to visit Amiko and Yukio. But when he arrives at their apartment, he finds it filled with Hand ninjas. He fights them off, only to discover the building has been surrounded by members of the military, forcing him to flee on a stolen motorcycle. Elsewhere, actor Akatora, who has kidnapped Yukio & Amiko, receives a report on Wolverine's whereabouts from his informant, a noodle vendor. Wolverine arrives at a Yakuza gambling hall and claims sanctuary, citing his ties to Clan Yashida. A woman named Pale Flower, oyabun of the Double Jade clan, grants it. Meanwhile, Akatora taunts Yukio, while his associates continue to pamper Amiko, subtlety brainwashing her. He orders the noodle vendor to alert the military to Wolverine's location. Back at the gambling hall, Pale Flower tries to poison Wolverine, telling him she is the daughter of Dai-Kumo, a crime lord he once killed. His healing factor easily handles the toxin, but just then, the military arrives outside the club. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #58

"Testament"
October 1996

In a Nutshell
Gambit & Joseph comes to blows on the anniversary of the Morlock Massacre. 

Story: Scott Lobdell & Ralph Macchio
Pencils: Bernard Chang
Inks: John Holdredge
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Enhancements: Graphic Colorworks
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
On the anniversary of the Morlock Massacre, Storm journeys into the former Morlock tunnels to pay her respects, and is stunned to find Gambit there, doing the same. Meanwhile, Trish Tilby conducts an interview with Graydon Creed, who is assisted by an undercover Iceman. During Tilby's debate with Creed, one of the members of the studio audience loudly calls out Creed's anti-mutant rhetoric, and Iceman is stunned to discover it's his father. At the X-Mansion, Joseph wakes a sleeping Rogue, telling her he may have found a way to allow her to make physical contact with someone. He waits outside while she gets dressed, where Bishop and Wolverine are discussing Bishop's future now that he knows who betrayed the X-Men. Just then, Gambit returns home and, spotting Joseph hovering outside Rogue's window, attacks him. Joseph fights back, but Rogue eventually breaks up their tussle, telling them she's not terribly impressed by either of them. Elsewhere, J. Jonah Jameson continues his investigation into Graydon Creed even as he is unknowingly watched by Havok, who says to himself that if Jameson learns too much, he'll end up dead. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

X-amining Marvel Team-Up #76-77 - Patreon First!

"If Not For Love" / "If I'm to Live...My Love Must Die!"
January 1978 - February 1979

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel teams up with Spider-Man and Doctor Strange to battle Silver Dagger

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Howard Chaykin
Inker: Jeff Aclin and Juan Ortiz
Letters: Joe Rosen
Colors: Carl Gafford, Mario Sen
Editor: Bob Hall, Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Issue #76: After receiving a deck of tarot cards in the mail, Doctor Strange lays them out for a reading, which causes a demon to emerge from the Orb of Agamotto and attack both Strange and his apprentice and lover Clea. Happening to be nearby, both Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel respond to the commotion, arriving to find Strange and Clea unconscious. Strange shortly thereafter wakes up and rejuvenates himself via a spell, but he cannot do the same for Clea, whose soul is now trapped inside the Orb. His only clue the tarot deck, Strange traces it back to New Orleans and brings Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel with him. There, they encounter Marie LaVeau, the witch queen of New Orleans, who tells them she sent the deck as a warning that Silver Dagger, who is trapped inside the Eye, is targeting him, and now has Clea captive. 

Issue #77: On the astral plane, LaVeau betrays Strange, trapping him in Agamotto's realm while freeing Silver Dagger. As Strange battles free Clea, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel to their best to protect Strange's physical form. During the fight, Spider-Man approaches the Orb of Agamotto and is pulled inside himself. However, his arrival destabilizes the realm, causing his reality to intrude on it, which gives Strange an opening to rescue Clea. At the same time, on Earth, Silver Dagger casts a spell to increase his size and strength in order to defeat Ms. Marvel, but is stabbed in the back by Marie LaVeau, who has regained her senses. Emerging from the Orb, Doctor Strange teleports everyone back to his Sanctum, where the wounded Silver Dagger is returned back to the Orb, keeping him alive but imprisoned once more. Marie explains that she was able to bend Silver Dagger's enchantments enough to send Strange a warning via the tarot, and urges him to heed the cards before disappearing. As Strange thanks Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man for their assistance, he lays out the cards once more, and worries that in saving Clea, he may have lost his own soul forever.  

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Unstacking the Deck: Marvel Masterpiece Series V

Fleer/Skybox 1996

Vital Statistics 
100 base card set (including a checklist card, plus a six card "Gallery", six card "Double Impact", and nine card "Painting Redemption" chase card subsets. 

Card fronts feature full bleed artwork with holofoil character and subset names, as well as the Marvel Masterpiece logos. 

Card backs feature a portion of the card front image overlaid with the character's name, a fact about them, their first appearance, and the names of their creators. 

Firsts and Other Notables
The final "Marvel Masterpieces" set of the initial 90s run (Upper Deck would relaunch the series in 2007, with sporadic releases over the next few years, most recently w/a set in 2020), these cards are amongst some of the most rare and sought-after cards of this vintage (and that was even before the recent boom in the trading card market) due to the small print run of the series, published as it was while the trading card market was in the midst of collapsing. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #21 - Patreon First!

"The Devil in the Dark!"
December 1978

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel battles the Lizard People!

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum 
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letters: Denise Wohl
Colors: Bob Sharen 
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Thrown into a cell, Ms. Marvel discovers more captives of the Lizard People, including a detachment of US soldiers and missing Woman reporter Sharon Cole. She promises to help them escape. When Ms. Marvel is brought before the leader of the Lizard People, Aracht'yr, she tries to reason with him that she isn't a threat, but one of his guards goads her into losing her temper. She strikes back, causing portions of the stadium where her audience was held to collapse; she escapes amidst the ensuing damage. Later, she confronts Aracht'yr in his home. He tells her the origin of the Lizard People and insists that secrecy is the only way they'll survive and thus, he can't let her and the rest of the humans leave. Ms. Marvel returns to her cell, freeing the other captors, and leading them out of the city by force. She is attacked by the Guardian, a massive cobra-like snake, and manages to defeat it, though not without injury to herself. Bluffing, she tells Aracht'yr that if he doesn't let her go, she'll level the city, something no one could stop now that she's killed their strongest warrior in the Guardian. However, she offers him a deal: release the captives and promise never to take any more, and she'll keep the existence of the Lizard People a secret. After one of the telepathic Lizard People scrambles the memories of the rest of the captives, everyone is allowed to leave. When Carol Danvers returns home, she finds a pet iguana waiting, along with a note from Aracht'yr, reminding her she holds the fate of the Lizard people in her hands. 

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

Thursday, August 5, 2021

X-amining X-Man #21

"Open Case"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate & Threnody explore New York City

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Roger Cruz 
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft AD
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Enhancements: GCW
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate Grey and Threnody wander through Washington Square Park, coming across various street hustlers and con artists. When Nate's powers help him expose their acts, the pair draws the attention of the passersby, prompting Nate & Threnody to fly off. Unbeknownst to him, Madelyne Pryor sees him leave, making her feel conflicted. Elsewhere, Fitzroy arrives on Sebastian Shaw's yacht, and is soon joined by Selene; the pair propose joining with Shaw and reforming the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle as a check against Bastion's growing anti-mutant operations. Back in the city, Nate and Threnody arrive at the Rainbow Room, where Nate uses his telepathy to make everyone see them as celebrities. However, when they later dance and Nate uses his powers to lift them into the air, the crowd takes them for mutants and begins to panic, prompting Nate to wipe their memories of the incident before leaving. The pair land atop the Statute of Liberty, and Nate offers to try and remove Mister Sinister's psi-bafflers from Threnody, but she turns him down, and the pair share a romantic kiss. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #338

"A Hope Reborn, A Past Reclaimed"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Archangel's feather wings return

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: Joe Madureira & Salvador Larocca
Inkers: Tim Townsend & Vince Russell 
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras
Separations: Digital Chameleon

Plot
Wracked with pain, Archangel is visited by Ozymandias, who tells him his transformation into Archangel was only the beginning, shortly before his metal wings shatter to reveal feathered wings again in their place. Meanwhile, at the X-Mansion, Jean Grey leads Joseph through a series of tests to determine the extent of his past knowledge of Magneto's actions. Just then, Psylocke appears from the shadows, to the surprise of her teammates, announcing that Archangel has gone missing. In San Diego, J. Jonah Jameson attends a Graydon Creed rally, while Cannonball and Iceman settle in to their undercover roles within his campaign. Back in New York, the X-Men use Cerebro to track Archangel to a church in Brooklyn, but he's not alone: Pyro, dying of the Legacy Virus, is there as well. His powers raging, he attacks the X-Men, but the sight of Joseph  the one-time founder of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - seems to calm him down. As he's about to tell them about a pending assassination attempt, Avalanche arrives and carries off his old teammate. The X-Men return home with Archangel, who is left wondering if his latest transformation is all part of Apocalypse's plan, or if he's finally his own self again. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

X-amining Ms. Marvel #20 - Patreon First!

The All New Ms. Marvel"
October 1978

In a Nutshell
Ms. Marvel gets a new costume, then battles some Lizard People. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Dave Cockrum 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letters: Anette Kawecki 
Colors: Mary Ellen Beveridge
Editor-in-Chief: Archie Goodwin

Plot
Shortly after trying on her new costume for the first time, Carol Danvers is visited by Frank Gianelli, who tells her that Woman magazine reporter Sharon Cole has gone missing while investigating a story in New Mexico, and a recording of Sharon's call for help suggests she was abducted by something. Soon after, Carol arrives in New Mexico, and while the military is not interested in helping her find Sharon, a local police officer takes her out to the site of Sharon's disappearance. There, Carol discovers the wrecks of several military vehicles as well as Sharon's car. When the police officer disappears, Carol transforms into Ms. Marvel, and is soon attacked by human-sized, intelligent lizard people. After a short battle in which Ms. Marvel holds her own but is unable to overpower her opponent, the leader of the lizard people reveals himself. Declaring Ms. Marvel to be unique amongst the humans they've encountered, he orders her to be captured, and she is knocked out by a telepathic blast from one of the lizards. Unconsciousness, she is then taken to the home of the lizard people, a vast civilization hidden in the mountains of New Mexico.

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

Monday, August 2, 2021

X-aminations in 2021 Part 2

 

One might assume, coming out of "Onslaught" and with the comics industry crashing down around it (Marvel will itself declare bankruptcy in December of 1996), that the, ahem, onslaught of X-titles might ebb a bit. But just the opposite is true, as the second half of 1996 and into 1997 is absolutely flush with extra one-shots, inter-company crossover, and limited series, as everyone does everything they can to wring every possible dollar out of the still-lucrative X-Men franchise (similar efforts were being made over in the Spider-Man office, with the long-running "Clone Saga" coming to a close around this time). As such, there's one or more "extra" things to review in every publication month for the next several months. So I'm going to change up my approach a bit: instead of doing three regular reviews a week, broken up by standalone reviews of a miniseries or annual or something, I am going to publish two reviews a week (barring the occasional "one review" week for holidays & vacations & whatnot), putting the "extra" stuff right alongside the regular ongoing series. 

I actually did the math, and it works out to roughly the same number of reviews in the same time period, but hopefully this will also help me keep my pace more regularly, instead of feeling like I'm constantly grinding out three reviews a week just to get a one-review "breather". 

So what's ahead? Well, seemingly everyone gets a miniseries, and that burning mystery of why Black Knight recognized Exodus in "Bloodties" finally gets answered. While in the main books, most series do their now-usual "recover from the last crossover, gear up for the next one" routine. Honestly? After the churn of "Onslaught", that sounds kind of nice.