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

Thursday, October 28, 2021

X-amining Youngblood/X-Force #1 & X-Force/Youngblood #1

"Smokin' Mojo" / Untitled
July - August 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force and Youngblood team-up to fight Mojo!

Writer: Eric Stephenson; Eric Stephenson & Robert Napton
Pencilers: Roger Cruz; Stephen Platt, Dan Fraga, Richard Horie, Ching Lau, Michael Linchang, Mark Pajarillo, & Andy Park 
Inkers: Larry Strucker; Marlo Alquiza, Eric Cannon, Robert Lacko, Sean Parsons, Norm Rapmund, & Larry Stucker
Letterers: Steve Dutro & Kurt Hathaway; Kurt Hathaway
Colorists: Dan Shadian & Extreme Color; Dan Shadian, Extreme Color, & Quantum Color
Editor: Rob Liefeld 
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Youngblood/X-Force: With Mojo seeking new sources for ratings domination, he sends the Agent to trick Youngblood into signing contracts that bring them to Mojoworld. But Shaft manages to escape, and takes a portal that deposits him in the Danger Room. X-Force agrees to help him and Youngblood defeat Mojo. Meanwhile, Ricochet Rita and Mojo II approach Youngblood and offer to help them defeat Mojo, and when Shaft and X-Force arrive, the two groups team-up. As they work to destroy Mojo's ability to teleport between Mojoworld and Youngblood's world, they free a number of heroes from Youngblood's world captured by Mojo. With the help of the additional heroes, the two teams manage to get Youngblood back home, but Mojo remains in power in Mojoworld, and is ecstatic about the ratings the entire situation has garnered him, as well as the promise of a whole new world of heroes to exploit. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

X-amining Generation X '96


"Everyday People"
1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X foils a plot by Fenris that impacts three different bystanders. 

Writer: Michael Golden 
Artists: Jeff Johnson and Dan Panosian
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Cabrera, Lazellari and GCW 
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In the wake of Onslaught's attack, Banshee takes Mondo, Monet, Jubilee, Skin, Paige and Synch into New York City. Tensions run high inside the van as the group gets stuck in traffic. Meanwhile, the lives of three normal humans begin to intersect with the Generation X kids as well as the actions of Andrea and Andreas Strucker, who lead their Fenris terrorist organization in a plot to steal a mutagenic machine. Throughout the course of the day, the actions of the three people, Fenris, and Generation X are inextricably drawn together, with Generation X ultimately defeating Fenris (though the twins get away), while the lives of  three people are changed as a result of the events. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

X-amining Classic X-Men #2 - Patreon First!

"First Friends"
October 1986

In a Nutshell
Storm and Jean Grey bond over a mugging. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Bolton
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Storm arrives at Jean Grey's New York City apartment, having been invited there so the two women could get to know one another better. When Jean asks Storm to change out of her X-Men uniform in order to protect their secret identities from her roommate, Storm simply removes the attire and stands in Jean's apartment naked. Jean explains she can't run around New York naked, and lends her a dress to wear, before the pair go out shopping. While shopping, a thief grabs Jean's purse. The two women give chase, but Storm hesitates when he enters the subway. In the subway tunnels, Jean is overwhelmed by all the thoughts in such an enclosed space, and the thief gets away. When she confronts Storm about not helping her, she pulls a memory of Storm being trapped and the knowledge of her claustrophobia from her mind. Feeling violated, Storm is enraged and flies off, triggering a thunderstorm in the process. Jean gives chase, and explains how sometimes she loses control of her powers, and can't filter out the thoughts of those around her. After apologizing, the women return to the ground, and Jean takes Storm by the hand as they enter the subway together. 

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Monday, October 25, 2021

X-aminations in November 2021 & September 1996 Power Rankings


The Publication Year That Wouldn't End continues as push through more extra X-content, including another annual, the culmination of the "Cannonball & Iceman undercover in Graydon Creed's campaign" subplot, and Apocalypse's first miniseries!
 
On Sale October 1996
November 3: X-Men Unlimited #13
November 4: X-Men '96

On Sale November 1996
November 10: Uncanny X-Men #340
November 11: X-Man #23

November 17: X-Men (vol. 2) #60
November 18: Wolverine #109

November 24: Rise of Apocalypse #1-4

Thursday, October 21, 2021

X-amining Excalibur #104

"Buried Secret"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Excalibur gets to the bottom of Douglock's identity while the MLF attacks Muir Island!

Plot: John Arcudi 
Script: James Felder
Pencillers: Bryan Hitch, Rob Haynes, Scott Koblish
Inkers: Paul Neary, Scott Koblish, Rick Ketcham
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Colorist: Araine Lenshoek
Editor: Matt Idelson
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Douglock continues to struggle with the question of who he is, something not made easier by Kitty's insistent belief that he is her old friend Doug Ramsey. This triggers an argument between Kitty & Wisdom. While Colossus questions his place amongst the team, Nightcrawler & Moira debate what to do with the Xavier Protocol information. When Wisdom pushes Douglock to confess his secret, Douglock jumps out a window and must be calmed down by Colossus and Kitty. Ultimately, they decide to visit Doug Ramsey's grave in Westchester, accompanied by Wolfsbane. Meanwhile, the Mutant Liberation Front attacks Muir Island, seeking its Legacy Virus data as well as the Xavier Protocols. They manages to take out Captain Britain and Meggan while shutting down communications, but MLF member Dani Moonstar begins to quietly sabotage their plan. Meanwhile, the rest of Excalibur visits Doug Ramsey's grave. Kitty, insistent that Douglock is Doug, phases through the ground into Doug's coffin. She expects it to be empty, but is shocked to discover Doug's skeleton inside. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

X-amining Black Knight: Exodus #1

"The Bond"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Black Knight & Sersi meet Exodus in the 12th Century and battle Apocalypse. 

Writer: Ben Raab
Penciler: Jimmy Cheung
Inker: Andy Lanning
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Tom Zuiko
Editor: Kelly Corverse
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Trapped in another universe, Sersi desperately tries to send herself and Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, home. However, she only succeeds in transporting them to the 12th Century, where Dane's consciousness gets subsumed in that of his ancestor, Eobard Garrington. He wakes up next to a familiar face, his friend Bennet du Paris. The pair are on a quest to a pharaoh's temple in Egypt. Along the way, they encounter a woman being attacked for being a sorcerer; it is Sersi. Dane's consciousness leads Eobard to save her. Bennet objects, worried it'll delay their quest, rending their friendship as Bennet goes off on his own. Eobard and Sersi follow after Bennet, and along the way, Sersi tells him about Dane, and Eobard sacrifices his soul to allow Dane to emerge. Meanwhile, Bennet battles Scarab, a mutant agent of the pharaoh, Apocalypse, and learns he himself is a mutant; Scarab names him "Exodus". Eventually Sersi and Black Knight arrive at the temple and are captured. Apocalypse orders Exodus to use his newfound power to destroy Black Knight in battle, but his fondness for Eobard wins out, and he turns his power on Apocalypse instead. Apocalypse in turn puts Exodus in a coma, and entombs him in Switzerland. Six months later, Black Knight finally finds Exodus' tomb, and places two guards outside, to protect his friend until Apocalypse's curse is lifted. Black Knight then tells Sersi it's time for them to go home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

X-amining X-Men: The Animated Series 3x01 - Patreon First!

"Out of the Past, Part 1"

Original Airdate
July 29, 1994

Director: Larry Houston
Producer: Larry Houston, Richard Bowman
Writer: Michael Edens

Plot
Leech is chased into the Morlock Tunnels by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. He has stolen a blaster from Lady Deathstrike, which Callisto hopes to use to open a strange alien craft the Morlocks have discovered in their tunnels. However, Deathstrike and the Reavers capture the Morlocks, but when Deathstrike tries to breech the ship, an energy discharge knocks her out. The release of energy attracts the attention of Professor X, and Deathstrike decides it was her cybernetic components which caused the issue; she needs someone who is human but also in possession of adamantium claws. So she has the Reavers contact Wolverine and lure him into the tunnels, playing on the shared romance in their past. Gambit & Jubilee follow Wolverine into the tunnels. The X-Men battle the Reavers, during which Lady Deathstrike touches the ship once more, becoming trapped. When the energy is released again, Professor X realizes it is a warning to not open the ship, but just then, Wolverine slashes at its hull to free Deathstrike. Suddenly, a creature bathed in green light emerges from the opening he's made.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

X-amining Star Trek/X-Men #1

"Star TreX"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
The X-Men meet the crew of the USS Enterprise!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencilers: Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Anthony Winn, David Finch
Background Assists: Brian Ching
Inkers: Batt, D-Tron, Billy Tan, Aaron Sowd, Joe Weems
Ink Assists: Victor Llamas, Team Tron, Jose "Jag" Guillen, Viet Troung, Mike Manczarek
Letters: Dennis Heisler
Colors: Tyson Wingler, Steve Firchow, Jonathan D. Smith, Richard Isanove
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
The USS Enterprise returns to Delta Vega, site of the death of former crew member Gary Mitchell. Drawn there by reports of a rift of psionic energy in space, they arrive just as a Shi'ar craft emerges from the rift. It is quickly destroyed by the anomaly, but a second larger ship soon emerges, out of which Gladiator flies, warning the Enterprise to stay away from the planet. Meanwhile, Wolverine reconnoiters the Enterprise, as he and the rest of the X-Men teleported onto the ship shortly before their Shi'ar vessel was destroyed. The X-Men hope to keep their presence a secret, but Doctor McCoy discovers Storm, Beast and Gambit in sick bay while Spock detects Jean Grey's telepathic scans and deduces the X-Men's hiding place. After a brief scuffle, he brings the X-Men to Captain Kirk. They tell Kirk that the other ship is under the control of Deathbird, who is tracking a powerful reality-altering mutant from their universe, Proteus. On Delta Vega, Proteus has taken control of the body of Gary Mitchell. Beaming down, the X-Men and Enterprise crew discover Proteus has transformed the planet into a replica of a Scottish village. Deathbird arrives, and offers Proteus use of their ship in exchange for an alliance. As the X-Men battle Proteus and the Imperial Guard, Jean and Captain Kirk enter Proteus' mind, convincing the remnants of Mitchell's consciousness that he needs to die again. As Bishop and Chief Engineer Scott find a way to re-channel the psionic rift's energy in order to close it, the rest of the X-Men and Enterprise crew destroy Proteus. Commandeering Deathbird's ship, the X-Men prepare to return home before the rift closes completely, telling Kirk and his crew they are grateful, for all the terrible futures they've known, to encounter one which seems hopeful. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

X-amining Classic X-Men #1

This review is free to read here and on Patreon, but for the rest of the series' reviews going forward, as well as already-completed reviews of every issue of X-Men 2099The Champions, and Ms. Marvel, as well as episodic reviews of X-Men: The Animated Series, become a Patron now for as little as $1.25 a month! 

"First Night"
September 1986

In a Nutshell
The new X-Men settle in while the original X-Men decided whether to stay or go. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: John Bolton
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Following the new X-Men's successful rescue of the original X-Men, Professor X grapples with how he's going to integrate the two groups. He telepathically eavesdrops on his students, learning that Havok & Polaris plan to leave the group. Meanwhile, Cyclops finishes his after-action report, while Iceman confronts Banshee, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, angrily telling them they haven't earned the right to call themselves X-Men. Outside, Wolverine makes his attraction to Jean known, while Angel joins Storm in the skies above the mansion. But when he spots Wolverine talking to Jean, he swoops down, angrily separating them. A fight breaks out between Angel & Wolverine, which Storm and Jean do their best to stop. The next morning, after a sleepless night for both, Jean visits Professor X and tells him she's going to leave the X-Men as well, in part because of the attraction she feels towards Wolverine, but also to see more of the world and live a life amongst the humanity she's meant to protect. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

X-amining X-Force #61

"Ask Me No More Questions and I’ll Tell You No More Lies!"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force stops Mojo while Shatterstar's soul is transferred to Benjamin Russell. 

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Kevin Lau
Inker: Andrew Pepoy 
Letterer: RS & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Having been digitized by Mojo, Cable & Shatterstar are stuck in a holovid program depicting Shatterstar's final battle with Mojo 100 years in the future, during which Shatterstar suffers a mortal injury. Meanwhile, Mojo is absorbing all the ambient energy from the humans captivated by his broadcast, growing more powerful. In Mojoworld, Spiral approaches Longshot and X-Force, telling them she can help save Shatterstar. As the rest of X-Force and Longshot's rebellion fight to destroy Mojo's broadcasting capabilities, Spiral teleports Longshot and Spiral into the holovid program where they retrieve Cable & Shatterstar. Spiral then delivers them to the Weisman Institute, where Siryn brings them to the comatose Benjamin Russell. Longshot then performs a ritual in which Shatterstar's soul is placed in Benjamin's body, at which point he wakes up with all of Shatterstar's memories. On Mojoworld, X-Force stops Mojo's broadcast, then return home to their teammates, unaware that they're being watched from afar by Gamesmaster. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

X-amining Generation X #22

"All Hallows Eve"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X celebrates Halloween while Emma is visited by Nightmare!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Al Vey & Scott Hanna 
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
In Rutland, Vermont, Banshee & Paige watch over Artie, Leech, and Franklin Richards as they participate in the town's Halloween celebration. Back at the school, Jubilee, Skin, Chamber, and Monet team-up to help prank a group of locals hoping to vandalize the school. Watching from afar, Emma is visited once again by Nightmare, who says he needs her help. Back in Rutland, Paige asks Banshee if he's ever sad about missing the childhood of Siryn, his daughter, and then Franklin comes up to them, saying he misses his mother and father. Paige, who also lost her father at a young age, helps him manage his grief. Meanwhile, Nightmare tells Emma he needs her help to regain control of his dream realm from a woman who has usurped him; Emma doesn't buy it, and he admits he really just wanted to make sure Emma wouldn't be able to help his rival. Emma assures him she is not capable of projecting corporeal forms into the nightmare realm. In Rutland, Banshee and Paige pack the exhausted boys into the car, and Artie creates a projection of what Siryn would have looked like at their age, his way of saying thank you. Back at the school, Nightmare visits Emma once more, and as his way of saying thanks, offers her a vision of what the future holds, dark events which will befall her students. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Patreon First: Classic X-Men, X:TAS Seasons 3-4, and Deadpool!

With the Ms. Marvel retrospective complete, it's time to turn to another batch of Chris Claremont stories I previously overlooked, the Classic X-Men backups! 

Paired with a reprint of X-Men from the early "All New, All Different" days, these backup stories, usually written by Claremont and drawn by John Bolton (but also featuring the first Jim Lee X-Men art!), were meant to take place in between those "main" stories, tying in (sometimes) chronologically or thematically to flesh out events in the reprinted story. In many cases, they had a more adult/sophisticated vibe to them, often featuring the characters out-of-costume and fighting more mundane foes (if fighting at all). Claremont also occasionally used them to retroactively seed later ideas he had developed into older stories (sometimes even in the form of pages added or revised within the original, reprinted tale, which I'll call out in the reviews as well, when relevant). My memory of the backup stories is that they vary wildly, from compelling and essential to silly and irrelevant, but they're something I've wanted to revisit and review for a long time.