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Nov 14

What If?: Magik

Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There was a time when the basic format of What If? stories was to take a previous story and change the ending, usually by showing what would have happened if the good guys had lost.  (Spoilers: it was generally the apocalypse.)  More recently, the more common approach has been to do some completely alternative take on the characters, often in the vein of a mash-up of sub-genres.

In this issue, Leah Williams and Filipe Andrade take the opposite approach.  The official title is “What If Magik Became Sorcerer Supreme”, but that’s not really the story at all.  In fact, it’s the end point – so if you actually do want to know what would happen if Magik became Sorcerer Supreme, you’d better hope for a sequel.


Nov 13

X-Men: Black – Apocalypse

Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Not a one-shot, but a back-up strip running through the other five titles, “Degeneration” is a curio.  I’m pretty sure Apocalypse was comprehensively out of circulation the last time we saw him, so you’d have thought the obvious story was “why is he back at all”.  That’s not what we get here; instead, Apocalypse is just back as if nothing had happened.

What writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler opt for instead is a story from Apocalypse’s point of view with no actual heroes in it.  It’d be stretching a point to say that he’s the hero here, but he’s certainly taking the role of triumphing over adversity.  And in itself, that’s at least an underplayed angle on the character, who tends to be played as an A-list villain on an operative scale.  With nobody else around for him to posture to, this one necessarily ends up humanising him to a degree.


Nov 12

House to Astonish Episode 168

Posted on Monday, November 12, 2018 by Al in Podcast

To quote Jeremy Piven in Grosse Point Blank: “Ten years! Ten years. Ten YEEEEARS!”.

Yes, it’s our tenth anniversary episode, where we remember Anthea Bell, laugh for quite a long time about Writer X and the “revelation” of his identity, and chat briefly about Vault Comics’ new YA line (in particular, about Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Wrassle Castle), before going into extended examinations/rambles/digressions about The Green Lantern and Lost Light, and once again raid the playbook of excellent videogame podcast Bitsocket as we play Is It Canon?. We’ve also got messages from some of our friends in the comics podcasting world, and the audio from the SILENCE! To Astonish panel which took place at Thought Bubble in September, featuring Gary Lactus and the Beast Must Die of SILENCE! and an all-star line-up of guests (John McCrea, Matthew Rosenberg, Sam Humphries and Babs Tarr). All this plus Wolverine through an Instagram filter, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall with a .44 Magnum, door-to-door podcast flyering and the comic creator you tell children fairy tales about to frighten them into being good.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think in the comments, via email, on Twitter or on our Facebook fan page. And hey, there has literally never been a better time to buy one of our great t-shirts from our Redbubble store!

We wouldn’t have made it ten years without the support of our listeners, who are brilliant (that’s you!), so we wanted to take a moment just to say thanks – if you’ve been with us ten years or started with this episode, thank you so much for listening, it really does mean the absolute world to us.

On a more sombre note – this podcast was recorded on Friday, before the desperately sad news broke of Stan Lee’s death. We will talk more about Stan on the next episode, but in the meantime we’ll keep enjoying and appreciating everything he worked so hard to make possible.

Nov 10

Charts – 9 November 2018

Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2018 by Paul in Music

We’ve got a tenth anniversary podcast coming up this weekend, but first, here’s the chart post…

1.  Ariana Grande – “thank u next”

This was released two days into the chart week, but still beats the incumbent number one (“Shallow”) by 50%  or so.  It was a relatively low-selling number one, admittedly.  But even so, it’s an achievement for a midweek release to enter at the top.  Records do still enter at number one, but it’s no longer the norm, and it’s not particularly something we expect of Ariana Grande – her only previous UK number ones were “Problem” and “Bang Bang”, both in 2014.  This song probably benefits from name checking her actual ex-boyfriends, and thus making itself part of her personal narrative, but it’s a decent enough single on its own terms.


Nov 8

X-Men: Black – Emma Frost

Posted on Thursday, November 8, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: Black has been a strange little set of one-shots.  The MagnetoMojo and Mystique stories were mainly just restatements of the characters.  But Juggernaut seemed to be setting up a new status quo for the character (if not an especially interesting one).

And now we have Emma Frost‘s one-shot, written by Leah Williams and pencilled by Chris Bachalo (with six inkers, so the deadlines must have been pressing on this one).  This one is actually important to the plot.


Nov 4

Charts – 2 November 2018

Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2018 by Paul in Music

A relative handful of new entries this week…

1.  Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow” 

Two weeks.  To be honest, it’s been a bit lucky – it’s a quiet period, and it’s managed both weeks on sales that wouldn’t normally get the job done.  On the other hand, it’s still gaining momentum, so it could still have another week in it.

14.  XXXTentacion & Lil Pump featuring Maluma & Swae Lee – “Arms Around You”


Oct 28

X-Men Black: Juggernaut

Posted on Sunday, October 28, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The X-Men Black one-shots have been surprisingly decent considering that they’re effectively fill in stories.  But perhaps we were bound to hit something generic in the end, and here we are.

What is there to say about this one, really?  The Juggernaut finds himself in the Silver Age X-Men mansion and gets into a fight with the X-Men inside, immediately suspecting that something is not right here.  As it turns out, he’s right, but not in an especially interesting way.


Oct 27

Charts – 26 October 2018

Posted on Saturday, October 27, 2018 by Paul in Music

Now here’s something I didn’t expect to see in 2018.

1.  Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow”

Yes, it’s the fifth Lady Gaga number one!  The other four were “Just Dance”, “Poker Face”, “Bad Romance”, and “Telephone” – all of which were reached number one during her imperial phase of 2009/10.  So it’s been eight years, and until the A Star Is Born soundtrack came along, it was frankly looking as if the hits had dried up and it was off to Vegas/album-chart purgatory with her.  Her career bodyswerve with the move into acting has worked wonders.


Oct 21

X-23 #1-5: “Two Birthdays and Three Funerals”

Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Mariko Tamaki and Juann Cabal get a fresh issue #1 for the start of their run, but this is very much a continuation of Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine.  The set-up is exactly the same, except for the dropping of the “Wolverine” name in favour of “X-23” – which nobody draws attention to until issue #5, and which Laura pointedly refuses to explain.  So perhaps it’s something we’re coming back to, and they just didn’t want it to overshadow the first arc.  Or perhaps it’s something we’re kicking into the long grass, because we all know the real reason – Wolverine Classic is back – so there’s not much point trying to sell us on an organic story reason.

Visually, the style of the book hasn’t drastically changed either.  Cabal drew much of the “Orphans of X” storyline for All-New Wolverine, and he maintains that style here.  Unfortunately, deadlines seem to catch up with him by the final issue, most of which is handled competently enough by Marcio Fiorito.  But the rest of the book has some great visual flourishes, not just with the usual contrast between Laura and her enthusiastic mini-me Gabby, but also in the way the Stepford Cuckoos’ unity and pose starts to break down when they’re alone and arguing amongst themselves.


Oct 20

Iceman #1-2

Posted on Saturday, October 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

This is an interesting new phenomenon – a book that didn’t survive as a monthly makes a comeback on the strength of sales of the collected edition.  Perhaps it should be more surprising that this hasn’t happened before.  It’s not that unusual for Marvel and DC to launch a book in the expectation that the potential audience lies outside the direct market, but those books tend to be ones whose appeal is obviously outside the direct market.  Sina Grace’s Iceman, being basically a mainstream X-book, despite the heavy focus on Iceman’s coming out, is not so clearly in that category.  But here it is for another run, presumably due to sales of the collection coming as a pleasant surprise to Marvel.

The first two issues seem to be self-contained, so let’s take them together.