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Apr 9

Charts – 9 April 2021

Posted on Friday, April 9, 2021 by Paul in Music

Because of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the BBC is in national mourning mode today, and so it didn’t air the regular chart show. But the chart itself was still published online as usual, and to be honest, it’s such an uneventful week that listeners to Radio 1 didn’t miss a great deal.

1. Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”

Two weeks. Which matches “Old Town Road”, for what that’s worth. Number 2 is “Peaches” by Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon, climbing one place; “Bed” by Joel Corry x RAYE x David Guetta climbs 7-6. That is the sum total of excitement in the top 10 this week. Slightly more interestingly, “Body” by Russ Millions & Tion Wayne climbs 21-12. “Astronaut in the Ocean” by Masked Wolf climbs 20-18. “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals climbs 24-21, five weeks after reaching its previous peak of 22. “Ferrari Horses” by D-Block Europe featuring RAYE climbs 28-22 – that is more notable, because it’s been climbing ever since it entered the chart three weeks ago, and D-Block Europe tracks don’t normally do that. And we finally reach the first new entry all the way down at…

27. Olivia Rodrigo – “Deja Vu”

Following up “Drivers Licence” is… a challenge. Technically Olivia Rodrigo is already off the one-hit wonder list, because her Disney song “All I Want” got to number 32 as a spillover when “Drivers Licence” took off. Still, this is the single that has the impossible task of being the actual follow-up.

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Apr 8

Excalibur #20 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 8, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #20
“No Pity From Your Friends”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1: Rogue, Captain Britain and Psylocke are menaced by Malice.

PAGES 2-5: Flashback – the origin of Malice.

Teenager Alice McAllister is found by her mother in her bedroom, having apparently committed suicide as threatened. The suggestion here is that Alice doesn’t actually commit suicide, but rather that her astral form spontaneously leaves her body, and that she chooses to stay that way rather than attempt to return. Quite why she leaves her body isn’t clear here, since there’s nothing obvious to trigger it. It might just be her powers emerging, though she’s a bit old for that.

Alice is wearing the familiar Malice choker when she comes in, though the art largely keeps it obscure, presumably to avoid spoiling where the scene is going. It’s visible in page 2 panel 3, though.

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Apr 7

Marauders #19 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

MARAUDERS #19
“Fire & Ice”
by Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli & Edgar Delgado

COVER / PAGE 1. Kate, Callisto and Bishop, posing with the Marauders flag in a pile of junk.

Incidentally, it’s been seven weeks since issue #18 came out, which is an unusually long gap.

PAGE 2. Opening quote from Wolverine, in the “Patch” identity he uses in Madripoor. This is pretty standard stuff for Madripoor, though it’s obviously an exaggeration – Madripoor also has a steady supply of victims, and several Wolverine supporting characters wouldn’t really fit into this description. It’s maybe true of the sort of people Patch hangs around with, mind you.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits. One point worth clarifying: the Marauders’ instructions to stay out of Madripoor come from the Madripoor government with the backing of the United Nations, not from Krakoa.

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Apr 5

X-Men Legends #1-2

Posted on Monday, April 5, 2021 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN LEGENDS #1-2
“The Burning Blood”
by Fabian Nicieza, Brett Booth, Adelso Corona & Guru-eFX

So this is a strange little bit of counter programming. The X-books are the focus of attention at the moment in a way that they haven’t been in some years, but they’ve done it with a version of the X-Men that differs wildly from the traditional set-up. For those looking for something a bit more traditional, we now have the determinedly retro X-Men Legends – not merely a series telling stories set in the past, but a series in which past creators are invited to come back and tell stories set during their own runs.

The obvious way to kick off something like this would be to call up Chris Claremont. But then maybe not. Claremont has written tons of continuity implant stories over the years. Some of them (notably the Classic X-Men back-ups) are very good. But we’ve seen it before. Instead, X-Men Legends opens with a two-parter that seems to be targeted unapologetically at continuity geeks: Fabian Nicieza getting the chance to finish off his Adam X storyline from the mid-90s.

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Apr 3

Charts – 2 April 2021

Posted on Saturday, April 3, 2021 by Paul in Music

We were overdue for a big new entry, and lo.

1. Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”

This is Lil Nas X’s second UK number one, after 2019’s “Old Town Road”. Both his subsequent hits, “Panini” and “Holiday”, landed just outside the top 20 – so while he wasn’t a one hit wonder by any means, he was in some danger of being an artist who had one Really Big Hit as an outlier on an otherwise mid-table career. It’s tempting to ascribe Montero’s success to the video, though really, that’s been more controversial in the USA than in Britain; religion just doesn’t have the same traction in British culture wars. Still, it won’t hurt that the charts count YouTube views. But mainly, “Montero” is just a much better track than “Panini” or “Holiday” – it feels like more of a complete song.

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Mar 31

X-Men #19 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-MEN vol 5 #19
“Out of the Vault”
by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar & Sunny Gho

COVER / PAGE 1. The Children of the Vault, being dramatic.

PAGE 2. Data page.

It’s been a while since we’ve had an issue which is quite so keen on the graphics. It’s perhaps not immediately obvious on this page, but the timeline runs from the top of the page to the bottom, so Synch is kind-of being presented as the central rock in this group.

PAGES 3-4. Wolverine, Synch and Darwin survive the explosion.

This is the aftermath of the explosion from the previous issue (this being a rare two-parter in Hickman’s X-Men). The narrator is Synch, as clarified later. The reasons for that become apparent at the end of the issue, as he’s presumably the only one of the trio to retain memories of this after the event.

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Mar 29

Charts – 26 March 2021

Posted on Monday, March 29, 2021 by Paul in Music

In which Justin Bieber has a new album out, and so everyone just stands back and lets shim get on with it.

1. Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted – “Wellerman”

Two weeks at number one, with a comfortable lead. It’s been out for nine weeks already, though, so if it’s already peaked then it might find itself being hit with the downweighting rule next week. We’ll see.

3. Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon – “Peaches”
24. Justin Bieber featuring Khalid – “As I Am”

Bieber’s album “Justice” enters at number 2, which is his sixth top five album (admittedly, two of them are the regular and acoustic versions of “Believe”). Two of them reached number 1 – the main version of “Believe” in 2012, and last year’s “Changes”. It gets the maximum permitted three tracks into the chart – the two tracks above, and “Hold On”, which rebounds from 31 to a new peak of 10.

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Mar 28

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1985

Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2021 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 
1980 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984

When we left off, Wolverine had disappeared from the pages of Uncanny X-Men for a few months to be in another miniseries. And here it is…

KITTY PRYDE & WOLVERINE #1-6
6-issue miniseries
by Chris Claremont, Al Milgrom & Glynis Oliver
November 1984 to April 1985

There’s a lot of plot here, so deep breath…

The Pryde family’s bank is in trouble because it’s just too generous in lending to local businesses. Kitty’s father Carmen sells out to new Japanese owner Heiji Shigematsu, actually a Yakuza obayun who intends to use the business as a money-laundering front. Kitty tails her father to Japan to learn all this, and gets captured by Shigematsu’s supposed “intermediary”, Ogun. Ogun brainwashes her and trains her as a ninja. But before she was captured, Kitty phoned Logan, and he duly shows up in Japan looking for her. Logan and Yukio fight a masked ninja who, you guessed it, turns out to be Kitty. Yukio drugs Kitty and the heroes regroup at a Clan Yashida stronghold, where Kitty seems to return to normal.

Wolverine explains that Ogun was his sensei, that he may or may not be a legendary samurai, and that he has imprinted his psyche onto hers, either through magic or psi-powers. Eventually this Ogun personality will overwhelm her entirely. The suggestion is that Ogun is basically a psychic parasite / ghost that moves from host to host. Conveniently for the plot, Logan believes that Kitty can only defeat Ogun’s influence by beating it herself. Logan mentors and trains her, and puts her through the same drills as Ogun, but gives her more choice, so that she has to make the decision to press on.

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Mar 27

House to Astonish Presents: The Lightning Round Episode 2

Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2021 by Al in Podcast

Come with us back to 1997, as Paul and I take our second dive into the history of Marvel’s foremost felonious faculty, the Thunderbolts!

This time round, we’re covering Spider-Man Team-Up #7, Thunderbolts #3 and 4, and Thunderbolts: Distant Rumblings (aka Thunderbolts #-1). You will note that we have not yet managed to get an episode of this down to the planned 40-45 minutes. We’re working on it!

It should go without saying, but this episode contains spoilers for the issues under discussion (though we’ve tried to avoid flagging things that will be important in later issues).

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or through our Facebook fan page. And, of course, our lush shirts are available over at our Redbubble store for the discerning consumer.

Mar 25

Excalibur #19 annotations

Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #19
“Wild Violets”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1. A confrontation between Captain Britain and Psylocke.

PAGES 2-3. Captain Britain of Earth-13054 locates our Captain Britain.

Elspeth Braddock was among the horde of Captains Britain we saw in X of Swords: Destruction, but this is her first full appearance. She’s a sorcerer version of the character; we’re told that her “focused totality turned inward”, which refers to the late 80s tagline about Psylocke’s psionic knife being the “focused totality of her psionic powers”. Earth-13054 is home to a fantasy-genre version of the X-Men, and was seen in X-Treme X-Men vol 2 #2.

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