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Dec 8

Charts – 6 December 2019

Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2019 by Paul in Music

PREVIOUSLY ON THE UK SINGLES CHART: Annoyed by the way the chart is overrun with Christmas back catalogue material in December, the music industry changed the chart rules, so that anything which has been out for more than a couple of years is permanently subject to the “accelerated chart ratio” – the lower points given for streams of records that are meant to be on their way out of the charts. That will do it, they thought.

That will do it.

1. Tones & I – “Dance Monkey”

That’s ten weeks, and at this point it’s time to dust off the record books. Ten weeks at number one puts “Dance Monkey” joint ninth in the all time record, alongside “Umbrella” by Rihanna (2007), “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston (1992), and “Cara Mia” by David Whitfield (1954).

The rest of the top 4 is also static. “Roxanne” by Arizona Zervas climbs 7-5, and “Memories” by Maroon 5 from 8-7. Number 8 is… ah. This is the chart covering sales and streams from 29 November to 5 December, so naturally, it’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, which entered at number 34 last week as a festive beachhead.

10. The Weeknd – “Heartless”
12. The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

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Dec 8

The Homies 2019

Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2019 by Al in Uncategorized

There’s gifts on the fire and logs on the tree, and that means only one thing – it’s time for the annual House to Astonish Homies awards, where we dish out our gongs in various categories to the best and brightest comics of the year.

As always, Paul and I will individually be choosing a winner for each category, but there’s the usual proviso – we want YOU to help, so you all name your picks in the comments, and Paul and I each choose our own, and we talk a bit about each of the three on our awards show.

We’re likely to be recording at the very end of December/start of Jan, so we’re giving you until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific) on December 29 to make your choice. When you list your picks, don’t just name names either, because we’ll be reading out the best comments on the show, so let us know your thinking!

BEST NEW SERIES

This one’s pretty self-explanatory – any comic whose first issue was published between 1 January 2019 and the close of nominations (29 December) is eligible. What new series got your attention the most this year?

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

This one’s a little less self-explanatory – what series, again first published between 1 January and 29 December, did you think was best, with the proviso that it has to be something where the property wasn’t in existence prior to the start of 2018. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so Agents of Atlas or Criminal wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Coffin Bound or Excellence would.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2018 or before. They’ve been around the block, but they’ve still got what it takes.

BEST MINI, ONE-SHOT OR OGN

These are explaining themselves by this point, right? We’re looking for OGNs, one-shots and minis published in 2019 (or partially in 2019, in the case of minis).

FAVOURITE WRITER

FAVOURITE ARTIST

FAVOURITE COLOURIST

Each of these three is pretty self-explanatory – whose name on the cover or credits box of a book makes you want to pick it up? Whose work do you most look forward to seeing?

MOST WANTED

This is for the comic, series or graphic novel that saw print this year which you’d want to see more of, whether that be a book that was cancelled before its time, a one-shot or mini that just begs for a follow-up, or an OGN that you’d love to see a sequel to.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

It may have seemed unappealing when you read about it online, and those preview pages may have looked unremarkable, but when you finally got the winner of this category in your hands you were ready to eat your words. What comic, series or graphic novel did you find yourself enjoying much more than you thought you would?

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

This is exactly what it says – which creator, creative team, publisher or other contributor to the world of comics really knocked it out of the park this year?

Let us have your picks in the comments thread below, along with your thinking on each one – we’ll read out a range of the responses on our big end-of-year show. Happy nominating!

Dec 6

Excalibur #3 annotations

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Apocalypse takes Rictor under his wing.

PAGES 2-3. Recap page and credits. This is “Verse III: Three Covenants”, written by Tini Howard, with art by Marcus To, colours by Erick Arciniega, and letters by Cory Petit.

PAGES 4-6. Rictor is stuck indoors, unable to leave the house without starting earthquakes.

Rictor. Rictor was first introduced as one of X-Factor’s students in X-Factor #17 (1987), and went on to have stints in the New Mutants, X-Force, and X-Factor Investigations. He and Shatterstar were a couple for a long time. When we last saw him, in the recent Shatterstar mini, he was running a bar in New York, and he and Shatterstar were still on decent enough terms. The idea that his powers are out of control is new, and since he evidently has access to the internet, it’s unclear why he doesn’t simply contact the X-Men for help. But it’s evidently a plot point, since somebody keeps making psychic contact with him, asking him to “come home.” There’s a suggestion later that he’s worried about damaging Krakoa itself, which is understandable, but there’s clearly more to his power loss than that.

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Dec 5

Marauders #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Professor X, Iceman, Storm and Bishop stand ready to fight an unrecognisable, just-resurrected mutant as he emerges from his egg. But isn’t Professor X dead? Don’t get too excited – it doesn’t happen like this in the issue, plus it’s a flashback.

PAGES 1-3. Sebastian Shaw leaves his home on Krakoa, to attend the resurrection of his son.

This is a flashback to “several weeks ago”, though it’s rather confusingly done, since the captions read at first like Shaw’s internal monologue as he walks through the streets – actually, he’s narrating it from the present day.

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Dec 4

X-Men #3 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this post contains spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Cyclops and Emma Frost riding what are presumably meant to be dinosaurs. Other than the fact that the story visits the Savage Land, this doesn’t have much to do with the content.

PAGES 2-3. Mysterious bad guys come through the gate to the Savage Land flower farms.

The Savage Land. The Marvel Universe’s hidden jungle where dinosaurs still exist (not that we see any in this story). We established back in House of X #1 that the X-Men had set up a location in the Savage Land, and evidently it’s where they’re growing all the farms for those pharmaceuticals they’re making. From the X-Men’s point of view, it’s presumably place where they can grow the all-important flowers and be relatively confident of being undisturbed. The “harvest centre” has mutants picking the flowers by hand – the first time we’ve seen Krakoans actually working, I think.

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Nov 30

Charts – 29 November 2019

Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2019 by Paul in Music

Christmas beckons.

1. Tones & I – “Dance Monkey”

Nine weeks. That means it’s passed Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber’s “I Don’t Care” to be the longest running number 1 of 2019 – it can’t be beaten now, obviously – and it’s the longest running number 1 since “God’s Plan” by Drake also managed nine weeks at the start of last year. Number 2 is “Before You Go” by Lewis Capaldi, climbing 17 places now that it has a full week on release.

3. Stormzy featuring Ed Sheeran & Burna Boy – “Own It”

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Nov 29

Fallen Angels #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, November 29, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this will contain spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Psylocke (Kwannon), X-23 and Cable next to a cage full of children who they’re presumably about to rescue.

PAGES 2-5. Flashback. Pre-Psylocke Kwannon meets Yama, who’s on the run and wants her help, but she kills him and then fights two gunmen.

The other two gunmen are presumably the people Yama was on the run from. The general thrust of the scene, though, is that Kwannon is deeply unimpressed with Yama, who is trying to get out of the game, something that she sees (at this stage in her life) as generally disreputable and disastrous behaviour. As for why she kills the others, that’s presumably covered in the second flashback in the issue, when she explains that she read Yama’s mind and was touched by his desire to protect his wife and unborn son.

“The blade of Nyoirin. Matsu’o’s prize.” This must be fairly shortly before she gets body swapped with Psylocke. Nyoirin is the crimelord she was working for; Matsu’o Tsurayaba was her boyfriend.

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Nov 28

X-Force #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 28, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, page numbers go by the digital edition, and this will be full of spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Kid Omega and Wolverine fighting lab-grown thingies.

PAGES 1-2. The mutants of Krakoa gather around the fallen Professor X, and Magneto gives a brief eulogy.

“This was your plan, your island, your future.” Or such is the official line, anyway – this seems to have been at least as much Moira’s plan, but that’s secret. Naturally, Magneto makes the point that if Xavier can be brought back from the dead, nothing will change. The problem is that, as shown in House of X, Professor X himself has been essential to the process of restoring the backed-up minds from Cerebro, and no other telepath has been taught how to do it yet.

Professor X is seen without his Cerebro helmet for the first time in the Hickman run, outside flashbacks. Previous stories even went out of their way to avoid showing his face when he was unmasked, but there seems to be nothing unusual about his appearance here.

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Nov 27

New Mutants #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As we get further into the series, chances are these posts can start to get shorter. But meantime… as always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this post contains spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1: The New Mutants get caught by Gladiator.

PAGES 2-3. Sunspot recaps the plot, and explains that the New Mutants are in Shi’ar jail, and his lawyer has arranged an early hearing.

“I had to lay it on pretty thick to convince my friends to leave paradise…” Not what we saw in issue #1. In fairness, that issue cut directly from Sunspot suggesting it to the team already being in space. So it could have happened the way Sunspot claims. But given the tone of all this, it’s more likely he’s talking himself up. Hickman’s Sunspot – and note Hickman is credited as sole writer on this issue – is much more of a comedy figure than we’ve seen in recent years in books like USAvengers. Then again, this is also more of a comedy book.

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Nov 25

Charts – 22 November 2019

Posted on Monday, November 25, 2019 by Paul in Music

We’re only a week or so away from the march of the Christmas hits. But for now…

1. Tones & I – “Dance Monkey”

Eight weeks. More to the point, its numbers went up this week – which means it’s not going to get downweighted any time soon, as that only happens when a record is three weeks past its peak. It could realistically sit there until the Christmas releases arrive.

3. Billie Eilish – “Everything I Wanted”

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