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Jan 20

Charts – 17 January 2020

Posted on Monday, January 20, 2020 by Paul in Music

It’s mid January, so we’re starting to settle back into the routine.

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

Three weeks at number 1 (and a total of eight weeks in the top 5). But Stormzy also has another record out this week, which we might as well deal with right now…

21. Stormzy – “Still Disappointed”

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Jan 18

The Complete Moira: Part 3

Posted on Saturday, January 18, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

Three posts into the series, we finally reach Moira’s first published appearance! (For part 1, see here; for part 2, see here.)

X-Men vol 1 #96 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Sam Grainger (“Night of the Demon”, December 1975). And here we are. Moira shows up at the X-Men’s Mansion, responding to the invitation from Professor X (which we saw her receive in Classic X-Men #2). This is the point where she gets introduced to the X-Men, who at this point consist of Cyclops, Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Later retcons will establish that Moira has met Cyclops and Wolverine already, but neither of them remember it. Sean is immediately taken with Moira, kicking off their romantic subplot which will later settle into a long-term status quo.

Moira and Charles both tell the X-Men that she has been hired as the new housekeeper, to look after the house and the X-Men while he’s away. At that point, the demon Kierrok attacks, and Moira promptly gets a machine gun from the armoury to fight it – though Banshee actually bundles her to safety before she has the chance to use it, and the X-Men defeat Kierrok without her. This story is reprinted in Classic X-Men #4, which adds a page of Moira and Charles having a private conversation where they reminisce about their past relationship.

Jan 16

Fallen Angels #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Pin-up art of Psylocke and Cable. Is it just me, or is Psylocke’s left arm bent at a very strange angle?

PAGES 2-3. X-23 recruits Cable, Husk and Bling! as her squad.

Cable has been in this book all along; he’s a bit shaken by his encounter with the wraith thing from the previous issue, but mainly he wants to stop Apoth from “ending all difference”, which he considers genocidal. Despite this being the penultimate issue, however, he’s joined by two characters we haven’t seen before in this book.

Husk. This is the first time we’ve seen Paige Guthrie since she was killed and resurrected during House of X. She’s a weird character to use in this book. Psylocke and X-23 are here because they don’t really function well as part of Krakoan society; Cable is a bit of an outsider too, given his very different background and recent arrival in this timeline. But Husk has always been a very enthusiastic team player, even during her periods of instability. She seems to be here because she understands Krakoa’s policy to be that mutants no longer take action against threats that only affect humans, and she’s not comfortable with that.

Jan 15

Excalibur #5 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

PAGE 1 / COVER: Rogue in her bed of flowers, with Apocalypse standing over her.

PAGE 2: Recap. For some reason the recap says that Brian is “possessed by an evil sorceress” – he’s been corrupted by Morgan le Fey, but he isn’t really possessed by her in the normal sense of that term. The recap also clarifies that Coven Akkaba were telling the truth last issue when they claimed that Shogo’s dragonfire had damaged the fabric of Otherworld and allowed the invasion of mythical creatures which we saw there. In the previous issue, it was at least ambiguous whether this was actually a Coven Akkaba plan that they were trying to blame on Betsy to undermine here; here, it’s much clearer that they’re taking advantage of a genuine collapse of the boundaries between Earth and Otherworld, brought about by Shogo thanks to the manipulations of Apocalypse.

PAGES 3-4: Rictor rescues Gambit.

Jan 14

X-Force #5 annotations

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Forge stands with an arsenal of organic tech. By the way, note that while Krakoa’s general aesthetic is plants, these things look to be meat and bone.

PAGES 2-3. Over their radio link, Domino tells Wolverine that she’s coming for him.

The top half of him, anyway. This is all self-explanatory – “You came for me in Korea” refers back to earlier issues of this storyline.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits. This is “Necessary Force” by Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara.

PAGES 6-7. Needing another way to the fight, Domino gets Black Tom to ask Gateway.

This is the limitation of the gates: somebody needs to plant one at the other end in the first place, and (we now know) they can be destroyed.

Jan 13

House to Astonish Episode 181

Posted on Monday, January 13, 2020 by Al in Podcast

It’s awards time! Paul and I are taking a leisurely saunter through our picks for the best series, creators and moments of 2019, as well as taking a look at the ones which you voted for. WHO managed to pull off a narrow win for Best Writer? WHICH Marvel series pulled off a clean sweep? DID we mention any manga (yes!)? HOW many comments did we read out on the show from the listener votes (none, sorry, by the time we recorded there wasn’t time to collate them)?

The podcast is here, here on Mixcloud, or available through the player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, via email, on Twitter or on our Facebook fan page.

Our beautiful t-shirts are, as ever, available here, and if you’d like to hear me talking to Matt Lune about Thunderbolts 1 on the Shelfdust Presents… podcast, you can find that over here.

Jan 11

The Complete Moira: Part 2

Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2020 by Paul in Moira

Last time we covered Moira’s history before the recruitment of the X-Men. This time, I’m going to go through her appearances from there through to her first published appearance, near the start of the Claremont run. This is, if anything, even more piecemeal than part 1 – that’s largely because these are mostly one-off stories published in no particular order. It settles down once we get to her debut.

Classic X-Men #43 (back-up) by Chris Claremont, Mike Collins & Joe Rubinstein (“Flights of Angels”, January 1990). This is the back-up strip which appeared alongside the reprint of X-Men #137, the climax of the Dark Phoenix Saga. The first page has a montage of flashbacks to the life of Jean Grey. They include an unexplained panel of young Jean Grey protecting Charles Xavier from an unseen attacker, while Moira bundles him to safety.

This ties into the vexed question of what on earth Charles and Jean were doing together before Jean joined the X-Men. X-Men #1 (1963) shows Jean arriving at the school with the rest of the team already formed, and seemingly not knowing much about it. Claremont established a back story where Xavier actually met her first, long before the other X-Men, and helped her to control her powers. What he didn’t establish was any good reason for the two of them to conceal that fact from the rest of the team. But occasionally he hinted at some sort of secret pre-X-Men adventuring career for Charles and Jean, which presumably contains the answer – and this flashback seems to be part of that. The most explicit reference is in Uncanny X-Men #381 (2000), where Jean talks about finding a secret cave full of treasure “before the founding of the X-Men, during a period when Charles Xavier and I worked alone.” It remains an undeveloped part of continuity, but apparently Moira’s involved in it somewhere.

Jan 10

Charts – 10 January 2020

Posted on Friday, January 10, 2020 by Paul in Music

Last week’s chart was quite eventful, what with all the post Christmas stuff. This one, though… this is a proper dead week. This really isn’t going to take us long.

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

Two weeks, and his album “Heavy is the Head” climbs to number 1 as well (on its fourth week on release). There’s a bit of an asterisk next to these, mind. Stormzy is number one on the singles chart because “Dance Monkey” by Tones & I is far enough past its peak to have its streams downweighted under the chart rules – but it is the best selling and best streamed track of the week. The album’s a bit less contentious – it was at number 2 already, but it did have some one-week discounts to push it over the line.

The rest of the top 4 is static, and this week’s highest new entry is…

5. Justin Bieber – “Yummy”

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Jan 9

New Mutants #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Deathbird fights Cannonball and Sunspot… which doesn’t really happen in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Sunspot recaps the plot.

Two pages of in-story recap is a lot, but it’s been three issues since we were last dealing with this cast and this storyline. In plot terms, at least, there’s still no apparent connection between the two strands of this series. Sunspot’s recap of the plot is basically accurate, despite all the comedy egotism – and note that Sunspot doesn’t actually name any other characters in this entire sequence.

Jan 6

Charts – 3 January 2020

Posted on Monday, January 6, 2020 by Paul in Music

You might think there’d be nothing going on in the post-Christmas chart, but you’d be wrong – because nobody plays Christmas songs after 25 December, and so half the top 40 vanishes. That allows a bunch of displaced records to get back to where they were a month ago. Last week’s number one was itself a Christmas track (and it drops straight to 28), so…

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

This has already spent five weeks hovering in the top five (and it was at 2 in the Christmas number one chart), so it’s hardly a surprise to see it rise to the top as the chart returns to normal. It’s the second Stormzy & Ed Sheeran number one, following “Take Me Back To London” last year. How many Stormzy & Ed Sheeran songs do we need? This one is good enough, but it’s hardly essential.