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Jul 12

Charts – 12 July 2019

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2019 by Paul in Music

Oh good, movement!

1.  Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Senorita”

This has spent two weeks stuck at number 2 behind Ed Sheeran, and it’s pretty good – it’s kind of Latin by numbers, but it’s got a real lightness of touch to it.  It’s the second number one for both singers – in Shawn Mendes’ case, it comes four years after “Stitches”, while Cabello’s previous number one was 2017’s “Havana.”  (Cabello’s other current single, “Find U Again” with Mark Ronson, is still down at 31.)   (more…)

Jul 7

Major X

Posted on Sunday, July 7, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

There’s a temptation to bring out special standards where Rob Liefeld is concerned.  After all, on any conventional basis, he makes awful, incoherent comics.  And yet, and yet…  Liefeld was a star in the nineties, and clearly he was doing something that connected.  His style was one of the dominant features of the period, grudgingly imitated by all manner of artists who wanted to keep getting work.  His stories were incoherent in a way that suggested not so much laziness as naive, stream-of-conscious enthusiasm.  Some of his actual concepts, like Youngblood, turn out to be entirely viable when handled by more conventional talents.  And in a couple of years  he had a hand in creating Cable, Domino, Shatterstar and Deadpool, which is a pretty good track record.

Major X, his latest six-issue mini, fits well into this tradition.  It bounces around with tremendous enthusiasm and no great coherence.  Plot threads are introduced and never paid off (in a way that you’d get away with if these were the first six issues of an ongoing).  Little about it makes sense.  But Liefeld comes across as genuinely enthusiastic about it.  It doesn’t feel phoned in.  It feels mad.

In a good way?  No.  Not in a good way.  It’s awful.  But at least it’s idiosyncratically awful.  And some Liefeld concepts turned out to work when other people communicated them more effectively.  Might this be one?

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Jul 6

Age of X-Man: X-Tremists

Posted on Saturday, July 6, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Leah Williams and Georges Jeanty’s X-Tremists takes on one of the trickier tasks of the Age of X-Man crossover: writing a bunch of characters as a secret police force who mindwipe, and ultimately disappear, inconvenient people – people who won’t get on board with Nate’s relationship-free, individualist culture.  While the public don’t know about all the mind wiping, or at least know about it only as a rumour, they do know about Department X itself, as a relatively low level outfit policing antisocial behaviour.  From the standpoint of the Age of X-Man public, they’re the vice squad.  (Rather unfortunately, their slogan “Semper Vigilo” – “Always Watching” – is also the motto of Police Scotland.)

But they’re a bit more awful than that, which raises awkward questions for the characters.  After all, sure, they’re under outside influence.  But so is everyone else, and plenty of them are breaking free.  Most of those that aren’t are simply living “normal” lives in Nate’s society.  The Department X members are actively enforcing Nate’s pseudotopia.

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Jul 5

Charts – 5 July 2019

Posted on Friday, July 5, 2019 by Paul in Music

This is the annual post-Glastonbury chart, and as is often the case, it’s rather quiet, because everyone’s been off in a field instead of promoting their records (and everyone who does want to promote a record is being drowned out by the people in the field).  So we can run through this quite quickly…

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Eight weeks, and it’s now joined by…

3.  Ed Sheeran featuring Khalid – “Beautiful People”

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Jul 4

Age of X-Man: NextGen

Posted on Thursday, July 4, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Ed Brisson’s time on the X-books seems to be drawing to a close as we near the Hickman relaunch.  But there’s still time for one more story about Glob Herman, who seems to have become his favourite character.  Glob’s been around since 2001, largely as a background character with a memorable visual – but he’s the one currently selected to play the role of the long-suffering sad-sack trainee.  It’s a role that his design and long tenure leave him well suited to.

NextGen isn’t a solo title – the rest of the core cast are Anole, Rockslide and Armor.  But he’s the lynchpin.  Incidentally, this is one of several Age of X-Man minis where the title isn’t the name of the team.  There is no team here, just a handful of students at the Summers Institute for Higher Learning who realise what’s up.  Because, yes, this is inevitably another Age of X-Man mini where the basic arc is “some characters remember”.

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Jul 2

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler

Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Considering that Nightcrawler is also starring in the Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men miniseries, it seems odd at first that there’s no apparent interaction between the two books.  As it turns out, there is a reason, of sorts: the plot of Nightcrawler’s solo book pretty much rules out the possibility of him coming back to the X-Men to talk about.  I’ll get into why later on, but anyone who’s been even vaguely following Age of X-Man will have spotted that there’s quite a lot of mind-wiping going on.  So fair enough, that turns out to make sense at the end of the day.

Amazing Nightcrawler is still a curious book, though.  There’s a certain same-iness to the Age of X-Man minis, in as much as they tend to fall into two main plots: fighting the forces of social conformity within Nate’s strange little world, or characters starting to recover their normal sense of identity.  Nightcrawler basically does that too, but its starting point is that Kurt is having a rather lovely time in this world, where he is indeed getting to live out his dream of movie stardom before an adoring audience.

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Jun 30

Wolverine: Infinity Watch

Posted on Sunday, June 30, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So this exists.

Quite why it exists makes a little more sense now we know that the X-Men line is being pared down to just two titles for the Jonathan Hickman relaunch.  And that means Marvel needed to get Wolverine back into circulation in order to save Hickman having to deal with that – but they couldn’t follow it up in the way you’d expect, with a relaunched Wolverine solo title.

So here, instead, is five issues of filler tying into a crossover that finished six months ago.  Strangely, it’s written by Gerry Duggan, the writer of Infinity Wars and a bigger name than you’d normally expect to find on such a superfluous project.  And it’s not that he phones it in – there’s a story here, to be sure.  It’s just not a Wolverine story.  It’s an Infinity Wars Appendix with Wolverine standing around in the background.

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Jun 29

X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction

Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

With the final two issues of Ed Piskor’s re-telling of the X-Men’s history – or rather, of the Chris Claremont run and the preceding material that serves as necessary background for it – we reach the crunch point.  How is he going to impose an end on a story that never had one?  And is there a point to any of this, beyond a parlour-game exercise in distilling years of stories into a single story?

Let’s start with the first question.  The answer, on some level, is a cheat – but one constructed entirely from building blocks to be found in the Claremont run.  And that’s in keeping with the way the whole series has worked.  Piskor is being faithful to the broad strokes of the original stories, but he’s also more than happy to shuffle around the elements, and cut bits out entirely, in order to better serve that big picture.  One of those changes, in the previous volume, makes rather more sense now that we see how things pan out.

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Jun 28

Charts – 28 June 2019

Posted on Friday, June 28, 2019 by Paul in Music

Yes, I’m well aware there’s a review backlog building up, and we’ll get to it, but this is the time-sensitive, takes-less-thought post, so…

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Seven gripping weeks.  That’s not so much by Ed Sheeran standards – remember “Shape of You” and its 14-week odyssey? – but it’s a record for Bieber.  His previous record was six weeks with “Love Yourself”.  And that was written by Ed Sheeran too.

2.  Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Senorita”
37.  Mark Ronson featuring Camila Cabello – “Find U Again”

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Jun 23

Charts – 21 June 2019

Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2019 by Paul in Music

There’s a podcast one post down!  Meanwhile, the singles charts could really use some big releases to come along…

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Six weeks.  This is getting a little tiresome.  Below, the logjam in the top 10 is finally broken, though the suspiciously large drops for “Old Town Road” and “Someone You Loved” make it rather obvious that they’ve simply been out long enough (and are far enough past their peak) to get hit with the chart rule that downweights older hits to usher them out of the charts.  And aside from the two new entries that take their place, the rest of the top ten simply reshuffles itself.  In fact, it would have been another static top five if it wasn’t for the chart rules.  But hey, it’s simulated movement, at least!

5.  Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down”

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