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Apr 19

X-Men Gold #23-25: “Cruel & Unusual”

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

I’m late with this one, but that’s what I get for trusting the solicitations, which insist that “Cruel & Unusual” is a three-parter.  It certainly seemed to have finished with issue #25, but you never know, do you?

So this is the prison story, which is a somewhat interesting idea.  If you’re going to plonk the X-Men in Central Park then one side effect of that should be that the team get to deal with the authorities a lot more directly than when they just hid out in upstate New York and tried not to get noticed.  So there’s some mileage in a story about the X-Men knowing they’re innocent, but recognising that the police have sensible reasons for arresting them, and deciding that they’d better play by the rules.  It’s not how the X-Men are used to working.

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Apr 17

Old Man Logan #36-38: “Moving Target”

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

With Wolverine Classic on his way back imminently, Old Man Logan seems to be marking time.  You might have expected it to be building to some sort of conclusion, but instead it seems to be settling into a run of relatively normal Wolverine-style stories.  That’s probably not ideal in the bigger picture – what’s the big deal of Wolverine returning if we’ve got Wolverine stories right here? – but at least it results in a comic which is perfectly okay on its own terms.

In search of a Marvel Universe hook that can somehow link back to Logan’s back story, Ed Brisson and Dalibor Talajić’s story settles on the Kingpin’s election as mayor of New York.  This actually seems more like a story that X-Men Gold should be doing, since that’s the book about the X-Men squatting in Central Park and having to deal with the local authorities.  It’s a bit more tenuous in Old Man Logan, which makes a token effort by suggesting that maybe this is how the villain takeover starts in our timeline, and then largely not pondering it again.  There’s also quite a bit about New Yorkers’ newfound antagonism towards superheroes in general, but that’s hardly new territory for the X-books.

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Apr 14

Charts – 13 April 2018

Posted on Saturday, April 14, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s an epic this week.  But first, do you miss the heady days of three weeks ago when Drake was at number 1 with “God’s Plan”?  Well, good news, because…

1.  Drake – “Nice For What”

This is Drake’s fourth number one.  True, one of them was his guest appearance on Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” back in 2010, and he wasn’t the draw on that one.  But the others were “One Dance”, which spent fifteen weeks at number one, and “God’s Plan”, which managed nine.  So we could be here for a while.  This one’s a bit different in tone, though, since it’s built around a more uplifting sample.  It’s a sped-up lift from Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” (number 4 in 1999) – which, by a weird coincidence, also crops up as a sample on another new entry this week. (more…)

Apr 8

Charts – 6 April 2018

Posted on Sunday, April 8, 2018 by Paul in Music

Another week with everything still in mid-storyline, if you’re wondering about reviews.  From reading it, you’d think this week’s X-Men Gold was the last part of “Cruel and Unusual”, but the solicitations assure me it isn’t, so we’ll take that on trust.  In the meantime…

1.  Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown – “Freaky Friday”

Oh.  Really?  Oh.

So this has moved 16-5-1 and let’s say I’m no more enamoured of it than I was last week or the week before.  Chris Brown has had a total of fifteen top 10 hits over twelve years, but this is only his second number one, following six years after “Turn Up The Music”.  It also adds Lil Dicky to the one hit wonder list (for now, at least).

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Apr 2

Charts – 30 March 2018

Posted on Monday, April 2, 2018 by Paul in Music

Apparently guitars are back in this week.

1.  Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen – “These Days”

Number one with… well, with an asterisk, let’s be honest.  As foreshadowed in last week’s post, “God’s Plan” by Drake has now been around for ten weeks and is far enough past its peak to have its streams downweighted under the chart rules.  As a result, its nine week run at the top comes to a screeching halt with a drop directly to number 10.  How you feel about this depends on what weight you think the chart should be giving to repeat plays by the same people – but on any view there ought to be subtler ways of designing the rule to avoid such blatantly technicality-driven artefacts as a chart run of 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-10.

Without the rule, Drake would have clung on for a tenth week, but by a razor-thin margin, equivalent to fifty-one sales.  So we’d have had a change next week anyway.  And since “These Days” is actually still growing in sales, there’s a fair chance it will purge the asterisk with a less contentious second week at the top.

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Mar 28

Charts – 23 March 2018

Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by Paul in Music

So, those rule changes last year that were planned to speed up the chart – how are those working out for you?

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

“God’s Plan” heads up a static top four, with Rudimental spending their seventh week at number 2.  It now shares the record for the longest run at number 2 – the unlucky co-champions are “I Swear” by All-4-One and “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5.

Drake gets nine weeks at number one, though we’ve still got another four weeks to go before he matches Ed Sheeran’s interminable run this time last year.  But that almost certainly isn’t going to happen, for several reasons.  It’s only kept a marginal lead for the last couple of weeks.  It peaked several weeks ago.  And next week it will be ten weeks old.  And ten-week-old tracks which are several weeks past their prime get their streams downweighted.

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Mar 20

All-New Wolverine #32 – “The Orphans”

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

“Orphans of X” seemed to end by setting up a new status quo for All-New Wolverine, with Laura helping the Orphans of X to take revenge on the assorted baddies who hired her back when she was a brainwashed child.  But with writer Tom Taylor leaving the book after the next arc, which seems to be a time travel thing, this issue looks like a nod to what that direction would have been.  Maybe not; we’ll see where the next creative team are going.  (Though rebranding the book as X-23 again seems an unfortunate backwards step.)

The Orphan of the Month is Amber, whose father was killed when little Laura was sent to kill a presidential candidate.  He wasn’t the politician, he was a guard on his first day in the new job.  Since the Orphans have access to the Facility’s files, Laura identifies the baddy – and this is sketchy stuff, by the way, because we’ve only got an issue.  Chad Newman was a lobbyist for the far right, and he wanted the politician killed because he “was concerned about possible corruption and was determined to weed it out”.

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Mar 19

X-Men Blue / Venom: Poison-X

Posted on Monday, March 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There must be people out there somewhere who can summon up enthusiasm for a five-part crossover between X-Men Blue and Venom.  I am not one of them.  I rather envy them their sunny optimism.  It must make the world a more cheering place.

Specifically, “Poison-X” runs through X-Men Blue Annual #1, X-Men Blue #21-22, and Venom #162-163 (which pretty much reduces the Annual to issue #20-and-a-half).  You may be wondering what might reasonably link the time-travelling junior X-Men with Venom.  And there really doesn’t seem to be an answer to that, beyond one link which this story generates, apparently to set us up for a sequel.  But I’m left entirely unconvinced that the world needed one X-Men / Venom crossover, let alone two.

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Mar 17

Charts – 16 March 2018

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2018 by Paul in Music

Well.  At least it was close.

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

That’s eight weeks, but Drake only beat Rudimental by 937 sales (or sales-equivalents, what with streaming and all), which is nothing, really.  The end is probably nigh.  Though poor Rudimental have been stuck at number 2 for six weeks now, so they’ll be hoping it comes soon.  Further down the top 40, it’s a quiet week – four new entries, and two of them on a technicality.

22.  Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman & Michelle Williams – “A Million Dreams”
24.  Loren Allred – “Never Enough”

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Mar 16

Iceman #11

Posted on Friday, March 16, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s cancellation season again, the familiar result of Marvel’s practice of relaunching the whole line at once, and quietly planning to give the lesser titles twelve issues or so to see how they last.  Almost inevitably, the answer is “twelve issues or so, give or take”.  And so this is Sina Grace’s wrap-up issue, joined by Robert Gill on art, though with Grace himself drawing the flashbacks.

This is what you’d call a thematic wrap-up issue.  Bobby is out for lunch with Rictor when Bobby’s parents phone up to say that the old reclusive guy next door seems to be a mutant whose powers are going crazy.  Mr Poklemba seems to have been a harmless if paranoid eccentric, anxiously covering his house in drawings of mutants – “apocalyptic drawings and news clippings about X-Men”, to be precise.

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