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Apr 26

All-New X-Men #8

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

We’re in another of those odd lulls between storylines concluding, it seems, which I guess is to be expected when there’s a crossover on the go.  So let’s do All-New X-Men #8, which is a Beast solo issue guest starring Doctor Strange.

It gets off to a deeply aggravating start.  Remember how issue #7 ends with Cyclops apparently dead, crushed when the catacombs cave in on top of him?  Well, issue #8 just picks up with him in hospital.  I mean, yes, he’s unconscious and he’s badly injured and everything, but seriously.

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Apr 25

Holds to Astonish – Episode 2

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016 by Al in Podcast, Wrestling

It’s been long-promised (warned of?), but now it’s here – Paul and I are taking a short detour into the world of comic book-influenced wrestling promotion Chikara Pro, catching up with commentator (and fellow comics podcaster) Leonard F Chikarason about Chikara’s upcoming UK tour, its new base of operations at the Wrestle Factory, its current Grand Champion Princess KimberLee and lots more besides. If you’re just here for comics and not up for wrestling chat, feel free to skip and come back in a few weeks, when we will be back to our regularly (un)scheduled broadcast.

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, over email or via our Facebook fan page, and remember, we’ve got super-fabulous shirts on our Redbubble store.

 

Apr 10

House to Astonish Episode 144

Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2016 by Al in Podcast

It’s been a big few weeks for comics news, and we’re running through the DC Rebirth announcements, the Image Expo presentation, Gerard Way’s new DC imprint, the sale of CBR to Valnet, the (very) minor trinkets of Marvel news from the past couple of weeks and a little bit of chat about Batman v Superman. We’ve also got reviews of The Fix and Black Panther, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is seeing stars. All this plus a series of adaptations of BBC science documentaries, a joke about pirates and non-relevant facts about the Circuit Bancaixa.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available through the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. As always, don’t forget that you can get hold of some swanky t-shirts and suchlike at our Redbubble store – it’s full of perfect summer weather gear.

 

Apr 3

All-New X-Men #4-7 – “Flesh Wounds”

Posted on Sunday, April 3, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Well, I say “#4-7”.  That’s kind of a guess, really.  The cover of issue #4 says it’s the start of a new arc, and it sure reads like it runs smoothly through to issue #7.  But apparently the trade paperbacks are taking the break at the end of issue #6.  And there’s certainly a gear shift there.  So maybe it’s meant to be issues #4-6 and I’m just chucking an extra issue on the end.  It’s hard to tell.  At any rate, issue #7 is the natural break point, whatever the trades may think, so we’ll run with that.

Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley are doing something of an old-school team book here, with multiple plot threads fading in and out of prominence.  In these four issues, two themes dominate: Laura’s self-destructive tendencies, and some of the X-Men’s villains from the early sixties.

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Mar 30

Chikara 15.13: “Shock and Aww”

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

Yes, I know I said I was going to start skipping the lesser shows, and I know I haven’t skipped one yet.  But Shock and Aww is an important show in Chikara’s 2015 season, for reasons which will shortly become clear.  It also has a ludicrously catchy theme tune.  (“Wrestling is so much fun!  Shock and aww!  Shock and aww!”)  Anyway, we can at least start skipping past some of the less important matches.

It’s 14 June 2015, the day after the previous show.  We’re in the Bethel Park Family Center in Indianapolis.  It’s basically a basketball court.  There’s a decent size crowd, though you wouldn’t know it from the hard cam, which somehow contrives to keep most of them out of shot.

1.  Challenge of the Immortals: The Arcane Horde v. Crown & Court.

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Mar 28

Uncanny X-Men vol 1: Superior

Posted on Monday, March 28, 2016 by Paul in Uncategorized

Of the current crop of X-Men titles, I greeted Uncanny X-Men with perhaps the least enthusiasm.  Cullen Bunn’s run on Magneto was very good, and even though it was generally strongest when it steered clear of the mainstream of the Marvel Universe, the prospect of putting him on a higher profile X-Men title with Magneto in tow should have been attractive.

But Uncanny X-Men is drawn by Greg Land, who is a dealbreaker as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve suffered through his work on the X-books before, purely through completism, but he’s one of a very small number of artists that can drive me away from books by writers I generally enjoy.  That’s how enthusiastic I am about the prospect of Uncanny X-Men drawn by Greg Land.

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Mar 25

Charts – March 2016

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2016 by Paul in Music

It looks as if we’re deeply embedded in one of the slowest chart eras for years.  The main reason for that, of course, is that the charts are increasingly determined by streaming data rather than sales.  And while sales measure how many people were interested enough to buy a track in the first place, streaming data is more interested in how long they keep listening to it.

In many ways this is a good thing for the chart, because it puts an end to the days when you could engineer a number one by releasing your single in a quiet week and relying on fan base sales.  In that sense, a chart position is arguably more meaningful than it’s been in quite some ways.  But in other ways, it’s a problem, because there simply isn’t very much happening, which doesn’t greatly serve the chart’s other role of promotion.

So when we left off at the end of February, “7 Years” by Lukas Graham had been at number for three weeks.  It went on to stay there for another two, so evidently this rather maudlin reflection on ageing has more appeal than I can comprehend.   Perhaps it’s the video.  Maybe it reminds people of Wayne’s World.

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Mar 18

All-New Wolverine vol 1: The Four Sisters

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Legacy characters, then.  It’s not a phenomenon that’s come up that often in the X-books.  We’ve had duplicate versions of the same character, but not many cases of the same identity being passed on.  Off the top of my head, Thunderbird and Phoenix spring to mind, and only Rachel Summers really had a full-blown legacy to inherit.

Sensible comics readers have been trained to be cynical.  Top-tier heroes get replaced with temporary stand-ins all the time.  For every Wally West, who actually did become established as the real Flash, there are many more John Walkers and Eric Mastersons and Jean-Paul Valleys.  Of course, in many of those cases, the fact that they weren’t the “real” version of the character was kind of the point.  Still, it’s a device heavily associated with gimmickry.

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Mar 12

House to Astonish Episode 143

Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2016 by Al in Podcast

A quiet time for comics news as we head towards convention season, but we’ve got some chat for you this time out on the Civil War trailer, the renewed slate of CW DC shows, Amazon’s Tick pilot order, Valiant’s Deathmate event, Civil War II: X-Men, the revival of the Icon imprint, the planned roll-out of DC Rebirth and the price point and shipping schedule that goes along with that. We’ve also got reviews of Mockingbird and Baker Street Peculiars, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe smells hellish. All this plus the Watcher Crossword, all the King’s IT department and the process for checking hold baggage on the way to the Underworld.

The podcast is here or here on Mixcloud or available through the player below. Let us know what you think, either in the comments below, on Twitter, by email or via our Facebook fan page. And don’t forget that you can buy our swish t-shirts here, even though we forgot to mention it on the podcast.

Mar 8

Watch With Father #10: Katie Morag

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by Paul in Watch With Father

Katie Morag!  Far away, across the ocean!  Katie Morag!  Over the sea to Struay!  Dee dum de de dum de de dum de de dum…  actually, hold on.  Here’s the video.

So last time round, I looked at Balamory, CBeebies’ other show set in the Highlands.  Balamory was in part a reaction against the likes of Teletubbies and Tweenies, and it was certainly more down to earth than either.  But it was hardly rigorous in its quest for realism.  The village was ultimately a format device, and if half the cast were English or American actors using their own accents, or the occasional shot revealed the Glaswegian tenement block across the road from the nursery, well, nobody was losing much sleep about that.

Katie Morag is another matter.  It’s an adaptation of a series of books by Mairi Hedderwick, originally published sporadically between 1984 and 2007.  She lived on the island of Coll, and Katie Morag is a show that loves its Hebridean setting and remote island community.  This is the small town utopia where everyone knows everyone else because there literally aren’t that many people to know.  And the show takes its setting seriously, decamping to the Hebrides to film.
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