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Feb 6

House to Astonish Episode 142

Posted on Saturday, February 6, 2016 by Al in Podcast

There’s an absolute ton of news to get through this time round, and we’re looking at DC Rebirth; Wal-Mart’s move into graphic novels; the Hanna-Barbera comics revamp; the mess that was this year’s Angoulême; Si Spurrier and Dylan Burnett’s Weavers, the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America; the Supergirl/Flash TV crossover and the Legion show casting. We’re also reviewing Spider-Man and Mirror, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe makes our heart sing. All this plus mutant potatoes, the long leg of the law and one of 1992’s worst SF movies immortalised in limerick form.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And remember, there are some exceptionally cool shirts for sale over on our Redbubble store.

Feb 1

Watch With Father #9: Balamory

Posted on Monday, February 1, 2016 by Paul in Watch With Father

Yes, last time I said this was going to be Katie Morag.  But there are two shows on CBeebies set in the Inner Hebrides, and they couldn’t have much less in common, which is kind of interesting.  Balamory is aimed squarely at the nursery crowd.  And Katie Morag isn’t.  And it makes sense to do Balamory first.

Balamory was one of the first major commissions of the fledgling CBeebies station in 2002.  It doesn’t show its age too badly – some of the CGI in the credits is starting to look a bit ropey, and the nursery computer is visibly of an earlier generation, but otherwise it holds up.  It ran for four years, and while the precise number of episodes seems to vary depending on which source you look at, everyone seems to agree that it’s somewhere north of two hundred and thirty.  And by some accounts, even then, the main reason for ending it was that the cast wanted to move on.


Jan 29

Charts – January 2016

Posted on Friday, January 29, 2016 by Paul in Music

Well, what an interesting month.  I think this year we’ll loosen up the format and go a bit more freeform, yes?  Alright.

So.  We left off with the Christmas chart, and with the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir at number 1 with “A Bridge Over You”.  Normal service was swiftly resumed as “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, which had already been number one for three weeks, returned to the top for a further three.  Admittedly, that’s during the normal early-January dead season for new releases.  But since Bieber also had the immediately preceding number one (“Sorry”), the NHS Choir wind up as the sole week of respite in nine weeks of Justin Bieber.


Jan 27

All-New X-Men #1-3 – “Ghost of the Cyclops”

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

The most striking thing about the opening arc of Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley’s All-New X-Men might be how low key it is.  A three parter, instead of the traditional six – this will be the first half of the first trade paperback collection.  No big name villains.  No big villains at all, in fact – the bad guys here are pretty much at the bottom of the pecking order.  The stakes, at least in that sense, are determinedly low.

Which is actually quite a pleasant change.  It’s not that there isn’t melodrama and hand-wringing in here – of course there is, Cyclops is in the book.  But this series turns out to be an open-ended teen road trip, entirely unbothered about the whole Terrigen Mists thing.


Jan 19

Chikara 15.11: “Aniversario: A New Attitude”

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

Chikara’s birthday was on 25 May 2002, which it celebrates every year with Aniversario – sometimes a show, sometimes a weekend tour, it varies.  It’s one of the fixtures in their calendar, but some way behind King of Trios, or for that matter the season finale; it’s more of a well established marker post in the year.  Frankly, the Challenge of the Immortals tournament format that dominated 2015 doesn’t lend itself to a major show at this point, since virtually every story is building to something much further down the line.  The result is a relatively normal looking card, but with a bigger than normal crowd.

When and where: It’s 24 May 2015 (the day after the previous show), and we’re in the Palmer Center in Easton, Pennsylvania.  This is essentially Chikara’s home venue, if you leave aside their actual training facility.  It’s a community centre gym, but a pretty substantial one.  We’ll be back here for King of Trios later in the year.  It’s a sell out.  There’s a prominent advert at the back of the hall for Electric Monkey energy drink, which is a real thing, and is product placement.  Remember that, it’ll be coming up in a bit.

1.  Elimination match: N_R_G (Race Jaxon & Hype Rockwell) v. The Battle Hive (Amasis & Worker Ant) v. The Nightmare Warriors (Frightmare & Silver Ant) v. Kevin Condron & ???.


Jan 17

House to Astonish Episode 141

Posted on Sunday, January 17, 2016 by Al in Podcast

We’re back to normal operations this time round (by which I mean “recorded with sound errors” – for some reason the laptop didn’t pick up the mic so the show recorded using the internal mic on the Macbook, which means a slightly echoey experience that long-time listeners will remember from our first year). We’ve got a good bit of chat about Civil War II, the newly-announced Poe Dameron ongoing, the all-new Wasp, Netflix’s potential Punisher series, titbits of info on the Wonder Woman movie and the creative team change on A-Force. We’re also casting a critical eye over the December sales charts, reviewing Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion and Spider-Man/Deadpool and the _fficial Ha_db_ _k _f the _fficial Ha_db_ _k _f the Marvel U_iverse. All this plus Barney Stinson: Hitler’s Wingman, a ham & egg breakfast and the Green Lantern Corps Rotary Club AGM.

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, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And remember, there are super-awesome House to Astonish t-shirts on sale at our Redbubble store, and they really suit you.

Jan 16

Extraordinary X-Men vol 1: X-Haven

Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

So here we go again.

This time around, Extraordinary X-Men is the flagship of the X-books, which is to say that it’s the one that actually has the X-Men in it, as opposed than the time travelling teens or a rebranded X-Force.  And so it’s the book that has the task of dealing head on with the new status quo, in which the Terrigen Mists are empowering Inhumans while wiping out the mutants.  I wrote last week about why that’s a pretty bad idea, and I may come back in another post to look in more detail at how it messes up the formula that the X-Men’s popularity was built on.  No point repeating all that again here; you can take it as read for now.

What’s really striking about this book, though, is how traditional it is in pretty much every other respect.


Jan 8

The X-Axis: State of the Nation

Posted on Friday, January 8, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

It’s been a while.

This, of course, is a happy side effect of Marvel deciding to have two line-wide break points in 2015 – at the start and end of Secret Wars – giving nice long breaks where everything’s in mid-storyline and I can put my feet up and recharge.  Because the current relaunch has rolled out so slowly, we should get back to a more regular schedule from here on – Uncanny X-Men launched this week, just as Extraordinary X-Men is about to finish its first arc.  Soon we’ll be back to five regular X-books – Uncanny, All-New, Extraordinary, Wolverine and Old Man Logan.

That’s still taking us back to the levels of 1989.  For better or worse, after a long period of treading water, it does feel like the X-Men are entering a new phase of their history – one that’s going to be based around adjusting to reduced circumstances in more ways than one.


Jan 6

Watch With Father #8: Gigglebiz & Justin’s House

Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 by Paul in Watch With Father

Comedy for the very young.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  They’re unforgiving.  They don’t laugh politely.  There is no hiding place.  If you’re not getting it right, you will know .

Last time, we looked at Something Special, a robustly cheering exercise in good-naturedness, inclusiveness and communication.  But that’s just part of the empire of Justin Fletcher.  Aside from his voice acting work, he has two other shows in permanent rotation on CBeebies which are pure comedy: the sketch show Gigglebiz and the sitcom Justin’s House.


Jan 2

Chikara 15.10: “Back to Skull”

Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

This is the first of a series of mini-shows held in the Wrestle Factory, Chikara’s training school in Philadelphia.  They more or less replaced the local shows that Chikara used to run under the banner “Wrestling Is Fun”.  WIF was, at least in part, a device to let Chikara run shows during the period when the company itself was supposedly shut down (since it was supposedly a separate company), and with that storyline completed, it’s served its purpose.  In 2015, with so many tournament matches to get through, pretty much everything had to be classified as an official show.  This one was chucked in as a bonus if you bought “Aniversario”, the major show that took place the next night.  It does have some material that’s important to storylines, though, which is why I’m not skipping past it.

When and where: It’s 23 May 2015.   As mentioned, we’re in the Wrestle Factory – more accurately, the new Wrestle Factory, because they’ve just relocated.  It’s small, but there’s lighting, there’s a proper entrance set, and the walls are lined with banners for the ten Challenge of the Immortals teams.

1.  Amasis v. Missile Assault Ant (more…)