RSS Feed
Feb 22

Iceman #9-10 – “The Apocalypse Seed”

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Sina Grace’s Iceman stories have tended to be strong on character and theme, a bit wonkier on the plot.  This is a case in point.

Since Bobby decided in the previous issue to move to LA, this is his going away party, and he’s invited Judah along to meet his friends.  Naturally, that leads to the familiar fish out of water routines, where one normal person finds himself baffled by the weirdness of the X-Men’s world – always worth doing now and again, to keep up the contrast.

But Daken shows up, with Zach from a few issues ago in tow.  Zach is the obnoxious mutant kid whom Bobby rescued from small town panic, only for him to run off and join the much cooler Daken.  With vaguely defined powers to amp up or turn down other people’s superpowers and, well, stuff generally, he’s now calling himself Amp.  So Daken apparently has a plan to lure away the X-Men (by staging a Purifier attack as a distraction) and Generation X (by getting Amp to lock them in the Danger Room), after which he confronts Iceman and…

(more…)

Feb 20

All-New Wolverine #25-30 – “Orphans of X”

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

With All-New Wolverine‘s Legacy arc, Tom Taylor has certainly taken the remit to heart.  “Orphans of X” is, quite literally, a story about the legacy of Wolverine, and the characters left in his wake.  Taylor and artist Juann Cabal also find themselves in the happy position of being able to this story without the actual, original Wolverine being around.  So although his shadow inevitably hangs over the whole thing, the focus remains firmly on his legacy, rather than on the man himself.  Yes, Old Man Logan is in here, but he’s kept to the margins and (wisely, in this context) not treated as an ersatz Wolverine.

It’s a very simple idea, even though a bunch of guest stars and some side quests get it to six issues without it feeling like much of a stretch.  There’s a group called the Orphans of X, and they’re basically the relatives of people who’ve been killed off by Wolverine and his ilk over the years.  Largely, they seem to be the family left behind by the cannon fodder.  And they basically want to kill off all the Wolverine-type characters, to put a stop to the whole thing.

(more…)

Feb 18

Charts – 16 February 2018

Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2018 by Paul in Music

Well, this isn’t shifting…

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

Four weeks, and hey, Drake’s made a video!  It’s basically him giving away loads of money to people in Florida.  The video kind of frames it as spending the label’s money, but to be honest, the publicity is probably a better return on their money than a high-budget video.  And it’s not like the video they made looks especially shoestring – it comes across as optimistic rather than just sentimental.

(more…)

Feb 10

Charts – 10 February 2017

Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2018 by Paul in Music

Looks like we’re going through another quiet phase on the singles chart.  I’ll warn you now, the better stuff is mostly down in the middle reaches of the album chart this week.

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

Three weeks.  I still think it’s a bit of a dirge.  But the partner track “Diplomatic Immunity” drops out of the top 40 entirely this week, so evidently it’s not just Drake’s name selling this.

15.  The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – “Pray For Me”

(more…)

Feb 8

Phoenix Resurrection

Posted on Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

You might think that Phoenix Resurrection – or Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey, if you must – would form a good companion piece to the Jean Grey review one post down.  After all, Jean Grey was an entire series devoted to setting up this book.

In fact, the most jarring thing about Resurrection is how irrelevant it makes Jean Grey seem.  That book devoted months to establishing the ghost of the original Jean as a hard-ass mentor for the younger Jean, determined to prepare her younger self for the coming of the Phoenix.  What we get here is Jean as the everywoman innocent, living in a fictional small town created for her by Phoenix, as it tries to prepare her for host duties.  If it wasn’t for a couple of passing references, you’d think writer Matthew Rosenberg was completely unaware that Jean Grey was even out there.

This is, shall we say, annoying.  But let’s take the series on its own terms.

(more…)

Feb 6

Jean Grey #7-11 – “Psych Wars”

Posted on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Well, now we know where this was heading: it gets replaced by X-Men Red, a fourth X-Men title (and bear in mind two of the other ones are fortnightly), starring a revived original Jean Grey.  At least in terms of the plot mechanics, the point of all this was to set up Phoenix Resurrection and get her back into circulation.  We’ll get to Resurrection shortly, but let’s deal with Jean Grey first.

Sometimes the most frustrating books are the ones that have plenty of good stuff but don’t stick the landing.  And there is plenty of good stuff here.  Dennis Hopeless and his main artist Victor Ibáñez are strong when it comes to the character details that make characters feel rounded and believable, even when they’re doing something utterly divorced from human experience.  There’s a reassuring sense of (most of) this taking place in a recognisable real world.  Issue #8, which revisits the Morrison-era New X-Men school, looks fabulous.  Even when the characters decamp to the middle of nowhere in issue #9, at least it feels alive.  There’s some grounding for the giant cosmic bird to play against, and where the basic imagery of fire can look like a big thing.

(more…)

Feb 3

Charts – 2 February 2018

Posted on Saturday, February 3, 2018 by Paul in Music

A quiet singles chart, a static top four.  Fortunately there’s more going on with the albums.

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

Two weeks.  The B-side “Diplomatic Immunity” drops to 36 this week, so it’s not a case of anything with Drake’s name selling.  Then again…

31.  Migos featuring Drake – “Walk it Talk It”

(more…)

Jan 27

Charts – 26 January 2018

Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2018 by Paul in Music

Look who’s back.

1.  Drake – “God’s Plan”

Drake, then.  I can’t honestly say Drake does a great deal for me.   According to genius.com, this is “a feel good track that discusses Drake’s future”, which is interesting, because it feels to me like blearily meandering locked-groove ennui.  This is Drake’s third number one, following “One Dance”, which was number one forever in 2016, and his guest vocal on Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” back in 2010.  Not many people can have new entries at number one these days, but Drake is one of the rare few.  It probably does help a bit that “God’s Plan” isn’t on YouTube, which doesn’t count towards the chart, thus pushing people towards the streaming services, which do.

(more…)

Jan 25

X-Men: Blue #16-20 – “Cross Time Capers”

Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Dennis Hopeless seemed to wrap up his run on All-New X-Men by drawing a line under the vexed question of how the time-travelling teenage X-Men fit into continuity.  After all, by that point – by the end of Brian Bendis’ run, in fact – they’d changed drastically enough that it was unclear how they could ever simply be returned to the Silver Age in the place where they’d left.  Hopeless’s solution was that the kids travel back to their own time, and see another set of X-Men running around the same as ever.  The timeline healed by simply relegating them to the status of divergent X-Men and having the real X-Men carry on as normal.

There are obvious advantages to this solution.  It’s simple.  It clears away a horrible quagmire, and it lets the team move forward based on a “can’t go home, second chance” theme.  But it also has one major downside: it’s a cop out.  It’s not a resolution to the story of how they get home, it’s just defining the problem out of existence.  It’s the sort of thing you do if you don’t have a proper resolution to the story, but you figure that you can’t string it out indefinitely, so best bite the bullet and get rid of it.

(more…)

Jan 21

House to Astonish Episode 161

Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2018 by Al in Podcast

New year, new podcast, and Paul and I are back to discuss Marvel’s announcements of Kelly Thompson’s exclusive and Dan Slott’s move, the new Domino and Exiles series, the return of the original Wolverine, John Nee replacing Dan Buckley and the wedding of Kitty Pryde and Colossus, as well as the Eisner Hall of Fame nominees, Promethea’s appearance in Justice League and the stellar cast of creators on Action Comics 1000. We’ve also got reviews of Strangers In Paradise XXV and Avengers: No Surrender, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is, like, so random. All this plus pants bants, Magnum T.A. and the X-Stonishing Ass-Men.

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, by email or on or Facebook fan page. You can also get our great T-shirts at our Redbubble store, which come with a money back guarantee – at least one person will think you look amazing in it (that person will be me).