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Sep 17

House to Astonish Episode 158

Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by Al in Podcast

With holidays and whatnot, it’s been a little while since our last episode, but we’re back, talking about the sad death of Len Wein; IDW’s Full Bleed Kickstarter and new partnership with Glenat; Madefire Comics’ partnering with DC; Oni Press’s Spring 2018 OGN slate and Sam Humphries and Tim Seeley’s Nightwing/Green Lanterns title swap. We’ve also got reviews of Retcon and Runaways, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe can boogie, but it needs a certain song. All this plus the Azerbaijani fashion scene, Thesaurus Lass and 1970s Gold Key parties.

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 through our Facebook fan page.

As mentioned at the end of the show, next week is the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds, and as usual we’re teaming with the excellent chaps of SILENCE! for the live experience that is SILENCE! to Astonish. Join me, Gary Lactus and the Beast Must Die, as well as special guests James Stokoe, Marley Zarcone and more to be announced, as we ask daft questions, do suspect impressions, and generally take advantage of a captive audience. Last year’s panel is the last 45 or so minutes of our Episode 150 from last year, so check that out if you want to before coming along next weekend – we’d flippin’ love to see you there!

Sep 16

Charts – 15 September 2017

Posted on Saturday, September 16, 2017 by Paul in Music

Turnover at the top seems to be returning to something more normal.  After the epic runs earlier in the year, we’ve had six different number one singles in the space of ten weeks.  The latest being…

1.  Sam Smith – “Too Good At Goodbyes”

New entry at number one.  See, it still happens sometimes.  This is the lead single from Smith’s second album, and it’s already his sixth number one.  That makes it sound like the first album was an unstoppable juggernaut, but in fact it’s a bit more complicated.  2013’s “La La La” was a guest shot on a Naughty Boy single.  2014’s “Money On My Mind” and “Stay With Me” were indeed regular singles from the album.  2015’s “Lay Me Down” was a charity release.  And “Writing’s On The Wall”, later that year, was a non-album Bond theme.  Still, Bond themes don’t routinely go to number one, so that was a pretty clear sign that people were waiting for new Sam Smith material.

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Sep 14

Weapons of Mutant Destruction

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I’m way, way, way behind schedule on reviews at this point – this storyline is now two issues in the past – so time to start blitzing through the backlog.  “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” is a crossover, running through Weapon X #4-6 and Totally Awesome Hulk #19-22, with a lead-in one-shot on top of that.  Two of those issues are labelled as preludes, but it’s not altogether obvious why, since they’re both essential to the plot.

For a new series to hurl itself into an eight-part crossover with issue #4 is a strange choice.  The original Generation X series did something similar, because it was launched only four months before “Age of Apocalypse”, and it did no favours for the book’s momentum.  With Weapon X, it turns out to be less of a problem.  Partly, that’s because both titles are written by Greg Pak, even if the tone clash is pretty substantial.  Mainly, though, it’s because this is a continuation of the plot of Weapon X, guest starring the new Hulk, and taking over his book for four issues.  Hope the Hulk readers liked it.

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Sep 9

Charts – 8 September 2017

Posted on Saturday, September 9, 2017 by Paul in Music

Ooookay… so I hoped that I would start catching up on reviews last week, but, well, my hope was misplaced.  Anyway, let’s do the chart post first…

1.  Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

Two weeks.  It’s number one on sales, but not on streams, where Dua Lipa is back on top.  My guess is that it won’t be number one for too long, because it’s not a song so much as an event, and the event has happened now.  But we’ll see.

“Mi Gente” by J Balvin & Willy William climbs 9-5, and…

7.  Taylor Swift – “…Ready For It?”

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Sep 3

Charts – 1 September 2017

Posted on Sunday, September 3, 2017 by Paul in Music

Hopefully I’ll start catching up on reviews over the next week – currently stuck in the queue are the “Weapons of Mutant Destruction crossover between Weapon X and Totally Awesome Hulk (which finished a few weeks back now), a couple of issues of Generation X, and the first arc of Jean Grey.  We’ll get to them.  Meanwhile…

1.  Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”

Judged as a song, Taylor Swift’s first UK number one is pretty mediocre.  But it’s not a song, so much as the latest event in her personal brand-building – something which the video makes increasingly explicit as it goes on.  The middle eight references her personality change, the lyrics are basically the continuation of an ongoing feud with an unspecified celebrity… it’s a record which exists primarily as a narrative incident in her tabloid storylines.  If you wanted to be generous, you could make the case that at least it sounds different from most chart pop of 2017, I guess.

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Aug 27

Charts – 25 August 2017

Posted on Sunday, August 27, 2017 by Paul in Music

And there was me thinking “New Rules” might have sneaked a week at number one between bigger hits.

1.   Dua Lipa – “New Rules”

Second week, which is a bit of a surprise, but quite welcome.  It’s number one on streaming, but only number 3 on sales.

2.  Justin Bieber & BloodPop® – “Friends”

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Aug 24

X-Men Gold #9: “Kitty Goes To Washington”

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

This came out two weeks ago.  It’s labelled as “Kitty Goes To Washington, Part 1”, which I figured meant there would be a part two.  But X-Men Gold #10 turns out to be “En’Kane, Part 1”.  So apparently issue #9 was “Kitty Goes To Washington, Part 1 of 1”.  So… okay then.  Let’s run through it.

In fact, these divisions aren’t as hard and fast as they once were.  Despite the story titles, Marc Guggenheim is writing X-Men Gold much more in the style of an 80s or 90s team book, with subplots fading in and out as they take their turn to come to the foreground.  So “Kitty Goes To Washington” actually starts and finishes with subplot pages setting up the return of Omega Red, which is the next arc.  Let’s leave them aside and worry about this one.

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Aug 21

X-Men Blue #7-9: Secret Empire

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

We should be grateful for small mercies, I suppose.  One such is that the X-books have largely managed to dodge the Secret Empire crossover – and X-Men Gold, which did a tie-in, largely ducked the event by using the side plot of Manhattan in the Dark Dimension (which it proceeded to largely ignore anyway).  X-Men Blue, in contrast, knuckles down to the difficult business of doing three issues engaging with the meat of Secret Empire.  It shouldn’t have bothered.

As we’ve discussed many times on the podcast, I have no particular issue with the premise of Captain America being remade as a Hydra spy by using a Cosmic Cube to retroactively change his upbringing.  The underlying ideas seem to be that fascism’s appeal lies in a twisted version of conventionally heroic notions (patriotism, sacrifice for the group and so on) and, to a lesser extent, the danger of abandoning checks and balances with anyone, no matter how seemingly infallible.  But those are ideas that seem like they want to play out on a smaller and more character-driven scale.

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Aug 19

Charts – 18 August 2017

Posted on Saturday, August 19, 2017 by Paul in Music

Well, I didn’t see this coming.

1.  Dua Lipa – “New Rules”

So this is not a track you would have predicted as a number one.  It’s the seventh single from her self-titled debut album, which was already out by the time “New Rules” started to be promoted as a single.  Normally that would mean a promotional vehicle to remind people that the album is still out.  And until now, Dua Lipa’s biggest hit was “Be The One”, which peaked at number 9.  But here we are, with a climb of 36-19-9-5-1.

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Aug 18

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Or Generations: The Best, if you prefer.  Which is a better title, and kind of sort of what it says on the cover, but I’ll go with the solicitations and the digital listings.

So, just like last week’s Phoenix one-shot, this is a story in which a legacy character from the present goes back in time for no adequately (or even inadequately) explained reason, and meets the original.  Sort of.  I guess Phoenix wasn’t really the original Jean Grey.  An earlier version, anyway.  If there’s an explanation for any of this time travel stuff, it’s presumably going to show up somewhere else, and (plot mechanics aside) it’s of no relevance to this story, so let’s set it to one side.

This is effectively an extra issue of All-New Wolverine, by regular writer Tom Taylor.  So that’s a good start.  At first glance, though, All-New Wolverine doesn’t lend itself to this format, because Laura has met the original Wolverine plenty of times.  They starred in X-Force together, for one thing.  What can you do with them?

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