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Oct 21

X-23 #1-5: “Two Birthdays and Three Funerals”

Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Mariko Tamaki and Juann Cabal get a fresh issue #1 for the start of their run, but this is very much a continuation of Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine.  The set-up is exactly the same, except for the dropping of the “Wolverine” name in favour of “X-23” – which nobody draws attention to until issue #5, and which Laura pointedly refuses to explain.  So perhaps it’s something we’re coming back to, and they just didn’t want it to overshadow the first arc.  Or perhaps it’s something we’re kicking into the long grass, because we all know the real reason – Wolverine Classic is back – so there’s not much point trying to sell us on an organic story reason.

Visually, the style of the book hasn’t drastically changed either.  Cabal drew much of the “Orphans of X” storyline for All-New Wolverine, and he maintains that style here.  Unfortunately, deadlines seem to catch up with him by the final issue, most of which is handled competently enough by Marcio Fiorito.  But the rest of the book has some great visual flourishes, not just with the usual contrast between Laura and her enthusiastic mini-me Gabby, but also in the way the Stepford Cuckoos’ unity and pose starts to break down when they’re alone and arguing amongst themselves.

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Oct 20

Iceman #1-2

Posted on Saturday, October 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

This is an interesting new phenomenon – a book that didn’t survive as a monthly makes a comeback on the strength of sales of the collected edition.  Perhaps it should be more surprising that this hasn’t happened before.  It’s not that unusual for Marvel and DC to launch a book in the expectation that the potential audience lies outside the direct market, but those books tend to be ones whose appeal is obviously outside the direct market.  Sina Grace’s Iceman, being basically a mainstream X-book, despite the heavy focus on Iceman’s coming out, is not so clearly in that category.  But here it is for another run, presumably due to sales of the collection coming as a pleasant surprise to Marvel.

The first two issues seem to be self-contained, so let’s take them together.

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Oct 19

Charts – 19 October 2018

Posted on Friday, October 19, 2018 by Paul in Music

Boy, there’s not much of interest going on here…

1.  Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – “Promises”

Oh, this again?  “Promises” returns to number one for a sixth week after what turns out to have been a brief interruption by Dave’s “Funky Friday”.  That track slips to 2.  It’s fairly  close – the equivalent of 1,026 sales.

5.  Little Mix featuring Nicki Minaj – “Woman Like Me”

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Oct 18

X-Men: Black – Mystique

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Shape changing is one of those relatively low key powers that often gets taken for granted by writers.  We know what Mystique can do, it’s a handy plot device sometimes, on with the show.

This is Seanan McGuire’s second story for Marvel – the first was the X-Men Gold Annual with the holiday camp – and since any wider plotlines are at best marginal, it’s free to spend its time re-stating the premise, and reminding us of why Mystique runs rings around everyone.  So whether it’s in the real world or a superhero setting, Mystique is happily bouncing around unnoticed as a background character.

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Oct 17

X-Men: Black – Mojo

Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There are certainly some interesting creator choices for the X-Men: Black one-shots.  Mojo gets artist Nick Bradshaw (always welcome, and his detailed cartooning is a good fit for the character), and comedian Scott Aukerman.  I’m… vaguely familiar with Aukerman’s name?  I see there’s three seasons of Comedy Bang Bang on UK Netflix, but yeah, never watched them.

But Mojo’s a comic relief villain, so a comedy writer makes sense.  And this is indeed… well, wacky.  Much depends here on how much tolerance you have for wacky, and how relaxed you are about people being wildly out of character for wackiness’ sake.

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Oct 16

X-Men: Black – Magneto

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: Black is… a series of random one-shots about villains, I guess?  There’s a serialised back-up strip, “Degeneration”, but the lead stories seem to have no connection with it, or to one another.  So I’ll take that at face value.

“The Stars, Our Destination?” is a Magneto story written by Chris Claremont and pencilled by Dalibor Talajić.  And it’s always a slightly strange feeling when Chris Claremont makes one of his occasional reprise visits to the X-Men.  He wrote the team for sixteen years; his take on the X-Men is the one that elevated them to A-list status.  But you can’t really emulate the strengths of that run in a story like this, because so much of it was about building characters and storylines over time.

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Oct 13

Charts – 12 October 2018

Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2018 by Paul in Music

Well, this is a surprise.

1.  Dave featuring Fredo – “Funky Friday”

Not so much because Calvin Harris and Sam Smith’s “Promises” gets knocked back to number 2 after a five-week run – that feels about right.  But this was behind in the midweeks.  It’s an independently released track.  And while Dave – also sometimes known as Santan Dave – has had hit singles before, the biggest was “No Words”, which never got above number 17.  On top of that, while Dave’s a pretty accessible rapper so far as things like delivery and subject matter go, this is still a minimal, mid-paced track without any conventional chorus.  It’s good, but it’s not an obvious number one in any way.  But here we are.

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Oct 12

What If? – X-Men

Posted on Friday, October 12, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Another year, another batch of What If? one-shots. So welcome to Completist Corner: It’s Technically An X-Book.

The original What If? series specialised in alternate endings to published stories, which usually turned out to be that a lot of people died and the world was changed forever or something.  More recently, though, the What If? branding has been applied to some ground-up alternate-reality takes on main characters, which is what we have here.  It’s a cyberspace X-Men, because somebody has spotted that X and *.exe are kind of a bit similar?  If you squint?  That somebody, presumably, is writer Bryan Edward Hill, who’s doing a Batman and the Outsiders series for DC.

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Oct 9

Charts – 5 October 2018

Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 by Paul in Music

There’s a podcast one post down!  Go listen to that!

But if you’re here for the chart…

1.  Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – “Promises”

Five weeks.  Not much more to be said about that, so…

13.  Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow”

Welcome to the post-imperial phase of Lady Gaga’s career.  After a string of big hits between 2009 and 2011, her last two albums struggled to get traction beyond their lead singles.  Diminishing returns have plainly set in, so a drastic change of tack is called for.  And here it is: she’s turned to acting, in a country-rock musical.  It’s a remake of A Star is Born, originally dating from 1937, but also done with Judy Garland and James Mason in the fifties, and Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the seventies.  Bradley Cooper, who also directs the film, is naturally making his first appearance on the singles chart.  The reviews have been glowing.

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Oct 8

House to Astonish Episode 167

Posted on Monday, October 8, 2018 by Al in Podcast

It’s NYCC, and there’s a whole ton of news just waiting to be chewed over, so it would be rude of us not to do that, frankly. On the new House to Astonish, Paul and I remember Norm Breyfogle and Carlos Ezquerra, and talk about Die, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, Wonder Comics, Humanoids’ new imprint H1, Avengers: No Road Home, Man Without Fear, Buffy, Three Jokers, The Girl In The Bay, Marvel’s 80th anniversary series, Oni Press’s webcomics portal, Champions, Savage Sword of Conan, Captain Marvel, Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, Star Trek: Q Conflict, Flash: Year One, Pearl, Out Of The Blue, Guts, Share Your Smile and r(ender). We’ve also got reviews of These Savage Shores and Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is fast as lightning. All this plus My 1.5 Presidents, a pint of bees and Deadly Bannister of Kung Fu.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comics below, on Twitter, via email, or on our Facebook fan page. And remember, sandals and sunhats are sometimes foods, but a good t-shirt is forever, so why not check out our Redbubble store?