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Jul 23

X-Men Gold #7-8: “Secret Empire”

Posted on Sunday, July 23, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I am not interested in the Secret Empire crossover.  You might well think that you are not interested in the Secret Empire crossover.  But to judge by this two-parter, our indifference is as nothing compared to Marc Guggenheim’s.  These two issues pretty much consist of him ignoring it and hoping it goes away.

Now, Secret Empire seems like a pretty a bad idea for a crossover.  Leave aside the question of whether it’s a good idea for a Captain America story; that’s a whole other argument for another day, and it certainly has nothing to do with these issues.  Marvel has a template for these line-wide events, which is to confine the core plot to a central miniseries and maybe a couple of tie-ins, and pretty much ask everyone else to do stories written in the margin for a few months.  So what you’re looking for is a set-up that everyone else can drop into.  The likes of Civil War II and Secret Invasion, for all their flaws, at least had a central premise that most books could do something with.


Jul 22

Charts – 21 July 2017

Posted on Saturday, July 22, 2017 by Paul in Music

Well, it didn’t take long for this to cause problems.  This week’s top seller is “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee.  And this week’s most streamed record is “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee.  And yet…

1.  DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”

This entered at number 3 at the end of June, and spent the last three weeks at number 2.  This week, it is the second-most purchased and the second-most streamed single.  So why is it number one?


Jul 16

X-Men Blue #4-6

Posted on Sunday, July 16, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Here we are already, at the end of the first trade paperback.  Doesn’t time fly when you’re bi-weekly?  I didn’t immediately pick up on this being the break point, because it’s not particularly defined as a story arc.  This seems to be coming back into fashion again; issues #4 to 6 seem largely concerned with getting some pieces into play so that they can be used in future issues.

Cullen Bunn’s task in getting his book up and running can’t have been helped by the fact that the next issue starts a Secret Empire tie-in, which feels like it’s doomed to wind up as a pointless and unwelcome diversion.  That might explain why we have two stories here that seem too busy introducing new elements to actually tell much of a story with them.


Jul 15

Charts – 14 July 2017

Posted on Saturday, July 15, 2017 by Paul in Music

If the recent rule changes were intended to speed up the chart, then it doesn’t seem to be working yet…

1.  Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito”

That’s a total of nine weeks at number one.  I mean, it’s not all been long-running number ones lately.  This year has seen four single-week number ones: Harry Styles, Clean Bandit, DJ Khaled and Artists For Grenfell.  But juggernauts like this are becoming a regular feature.  “Despacito” has peaked, so it’s possible that the new rule (which downgrades the streams of records at least ten weeks old and at least three weeks past their peak) will kick in while it’s still at number one.  If so, it may not be here much longer.

“Feels” by Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean climbs to 4.  That’s enough to overtake “Chained To The Rhythm” and make it Katy Perry’s biggest hit since “Dark Horse” back in 2013.  It’s also Big Sean’s biggest hit ever, overtaking his guest appearance on Jessie J’s “Wild”, also back in 2013.  Further down the chart, the previous single “Slide” rebounds 33-21, which strangely makes it this week’s higher climber.  “Came Here For Love” by Sigala & Ella Eyre moves 12-6.  “Crying In The Club” by Camilla Cabello moves 16-14.

18.  Rudimental featuring James Arthur – “Sun Comes Up”


Jul 9

House to Astonish Episode 156

Posted on Sunday, July 9, 2017 by Al in Podcast

In case you’d forgotten, we do actually do a podcast about comics occasionally. And here it is! This time round, we’re remembering Joan Lee, trying to work out what Legacy actually is, chewing over the controversy surrounding Howard Chaykin’s current Image work, and chatting through Titan’s upcoming Dan Dare series, DC & Archie’s Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, and Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight. We’ve also got reviews of Diablo House and Green Arrow, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook is a man of letters. All this plus a supervillain who controls milk, the forceps of DC Rebirth and some monkeys waving jawbones at Marvel’s marketing department.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, by email or on our Facebook fan page.

And even though we forgot to mention it, we do actually have lovely T-shirts for sale. We’re a bit out of practice at this. Sorry.

Jul 8

Charts – 7 July 2017

Posted on Saturday, July 8, 2017 by Paul in Music

Welcome to the exciting new era of marginally tweaked chart rules.  If you weren’t reading last week, the changes are basically that acts are limited to three hits at a time (“featuring” credits don’t count towards the cap), and tracks which have been out for ten weeks and are comfortably past their peak will see their streams downweighted to stop them clogging up the charts just because the same people have still got them on playlists.  Does it make a difference?  Well… a bit.

1.  Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito”

Exhibit A: an eighth week at number one for “Despacito”.   “Mama” by Jonas Blue featuring William Singe edges up one place to number 4 (continuing a glacially slow climb which included three weeks stuck at number six), and aside from that it’s a lot of rebounding.

6.  Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean – “Feels”


Jul 6

X-Men: Gold #4-6 – “Techno Superior”

Posted on Thursday, July 6, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

The thing about biweeklies is, you fall a little bit behind on the reviews, and they’ve already started the next arc.  Time to catch up, then.

“Techno Superior” is the second arc of X-Men: Gold, and this time our artist is R B Silva, who is much less problematic than his predecessor.  And in most ways it follows in the direction which the opening arc established: it’s going to play the hits while it re-establishes what the X-Men are all about.  It’s solid, it’s a bit house style, it feels like an X-Men book, everyone feels in character, and it’s very much a return to an 80s/90s team format.


Jul 1

Charts – 30 June 2017

Posted on Saturday, July 1, 2017 by Paul in Music

There are rule changes coming to the chart next week.  Because if the compilers wanted to make a case for them, they couldn’t have wished for a more helpful chart than this one.  It’s dull as ditchwater.

1.  Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber – “Despacito”

Returning to number one for a seventh week, after being interrupted by Artists For Grenfell (which drops to three).  So, let’s talk about those rule changes.


Jun 29

Charts – 23 June 2017

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Paul in Music

will start catching up on the reviews.  Honest.  And there are some chart rule changes coming up, but we’ll cover those next week…

1.  Artists for Grenfell – “Bridge Over Troubled Water”


Jun 24

All-New Wolverine #19-21 – “Immune”

Posted on Saturday, June 24, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Well, they can’t all be winners.  I really like All-New Wolverine.  It’s consistently one of the best X-books.  But “Immune” is a three-parter devoted to setting up a contrived set-piece finale, and it’s a bit of a dud, to be honest with you.

So here’s the idea.  An alien spaceship crashes on Roosevelt Island in New York – population 11,000 or so, according to Wikipedia.  There’s a dying alien child inside who asks for Laura Kinney before dying.  By a happy coincidence (well, presumably the kid was aiming for her), Laura and Gabby happen to be in the area doing something unrelated. Specifically, it’s a child-trafficking subplot that takes up a lot of chapter one but has no real purpose beyond keeping Laura away from the main story until it’s ready for her.