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Sep 23

Charts – 21 September 2018

Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s one of those weeks when we thank heavens for the albums chart, because there’s really nothing going on with the singles…

1.  Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – “Promises”

That’s three weeks, clinging on by a very narrow margin (the equivalent of 6,000 sales over Benny Blanco at number 2).  Sam Smith managed three weeks with “Too Good at Goodbyes” last year, so if he can manage another week, he’ll set a personal record.

33.  Jason Derulo & David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj & Willy William – “Goodbye”

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Sep 20

X-Men Gold #36: “Feared and Hated”

Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men Gold, 2017-18.  It happened.

Marc Guggenheim’s 36-issue X-Men run was a self-consciously retro affair.  After years of the X-Men living on offshore islands or demon dimensions, or all the emphasis being on weird time-travelling splinter teams, here was a flagship X-Men title that was about the actual X-Men team, in the X-Men mansion, doing X-Men things.  It had been a while, and at least part of the gameplan here was to restate the basics – something a book needs now and again, to remind us of the theme in between the variations.

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Sep 17

Domino #1-6: “Killer Instinct”

Posted on Monday, September 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Domino has been around since the early nineties, and she’s spent that time almost entirely as a team book character.  She’s had two previous miniseries, but only now is she getting an ongoing title.  When a character gets promoted after that length of time, you can’t help but wonder whether the concept was actually built to carry a solo book.

But Domino is a character who has drifted a bit over the years.  She started off as a rather serious mercenary who served mainly as a sounding board for Cable, and her first miniseries, back in 1997, tries to play her as somebody who takes life very seriously.  “A young woman often known for being wound too tight”, it calls her.  Admittedly, it then goes on to have her spend half the first issue fighting a cyborg dwarf while dressed in a bikini, but that was the nineties for you. That was what serious characters did back then.

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Sep 15

Charts – 14 September 2018

Posted on Saturday, September 15, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s “not his best work” week on the singles chart.

1.  Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – “Promises”

Two weeks.  Unusually, it’s there on sales; Benny Blanco is the streaming number one.  Weirdly, “Promises” is also number 11 on the utterly-irrelevant physical sales chart, which is almost totally detached from the world of modern pop music.  Have a look if you don’t believe me.

3.  Kanye West & Lil Pump – “I Love It”

Clocking in at just over two minutes, this is the track that Kanye West debuted at this week’s inaugural PornHub awards, of which he was the “creative director”.  The song itself could be politely described as slight.  The video at least goes out of its way to undercut the misogynistic aspects by presenting Kanye and Lil Pump as naughty schoolboys tailing along after Adele Givens.  I wonder whether this did unusually well on video streams, because god knows it’s not much to listen to.

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Sep 13

Old Man Logan #46-47 – “Northern Flight”

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Old Man Logan is, let’s be blunt, patchy.  The previous arc, with Bullseye, got by pretty well on its energy.  This two-parter, with Alpha Flight, just seems to be marking time as it waits for the series to end.

After a pleasingly understated (and beautifully coloured) opening page of a meteor crashing off the coast of Nova Scotia, we establish that some tentacled monster thing is taking over other animals and crawling its way onto the shore in the little town of Shag Habour.  Shag Harbour is a real place, by the way – you’re hardly going to make up a name like that.  It’s best known for a supposed UFO crash in 1967, which is presumably what Ed Brisson is referencing here – but since our meteor landed a month ago, it’s basically an easter egg.

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Sep 8

Charts – 7 September 2018

Posted on Saturday, September 8, 2018 by Paul in Music

[Looks at number of new entries this week.  Whimpers.  Cracks knuckles.]

1.  Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – “Promises”

Climbing to number 1 in its third week.  This is Calvin Harris’s tenth number one, the others being “Dance Wiv Me” (2008), “I’m Not Alone” (2009), “We Found Love” (2011), “Sweet Nothing” (2012), “Under Control” (2013), “Summer” (2014), “Blame” (2014), “Feels” (2017), and “One Kiss” (2018).  It’s hard to argue with that sort of track record – yes, two of them are “featuring” credits, but they’re very prominent ones – and clearly his change of direction a year or so back has paid dividends.  He joins a very, very small list of artists with ten or more number one hits – the others are Take That, Madonna, Cliff Richard, Westlife, the Beatles and Elvis Presley.  (He had 21, so there’s still a long way to go…)

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Sep 7

Old Man Logan Annual #1

Posted on Friday, September 7, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The Old Man Logan Annual may be by regular writer Ed Brisson, but it doesn’t tie in with anything in the regular series.  Instead, it’s time for a flashback to the Wastelands and a backdoor pilot for Old Man Punisher.  Being a Mark Millar creation, the Wastelands are not subtle; the original idea was that it’s a post-apocalyptic world where the villains are in charge of whatever’s left.  This story kind of goes with that, in as much as there’s a gang running around inspired by the Punisher, but it’s really more drifting off into Mad Max territory.

The Punishers seem to be some sort of religious cult built around the Punisher’s War Journal (when was the last time anyone mentioned that thing?), or at least they tolerate having a religious nut hanging around with them – it’s not altogether clear.  With the Hulk Gang cleared out of the way by Logan, there’s nobody keeping any sort of order, and so the Punishers are running around just causing all manner of chaos.

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Sep 6

X-Men Gold #33-35: “Godwar”

Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Here’s one for the “what the hell was that all about” file.  It’s a story that seems to be groping haphazardly in the direction of big themes… and what is it actually trying to say about them?  I’m very much unclear.  Let’s go through it and see if I can figure it out.

This is a story about the village in Kenya where Storm was living just before she was recruited into the X-Men.  You know, the place that was worshipping her as a goddess.  This isn’t something that comes up terribly often these days, because let’s be honest, it’s a depiction of Kenya that was dodgy in 1975 and has aged really quite badly into 2018.  I’ve always viewed this part of Storm’s backstory as distinctly patronising – there are traditional religions still being followed in parts of Kenya, but they don’t seem to bear much resemblance to this – and it’s something that’s often ignored, downplayed, not taken literally, or simply blurred into her own “bright lady” stuff.

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Sep 2

New Mutants: Dead Souls

Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Well, this is an odd book, and no mistake.  Be warned, by the way, that it’s one of those books where I can’t really talk about why it works without giving away big chunks of the plot.  If you were planning to read it anyway, I’d go and do that first.

Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Gorham’s New Mutants: Dead Souls is ostensibly a New Mutants miniseries.  Issue #1 establishes the premise: Karma, who inherited a mega-corporation during Marjorie Liu’s run on Astonishing X-Men, has recruited a bunch of superheroes to investigate paranormal phenomena.  The book kicks off as some sort of mystery-of-the-month horror title, with this random team visiting aftermath of an Alabama hurricane and dealing with an outbreak of zombies.  This turns out to be the result of somebody stealing from the body of a victim who had magical powers, and whose spirit is accordingly no longer at rest.  It’s quirkily and atmospherically done, but it’s basically a standard horror story.

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Sep 1

X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis

Posted on Saturday, September 1, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Ed Piskor’s re-telling of Uncanny X-Men returns for a further two issues, covering the material from the 1975 relaunch through to Storm losing her powers in 1984 or so.  This is a curious project: a basically straight retelling of the X-Men’s history, and with an indy sensibility about it.  As the Grand Design sub-title would imply, Piskor’s focus is on the big picture, and the over-reaching story.

This task should get somewhat easier now that Piskor has reached the Claremont run, which really was a single continuous narrative from 1975 through to Claremont’s departure in 1991.  What remains to be seen, and will stay that way until the final issue, is how Piskor will get around the problem that Claremont’s run doesn’t actually end on a note of resolution that ties up the saga.  But since Grand Design is more than willing to tinker with history, to revise and streamline, in order to get things to fit more neatly into a big picture, presumably he won’t feel too bound by that.

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