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Feb 5

King in Black: Marauders #1

Posted on Friday, February 5, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized

KING IN BLACK: MARAUDERS #1
“Queen in Red”
by Gerry Duggan, Luke Ross & Carlos Lopez

So this is a thing. Why is this a thing?

I will grant you, I am not the most receptive audience for a “King in Black” tie-in. To say I couldn’t care less about Knull is a considerable overstatement of my level of interest in Knull. He doesn’t even interest me as a Venom concept – Venom doesn’t cry out for a mythology involving alien space demons. But hey, Venom isn’t my concern.

What’s the thinking behind line-wide crossovers like this? There used to be a fairly obvious strategy for event comics. You had a central storyline in a core miniseries, and maybe one or two central books. And then you ran a bunch of tie-ins in assorted ongoing titles – maybe side quests, maybe just things happening in the margins of the main story. And why did you do all those tie-ins? Mainly, to sell more copies of the tie-in books.

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Jan 31

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1981

Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized, Wolverine, x-axis

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980

The focus is very much off Wolverine in this year’s X-Men stories. But 1981 is also where most of Wolverine: First Class fits, so…

X-MEN vol 1 #141 and UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #142
“Days of Future Past”
by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin & Glynis Wein 
January & February 1981

Kate Pryde, the middle-aged Sprite from the distant future of 2013, swaps minds with her past self in order to warn the X-Men that the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Mystique (Raven Darkhölme), Destiny (Irene Adler), Avalanche (Dominic Petros), Pyro (St John Allerdyce) and the Blob – are going to assassinate Senator Robert Kelly. In Kate’s timeline, this set off a chain of events resulting in an apocalyptic Sentinel-dominated America, and likely nuclear annihilation. The X-Men, now with Storm as field leader, duly defeat the new Brotherhood and save Kelly; Kitty and Kate swap back.

“Days of Future Past” is a classic X-Men story, but it’s not particularly central for Wolverine. He does get to use his senses to verify that Kate is the real thing, and to identify Mystique in disguise. And he has a brief argument with Storm, now that she’s the new authority figure in town. She orders him not to use his claws against opponents unless the circumstances are exceptional, and he grudgingly accepts the ruling. Interestingly, her argument is that he doesn’t need his claws because he has “speed [and] strength” as well as his adamantium skeleton, which reads as if they still hadn’t quite figured out exactly what his powers were at this point.

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Dec 14

The Homies 2020

Posted on Monday, December 14, 2020 by Al in Uncategorized

There’s gifts on the fire and logs on the tree, and that means only one thing – it’s time for the annual House to Astonish Homies awards, where we dish out our gongs in various categories to the best and brightest comics of the year.

As always, Paul and I will individually be choosing a winner for each category, but there’s the usual proviso – we want YOU to help, so you all name your picks in the comments, and Paul and I each choose our own, and we talk a bit about each of the three on our awards show.

We’re likely to be recording at the beginning of the new year, so we’re giving you until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific) on December 31 2020 to make your choice. When you list your picks, don’t just name names either, because we’ll be reading out the best comments on the show, so let us know your thinking!

BEST NEW SERIES

This one’s pretty self-explanatory – any comic whose first issue was published between 1 January and 31 December 2020 is eligible. What new series got your attention the most this year?

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

This one’s a little less self-explanatory – what series, again first published during 2020, did you think was best, with the proviso that it has to be something where the property wasn’t in existence prior to the start of 2020. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so X-Factor or Amethyst wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Giga or Decorum would.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2019 or before. They’ve been around the block, but they’ve still got what it takes.

BEST MINI, ONE-SHOT OR OGN

These are explaining themselves by this point, right? We’re looking for OGNs, one-shots and minis published in 2020 (or partially in 2020, in the case of minis).

FAVOURITE WRITER

FAVOURITE ARTIST

FAVOURITE COLOURIST

Each of these three is pretty self-explanatory – whose name on the cover or credits box of a book makes you want to pick it up? Whose work do you most look forward to seeing?

MOST WANTED

This is for the comic, series or graphic novel that saw print this year which you’d want to see more of, whether that be a book that was cancelled before its time, a one-shot or mini that just begs for a follow-up, or an OGN that you’d love to see a sequel to.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

It may have seemed unappealing when you read about it online, and those preview pages may have looked unremarkable, but when you finally got the winner of this category in your hands you were ready to eat your words. What comic, series or graphic novel did you find yourself enjoying much more than you thought you would?

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

This is exactly what it says – which creator, creative team, publisher or other contributor to the world of comics really knocked it out of the park this year?

Let us have your picks in the comments thread below, along with your thinking on each one – we’ll read out a range of the responses on our big end-of-year show. Happy nominating!

Dec 3

X-Factor #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 3, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-FACTOR vol 4 #5
“Suite No. 5: First Movement Finale: ‘After a Summer of Allostatic Overload”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeon & Israel Silva

“Allostatic load” is wear and tear on the body as a result of stress.

COVER / PAGE 1: Aurora and Northstar using their powers together. More of that later.

PAGES 2-4. X-Factor show the Five proof of Wind Dancer’s death.

This is picking up the storyline that was in progress before “X of Swords”. Presumably Wind Dancer’s plight was put on hold while the Five had a more pressing crisis to deal with, in the form of disruption to the whole resurrection operation.

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Nov 21

Juggernaut #3 annotations

Posted on Saturday, November 21, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

JUGGERNAUT #3
“Stuck in the Past”
by Fabian Nicieza, Ron Garney & Matt Milla

COVER / PAGE 1. The Juggernaut replacing a broken statue of Lady Justice, and weighing sand in her scales.

PAGE 2. This issue’s kind-of-sort-of recap page is referencing Amazing Spider-Man vol 1 #230 (July 1982), in which Juggernaut is trying to abduct Madame Web, and winds up fighting Spider-Man on a construction site. Unable to actually hurt Juggernaut, Spider-Man defeats him by luring him into newly-poured concrete foundations which apparently go down 40 feet or so, leading him to sink to the bottom. He was indeed stuck there for quite some time – his next published appearance was in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #183, two years later – though previous stories have given it as anything from a month to six months.

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Oct 8

X-Force #13 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 8, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-FORCE vol 6 #13
“X of Swords, Chapter 4”
by Benjamin Percy, Viktor Bogdanovic & Matthew Wilson

COVER / PAGE 1. Wolverine in the hellfire with Solem waiting. Not exactly how it plays out in the issue.

This issue is a direct continuation from Wolverine #6, which shipped on the same day – it even has the same artist. I’m not going to repeat anything that was covered already in the post for that issue, which will keep this post shorter.

PAGE 2. Epigraph from the Silver Samurai.

PAGES 3-4. Flashback: Logan confronts the Hand in the temple.

Yomi is the Japanese word for the underworld or land of the dead.

PAGES 5-6. Credits and recap.

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Sep 10

X-Factor #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-FACTOR vol 4 #3
“Suite No. 3: Mojoverse Sonata the 2nd, a Celestial Rondo”
by Leah Williams & David Baldeon

The title of the previous issue was “Suite No. 2: Mojoverse Sonata Xf. 3 Op. 45, Danse Macabre”, so we’re continuing a theme here.

COVER / PAGE 1. Mojo (who doesn’t actually appear in the story) watches various police shows starring the X-Factor cast. Though surely X-Factor aren’t actually the Krakoan police…?

PAGES 2-3. X-Factor make short work of Durkitt’s crew, and Spiral welcomes them to her show.

This sort of playing to the crowd is out of character for Spiral, but we’ll see later that people in her position need to keep up the act. She describes Mojo with a bizarre pile-up of titles – benefactor, executive producer, democratically-elected ruler, king, supreme leader, and “most holy”. Clearly Mojo remains firmly in charge despite the supposed democratisation of the new Mojoverse. The logical end point of this direction for the Mojoverse is Mojo as Mark Zuckerberg.

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Sep 3

New Mutants #12 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 3, 2020 by Paul in Annotations, Uncategorized

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #12
“Monster Machine”
by Ed Brisson & Marco Failla

COVER / PAGE 1. Magik lashes out at the media (in general, rather than specifically Dox, but okay).

PAGES 2-3. Prologue – more monsters in Nova Roma.

This scene picks up on a plot thread from issue #8, where Magma, Armor and Boom-Boom dealt with a bunch of weird mutant-hunting creatures in the jungles around Nova Roma (Magma’s hidden anachronistic home town). “Senator Aquila” is Magma’s father. That story ended with the unnamed woman seen here showing up looking for revenge for the death of some of her creations.

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Aug 26

Hellions #3 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

HELLIONS #3
“Nothing People”
by Zeb Wells & Stephen Segovia

COVER / PAGE 1. Madelyne Pryor, as the Goblin Queen, stands over a pentagram displaying the Hellions.

PAGE 2. Another epigraph from Nightcrawler, as in the first two issues.

PAGES 3-6. Madelyne talks to Havok.

We’ll skip over the irritatingly stupid grimdark bit. The four panels on the right hand side of page 4 are basically recapping Madelyne Pryor’s history up to Inferno. The first panel shows Madelyne in her pilot outfit from when she had just met Cyclops (though I’m not sure she ever wears precisely this outfit on panel). She talks about how she gave that up to be with Havok’s brother Cyclops.

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Aug 12

Empyre: X-Men #3 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

EMPYRE: X-MEN #3
“Staff Infection”
by Vita Ayala, Zeb Wells, Ed Brisson & Andrea Broccardo

We’re firmly into “quite silly” territory by this point, plus it’s mainly an extended fight scene, so this ought to be quite short.

COVER / PAGE 1. The Cotati on one side, the zombies on the other, and X-Men stuck in between. Cyclops, Polaris, Colossus and Magneto appear, none of whom are in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. You’ll note that the writers have changed again, continuing the jam session.

PAGES 4-6. The Cotati who were killed by the zombies return from the dead as zombie Cotati.

They’re called “ghouls” later in the issue, to distinguish them from the regular zombies.

PAGES 7-9. The psychics join the fight.

Okay, now I understand what was meant to be happening in issue #2. Black Tom sent some Krakoan golem things (the “organic defense system”) through the gate to Genosha. They didn’t do all that well because they needed a local source of power. And Krakoa feeds particularly on psychic energy, so Magik has called in a bunch of psychics to help provide that local power source. Alright.

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