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Feb 19

Marauders #8 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Storm and Emma Frost, in a very stylised version of their argument from later in the issue.

PAGES 2-6. Bishop reports Kate’s death to Emma Frost.

Mars. We’ve seen the Mars outpost mentioned a few times before, and I think this is the first clear confirmation that it’s being used as a farm for Krakoan flowers (or at least that’s a big part of it). This makes a degree of sense; Krakoa isn’t big enough for large-scale agriculture, and they need to grow the flowers somewhere that’s entirely inaccessible to hostile forces. (Wolverine this week suggests that they’re still struggling to keep up with demand, though, to the point where the transformative effect of Krakoan drugs remains somewhat theoretical as far as many humans are concerned.)

Forge’s automatons. These are new. Presumably they’re just organic tech robots… but, um, isn’t that essentially a person…?

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Feb 8

The Complete Moira, Part 6

Posted on Saturday, February 8, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

For previous chapters, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

This time round, we’ll cover Moira’s early 90s, where she… well, gets passed around various books for a while, then lands in a title that barely has a regular writer. Despite that, these issues set the course for Moira’s remaining stories.

X-Men vol 2 #1-3 by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee & Scott Williams (“Rubicon”, “Firestorm” and “Fallout”, October to December 1991). The last Chris Claremont story (for now, at least). Magneto’s manipulative new aide Fabian Cortez provokes him into taking up villainy again, and tells him that he has been subjected to genetic engineering. Magneto works out that it must be something Moira did to him during the period when he had been turned into an infant, and he was under her care. So he abducts Moira (and Professor X) to Asteroid M in order to yell at her. Moira confirms that her tests suggested that his body couldn’t handle the energy being processed by his powers, and so she modified his DNA to remove the instability, hoping that the same process could be used to cure Proteus. Magneto is outraged by what he sees as an interference in his free will. The rest of the story sees Magneto force Moira to use the same process to alter the personalities of half the X-Men so that the team can kick off their new series by fighting one another – but it turns out that the process quickly wears off when mutants use their powers. Magneto ends up sending the X-Men and Moira home, and seemingly dies aboard his exploding satellite.

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Jan 18

The Complete Moira: Part 3

Posted on Saturday, January 18, 2020 by Paul in Moira, Uncategorized

Three posts into the series, we finally reach Moira’s first published appearance! (For part 1, see here; for part 2, see here.)

X-Men vol 1 #96 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Sam Grainger (“Night of the Demon”, December 1975). And here we are. Moira shows up at the X-Men’s Mansion, responding to the invitation from Professor X (which we saw her receive in Classic X-Men #2). This is the point where she gets introduced to the X-Men, who at this point consist of Cyclops, Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Later retcons will establish that Moira has met Cyclops and Wolverine already, but neither of them remember it. Sean is immediately taken with Moira, kicking off their romantic subplot which will later settle into a long-term status quo.

Moira and Charles both tell the X-Men that she has been hired as the new housekeeper, to look after the house and the X-Men while he’s away. At that point, the demon Kierrok attacks, and Moira promptly gets a machine gun from the armoury to fight it – though Banshee actually bundles her to safety before she has the chance to use it, and the X-Men defeat Kierrok without her. This story is reprinted in Classic X-Men #4, which adds a page of Moira and Charles having a private conversation where they reminisce about their past relationship.

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Dec 22

Fallen Angels #4 annotations

Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2019 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are by the digital edition. And to be honest, there’s not all that much to say about this issue, annotations-wise…

COVER/PAGE 1. X-23 and Cable on the run from… some sort of weird shadowy things.

PAGE 2. Flashback. Young Kwannon is shown a dying man who was poisoned while trying to broker peace.

The moral, presumably, being “nice guys finish last.”

PAGES 3-6. Psylocke and X-23 discuss what to do.

Reasonably enough, X-23 has concluded that the whole scenario is being engineered by Apoth to lure Psylocke/Kwannon in, and that this means Psylocke shouldn’t trust the vision that she had in issue #1. For some reason X-23 suggests asking the other Psylocke for help, though it’s not clear what Betsy could really contribute, and it feels more like an excuse to raise her name so that Psylocke/Kwannon can reject her again.

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Dec 20

New Mutants #4 annotations

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, Uncategorized

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Boom-Boom in a cornfield. The Krakoan letters are “NM” for “New Mutants”.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. This is “Fast and Furious” by Ed Brisson and Marco Failla. Most of this issue speaks for itself, annotation-wise, by the way.

PAGES 4-5. Boom-Boom learns that Armor has been gone for three days.

This version of Boom-Boom, like the version in the recent New Mutants miniseries, is clearly an alarmingly heavy drinker if not an outright alcoholic. The seemingly incessant partying of Krakoa allows her to fit in without being too obvious. And again… just how party-centric is this place?

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Dec 19

Excalibur #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Paul in Uncategorized

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

COVER / PAGE 1. Um… Captain Britain fights a dragon with flowers on it. It’s presumably meant to be one of the monsters that invades right at the end of the issue, but this doesn’t actually happen in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Gambit checks in on Rogue, then goes to London to catch with Betsy, who is meeting the Queen.

All self explanatory. As Morgan Le Fey suggested last issue, the public is apparently not happy about the new Captain Britain being a mutant, so there are people protesting about it outside Buckingham Palace.

PAGES 4-5. Recap and credits. This is “Verse IV: Fall Back and Think of England!” by Tini Howard and Marcus To.

PAGES 6-8. Gambit gets into a fight with the protestors, and Captain Britain shows up to announce that they’re the new Excalibur.

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Dec 8

The Homies 2019

Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2019 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 very end of December/start of Jan, so we’re giving you until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific) on December 29 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 2019 and the close of nominations (29 December) 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 between 1 January and 29 December, 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 2018. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so Agents of Atlas or Criminal wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Coffin Bound or Excellence would.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2018 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 2019 (or partially in 2019, 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!

Nov 16

Charts – 15 November 2019

Posted on Saturday, November 16, 2019 by Paul in Uncategorized

Nine new entries on the singles chart, the most in a while. And almost all from the same genre, too. The singles chart used to have more range than this…

1 Tones & I – “Dance Monkey”

Seven weeks and counting. It’s going to be there till Christmas, isn’t it? And it heads up a static top four, followed by…

5. J Hus – “Must Be”

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Dec 14

Charts – 14 December 2018

Posted on Friday, December 14, 2018 by Paul in Uncategorized

Fans of essentially nothing happening won’t want to miss this week’s magnificently uneventful charts!  The thing is, if you’re planning a steady climb to the top in time for Christmas, well, you started a couple of weeks back at the latest.  And if you’re hoping for a smash-and-grab Christmas-chart one-off sale, that’s next week.  Which means this week’s new releases are, um, few in number.

1.  Ariana Grande – “Thank U, Next”

Six weeks – it needs a seventh to be Christmas number one.  In the current market, that’s by no means impossible.  After all, the 2016 Christmas number one was Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye”, which had been at number 1 since mid-November and remained there into the new year.  But the lead over the number two single – Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho” – is equivalent to only 9,000 sales, so by sheer coincidence there’s something of a battle on for next week.  Oh, and “Santa Tell Me” climbs from 35-30 this week.

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Feb 13

Charts – 10 February 2017

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2017 by Paul in Uncategorized

Not much happening, but let’s run through it.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

You amaze me.  That’s five weeks, and “Castle on the Hill” remains at number 2.  This is a new record for the longest run at numbers 1 and 2 for a single artist… but it’s one of those records which is going to be broken more routinely as the digital era allows for multiple tracks to be available at once, and as the charts slow down.  The previous record holder was Justin Bieber, who managed four straight weeks at the tail end of 2015 (and was only stopped by Christmas); before that, the record had been stuck at three since the Beatles.

8.  Stormzy – “Big For Your Boots”

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