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Mar 3

House to Astonish Episode 172

Posted on Sunday, March 3, 2019 by Al in Podcast

It’s a relatively quiet few weeks for comics news, but we’re chatting about the upcoming Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen books, the Thought Bubble festival moving from Leeds to Harrogate, Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora’s The Once And Future, Dark Horse losing Usagi Yojimbo to IDW, DC’s Giant books entering the Direct Market and Marvel’s upcoming Venom-centric event. We’ve also got reviews of The Forgotten Queen and X-Tremists and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is written in the stars. All this plus comics tapas, Debbie Pisces and the Rick Jones cooking manga.

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, via email or over at our Facebook fan page. And don’t forget, you can get hold of our fab t-shirts over at our Redbubble store.

Bring on the comments

  1. Paul F says:

    More episodes in two months than the first six months of 2018!

  2. Martin Smith says:

    I suspect the currently in development Usagi Yojimbo animated series may have helped convince IDW to woo over Sakai, on the off chance it really takes off. Colourising the back catalogue in advance of that is a smart move (though I’d argue Usagi is very much a series that doesn’t need to be in colour).

  3. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    Jane Virgo, astrologer and sign of the zodiac, reminded me of one of the main jokes in the Discworld Almanack, which is that their astrology column is written by the God of the Celestial Spheres, because it’s obviously in his interests for people to keep believing in this stuff.

  4. Voord 99 says:

    Rick Jones Team-Up sounds like it could be rather good. Maybe a miniseries, in which Rick traces a winding plot across team-ups with characters with whom he is not usually associated (Kamala Khan, Spider-Man, Archangel…) with them all coming together in the conclusion to help him save the world.

  5. mark coale says:

    Green is the Colour

    Mister Zodiac would certainly be going after the Zodiac Key and all that Jazz.

    I figured Usagi moved to IDW partially due to it being brought into the TMNT world again.

    Plug: remember a couple pods ago when Al & Paul talked about Section Zero, well, there’s a new Kickstarter for the latest project and Kall Kesel was on our pod to talk about it, as well as some of his older stuff, like FF and DD and Amalgam and more.

  6. Adam says:

    Swear I was listening to this episode in my car, and Al was listing off well-rounded Marvel villains who could hold a series, then paused to come up with a one-note baddie as an example of a character who would have a much harder time.

    And in that silence I muttered: “The Scorpion.”

    “… The Scorpion.”

    I’ve been listening to you guys too long.

  7. Tom Shapira says:

    As the unofficial, unsanctioned and uncalled for guardian of the OHotOHotMU I feel the need to mention that Mister Zodiac was already a subject in Episode 43*

    * though obviously all records of OHofOHotMU Classic were erased in the great fire, explaining his surprise reappearance.

  8. Voord 99 says:

    Obviously, this was Dr. Zodiac reimagined for the Ultimate Universe.

  9. CountZeroOr says:

    As far as types of dystopia – I’d say that Age of Apocalypse is probably closer to Mad Max, while Age of X-Man is probably closer to Aldous Huxley – and people in Brave New World or 1984 generally (outside of protagonists whose whole thing is that they’re exposed to an outside perspective) think the world they live in is normal – the part that makes it a dystopia is that the people who don’t think the state of things in normal are perceived as dangerous and enemies of the state as opposed to just being viewed as “weird”.

    (There’s also the added question “are these people just aspects of Nate’s subconscious, or are they people from the main Marvel universe who have been pulled in and “re-written”, or considering that Nate is a reality warper, is this a separate universe that Nate basically took over and reshaped to fit his will, ala the Jaspers’ Warp.)

  10. SanityOrMadness says:

    I’m pretty sure Age of X-Man is going to turn out to be all in Legion’s head, same as the “Age of Apocalypse” from the Uncanny Disassembled lead-in arc.

  11. Si says:

    My pitch for Mister Zodiac is this: Instead of turning into giant things, he turns into twelve different people. Each has the classic personality and gender of that star sign. He can’t pick and choose, he just has to keep cycling through, one a month. And some of the personas are enemies, some are allies, maybe two are in love with eachother, Ladyhawke style, except they can never meet because they’re the same person. Maybe some are supervillains and others are superheroes. And they don’t write the Daily Bugle astrology column, they just read it religiously because whatever it says will literally happen to that persona that day in a plot-relevant way. Lots of unexpected journeys and meeting old friends. The best thing is, this could be a 12 issue mini, that comes out monthly, and you could time it to match the zodiac.

  12. Si says:

    As for Age of X-Man, I’d like to see an alternate universe appear for whatever reason, and it really is a utopia. Everyone’s happy and better off in at least most ways. But there’s one supervillain who knows this is all wrong, and would really like to go back to a world where lovely crime and inequality exists. The story is this guy assembling allies and so-forth like the heroes usually do, while the heroes try to protect their beautiful status quo. Finally the bad guy wins and everyone’s thrown back into the nightmare world of everyday Marvel.

  13. mark coale says:

    “The best thing is, this could be a 12 issue mini, that comes out monthly, and you could time it to match the zodiac.”

    If it was DC, they would publish it and then cancel it after 11 issues.


  14. Moo says:

    Pop Quiz: Name the first DC limited series that was canceled before completion because sales were so abysmal. Hint: it was canceled at issue 7 of an intended 12.

  15. Chris V says:

    Sonic Disruptors by Mike Baron.
    It was truly horrendous. It deserved to get the axe.

  16. Moo says:

    Yup. I bought at least the first issue, possibly more, though I don’t recall reading them, which is probably just as well.

  17. Joseph S. says:

    Si: that was basically the plot of Avengers: Pleasant Hill (expect their ‘utopia’ was being used as a prison generated by Kobik).

  18. Joseph S. says:

    So about X-tremists… I have a few issues I wanted to discuss.

    1) I presume it will read better in trade, but for a serialize book, am I the only one who found the last page an abrupt end of the issue? I wouldn’t say the book has pacing problems per se, it just seemed like one should be able to turn the page and keep reading, but no, that was it. OK, let’s establish that Retrograde is a slur, but it’s not exactly a cliffhanger.

    2) If Moneta turns out to have nothing to do with M(onet) then this was a really terrible choice of a name. Monet is a native French speaker, so I suppose there could be some connection there, but….

    3) Jeanty’s art is a bit patchy, agreed. But both the cover and interior left me wondering about Psylocke, who seems to be portrayed as Japanese again. Is this just inconsistent art and poor editing? Are they undoing the change from the Hunt for Wolverine mini already (after emphasizing it heavily in Disassembled)? And for that matter, Jubilee’s vibe seems to evoke vampire, even if she’s not actually written as such, so I wonder if Jeanty was just working off outdated character designs.

    4)While Bobby and Jean-Paul each have had high-profile stories (and press) focused on their sexuality, the other cast members are interesting choices for the book as well. Psylocke of course had a long relationship with Warren, but she’s also canonically bisexual and poly (cf her relationship with Cluster, Fantomex etc). Jubilee on the other hand has, as far as I can tell, never been depicted as being in a relationship, and can plausibly come out as asexual. The groundwork is there in the book (just as it was for Bobby, and Kitty for that matter, whose queer subtext around her relationship with Rachel and Ororo has been confirmed by Claremont). Blob, who knows, villains like him don’t tend to get their personal lives fleshed out much, but a relationship with Psylocke could prove to be an interesting choice.

  19. Jerry Ray says:

    Yeah, I found the “cliffhanger” in X-tremists to be bizarre, too. It was such a weird note to end on that I wondered if there was something I was missing.

    Through the first 3 or 4 issues, the Age of X-Man stuff has been better than I expected, but I’m afraid all this “sex cop” stuff is going to wear thin by the time we get through the 40-odd issues that are coming. It’s a bit of a thin premise/conflict to hang this much material on – compare it to the AoA stuff that went in a bunch of different directions.

    Also, just a thought on the podcast. I’m loving the frequency of new episodes this year. But as you commented, that does result in some slow news weeks. The stuff I enjoy the most, though, are the digressions into history (old storylines both real world and in-universe). I’d be thrilled with a segment where you just picked a random topic of some tangential relevance to the news or reviews (like, say, Age of Apocalypse) and rambled on about it for a bit.

  20. mark coale says:

    More frequent episodes also hopefully means fewer obituaries to start the pod.

  21. Karl_H says:

    I am baffled that the very first thing mentioned about X-Tremists is not the Blob’s rockin’ horseshoe/70s porn star ‘stache, arguably the best alternate universe character redesign of all time. It livens up every page it appears on.

  22. Joshua Corum says:

    I remain baffled by the multiple pages taken up by the cookie sheet “joke.” What the heck was going on there?

  23. Jerry Ray says:

    Those pages aren’t going to fill themselves, so I guess you’ve got to put something on them… 🙂

  24. Chris V says:

    Yes! Finally, someone else mentions that. I thought I was missing something, that no one else pointed out that absurdity.

    It seems that Leah Williams had severe pacing issues with this comic.
    I don’t think she had anywhere near enough material to fill up this first issue.

    I believe there was a good cliffhanger in the comic book (the reveal about the couple they had just captured), but then Williams still had a few more pages to fill, so she had to continue the plot.
    Thus, the non-climax ending.

  25. Thom H. says:

    1. The cookie sheet “joke” definitely made no sense. Who doesn’t understand what a cookie sheet is?

    2. Dressing the X-Tremists in sexy fascist costumes (porn ‘stache, suspenders, and all) is a stroke of genius.

  26. Moo says:

    She’s got big boobies, though. I’ll laugh at her jokes.

  27. Joseph S. says:

    Thom H. Also worth pointing out that all these fashion choices are also queer coded.

    As for the cookie sheet / wax paper thing… Yeah, that didn’t work for me either. Some young people might try to cook on wax paper and learn the hard way, or mistake parchment paper for wax paper… but in any case none of this is sufficient for a gag this long. Because it also seemed like the characters were being sarcastic or purposely obtuse. It just didn’t connect at all.

  28. Joshua Corum says:

    so the writer of the issue has made a statement regarding the “joke” and, at least to me, it doesn’t make any more sense than the joke itself:

    In a different post, she does comment on how her biggest mistake was pacing and … I wouldn’t argue.

  29. Thom H. says:

    So Bobby is slowly becoming unhinged because he realizes the job they’re doing is wrong, and his feelings are being filtered through his usual defense mechanism of joking around. I don’t think that came across on the page, but it makes a lot of sense as an idea.

  30. Moo says:

    Interesting. She says she still stands by that choice. She really shouldn’t. If you have to explain a scene, then it obviously didn’t work. Better to just admit it wasn’t a good choice than to stubbornly insist it was.

    But that’s over-sensitive artistic types for you.

  31. David M says:

    Hi Guys,
    Another fun episode, thanks! It reflects my tastes, obviously, but I can think of two US Arthurian series off the top of my head: The conclusion of Mage by Matt Wagner, within the last month and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Sword Of Ages from last year. I’m hoping for a second volume of that.

  32. Jpw says:

    I guess the Jane Virgo persona is more useful than the power to transform into a giant virgin.

    Except in Age of X-Man, actually, where that could be quite useful.

  33. Christopher says:

    It still feels weird that the one obit in 2018 you didn’t cover is STAN LEE

    I get that it’s oddly timed and would be redundant at this point

    But the 2018 finale podcast still starts off with an obit and it ain’t Stan Lee

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