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May 7

House to Astonish Episode 183

Posted on Thursday, May 7, 2020 by Al in Podcast

There’s not a huge amount of comics news, and no new comics to review, so we’re leaning in to the last segment of our show and bringing you the biggest Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe to date. Sit back and enjoy the first episode we’ve ever recorded remotely, as we look to rehabilitate all 27 characters introduced in Marvel’s 1993 annuals. Annex! Genis-Vell! Adam-X! Live unbagging of 18 comics! Fun, of a sort!

The episode is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email, or on our Facebook fan page. And remember, you can get our swanky-dan t-shirts over at our Redbubble store.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Genis-Vell, at least, doesn’t need much rehabilitation. Peter David did great things with the character.
    He ended up being one of the successes of those annuals.
    You’ll have a lot more trouble with most of those characters though.

  2. Si says:

    There’s a formerly quite famous Australian race car driver named Dick Johnson.

  3. Taibak says:

    Si: I can top that.

    There’s a former New Hampshire congressman and US ambassador to Denmark named Dick Swett.

  4. Col_Fury says:

    Why did I have it in my head that, with no new comics for the review portion, you (Al & Paul) were going to have each of you review a favorite comic from your youth and see if it held up? I’m sure Al would have chosen a New Warriors issue…

    Maybe it was a dream. Or probably, I was drunk.

    oh well! 🙂

  5. Col_Fury says:

    re: Dick Johnson
    I wonder if Chuck Dixon, Steven Grant or George Caragonne was a fan of the noise rock band Pussy Galore? Their album Dial ‘M’ for Motherfucker had just been released two or three years before that War Zone Annual came out, and one of my favorite tracks from it was “Dick Johnson.” Another good track was “1 Hour Later.”

  6. Col_Fury says:

    And I get to the end of the podcast and you say you’re considering classic reviews. I guess it was a premonition!

  7. Joe S. Walker says:

    Wildstreak sounds as if she should have the power to create diversions by suddenly appearing naked and running at super-speed.

  8. Damien says:

    I managed to pick up that not for sale anywhere Magneto number 0 in a 5 for £1 sale box about 10 years ago.

  9. Paul Fr says:

    I quite liked how Adam-X was used in Secret Wars’ AOA world as Burner. They could bring him back like that in the real world right?

  10. Scott Bennie says:

    Thanks for covering this.

  11. Mark Coale says:

    There was an American race car driver made notorious by ESPN named Dick Trickle.

    If you are taking suggestions, bring back Who’s Who on Who’s Who in the DCU.

  12. Zachary Adams says:

    Seconding Mark’s suggestion. Do every Bloodlines character, with Hitman presumably occupying the Genis “just bring him back” spot.

    Also, that opinion is objectively correct but I was still hoping for a pitch for my boy.

  13. Jpw says:

    Oh man, Genes-Vell takes me back. Someone gave me Silver Surfer Annual #6 for my ninth birthday. I didn’t understand a damn thing going on in that comic, but I read it a hundred times and still have that card.

  14. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    This was great fun,thanks.

    The description of Future Shock in Glasgow as “a cave of evil, but it’s not there now”, makes me think that Al tried to return the Amazing Spider-Man annual the following day, and all he found was an empty lot that looked like it had been abandoned for years.

    I don’t know how racist Namor the Sub-Mariner annual is, but according to the TVTropes page “Bilingual Bonus”, the kanji on Mimeyoshi’s komono are a statement that she’s going commando, so the character was clearly being written with all due respect…

    I’m looking at the cover of the Daredevil annual now, and I think the Devourer does appear on it? That shapeless green monster with red highlights DD is kicking, is that not him? He’s clearly not the focus, though.

    According to, the Devourer’s second appearance involved another villain sacrificing his henchmen on the stone to summon the Devourer, and it doesn’t appear that Webster was involved at all. Mind you, that site also consistently calls him Harry Webster, so who knows how accurate it is?

    Apparently, Phalanx died in his last appearance, when he dived on a grenade and his armour that could absorb any force … didn’t do that.

    I had a vague recollection that Nocturne was one of the not-quite-vampire characters that Kim Newman used in Anno Dracula, but on reflection, I think that might have been DC’s Nocturna. (I don’t remember him using Night Terror, but it’s certainly possible.)

  15. Rob says:

    You wrote about what happened to Empyrean in Time Sliders a few years ago:

  16. David says:

    Wow, these were the first mainline Marvel comics I ever bought. I was one of those kids intimidated by the large issue counts on everything, so I had only gotten into the 2099 line before, but these all featured brand new characters and I naively thought that made them a great place to start.

    Weirdly, because I only picked up the ones featuring Wildstreak and Annex, I had always thought these annuals were all based around superheroes with various types of physical disabilities.

    Anyway, they were terrible and I didn’t try another 616 comic until Age Of Apocalypse caught my eye, which I guess means they put me off the line for about 2 years?

  17. Alex Case says:

    I gotta admit, while Time Displaced Cú Chulainn is a fun comic character concept (with certain similarities to Hercules) – this does lead to awkward collisions in my brain because, as someone who also likes anime, and the Fate/ Franchise, in particular, this leads into weird mental collisions between this character and Lancer from Fate/Stay Night (who is also Cú Chulainn).

  18. Allan M says:

    Bloodwraith ends up in the ruins of Slorenia after Ultron had levelled it, initially joining on a mission to rebuild it, but the Ebony Blade absorbs the souls of the dead and it powered him up (and made him a giant). So Scarlet Witch casts a spell that confines him to Slorenia. Bloodwraith hasn’t shown up again, but the Ebony Blade showed up in Hudlin’s Black Panther, so with it gone, Bloodwraith should now be a normal Irish teenager who is trapped in the ruins of a dead country. Maybe he built himself a little farm and is living a lonely monastic life since everyone assume he’s still a rampaging giant with a huge sword.

    If nothing else, the character illustrates how idiotic it was to saddle the Black Knight with the Ebony Blade as his signature weapon. It’s a magic sword that’ll curse the owner if it draws blood. It’s a sword! You’re going into combat with it constantly since you’re a superhero! You’re going to get cursed, you idiot! Just leave the damned thing in a shed!

  19. Alex Case says:

    Stupid question about the Ebony Blade – when in the comics was the curse of draining the souls of people it kills to strengthen it’s wielder come from? Not in the 616 sliding timeline, but as in the date of the issue it appeared

    Because, um… that sounds shocking close to Stormbringer from the Elric stories, and the first story – The Dreaming City, which has Stormbringer in it, was published in 1961.

  20. Allan M says:

    The Blade is introduced in 1968, they add a curse to it in 1970, but it isn’t until the Bloodwraith annual in 1993 that the idea of powering up the wielder by draining souls comes into play. In the 1970 story, the Blade is corrupting Black Knight and driving him to murder people. But he resists and doesn’t actually kill anyone, so we don’t see what would happen if he did.

    That said, the Blade’s creator, Roy Thomas, not only knew Moorcock but was working with him on an Elric/Conan crossover by 1970, so he may have had Elric in mind when adding the curse.

  21. Jason says:

    Gordon Purcell? Didn’t he draw several issues of Peter David’s “Star Trek” comics?

  22. Tim M says:

    I’ll second Paul’s comment about the Hal Hartley film Amateur. It’s been awhile since I saw it, but I remember it being quite good, and making great use of the “protagonist with amnesia” premise.

  23. Alex Case says:

    @Allan M: I think that was around the same time that Thomas brought Harlan Ellison on board to write a story with the Avengers and Hulk in the Microverse.

  24. David Pardoe says:

    Thanks for the canon/cannon joke, Pepsi Max Raspberry all over my Switch screen.

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