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Jun 22

House to Astonish Episode 175

Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2019 by Al in Podcast

We’re back, with discussion of DC shuttering Vertigo, Ink and Zoom; Brian Michael Bendis on Legion of Super-Heroes; the books spinning out of Heroes in Crisis; Gotham City Monsters; Harleen and Joker/Harley Quinn: Criminal Insanity; the cancellation of Doctor Strange; Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda; King Thor; Marvel’s 80th anniversary oneshots; the debut of Strikeforce; JJ and Henry Abrams and Sara Pichelli’s Spider-Man; Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier’s November; and the returns of Pretty Deadly and Battle Chasers. We’ve also got reviews of Superman: Year One and Usagi Yojimbo and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe knows there’s a sucker born every minute. All this plus Naked Superman Variants, Web of Power Pack and an extremely unorthodox Legion line-up.

The podcast 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.

If you’re in the Glasgow area and fancy seeing SILENCE! To Astonish live, with panellists Al Ewing, Kelly Kanayama, Nick Roche and Chip Zdarsky, then pop along to Glasgow Comic-Con next Saturday (29 June) and witness comics’ most entertaining shambles in the flesh.

And why not pick up one of our very lovely t-shirts from our Redbubble store in the meantime? They’re just right for this lovely weather we’ve been having (if you live very near us).

Jun 15

Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men

Posted on Saturday, June 15, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

As “Age of X-Man” draws to a close, we now know that the X-books have pretty much been marking time while waiting for Jonathan Hickman.  But “Age of X-Man” has been an unusually ambitious and intriguing way of doing that.  While the remnants of the regular cast plough on over in Uncanny X-Men, most of the characters are shunted over to an alternate universe for an inversion of “Age of Apocalypse”: Nate Grey has created his own world, and it’s meant to be a paradise.  Unfortunately, Nate is unable to tell hang-ups and insights apart, and so his idea of what would really push a nice world over the line into utopia is to get rid of families and love in favour of a mix of single living and communal groups.  On his account, this is a wonderful philosophical insight – we are all ultimately alone in our heads, and we’ll be happier if we embrace that fact – but… well.

This is a genuinely interesting and unexpected angle for a story which, up to that point, looked like a straight re-tread.  But with six minis out there, it also raises the question of whether there really are six different slants to be had on this concept.  Prisoner XX-Tremists and X-Tracts have the clearest stories to tell, being either about the state apparatus or those who refuse to accept Nate’s ideas.  NextGenAmazing Nightcrawler and Marvelous X-Men – about initially unsuspecting characters just kind of getting on with life in a world they regard as rather pleasing – have more of a challenge.

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Jun 14

Charts – 14 June 2019

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2019 by Paul in Music

The first in a long series of completed X-books storylines hits this week… but let’s do the chart post before I turn my attention to the bursting dam.  Be warned… after the drought will come the backlog.  This is what happens when everything wraps up a storyline at once.  But first!

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

After last week’s static top 12, we have… a static top 10.  But only marginally!  “I Don’t Care” gets a fifth week at number one, but holds off “Old Town Road” by the equivalent of over 1,553 sales.  Given that we’re talking about records with streaming figures in the 8 millions, that’s not much.  “Old Town Road” has been sitting at number 2 for seven weeks now, and if it can actually make it back to number one – which is eminently possible – that will be quite something.

The other Ed Sheeran single, “Cross Me”, is still holding steady at 9.

8.  Chris Brown featuring Drake – “No Guidance”

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Jun 7

Charts – 7 June 2019

Posted on Friday, June 7, 2019 by Paul in Music

You want a dull top ten?  Boy, have we got a dull top ten for you.

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Celebrating their fourth week at number one, Ed and Justin head up an entire top twelve of non-movers.  This has never happened before.  The previous record was a static top 8, in 2016.  If you trawl through the chart archives then you’ll find some entire charts of non-movers, but those are actually weeks when no chart was published (usually between Christmas and New Year in decades past) – the chart compiler treats those as static charts for historical purposes of counting “weeks on chart”.

13.  Katy Perry – “Never Really Over”

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Jun 2

Charts – 31 May 2019

Posted on Sunday, June 2, 2019 by Paul in Music

Meanwhile, back on the charts…

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Three weeks.  Let’s see, what is there still to say about this…  Well, it’s the second number one single with this title, the first being Cheryl Cole’s song from 2014.  Predictably, “I Don’t Care” is an oft-used title.  Other top 40 “I Don’t Cares” belong to Fall Out Boy (2008), Ricky Martin (2005), Shakespears Sister (1992), Los Bravos (1966) and Liberace (1956).

The entire top 4 is static, but that’s partly because Lil Nas X isn’t giving up without a fight, and he’s narrowing the gap – it’s entirely possible he could yet get back to number one for a second run.

9.  Ed Sheeran featuring Chance The Rapper & PnB Rock – “Cross Me”

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May 31

X-23 #11-12: “Dear Gabby”

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

We’re heading for another reboot of the whole line, then.  The second-tier titles may have continued alongside “Age of X-Man”, but we’re starting from scratch when Jonathan Hickman arrives, with just the X-Men for a while.  This explains a lot about the clumsy return of Wolverine, which exists simply to tie up a loose end and get him on the board again, not to relaunch a solo series.

Normally I might be annoyed at losing decent second-tier titles, but the reality is that few creative teams stick around for more than a year anyway, so it’s not as if anything seems to be cut short.  It’s probably a smart move to cut the line to a core title, instead of diluting it with a sprawling line, even though chances are we’ll be back to typical numbers in six months.  The X-books could use a grand gesture if they want to be seen as a big deal again.

In the meantime, a parade of final arcs lumbers towards me for review.  This two-parter wraps up Mariko Tamaki’s run on X-23.

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May 25

Charts – 24 May 2019

Posted on Saturday, May 25, 2019 by Paul in Music

Well, it’s a busy week for albums, at least.

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

Two weeks.  Since last week, we’ve established that Sheeran’s upcoming album is entitled “No 6 Collaborations Project”, which goes some way towards explaining what Bieber is doing here – commercially, at any rate, because he sure isn’t adding much creatively.  The title refers back to his self-released 2011 album “No 5 Collaborations Project” (numbers 1-4 apparently being earlier EPs, though his discography lists seven earlier EPs, so you may picture me here shrugging and moving on).  It heads up a top 4 made up entirely of records that reached number 1, which “Old Town Road”, “Someone You Loved” and “Vossi Bop” still hanging around – “Old Town Road” is actually still growing, despite being shoved aside by Sheeran.

Lewis Capaldi‘s first charting single “Grace” has been hanging around for a while, but vaults from 28 to 9 on the release of parent album “Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent” (I know), which goes straight to number one.  The single’s previous peak was 21. “Someone You Loved” climbs 4-3, and “Hold Me While You Wait” climbs 8-5, giving him the maximum three songs on the singles chart, all in the top 40 – though for once, they’re all song that were on the top 40 already.  It goes without saying that without the three-song cap, we’d be swimming in Lewis Capaldi tracks this week. (more…)

May 19

Charts – 17 May 2019

Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2019 by Paul in Music

He was bound to be back sooner or later.

1.  Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”

This is the first new Ed Sheeran single in two years – unless you count his guest appearance on Eminem’s “River”, and even that came out right at the end of 2017.  Yes, new songs written by Ed Sheeran seem to chart all the time; he’s approaching Barbara Cartland levels of prolificity.  But this is a proper Ed Sheeran single, so it’s an entirely predictable number one (his sixth in total).  It doesn’t quite have the highest sales/streaming figure of the year – that’s still Ariana Grande – but it’s close.  The song is… pretty routine and on brand: Sheeran is an ordinary bloke who feels out of place in the celebrity world and his girl makes him feel okay about that.

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May 12

Charts – 10 May 2019

Posted on Sunday, May 12, 2019 by Paul in Music

We have a new podcast episode, just one post down!  Or if you prefer, there’s this…

1.  Stormzy – “Vossi Bop”

Two weeks, with over 10 million streams once again.  “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X is still hanging in at 2 with very respectable numbers; it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it might retake number one.

4.  Lewis Capaldi – “Hold Me While You Wait”

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May 11

House to Astonish Episode 174

Posted on Saturday, May 11, 2019 by Al in Podcast

Lots to discuss this time round, as we talk about the deaths of Kazuhiko Kato aka Monkey Punch and Kazuo Koike, the Lion Forge/Oni Press merger, Dark Horse’s Netflix first look deal, Bill Jemas and Axel Alonso’s new publishing company and Marvel Comics 1000. We’ve also got reviews of Excellence and New Agents of Atlas and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is a mean green mother from outer space. All this plus the maximum number of wild animals that can safely live in a blacksmith’s, the George’s Marvellous Medicine of comics, and Magic Ian the Magician.

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 on our Facebook fan page. You can, as always, pick up one of our well lush t-shirts over on our Redbubble store.