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Oct 12

Iceman vol 1: “Thawing Out”

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Brian Bendis has a tendency to leave undeveloped ideas in his wake, and in an era where incoming writers tend to treat their first issue as a fresh start, those undeveloped ideas tend to stay that way.  But deciding that a character who’s been around since the 60s is actually gay is the sort of thing that has to be followed up.

And it has been, for the most part, in All-New X-Men and latterly in X-Men Blue.  But that’s the teenage version who travelled through time; we also have the original, who’s had rather less attention.  Sensibly enough, that’s the version used by Sina Grace and Alessandro Vitti.  Grace is an interesting choice; as a creator, he’s mainly known for autobiographical indie books, but he was also an editor for Robert Kirkman titles like Invincible.


Oct 7

Charts – 6 October 2017

Posted on Saturday, October 7, 2017 by Paul in Music

Not a huge amount going on, but there’s still a bit to talk about…

1.  Post Malone featuring 21 Savage – “Rockstar”

Such as a new number one!  “Rockstar” has moved 5-2-1.  It’s also been number one in Australia, Canada and several European countries, so the world is in the mood for a sense of vaguely washed-out shellshock, I guess.  That’s 2017 for you.


Oct 5

X-Men Blue #10-12: “Toil and Trouble”

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

With Secret Empire out of the way, X-Men Blue returns to its storylines in progress.  We’re not quite pretending here that Secret Empire didn’t happen; the plot point of Scott and Jean’s mental link remains, and gets followed up.  But quite how it came about, we’re not talking about.  The really awkward stuff, it seems, we’re just going to ignore.  It’s the “No Man’s Land” solution, as I suspected.

So instead, this is mainly a Beast story, as Cullen Bunn continues to follow up the storyline established by Dennis Hopeless on All-New X-Men about Hank’s dabbling in the occult.


Oct 1

X-Men Gold #12 – “Kologoth”

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

May as well knock this one off quickly, and get up to date with X-Men Gold.  There’s an issue to spare before a crossover with X-Men Blue (which gets a couple of pages of set-up in the epilogue, but we’ll worry about that another time).  So this is the origin story of Kologoth.

Kologoth is the mystery new guy who showed up in the mind-controlled Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the first couple of issues, and later turned out to be an alien.  One of the things which Marc Guggenheim has done reasonably well in this series is laying the groundwork for his subplots and checking in on them periodically; the book has taken its time building up the character before putting him in the foreground.


Sep 30

Charts – 29 September 2017

Posted on Saturday, September 30, 2017 by Paul in Music

I’ll warn you now, there’s nothing much happening until we reach the bottom end of the top thirty.

1.  Sam Smith – “Too Good at Goodbyes”

Three weeks now, which is his longest run at the top, overtaking the Comic Relief re-issue of “Lay Me Down” which managed two weeks in 2015.  It’s very marginal, though – his lead was the equivalent of 693 sales – so he probably won’t be there much longer.

And now, a long list of tracks which are climbing…“Rockstar” by Post Malone featuring 21 Savage moves 5-2.  “Havana” by Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug is up 7-4.  “Lonely Together” by Avicii featuring Rita Ora goes from 10 to 8.    “1-800-273-8255” by Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid is up from 17 to 12.  “Hurtin’ Me” by Stefflon Don & French Montana climbs from 20 to 14.  “What Lovers Do” by Maroon 5 featuring SZA… oh, hold on, this one’s got a video now.

18.  Maroon 5 featuring SZA – “What Lovers Do”


Sep 27

X-Men Gold #10-11 – “En’Kane”

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

My initial optimism for this relaunch is starting to fade.  It’s not the direction.  That still feels like a sensible back-to-basics retrenching with enough changes to avoid outright retread.  It’s the stories that are being told within that framework, which feel lacklustre.  The “En’Kane” two-parter is a case in point.

It goes like this.  Colossus gets a phone call – apparently you can just phone up the X-Men and ask to speak to them, and I guess if they’re running a school there ought to be a public phone number, so okay – from somebody claiming to be his previously unmentioned uncle Anatoly.  Peter has never heard of him, but Anatoly basically says that’s because he was the black sheep of the family.  This is all established in some fairly terrible dialogue – the whole thing is in italics, which seems to be intended to indicate “speaking in Russian”, but Anatoly is still saying things like “In Russia, I am criminal.”  He’s holding a copy of Pravda, depicted as some sort of magazine; it’s actually a broadsheet newspaper.  So we’re off to a good start.


Sep 25

Charts – 22 September 2017

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 by Paul in Music

Okay… so this week I’ll make some headway on the backlog.  Really.

But first…

1.  Sam Smith – “Too Good At Goodbyes”

That’s two weeks.  Despite his numerous number ones, this is only the second time Sam Smith has managed a second week – the other was the Comic Relief re-issue of “Lay Me Down”, which was a special case.  The single now has a video, which is Very Sincere.


Sep 17

House to Astonish Episode 158

Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2017 by Al in Podcast

With holidays and whatnot, it’s been a little while since our last episode, but we’re back, talking about the sad death of Len Wein; IDW’s Full Bleed Kickstarter and new partnership with Glenat; Madefire Comics’ partnering with DC; Oni Press’s Spring 2018 OGN slate and Sam Humphries and Tim Seeley’s Nightwing/Green Lanterns title swap. We’ve also got reviews of Retcon and Runaways, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe can boogie, but it needs a certain song. All this plus the Azerbaijani fashion scene, Thesaurus Lass and 1970s Gold Key parties.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available through the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or through our Facebook fan page.

As mentioned at the end of the show, next week is the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds, and as usual we’re teaming with the excellent chaps of SILENCE! for the live experience that is SILENCE! to Astonish. Join me, Gary Lactus and the Beast Must Die, as well as special guests James Stokoe, Marley Zarcone and more to be announced, as we ask daft questions, do suspect impressions, and generally take advantage of a captive audience. Last year’s panel is the last 45 or so minutes of our Episode 150 from last year, so check that out if you want to before coming along next weekend – we’d flippin’ love to see you there!

Sep 16

Charts – 15 September 2017

Posted on Saturday, September 16, 2017 by Paul in Music

Turnover at the top seems to be returning to something more normal.  After the epic runs earlier in the year, we’ve had six different number one singles in the space of ten weeks.  The latest being…

1.  Sam Smith – “Too Good At Goodbyes”

New entry at number one.  See, it still happens sometimes.  This is the lead single from Smith’s second album, and it’s already his sixth number one.  That makes it sound like the first album was an unstoppable juggernaut, but in fact it’s a bit more complicated.  2013’s “La La La” was a guest shot on a Naughty Boy single.  2014’s “Money On My Mind” and “Stay With Me” were indeed regular singles from the album.  2015’s “Lay Me Down” was a charity release.  And “Writing’s On The Wall”, later that year, was a non-album Bond theme.  Still, Bond themes don’t routinely go to number one, so that was a pretty clear sign that people were waiting for new Sam Smith material.


Sep 14

Weapons of Mutant Destruction

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I’m way, way, way behind schedule on reviews at this point – this storyline is now two issues in the past – so time to start blitzing through the backlog.  “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” is a crossover, running through Weapon X #4-6 and Totally Awesome Hulk #19-22, with a lead-in one-shot on top of that.  Two of those issues are labelled as preludes, but it’s not altogether obvious why, since they’re both essential to the plot.

For a new series to hurl itself into an eight-part crossover with issue #4 is a strange choice.  The original Generation X series did something similar, because it was launched only four months before “Age of Apocalypse”, and it did no favours for the book’s momentum.  With Weapon X, it turns out to be less of a problem.  Partly, that’s because both titles are written by Greg Pak, even if the tone clash is pretty substantial.  Mainly, though, it’s because this is a continuation of the plot of Weapon X, guest starring the new Hulk, and taking over his book for four issues.  Hope the Hulk readers liked it.