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Aug 25

Charts – 23 August 2019

Posted on Sunday, August 25, 2019 by Paul in Music

After a couple of very slow weeks, things… pick up a little bit? I mean, at least there’s something going on in the bottom half of the singles chart. Fi

1. Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Senorita”

Six weeks. Don’t worry, it won’t be here much longer – next week will be its tenth on chart, and since it peaked a few weeks back, it’s almost certain to get whacked by the downweighting rule. Filling out the top 20 we have a bunch of minor climbers, which I shall dutifully now list: “Higher Love” by Kygo & Whitney Houston climbs 5-4; “Random” by Lil Tecca climbs 13-7; “Sorry” by Joel Corry climbs 16-10; “Strike a Pose” by Young T & Bugsey featuring Aitch climbs 15-14; and “Castles” by Freya Ridings climbs 18-16.  Most notable of that bunch is “Higher Love”, which has overtaken the number 5 position of Whitney Houston’s last major hit (2009’s “Million Dollar Bill”).  It now stands as her biggest hit in 20 years, going back to “My Love Is Your Love”, which got to number 2 in 1999.

18. Jorja Smith featuring Burna Boy – “Be Honest”


Aug 23

Powers of X #3 annotations

Posted on Friday, August 23, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this is going to be full of spoilers, and I’ll be using the page numbers from the digital edition. But before we get to the detail, let’s look at the big picture for this issue.

After two issues following the same pattern – Year 1, Year 10, Year 100, Year 1000 – Powers of X breaks from that format entirely to give us an entire issue set in the Year 100 time frame. This issue has a straightforward plot: as promised last issue, the Year 100 “X-Men” embark on a heroic suicide mission to recover vitally important data, which turns out to be the details of when and how Nimrod came into existence. Moira is woken from suspended animation and given the data, and then she allows Wolverine to kill her. The narrator then reveals that this is Moira’s ninth life – the one before established continuity, where she was allied with Apocalypse.


Aug 20

Age of X-Man Omega

Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So what did we learn from that?

One reason why I don’t want to actually review Hickman’s stories just yet – though of course there’s a long way to go beyond the opening minis – is that it’s only with hindsight that you can really tell whether it all comes together as a great story, or simply as a formally interesting puzzle. House of X and Powers of X inspire confidence because they show every appearance of being carefully planned, and they repay close reading enough to reassure you that the apparent incongruities and discrepancies are there for a reason. Besides, Hickman has earned trust in that department from his previous work. But you never know until you get there.

Age of X-Man had a very interesting set-up in Nate’s curious “utopia” of relationship-free picket fences, with everyone living as individuals and either feeling repulsed by love (romantic, familial or otherwise), or getting banished to the jails or the underground.  The added element of having Apocalypse as the counter culture figure added to that.


Aug 19

Wolverine vs Blade

Posted on Monday, August 19, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

This is another seemingly random one-shot, this time from Marc Guggenheim and Dave Wilkins. And while the last two I reviewed turned out to be heading somewhere, this is… just pointless, really? Completism alone dictates that it gets a short post, but it doesn’t merit anything more than that.

It is, you will be amazed to hear, a story in which two heroes are both drawn into an affair involving the same villain, and have a misunderstanding which leads them to fight, before they team up to take on the bad guy. There’s nothing wrong with that formula as such – the clichés became clichés because they worked – but it’s not something you can hang a story on. There has to be something more.


Aug 17

Charts – 16 August 2019

Posted on Saturday, August 17, 2019 by Paul in Music

It’s another absurdly quiet week for the singles chart, but at least we have the albums to keep us company.

1.  Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Senorita”

Five weeks now, but it peaked a while back, so it probably won’t be here too much longer.  This matches the run of Cabello’s other number 1, “Havana”.  (We long passed the two-week reign of Mendes’ “Stitches”.)  “3 Nights” by Dominic Fike climbs 6-3, and “Taste (Make it Shake)” by Aitch climbs 8-4.  “Higher Love” by Kygo & Whitney Houston climbs 9-5, to overtake “It Ain’t Me” as Kygo’s biggest hit; it now matches the peak of Houston’s last significant hit “Million Dollar Bill” from 2009.  The next target is to make number 2, which would make it her biggest hit since “My Love Is Your Love” in 1999.  “How Do You Sleep” by Sam Smith climbs 12-7 to become his 11th top ten hit.  “Ransom” by Lil Tecca climbs 24-13, which is a bit more notable than most of these climbs, and “Strike a Pose” by Young T & Bugsey featuring Aitch climbs 18-15.  “Sorry” by Joel Corry moves 19-16, “Castles” by Freya Ridings from 21-18, and “Ritual” by Tiesto, Jonas Blue & Rita Ora from 27-26.  “Harder” by Jax Jones & Bebe Rexha climbs 36-30, “Outnumbered” by Dermot Kennedy from 39-34… and yes, yes, that’s everything before we finally teach this week’s highest new entry.

40.  Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign – “Hot Girl Summer”


Aug 15

Powers of X #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, there will be spoilers, and page numbers reflect the digital edition.

COVER (PAGE 1): A montage of Magneto, Mystique, Toad, Sabretooth and Emma Frost against the background of Krakoa.  Most of these characters don’t actually appear in the issue.

PAGE 2: The epigraph quotes Magneto, and once again, it’s new dialogue.  Clearly, it’s superficially at odds with the next scene.  More to the point, though, is the contrast between Magneto’s opening quotation about unbridgeable differences and Xavier’s closing line about togetherness.  As we’ll see over the course of the issue, this story seems to be interested in a rather more permanent form of togetherness than Xavier would normally have in mind.

PAGES 3-7: Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert visit Magneto and form an alliance with him.  This is presumably the scene which was listed in the House of X #2 timeline as “Moira and Xavier recruit Magneto”.

The timeline: This issue repeats issue #1’s structure of having four scenes, set respectively in “Year 1”, “Year 10”, “Year 100” and “Year 1000” respectively.   This particular scene is listed as taking place in “Year 1”, but so was Xavier’s first meeting with Moira in the previous issue.  But according to the House of X timeline, Moira and Xavier met in Year 17, while their recruitment of Magneto didn’t take place until Year 43.  That’s 26 years apart, yet  for Powers of X it still hasn’t bridged the gap between Year 1 and Year 10.  So either the “Year 1”, “Year 10” stuff is figurative, or there’s something weird going on with time.  (Or Hickman has made a mess of his timeline, but that doesn’t seem very likely.)   (more…)

Aug 13

Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus: “The Last Best Hope of Earth”

Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

From one prologue issue to another.  Solicited as a one-shot – albeit with a “begins here” tag – Ethan Sacks and Diogenes Neves’ story turns out at the end to be a lead-in to something that appears to be called Weapon Plus: Weapons Free.  Alright then.

The solicitations also lead with “The secret history behind their origins revealed!”  And… not so much, really.  If you bought this looking for major revelations about Captain America or Wolverine as individuals, you’d have been rather disappointed.  Instead, the idea is more about trying to set up a unifying behind-the-scenes force for the various dodgy super-soldier projects.  Mercifully, this doesn’t change anything of substance for either character; it just gives them links to others.


Aug 11

Giant-Size X-Statix – “Hereditary-X”

Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, look who’s back.  This looked like a random one-shot when it appeared on the schedules, but it turns out to be the prologue issue for The X-Cellent, a 2020 series reuniting Peter Milligan, Michael and Laura Allred, and (some of) X-Statix.  The X-books are going in some odd directions again.  X-Statix wasn’t a perfect series by any means – the Princess Diana thing probably wouldn’t have worked even without the editorial problems – but its little corner of the line was always refreshingly bizarre.

It was also very much an irk-the-purists book, and that spirit seems alive.  Since X-Statix killed off most of its characters, this book opts for a next-generation approach.  So our main character here is U-Go Girl’s daughter Katie, who was introduced back in X-Force #119, and believed she was actually Edie’s younger sister.  She’s now grown up and ready to be the next version of the character.  But on top of that we’ve got Anarchist’s previously unmentioned teen son “The A” and Phat’s clone “Phatty”, along with a returning Orphan, Vivisector and Dead Girl.  Do not ask about how the timeline works.  Really, don’t.


Aug 10

Charts – 9 August 2019

Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2019 by Paul in Music

We’ve… seen busier charts, I’ll be honest.  Still, there are a couple of big new releases.

1.  Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Senorita”

Fourth (non-consecutive) week at number one.  It still has a week to go to match “Havana” as Cabello’s longest-running number one.

4.  Ariana Grande & Social House – “Boyfriend”


Aug 8

House of X #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

So this is the huge high-concept retcon.  Spoilers ahead, as if that wasn’t obvious.  (Again, I’m using the page numbers in the digital edition.)

COVER (PAGE 1): There’s quite a lot going on in this set of triangles..  There are six different versions of Moira in the centre, each presumably representing a different one of her lives, though some of the images would fit as well with more than one.  We’ll come to the big idea in detail later on, but the six Moira shown on the cover are (clockwise from top) Moira VII, the Trask hunter; Moira IX, the Apocalypse ally; Moira in a lab coat and glasses, which could be one of several incarnations; Moira X, the current version; Moira in the clothes we see her wearing in the Oxford pub in several of her lives; and a normally-dressed Moira who doesn’t seem to match any of the ones in the issue.  In the background, for some reason, there’s a picture of a fingerprint – perhaps just to emphasise that they’re all the same person.

Surrounding her are Magneto, in his current costume; Cyclops; Emma Frost, Professor X (classic version); Wolverine; and Marvel Girl.  Moira X is adjacent to Xavier, which seems to make sense, but the others seem more random, at least at this point.  In the outer spaces are the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Apocalypse, and what appears to be the face of one of his henchmen.  The two pictures in the top left are obscured by the House of X logo, but the solicitation art shows that it’s Nimrod and a Sentinel.