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Jun 29

Money in the Bank 2014

Posted on Sunday, June 29, 2014 by Paul in Wrestling

Check out the posts below for our Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus thingy, and for this week’s podcast season finale!  Meantime, though, I’ve got a PPV to cover…

Money in the Bank has wound up an interesting pay-per-view (a term I’ll keep using for want of anything better, even though most US viewers will probably be WWE network subscribers) more by accident than design.  This is the show built around the annual Money in the Bank Ladder Match, in which the winner gets the right to challenge for the world title whenever they want in the next year.  Since “whenever they want” is treated as many “on any show, without having to give any notice”, it’s effectively a licence to ambush the champion and practically guarantees winning the title.  A couple of people have failed, but it’s still a pretty reliable indication that somebody is destined for the main event.

But WWE Champion Daniel Bryan is out with neck surgery.  The original idea was that he’d be back in time to wrestle on this show, so the company stalled on last month’s show and ran a bunch of angles with the idea that he’d resist the Authority’s attempts to pressurise him to surrender the title.  Then it turned out he wouldn’t be able to wrestle on this show either, so they did a screeching U-turn and stripped him of the title after all.


Jun 29

Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus

Posted on Sunday, June 29, 2014 by Al in Uncategorized

You may have seen in some recent interviews with Marvel staffers that they’re putting together an omnibus of Marvel’s greatest issues for the 75th anniversary of the company, to be released later this year. Now, last time they had any kind of vote on the greatest Marvel comics of all time, what actually happened was that people voted for what they perceived (largely) to be the most significant Marvel comics of all time (so we got a list of the 100 greatest issues Marvel have ever published which contained some fairly humdrum things, like the first appearance of Michael Morbius etc). The details of the 75th anniversary omnibus can be found here.

It strikes me that with so many issues to play with, you wouldn’t necessarily need to garner that many votes to put you above some of the more banal choices. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of six issues which deserve (in my opinion, humble or otherwise) to be collected as exemplars of how good Marvel can be from time to time, none of which are likely to make it in without some voting weight behind them.

So! What we’d like you to do is to vote in the comments below, or drop me a note on Twitter (where I’m @housetoastonish), citing which of these six comics you think should be the official House to Astonish nominee for the Marvel 75th anniversary omnibus. In a few days I’ll tally up all the votes, and announce the winner – at that point, it’s time to mobilise our troops and vote (once only each, though – no shenanigans) for that book. It’s democracy in action!

The nominees:

  • Fantastic Four v3 60 (the first issue of Waid & Weiringo’s run; the 9c issue)
  • Spectacular Spider-Man v1 200 (DeMatteis/Buscema; the death of Harry Osborn)
  • Excalibur v1 91 (Warren Ellis’s finest moment on the series; the team go to the pub)
  • Thunderbolts v1 1 (Busiek/Bagley, and comics’ best-kept secret)
  • Damage Control v1 1 (Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon’s terrific sitcomic, somehow never collected before)
  • Generation X Underground (Jim Mahfood’s fun b&w special from the late 90s)

Get voting!

UPDATE: I’m going to give this another 24 hours, then close the polls at 12am UK time (7pm EST) tomorrow.

Jun 29

House to Astonish Episode 128

Posted on Sunday, June 29, 2014 by Al in Podcast

It’s our last episode before our hiatus, and we’re talking about Bob Kane’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star, DC’s new creator royalties structure, Warren Simons’s promotion to Editor-in-Chief at Valiant, Elden Henson and Rosario Dawson joining the cast of Daredevil and the latest developments in the Kirby estate case. We’ve also got reviews of Outcast, Superman and New Avengers Annual, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe has got 99 problems. All this plus sorcerous Storage Wars, Batman’s voicemail and the Golden Age Starscream.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. Don’t forget too that you can get our terrific tees at our Redbubble store, and help us raise money for Alzheimer Scotland at our Justgiving page.

Additional foley work on this episode courtesy of Mike Koenig, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Jun 23

Charts – 22 June 2014

Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014 by Paul in Music

Will this finally be the week that something stays at number 1 for a second week?  The midweeks say no!  iTunes says yes!  Let’s find out!

But the bigger news by far is the announcement that streaming data will finally be added to the chart from the start of July.  That makes this the penultimate chart to be based entirely on sales, after over fifty years.  But I’m all for including streaming; it reflects what listeners are choosing to hear, and the rise of streaming services spawns an audience who have no logical reason to buy singles any more.

The question is how you weight it, which in turn begs the question of what exactly we’re supposed to be measuring here.  Leave aside the fact that the chart exists primarily because the record industry considers it a useful promotional tool; that usefulness still stems from the perception that it actually measures something.


Jun 21

“Uncanny X-Men vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.” – Uncanny X-Men #19-22

Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

For a writer who chooses to work mainly in the superhero genre, Brian Bendis never seems all that interested in having a well structured plot.  First and foremost he’s interested in his characters, which is fair enough.  His actual stories can often end up as rather meandering, or as sketchy gestures to provide his characters with busy work between conversations.  His rambling Avengers run is pretty much the epitome of this.

So “Uncanny X-Men vs S.H.I.E.L.D.” is fairly unusual for a Bendis story, in that it sees a bunch of story threads being drawn together in a clear attempt to resolve numerous plot points at once and create a Big Climax.  And what do you know, it largely works.  Largely – and with one glaring exception that brings me back to the point above.


Jun 16

Charts – 15 June 2014

Posted on Monday, June 16, 2014 by Paul in Music

The World Cup is here, which means a batch of football-related singles make the chart.  Strangely, one of the isn’t really here because of the World Cup at all.  Meawhile, at the bottom end of the chart, basically random stuff!

36.  Lil Wayne featuring Drake – “Believe Me”

The lead single from Lil Wayne’s upcoming album “Tha Carter V”.  Strangely, it has no video yet and isn’t officially on YouTube (not that it’s hard to find unofficially).  Wayne has appeared as a guest on tons of tracks dating back to 2005, but he’s had very little UK success in his own right; this is only the third time one of his own singles has charted.  And one of the other two had Bruno Mars on it.

31.  Zedd featuring Foxes – “Clarity” (more…)

Jun 15

“Valentine’s Day” – Savage Wolverine #20

Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The regular Wolverine series is (obviously) the more important of this week’s two Wolverine issues, but let’s deal with this one briefly.  The theory of Savage Wolverine is presumably that with the ability to do stories from any point in Wolverine’s long history, you have a vast range of scenarios to draw on.  You can go anywhere in the world over a period of a century or so.  If nothing else, diversity ought to be readily achievable.

And yet here we are, three issues later, back in the Prohibition.  Perhaps that’s more of a scheduling error than anything else.  Frank Tieri has always leaned towards crime stories and it’s unsurprising that he would think this period suits him.  In terms of his interests, it certainly does.


Jun 14

House to Astonish Episode 127

Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2014 by Al in Podcast

Back to recording without an audience, as Paul and I talk about the creative changes on Moon Knight, the Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries, the new Deathlok ongoing, the Hawkeye v Deadpool mini (and the numbering thereof), DC’s upcoming slate of movies, directorial news for both Ant-Man and Doctor Strange, the casting of the Kingpin, CB Cebulski and Jeanine Schaefer’s career moves and ReedPop’s Super Week. We’ve also got reviews of Armor Hunters, Infinity Man and the Forever People and… um… Angry Birds, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is a teller of tall tales. All this plus cheap, non-brand Chinese superheroes, the aspirational underpants demographic and seven-toed tree-climbers.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page, and don’t forget you can be sartorially sensational with our super shirts at our Redbubble page.

Jun 14

Charts – 8 June 2014

Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2014 by Paul in Music

Running horribly behind schedule again, so we’ll probably keep this one quick…

37.  R3hab, NERVO & Ummet Ozcan – “Revolution”


Jun 8

Amazing X-Men Annual #1

Posted on Sunday, June 8, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

If it was surprising to see a blatant filler story crop up in the ongoing Amazing X-Men title last month, it is rather less so to see one in the first Amazing X-Men Annual.  Annuals have always tended to be a venue for the inconsequential, and there was a lot of sense – commercially speaking, at any rate – in Marvel’s decision a decade or so back to just stop making the things and put the resources into making extra issues of the regular titles instead.  But of course, that means getting extra material out of your regular creators, which is sometimes easier said than done.  That may be why these things are starting to re-emerge; if it’s plainly not going to pass for a regular issue, maybe better not to make the attempt.