RSS Feed
Jan 11

X-Men: Gold Annual #1: “Cross-Atlantic Caper”

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s thirty years since Excalibur #1, and with three of the cast currently appearing in X-Men: Gold, it does make sense for the book to do a tribute.  And where better than in an annual, that traditional home of byways and digressions?

The result is… odd.  There’s a nice Alan Davis cover, re-doing the cover of Excalibur #1 with the characters in their current costumes.  The interior art is by Alitha Martinez, and while it isn’t especially reminiscent of Davis, she does a sound job on the character comedy, she sells Meggan’s key scene very well, and she does nicely enough with a brief dimension-hopping homage sequence.

Marc Guggenheim and Leah Williams’ story, on the other hand, is something of a half-formed affair, full of quite promising ideas that never actually tie together.


Jan 9

X-Men: Grand Design #1-2

Posted on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Grand Design is one of the stranger X-related ideas in quite some time.  Planned for six outsize issues, it’s Ed Piskor re-telling the first three hundred or so issues of (UncannyX-Men.  These first two issues cover the Silver Age.

Now, three hundred issues in around three hundred pages is going to be seriously compressed.  But Piskor’s best known work, Hip Hop Family Tree, is essentially documentarian, and there’s a similar vibe to this.  Yes, there’s a framing sequence to set up Uatu as the narrator, but that largely serves to explain why the focus remains on the big picture rather than the small details.  More to the point, though, roughly three hundred issues basically means the end of the Claremont run, and if there’s one thing that Claremont was very good at, it was creating a sense of a grand saga.


Jan 7

Astonishing X-Men #1-6: “Life of X”

Posted on Sunday, January 7, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Astonishing X-Men picked up a few votes in our end of year poll in the pleasant surprise category.  And it is indeed better than you might have expected, even if this says as much about expectations as it does about the comic itself.  After all, if you follow up a slightly subdued relaunch by suddenly saying “hey, here’s another X-Men book”, and push it on the basis that it doesn’t have a regular artist… well.

After a gentle prologue in which the Shadow King attacks various low-level hermit psychics to regain his foothold on Earth, issue #1 kicks off the story proper with him having a stab at seizing Psylocke.  This lets him use whichever X-Men he wants, since the result is a lot of psychic thrashing around in London, and whichever X-Men are nearest turning up to help.


Jan 5

Charts – 5 January 2018

Posted on Friday, January 5, 2018 by Paul in Music

Not so much a chart as a spasm, this week we see what happens when twenty-odd Christmas songs vanish from the top 40 at once, and there are virtually no new releases to fill the gap.  Basically, it means a bunch of re-entries which I’m not going to bother listing, plus a few records reaching new highs from which the festive brigade had previously been excluding them.  Plus, there’s a handful of genuinely new stuff down at the bottom.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”

Predictably, “Perfect” spends a fifth week at number one, with the parent album “÷” also getting a twentieth week at the top.  Below it, the top 10 returns to normal, with new peaks for “Man’s Not Hot” by Big Shaq at 3, “I Miss You” by Clean Bandit featuring Julia Michales at 6, “17” by MK at 7, and “Barking” by Ramz at 8 (which climbs from 30).  Further down, “I Know You” by Craig David featuring Bastille re-enters at 15, and “No Words” by Dave featuring Mostack rebounds from 40 to a new peak of 17 (having entered at 18 back in November).  “Tip Toe” by Jason Derulo featuring French Montana, which dropped out of the top 40 last week and has never been above 30, re-enters at 19.  “Decline” by Raye featuring Mr Eazi similarly re-enters at 22, and “My Lover” by Not3s re-enters at 23, comfortably beating its previous peak of 38.

24.  Jax Jones featuring Ina Wroldsen – “Breathe”


Jan 2

Iceman #8 – “Iceman vs Iceman”

Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Iceman is on its way to a swift cancellation with issue #11, which shouldn’t come as any surprise.  For whatever reason, Marvel persist in launching new X-Men solo titles and, unless there’s a Wolverine involved, watching them crash within a year.  Similarly, Generation X joins a growing list of short-lived titles about the students, a format which has only really sold when it was folded it into Wolverine and the X-Men.  The message should have got through long ago that the X-Men brand is not strong enough to support these spin-offs, but Marvel are implacably determined not to take the hint.

None of this is particularly a reflection of the quality of the individual books.  Iceman is a good enough title, which has done some solid character-driven work on an underdeveloped lead.  Admittedly, issue #8 is a patchy example of that.


Dec 31

House to Astonish Episode 160 – The Homies 2017

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2017 by Al in Podcast

Happy New Year! (Or possibly, happy 31st of December, depending on when you’re reading this!)

It’s New Year’s Eve, and we’ve got the traditional year-in-review show for you, featuring the 2017 Homies Awards. We’re handing out gongs for the best comics, creators and moments of the past year, and looking forward to 2018 with a mixture of trepidation, anticipation and X-Nation 2099 (one of these is not true). Come find out what Paul and I rated in each category, as well as the result of the listener poll. All this plus Black Crown’s links to naff UK soap operas, a scale model of the Boer war and a pun about Hawkeye that’s painful even by my usual standards.

Apologies for the sound issues on this episode – we had issues with recording, but we’ll have everything shipshape again by the time the next one rolls around.

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. As mentioned on the podcast, our Redbubble store is here, should you wish to show everyone how toned you’ve managed to keep your guns throughout the season of overindulgence.

Thanks for listening, be well, and we’ll be back with more in 2018.


Dec 30

X-Men Blue & Gold #13-15: “Mojo Worldwide”

Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

To the extent that “Marvel Legacy” has a discernible concept, it’s stories that refer back to old continuity as a starting point.  Most books have taken this remit very broadly indeed, and seem to think the box is duly ticked as long as the story makes prominent use of a character or concept that isn’t brand new.  And since that’s pretty much the norm anyway, it’s a bit of a non-concept.

“Mojo Worldwide” enters more into the spirit of the concept – but seems to be doing so mainly in order to put the boot into the idea.


Dec 29

Charts – 29 December 2017

Posted on Friday, December 29, 2017 by Paul in Music

There’s still time to vote in our end of year awards!  But first, we have what’s usually the first of two dead charts, covering the weeks of Christmas itself and New Year – too late to be part of the fight for Christmas Number One, too early for anything else to be going on.

And what do people listen to over Christmas?  Well, they hammer the Christmas playlists.  So all those Christmas singles that stayed put last week surge forward this week, bringing with them a bunch of stragglers that were previously hovering outside the top 40.  Which means that there are new entries!  There’s something to write about!  The Christmas singles account for more than half of the chart, but then that’s what people are actually listening to.  It also means the chart is set for a convulsion next week, when all the Christmas tracks are likely to plummet.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”

All very well.  But first, Ed Sheeran hangs in there for a fourth week with “Perfect” – not a huge upset.  His other current single, guesting on Eminem’s “River”, slips to 3 this week, but that’s more staying power than other Eminem singles have shown.


Dec 28

Weapon X #7-11 – “The Hunt For Weapon H”

Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

(Before we start, you’ve still got time to vote for our end-of-year awards.)

With the knowledge that Marvel are launching a Weapon H series in March, this storyline makes rather more sense.  It’s not so much Weapon X #7 to #11 as Weapon H #-4 to #0.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that the new title needs to be set up, you wonder if Weapon X would really have stayed with this plot thread for quite so long.  To judge from issue #12 (which has been out for a while, because I’m really behind on these), the ongoing set-up of Weapon X is supposed to be that, having beaten the Weapon X Project and stolen a fancy flying base, the team steal the Weapon X name and stick together as a sort of black ops squad hunting down Weapon X-style schemes around the world.  So they could always have come back to this thread later.


Dec 26

Charts – Christmas 2017

Posted on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 by Paul in Music

It’s Christmas, and yes, I will, at last, get started on clearing that review backlog.  You might also want to pop down a post and vote in our end of year poll for the podcast.

But first the Christmas Number One, because it’s topical and because it won’t take long, since nobody releases anything in Christmas week.  Well, almost nobody.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”