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Mar 28

Uncanny X-Men vol 1: Superior

Posted on Monday, March 28, 2016 by Paul in Uncategorized

Of the current crop of X-Men titles, I greeted Uncanny X-Men with perhaps the least enthusiasm.  Cullen Bunn’s run on Magneto was very good, and even though it was generally strongest when it steered clear of the mainstream of the Marvel Universe, the prospect of putting him on a higher profile X-Men title with Magneto in tow should have been attractive.

But Uncanny X-Men is drawn by Greg Land, who is a dealbreaker as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve suffered through his work on the X-books before, purely through completism, but he’s one of a very small number of artists that can drive me away from books by writers I generally enjoy.  That’s how enthusiastic I am about the prospect of Uncanny X-Men drawn by Greg Land.

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Mar 25

Charts – March 2016

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2016 by Paul in Music

It looks as if we’re deeply embedded in one of the slowest chart eras for years.  The main reason for that, of course, is that the charts are increasingly determined by streaming data rather than sales.  And while sales measure how many people were interested enough to buy a track in the first place, streaming data is more interested in how long they keep listening to it.

In many ways this is a good thing for the chart, because it puts an end to the days when you could engineer a number one by releasing your single in a quiet week and relying on fan base sales.  In that sense, a chart position is arguably more meaningful than it’s been in quite some ways.  But in other ways, it’s a problem, because there simply isn’t very much happening, which doesn’t greatly serve the chart’s other role of promotion.

So when we left off at the end of February, “7 Years” by Lukas Graham had been at number for three weeks.  It went on to stay there for another two, so evidently this rather maudlin reflection on ageing has more appeal than I can comprehend.   Perhaps it’s the video.  Maybe it reminds people of Wayne’s World.

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Mar 18

All-New Wolverine vol 1: The Four Sisters

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Legacy characters, then.  It’s not a phenomenon that’s come up that often in the X-books.  We’ve had duplicate versions of the same character, but not many cases of the same identity being passed on.  Off the top of my head, Thunderbird and Phoenix spring to mind, and only Rachel Summers really had a full-blown legacy to inherit.

Sensible comics readers have been trained to be cynical.  Top-tier heroes get replaced with temporary stand-ins all the time.  For every Wally West, who actually did become established as the real Flash, there are many more John Walkers and Eric Mastersons and Jean-Paul Valleys.  Of course, in many of those cases, the fact that they weren’t the “real” version of the character was kind of the point.  Still, it’s a device heavily associated with gimmickry.

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Mar 12

House to Astonish Episode 143

Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2016 by Al in Podcast

A quiet time for comics news as we head towards convention season, but we’ve got some chat for you this time out on the Civil War trailer, the renewed slate of CW DC shows, Amazon’s Tick pilot order, Valiant’s Deathmate event, Civil War II: X-Men, the revival of the Icon imprint, the planned roll-out of DC Rebirth and the price point and shipping schedule that goes along with that. We’ve also got reviews of Mockingbird and Baker Street Peculiars, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe smells hellish. All this plus the Watcher Crossword, all the King’s IT department and the process for checking hold baggage on the way to the Underworld.

The podcast is here or here on Mixcloud or available through the player below. Let us know what you think, either in the comments below, on Twitter, by email or via our Facebook fan page. And don’t forget that you can buy our swish t-shirts here, even though we forgot to mention it on the podcast.

Mar 8

Watch With Father #10: Katie Morag

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 by Paul in Watch With Father

Katie Morag!  Far away, across the ocean!  Katie Morag!  Over the sea to Struay!  Dee dum de de dum de de dum de de dum…  actually, hold on.  Here’s the video.

So last time round, I looked at Balamory, CBeebies’ other show set in the Highlands.  Balamory was in part a reaction against the likes of Teletubbies and Tweenies, and it was certainly more down to earth than either.  But it was hardly rigorous in its quest for realism.  The village was ultimately a format device, and if half the cast were English or American actors using their own accents, or the occasional shot revealed the Glaswegian tenement block across the road from the nursery, well, nobody was losing much sleep about that.

Katie Morag is another matter.  It’s an adaptation of a series of books by Mairi Hedderwick, originally published sporadically between 1984 and 2007.  She lived on the island of Coll, and Katie Morag is a show that loves its Hebridean setting and remote island community.  This is the small town utopia where everyone knows everyone else because there literally aren’t that many people to know.  And the show takes its setting seriously, decamping to the Hebrides to film.
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Mar 4

Chikara 15.12: “Sword of Destiny”

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

So.  We’re now far enough behind that I’m going to start skipping the less important shows in order to keep somewhat in touch.  But this one is worth covering, because it’s a bit of an epic – it comes with two dark matches recorded at a meet-and-greet in the afternoon, and introduces a new gimmick that will start cropping up on almost all Chikara’s shows going forward.

It’s 13 June 2015, and we’re in the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago.  They come here every year (in fact, they’ll go back in October).  It’s a rather nice ballroom type venue.

Pre-show Match 1.  Missile Assault Ant v Arik Cannon.

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Feb 28

Charts – February 2016

Posted on Sunday, February 28, 2016 by Paul in Music

Now, One Direction had a good run.  Five albums over four years.  That’s a decent lifespan for their ilk.  But if you’re in a boy band, you should have an exit strategy.  At some point, you stop being boys.  And growing with the audience is easier said than done, because you tend to be the sort of thing the fans make a point of leaving behind as they get older.  Look at Take That – consigned to the “vaguely embarrassing” file until the audience were old enough not to be so self-conscious about liking them.

And if you’re a member of One Direction, you probably noticed that the media long since established the conventional wisdom that, come the inevitable split, the successful one – the really A-list one – was Harry Styles.  Good news for Harry Styles.  Less thrilling for the other four.

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Feb 26

Cable & Deadpool: Split Second

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

So they made a Deadpool movie.  And it worked.  I mean, I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s done well enough.  Now, Marvel’s tie-in production for Fox movies can be a little half-hearted, but hell, any excuse to make a Deadpool comic, right?  So they had a bunch of reprints out, and, well, this.

It’s not the most obvious pitch for movie synergy.  Split Second is a Cable & Deadpool reunion, and much as I liked that book, it comes from the days when he and Cable were kind of just hanging in there, before Deadpool really took off as a hit.  But it was a good dynamic – Deadpool works well with a straight man.  And this series also reunites the book’s creative team, Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown.

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Feb 22

Extraordinary X-Men #6-7

Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Well, this is all very traditional, now isn’t it?  I’m used to ongoing titles lurching from one arc to the next, trade paperbacks for the collecting-in.  But when you’ve got a big crossover coming up midway through the first year, it’s maybe better to get a couple of stories under your belt first.  And here we are – a two-parter, nestling between the opening arc and the Apocalypse crossover.

And it’s a two-parter very much designed to get the plates spinning, and establish a direction for the series.  Subplots abound.

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Feb 12

X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Max Bemis, the singer from Say Anything, has written a fair few comics down the years, but Worst X-Man Ever is his first miniseries to land in my remit.  It’s weird.  There are two very different ideas jostling for space in this series, and while they’re plainly meant to dovetail, they don’t quite make it.  The result is ambitious and often entertaining, but in the end result it falls frustratingly short of hitting all its targets.

Fair warning, by the way: I’m going to give away the ending, because it’s kind of key to how the whole thing fits together (or is meant to, at any rate).  And it is an interesting book, if nothing else, so there are certainly good reasons why you might want to read it first.

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