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Apr 11

Charts – 7 April 2017

Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 by Paul in Music

We did a podcast this weekend!  It’s one post down!  Meanwhile, over in the UK singles chart, the era of Ed Sheeran glides serenely on…

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

That’s 13 weeks at the top.  And for the fifth straight week, the biggest challenge comes from Sheeran’s own “Galway Girl” at number 2.  The rest of his chart domination is finally waning – other Sheeran tracks can be found at 6, 16, 22, 26, 29, 38 and 40.  Drake settles for a mere three, all going down, so things really are returning to normal.  It’s taken a while, though.


Apr 9

House to Astonish Episode 154

Posted on Sunday, April 9, 2017 by Al in Podcast

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, so we’ve got nearly an hour of chat about the comics news, including the sad death of Bernie Wrightson, the closing of ComicsAlliance, Marvel’s four-fold woes with digital code backtracking, artists vs writers, diversity and sales, and Ardian Syaf’s hidden messages, and the announcement of the New Warriors TV show. We’ve also got reviews of Royals and Eleanor and the Egret and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is a bit pony. All this plus the Wintercontinental Title, mufti X-Men and Fantastic Four: Gymkhana Girls.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And don’t forget, it’s getting warm outside, and nothing says “I’m warm, but want to cover key areas of my torso” like a swanky House to Astonish t-shirt!

Apr 6

Old Man Logan #16-20 – “Return to the Wastelands”/”Gone Real Bad”

Posted on Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I’ve been taking stuff out of order so as to get the X-Men titles up to date for the relaunch.  So it’s time to go back and pick up on the Wolverine books.  “Return to the Wastelands” is a curious three-parter.  At root, it has one very simple job to do, but it takes a strange route to get there.

The story opens with Logan waking up back in the Wastelands, the post-apocalyptic future he left behind.  For the first two issues, it cuts back and forth between two plot.  In the Wastelands, Logan returns to check up on the Hulk baby – Bruce Banner’s grandson – whom he left behind with Danielle Cage.  Of course, somebody has wandered off with the baby, and it turns out to be Kang.  Ostensibly thanks to Kang’s time distortion, the baby has now grown up to become an evil adult Hulk called the Warlord.


Apr 3

X-Men Prime

Posted on Monday, April 3, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

It’s the dawn of a new era again! No, not the last new era.  The next new era.  The colour coded one.  You know, like in 1991.

Not that a relaunch is a bad idea.  The last couple of years have once again sent us down the rabbit hole of mutants facing the threat of extinction, which has been done to death.  Whether you look at it commercially or creatively, that direction was well worth abandoning.  X-Men Prime is essentially a lead-in issue for the relaunch titles X-Men Gold, X-Men Blue and Weapon X.  But first and foremost, it exists to send a clear message that this is going to be a back-to-basics affair.  For readers exasperated by weird and unpromising deviations like relocating the school to Limbo, this issue aims to reassure with a selection of familiar tropes.


Apr 1

Charts – 31 March 2017

Posted on Saturday, April 1, 2017 by Paul in Music

This is a nice easy one!  One new entry.  And lots of climbers – because that’s what happens when a logjam of album tracks starts to clear.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

Twelve weeks now.  That passes the eleven weeks of Slim Whitman’s “Rose Marie”, so it’s now the fourth longest single reign at the top, behind “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, “Love is All Around” and “One Dance”.  (In terms of total weeks at number one, it’s also behind “I Believe” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, both of which had multiple runs.)


Mar 30

All-New X-Men #19

Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

What to do, when you have an issue in which to wrap up your run and no real way of tying everything up?  Uncanny X-Men tried shoving everything aside and focussing solely on Psylocke and Magneto.  It didn’t really work.  All-New has a different approach.

This series has largely ignored the Terrigen stuff, but it’s more than happy to leverage the line-wide change of direction into its own sense of resolution.  The opening lines of dialogue will echo the sentiments of many readers:


Mar 29

Charts – 24 March 2017

Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by Paul in Music

Well, at least the Ed Sheeran log jam is broken…

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You” 

So I guess it’s time to start talking about the all-time records again.  “Shape of You” has now been number 1 for eleven straight weeks, matching the run of Slim Whitman’s “Rose Marie” back in 1955.  Only three records have had longer reigns at number 1, though they’re still a little way out of reach: Drake’s “One Dance” managed 15 weeks last year, as did Wet Wet Wet’s version of “Love Is All Around” back in 1994.  And the all-time record of 16 weeks is still held by Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” from 1991.  That’s consecutive weeks, mind you – if you’re adding multiple reigns, then the record for most weeks at number 1 stands at 18, and has been held by Frankie Laine’s “I Believe” since 1953.

The Sheeran domination finally starts to clear this week.  He still has “Galway Girl” at 2 and “Castle on the Hill” at 3, but other tracks are dropping, and four of them are out of the top 40.  Mind you, that still gives him twelve concurrent hits, occupying numbers 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 16, 21, 22, 26, 29 and 34.

4.  Drake – “Passionfruit”


Mar 28

Extraordinary X-Men #20

Posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Where Uncanny X-Men struggled for a sense of resolution in its final issue, Extraordinary X-Men has no such problems.

Of course, it has several advantages over Uncanny.  Of the three X-Men titles from the outgoing era, this was the lead title, the one about the actual X-Men in the actual school.  All-New was a time-travelling second team of X-Men and Uncanny was X-Force hoping to sell a few more copies.  But Extraordinary was the X-Men taking refuge in Limbo while they hunted for a cure for the Terrigen Mists.  Ill-advised as that direction may have been, it was embedded in this series.  And so the end of IvX genuinely closes the door on this chapter of the X-Men.


Mar 27

Uncanny X-Men #19

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Another year, another relaunch.  Coming off three issues of Inhumans vs X-Men tie-ins, the X-Men titles now find themselves with one issue to call it a day before returning as something else in April.

This is, shall we say, less than wholly satisfactory.  For Uncanny X-Men, the crossover issues had no shared through-line.  They were separate one-shot stories which advanced other storylines from the book but brought them nowhere especially close to resolution.  And indeed, this issue makes no real attempt to resolve them.  It’s a further one-shot in which Psylocke tries to make good on her pledge from a few issues back to hunt down Magneto if he turned on the X-Men.


Mar 18

Charts – 17 March 2017

Posted on Saturday, March 18, 2017 by Paul in Music

You’ll never guess.

1.  Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”

That’s ten weeks, which would normally be a big deal in its own right.  But leave that aside.  Last week Sheeran swamped the top end of the chart, placing all sixteen albums tracks from ÷ in the top 20, and taking nine slots in the top ten.  Now in the past, when album tracks have entered the singles chart en masse, they’ve mostly gone away after the first week.  Not so here – Ed Sheeran still has nine slots in the top ten, and the entire album is still placing in the top 30.  Which makes my job a lot easier this week, since there’s very little room for anyone else to enter the charts.