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Apr 12

New Mutants #1-9

Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

With hindsight, New Mutants may be the strangest of the first wave of Krakoan books. Not because of the concept, which is nothing more elaborate than reuniting the cast of the original New Mutants series, and throwing in stories about trainee characters from other eras too. Basically, it’s the series for any characters who are trainees now, or played that role in the past. Simple.

No, it’s the structural choices that are strange. The first seven issues feature two quite separate arcs, with different characters and different creative teams, taking issues in turn.

Apr 10

Charts – 10 April 2020

Posted on Friday, April 10, 2020 by Paul in Music

If last week’s chart was relatively normal, this time the lockdown has set in. The mainstream releases are drying up. So what is happening…?

1. The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

Seven weeks in total. It’s not completely devoid of challengers, though.

2. Drake – “Toosie Slide”

Apr 9

Excalibur #1-9

Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

Excalibur is a real mixed bag.

It looks great – let’s get that out of the way first. Marcus To is dealing with a large cast, a dense plot, and a wide range of locations, and he’s handling all that very well. He’s very good at establishing a setting, which is important for a book that’s trying to play up the tensions between Krakoa, England and Otherworld. There are clarity issues in this series, but they’re in the exposition, not the visuals.

The magical theme is potentially interesting too. Magic has been a part of the X-books for decades – most obviously, it was a core part of New Mutants thanks to Illyana – but it also exists on the fringes of the X-Men’s world, peripheral to all but a few characters. And characters like Apocalypse, Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke and Jubilee are hardly associated with magic.

Apr 7

Marauders #1-9

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

Ah, my favourite.

If X-Men is carried by the promise of future gratification when the big picture starts to pay off, Marauders is the X-book that delivers the most entertainment here and now. In some ways it’s the most traditional X-book of the current line – Chris Claremont always liked writing the sort of story that characters could describe with a straight face as a “caper”.

On paper, the premise of Marauders didn’t sound all that enticing. A vaguely pirate-themed book about, er, pharmaceutical smuggling. It didn’t exactly leap off the page. But it turns out to be the most consistently fun of the current titles. Probably because there isn’t all that much smuggling in it. Or rather, we’re not expected to get all that interested in the mechanics of flower distribution.

Apr 4

X-Men #1-9

Posted on Saturday, April 4, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

So, then. We find the X-books at a strange time, in an involuntary hiatus brought about by the Covid-19 lockdown, which has interrupted distribution of new comics. Presumably publication will resume in due course; in the meantime, I suppose we’re spared a series of issues that would read like missives from a parallel universe.

In the meantime, let’s take stock of where the books have reached, starting with X-Men itself – written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn, for the most part, by Leinil Francis Yu.

Apr 3

Charts – 3 April 2020

Posted on Friday, April 3, 2020 by Paul in Music

We’ll get to reviews in the coming days, but let’s cover the topical stuff first. The charts haven’t succumbed to weirdness just yet, but the number of cancelled releases is starting to mount up. It’s on the horizon…

1 The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

Swaps places with Saint JHN to return to number 1 for a sixth week. It’s now been displaced from number 1 twice, and it’s been out for a total of 18 weeks. It surely can’t keep this up much longer – can it?

6. Dua Lipa – “Break My Heart”

Apr 1


Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

So, what now? Marvel have stopped shipping comics, either digitally or physically, at least for now. This might last a couple of weeks until some other arrangement is put in place. Or it might last a while.

Either way, I’m finally going to clear some of the backlog by looking back at the Hickman-era titles. That should see us through until things start up again… assuming this is indeed just a brief interruption.

One plan that’s doing the rounds seems to be that some sort of stopgap arrangement could be put in place, so that direct market retailers will be able to sell digital copies now with a view to receiving physical copies in due course. How practical that is, time will tell – are they really going to ship what could be months of backlogged comics to direct market retailers in one go? How is that going to work?

But if something like that turns out to be the plan then presumably we’ll be back to regular comics fairly soon – even if they’ll all be taking place in a parallel universe. By that time we should be up to date on reviews. If the plan doesn’t work out then… well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Mar 28

Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 annotations

Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Nightcrawler sees Phoenix and Thunderbird in the X-Men’s overgrown mansion.

PAGE 2. Establishing shots of the Mansion.

This is the X-Men’s traditional base, now abandoned and overgrown with Krakoan plant life, which we last saw in House of X #1. Panel 1 is the front of the Mansion; panel 2 is Xavier’s study; panel 3 is the Danger Room; panel 4 is Cerebro; panel 5 is the main hall, with the Krakoan gate in the middle. Normally in the Hickman era the Krakoan foliage is portrayed as lush and positive, but here (when it comes directly up against a symbol of traditional X-Men-ness) it’s a sign of dilapidation. An unanswered question is precisely why the X-Men have abandoned the Mansion entirely. You’d think they’d have more attachment to it than this.

Mar 28

X-Men/Fantastic Four #3 annotations

Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and the page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER / PAGE 1. Well, it’s some of the X-Men and some of the Fantastic Four, isn’t it?

PAGES 2-6. The X-Men shoot down the Fantastic Four and capture them.

Hey, it’s a team-up series, they’ve got to fight. This is going to be a pretty short post, if you hadn’t figured.

We’ll see in the next scene that the FF get shot down over Doom’s island, which is where they were heading at the end of issue #2, but still feels a bit convenient.

Mar 28

Charts – 27 March 2020

Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2020 by Paul in Music

Welcome to the first of the lockdown charts, featuring people at home streaming records that nobody was able to properly promote. For the moment, it doesn’t look that different from normal… but this could go on for a while. Interestingly, the preliminary data shows more of an increase in radio audiences. In America, streaming actually seems to be down significantly.

1. Saint JHN – “Roses”

Two weeks at number 1. The rest of the top 10 is becalmed. “Lonely” by Joel Corry climbs one place to 4; “Physical” by Dua Lipa climbs 7-5; “Say So” by Doja Cat climbs 8-7. A little further down, “Boyfriend” by Mabel climbs 17-11.

17. The Weeknd – “In Your Eyes”
23. The Weeknd – “After Hours”