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Jan 3

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1979

Posted on Sunday, January 3, 2021 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978

When we left the X-Men, they’d just finished an adventure in the Savage Land, and were trying to sail back to civilisation in a makeshift raft. As you do.

This is a big year for Wolverine, introducing some of the major aspects of his personal mythology.

X-MEN vol 1 #117
by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin & Glynis Oliver
January 1979

This is a Professor X story. The other X-Men only appear in the opening pages, in which a passing Japanese ship rescues them from a deadly gale. The vessel has some sort of secret government business to attend to before returning home (we never find out what) and so the X-Men are going to be stuck on it for a while yet. The reprint in Classic X-Men #23 adds an epilogue page, where the X-Men fill the time by training, and Wolverine broods over Jean, whom he still thinks died in issue #113.

Jan 2

Charts – 1 January 2021

Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2021 by Paul in Music

This is a little unexpected. This chart period includes Christmas Day, but it also includes the six days following. And normally the Christmas records tail off sharply once Christmas itself is passed. So I assumed we’d start to see the clear out this week. Instead, festive domination continues for a further week, and…

1. Wham! – “Last Christmas”

…”Last Christmas” sneaks a week at number one before the season ends. It hasn’t been a number one before – it was the Christmas number 2 in 1984 behind Band Aid. That’s 36 years ago, setting a new record for the longest time between entering the charts and reaching number one. (The previous record holder was Tony Christie’s “(Is This The Way To) Amarillo”, which reached number 1 as a charity re-issue 33 years after it first charted.)

Jan 1

Wolverine #8 annotations

Posted on Friday, January 1, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #8
“War Stories” by Benjamin Percy, Viktor Bogdanovic & Matthew Wilson
“The Past Ain’t Dead” by Benjamin Percy, Adam Kubert & Antonio Fabela

COVER / PAGE 1: Wolverine face to face with Maverick, which doesn’t actually happen in this issue.

PAGES 2-3. Wolverine arrives to visit Jeff Bannister.

We last saw Bannister (and his back garden) in issue #3, when the gate was planted. Evidently it’s become fully grown since then.

PAGES 4-5. Bannister tells his story.

Needless to say, there’s no established continuity involved here. Bannister is basically telling us that he became disillusioned as a CIA agent when he found that he’d been sent to kill other Americans in order to stop them from brokering a peace deal. It’s a fairly standard trope about the secret services having their own agenda. Bannister claims to be sticking around to do what he can from within.

Dec 30

X-Men #16 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 5 #16
“Sworded Out”
by Jonathan Hickman & Phil Noto

COVER / PAGE 1: Cyclops in the Quiet Council chamber, in front of the face of Krakoa.

PAGES 2-6. Cyclops, Cable and Prestige watch the appearance of Arakko.

“So how’s this going to work?” There’s some very tongue in cheek technobabble here, for those who really care. Basically, Arakko is brought back to Earth via the External Gate (which doesn’t really make sense, because the External Gate connected Krakoa with Otherworld, not with Amenth – let’s assume Saturnyne is helping out somewhere). The mechanics don’t matter, of course. But this does explain why Krakoa was so keen for the External Gate to remain open, in “X of Swords”.

Dec 29

Excalibur #10-15

Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #10-15
#10-12 by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega
#13 by Tini Howard, RB Silva & Nolan Woodard
#14 by Tini Howard & Phil Noto
#15 by Tini Howard, Mahmud Asrar, Stefano Caselli, Sunny Gho & Rachelle Rosenberg

Excalibur may be the most divisive of the current X-books. It certainly has plenty of ambition, which buys it a lot of goodwill. There’s a lot going on in this series, and there are a couple of interesting ideas being raised. But there are a lot of issues with this series that frequently make it a bit of a slog.

Although I’m going to review “X of Swords” separately, I’m counting this book’s tie-in issues as part of its regular run. “X of Swords”, after all, is basically an Excalibur and X-Men story which spills over into the other participating titles. From Excalibur’s point of view, it’s an arc about Saturnyne refusing to accept Betsy as the new Captain Britain, attempting to restore an all-Brian Captain Britain Corps instead, and winding up with an apparently-destined Corps full of alternate Betsies – seemingly wiping out the original in the process.

Dec 26

Charts – 25 December 2020

Posted on Saturday, December 26, 2020 by Paul in Music

The chart falls on Christmas Day itself, meaning that the official Christmas Number One is the one announced on the day, covering the week of sales and streams up to Christmas Eve. As always, a bunch of last minute releases make a push for number one in the final week, ranging from the well meaning and charitable to the, er… well, you’ll see. Perhaps most surprisingly, a new version of “Holy” by Justin Bieber, with added vocals by an NHS choir, fails to get real traction and lands at number 41 – while a different Bieber track entirely makes it into the top 10. Strange times.

1. LadBaby – “Don’t Stop Me Eatin'”

Dec 23

Excalibur #16 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #16
“They Keep Killing Braddocks”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1: Rogue, Meggan, Rictor, Jubilee and Gambit in Otherworld.

PAGE 2. Breakfast with Rogue and Gambit.

Rogue is summarising the “X of Swords” crossover.

We’ve heard mention of the Marauder bringing in goods from outside Krakoa before. Why you can’t just go through a gate to get them is never entirely clear.

PAGE 3. Jubilee and Rictor.

Shogo is (or so Jubilee assumes) upset at no longer being a dragon, now that he’s outside Otherworld. It’s a very mild parallel to Rictor and Rogue.

Dec 20

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1978

Posted on Sunday, December 20, 2020 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977

If 1977 was something of a quiet year, 1978 is much busier. That’s not because Wolverine starts making more guest appearances – at this point, the X-Men still held little interest to writers who weren’t Chris Claremont. But this is the year when the X-Men shifted to a monthly schedule. And a lot of the continuity implant stories set in this era have to fit between the 1978 issues, simply because Claremont didn’t leave an awful lot of gaps – he tended to run one story into the next, and to keep the X-Men away from home for extended periods.

X-MEN vol 1 #109
“Home are the Heroes!”
by Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Terry Austin
February 1978

The X-Men finally return home, having been shunted directly from one storyline to the next ever since issue #98. They’re joined by Phoenix, Moira, Lilandra, and Jean’s parents John Grey and Elaine Grey.

This is a Wolverine-centred issue. For one thing, it’s got the iconic scene where Logan goes hunting in the woods, Storm is appalled, but Logan reveals that he only stalks animals without killing them. Claremont is starting to develop the hidden depths angle by this point, but at the same time, the sullen Wolverine isn’t bothering to explain himself to his teammates because he takes offence at the way they see him – even though he often talks about himself in the same way.

Dec 18

Charts – 18 December 2020

Posted on Friday, December 18, 2020 by Paul in Music

It’s not quite the Christmas number one. This year, Christmas Day falls on a Friday, and so the chart will be announced on the day itself. The last minute novelty and charity releases aren’t out yet; the Christmas songs have already flooded the chart, and there’s no room for them to climb any further.

1 Mariah Carey – “All I Want for Christmas is You”

That’s two weeks at number one. It’s entirely possible that she could hold on for Christmas Day. Wham!’s “Last Christmas” remains steady at number 2. But to stop us being completely becalmed, here’s a surprise release.

3. Taylor Swift – “Willow”
15. Taylor Swift – “Champagne Problems”
19. Taylor Swift featuring Haim – “No Body No Crime”

Dec 17

X-Force #15 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #15
“Trench Warfare”
by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1: X-Force interrogate Omega Red.

PAGES 2-4: Beast and Wolverine talk while Marvel Girl interrogates Colossus.

We’re picking up here where we left off in issue #12, before “X of Swords” interrupted. X-Force were just about to start the psychic interrogation in that issue, and evidently they’ve finally got around to it.

Wolverine and Marvel Girl don’t trust Beast because of his increasingly authoritarian and manipulative behaviour of late, and you can hardly blame them. Despite his repeated miscalculations, Beast continues to believe that he is uniquely well placed to get the required answers, and that Marvel Girl will mess it up without him.