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Jun 13

House to Astonish Episode 146

Posted on Monday, June 13, 2016 by Al in Podcast

In which Paul and I promise not to spend time chewing over the massively-masticated topics of Captain America’s Hydra cliffhanger and DC Rebirth’s unexpected additions to the DCU, then proceed to spend 15 minutes doing exactly that. We also chat through the Cinemax-optioned Scarlet; the Civil War II #3 midnight openings (and the candidates for the “big surprising death”); the director of the Flash movie and Superman’s upcoming guest spot on Supergirl. We’ve also got reviews of Detective Comics: Rebirth and Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe has bad gas. All this plus Piemaker pasty variant covers, Mark Millar suplexing Dan DiDio through a table and how they choose the Pope in the Marvel Universe.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available through the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page.

Remember we have a Redbubble page, where you can avail yourself of this summer’s hottest fashion items (our shirts), and as I mentioned on the show, I made a SPECIAL GUEST mini-crossover appearance on SILENCE! issue 190 and The Winter Palace episode 34, so feel free to check those out too.

Jun 8

Charts – 3 June 2016

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 by Paul in Music

So, after a bit of experimenting, I’m thinking a better way of doing these things is to go back to doing them weekly and accepting that they’re going to be fairly short.  Let’s try that for a bit and see how it goes.  On this week’s singles chart…

1.  Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla – “One Dance” 

Eight weeks at number one, the longest reign since “Umbrella”, but I’ve said before that these things aren’t entirely comparable, because adding streaming to the charts makes sustained replay appeal much more of a factor than it ever was in the past.  On pure sales, this would be number 5 (and Justin Timberlake would be number 1).  The top three has now been static for three weeks, with Timberlake and Calvin Harris in the other two slots.  The era of stasis.

6.  Clean Bandit featuring Louisa Johnson – “Tears”


Jun 8

All-New Wolverine #8-9 – “The Box”

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

After Squirrel Girl dropped by for issue #7, All-New Wolverine stays in surprisingly flippant mode for this two-parter, bafflingly billed as a “Road to Civil War II” tie-in.  Now, I’m not reading Civil War II, because from the sound of it it’s basically Minority Report with Inhumans, which doesn’t sound like an improvement.  So I can’t say for sure that these two issues contain nothing that’s relevant to Civil War II, but it’s certainly tempting to conclude that a “Road to…” banner is Marvelese for “even we couldn’t bring ourselves to claim this was an actual tie-in story”.


Jun 6

Chikara – July 2015

Posted on Monday, June 6, 2016 by Paul in Wrestling

So then, this last week Al and I were at the Chikara show in Glasgow, which was the last date of their UK tour and isn’t yet available to buy (though you can pre-order it, if you want).  It’s a great show, and they’re right – wrestling, or at least good wrestling, is indeed best experienced live, because of the atmosphere, because the little things in the way of crowd interaction are so much more effective in person, and because things that can be fairly routine on video get a renewed impact live.

At any rate, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these 2015 re-watch posts, and it strikes me a better way of doing this is to cover a whole weekend at the same time, since in some ways that’s kind of the booking unit for the big picture in Chikara.  So here are the two July shows…

15.14: “Storming the Castle”

It’s Saturday 25 July 2015, and it’s been a little over a month since the last show.  We’re at somewhere called Nomad’s Adventure Quest in South Windsor, Connecticut, which is apparently some sort of combination laser tag centre, video arcade and sports complex.  It’s a moderately sized hall, nicely lit, pretty full.  The main event of this one is somewhat important in the big picture; the rest, to be honest, is mostly burning through matches for the Challenge of the Immortals tournament, which, being a double round robin between ten teams, means there are a lot of matches to be got through.


Jun 3

X-Men ’92 #1-4 – “World is a Vampire”

Posted on Friday, June 3, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men ’92 was one of the X-books’ more unusual contributions to Secret Wars, and not one that you’d naturally expect to continue beyond it.  Being an out-of-continuity title, it doesn’t really fall within my remit for the X-Axis, but I figured I’d give it an opening arc anyway.

Now, I pretty much enjoyed the Secret Wars tie-in.  While the rest of the X-Men’s “greatest hits” parade consisted of assorted variations on dystopia, it was looking back to the 1992 animated series.  Instead of doing a straight copy or a parody, Chris Sims and Chad Bowers went for more of a tongue in cheek homage, blending in elements from the rather different 90s comics for a broader take on the X-Men of the time.  And the decision to do it as an Infinite book was a neat way of echoing the animated roots.


Jun 2

Charts – May 2016

Posted on Thursday, June 2, 2016 by Paul in Music

Another month, and turnover isn’t exactly picking up.  “One Dance” by Drake remains at number 1 for the whole month, a total of six weeks.  That’s the longest run at number 1 since “Uptown Funk” at the start of 2015, and the longest uninterrupted run at number 1 since “Bleeding Love” in 2007.  The next record in sight is “Umbrella”, which managed 10 weeks earlier that year.

Of course, this is not a direct comparison because of the shift to streaming data.  “One Dance” still doesn’t have a video – which, incidentally, may work in its favour under UK chart rules, because only audio streaming services count towards the chart, and presumably a bunch of people who would otherwise be watching “One Dance” on YouTube are listening to it on Spotify instead.  More to the point, it hasn’t been the top selling single for several weeks.  It’s staying at number 1 because people are continuing to listen to it.  And if the charts had always been based on sustained popularity rather than first week sales, one suspects we’d have had a lot more epic-running number ones over the last twenty years or so.


May 23

Old Man Logan #1-4 – “Berserker”

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

I could have sworn the first trade paperback for this series was announced as covering the first six issues.  But issue #6 turns out to end halfway through the second storyline, so evidently not.  Never mind.  Let’s do issue #1-4, which covered the first arc, even if they did end months ago.

Wolverine is dead.  Fortunately, we have a spare.  This is the version of Logan from the 2008-9 arc by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, who resurfaced during Secret Wars and wound up stuck on the Marvel Universe after the climax.  In fact, since this is a direct continuation of the Secret Wars miniseries, it’s really issues #5-8, but so it goes.


May 20

Watch With Father #11: Chuggington

Posted on Friday, May 20, 2016 by Paul in Watch With Father

So two months ago I said I would write something about Chuggington.  The thing is, Chuggington is an above average pre-school CGI cartoon about talking trains.  But it’s neither especially innovative nor is it astonishingly good.  What it is, really, is the polished modern incarnation of one of the classic tropes.  It’s most interesting as a point of comparison.

Chuggington is about the adventures of a group of talking trains in a city conveniently built entirely around trains.  The show follows a group of young trains – “trainees”, naturally – as they learn to, well, be trains.  And work together and be good friends and, you know, all that sort of thing.

Now, trains are very popular with the very young.  But they’re also a cornered market.  If you’re doing a pre-school series about trains then you are going head to head with one of the big guns – Thomas the Tank Engine.


May 15

House to Astonish Episode 145

Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2016 by Al in Podcast

After our diversion into the world of professional wrestling, we’re back to our regular comics chat this time out, with news of the sad and untimely death of Darwyn Cooke; the cancellation of Agent Carter; the renewal of Supergirl; the woes of Marvel’s Most Wanted; a bit of movie chat around Black Panther, Civil War, Suicide Squad and BvS; the end of Darth Vader; the upcoming Section 8 mini; and DC’s anti-sexual harassment measures. We’ve also got reviews of Punisher and Satellite Falling, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is showing real growth potential. All this plus artisanal badger-baiting, the Muppet Babies of Star Trek and a man tap-dancing next to a kitten.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And remember (even though we forgot on the actual podcast itself), we’ve got fab t-shirts available through our Redbubble store, which is perfect because it’s nearly summer and you have such nice arms.

May 5

Charts – April 2016

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2016 by Paul in Music

The charts of 2016 are a still pond into which a stone occasionally falls.  This makes them fairly tedious to follow week to week, but at least the big stuff stands out.  The Official Charts Company are well aware of this, and of the need to remind the public of the chart’s ostensible function as a barometer of public mood.  So it didn’t take long after Prince died before the OCC put out an excitable announcement, which several papers dutifully parrotted, that he was on course to have a number 1 hit.  Which he wasn’t, but we’ll come back to that.

First, this month’s actual number ones.  “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner hung on for another couple of weeks, managing a total of four.  And then we had “One Dance” by Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, which doesn’t have a video, so you’ll have to make do with Spotify.