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Nov 19

Multiple Man

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Matthew Rosenberg and Andy MacDonald’s Multiple Man miniseries sounds like a bit of a sideshow.  It’s Madrox, after all, a character who’s only ever been important in the context of X-Factor, which was cancelled years ago.  But Rosenberg is also writing Astonishing X-Men, and the new Uncanny X-Men, in which Madrox turns out to have a big role.  So maybe this will turn out to be a bigger deal than you’d think.

Plus, Rosenberg’s recent New Mutants series didn’t convince me on the first read through, but turned out to be much more interesting on a re-read.  And – cards on the table – I really didn’t care for this at all on the first read.  It’s a time travel paradox story with a whole bunch of Madroxes going round in circles, some of whom have gone on to become versions of other Marvel characters.  And it seemed to have remarkably little interest in Madrox himself, except inasmuch as his powers lent themselves to making the plot even harder to follow.  It was a grind, frankly.


Nov 18

X-23 #6: “Operation Kindergarten Clone”

Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

After the opening arc, time for a palate cleanser.  “Operation Kindergarten Clone” is a single issue story in which Laura and Gabby go undercover in a high school, and hijinks ensue.  Who doesn’t love a good hijink?

If there’s any connection here to the bigger picture, it seems to lie in the fact that Laura is now specialising in hunting down dodgy scientist who are experimenting with mutant clones.  For some reason, somebody at the school has been ordering in genetic research equipment, and the working assumption is that it’s a science teacher trying to get a foothold in the world of supervillainy.  So Gabby is posing as a student and Laura is a track and field coach, and how they managed to get into those positions, look, don’t ask.


Nov 17

Old Man Logan #48-50: “King of Nothing”

Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Technically, this is the final arc of Old Man Logan; in practice, that means it’s renaming itself as Dead Man Logan for a lengthy concluding storyline.  Even so, here we are – fifty issues of a stand-in Wolverine title.  Not something you’d have been likely to predict, and probably not something that was a very good idea from the standpoint of the wider Marvel Universe, since viewed from that perspective, the book’s main contribution has been to undermine the idea that Wolverine ever went away.

Still, Ed Brisson and Ibraim Roberson’s story here is pretty successful on its own terms.  It’s a very, very simple plot: the Maestro has taken over a remote town in Canada, and Logan arrives to stop him and rescue the town.  It’s entirely straightforward, but it works on the strength of the setting and the parallels which it sets up with the book’s wider storyline.


Nov 16

Charts – 16 November 2018

Posted on Friday, November 16, 2018 by Paul in Music

Busy, busy week.  Let’s get to it.

1.  Ariana Grande – “Thank U Next” 

Two weeks, and it’s the first time Ariana Grande has managed that.  This is doing huge business on streaming – 9.76 million in a week, a record for the year – for a chart score more than double the number two single, “Shallow”.  So it’s probably going to be here for a while.  It’s a little unexpected, since even after cementing her celebrity status, Ariana Grande has been more of a top ten level artist (her last number one was four years ago).

We have to go some way down to hit the first new entry…

17.  Charli XCX featuring Troye Sivan – “1999”


Nov 15

Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s the week of another X-Men relaunch, so naturally the question on everyone’s lips is: what did I think of the middle chapter of a Typhoid Mary miniseries that nobody is paying any attention to?

Because yes, this is another of those weird minis with different guest stars in every issue so that you can bill all three chapters as an issue #1.  That way, people like me will buy the middle chapter and then go off and buy the others!  Or that’s the theory.  Obviously, from the fact that I’m reviewing this as a one-shot, it didn’t work.


Nov 14

What If?: Magik

Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There was a time when the basic format of What If? stories was to take a previous story and change the ending, usually by showing what would have happened if the good guys had lost.  (Spoilers: it was generally the apocalypse.)  More recently, the more common approach has been to do some completely alternative take on the characters, often in the vein of a mash-up of sub-genres.

In this issue, Leah Williams and Filipe Andrade take the opposite approach.  The official title is “What If Magik Became Sorcerer Supreme”, but that’s not really the story at all.  In fact, it’s the end point – so if you actually do want to know what would happen if Magik became Sorcerer Supreme, you’d better hope for a sequel.


Nov 13

X-Men: Black – Apocalypse

Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Not a one-shot, but a back-up strip running through the other five titles, “Degeneration” is a curio.  I’m pretty sure Apocalypse was comprehensively out of circulation the last time we saw him, so you’d have thought the obvious story was “why is he back at all”.  That’s not what we get here; instead, Apocalypse is just back as if nothing had happened.

What writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler opt for instead is a story from Apocalypse’s point of view with no actual heroes in it.  It’d be stretching a point to say that he’s the hero here, but he’s certainly taking the role of triumphing over adversity.  And in itself, that’s at least an underplayed angle on the character, who tends to be played as an A-list villain on an operative scale.  With nobody else around for him to posture to, this one necessarily ends up humanising him to a degree.


Nov 12

House to Astonish Episode 168

Posted on Monday, November 12, 2018 by Al in Podcast

To quote Jeremy Piven in Grosse Point Blank: “Ten years! Ten years. Ten YEEEEARS!”.

Yes, it’s our tenth anniversary episode, where we remember Anthea Bell, laugh for quite a long time about Writer X and the “revelation” of his identity, and chat briefly about Vault Comics’ new YA line (in particular, about Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Wrassle Castle), before going into extended examinations/rambles/digressions about The Green Lantern and Lost Light, and once again raid the playbook of excellent videogame podcast Bitsocket as we play Is It Canon?. We’ve also got messages from some of our friends in the comics podcasting world, and the audio from the SILENCE! To Astonish panel which took place at Thought Bubble in September, featuring Gary Lactus and the Beast Must Die of SILENCE! and an all-star line-up of guests (John McCrea, Matthew Rosenberg, Sam Humphries and Babs Tarr). All this plus Wolverine through an Instagram filter, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall with a .44 Magnum, door-to-door podcast flyering and the comic creator you tell children fairy tales about to frighten them into being good.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think in the comments, via email, on Twitter or on our Facebook fan page. And hey, there has literally never been a better time to buy one of our great t-shirts from our Redbubble store!

We wouldn’t have made it ten years without the support of our listeners, who are brilliant (that’s you!), so we wanted to take a moment just to say thanks – if you’ve been with us ten years or started with this episode, thank you so much for listening, it really does mean the absolute world to us.

On a more sombre note – this podcast was recorded on Friday, before the desperately sad news broke of Stan Lee’s death. We will talk more about Stan on the next episode, but in the meantime we’ll keep enjoying and appreciating everything he worked so hard to make possible.

Nov 10

Charts – 9 November 2018

Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2018 by Paul in Music

We’ve got a tenth anniversary podcast coming up this weekend, but first, here’s the chart post…

1.  Ariana Grande – “thank u next”

This was released two days into the chart week, but still beats the incumbent number one (“Shallow”) by 50%  or so.  It was a relatively low-selling number one, admittedly.  But even so, it’s an achievement for a midweek release to enter at the top.  Records do still enter at number one, but it’s no longer the norm, and it’s not particularly something we expect of Ariana Grande – her only previous UK number ones were “Problem” and “Bang Bang”, both in 2014.  This song probably benefits from name checking her actual ex-boyfriends, and thus making itself part of her personal narrative, but it’s a decent enough single on its own terms.


Nov 8

X-Men: Black – Emma Frost

Posted on Thursday, November 8, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: Black has been a strange little set of one-shots.  The MagnetoMojo and Mystique stories were mainly just restatements of the characters.  But Juggernaut seemed to be setting up a new status quo for the character (if not an especially interesting one).

And now we have Emma Frost‘s one-shot, written by Leah Williams and pencilled by Chris Bachalo (with six inkers, so the deadlines must have been pressing on this one).  This one is actually important to the plot.