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Jan 10

Domino #7-10: “Soldier of Fortune”

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

On the heels of the strikingly abrupt final issues of Weapon X, “Soldier of Fortune” is something suspiciously similar – a four part story which comes in two barely connected halves, and which seems to go into fast forward in its final issue.  I don’t know what was going on here, but this is another story that certainly reads as if the book was abruptly cancelled and went into aggressive wrap-up mode.

Except… Domino returns as a five-issue miniseries in March, with precisely the same creative team.  So… what the heck?  A last-minute reprieve after they’d already committed to the wrap-up?  An inexplicable attack of madness?

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Jan 7

Charts – 13 December 2018

Posted on Monday, January 7, 2019 by Paul in Music

This is the annual dead chart, the one between Christmas and New Year that makes no sense.  Last week the chart was dominated by Christmas records, which made up more than half the top 40.  This week they’re all gone.  All of them.  . But there’s nothing new out yet to replace them, which means a surge of stuff that’s been hanging around a while, plus a few things that didn’t quite make the top 40 until now.  To keep this somewhat manageable, I’ll mainly stick to pointing out the records that are actually at a new peak.

1.  Ava Max – “Sweet But Psycho”

That’s two weeks, and it managed nearly eight million streams last week.  So even though it’s been out for a couple of month, it could be a while before something musters the energy to shift it.  Ariana Grande’s “Thank U Next” rebounds to number 2, while “Sunflower” by Post Malone featuring Swae Lee climbs to number 3 after eleven weeks out (its previous peak was number 7).

5.  Post Malone – “Wow.”

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Jan 6

Mr & Mrs X #6 – “King & Queen”

Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So this is the previous issue of Mr & Mrs X – issue #7 was out this week – but I was figuring it was an opening chapter of something, and it turns out that it isn’t.

As promised in issue #5, this is Rogue and Gambit’s… well, apparently it’s a “belated engagement party”, though it’s basically a flatwarming.  Either way, this is what you want from a Rogue and Gambit series; I can understand why the first arc packed them off into space, if only to get them away from the rest of the X-Men, but mainly I’m here to see them be domestic.  That’s the interest here, surely?  That’s what we want to know if they can actually do?

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Jan 5

House to Astonish Episode 169

Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2019 by Al in Podcast

2018! What? A year? What a year! It’s a brand new year and time for our traditional look back at the books, creators and moments that made 2018 such a good time for comics, in the form of the Homies awards. Paul and I have both picked our favourites in each of our traditional categories, and are handing out the gongs on this retrospective episode. We’ve also tallied our listener vote – what have the Housemates chosen as the most deserving in each category? Find out here! All this plus the procedure for landing a light aircraft, a very nice back door and the Slovakian manga scene.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us have your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, via email or at our Facebook fan page. And hey, it’s a new year, so why not make a new year resolution to look as amazing as you can in one of our incredible t-shirts?

Dec 30

Weapon X #22-27: “Weapon X-Force”

Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Weapon X was quietly cancelled through the age-old technique of just not soliciting any more issues; the final issue has no farewell message, at least not in the digital version, but simply the word “End” in the corner of the final panel.  And this final arc, which introduces a new team line-up under the “Weapon X-Force” name, then lurches through two largely unrelated chunks of plot, reads very much like an aborted new direction that was intended to run for longer.  Whether that’s the case, I can’t know for sure – but it reads like it, which is ultimately what matters.

The new line-up, clad unflatteringly in Sabretooth’s black and orange colour scheme, are Sabretooth himself, Mystique, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Domino (the only one of these characters who would normally be considered to qualify for any variety of “good guy”, but in this company largely because she’s amoral).  As set up in previous arcs, the idea here is that the ailing Logan has steered Sabretooth in the direction of running this new team, which may or may not keep him out of trouble, depending on what sort of jobs his mercenary crew chooses to take on.

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Dec 28

Charts – 28 December 2018

Posted on Friday, December 28, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s the post-Christmas chart, covering the week that straddles Christmas itself.  Nothing new is released in Christmas week, and the streaming services are dominated – up until Christmas Day itself – with people hammering the Christmas playlists.  So it’s time for the annual weird chart, where the Christmas songs march to the top, all of them set to vanish this time next week.  There are a bunch of chart entries, though they’re all caused by the festive flood.

But we kick off with the new number one…

1.  Ava Max – “Sweet But Psycho”

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Dec 27

Extermination

Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The thinking behind Extermination might be called haphazard.  This is the story where the time-travelling original X-Men finally get removed from the board – they’re sent back to the Silver Age and the reset button is duly pressed, save that their adult counterparts now remember everything that happened while they were in the present.  The practical significance of this is surely limited, given that their adult counterparts already know the general thrust of what they’ve been up to – it feels like more of a gesture of goodwill that, honestly, this all amounted to something.

But the obvious question is: why is this appearing as a separate miniseries written by Ed Brisson, rather than the final arc of Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue?  Isn’t that the natural place to do this story?

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Dec 21

Charts – 21 December 2018

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2018 by Paul in Music

It’s the Christmas number one!  And… this was not expected.

1.  LadBaby – “We Built This City”

So, after two years of regular singles as the Christmas number one – Ed Sheeran last year, Clean Bandit in 2016 – it’s a novelty record.  We’ve had a lot of charity records and X Factor winners as Christmas number one, but the last time an out-and-out novelty record did it was in 2000 when the theme to Bob the Builder managed it.

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Dec 20

X-Men Red: The Hate Machine

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Hark, listen closely.  Do you hear it?  There – ever so faint.  It’s the plaintive quack of a lame duck.

X-Men Red has spent nearly a year on its opening storyline with Cassandra Nova, about half of that time on an extended gathering-of-the-team sequence.  And by the time the damn thing has even finished, we were already several issues deep into the next relaunch.  Astonishing X-Men had this problem too – and suffered for it – but at least it also had a relatively self-contained redemption arc for Havok.  X-Men Red finds it more of a challenge, because it spends so very long on its team-building, and the whole thing reads like a statement of intent designed to set the direction for a new team.

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Dec 16

The Homies 2018

Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2018 by Al in Podcast

There’s gifts on the fire and logs on the tree, and that means only one thing – it’s time for the annual House to Astonish Homies awards, where we dish out our gongs in various categories to the best and brightest comics of the year.

As always, Paul and I will individually be choosing a winner for each category, but there’s the usual proviso – we want YOU to help, so you all name your picks in the comments, and Paul and I each choose our own, and we talk a bit about each of the three on our awards show.

We’re likely to be recording at the very end of December/start of Jan, so we’re giving you until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific) on December 29 to make your choice. When you list your picks, don’t just name names either, because we’ll be reading out the best comments on the show, so let us know your thinking!

BEST NEW SERIES

This one’s pretty self-explanatory – any comic whose first issue was published between 1 January 2018 and the close of nominations (29 December) is eligible. What new series got your attention the most this year?

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

This one’s a little less self-explanatory – what series, again first published between 1 January and 29 December, did you think was best, with the proviso that it has to be something where the property wasn’t in existence prior to the start of 2018. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so West Coast Avengers or Martian Manhunter wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Fearscape or Die would.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2017 or before. They’ve been around the block, but they’ve still got what it takes.

BEST MINI, ONE-SHOT OR OGN

These are explaining themselves by this point, right? We’re looking for OGNs, one-shots and minis published in 2018 (or partially in 2018, in the case of minis).

FAVOURITE WRITER

FAVOURITE ARTIST

FAVOURITE COLOURIST

Each of these three is pretty self-explanatory – whose name on the cover or credits box of a book makes you want to pick it up? Whose work do you most look forward to seeing?

MOST WANTED

This is for the comic, series or graphic novel that saw print this year which you’d want to see more of, whether that be a book that was cancelled before its time, a one-shot or mini that just begs for a follow-up, or an OGN that you’d love to see a sequel to.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

It may have seemed unappealing when you read about it online, and those preview pages may have looked unremarkable, but when you finally got the winner of this category in your hands you were ready to eat your words. What comic, series or graphic novel did you find yourself enjoying much more than you thought you would?

STIFF DRINK AWARD

This award will go to the comic or graphic novel that most made us gasp with surprise – an unexpected plot twist, a daring cliffhanger or a shocking denouement will stand a book in good stead here.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

This is exactly what it says – which creator, creative team, publisher or other contributor to the world of comics really knocked it out of the park this year?

Let us have your picks in the comments thread below, along with your thinking on each one – we’ll read out a range of the responses on our big end-of-year show. Happy nominating!