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Dec 16

New Mutants #14 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #14
“Welcome to the Wild Hunt”
by Vita Ayala & Rob Reis

COVER / PAGE 1: Scout, Karma, Mirage, Wolfsbane, Warpath, Magik and Warlock, apparently just finishing off a session in the “Wild Hunt”. The Wild Hunt was shown in the map of Krakoa in House of X #1, but this is the first we’ve heard of it since then; evidently it’s some sort of woodland sparring area.

PAGES 2-4. The origin of Amahl Farouk.

Amahl Farouk first appeared in X-Men vol 1 #117, in an extended flashback to a young Professor X’s first encounter with an evil mutant. For years, that was all there was to know about him, but in the late 1980s he was retooled as the Shadow King, an all-purpose embodiment of psychic malevolence. The suggestion that the Shadow King is a possessing entity, and that Farouk used to exist independently of him, has come up before but has never really been explored.

Dec 16

House to Astonish Episode 188

Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2020 by Al in Uncategorized

We’re back, and we’re talking about the sad death of Richard Corben, DC’s post-Future State plans, Marvel’s Alien series, X of Swords, Rob Liefeld’s latest stint at Marvel and the return of Witchblade. We’re also reviewing Batman: Black & White and Home Sick Pilots, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is as cold as ice, and willing to sacrifice. All this plus what happens to comic store employees in Hell, Real Housewives of Limbo, and shorthand for your granny.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. Remember that our super-swish t-shirts are available at our Redbubble store, and you can (and should) vote in our 2020 Homies Awards, just one post down from this one!

Dec 14

The Homies 2020

Posted on Monday, December 14, 2020 by Al in Uncategorized

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 beginning of the new year, so we’re giving you until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific) on December 31 2020 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!


This one’s pretty self-explanatory – any comic whose first issue was published between 1 January and 31 December 2020 is eligible. What new series got your attention the most this year?


This one’s a little less self-explanatory – what series, again first published during 2020, 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 2020. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so X-Factor or Amethyst wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Giga or Decorum would.


The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2019 or before. They’ve been around the block, but they’ve still got what it takes.


These are explaining themselves by this point, right? We’re looking for OGNs, one-shots and minis published in 2020 (or partially in 2020, in the case of minis).




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?


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.


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?


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!

Dec 13

X-Force #10-12

Posted on Sunday, December 13, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

X-FORCE vol 6 #10-12
#10 by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara & Guru-eFX
#11-12 by Benjamin Percy, Bazaldua & Guru-eFX

This is a slightly random batch of issues to cover. But the last time I reviewed X-Force I took it up to issue #9, and issues #13-14 are “X of Swords” tie-ins that aren’t really issues of X-Force at all. (I’ll review “X of Swords” separately in due course.)

With hindsight I’m not quite sure why I took it up to issue #9, which was halfway through a Terra Verde storyline. It’s the one about the telefloronics technology getting out of control, in a parallel of how things could go equally badly wrong on Krakoa. I like the general idea of other people having something in the same general vicinity to the X-Men’s plant-tech, and of Beast being paranoid about it no matter how marginal they are. I’m a little less sold on tying it to a whole history of Terra Verdan mythology, but I suppose it has the advantage of making the parallels look more, well, organic.

Dec 12

Charts – 11 December 2020

Posted on Saturday, December 12, 2020 by Paul in Music

Welcome to a Christmassy, but rather static, chart. After the deluge of Christmas records that charted last week, there’s only one more joining them – perhaps because there’s no space, with Christmas records now accounting for more than half the top 40. And lo, the inevitable has finally happened.

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

“All I Want for Christmas is You” was number 2 at Christmas 1994 – the number 1 that year was “Stay Another Day” by East 17, which hasn’t proved as enduring on the chart, but was a perfectly worthy winner. It’s resurfaced in a big way during the streaming era, making number 2 for the last three years. Bearing in mind that it’s an archive track, which means its streams are permanently on a lower weighting compared to new releases, it’s a remarkable achievement for it to get to number one.

Dec 11

Juggernaut #4 annotations

Posted on Friday, December 11, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Scalpel to the Soul”
by Fabian Nicieza, Ron Garney & Matt Milla

PAGE 1 / COVER. The Juggernaut fighting Primus.

PAGE 2. The usual introductory text page. As it points out, there has always been a mismatch between the Juggernaut’s physical power and his role as either a directionless pawn or someone pursuing largely trivial goals like personal revenge.

PAGES 3-4. The Juggernaut breaks into Arnim Zola’s base.

D-Cel’s summary of the previous issue is basically accurate, except that in that issue, Quicksand’s isotopes were said to be traceable to a for-profit prison run by Absolution Solutions, under the control of Arnim Zola. Here, D-Cel describes it as “an abandoned Factor-3 base built into this mountain”. The private prison angle is largely dropped in this story, and there’s some fuzzy plotting going on. Damage Control identified the isotope as belonging to the prison, rather than tracking its location. But according to this issue, the location of the prison is secret. So why does Juggernaut come here? Is this the officially-listed location of the prison, while the real prison is somewhere else? (If so, Cain never really reacts accordingly.)

Dec 10

Marauders #16 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

by Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli & Edgar Delgado

COVER / PAGE 1: Emma and Kate together, standing over the defeated Sebastian. Incidentally, both on the cover and throughout the issue, Kate isn’t wearing the necklace that Kurt gave back to her in issue #12. Make of that what you will.

PAGE 2. The epigraph is Kate’s last words before drowning at the end of issue #6.

PAGE 3. The combined recap and credits page, now in the line-wide post-“X of Swords” design.

Dec 9

S.W.O.R.D. #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 by Paul in Annotations

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

S.W.O.R.D. #1
by Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia

S.W.O.R.D. S.W.O.R.D. (the Sentient World Observation and Response Department) was introduced in the first arc of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men in 2004. As originally presented, they were a sister agency of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hence the name), focussed on alien and extraterrestrial security threats. They had a series before in 2010, which only lasted for five issues.

COVER / PAGE 1. The cast, obviously. Interesting to see Magneto given so much prominence here.

PAGE 2. An epigraph from Abigail Brand (of whom more in a bit). Unlike the usual Krakoa-era epigraphs, the graphics are overlaid on an image of sunrise from space. The metal ball is Magneto flying up to S.W.O.R.D.’s space station, as we’ll see in a couple of pages.

Dec 8

Review: Marauders #7-12

Posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 by Paul in x-axis

by Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli, Matteo Lolli & Edgar Delgado

Marauders is a joy, isn’t it?

To be sure, it’s a strange kind of team book. Undoubtedly, there’s an official Marauders team. But it’s hardly a case of equal billing. The main stars of the book are Kate and Emma Frost, who isn’t even officially a Marauder. Which makes it all the more bold for the book to take Kate off the board for a few issues.

Thanks to the pandemic, Kate’s period of absence wound up taking rather longer than it was meant to. She dies at the end of issue #6; she returns in issue #11. That wound up being eight months, and makes it frustrating that instead of following up, the series gets derailed to spend three issues on “X of Swords” tie-ins that have little or nothing to do with the regular series.

Dec 6

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1977

Posted on Sunday, December 6, 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 is the last year in Wolverine’s history that could honestly be described as quiet – well, unless you count 2015-2017, when he was dead. At this point, he’s still only appearing in X-Men, and that book is still only shipping six times a year. Nobody is interested in using him as a guest star yet – well, nobody except Chris Claremont. And his lengthy storylines run directly from one issue into the next, leaving only occasional gaps for guest appearances anyway… with none of those gaps actually falling during 1977.

It won’t stay this way.

The February 1977 issue is the tail end of the Cassidy Keep storyline, which we covered last time.

X-MEN vol 1 #104
“The Gentleman’s Name is Magneto”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum & Sam Grainger
April 1977

Worried that she hasn’t heard from Muir Isle in a while, Moira MacTaggert drops her “housekeeper” act – which never really gets explained – and asks the holidaying X-Men to drop by and check the place out. Muir Isle turns out to be a combined mutant research facility and prison, and Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) has just escaped. Thanks to later retcons, Wolverine has met Erik before – in First X-Men. Neither of them seems to recognise the other here. That’s fair enough; aside from the fact that Wolverine’s had his memory messed about with since then, neither of them was in costume last time they met.