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Sep 18

Charts – 17 September 2021

Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2021 by Paul in Music

A lot of good stuff this week!

1. Ed Sheeran – “Shivers”

Well, the 11-week reign of Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” is over, and it’s replaced by another Ed Sheeran song. (A better one, if you ask me, though the video is trying way too hard.) “Bad Habits” is still hanging on at a very respectable number 3, and while we’ve all probably forgotten about it, he has a third track on the chart too – “Visiting Hours”, which entered at number 5 at the start of the month and is currently at 19.


Sep 17

X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Welcome to Krakoa”
by Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck & Edgar Delgado

COVER / PAGE 1. Magneto fights the Avengers.

PAGES 2-4. Professor X and Hope try to read Magneto’s mind.

They’re trying to put him at ease, presumably to lower his psychic defences in order to make it possible to scan his memories. Obviously, this is trying to close the potential plot hole of “how can there by a mystery when you can just read the subject’s mind”?

Despite what Hope says, this process is quite plainly not torture. Torture would be extracting a confession by inflicting, or at least threatening, pain and suffering. What Professor X is trying to do here is the exact opposite. That may be an invasion of privacy or an unacceptable violation of the right to silence, but it isn’t torture. In fact, if Hope has ethical problems with this, she should really have problems with most of the telepaths on Krakoa.

PAGES 5-6. The X-Men greet the Avengers.

Strictly speaking, this isn’t actually the newly elected X-Men, but rather Cyclops and Phoenix (who are on the team) and Wolverine (who isn’t). But they’re a natural trio to act as ambassadors to the superhero establishment. It’s also a somewhat retro-classic Avengers group, rather than the current regular line-up: Captain America, Iron Man, the Vision and the Wasp.

Note that Hope asked on page 4 why Jean and Emma hadn’t been asked to help with the psychic search. Xavier claimed that they were both “busy with an urgent matter of diplomacy”, but that seems to be true only of Emma. It also doesn’t really explain why Xavier is turning to the relatively inexperienced Hope in place of, say, one of the Stepford Cuckoos – or indeed Exodus. Is there some reason why he wants to carry out this scan without the rest of the Quiet Council knowing?


Sep 15

Marauders #24 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Date Night”
by Gerry Duggan, Phil Noto & Cory Petit

COVER / PAGE 1. Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost nad Kate Pryde face off against aliens in the Red Lagoon bar.

PAGES 2-4. Eden Rixlo arrives at Port Prometheus.

Port Prometheus is the main intergalactic hub on Mars/Arakko. This is the first time Marauders has spent any significant time on Arakko since the terraforming during “Hellfire Gala”.

For the most part, Port Prometheus in this issue is basically just Star Wars which… seems ill-advised when the place hasn’t really been defined very clearly yet. Doesn’t it have an identity of its own?

Eden Rixlo is, as far as I can tell, a new character.


Sep 14

House to Astonish Presents: The Lightning Round Episode 5

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by Al in Podcast

Lightning is striking again! That’s five times now! This is surely statistically improbable! We’re now up to the finale of the first year of Thunderbolts, and covering issues 10-12. This is where is all starts going off, as secrets are uncovered, plans are revealed and the whole house of cards comes down.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And let us know what you really think by buying one of our lovely t-shirts from our Redbubble store. Yeah, that’ll show us!


Sep 11

Charts – 9 September 2021

Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2021 by Paul in Music

Okay, so you know how I said I was hoping this wouldn’t hang on any longer?

1. Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”

That’s 11 weeks – an especially difficult feat under the current chart rules, which downweight the streams of tracks that have been out for more than ten weeks, if they’re also a few weeks past their peak. It matches the 11-week run of “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I from the tail end of 2019. The next target in sight is Sheeran’s own “Shape of You”, which had a 14-week run at number one in early 2017 (though only thirteen of those weeks were consecutive). I don’t fancy his chances of making it that far under the current rules, but you never know.

Anyway, Ed Sheeran proves unbudgeable in the face of…

2. Drake featuring Lil Baby – “Girls Want Girls”
3. Drake featuring Travis Scott – “Fair Trade”
5. Drake – “Champagne Poetry”

I’ll be honest – if it’s a choice between an eleventh week of Ed Sheeran, and a song called “Girls Want Girls” from an album called “Certified Lover Boy”, I’m kind of rooting for Ed Sheeran. Besides which, “Girls” and “Fair Trade” feel like water-treading to me. “Champagne Poetry” is more interesting, though I can’t shake the feeling that it might be in the top three tracks simply by virtue of being the opening track.


Sep 10

X-Force #23 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2021 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #23
“The New Tsar”
by Benjamin Percy, Martin Coccolo & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1: Mikhail Rasputin drives the Cerebro Sword into the Beast’s head. A very symbolic rendering of the attack on Beast’s mind by one of Mikhail’s agents.

PAGES 2-6. The Man With the Peacock Tattoo brings soldiers to Mikhail Rasputin.

Mikhail’s very uneasy alliance with XENO – an alliance of convenience against Krakoa – was established back in issue #12. The artificial red soldiers seen here are the same type of XENO agents previous seen in issues #11-12 and, before that, Wolverine #3. We saw their “nesting doll” schtick in issues #11-12, which is of course a reference to Russian nesting dolls.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits.

PAGES 8-11. A nesting doll enters the Beast’s ear.

As usual in this series, the Beast is doing something both morally dubious and practically unwise. One of the issues with the way Beast is being written here is that he’s not hypercompetent but unethical – which would invite the obvious moral dilemmas about whether the ends justify the means. Rather, he’s both unethical and massively arrogant and incompetent. Then again, that’s not necessarily a problem, depending on where Percy is going with this. Arguably the “ends justify etc” character has been done to death, and if the idea here is to have a character who gets away with far more than he should because too many people assume he’s that character – including himself – then maybe that works.


Sep 9

Excalibur #23 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 9, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #23
“In the Service of Lord Doom”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1. Dr Doom leading a somewhat reluctant Excalibur. The composition loosely echoes the cover of Excalibur vol 1 #1.

PAGE 2. Betsy dreams.

Braddock Isle is now “several kilometres off the coast of England”. Last issue it was “Just off the coast of England” and the art showed the distance to be pretty much swimmable. Maybe Rictor’s been moving it.

Betsy’s dreams show a mixture of images from the series to date, most of them fairly generic. Merlyn and Morgan Le Fay are at the top. The woman emerging from the golden egg is probably meant to be Malice, upon her reincarnation in issue #20. The group above Betsy’s head are all members of Krakoa’s Quiet Council (from left to right, Magneto, Mr Sinister, Nightcrawler, Kate Pryde, Mystique, Emma Frost, Storm and Professor X). To her left is a silhouetted image of Pete Wisdom being killed by Marianna Stern of Coven Akkaba in issue #21. To her bottom right are her brothers, Brian (Captain Avalon) and Jamie (Monarch). And bottom left are Stern again, with fellow Coven leader Reuben Brousseau.


Sep 5

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1992

Posted on Sunday, September 5, 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 | 1979 
1980 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984 1985
1986 | 1987 | 1988
 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991

We’re deep into mythos-building at this point in the 90s, with Wolverine investigating his memory implants and following up on the events of 1991’s “Weapon X” origin story. We’re also deep into the glut of 1992/3, which results in a rather busy year for inconsequential guest appearances. But we kick off the year with a story that does matter.

WOLVERINE vol 2 #50
“Shiva Scenario, part 3”
by Larry Hama, Marc Silvestri, Dan Green & Steve Buccellato
January 1992

Wolverine breaks into the SHIELD Helicarrier (via improbable motorbike stunts) and demands that Nick Fury hand over his security dossier. Fury relents and hands it over – in the form of several boxes of floppy discs, because it’s 1992. The file has nothing about Logan’s personal history, but does have plenty of information about the Weapon X Project, including the whereabouts of Professor Thorton (who now has a cover job in the Department of Agriculture). Wolverine investigates a Weapon X warehouse in Ontario, and the Professor and Hines follow him there – as does Silver Fox, now an agent of HYDRA.

It’s at this point that Wolverine switches to his yellow costume. The story is very clear – Jean spells it out for us – that this is meant to be a sign of Wolverine’s mental regression, tied to the ill-advised exploration of his hidden memories in the preceding issues. But he’ll stick with the yellow costume long after that plotline fades out.


Sep 4

Charts – 3 September 2021

Posted on Saturday, September 4, 2021 by Paul in Music

Please go away. Please.

1. Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”

Well, that’s ten weeks. If he’s past his peak, the chart rules will downweight him next week and he’ll be on his way. If not, and he manages an eleventh week, that’ll be the longest run at the top since “Dance Monkey” in late 2019. It heads up a static top four, for the second week running – “Stay” by Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber has been stuck at number 2 for five weeks now and would clearly have been a number one single against any normal competition.

7. Kanye West – “Hurricane”
11. Kanye West – “Jail”
15. Kanye West – “Off the Grid”

The maximum three permitted tracks from his new album “Donda”, which enters at number 1. It’s only his third number 1 album in the UK, the others being 2007’s “Graduation” and 2013’s “Yeezus”, but his last two albums both made number 2, so this hardly ranks as a surprise. There are no official singles from this album, and the only track with a video is “Come to Life” (which is just footage from one of his album playback events).


Sep 2

New Mutants #21 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 2, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #21
“Krakoa Welcomes Gabby Kinney”
by Vita Ayala & Rod Reis

COVER / PAGE 1. Magik, Mirage and Karma confront a shadowy Wolfsbane, which doesn’t bear much resemblance to anything in the issue. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn it was based on an early version of the plot.

PAGES 2-3. Warpath takes his trainees to the moon.

The Summer House is the home of the Summers family, seen extensively in X-Men and Cable.

Warpath’s class are apparently here to look at the space slugs and, er, clean the more senior X-Men’s house. Heaven only knows where the space slugs came from; maybe someone brought them back from the Shi’ar empire, maybe they just happened to be passing and fell to the surface.

The kids in Warpath’s class today are: