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Oct 4

X-Men: Hellfire Gala

Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“Time Flies When You’re a Mutant”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Kris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli & CF Villa
Colourists: Matt Milla & Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Associate editor: Lauren Amaro
Senior Editor: Jordan D White

So yeah, this came out ages ago. As in, July. I was thinking at one point that I’d treat it as the first chapter of the next block of Gerry Duggan issues, which is kind of what it is, but it’s also off to the side a bit. So. Let’s just do it now.

The first Hellfire Gala was a line-wide crossover, but an unusual one. It wasn’t unified by a single story; it was all the different books showing what their characters were up to at the same event. There was a big reveal – the terraforming of Mars. There was a secondary reveal – the new X-Men line-up. And there was a cliffhanger – the Scarlet Witch got killed. But it wasn’t a single story, as such. It was different, and it worked quite well.


Oct 3

Charts – 30 September 2022

Posted on Monday, October 3, 2022 by Paul in Music

Four number 1s in as many weeks? It’s like the old days.

1. Sam Smith & Kim Petras – “Unholy”

Now this was close. They were behind in the midweeks and wound up taking it by about a 2% margin. Still, it’s another new number one, shoving David Guetta back down to number 2.

Sam Smith’s chart career started with guest vocals for the likes of Disclosure and Naughty Boy, but over time it was the ballads that tended to be the big hits. This is a big swerve back in a much more camp and theatrical direction, and it clearly works. To put that in context, it’s Sam Smith’s eighth number one hit, but the others came between 2013 and 2018. The 2020 album “Love Goes” was not especially successful by their standards, failing to get any singles into the top 10 and only going gold where its predecessor had gone double platinum. A good time for a rethink, then.


Oct 2

The Incomplete Wolverine – 2005

Posted on Sunday, October 2, 2022 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
1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997
1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003

We’re midway through the Mark Millar / John Romita Jr run. It already carried us through the first couple of months of the year, and when we left off, Wolverine had just been captured by the good guys after his brainwashed rampage on behalf of the Hand. If you haven’t read this storyline, you can probably guess what happens in the second half.

WOLVERINE vol 3 #26-31
“Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson & Paul Mounts
March to August 2005

S.H.I.E.L.D. deprogram Wolverine by putting his mind through repeated simulations in which his normal personality can finally reassert itself. When the Hand attack with a bunch of brainwashed villains, Wolverine has to be woken ahead of schedule to fight them, but his normal personality is indeed restored. The attackers include a bunch of minor villains that Wolverine hasn’t encountered before – Slyde (Jalome Beacher), S.H.O.C. (Todd Fields), the Spot (Johnny Ohnn), Vibro (Alton Vibereaux), Poison (Cecilia Cardinale) and Leap-Frog (Buford Lange). In a completely random bit of continuity, the scientist who cures Wolverine, Dr Weinberg, is the former Rabble-Rouser, a one-off Human Torch villain from 1964.

Naturally, Wolverin sets out for revenge and atonement. In practice, this means killing everyone he can get his hands on from HYDRA, the Hand or the Dawn of the White Light cult. Basically it’s a mirror of the first half, except now he’s going after the villains. S.H.I.E.L.D. also fret about whether he’s really deprogrammed, but nothing really comes of that.

In the course of his casual slaughter – and this arc is really casual about having Wolverine kill large number of bad guys – the brainwashed Northstar is captured. As for Elektra, she was never under Hand control after all, and she was just playing along. Finally, Wolverine and Elektra lead SHIELD against the bad guys. Elsbeth is apparently killed in a missile strike, while Gorgon is turned to stone by his own powers and shattered. His ridiculously OTT powers are better suited to being a one-off villain, which is how Millar seems to have conceived him.


Oct 1

X-Men #15 annotations

Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #15
“Collapse Theory”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The Children of the Vault with the defeated X-Men. Don’t worry, it’s only a dream.

PAGE 2. Data page. An opening quote from Forge. Note that he’s treating Krakoa as a government like any other. When Forge was first introduced, he was a weapon designer for the US government, and he designed the neutraliser device that led Storm to lose her powers for a while.

PAGE 3. Forge and Cyclops make their way through the jungle.

This is apparently part of the simulation which Forge creates for the Children of the Vault (as explained later), but it’s repeated on page 16 in the real world.

“You wanted to know what I was doing for the Council so much that you put me on the X-Men.” Cyclops did indeed nominate Forge onto the X-Men without asking him in X-Men: Hellfire Gala, leading Forge to assure Professor X that it wouldn’t interfere with “Project Blackbox.” We’ll find out in this issue what Project Blackbox actually is.


Sep 29

A.X.E.: Avengers #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Federico Vicentini
Colourist: Dean White
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Although it’s billed as a separate one-shot, this is essentially A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5 1/4. Note though that it doesn’t have the Progenitor’s narration from the regular series.

COVER / PAGE 1. Iron Man in the shadow of the Progenitor.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits.

PAGES 4-6. Inside the Progenitor, the team make plans.

“For an Avengers, Eternals and X-Men get-together, this Avenger is feeling distinctly outnumbered.” This feels like a nod to the Avengers’ somewhat peripheral role in the crossover, which only has a peripheral tie-in issue in Avengers itself. It might be said that so far, this is more of a story about the Eternals, the X-Men, and the Avengers’ house.


Sep 25


Posted on Sunday, September 25, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

Writer: Victor LaValle
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Jordan D White

So there’s a couple of reason why I didn’t do annotations for X-Terminators #1: one, it’s not that sort of book, and two, my backlog of reviews runs all the way back to this miniseries. But look, the trade paperback’s not out until the start of October. So it’s not late. On the contrary. It’s actually very timely.

And this book is good, isn’t it? Sabretooth isn’t necessarily the easiest character to build a series around. He is, after all, proudly one-dimensional, that dimension being extreme violence. He was brought in to the X-books to serve as a mirror for Wolverine, after all. But in Krakoa he has another role, as the mutant who was banished to the Pit practically on day one, and hasn’t been seen since. In an age when the central premise is that all the mutants are on the same side, even the likes of Apocalypse and Omega Red, Sabretooth is indigestible.


Sep 24

Charts – 23 September 2022

Posted on Saturday, September 24, 2022 by Paul in Music

Goodness, a one-week number one. This is uncommonly fast turnaround for 2022.

1. David Guetta featuring Bebe Rexha – “I’m Good (Blue)”

Well, that video isn’t exactly a masterpiece of conceptual inspiration, is it? Then again, I’m not sure anyone at the label particularly expected this track to be a major hit – it seems to be a track that he worked up for use in DJ sets back in 2017, and it only got a proper release when TikTok got hold of it. It’s David Guetta’s sixth number one; the others are “When Love Takes Over” (2009), “Sexy Chick” (2009), “Gettin’ Over You” (2010), Flo Rida’s “Club Can’t Handle Me” (2010), “Titanium” (2011) and “Lovers on the Sun” (2014). So that’s an eight year gap. Maybe that’s more bad luck than anything else, since he has had multiple top 5 hits in that time.


Sep 23

New Mutants #30 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #30
“Still Classic”
Writer: Vita Ayala
Framing story art: Alex Lins & Bryan Valenza
Moonstar art: Justin Mason & Bryan Valenza
Karma art: Jason Loo
Wolfsbane story art: Emma Kubert, Roberto Poggi & Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Members of the cast pose – specifically, that’s Galura behind the logo; Warpath, Magik and Karma in the top tier; X-23, Anole and Dani Moonstar in the middle tier; and Cosmar, Wolfsbane and Sunspot at the bottom.

PAGE 2. Letter from the author. This issue is an anthology special celebrating the 40th anniversary of the New Mutants’ debut. It’s not connected to wider storylines and I wouldn’t have done annotations for it if it had been a one-shot, but it’s part of the regular series, so we’ll run through it quickly.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits.

PAGE 4. Data page. Sunspot invites us to the 40th anniversary celebration (or whatever it is in continuity).

PAGES 5-6. Sunspot is unhappy about the preparations for his party.

Cidade do Paraíso.” “Paradise City.”


Sep 22

Legion of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“A Canticle for Liebenden”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Toom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Legion, Banshee, Pixie, Nightcrawler, Juggernaut and for some reason Storm, standing around.

PAGE 2. Data page. Obviously, this is Professor X writing about his son Legion (David Haller). By likening Legion to something that he “crafted”, Professor X could just be referring to his status as Legion’s biological father – but it’s more likely a reference to the data pages in Powers of X #6 which indicate that Moira MacTaggert deliberately identified genetic partners for herself and Professor X to produce powerful reality-altering mutants. The obvious implication was that this was the genesis of Proteus and Legion. (Professor X’s continuing discomfort with Legion’s power and lack of controllability should probably also be seen in this light.)

PAGE 3. Recap and credits.

“A Canticle for Liebenden.” The title is probably a reference to Walter Miller’s novel A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), about a monastic order preserving knowledge in the centuries after a nuclear war, until humanity is ready for it again. Liebenden means lovers or loving. A canticle is a kind of hymn. If this sounds familiar, the same book was referenced in passing in Immortal X-Men #3, though that’s probably just a coincidence.


Sep 21

A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

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

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colour artist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort

COVER / PAGE 1. The Avengers, the X-Men and the Eternals in the shadow of the Progenitor.

PAGES 2-3. Recap and credits. To be honest, there’s not much annotation called for in this issue, since we’re deep into the story.

PAGE 4. The Progenitor renders its judgment.

And the characters who were already at the North Pole flee.

PAGE 5. The civilians react to the judgment.

Recall that last issue, Daniela and Jada passed, Tom and Katrina failed, and the Progenitor declined to judge either Komali or Kenta. Both Tom and Katrina appear to react to the judgment by developing the self-awareness that they were previously lacking, and that caused them to fail. Kenta is more explicitly rated by the Progenitor as a blameless innocent. Komali appears to be simply waiting to die so that she can be reunited with her late husband.