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Mar 3

Charts – 1 March 2024

Posted on Sunday, March 3, 2024 by Paul in Music

Quite a lot of climbers this week, partly because of records getting hit by the downweighting rule and making room for them. However…

1. Beyoncé – “Texas Hold ‘Em”

…they’re not shifting this. Two weeks – and yes, it would be number one even without the downweighting rule. (By the way, I know the official term is “accelerated chart ratio”, but that would take even more explanation…) Oddly, sister track “16 Carriages” continues to struggle and has yet to make the top 40. I can understand why it’s not as big, but I’d have thought it would at least chart.

15. SZA – “Saturn”

This is the lead single from…well, it’s weird. It’s the lead single from something called “Lana”, which isn’t actually being released as a standalone album, but as a new second disc on a reissue of her previous album “SOS”. It makes no difference if you’re streaming, of course, but… why? Anyway, it’s a characteristically meandering but charming track, at least until the Mastercard advert at the end. Don’t look at me, this is the only official video I could find. It’s her highest position as a lead artist since “Kill Bill” reached number 3 in 2022.

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Mar 2

The X-Axis – w/c 26 February 2024

Posted on Saturday, March 2, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

A busy week, then! It’s been a while!

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #128. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. You’d have thought that by day 6 of release someone would have gone in and removed the opening clapperboard graphic that reads “for internal use only – to be deleted”, but apparently either nobody’s noticed yet or nobody’s had the time. Huh. Anyway, this is part 8, and there’s only so much I can say about this story every week. It’s finally getting around to some sort of point – Selene has promised the other Externals some sort of ascension if they kidnap mutants for her, they don’t trust her – but despite Foxe and Orlando trying to draw out their individual personalities, the Externals just aren’t all that interesting.

DEAD X-MEN #2. (Annotations here.) Apparently Dead X-Men has already fulfilled its mission for Rise of the Powers of X, but we’re getting the X-Men pursuing Moira back through her past lives anyway. It’s hard to say whether this actually plays into anything bigger or whether the book is now just off doing its own thing – in theory, anything that messes about with Moira’s memories ought to have massive ripple effects, but who knows how any of this is meant to work. At any rate, going back through Moira’s past seems like a good idea for the closing months of the Krakoan era – it’s a story that the X-books never really got around to, it offers some possibility to flesh out the current version of the character beyond psycho robot, and it contributes to an overall sense of closure. All that said, I’m not sure the conceit of having different artists for every timeline adds anything. (If indeed it is a conceit rather than a scheduling problem, but it’s probably the former, since this is how the series was always solicited.) Nor is it making a terribly strong case for the lost potential in this team of X-Men, since pretty much everyone other than Prodigy in this series is replaceable. Hopefully the others get more to do later on. Still, it’s an enjoyable romp, and the art on the Ultron Sentinel world is lovely.

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Mar 1

Dead X-Men #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

DEAD X-MEN #2
“Army of Me”
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artists: Peter Nguyen, Bernard Chang & Guillermo Sanna
Colour artist: Frank Martiin
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The X-Men surrounded by Ultron Sentinels.

Not only are three very different artists credited for this issue, but issue #1 also credited three artists, and only one (Bernard Chang) worked on both issues. Nonetheless, these are the originally solicited artists.

PAGES 2-4. The cyborg Moira arrives in her eighth life.

Last issue, the X-Men visited one of the abortive timelines created by Mr Sinister’s Moira Engine and met that world’s version of Moira MacTaggert, a cyborg who was building a weapon to “cut a path” back to her first life with a view to altering her entire history. The issue ended with her getting the last component that she needed (a shard of mysterium).

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Feb 29

Resurrection of Magneto #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, February 29, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

RESURRECTION OF MAGNETO #2
“The Weight of the World”
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Luciano Vecchio
Colour artists: David Curiel & Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Storm confronts Magneto at his memorial – a straightforward scene from the comic.

PAGES 2-4. Flashback: Magneto acquires a magic key.

This is a flashback to Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto #1, a one-shot from 2020. It’s the issue where Magneto buys an island from Namor the Sub-Mariner, in order that Emma can use it as the location of the first Hellfire Gala. In return, Magneto helps Namor to open a large metal doorway in the Molloy Deep, bearing the seal of the Old Kings of Atlantis (“Uhari, I think”). Inside, after fighting a kraken for a few pages, they encounter three apparent witches – the green one seen in this flashback, and two others who are just out of shot. The green witch challenges them to choose correctly between a “spiral” (a shell) and a stone in order to return to the surface. Namor chooses the shell and is immediately attacked by the thing which is on his face in the flashback. The witch then challenges Magneto to make the same choice; Magneto notices that there is a third plinth, apparently vacant, and chooses it. The witch then gets very angry but hands over the key seen here.

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Feb 28

Wolverine #44 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #44
“Sabretooth War, part 4”
Writers: Benjamin Percy & Victor LaValle
Penciller: Cory Smith
Inker: Oren Junior
Colour artist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: Sabretooth stalks Wolverine in a graveyard full of the graves of people Wolverine loved, or at least felt responsible for. I say that because Quentin Quire makes the list, although arguably an awkward father/son relationship is intended between the two of them.

PAGE 2. The Greenhouse residents clear up after the Sabretooth Army’s attack.

The bonfire presumably contains the body parts of the people who were killed in issue #41. The lone Cuckoo next to the bonfire is Phoebe, Quentin’s ex-girlfriend, whom he brought back to the Greenhouse in X-Force #47. Other than Black Tom and Sage, the mutants inside the Greenhouse seem to be generics.

PAGES 3-5. Aurora sews up Wolverine.

She’s reattaching his hands and feet after he tore free of his bonds in issue #42. It was all rather silly. Aurora and Akihiro’s relationship was established when they were in the cast of X-Factor.

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Feb 25

Charts – 23 February 2024

Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2024 by Paul in Music

After seven weeks at number 1 – and it would have been more without the Christmas flood – “Stick Season” is finally far enough past its peak to get hit by the downweighting rule, and drops to number 5. Our new number one is…

1. Beyoncé – “Texas Hold ‘Em”

Climbing from last week’s number 9, but that was based on a midweek release. Nonetheless, this was absolutely not a foregone conclusion. “Texas Hold ‘Em” is Beyoncé’s eighth UK number one, if you count Destiny’s Child records. The other seven are “Independent Women” (2000), “Survivor” (2001), “Crazy in Love” (2003), “Deja Vu” (with Jay-Z, 2006), “Beautiful Liar” (with Shakira, 2007), “If I Were a Boy” (2008) and “Telephone” (with Lady Gaga, 2009). You may note that the last of those was 15 years ago.

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Feb 24

The X-Axis – w/c 19 February 2024

Posted on Saturday, February 24, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #127. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Phillip Sevy, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. They fight. The arc does seem to be getting more focussed on its core plot, but it’s no closer to making any of this seem interesting. Captain Britain, Rictor and Shatterstar versus Absalom and Nicodemus? Even by the standards of Unlimited exclusives, who cares? The story does try to punch up Absalom by dusting off his despair gimmick, but I remain genuinely puzzled about what the hook for this story is supposed to be. What is any of this about and why am I supposed to care? It’s coherent on the surface, but if I’m still asking that question by part 7, something’s gone very wrong.

X-FORCE #49. (Annotations here.) The resurrected Classic Beast enlists the help of his best friend Wonder Man to take on the Krakoa Beast – although since it’s not the early 1980s any more, Wonder Man is rather confused to see him. Meanwhile, the modern Beast’s plans get increasingly demented, and X-Force blunder around misreading the whole situation in their normal fashion. This isn’t remotely subtle, but it is quite good fun. And I do enjoy the retro Beast’s reaction to his dystopian future, which is to remain doggedly upbeat. Robert Gill’s art makes his sequences with Wonder Man rather likeable. Benjamin Percy doesn’t quite seem to grasp just how pacifist Wonder Man has been for the last decade, which is unfortunate, not least because it would actually play quite nicely into a path-not-taken angle. But overall, this is perfectly enjoyable.

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #2. (Annotations here.) While Fall of the House of X has felt as if it’s spinning off the rails, Rise of the Powers of X is far more coherent. That might simply be because it has less to tie in to – it only really has to worry about Dead X-Men, and gesture vaguely in the direction of some sort of anti-Orchis uprising going on, and then it can get on with its time travel story. That story is admittedly convoluted, but that’s time travel for you. Gillen gets the idea across, and RB Silva makes it all suitably epic. The Cypher reveal is particularly well played, casting all his dialogue up to that point in a different light that makes more sense, even though it didn’t seem that off the first time round. I’m still not entirely sure whether this story is actually about anything in particular, beyond finding a way of drawing key themes of the Krakoan era to a climax – but it’s certainly achieving that, which is enough at this point.

Feb 23

Rise of the Powers of X #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #2
“Out of Space”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: RB Silva
Colour artist: David Curiel
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Rasputin IV in battle.

PAGE 2. Moira just before her powers emerged.

Not exactly a flashback, because this is narrated by Enigma, who is outside normal time. This is Moira MacTaggert in her tenth life, reliving childhood as she always has to, while waiting to be old enough to try her newest idea. Enigma is apparently going to offer her another option that she hasn’t thought of – possibly another way out of being stuck in a time loop. (Though note that Moira apparently never tries to end the loop by committing suicide before her powers emerge.) More of that later.

We don’t get a clear shot of Moira’s mother, but this is Lady Kinross. She has been seen on panel before – she can be seen from behind in some of Moira’s earlier lives in House of X #2 – but she’s never done anything significant.

PAGES 3-4. Enigma’s montage.

The panels shown here are:

  • Page 3 panel 1: The MacTaggert family home, as seen in House of X #2.
  • Page 3 panel 2: Jean Grey making contact with Phoenix at the climax of X-Men #100. Enigma reminds us again that Phoenix can defeat Dominions, something that was also mentioned last issue.
  • Page 3 panel 3: This is apparently meant to be young Scott Summers being thrown to safety by his parents when the Shi’ar attack, as seen in flashback in Uncanny X-Men #156. However, he really ought to be clutching his younger brother Alex. Enigma says that Scott’s parents are “gone forever, in every meaningful way” because he doesn’t reunite with his father Corsair until well into adulthood, and Corsair never returns to Earth. The “new parents” are presumably Mr Sinister (who secretly ran the orphanage where Scott grew up) and Professor X; Enigma doesn’t seem terribly impressed by either of them.
  • Page 3 panel 4: Cyclops awaits his trial in Fall of the House of X #1. Scott has been dreaming in that series that Jean will save him.
  • Page 3 panel 5: This seems to be M/Penance fighting Sentinels, presumably part of the fightback against Orchis in Fall of the House of X, and having little to do with Enigma’s narration. Jean is “dying along with the Phoenix” thanks to Mother Righteous’ botched attempt to use the Phoenix to ascend to Dominionhood, as seen in the Jean Grey miniseries and recent issues of Immortal X-Men.
  • Page 4 panel 1: The abortive timeline that we saw in the previous issue.
  • Page 4 panel 2: Young Charles Xavier squabbles with his stepbrother Cain Marko. The man in the background ignoring the whole thing is Cain’s father, Kurt Marko.
  • The remainder of the page sees Professor X escaping Enigma’s view by slipping into the No-Place where we saw him last issue.

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Feb 22

X-Force #49 annotations

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #49
“We Need to Talk About Beast”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colour artist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramanga
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Beast and Wonder Man burst forth, with X-Force in the background. It’s a homage to the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1.

PAGES 2-4. The Beast raids the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

This is the Krakoa-era Beast. He’s wearing the suit of Krakoan armour that he stole from the Greenhouse last issue. According to page 10, the component he steals here is a “nuclear reactor”; we see him on page 11 welding it into his “black hole gun”. The US military has experimented with portable nuclear reactors, but not that portable. Still, this is the Marvel Universe.

Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station is a real place. According to its website, it’s “America’s premier weapons station family [sic], and winner of the 2021 Commander, Navy Region Southwest Installation Excellence Award for Small Installations.” Basically, it provides weapons storage and support to the US Pacific fleet.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

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Feb 18

Daredevil Villains #16: The Boss

Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2024 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #29 (June 1967)
“Unmasked!”

Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Penciller: Gene Colan
Inker: John Tartaglione
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Colourist: not credited

As Daredevil approached issue #30, Stan Lee was getting downright sluggish when it came to new ideas for villains. Last month was little green men. This month is “the heartless hood they call… the Boss!” The Boss is just a regular old crime boss, with no particular hook. Often characters like this represent Daredevil toying with the sort of stories that will eventually make the book work. Less so in this case.

The issue opens with Matt pondering a dilemma. He’s decided to ask Karen to marry him. No, you didn’t miss an issue. It’s all or nothing with Matt. The dilemma is: should he marry her as Matt, or as Mike? Yes, this sounds like an excellent foundation for a healthy marriage. As Colan draws him, Matt at home looks like a genial English professor, with a nice cardigan and a tweed jacket. For some reason he also has a signed photograph of Karen Page. Seems like an odd gift for Karen to give to a man she believes to be completely blind, but it keeps showing up in later issues.

Meanwhile, we check in on the Masked Marauder’s men. The Marauder died two issues ago, and his men have been waiting patiently for “over a month” for further orders. Finally, they decide that he’s really not coming back, and so they open his last instruction. It tells them to go after Nelson and Murdock, find out who Daredevil is, and then avenge the Marauder’s defeat. The Marauder certainly has a lot of faith in his men to carry out this vague instruction from a man who is, presumably, no longer paying their wages. But follow it they do, heading to the Nelson & Murdock offices in the Marauder’s customised truck that very night.

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