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Jun 28

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #41

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by Paul in Uncategorized

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #41
“Birthday Side Quest”
Writer & artist: Jason Loo
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

It feels like only yesterday that I reviewed Jason Loo’s last single-issue Unlimited story, the one where Lila Cheney went speed dating. Actually, that was issue #28, and it came out in March…but it took me a while to get around to reviewing it.

This is very much in the same vein. It’s Jubilee’s birthday; she invites her former teammates from Generation X to join her in a fantasy-themed escape room. You might wonder whether Jubilee doesn’t have any other friends than the people she hung out with in a series from more than twenty years ago, who she might want to spend her birthday with… but then again, most of the candidates are currently in Knights of X, so maybe she doesn’t. Anyway, Jubilee wants to do it in full cosplay, and nobody else is really on board with that. And only about half the team show up, though that’s probably a good move given how many characters that would be.

If you remember the Lila Cheney story, you probably know where this is heading. There’s a bit of light comedy. Loo’s art is really good at that kind of thing – one thing this story does really well is make these characters look like old friends hanging out. But it’s got the same basic problem as the Lila story – rather than just commit to making “they hang out and that’s entertaining” into a plot, it randomly throws in a bunch of anti-mutant bigots in the second half so that the heroes can beat them up. That’s all a bit generic, and it doesn’t resolve anything that was set up in the first part of the story.  Once again, it feels like Loo didn’t actually have an ending for the gentle character comedy he had set up, and just reached for the stock X-Men ending of the Krakoan era.

Yes, I get it, it’s satisfying when the bad guys get beaten up. But it’d be even more satisfying if it had something to do with the first half of the issue.

Apr 2

Charts – 1 April 2022

Posted on Saturday, April 2, 2022 by Paul in Uncategorized

Are we just not releasing new singles, then?

1. Dave – “Starlight”

Four weeks, heading up a static top five. Apparently it was pretty close over Aitch at number 2, but on paper it’s another dull chart. For our highest new entry, we have to go down to…

23. Potter Payper featuring Tiggs Da Author – “Gangsteritus”

Could somebody not have told him that it’s spelt “-itis”? Oh well. This has been out for months, but it finally charts after showing up in Netflix’s Top Boy. It’s a track from Potter Payper’s 2021 album “Thanks for Waiting”, which reached the top 10. His 2020 album “Training Day 3” made the top 5, too. But this is the first time he’s appeared in the top 40 singles; his previous best was a freestyle that got to number 41 in 2020.

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Mar 22

Marauders #22-27

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 by Paul in Uncategorized

MARAUDERS #22-27
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Matteo Lolli (#22 and #26-27), Klaus Janson (flashback in #22), Ivan Fiorelli (#23), Phil Noto (#24-25 and # 27)
Colourist: Rain Beredo (#22-23 and #26-27)
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan White

I’ve said before that the period between “Hellfire Gala” and Inferno showed some definite signs of drift for the X-books. Nowhere was that more obvious than with Marauders, which had been a very focussed, very successful book for its first 22 issues, but loses its way badly in the last few issues of the Gerry Duggan run.

The first 20 issues have a central spine to them, of Kitty feeling isolated, getting killed, returning to claim her identity and take revenge on Shaw, and so on. But that’s all finished by the time of the Hellfire Gala, and the book doesn’t really find anything to replace it in these closing issues.

By way of reminder, here’s what happens. Issue #22 is the Lourdes Chantel story, with guest art from Klaus Janson, which retcons the death of this minor character from a Classic X-Men back-up strip. It now turns out that Emma Frost created an illusion of her death to enable her to escape her abusive relationship with Sebastian Shaw, who to this day still looks back on that relationship fondly as his true love. This is the closest the book comes to a central theme in the closing issues, and it’s good enough as far as it goes, though Lourdes herself never really seems to develop much beyond a cipher.

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Jan 30

Marauders Annual #1 annotations

Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2022 by Paul in Annotations, Uncategorized

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

MARAUDERS ANNUAL #1
“Hellfire & Brimstone”
by Steve Orlando, Creees Lee & Rain Beredo

MARAUDERS ANNUAL. This is the first Marauders Annual, and something of an odd release in the Krakoan era, when the X-books haven’t generally been doing annuals at all. It seems to exist as a one-shot serving as the launch for the upcoming Marauders vol 2 – billing it as Marauders Annual #1 rather than as Marauders vol 2 #1 allows it to ship during the season break.

COVER / PAGE 1. Daken, Kate and Psylocke fight Brimstone Love.

PAGES 2-4. Daken is ambushed while investigating a mass grave.

Greenwich, Connecticut. It’s a wealthy, largely white area, something that Daken also notes on page 12.

Daken. Wolverine’s son is joining the cast of Marauders in vol 2, and this is his introduction. He was previously a member of X-Factor, which is why he’s looking for proof of death – his main job is to find evidence that mutants have really died, so that they can be safely resurrected without awkward doppelgangers resulting. Although he repeatedly calls himself “Akihiro” in this scene (his surname), the recap page still calls him Daken. However, he’s dumped his X-Factor outfit in favour of a variant of his costume from his Dark Wolverine days. To be precise, the opening panel seems to be loosely based on the cover of Daken: Dark Wolverine #1.

We see on page 12 that Daken specifically asked the telepaths he mentions to look out for his mental signals.

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Nov 3

Housekeeping

Posted on Wednesday, November 3, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized

No annotations this week, because… well, there’s nothing to annotate. The only X-books out this week are X-Men: Legends and X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic (and they’re both in mid-storyline, so they’re not due for a review either).

So… yeah.

On Sunday, though, it’ll be time for Wolverine in 1994.

Aug 25

Wolverine #15 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #15
“Deceiver”
by Benjamin Percy, Adam Kubert & Frank Martin

COVER / PAGE 1. Wolverine fights Sevyr Blackmore. The exposed metal is presumably meant to reflect Sevyr’s acid attack, but it looks more cyborg-like. At any rate, nothing like that happens in the issue, so let’s call it symbolic.

PAGES 2-6. Flashback: Sevyr raises Solem.

Logan points out on page 8 that Sevyr is not a reliable narrator, but it seems likely that we’re meant to take all of this at face value. The gist is that Sevyr wiped out Solem’s village when he was a child, but was impressed enough by Solem to take him prisoner, and (after his skills became apparent) make him a pirate. Solem grows to become a rogue and trickster figure, and eventually avenges himself by cutting off Sevyr’s nose and stealing his ship. All this is new information.

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Feb 5

King in Black: Marauders #1

Posted on Friday, February 5, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized

KING IN BLACK: MARAUDERS #1
“Queen in Red”
by Gerry Duggan, Luke Ross & Carlos Lopez

So this is a thing. Why is this a thing?

I will grant you, I am not the most receptive audience for a “King in Black” tie-in. To say I couldn’t care less about Knull is a considerable overstatement of my level of interest in Knull. He doesn’t even interest me as a Venom concept – Venom doesn’t cry out for a mythology involving alien space demons. But hey, Venom isn’t my concern.

What’s the thinking behind line-wide crossovers like this? There used to be a fairly obvious strategy for event comics. You had a central storyline in a core miniseries, and maybe one or two central books. And then you ran a bunch of tie-ins in assorted ongoing titles – maybe side quests, maybe just things happening in the margins of the main story. And why did you do all those tie-ins? Mainly, to sell more copies of the tie-in books.

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Jan 31

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1981

Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2021 by Paul in Uncategorized, Wolverine, x-axis

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

The focus is very much off Wolverine in this year’s X-Men stories. But 1981 is also where most of Wolverine: First Class fits, so…

X-MEN vol 1 #141 and UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #142
“Days of Future Past”
by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin & Glynis Wein 
January & February 1981

Kate Pryde, the middle-aged Sprite from the distant future of 2013, swaps minds with her past self in order to warn the X-Men that the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Mystique (Raven Darkhölme), Destiny (Irene Adler), Avalanche (Dominic Petros), Pyro (St John Allerdyce) and the Blob – are going to assassinate Senator Robert Kelly. In Kate’s timeline, this set off a chain of events resulting in an apocalyptic Sentinel-dominated America, and likely nuclear annihilation. The X-Men, now with Storm as field leader, duly defeat the new Brotherhood and save Kelly; Kitty and Kate swap back.

“Days of Future Past” is a classic X-Men story, but it’s not particularly central for Wolverine. He does get to use his senses to verify that Kate is the real thing, and to identify Mystique in disguise. And he has a brief argument with Storm, now that she’s the new authority figure in town. She orders him not to use his claws against opponents unless the circumstances are exceptional, and he grudgingly accepts the ruling. Interestingly, her argument is that he doesn’t need his claws because he has “speed [and] strength” as well as his adamantium skeleton, which reads as if they still hadn’t quite figured out exactly what his powers were at this point.

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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!

BEST NEW SERIES

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?

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

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.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

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.

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 2020 (or partially in 2020, 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?

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!

Dec 3

X-Factor #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 3, 2020 by Paul in Uncategorized

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

X-FACTOR vol 4 #5
“Suite No. 5: First Movement Finale: ‘After a Summer of Allostatic Overload”
by Leah Williams, David Baldeon & Israel Silva

“Allostatic load” is wear and tear on the body as a result of stress.

COVER / PAGE 1: Aurora and Northstar using their powers together. More of that later.

PAGES 2-4. X-Factor show the Five proof of Wind Dancer’s death.

This is picking up the storyline that was in progress before “X of Swords”. Presumably Wind Dancer’s plight was put on hold while the Five had a more pressing crisis to deal with, in the form of disruption to the whole resurrection operation.

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