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Apr 10

Resurrection of Magneto #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

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. Magneto attacks Orchis footsoldiers. He’s in his black costume, rather than the red one worn in the issue.

PAGE 2. Obituary for Paul Neary.

PAGE 3. Magneto advances towards Orchis soldiers.

As in previous issues, this opening splash page is a tarot reference – it’s loosely based on the Rider-Waite version of the Hierophant. That card doesn’t show the Hierophant with three helmets, but it does show him in a purple cape between two pillar type structures, raising his right hand in the same position as Magneto here, and with two worshippers in the position of the two Orchis footsoldiers. It also has two crossed keys lying on the floor, replaced here by two Orchis cards.


Apr 7

Daredevil Villains #20: Starr Saxon

Posted on Sunday, April 7, 2024 by Paul in Daredevil

We’re skipping Daredevil #48, which is another Stilt-Man story. And with that, we’ve reached the end of Stan Lee’s run as writer.

(January to August 1969)
Writer: Stan Lee (#49-50, 53), Roy Thomas (#51-55)
Pencillers: Gene Colan (#49, #53-55), Barry Smith (#50-52)
Inker: George Klein (#49, #51, #53-54), Johnny Craig (#50, #52), Syd Shores (#55)
Letterer: Artie Simek (#49, #51, #53-55), Herb Cooper (#50), Sam Rosen (#52)
Colourist: not credited
Editor: Stan Lee

You only have to look at those credits to see that this is a bit chaotic. Perhaps Stan Lee was keen to stick around until issue #50 because it was a nice round number. But instead of ending his run with a grand finale, Lee hands the book over to Roy Thomas in mid storyline. And the story just keeps going, in the book’s longest arc to date. In practice it’s really six issues rather than seven – issue #53 is a fill-in with a token framing sequence to continue the plot – but that’s still far longer than any continuous arc so far, and far longer than anything we’ll get in the rest of Roy Thomas’ run. The Masked Marauder hung around for the better part of a year, but that was as a recurring villain. This is one continuing arc.


Apr 6

Charts – 5 April 2024

Posted on Saturday, April 6, 2024 by Paul in Music

Well, Beyonce has an album out.

1. Beyoncé – “Texas Hold ’Em”
8. Beyoncé – “Jolene”
9. Beyoncé featuring Miley Cyrus – “II Most Wanted”

The maximum three tracks from the album “Cowboy Carter”, which predictably enters at number 1 – Beyoncé hasn’t missed number 1 with a studio album since 2013. After two weeks at number 3, “Texas Hold ’Em” returns to number 1 for a fifth week.

“Jolene” is the talking point cover version. Country hasn’t traditionally been huge in the UK, but “Jolene” was a hit for Dolly Parton back in 1976, reaching number 7 (so still one place above Beyoncé). Dolly Parton’s only other top 40 hit in the UK was “Islands in the Stream” with Kenny Rogers, which also got to number 7 in 1983. Everyone knows “9 to 5” but it didn’t actually make the top 40.


Apr 5

The X-Axis – w/c 1 April 2024

Posted on Friday, April 5, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #133. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, Travis Lanham. Look, there’s only so much I can say each week about an endless, rambling storyline with no apparent point beyond being a farewell tour. I can sort of see how that might work in theory, but what we’re actually getting feels very unfocussed. It feels almost as if it’s intended to come across as a victory lap. And while there’s still good stuff out there, the Krakoan era as a whole isn’t going out in a way that can pull off a victory lap.

X-MEN #33. (Annotations here.) Speaking of which. Not that this is an especially bad issue in its own right. It’s obviously making an effort to tie up loose ends, provide a bit of resolution, and generally clear away some of the dead wood so that Fall and Rise can take a clear run at the AI opposition. It does all that quite efficiently. Shinobi Shaw even shows up for a couple of pages, and he’s a character I actually am interesting in checking in on during Fall of X. It doesn’t have the mad-scramble feel of some other contributions to this crossover (though it seems to have been written in complete ignorance of Callisto’s role in Dark X-Men). At the same time, it doesn’t feel epic either, and the character moments rarely land. It’s mainly just the plot moving from A to B in quite a simplistic way. This isn’t how you want Krakoa to go out.

AVENGERS #12. By Jed MacKay, Francesco Mortarino, Federico Blee & Cory Petit. This is the first half of a Fall of the House of X tie-in. It’s also written by Jed MacKay, who’s one of the incoming writers for Whatever The Hell Is Coming Next. Don’t expect any particular pointers about that, though. MacKay’s Avengers is in the model of the sort of Justice League story where the big names go up against grand sweeping ideas. It does that well, but it’s not the way he approaches other books and I’d be surprised if it was the way he approached X-Men. This issue plugs Orchis into the villain of the week role (which has the downside that Orchis is a much weaker concept than most of the ones in this book have been, at least when it’s used as a straight anti-mutant organisation). Part of the story is intended to rationalise why the Avengers have been ignoring Orchis until now – they’ve been waiting for Iron Man’s cue that it’s time to move, basically, and now they get to go around smashing up a lot of Orchis stuff so that the X-Men don’t have to worry about it. The other part of the story, which is the actual hook, involves the 3-D Man resurfacing as an ally of Orchis, who’s been off panel until now because he’s supposed to be tasked with keeping the Avengers occupied, and they haven’t actually done anything until now. It’s not the best issue of this Avengers run, but in terms of the bad guys getting smashed up in a brightly optimistic way, Mortarino’s art is a better fit than what we’re getting in X-Men.

Apr 3

X-Men #33 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #33
“As the World Burns”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colour artist: Romulo Fajardo Jr
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: The X-Men in action alongside some of Doom’s mutant team.

PAGE 2. Flashback: Sebastian Shaw sends Shinobi Shaw to clear land in Madripoor.

Although the caption says “Not long ago”, it’s fairly clear that this takes place during Fall of the House of X. Shinobi explains later that Shaw has offered refuge to Killian Devo, the idea being to either help him rebuild Orchis or sell him out to the mutants, depending on how matters go.

This is the first time we’ve seen Shinobi Shaw since Gerry Duggan’s run on Marauders. As in that series, he’s not exactly on board with the heir role that Sebastian wants him to play, and is rather more inclined to align with his fellow mutants.


Mar 31

Daredevil Villains #19: Biggie Benson

Posted on Sunday, March 31, 2024 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #47 (December 1968)
“Brother, Take My Hand”
Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Penciller: Gene Colan
Inker: George Klein
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colourist: Not credited

Biggie Benson is another random crime boss who shows up in Daredevil as a one-off villain. I could stop there. But there are a few reasons to spend more time on this issue. The least interesting of those reasons is that Biggie isn’t strictly a one-off villain; he comes back looking for revenge in a couple of issues time. But that’s just to get the plot rolling.

A better reason to pay attention to this story is that it introduces Willie Lincoln, who shows up periodically as a supporting character for the next year or so. Since the supporting cast still consists entirely of Foggy Nelson, Karen Page and Debbie Harris, any new recurring character is at least somewhat noteworthy.

But more than that, this is A Very Special Issue, and we haven’t had one of those yet.

We open with a flashback to a few months ago, as Daredevil visits Vietnam to entertain the troops with a display of acrobatics. In the audience is Willie, who is losing his sight after being injured in battle. Willie is a huge Daredevil fan, and apparently he’s  insisted on hanging around in order to see his idol in person. This being the Silver Age, the melodrama is cranked up to 11, and so Willie’s sight gives out on him in the middle of Daredevil’s performance.


Mar 31

Charts – 29 March 2024

Posted on Sunday, March 31, 2024 by Paul in Music

It’s one of those weeks when the singles chart gets invaded by a couple of major album releases. But not right at the top.

1. Benson Boone – “Beautiful Things”

Two weeks, and a comfortable lead over everything else. “Lose Control” by Teddy Swims is at 2, but it’s been there before a month ago. He’s been in the top 10 since mid January, though, so he’s unfortunate not to reach the very top. His new single “Slow It Down” enters at number 42 this week, but you have to figure it has a good chance of making the top 40 in due course.

6. Future & Metro Boomin featuring Kendrick Lamar – “Like That”
18. Future & Metro Boomin featuring Travis Scott & Playboi Carti – “Type Shit”
20. Future & Metro Boomin featuring Travis Scott – “Cinderella”

That’s the maximum three singles from the album “We Don’t Trust You”, which enters at number 2. Future’s last solo album, 2022’s “I Never Liked You”, also got to number 2; Metro Boomin’s “Heroes & Villains” reached number 3 in the same year. So it’s no surprise that their shared album does well. “Like That” does best, probably because it’s new Kendrick Lamar material. And honestly, aside from his verse, this is pretty dreary stuff.


Mar 30

The X-Axis – w/c 25 March 2024

Posted on Saturday, March 30, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

(Again, before anyone asks, no, I’m not doing X-Men ’97, for essentially the same reasons that I’m not doing Ultimate X-Men: it’s not part of the core X-Men line, and it doesn’t interest me enough for me to spend money on it.)

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #132. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. In this issue, Wiz Kid and Trinary fight off hackers in one of those cyberspace stories that I thought had gone out of fashion twenty years ago. We’re twelve issues into this arc and if there’s meant to be a point to any of it beyond killing time with a farewell tour of Krakoan D-listers, I honestly have not got the slightest clue what it is. I’m afraid my patience has run out.

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #3. (Annotations here.) The Rise half of this event continues to feel much more coherent than Fall, without the same sense of last-minute changes of plan being accommodated. Perhaps any changes hit the other side more extensively – maybe this plotline was always going to pay off around now, or it’s been easier to skip to the end by jumping over the failed ascensions of Orbis Stellaris and Dr Stasis. And RB Silva’s art makes this book feel convincingly epic, as well. But for all the epic time travel and cosmic weirdness, this issue is built around Professor X finally getting to confront Moira about the collapse of Krakoa. Which means it’s really a story about how he feels about the compromises he was driven into, and also that Moira gets to be written as something more than a one-dimensional lunatic, an approach which pretty much killed the character after Hickman left. Going back to an earlier version of Moira helps to re-establish her as someone to invest in, and she’s really needed that.


Mar 29

Wolverine #46 annotations

Posted on Friday, March 29, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 6 #46
“Sabretooth War, part 6”
Writers: Benjamin Percy & Victor LaValle
Penciller: Cory Smith
Inker: Oren Junior
Colourist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Sabretooth operates on Wolverine’s brain. Not something that actually happens in the issue, at least not literally.

PAGES 2-6. Sabretooth briefs Wolverine for their “mission”.

Last issue, Sabretooth came to Krakoa looking for what he described as “something those mutants left behind”, and which he evidently expected to find in Forge’s lab. Wolverine came after him, only for Sabretooth to instantly zap him with the enslaved Quentin Quire, and place Wolverine in a scenario where they were Team X teammates again, about to go on a mission. That’s where we come in.

From the way this plays out, Quentin is obviously doing something a bit more subtle than simply making Wolverine see illusions. Clearly on some level Wolverine is reacting to the world around him, or he wouldn’t be swimming when he believes himself to be parachuting. But on a conscious level, he’s apparently experiencing the version of events on the right hand side of the page.


Mar 28

X-Force #50 annotations

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #50
“Violent Answers”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colour artist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. It’s the final issue of this run so X-Force pose for the camera. Look, some of them are even smiling.

PAGES 2-4. Beast II and Wonder Man reach Beast Prime.

We’re picking up from the end of the previous issue, with Beast II and Wonder Man heading out to sea in search of the Krakoa-era Beast, and X-Force opening fire because they figure this new Beast has already turned bad on them. The Krakoan Beast – helpfully wearing a distinctive suit at this point – promptly punts Wonder Man back to the surface.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.