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Jun 7

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #28

Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #28 
“So I’m Dating a Pop Star!”
Writer: Jason Loo
Artist: EJ Su
Colourist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

So, yeah. This came out at the end of March and I’m only getting to it now. Time for a renewed push to clear the backlog.

The thing is: sitting at the top of my review list for a while has been Demon Days, the Peach Momoko miniseries which shipped more or less quarterly and basically involves Marvel Universe characters being reworked into Japanese mythology. And the thing bores me so completely that I just cannot face re-reading it. I mean, it’s beautiful, of course, but I just don’t get it at all. It doesn’t feel like the characters have much in common with the originals beyond the very superficial; I don’t feel like it’s telling me anything interesting about the characters or about Japanese mythology or about any sort of overlap between the two. If anything, it leaves me feeling like there is no connection and the whole thing is a completely arbitrary parlour game. Maybe if I knew more about Japanese folklore I’d be seeing some sort of connection there, but I don’t and I’m really, really not. I just don’t understand at all what the thing is trying to do or why it exists. It’s one of those comics where even the first time around I could feel by the end that I was still dutifully turning the pages but none of it was sinking in. And I just cannot bring myself to re-read the thing in order to review it properly. Life is too short.

Fortunately, the next Demon Days series to be solicited is something to do with Civil War, and the book itself is a mixture of X-books elements and stuff from the wider Marvel Universe, so I have decided that for my purposes it is Not An X-Book and we can all move on with our lives.

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Jun 5

The Incomplete Wolverine – 2001

Posted on Sunday, June 5, 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

Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada took over at Marvel in 2000, but it’s in 2001 that their direction for the company really becomes apparent. And there’s a point I should flag at the outset: a hallmark of this era is that Marvel weren’t really paying much attention to how various titles would fit together, and were also doing some quite lengthy storylines with no obvious gaps in them. This means that getting everything to fit into a coherent timeline can involve quite a bit of stretching, and series can often be miles out of synch with one another. So when I say “2001”, I’m using Wolverine’s solo title as the yardstick. There are other books that came out in 2001 – like Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – which we won’t reach until the 2002 instalment, because that’s just how it winds up fitting together.

Also, I’m going by shipping date, as best as I can establish it, rather than the notional cover dates listed on Marvel.com for these issues (which don’t even appear on the covers by this point).

WOLVERINE vol 2 #159-161
“The Best There Is”
by Frank Tieri, Sean Chen, Norm Rapmund and various colourists
December 2000 to February 2001

Testing Wolverine to see if he’s worthy of being an ally, deranged mercenary serial killer Mr X sends a bunch of soldiers after him, led by the Major, and including Blok and the Ladykillers. The Ladykillers are a female duo who go by the names and, deep sigh, A. Welcome to the Frank Tieri run, which continues (with some interruptions) through to issue #186 in 2003.

Logan fights off all the thugs, but loses to Mr X in single combat. Mr X takes Logan to his private island, where he explains his back story: as a child, he encountered a dying woman, could feel her passing, and became obsessed with recapturing that feeling. He’s also trained under the world’s greatest masters so that he can face ever greater opponents. Mr X gives Wolverine a choice between “accept[ing] my superiority and join[ing] me in my new murder avant-garde”, or dying because he now knows too much. Outraged that Mr X treats murder as a game, Logan flies into a berserker rage, escapes his restraints, and attacks Mr X. He does rather better this time, and Blok is forced to intervene – which Mr X regards as cheating.  He dumps Logan in a raft, and leaves a message that Mr X will get back to him in due course. So apparently Wolverine didn’t know too much after all – or maybe Mr X’s weird sense of the rules overrides that. Wolverine is troubled by the way he had to succumb to his berserker instincts to defeat Mr X, and is determined to be ready when Mr X comes back.

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Jun 4

Charts – 3 June 2022

Posted on Saturday, June 4, 2022 by Paul in Music

If nothing else, here’s an eclectic set of new entries. But first!

1. Harry Styles – “As It Was”

Nine weeks. It’s still another two weeks away from matching “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran from last year. The parent album drops to 2 this week, which is perfectly good, since the record that knocked it off is likely to be a one-week wonder.

8. Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill”

Well, this wasn’t in the script. “Running Up That Hill” has been used in Stranger Things; I don’t watch the show, but it evidently made an impact in order to go viral on this scale. “Running Up That Hill” was a number 3 hit on release in 1985; it was also re-issued in 2012 after being used in the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, and it got to number 6. That’s the last time Kate Bush was in the singles chart. Re-releases aside, her final hit single was “King of the Mountain” from 2005, which got to number 4.

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Jun 1

Knights of X #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

KNIGHTS OF X #2
“Never Split the Party”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. The Knights of X fight Merlyn’s forces in the Crooked Market. It’s got some lovely covers, this series.

PAGES 2-3. Merlyn yells at the province leaders.

This time, the provinces not associated with Merlyn are represented – Roma, Jim Jaspers, and two of the hooded things that represent Mercator. Merlyn kicks us off by recapping the plot of issue #1 in the first couple of panels.

Mister M. It’s been implied before that Mr M is the mysterious ruler of Mercator, but this is the first time it’s been directly confirmed on panel. Absalom Mercator is a fairly obscure character whose most significant appearances were in the mid-2000s Bishop series District X and the later miniseries X-Men: The 198. However, he’s been consistently listed throughout the Krakoan era as a missing omega mutant, and Planet-Size X-Men #1 strongly implied that he was the one now running the renamed province of Mercator. Mercator is a massively powerful matter transmutator. He was seemingly murdered in The 198 #5, but apparently rose from the dead transformed in some way, and was never seen again.

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May 28

Charts – 27 May 2022

Posted on Saturday, May 28, 2022 by Paul in Music

Well, if there was any doubt that Harry Styles was an A-lister, this should answer it.

1. Harry Styles – “As It Was”
2. Harry Styles – “Late Night Talking”
3. Harry Styles – “Music for a Sushi Restaurant”

That, of course, is the maximum number of singles from the same lead artist permitted under chart rules, introduced a few years back to put a stop to the phenomenon where major album releases swamped the top 20. The parent album “Harry’s House” is of course number 1 on the album chart; that’s his second number 1. His 2017 self-titled debut did spent a week at number 1, and hung around the top 10 for three weeks, but it was out of the top 40 after 15 weeks – a decent size hit but not Ed Sheeran territory. Its follow up “Fine Line”, from 2019, is another matter – although it entered at 3 and never got above number 2, it spent 62 weeks in the top 10, and 126 in the top 40.

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May 26

Legion of X #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

LEGION OF X #1
“Do What Thou Wilt”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

LEGION OF X is the relaunch of Way of X (or, if you prefer, Way of X was the prequel which did the set-up for this book).

COVER / PAGE 1: Well, that’s Legion and Juggernaut in the background, Nightcrawler at the front, and Pixie with the wings (who isn’t really in this issue, but was a recurring character in Way of X). The woman with the techno-stuff on her head is Weaponless Zsen, who’s introduced in this issue.

PAGE 2. Legion’s opening monologue.

Legion is addressing Blindfold, but we’ll come back to that. He’s also helpfully recapping Way of X for anyone new (like Blindfold). The opening panel seems like a meta nod to the season break since the last arc, too.

The Altar was introduced in Way of X and Legion’s explanation of it here is about as clear as anything else we’ve had in the past. Legion talks it up as a mutant dimension and then kind of backs off from that – we don’t entirely have a sense yet of how many mutants are using the Altar, or what kind of people they are. Broadly speaking, it seems to function as a hub of mutant culture with therapeutic overtones. Using it as the base for the Legion of X is slightly at odds with that – or maybe not, given that Kurt sees it as an essential part of a nation-building project, and as rehabilitative to boot.

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May 25

Charts – 20 May 2022

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 by Paul in Music

After weeks of me complaining about the singles chart being moribund, this is a bit more like it.

1. Harry Styles – “As It Was”

Not that it’s shifting Harry Styles, admittedly. But it was close. He holds on by the equivalent of 4,300 sales, and he’s lucky to do that. The CD single of “As It Was” was offered for pre-order a while back, intended for the hardcore fans. Due to production problems, it didn’t ship until this week, at which point the 9,000 odd pre-orders were added to his total. If it had shipped on time, those sales would have been credited to an earlier week, and he wouldn’t be number one.

2. Sam Ryder – “Space Man”

This is the UK entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We have a tradition in this country of entering records we don’t like, don’t buy and don’t listen to, and then sulking when the Germans agree with us. This time we’ve entered a record we actually like, and it came second. And considering that nobody was beating Ukraine in a public phone vote in 2022, that’s pretty good.

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May 22

Wolverine #21 annotations

Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #21
“Glory Daze”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Adam Kubert
Colourist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: Wolverine and Deadpool getting shot at.

PAGES 2-4. Wolverine chases Deadpool to get the briefcase back.

The opening pages have a similar layout to the opening pages of the previous issue. Wolverine and Deadpool’s eyes now appear in the spaces around the big circular panel.

I have to say that I simply can’t follow the action in this sequence. On page 2, Deadpool has the briefcase, and it’s still attached by a pair of handcuffs to the severed hand of its previous owner (which was cut off in the previous issue). Wolverine tackles Deadpool, and on page 3 panel 2 Wolverine clearly doesn’t have any handcuffs. Then, two panels later, Wolverine and Deadpool are handcuffed together. What?

PAGE 5. Recap and credits, with annotations from Deadpool. He bills himself as “Head of X”, which used to be Jonathan Hickman’s billing.

PAGES 6-8. Deadpool visits Weasel.

Weasel was Deadpool’s tech support guy throughout the Joe Kelly run. As this scene would indicate, they fell out rather badly. The footnote to Spider-Man / Deadpool – the ongoing series from 2016 to 2019 – is basically accurate. In that series, Weasel got himself resurrected as “Patient Zero” by making a deal with Mephisto to participate in a scheme to capture Spider-Man’s soul. He’s been resurrected twice more since then, and Deadpool’s basically correct to say that the details of their continuity aren’t worth keeping track of any more, and that it really all just goes round in circles. Mainly, Weasel wants revenge on Deadpool for the way Deadpool treated him when they were supposedly allies, but sometimes he grits his teeth and gets on with it for the money.

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May 21

X-Force #28 annotations

Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #28
“Cerebrax”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: X-Force, with Kid Omega in his Juggernaut form (which we’ll come to in the story). It’s marked “after Rob”; I assume the intended homage is to Rob Liefeld’s cover for X-Force vol 1 #3.

PAGES 2-4. Cerebrax decides to eat some more mutants.

This is very much X-Force in grindhouse mode, which means it doesn’t call for a huge amount of annotation. Which is very welcome news in a week with five X-books.

What we seem to be establishing here is that Cerebrax (as it calls itself later) is instinctively consuming mutants as a version of its remit to catalogue them, and having absorbed Forge, it picks up his building instincts too. Presumably that means that Cerebrax’s personality will continue to develop as it eats more people.

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May 20

New Mutants #25 annotations

Posted on Friday, May 20, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #25
“The Labors of Magik, part 1: Best Laid Plans…”
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artists: Rod Reis (main story) & Jan Duursema (flashbacks)
Colourists: Rod Reis (main story) & Ruth Redmond (flashbacks)
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Magik doing magic.

PAGE 2. Data page. This is indeed a quote from Heracles by the Greek dramatist Euripedes (c.480-c.406 BC), as translated by EP Coleridge. The story takes place after the twelfth labour of Hercules (the capture of Cerberus), and involves Hercules being driven mad by Iris and the personification of Madness, and killing his family in a frenzy. In the passage quoted, he’s lamenting what he has done and observing that he is now a social outcast. The ellipsis makes this rather obscure. The full passage reads:

Last, ah, woe is me! I have dared this labor, to crown the sorrows of my house with my children’s murder. I have come to this point of necessity; no longer may I dwell in Thebes, the city that I love; for suppose I stay, to what temple or gathering of friends shall I go? For mine is no curse that invites greetings.”

A more modern translation has it as:

“And this – ah, this! This here is my last labour! This bloody deed I performed and crowned the miseries of my house with the death of my own sons! And so, here I am! I have now arrived at this sorry state! Piety forbids me from living here, in Thebes, the city I love, because if I do stay here, to which temple or to what friends could I turn? The horror of my curse will not allow for friendly greetings.”

PAGES 3-4. S’ym produces a mace.

S’ym was Belasco’s henchman in Magik’s origin story, and served as Magik’s own highly untrustworthy henchman in New Mutants until he eventually turned on her. He was originally a nod to Dave Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark, hence the waistcoat.

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