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Dec 19

Charts – 17 December 2021

Posted on Sunday, December 19, 2021 by Paul in Music

Just one more chart week to go before Christmas… which means this is a dead week. Not the Christmas chart yet, so too early for the records that want a shot at number one. But swamped with Christmas back catalogue, so nobody else is releasing new music against it.

1. Ed Sheeran & Elton John – “Merry Christmas”

Two weeks. This is starting to grow on me slightly, but I’ll be interested to see if it can really keep charting in future years. It heads up a completely static top 7.

25. D-Block Europe featuring AJ Tracey – “Make You Smile”

This is… an anomaly. It’s not even a single, but a track from the Home Alone 2 mixtape, climbing from last week’s 42. It’s obviously positioned well to capitalise after the Christmas tracks vanish in two weeks time. “Overseas” is at still at number 12.

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Dec 18

X-Force #26 annotations

Posted on Saturday, December 18, 2021 by Paul in x-axis

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #26
“Wipeout”
by Benjamin Percy, Robert Gill & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1. The rest of the cast look on as Wolverine dives into a live volcano after… well, who knows? Nothing much like it happens in the issue. There’s an eruption, but no diving into the lava with claws drawn. (And this looks to be a man’s hand, not Pike’s.)

This issue’s pretty simple, annotation-wise.

PAGES 2-4. Pike and her team bring the stolen babies to their submarine.

These are the Krakoan babies that they stole from the Bower last issue. The one that screams is Maximillian, who “nearly killed everybody in a hundred-yard radius” with his uncontrolled powers (according to Kid Omega last issue).

Pike’s unnamed employer is identified at the end of the issue.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-9. X-Force investigate Pike’s attack, and Wolverine talks to Kid Omega about his break-up with Phoebe.

Last issue, Pike and her team entered Krakoa through the supposedly unmanageable Dead Mutant’s Cove, posing as Krakoan surfers, and Wolverine directed them to the Bower (not least because he was attracted to Pike, though he doesn’t say that in terms here).

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Dec 16

Excalibur #26 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2021 by Paul in x-axis

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

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #26
“The Fantasy is Over”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1. Saturnyne, with Betsy as her knight, and her sword in a scrying pool that shows the rest of the cast. Unusually for 2021, we get a very old-school piece of lettering trailing the climax. In three mismatched fonts, none of which fit well with the logo, and all of which feel squeezed into a space in the corner. I’m really not sure what it’s doing there, since the cover as a whole doesn’t evoke anything retro, and it drags down a perfectly nice piece of art.

PAGE 2. Merlyn briefs his troops.

Merlyn captured the Starlight Citadel and renamed it the Lunatic Citadel last issue. Those are his siege engines in the background of the first panel.

Aside from Arthur himself, Merlyn is addressing groups from the various factions allied with him in previous issues: the Sevalith (the vampire guys), the Furies (the robot thing) and the Colony (the bees people). There are some more generic soldiers around as well. Saturnyne’s aide Ryl is still there, standing by Merlyn’s throne and apparently being accepted by him. Presumably she’s loyal to the throne rather than its current occupant.

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Dec 13

The Homies 2021

Posted on Monday, December 13, 2021 by Al in Podcast

I say! You there! You, boy! What day is it?

It’s Homies Eve? Then I haven’t missed it! Go to the content mines, bring me your finest views on comics from the calendar year 2021! The ones as big as you, yes, come on, be quick about it, you children today, you don’t know you’re born, a short spell of National Service would sort you out.

Anyway. It’s time for your nominations for the 2021 House to Astonish Homies awards.

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 2021 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 2021 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 2021, 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 2021. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so Eternals or The Swamp Thing wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) The Good Asian or Primordial would.

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

The counterpart to the categories above, which covers books whose first issue was published in 2020 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 2021 (or partially in 2021, 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 12

X-Men Legends #7-9

Posted on Sunday, December 12, 2021 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN LEGENDS #7-9
“Kidnapped!”
by Larry Hama, Billy Tan & Chris Sotomayor

From time to time I read the final chapter of a story and realise I have no memory of what happened in the previous chapters, and none of this feels like it has any particular significance to me. Often I go back and re-read the earlier issues, and the pieces fall into place, and I can see what the story was going for. And sometimes… it’s still just stuff happening.

For its fourth arc, X-Men Legends revisits Larry Hama’s run on Wolverine in the 1990s. And undoubtedly, that qualifies as a landmark run. We’re working through it at the moment over in the “Incomplete Wolverine” posts, but suffice to say that the first few years of Larry Hama’s run are not only vastly entertaining, they also introduce a lot of core Wolverine mythology that gets referenced regularly to this day. The later years of Hama’s run are, shall we say, a bit more patchy; some of that feels like it’s to do with editorial stop-starting, but a fair bit feels like it’s to do with having already done the big ideas, and a drift towards the surreal that often doesn’t pay off.

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Dec 11

Charts – 10 December 2021

Posted on Saturday, December 11, 2021 by Paul in Music

Well, this is… unsurprising.

1. Ed Sheeran & Elton John  – “Merry Christmas”

You don’t often get major artists making an unabashed bid for a Christmas number one, but this is a Christmas single of the old school. It’s okay, I guess?  The hook’s not quite there. I can’t honestly see it becoming an annual return visitor – or at least, it’ll probably do as well as that Coldplay single – but time will tell.

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Dec 10

Inferno #3 annotations

Posted on Friday, December 10, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

INFERNO vol 2 #3
by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Stefano Caselli, Valerio Schiti, Adriano di Benedetto & David Curiel

COVER / PAGE 1. Professor X and Magneto fight Nimrods. Or rather, just the one Nimrod, in his multiple bodies.

PAGE 2. Data page. Our opening quote comes from Omega Sentinel, and we’ll get to it on page 28. At this stage, the natural assumption is that she’s referring to one of Moira’s past lives, but that’s not the idea, as we’ll find out.

PAGES 3-5. Flashback: Professor X shows Cypher his plans.

We’ve seen this scene before, in Powers of X #4. Specifically, this is a repeat of page 19, which takes place after Cypher has already been introduced to Krakoa. The difference is that this time we get to see what Professor X showed Cypher. It seems to be the official vision of Krakoan society, rather than any of the secrets that the Professor learned from Moira.

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Dec 9

Hellions #18 annotations

Posted on Thursday, December 9, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

HELLIONS #18
“The Losing End”
by Zeb Wells, Ze Carlos, Stephen Segovia & Rain Beredo

COVER / PAGE 1:: The Quiet Council judge the Hellions. (This doesn’t quite reflect the interior – in the story itself, Psylocke isn’t shackled, and Empath isn’t on trial with the others at all.)

PAGES 2-3. The Quiet Council prepare for the Hellions’ trial.

The Hellions are on trial after Orphan-Maker killed two park rangers after the fight with the Right in the previous issue.

The Council members present are (clockwise from top) Professor X, Mr Sinister, Exodus, Mystique, Kate Pryde, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Nightcrawler, Storm and Magneto. Since the other two seats are vacant, this presumably takes place before Destiny and Colossus join the Council in Inferno. On the other hand, Psylocke is acknowledged as a “Great Captain” later in the issue, and she was only formally appointed to that position in Inferno #1. So apparently we’re between pages 44 and 45 of Inferno #1.

Professor X’s opening comment – “We knew this day would come” – suggests they haven’t had to do this in quite some time, but Storm refers later on to “precedents”, plural. One is Sabretooth in House of X #6. The other is presumably the trial of Nature Girl and Curse in X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #12.

Mr Sinister is openly angling for the whole team to be got rid of, presumably because he no longer has any leverage over Psylocke (following the loss of the AI version of her daughter, which he was holding over her for the entire series), and because the team haven’t yet got their revenge on him for tricking them in “X of Swords” and again in the subsequent Murderworld arc. This incarnation of Sinister is not much of a schemer and is so glaringly unsubtle about it that the rest of the Council more or less ignore him.

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Dec 6

Charts – 3 December 2021

Posted on Monday, December 6, 2021 by Paul in Music

It’s the most predictable time of the year!

1. Adele – “Easy On Me”

That’s seven weeks at number one. As we’ll see, the march of the Christmas singles is upon us – there are no new entries this week without a Christmas element. She’s almost certain to get shouldered aside next week, since Ed Sheeran has a Christmas single out. The other two Adele tracks, “I Drink Wine” and “Oh My God”, are at 5 and 6.

16. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”

Well, here we go again. This reached number 2 on release in 1987, and it’s charted every Christmas since 2005. Last year it spent five weeks in the top 10, peaking at number 4.

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Dec 5

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1995

Posted on Sunday, December 5, 2021 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

When we left off, Wolverine was making his way back to New York after a year of touring the world and reflecting on his mortality – only for the whole storyline about his healing factor failing after his adamantium was removed to be summarily dumped. We’re in the mid-nineties now…

WOLVERINE vol 2 #89
“The Mask of Ogun”
by Larry Hama, Fabio Laguna, Joe Rubinstein & Marie Javins
January 1995

When the Ogun demon mask – supposedly destroyed in Kitty Pryde & Wolverine – shows up as an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, with Ogun’s spirit still hanging around, Wolverine and Ghost Rider investigate. Wolverine still has conflicted feelings about his old mentor, and is reluctant to simply kill him. But Ogun says the two of them are stuck in a loop where he, the “scientific warrior”, will be killed again and again by Wolverine, “the untamed beast.” Wolverine refuses to succumb to his bestial side, and claims to have split the difference between the sides of his personality. He destroys the mask, briefly exposing a second Wolverine underneath, who instantly vanishes into smoke and dust.

Apparently Ogun was trying to attack Wolverine by turning a part of himself against him, but it didn’t work because of the mental balance techniques that Wolverine learned long ago from Ogun himself. Or something. It’s all rather cryptic – it’s not really clear what Ogun is trying to achieve here, if indeed he has any goal in mind other than playing his role in a pre-ordained loop. Hama does come back to Ogun later, so the main aim may simply have been to get him back into play.

Oh, and Wolverine mentions in this story that he’s given up smoking.

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