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Hugh Likes Comics: A.X.E. Judgement Day

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Written by Keiron Gillen
Drawn by Valerio Schiti
Colored by Marte Gracia
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics

The Skinny: Marvel’s big crossover event for the summer dives deep into Superhero Politics

Spinning out of The Eternals and Destiny of X, Guillen and Schiti deliver the opening salvo in a summer event comic that promises to be a bit more than your typical hero vs. hero slugfest. Because this isn’t just a book about superheroes. It’s a book about superhero international relations.
 The Mutant Nation of Krakoa continues to dominate the world stage by doing the impossible. After terraforming and colonizing Mars last year, the secret of their ability to resurrect dead mutants has become public knowledge. The fact that they are unable to bring back humans has led to a public backlash and mistrust.
 Meanwhile, the Eternals have been facing some societal shake-ups of their own. The tumult has left scheming Druig in charge as the Prime Eternal, and many of the other immortal heroes unsure of their purpose after being abandoned by their creators, the Celestials.
 Oh, also the Avengers are using the hollowed-out corpse of a dead celestial as their new base. For reasons.
 With Druig on shaky political footing, he comes up with a plan to unify his people and secure his power by convincing them that the Mutants are byproducts of their ancient enemies, the also Celestial-created Deviants, and thus they must be eradicated. Not unfamiliar with attempted genocide against them, the Mutants on Krakoa fend off the assault. The ones on Mars aren’t so lucky. As Druig moves through more and more of his fantastical arsenal of ancient Celestial technology to use against Mutantkind, sides are chosen. But who wins in a war where both sides are effectively immortal? And will anyone else still be standing when the dust settles?
 Obviously, the answer here is going to be ‘yes’ because this is a superhero comic, but I am enjoying the way this event is spinning out less from Action-movie cliches of previous events and the more cerebral moments from Eternals and Immortal X-Men. The first issue is mostly scene setting and getting the characters where they need to be, but it’s still a strong first issue, with great writing by Gillen. The scene between Druig and Moira X, and the whole thing with the protesters (no spoilers) is just chilling.
 Schiti and Gracia’s art is excellent. I love the opening pages, which juxtapose Iron Man and Sersi having brunch against the human protesters surrounding the X-Men’s treehouse headquarters. The colors are rich and the characters are all expressive and dynamic. This feels more like a political thriller than a superhero dustup, and the art sells it when the pages are mostly talking heads.
 A.X.E. Judgement Day #1 is now available in print from your local comics shop or digitally from the usual sources.  

Everyday Drabbles #793: Potmitzvah

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I looked out at the expectant crowd and wanted to hide. The head priest caught my eye and nodded. He’d ushered hundreds of youths through the coming of age ceremony. Maybe thousands. I could do this.
For hundreds of years, youths followed in the footsteps of The Hero. This was a ceremony to give them His courage. I adjusted my tunic and stepped up to the altar.
The clay pot sat on the stone, eyelessly accusing me of my cowardice. I picked it up. With a mighty shout, I raised it over my head and tossed it to the floor.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #782: Magic Mirror

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The game is called ‘Magic Mirror,’ and there are installed booths all over the world. I scanned my phone at the prompt. The gray holoscreen flared to life with the image I had pre-loaded: A high-resolution image of myself, highly edited to remove all my flaws.
My partner was already on the other side of the booth, hidden behind an abstract collage.
I asked the first question. After considering his answer, I pressed a button, and a few of the pixels vanished. As we chatted, more of the barrier between us came down, and we revealed ourselves to each other.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Hugh Likes Fiction: Legends and Lattes

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Legends and Lattes
Written by Travis Baldree
Audiobook read by Travis Baldree

The Skinny: What if the Coffee shop A. U. was the story?

Viv is a barbarian warrior ready to get out of the mercenary’s life. But before she hangs up her greatsword for good, she needs a plan. Fortunately, she has two things going for her: A lucky, if gross charm in the Skalvert Stone, a sort of a magical bezoar she takes from the skull of a monstrous giant insect. Trophy in hand, she travels to the town of Thune, following the ley lines to the place where she’ll start her new life: Opening a coffee shop.
Unfortunately, there are a few hurdles for her to overcome, including the local organized crime boss, the fact that nobody in town has even heard of coffee before, and her prime location is in fact an abandoned livery. But with the help of some new friends, and the occasional assistance of her former adventuring party, she’ll give her new life a go.
Legends and Lattes is the coziest of cozy fantasy stories. Not so much a tale of adventure and blood, but of steam and baking. There is some tension as Viv attempts to break from her old life and settle into the new one, but most of this audiobook’s six-hour run time is more concerned with the day-to-day running of the shop than fighting monsters or fantasy politics. It’s clear that these things are all going on somewhere, but this story is all about the beans.
As a professional narrator, Baldree does an outstanding job reading, and the text feels right as an audiobook. His voices for the characters feel distinctive without becoming forced, which is no mean feat as a male actor reading a book with two female leads.
While the story was engaging and satisfying, It did feel a bit on the short side to me. We get an eclectic cast of characters, both from Viv’s old life and her new one, but they are mostly supporting Viv. It would have been nice to have spent more time with Cal, Thimble, Tandry and the rest of the supporting cast. Also, this is a romance, but a very fluffy one. It doesn’t go much farther than awkward stammering and acknowledged feelings. I would have liked it to have been more, well, steamier.
Legends and Lattes  is a +5 cozy little story that is sure to warm your heart like a warm cup of coffee on a cold winter’s morning. It is available as an audiobook, print or ebook from the usual locations.

Podcast Repost: NP78 – Hotboxing the Gundam

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Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots! This week, Jason, Jurd, Spence and Hugh consider Mobile Fighter G Gundam Episode 15: Warrior’s Crest – Goodbye Shuffle Alliance!

In this episode: Domon immediately forgets that he is injured, Rain also can heal Domon’s clothes, and George delivers a sinister ‘Bounour!’
Pllus, the Shuffle Alliance believes in the heart of the cards, and the nostalgia pilots look forward to a multi-episode training montage!

Promo: Chrononaut Cinema Reviews

Everyday Drabbles #630: Mermaid Statue

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She rose from the water, a being of fire and light, birthed from the sea by a goddess’s will. Her upper half was human, a beautiful woman limned in streaming lava and sputtering flame. Her lower half resembled a fish’s tail ending in a forked fin that trailed in the water.
The creature sat on a rock and pondered her fate as she inexorably cooled into lifeless black stone.
The Mermaid Statue was later found by human explorers. They marveled at the craftsmanship, believing it to be the work of some lost civilization.
Which was exactly what the goddess intended.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #621: The Evergreen

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The tree stood in a corner of the little churchyard, a resilient and determined evergreen.
The city had grown up around the church, and after the old neighborhood had been demolished to build skyscrapers, nobody came to mass these days. The land the little old church sat on was valuable, and the city had grander houses of worship. It was only a matter of time.
The tree didn’t know any of this. But it was steady and had good roots. The priest strung it with lights for what would probably be the last time and thanked his most faithful parishioner.

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Everyday Drabbles #618: Dandelion Princess

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The Dandelion Princess dances through the meadow ins spring. She is short, green, clumsy. She moves awkwardly, still growing and still learning herself.
The Dandelion Princess stretches toward the summer sun, her golden crown resplendent in the shimmering heat. She dances alone, slapping those who get too close. She dances for herself.
Autumn paints the meadow in shades of orange, and the Dandelion Princes robes herself in white. She dances in graceful arcs, letting the wind lift her. This will be her final and greatest performance.
The Dandelion Princess lies curled under the winter snow, dreaming of her first dance.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #546: Night Shadow

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The figure crouched on the railing of the tenement balcony, snow swirling around its ragged cloak. It was tall, thin, and ghostly pale. The gaslight danced in its glassy eyes.
Inside the apartment, the child watched it fearfully.
The figure reached into a pocket and produced a pair of oranges, setting them on the windowsill. It put a finger to its bloodless lips.
Rumors said a hero defended the tenements, standing up to the greedy landlords and corrupt politicians. They said he wore a ghastly costume to hide his identity.
The figure leaped into the snowy night and was gone.

Thanks for reading! You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree!

Everyday Drabbles #528: Flagship

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The IMS Dominion, the Imperial flagship, was designed to inspire terror and panic in the empire’s enemies, which was everyone. It wasn’t a fast ship, but its appearance on the horizon, bristling with cannons and armored launches, always spelled doom for the free people of the continent.
The empire held the secrets of the Dominion’s construction close, frustrating rebel engineers and shipbuilders. A ship of that size and mass, they insisted, shouldn’t be able to stay above the waterline.
But the bravest of them didn’t need to know how it worked. All they needed was a way to sink it.

You can support me and find links to all my other work via my Linktree! Thanks for reading!

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