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Fiction: The Last Tree

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The Last Tree stood in the center of the massive temple complex. Under a searingly bright dome of artificial blue sky, It seemed to glow from darkened entryway.
Julissa approached silently, as reverent as a nun, and knelt among the twisting roots of the towering oak. Its leaves, gold as autumn, made a soft carpet for her. She bent her head, reached out one hand to the rough bark, and murmured a prayer to the last living thing that had ever known the Earth.
A long time later, Julissa stood, and wept as she unhooked the axe from her belt.

This story was originally written as a part of Everyday Drabbles, a new free short fiction project I’m doing over on Wattpad. Each day in 2019 I will be writing and publishing a new free hundred-word short story. Please check it out, and let me know what you think!

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Hugh Likes Comics: Conan the Barbarian #1

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Conan the Barbarian #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Drawn by Mahmud Asrar
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Published by Marvel Comics

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The Skinny: A perfectly CROMulent return to comics for the archetypal antihero.

With much fanfare, Conan the Barbarian has returned to Marvel Comics, and his first effort back is pretty good, I think? I should begin this review by saying that I’m not very familiar with the Marvel run that began in the 70’s and added so much to the character’s mythos. I am more well-read on Robert E. Howard’s original short stories, however.
And this comic, to me at least, is good. Aaron tells a nice little Conan story that doesn’t stray from the path of a Conan story. Conan kills a dude for reasons, meets a sexy lady that ALSO kills people and is super into him. Conan sleeps with her even though it is a SUPER OBVIOUS TRAP, and cuts his way out of trouble after the trap is sprung. Aaron’s signature here is in tying King Conan and Barbarian Conan together. It is reminiscent of writing on Thor, contrasting the brash youth with his scarred older self. It works well, and I’m onboard to see where he goes with it.
Asrar’s art is downright gorgeous, all rippling muscle and larger than life figures that can’t be contained by their panels. Matthew Wilson’s coloring is also outstanding, bringing a brightness that echoes the 70’s origins of the comic. The art team has big shoes to fill here, as the comic opens with a double-page collage of Smith and Buscema art.
The comic also includes a serialized prose novella as backup material, written by John C. Hocking, which feels very much in the vein of the original, but it is a bit too early to tell.
Conan the Barbarian #1 is a return to good old fashioned sword and sorcery, with a simple plot and bold and bloody art that leaps off the page. It knows exactly what it is and doesn’t push too far beyond it, but if you’re looking for a simple fantasy adventure for adults, you can find it at your local comics shop or in digital from Comixology.

Podcast: CCRC45-Fraggle Rock S3E22

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh, Rich the Time Traveler, Jurd, and Opop, take in some sweet Henson joy.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

And HERE to watch the episode “The Bells of Fraggle Rock” online! This isn’t the same link as we watched, so Caveat Viewer!

Thanks for listening, and happy new year!

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

This post originally posted at Skinner.FM on Sunday, December 30, 2018.

Fiction: A Difficult Labor

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The huge creature stalked across the room, its expression unreadable in a twisted face of beak and fang.
Siobhan cleared her throat and the owlbear froze. Its head twisted at an unsettling angle to stare at her.
“The laying was successful. You can go on in now.” The monster squeezed his bulk past her and into the delivery room, leaving a trail of hairy feathers behind.
She was the best midwife in the kingdom, but chimerical deliveries were always challenging. If she ever found the wizard that crossed birds and bears, she would give them a lecture they wouldn’t forget.

Hugh Likes Comics: 2018 Top 5

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Eternity Girl

Eternity Girl
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Drawn by Sonny Liew
Published by DC/Young Animal

After losing control of her powers and being suspended, superhero Caroline Sharp, A. K. A. Chrysalis, has become suicidally depressed. Unfortunately, her powers make her functionally immortal. But the shade of her greatest nemesis appears with a solution: If she destroys all of reality, Caroline can finally be at peace. Eternity Girl starts out as a meditation on classic trope but quickly blossoms into something much more extraordinary. The surreal, shifting story is both personal and grand in a way few comics manage to pull off, and Liew’s art steals the show, including a breathtaking sequence in which reimagines the characters in a multitude of comic styles, from Peanuts to Watchmen. If you liked Into the Spider-Verse but wished it was more philosophically meaty, this is the comic for you.

Immortal Hulk

Immortal Hulk
Written by Al Ewing
Drawn by Joe Bennett
Published by Marvel Comics

Superheroes get reinvented all the time, but this new take on Marvel’s Angry Green Giant is the most impressive I’ve seen in a long time. By day, Bruce Banner wanders the back roads of America, hitching his way across the country. But night belongs to The Hulk. Ewing uses Marvel’s latest death and resurrection of the character to tell a clever horror stories about guilt, secrets, and self-delusion.

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The Long Con
Written by Ben Coleman and Dylan Mecconis
Drawn by E. A. Denich
Colored by M. Victoria Robado
Published by Oni Press

Five years ago, a disaster convinces the attendees the world’s biggest comic convention that the world had ended, and the world thought the convention center had met the same fate as Los Spinoza, CA. But the Long Con is still going. When proof of survivors surfaces, reporter Victor Lai, one of the last reporters to escape the city, is sent back in. But without protection, and more importantly, without a badge, how long will he survive? This comic is a delightful skewering of post-apocalyptic, nerd culture, and sci-fi tropes.

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk
Written by Delilah Dawson
Drawn by Matias Basla
Colored by Rebecca Nalty
Published by Boom! Studios

Art, the illegitimate daughter of an English lord, has always lived at odds with the world she was raised in. But when the Faerie Queen switches places with her in a plot to take over the human world, she’ll have to try and save it anyway. But little does she understand what that will cost her, and every choice has devastating consequences in Faerie. Gorgeously illustrated and dream-like, Sparrowhawk is a Victorian portal fantasy with modern sensibilities.

WCA

West Coast Avengers
Written by Kelly Thompson
Drawn by Stefano Caselli and Daniele Di Nicuolo
Published by Marvel Comics

Sometimes you just need to read something unabashedly fun! This relaunch feels less like The Avengers than a new take on the themes of classic Excalibur. As the title suggests, the series is set in Southern California, far away from Marvel’s NYC, and is more than willing to embrace sillinessess. The first volume stars best Hawkeye Kate Bishop and friends as they form a team to save Los Angeles from B.R.O.D.O.K. and his army of 200-foot tall monster women.

Fiction: The Home of Rest

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“Ho, what fair yonder maiden does my elf eye see?” Aoife jumped in surprise and looked up. There was Mr. Aradol, bathrobe flapping in the breeze and long white hair streaming behind him. She sighed.
Some folks thought elves were immortal. It wasn’t true, of course. They lived for centuries, longer even than some dragons, but they succumbed to the same infirmities of time as anyone.
Aofie hated working the Elvish Dementia ward. Some idiot had left the door unlocked last night, forgetting how hale some of the residents were. She’d be pulling them out of the trees all morning.

Podcast: NP29 – Pacifism HighSchool

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Welcome to nostalgia pilots! This week, Spence, Jurd, Jason and Hugh discuss Gundam Wing Episode 29: “The Heroine of the Battlefield.”

Click HERE to download the episode!

This week: Heero and Quatre have a beach vacation, followed by some light boosting of an aircraft carrier. Noin and Sally Po have a badass salvage adventure, and the nostalgia pilots are introduced to the firework that is Dorothy Catalonia.
Plus, underwater mobile suits are still useless.

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