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Hugh Likes Comics: Cable Reloaded

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Cable Reloaded #1
Written by Al Ewing
Drawn by Bob Quinn
Colored by Java Tartaglia
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Design by Tom Muller
Published by Marvel Comics

The Skinny: Maybe the real Time-Traveling Cyborg Super Soldier was Friendship all along.

Cable has never been one of my favorite Marvel characters. In a lot of ways, the cybernetic super-soldier from the future represents a lot of the problems that crept into 90’s Marvel Comics. His backstory is a complicated mess, his design is unpleasant, and his plots center around the hyper-masculine dourness that dominated the comics industry at the time. In short, I think he’s just not a lot of fun.
 Cable recently returned to his status quo after he was murdered and replaced by a teenage version of himself because Comics and this solo one-shot integrates him back into the Marvel Universe. Since I didn’t read Teen Cable’s solo series, I would’ve given this issue a pass if it weren’t written by one of my favorite writers, Al Ewing. I’m glad I didn’t skip it because it turns out, this is a great single issue.
Cable Reloaded is also a tie-in to Al’s Last Annihilation storyline going on right now in Guardians of the Galaxy and S.W.O.R.D. Fortunately, you don’t need to know much about either book to be brought up to speed. Cable’s new mission is to infiltrate the infamous Breakworld, previously seen in Astonishing X-Men. But again, that’s not anything you need to know because this is actually a comic about Cable reestablishing his connections and friendships after being gone. Because he’s a time traveler, it’s been a lifetime for him since he’s been in this era, but only a month in everyone else’s time, including the reader.
Cable gets a few nice moments with Cannonball and Boom-Boom, his mentees from when he was leading X-Force, as well as with the staff of S.W.O.R.D, where his younger self was working as Security Chief. 
We also see a fair bit of Cable’s internal monologue throughout the issue, and it is an interesting peek into the thoughts of a normally taciturn and laconic character. One of the fun things you can do with a character like Cable in the context of a crossover is to use him to build up the importance of an event or put over another character. There’s a fun scene in which Cable meets Guardian of the Galaxy Rocket, and is awed by meeting such a famous and brilliant historical tactician. Rocket is clearly one of Ewing’s favorite characters, but it’s still a nice scene.
Bob Quinn’s art is also very good in this issue. He evokes a 90’s aesthetic without falling into the failings of the era, and he is a steady hand at making complex action easily understandable. The issue’s page layouts have a particularly nice flow to them. java Tartaglia’s colors are warm and glossy, also evoking Cable’s origins while remaining easy on the eyes.
I picked up this issue not knowing what to expect, but I’m glad that I did. Cable Reloaded #1 is a self-aware and oddly sweet return to form for the character, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this creative time and this character in the future. Cable is a character of excess in a lot of ways, but this issue hits all its points without overindulging. If you’re at all curious about Cable, S.W.O.R.D., or The Last Annihilation, do yourself a favor and pick this issue up from Comixology or your Local Comic Shop.

Podcast Repost – NPB9: Media Break

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Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots! This week, Hugh, Jason, and Jurd take a break and discuss what we’ve been watching and playing outside of the Gundam franchise. Enjoy!

This episode’s topics:

The Falcon & the Winter Soldier

The Wonder Egg Priority

Jujutsu Kaisen

Beastars

Dragon Quest Adventure of Dai

Outriders

The Terror

Invincible

Rain On Your Parade

This podcast was originally posted at NostalgiaPilots.com on Sunday, May 9th, 2021.

Hugh Likes Comics: Top 5 of 2020

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This year was a rough one for Comics. Covid-19 forced a distribution shutdown, with ramification that were felt throughout the industry. But there were still a plethora of great books that came out this year, and while I don’t have enough space to expound on all the outstanding books I read this year, here are five of my favorites, in alphabetical order. Spoilers abound below!

Empyre
Written by Al Ewing and Dan Slott
Drawn by Valerio Schiti
Colored by Marte Gracia
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramanga
Published by Marvel Comics

At first glance, Empyre is just another Marvel Comics alien invasion story. The Earth is pushed to the brink of peril, and then saved at the last minute by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, etc. etc. But look past the surface, and there is so much more going on.Empyre concludes with a same-sex royal wedding in space, with all the Avengers and Fantastic Four as guests of honor. It reaches to the roots of Marvel Universe history, both in-story and in publication, and embraces that past while stepping into the future. The status quo for superhero comics is typically dark, putting the heroes on a never-ending back foot, with another crisis just around the corner. The end of this book does acknowledge that nothing good lasts forever. But today, the Kree / Skrull War is over, and Comics Are For Everyone. Make Mine Marvel!

Far Sector
Written by N. K. Jemisin
Drawn and Colored by Jamal Campbell
Lettered by Deron Bennett
Published by DC Comic Young Animal

This rare gem of a book takes place in a distant corner of the DC Universe, far from the crises of the regular continuity, and also, I suspect, from editorial interference. Given their own canvas to work with, Jemisin and Campbell have built a beautiful, wondrous and troubling world in The City Enduring, a sparkling artificial super-metropolis where three distinct alien cultures live in apparent harmony, until Green Lantern Jo Mullein is called upon to solve their first murder in centuries, and uncovers a chilling web of oppression and dirty politics whose exposure may tear a civilization apart.Jemisin’s writing on this book is consistently amazing. It’s difficult to believe this is her first jump from prose to comics. Propelled by Campbell’s dazzling art, this ongoing title is not to be missed.

Heist
Written by Paul Tobin
Drawn by Arjuna Susini
Colored by Vittorio Astone
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
Published by Vault Comics

Gritty sci-fi crime dramas seems to be my jam this year, and Heist was another great one. After being set up by an evil executive and thrown in jail, Glaine Breld is out for revenge. There’s just two problems. One, the Dignity Corporation is so powerful it is completely untouchable. And two, everyone on the entire planet wants him dead. No big deal, because he’s got a plan to set everything right. All he has to do is get a crew together and steal the whole planet.
Full of twist, dark humor, and the blackest of cyberpunk high concepts, Heist is a hell of a ride.

The Ludocrats
Written by Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol
Drawn by Jeff Stokely
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics

This book is weird, and also weirdly horny, for the sake of weird. Delightful and strange, Gillen and Rossignol don’t merely break the fourth wall, but stomp up and down and pee on it for good measure. Stokely’s art is intricate and full of clever sight gags, and the nonsensical plot, which follows a pair of Aristocrats on the case to stop the Hyper-pope from turning the world boring, is a mad-cap romp. This comic is chock-full full of axe-wielding maniacs, nefarious betrayers, and cannibalistic gastronauts, and those are the good guys! The funniest book I read this year!

Slaughterhouse-Five
Adapted from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel by Ryan North
Art by Albert Monteys
Published by Archaia
Faithfully based on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel of the same name, North and Monteys bring us along on Billy Pilgrim’s unstuck journey through time, from his capture in World War II and the battle of Dresden to his abduction to the alien planet Tralfamador and back. North’s script does justice to the story, capturing all the comedy and tragedy it evokes. Montey’s art is cartoonish and subtly colored, and is evocative and resonant. I knew going in this would be a book that I would either love or hate, and I’m glad it pulled off so ambitious an adaptation.

Podcast: CCRC61 – Spider-Woman S1E1

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh, Opop, and Jurd, watch a ’70s spy cartoon that’s not related to Peter Parker

Click HERE to listen to the commentary track!

And click HERE to watch the cartoon along with us! It’s also available streaming on Disney+!

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.

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Podcast: CCRC60 – Spider-Man (1967) S1E11

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh, Rich the Time Traveler, and Jurd, swing into action with a Peter Parker of yore.

Click HERE to listen to the commentary!

And HERE to watch the episode. IN COLOR!

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.

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Podcast: CCRC59 – The Incredible Hulk S01E4

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh, Rich the Time Traveler, and Jurd, chase Bruce and Betty to Paris, where they encounter a guest star from a previous CCR.

Click HERE to listen to the commentary track!

And HERE to watch the episode along with us!

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.

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Hugh Likes Comics: Top 5 of 2019

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Die

Die
Written by Kieron Gillen
Drawn by Stephanie Hans
Published by Image Comics

Gillen’s story of a group of adults returning to the magical world they escaped as teenagers is a mix of It and the ’80’s Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon. Hans brings a unique, painterly style that makes the world feel as strange for us on the readers. The comic itself is a deep, emotional examination of trauma and the rules we live and play by. But as the characters move across the fantasy world, Gillen repeatedly pulls off the trick of exposing the bleeding heart of what Fantasy is and why we make it.

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Fairlady
Written by Brian Schirmer
Drawn by Claudia Balboni, Shari Chankhamma, and Marissa Louise
Published by Image Comics

An intriguing mix of mystery and fantasy, Fairlady mixes a modern sensibility with pulp stylings to great effect. A sort of fantasy private eye, Jenner Faulds solves mysteries, bickers with her co-worker at her day job protecting an absent wizard’s tower, and gets bailed out of trouble by her seven-foot tall cat-man bestie. Each issue is a single mystery, and they’re all clever and interesting. Unfortunately, the book was canceled after issue 5, but the trade is available, and this isn’t a book to let pass you by.

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House of X / Powers of X
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Drawn by Pepe Larraz and R. B. Silva
Published by Marvel Comics

House of X and Powers of X were a big gamble, and it’s safe to say at this point that it’s paid off. After years of protecting a world that hates and fears them, the X-Men are trying something new, and approaching their enemies as a new force. The idea of a mutant nation has been tried and failed in the Marvel Universe, but this one has a lot of new, big ideas going for it. I can’t wait to see what Hickman and crew get up to next.

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Invisible Kingdom
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Drawn by Christian Ward
Published by Berger Books

The incisive writing of G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Air) and the art of Christian Ward (Black Bolt, ODY-C)is a heady mix. And the intertwined story of a cargo ship captain working for a monopolistic space corporation and an acolyte in a religious order with dark secrets is a little bit Alien and a little bit Star Wars in all the best ways.

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Lois Lane / Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (Tie)

Lois Lane
Written by Greg Rucka
Drawn by Mike Perkins
Published by DC Comics

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen
Written by Matt Fraction
Drawn by Steve Lieber and Nathan Fairbairn
Published by DC Comics

I couldn’t pick between these two standout books, both of which came out around the same time, but are only slightly connected. Both are deep studies of neglected characters that are very different in tone and style from D.C.’s usual fare.
Lois Lane is a hard-boiled story about the world’s greatest investigative reporter as she delves into a conspiracy that cost one of her colleagues her life, with help from Renee Montoya, AKA The Question. It plays the Journalist as superhero part to the hilt, and it is something worth cheering for.
Jimmy Olsen is a more comical and surreal update of the silver age teen sidekick, as he goes into hiding after thinking Lex Luthor put out a hit on him. But this is also the comic where Jimmy Olsen finds himself in a prank war with Batman. Fraction is writing at the height of his Hawkguy powers here, and it’s strange, fascinating, and hilarious.

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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.

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.

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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.

Hugh Likes Movies: Deadpool 2

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Deadpool 2
Directed by David Leitch
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz

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The Skinny: This sequel to the 2016 surprise hit takes far fewer risks than the original, but it has a lot of fun playing in the 90’s X-Men toy box.

Deadpool 2 is a fun action comedy, if a bit stuck in the formula of the original. This action-adventure-comedy routine follows Wade Wilson, (Reynolds) a regenerating mercenary living entirely outside of the fourth wall, as he struggles to find a purpose after a tragedy and stumbles into the life of 14-year old mutant Russell Collins, who is being raised in an abusive orphanage and also being hunted by Cable, a cyborg from the future (Brolin.)
As you might expect from the above description, “Deadpool 2” deals with some heavy material, poorly. But while it does dip its toes into some extremely vile and worn-out comics tropes, it does actually subvert them, for the most part. In one particular case, it avoids a pitfall that “Avengers: Infinity War” plows right into. Deadpool 2 is crass, but at this point you should know what you’re getting into, and it at least tries to have some heart.
The movie does a good job staying lighthearted in the face of some weighty subjects, and the fight sequences are all over the top fun. Deadpool’s corner of the X-Men universe is full of complicated, confusing, and downright contradictory continuity, and the movie does a great job of presenting just enough for the characters to work in context. Particularly great is Zazie Beetz’s turn as Domino, a mercenary with luck powers who lands her gags with aplomb.
Deadpool 2 doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but it’s a welcome popcorn flick for fans of the original, or fans of that magical time in superhero comics called ‘the 90’s.’

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