Book Review- Star Wars: Bloodline

You know the old phrase never judge a book by it’s cover? Well, this book is a good literal example of that. When you first pick up Star Wars: Bloodline you see the cover has a contemplative Leia with a looming Vader over her as a squadron of X-Wing’s flying out into space. Seems epic right? What you actually get is more of a political process type of book. Leia is there, Vader is mentioned, and there is a grand total of one X-Wing. Now wait! That doesn’t mean the book was bad, quite the opposite. Author Claudia Gray does a fine job with this one, but it may be for a very specific audience of Star Wars fans…

Star Wars: Bloodline follows Princess Leia as a senator on Hosnian Prime, the planet that the Galactic Senate of the New Republic now meets. It’s over 20 years since the fall of the Second Death Star and the Galaxy finds itself facing another schism. The Senate of the New Republic finds itself splintered into two factions. On one side the Centrists, who believe there should be a stronger central government. So much so that certain members even romanticize The Empire. On the other, the Populists who believe governing should be left to the systems. While Senator Organa acts as a figurehead for the Populist she must cooperate with young up and coming Centrist, Senator Ransolm Casterfo, to investigate a rapidly growing cartel. But one of Leia’s deepest darkest secrets is about to come to light, just when the shadow of a new paramilitary group looms.

Bloodline dives head first into the galactic politics of trying to rebuild a galaxy. At first, I felt the book was slow moving, it definitely gets started at a leisurely pace but later I found myself needing to know more about the growing situation and how the Senate will react to Leia’s secret bloodline. Admittedly the action scenes are few and far between with this book, it felt like it was page 200 before a blaster was even used. But Bloodline does an exceptional job building the framework of how the Republic could splinter so much so The First Order is able to rise to power. Gray took on the task that many writers would pass on, especially in the world of Star Wars. She essentially wrote a book that was entirely exposition for the world that we were thrust into at the beginning of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. If you’re looking for a non-stop thrill ride then Bloodline is not the book for you. But if you’re like me and love hearing the big and little things that build the world of Star Wars then definitely give Bloodline a read. It is a quality universe building book and reads very easy. Enjoy everyone!

Next Book: Star Wars: Lost Stars

Book Review- Kings of the Wyld

Last week I was lucky enough to finish Nicholas Eames fantasy comedy Kings of the Wyld. Based off a recommendation from former guest host Colin Albanese I picked up this read, which happens to be the author’s first book. What followed was an unexpectedly fun and action-packed fantasy novel. Usually when a friend sells a book, movie, or TV show so hard it usually never lives up to the hype. Well, Kings of the Wyld was more than I could have hoped.

Kings of the Wyld follows a former group of travelling warriors (in the book called a band) that went by Saga. We follow Clay Cooper, the heart of group, as he is approached by former front-man and best friend, “Glorious” Gabe. The once great frontman is weary and old. He tells Clay of a great horde lead by an ancient being that is holding a far away city siege. And who’s in the center of that dying city? Gabe’s daughter Rose, who went to the city to help the citizens with her own band. What follows is a quest to get the band back together to save Gabe’s daughter. They must get Moog, the eccentric and lovable wizard, Matrick, the drunk but skillful thief turned king, and Ganelon, the massive powerhouse of the band. What follows is adventure and danger with a group of new friends and enemies alike, all to save someone they love and in turn, the world.

Kings of the Wyld finds a perfect mix of action and Comedy. Eames find’s a way to write about the comedic moments so effortlessly it’s like they are playing out on a screen in front of us. Admittedly I am someone with a very weak constitution to violence but I never felt like this book crossed the line. It used just enough so the visuals would stir the reader but rarely ever crossed into needless. There has to be some exception when there is a nightmare horde of monsters waiting for the group in the story… I cannot recommend this read more. It feels like it goes by quick because you never want to put it down but remains intricate and builds a world that would make any D&D player go wild. It takes the classic form or fantasy and injects it with a modern energy. The use of music culture as a vessel for warrior groups is an intelligent and easy to digest concept for the audience. The book doesn’t lack emotion either. There is a wonderful sense of brotherhood between the men and it is all-inclusive, with one of the warriors lamenting the loss of his husband. This book is for everyone. And I highly recommend everyone go read it. I for one am looking forward to the sequel, Bloody Rose.

Cover Art for upcoming Bloody Rose:

When your phone's wallpaper makes you shake your head in awe every time you see it…

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Is Han Solo A Bad Friend?

Recently I was writing a post about Chewbacca for COED.com in anticipation of the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. I was excited to write about a character that meant so much to my brother growing up. Whenever we would play Star Wars I would always be Han and he would faithfully always be Chewie. Now Chewbacca is his favorite character and I was happy to put more info on the big hair oaf into the world…But it hit me when I was writing about Chewie’s piloting, and loyalty, and dependability, and selflessness, and a myriad of other things… did I actually get the short end of the stick when it came to characters? Now don’t get me wrong I still love Han and he will always be on of my favorites but there is a case to be made that he is the far inferior character to the massive wookie and is in fact, a jerk. Let’s look into it…

Piloting Ability

Han Solo is known as one of the best pilots in the galaxy. For Pete’s sake, he made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs right!? Well, it does help that he has the fastest ship in the galaxy… and Chewie by his side. Every time Han is at the helm he has his trusty friend Chewbacca with him. You know who consistently pilots the Falcon with a different partner or no co-pilot at all? Chewie that’s who. He is seen in the movies at the helm with Lando, Leia, Rey, and a Porg…  He is also the one in control during the asteroid field escape in Empire Strikes Back while Han is trying to repair the hyperdrive. The Corellian clearly has skills but we are not giving his Wookie partner enough credit.

Sense of Duty

General Solo. Hero of The Rebellion, Bastion of The New Republic. And a self-centered ass. In my Chewbacca piece for COED, I talk about a fan favorite moment in Star Wars. Luke is about to be gunned down in the trench of the Death Star by Darth Vader himself when out of nowhere the Millenium Falcon dives from the guise of the sun to clear a path for Skywalker to blow that thing! Awesome right? How great was it that Han came back to save the day? Well without Chewie he most likely wouldn’t have. It was, in fact, the Wookie who convinced the smuggler to return and help save the galaxy. This isn’t the only moment of selfishness shown by the Corellian. We don’t have the full story yet but when everything went wrong with his son Ben what did he do? Where did he go? Did he go after Ben? No. Did he stick around to be there for Leia? No. Leia kept fighting, Solo went back to smuggling, and from his interaction with rival gangs in Episode VII, still having to be bailed out by his big hairy partner. Granted the Expanded Universe may shed more light on this as it grows. At the time of writing this article, I’ve only read six EU books that are considered canon. Yes, he has his moments on Hoth and the Battle of Endor but at the end of the day, Leia and Chewie do what’s right no questions asked, Solo needs more poking and prodding to do so.

You Know, The Murder Thing

Solo is a carefree, charming smuggler, right? Sure, but he’ll also shoot you right in the face. This subject is no stranger to the HUAS guys, it was the subject of the first ever episode, but all I have to do is say one name… Greedo. This writer is on the outskirts of this debate but most fans vehemently agree that Han shot first. You know what that means? He straight up kills a guy in a bar and throws the bartender a credit to clean it… yay childhood hero… Yes, I understand that he did ‘what had to be done’ but our intro to a character that we are supposed to find loveable in a roguish way is a murder scene. Obi-Wan got in a confrontation, he maimed but did not murder… not Han though. Totally cool shooting a guy.

I could probably sit here and wax poetic about the flaws of this character for a long time. On the other hand, I could probably spend more time talking about how I love this imperfect person. That being said there are enough people out there telling you how awesome Han Solo is, time for one of us to play devil’s advocate–even if it means taking a stand against a childhood favorite. Regardless I am actually looking forward to the new Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out May 25th. Check out my Chewbacca article with COED and the trailer for the upcoming movie below.

https://coed.com/2018/05/08/chewbacca-facts-star-wars-interesting-secrets-fun-questions/

TFW it’s time to go back to work… #StarWars #TheLastJedi

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Adam “Hangman” Page Deserves A Singles Title

The Bullet Club is a juggernaut of the wrestling world. It started as a scrappy stable lead by Finn Balor. It then evolved into a major force in New Japan Pro Wrestling under the guidance of AJ Styles. Finally, it reached its zenith when Kenny Omega took control. Now it bolsters an insane line-up of wrestling talent. It has the Tag Team stalwarts in the form of The Young Bucks. They have the WWE expatriate turned king of the wrestling world with The American Nightmare Cody. And they have one of the best characters in the business with “The Villian” Marty Scurll. Though when you watch an episode of being The Elite there is one more man that people overlook. Adam “Hangman” Page. And he deserves more respect.

Stevie Woltz, better known by his in-ring name Adam “Hangman” Page is a good old boy from Virginia. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech who was a high school teacher full-time while wrestling on the weekends. He rose to prominence in Ring of Honor and truly began to gain steam when he was added to The Bullet Club. He spent a few years as a solo performer before joining the prolific club. When interviewed on Colt Cabana’s podcast he states how different he is from the Hangman character. He talks about how he is an overly nice guy, who happens to get to hang out with the cool kids. Isn’t Page just living the wrestling version of what we all wanted? But to say any success he has is attributed to being paired with the “cool kids” of independent wrestling would be a disservice to The Hangman.

The Bullet Club has transcended wrestling. With deals with Hot Topic and multiple cease and desist orders being levied against them, the BC has become a brand all their own. Anyone who becomes attached to them has an easy set-up for his career right? That could be said but Page has gone above and beyond. He cut his teeth as one-third of the ROH six-man tag team championship titles he held with The Young Bucks. Their team was lovingly known as The Hung Bucks. Since this time he has proved himself over and over again in countless combinations. Often tagging with the likes of Marty Scurll and Cody, he has racked up a bevy of wins and moments. He has proved he can perform with his standing flips and hard hits. I was personally present when he flipped off the balcony at Manhattan Mayhem this year and it was insane.  But when is teaming with members of BC going to get old?

Page often finds himself as the one-off partner of another member of BC. It’s time to let Page fly. The man is athletically up to the challenge and has grown leaps and bounds on the mic. He has found a great story feuding with Joey Ryan over their…packages. He may not be at the point where he can carry a promotion but the man deserves either the TV Title with ROH or the US Title with NJPW.  He is more than apt to hold the TV Title with ROH and has put in the time. I know he has had a shot at the NJPW US Title but lost to Jay White, now going by Switchblade, but he should have another shot. NJPW introduced the US Title at their American based event and it was won by Canadian Kenny Omega. It was then won by New Zealander Jay White. Nationality should play no part in your ability to win a title, but how great would the story be if this Virginia good old boy is the first actual American to win the US Title? And it helps that despite being a Virginia boy, he is an incredibly accepting person in a time of great turmoil in the country.

I am a proud supporter of Page and I know that he can excel past what he has already done. It is refreshing to have someone who is just a nice guy making a name for himself with the biggest stable in the world right now. Bullet Club may have a lot of members who deserve respect, but I will gladly be sitting in the crowd in the shirt with the noose around the skull. Hell yeah Hangman!

Albie’s Journey: A New Hunter’s Tale

I never before played any of the Monster Hunter titles. It wasn’t for lack of awareness – I am aware of the Capcom series, and know also how devoted the fan base is. No, my reason for having skipped the first game came down to the fact that I was a sophomore in college when the game released in North American on September of 2004, and at that time I wasn’t as heavy into gaming as I was focusing on my studies…at least trying to anyway. On top of that, my brother didn’t let me take the PS2 away to school, so there’s that aspect to it.

Everything I learned about Monster Hunter came by way of articles and reviews written by games journalists. Having already skipped the first one, when Monster Hunters 2 and Tri released in North America in 2007 and 2010 respectively the boat had already sailed for me to get into the games; Furthermore the series is notorious for being an action RPG that is tough to get into with how mechanics heavy it is, and how much strategy is actually involved when playing the game. To take down some of the larger monsters, you actually need to gameplan. This is not a game one just picks up and hacks away at; That road will almost assure you a quick and painful demise. All of these factors combined to my oversight of Monster Hunter.

Fast forward 7 years to 2017. I am a grown ass adult with a steady, albeit boring, corporate job. I have decent income that affords me the privilege of owning a PS4 with some wiggle room to buy a new game every now and then. It’s the summer and the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for you industry types, is going on and I am at my desk streaming the show in between bouts of work. Capcom announces the latest title in the Monster Hunter series and as I am about to tune it out and go back to work the reveal starts, and the game looks AMAZING. Those next gen consoles certainly make the game look extra pretty.

Fast forward again to 2018. Monster Hunter World releases worldwide in January to critical acclaim. I need to try this game. One of the big selling points to me now is how the game is being touted as one of the most accessible Monster Hunter games in the series, which means that it won’t be too difficult for someone like me to pick up; I buy the game February 7th and am instantly hooked. All the menus and stats and other figures don’t instantly scare me away, and I am actually understanding all of them, who would’ve thought? My Palico is the coolest Palico ever (fight me) and when the game opens and we are *spoilers* separated for a brief moment, I am so upset because my little cat buddy isn’t around. I find Tiffany (I named and modeled my Palico after my cat) though and all is right with the world.

So here I am, a new Monster Hunter player a week into his first experience and all this verbose prose was to introduce my running series of posts chronicling my run through this world of hunting beasts and crafting gear. I definitely suggest checking back every week or so for new stories in the ‘A Hunter’s Tale’ series as told by Alberto. It will definitely be a fun ride for all parties involved; and who knows, maybe I’ll actually learn to how to effectively use my insect glaive.

The cost to bring back Marvel’s first Family?

The answer to the question presented in this post’s heading is $52.4 billion in an all stock deal. That’s a lot of cheddar, but Disney has deep pockets and can afford it. This is far from a done deal however; the agreement needs the approval of anti-trust regulators before it can be finalized, and we saw back in November the Justice Department move to strike down a deal involving AT&T and Time Warner that would have made the former one of the biggest telcom behemoths out there. So for now it seems Disney is slowly taking over the world little by little, but we’ll have to wait and see how the dust settles from this huge shakeup.

For now though, allow me to nerd out over what this possible acquisition can mean for Marvel (films and comics) if the deal gets approved.


The Geek Twins

As you can see from the above info-graphic from The Geek Twins, there is a plethora of characters whose movie rights reside with Fox. All of these would revert back to Marvel should the deal get approved. The means that Marvel’s first family can be brought into the MCU, and that my friends is a very good thing – the Fantastic Four movies have not been very good and the latest attempt to reboot the franchise was just awful. Marvel Studios will be able to do the heroes justice so we can finally get the Fantastic Four movie that we deserve. On top of the possibility of a good Fantastic Four movie comic book fans might just get to see the team get their own title again. With Fox owning the movie rights there was little incentive for Marvel’s publishing arm to have an ongoing title for the Fantastic Four because it would essentially be free advertising for Fox’s properties. Sure there are Future Foundation titles and Johnny Storm and the thing also grace the pages of Marvel’s comic offerings, but a Fantastic Four titled, ongoing book is something fans have been missing and this deal brings that possibility back on the table. Major points

Mutants > Enhanced humans. Did anyone else think it was really dumb that the MCU couldn’t use the term ‘mutants’ when referring to Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, and had to instead refer to them as ‘enhanced humans’? Yea I thought so. That all stems from the whole movie rights thing with the X-Men property. With the X-Men rights back, we can now refer to the characters accurately as mutants (because of their, you know, mutation!). It may be a small point to most others, but this little semantic issue always irked me and I’m glad we can correct this. Moving on.

The freaking X-Men and all mutants associated therein! We have the X-Men back! This makes me very happy because I so badly want another X-Men movie that doesn’t stink – maybe an Avengers vs X-Men movie? I may be in the minority here since the 2012 crossover event met with a lukewarm reaction overall, but at the very least it was a decent story that could translate well to the big screen if Marvel builds it up slowly similar to how it is working towards Infinity War. Oh and remember how *SPOILERS* Wolverine dies in the comics? (if you didn’t know about that, well it’s been 3 years ) Marvel can find some way to resurrect Earth-616’s favorite berserking canuck because we all know no one ever truly dies in comics, unless you have to stay dead because you don’t want to promote a popular character’s upcoming film prospects. Movies amiright?

The news of Disney purchasing 21st Century Fox is big news indeed. It will create a huge entertainment giant that will have the power to shape the entertainment landscape. Can this be a bad thing? Possibly. Right now though, I am allowing myself the momentary indulgence of imagine all the awesome things this can mean for my nerdy self. Hopefully reality doesn’t come crashing down.

Breath of the Wild wins Game of the Year

The Game Awards 2017  have come and gone, and Nintendo reigns supreme with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild winning the coveted Game of the Year award. There was a large part of me that was worried though. I thought that fan favoritism would sway the vote to a title that I personally do not believe should be a game of the year, but the goddesses of Hyrule made sure that Zelda took its rightful place. 

If you haven’t yet played this game then you need to get out from under your rock and play it. It takes the open world formula and applies it to the world of Legend of Zelda in such a way that it completely changes what it means to be a Zelda title. I mean, if you want to talk about re-inventing a series then this game is one you need to play to experience the evolution of a series. I know that the naysayers and haters  will say that all this does is apply the open world formula to the Legend of Zelda series, and the short answer is yes it does apply open world gameplay to Zelda; but it does so much more when you actually look at it in the context of a Zelda title, and it does this in such a polished way that if this game didn’t at least get a Game of the Year nomination then something is seriously wrong. Every little piece of this game is so well thought out and planned – is that a lightning storm? put away your metal weapons unless you want to get electrocuted; Want to get across that lake to a chest? oh hey, let me use my magnesis and make a bridge out of these steel beams. Playing this game for a short while shows you just how much care was given to it to ensure the final product was top notch. The only criticism I can personally levy against the game is that it is light on story. For any other title this may be a huge issue, but for a Legend of Zelda title I don’t see it as such a negative. My reason? The basic story of Legend of Zelda has always been the same – Link saves princess Zelda from the evil Ganon. There are only so many ways to retell the same narrative, and I for one am glad that they kept the story simple and instead focused on all the little details of Link’s interaction with the world at large. 

6 nominations,  3 wins. Breath of the Wild staked it’s claim in 2017 and helped Nintendo make an unlikely come back in the world of console gaming. I loved this game, and had so much fun with it. It felt like true evolution for the series as a whole and was a technically sound title overall. Like I mentioned before, this game was my personal pick for Game of the Year and i truly believe that it was a well deserved win.

Random side note, if Player Unknown’s Batttleground had won I would have been seriously heated.

Game of The Year Thoughts

As we near the end of 2017 there is recurring thought that is not lost on game writers, critics and just lovers of video games in general. 2017 has been chock full of amazing releases. No, that is not just hyperbole; Just look at all the releases from January onward and you will see how lucky we are to basically have our pick of amazing titles and experiences:

The first quarter of the year gave us releases such as Resident Evil 7, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Nier: Automata. It also gave us the Nintendo’s long awaited console the Switch along with the revolutionary The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The second quarter saw the release of Persona 5, What Remains of Edith Finch, the surprisingly fun fighter Arms, and the Crash Bandicoot remastered trilogy among others. In quarters 3 and 4 we saw Splatoon 2, Final Fantasy XII the Zodiac Age, Pyre, Hellblade, Sonic Mania (who knew we’d ever see another good Sonic game again!), Metroid: Samus Returns, Cuphead, Mario + Rabbids…you get the idea; 2017 was full of amazing games up and down the board for all tastes.

One of the knock on effects of having such a strong year for releases is that come Game of the Year time (like now) there are quite a few contenders that one can easily make the argument for, and The Game Awards, an annual ceremony hosted by Geoff Keighley, put together a strong list of candidates for 2017’s top prize…well mostly a strong list in my opinion. 4 of the 5 nominees are strong contenders – I mean anyone can easily make a case for Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Pesona 5. Player Unknown’s Battleground though…for game of the year? ehhh.

Now don’t get me wrong, PUBG is one hell of a multiplayer experience and it did things on steam that perennial favorite DOTA 2 hasn’t done. For those who haven’t heard of PUBG, something of a rarity if you ask me, the game was released to Steam early access back in March of this year by Bluehole. The game is a battle royale style game that pits you against 99 other players (max) and your goal is to essentially be the last player standing to get that oh so sweet chicken dinner. How you do this is up to you; you can hide and hope no one finds you, you can scavenge for weapons and gear and take the fight to your enemies, or you can play a more methodical game that combines the two strategies. In any case the goal is the same, stay alive. Oh yeah, there is also the caveat that as players get eliminated the map’s area of play becomes more constricted – if you’re caught out of the playable area when it contracts, you lose. Sorry lurkers, can’t hide forever. The game is incredibly fun.

So why the issue with it being a game of the year nominee? Well, the first thing is that the game is technically not a full release. It has been in early access since March and only now in December (late in month I believe) will it get a full release. That’s one point of contention, the second is that the game, as is, is still janky as hell. There is quite a bit of work that needs to be done to make sure this game is polished up and ready for it’s release and I just don’t think that, as it stands, it should qualify as a nominee for game of the year.

Games that are nominated as Game of the Year exhibit a number of qualities that show they are deserving of the nomination. Beyond playability, gameplay and fun factor, the technical aspects of a game should also be looked at. Game of the Year is the whole package, not just a piece of the package despite how massively popular and widespread that one piece is (in the case of PUBG). There is no denying the effect PUBG has had on the industry; back in October the title crossed over 2 million concurrent users on steam and looking at the steam charts now shows that the number has only grown (recent day trends show that at it’s peak there are about 2.5 million PUBG concurrent players). The title has even inspired other games to start implementing battle royale style modes. The effect is being felt industry wide and that is a testament to PUBG and Bluehole. I just don’t think that you can rest your hat on that one argument for Game of the Year when it falls short on the other aspects compared to the rest of the titles nominated.

As for me? When the Hold Up a Sec guys start talking game of the year, I will be going to bat for my personal favorite of 2017 and my nominee for Game of the Year. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. What do you think?