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Gaming With Jeremy: Apex Legends

A Review From Jeremy Miller

When it comes to video games, the big thing right now is “Battle Royales”. Whether you prefer to play solo or with a squad, there is no shortage of options. Fortnite and PUBG have been two of the most popular for well over a year, and the bigger developers have taken notice and even came out with their own versions of the popular genre. Respawn Entertainment, the creators of the Titanfall game franchise, have created a BR called ‘Apex Legends’. It feels as if all I have played in the last year are “Battle Royales”, so I was a little skeptical when I first played it, thinking that it would feel the same as the others with just with different cosmetics. Man was I wrong, and I’m glad I was.

‘Apex Legends’ is a class based shooter, meaning each character has abilities and specials that only they can use. For instance, Lifeline is a Combat Medic. She can deploy a healing drone and drop a care package for her team to get defensive and healing supplies. Bangalore is a combat specialist, or DPS, character. She can throw out smoke grenades and when her special is ready, can drop Rolling Thunder, an artillery strike. With each character having their own strengths and abilities, the game kinda forces players to play with a team first mentality, rather than running off on your own. And that alone separates ‘Apex Legends’ from the other BR games at the moment.

‘Apex Legends’ is a beautiful game. The graphics are amazing and if it weren’t for other players trying to shoot my head off, I’d probably have time to snap more screenshots. The only game mode is Trios, meaning that if you don’t have a friend or two in your party, the game will match you with randoms. The game will randomly select who picks their character first, then second and third. The other new thing that was added, is called a Jumpmaster, who is also selected at random. The Jumpmaster is the one who can select a spot and jump out of the flying vehicle to land at that position. The game does give the option for a player to break away from the group and go off on their own. Once your team has landed, the mission to survive begins. There is plenty of loot laying around for everyone to have 2 weapons of their choice with a couple of attachments. Which in turn makes it extremely interesting if there are other groups that landed with you.

Not only is Apex Legends a beautiful designed game with great mechanics, it’s also free on PC, XBox and PlayStation. I can’t wait to see what new characters Respawn has in store for us. I have yet been able to secure a victory, but that doesn’t matter. I like to play games because I have fun, especially if it’s with friends. But I would be lying if I told you I don’t have a competitive side. I will get that win one day. And I’ll brag about it to my cat.
Overall I would have to rate this game a solid 9/10.

Find Jeremy streaming here:
https://mixer.com/xPsykoSlimx

Comic Culture With Rafa #002

That Important Spider-Man Story Everyone Should Read
By Rafa Encinas

With the recent interest in Spider-Man at an all time high, especially after the popularity of Insomniac’s Spider-Man video game, the success of the Into The Spider-Verse movie, and the insanity of the Spider-Geddon comic event, I think it is time for new fans and old fans alike to venture into some of the quintessential stories that got us to this point. That is why I highly recommend J. Michael Straczynski’s “Coming Home” (2001) story from his run of The Amazing Spider-Man (issues #30-35).

First and foremost, this is super hero storytelling at its finest. When I first picked it up, I was expecting just another flashy Spider-Man story. Something that would be fun, but overall probably forgettable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of those stories that hit hard, and ultimately actually set up a lot for future stories. We get the introduction of the enigmatic Ezekiel and the unstoppable Morlun, the concept of totems and the supernatural, as well as a huge reveal as the story comes to a close.

This adventure hits hard because the action is nonstop. If you are looking for some Spider-Man action fights, then this is the story for you. The inner monologue and desperation that comes from Peter as he trades blows with Morlun feels important and showcases the internal grit and perseverance that the Spider-Man character embodies. There are actual stakes to this battle, and you see the inner turmoil and despair Peter is facing. You do not get the usual banter. It feels serious. This is also expertly complimented by Romita Jr.’s art style which always seems to work best for the Spider-Man character.

But besides the superhero slugfest that this comic details, there is also real heart in Peter’s personal life. The reader gets to see him create something for himself. He pays it forward by becoming a high school teacher. He attempts to do more than just be a superhero. The high school sequences are endearing and actually produces a powerful sequence in which there is a school shooting; something that is unfortunately very familiar for our current times.  And this is important because Spider-Man always feels relevant. This story further solidifies it.

And that is why it is with great pride that I recommend this story to all fans of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It feels important, and it showcases exactly why Peter Parker is such an endearing character. It accurately portrays the magic in being responsible and in holding oneself to a higher standard. And luckily, Spider-Man can reach those higher stands. It helps when you have the agility and web slinging prowess of a spider.

Comic Culture With Rafa #001

The Boys Are Back in Town: A Return to Form in Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019)

A review from Rafael Encinas

When you think of iconic partnerships in comic books, what comes to mind? For me, personally, I’ve always been partial to the dynamic of the Cyclops/Wolverine relationship. Two leaders; two heroes; two generals of a dying species. There are few as iconic as these two X-Men; two characters with so much rich history. This is why it is unfortunate that so many casual fans only think about the Scott, Logan, Jean love triangle, especially when there is so much more to these characters.

For the past forty-plus years, we have had some wild events with these two at the epicenter. Moments of apocalypse, onslaughts, and decimations, these two have had some incredible highs. But unfortunately, their complex bromance hit some lows, especially with an all-time low with the forced “Schism” event in 2011, and then they both died… eventually.  

But with the release of yesterday’s Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019), consider me hype for a new chapter in their rocky relationship. Hold onto your hats because THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN! And they are not messing around.

It is hard to put into words the amount of nuanced emotion and complexity in the return of the Last Two X-Men. If you haven’t been reading Uncanny X-Men… the recently resurrected Cyclops and Wolverine have come back to a world in where all the X-Men are gone. Mutants are on the verge of extinction once again. Please check out Chris’ Comic Book Corner for additional details about issue 11.  

But basically, Cyclops is back facing a hostile world where all his allies are nowhere to be found. As he searches for his fallen comrades and dispersed people, the issue culminates into a big confrontation between Cyclops and the who’s who of mutant hate groups.

This scene plays out with a heightened sense of intensity because you know the fight is about to go down. But it is one man, Scott Summers, who we all know if no slouch when it comes to confrontation or impossible odds, but it still feels tense, and you feel the danger and peril for Cyclops mounting. We get a wise crack from Reaver commander, Donald Pierce who basically laments at the death of all mutants and mockingly states, “What’s it like knowing your friends all died, the world doesn’t care, and that you’re going to die all alone?” 

These are powerful words. And the tension is palpable. Cyclops was about to go down in a blaze of glory, and if only there was someone to help him. And then the greatest moment in recent comic book history occurs:

There are no words to express my feelings of elation to see Wolverine come back from the dead and to join forces with Cyclops once again after so many years of mutant politics and hostile estrangement. After the conflict of the mutant schism and the disaster of the Avenger/Mutant conflict, and the heightened tensions over Cyclops’ Mutant Revolution, we see the personal strife, turmoil, and anger these two X-men had for one another come to a head in an act of mutual understanding and Mutant cooperation. They realize there is something more important than their petty ideologies and imagined slights. We see two titans come together for the greater good. A reunion. A return to form. Best Friends Once Again! Reunited And It Feels So Good!

And this is the power of comics. Moments like these that make you feel emotional payoff and impact that comes from years of reading these fictional allegories to very real issues and narratives. This reunion made me nostalgic for all the moments Cyclops and Wolverine fought side by side. And this is important because I am not the only one to feel this way. Comics transcend one’s own thoughts and opinions. It becomes a medium for people to connect and realize their shared love and joy for fictional characters.

In reading Uncanny X-Men #11, it was in this moment that I remembered a comment I saw on Reddit a while back from user bigkr88. The reddit user talked about the bond that both Scott and Logan shared; a bond of brotherhood, and the gravity that that title holds for both men.  More so than any other pair of heroes, I would argue these two have the strongest brotherly bond out of most Marvel Comic Book characters. I mean they fought together, side by side, for decades in a world that did not thank them and wanted them dead.

At the end of the day, Scott and Logan were brothers. The term “friends” does not do their complex relationship justice. I mean, brothers fight. Brothers argue. Brothers hate each other. Brothers stop talking to one another, but when it really counts and things go down, brothers will come together no matter how far they have drifted apart. The relationship between these two icons is more than just a simple friendship. Dealing with the end of the world and the end of their species on a day to day basis really puts things into perspective. And doing this together for so many years is meaningful.

And this isn’t just fan conjecture. We can see similar lamentations in the pages of the comics themselves.

Wolverine himself contemplates in X-Men: Prelude to Schism #4: “I’ve been to the end of the universe with you. Been your rival. Been Your friend. We’ve seen some rough times and had a few good ones.”

Cyclops reciprocates these feelings when he thinks back in the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan #1: “Despite our differences over the years, we share one thing in common: We were there… for all of it. We lost friends. Buried sons. But we never stopped… until I broke things.”

Though these two iconic X-Men would be too proud to say these word out loud to one another, which can be frustrating (JUST HUG EACH OTHER ALREADY), one can see the mutual respect they have for one another that is earned on the battlefield. I mean these two faced so many extinction level events for the safety of their people. Fellow redditer bigkr88 really puts this into powerful words:

“They fought, they suffered the same losses, they watched the same friends and loved ones die sometimes repeatedly, and in the end, it was always these two standing there on the remains of the battlefield.    They’re brothers in arms in a way that the word “friend” doesn’t BEGIN to describe what they were, and quite frankly after one died, it was only a matter of time before the other did. Wolverine was just a hypocritical killing machine without Cyclops to measure his morality against, and Cyclops was just an authoritarian rebel with a dying cause without Wolverine to show him what the dark side of their conflict could become.”    

Ultimately, both characters are at their best when they are together, fighting the monsters that want to see them dead. Therefore, to have them come back together and not miss a beat; to take on the oppressors that systematically eliminated their people feels good. It feels right. And they would think so too. We are witnessing comic greatness at its finest. We are witnessing a significant moment in the mutant and marvel ethos. Cyclops and Wolverine are back. They are not pulling punches. They are back with a vengeance to remind the world that the mutant species will not go out with a whimper, but with a bang.