Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Music Review – Slash: World on Fire

                Slash has been at this for a long time and while most people love his contributions to Guns ‘N Roses far more than anything else he has done, I have to admit that later-era Slash is quickly becoming my favorite version.  For a quick Slash history lesson, he started out in Guns ‘N Roses (instead of Tracii Guns who went on to form LA Guns), and when Axl Rose did Axl Rose things and G’N’R (at least it’s most popular incarnation) disbanded.  Slash went on to form Slash’s Snakepit (which bares quite the resemblance to his current work) and then formed the supergroup Velvet Revolver with Duff and Matt from G’N’R as well as vocalist and heroin cautionary tale Scott Weiland.  I have a feeling, if Weiland had not done Weiland things, that Velvet Revolver would still be going today.  Alas that was not the case and Slash ventured out on his own.  His  initial solo album was a collaborative effort, everyone from Ozzy to Lemmy to Fergie played a role.  It was here that the current incarnation of the band was formed when he partnered with Myles Kennedy.  That brings us to now and the band of Slash; Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.

                I’m not going to lie, I was never a huge Myles Kennedy fan, even during my review of Apocalyptic Love upon its release I mentioned how I was unimpressed by the vocals.  Myles grew on me every time I listened to that album (and it was  a lot) and while I will never count him as one of my favorite vocalists, his presence on World on Fire was not as jarring as it was on the initial playthroughs of Apocalyptic Love.  His range as a vocalist is incredible and he meshes with Slash and the Conspirators better than anyone save maybe Axl Rose.

                As good as Kennedy is on this album (as well as the Conspirators, let’s not discount their contribution) this is a Slash album through and through.  The guitar work is beautiful throughout, with a very Iron Maiden-esque galloping guitar style playing a prominent role on the last two albums.  Not that Slash has changed his style at all, but I have definitely noticed that style more with this band.  Slash has grown as a guitar player throughout his various projects (and that’s saying a lot for someone that was a legend after his first G’N’R album) and I have enjoyed seeing that journey, and conversely, can’t wait to see where it goes next.


                While the album is good, it definitely has an Apocalyptic Love – Side B feel to it.  I am hard-pressed to find anything too new or different on this album.  This is not a bad thing at all, who really wants to reinvent themselves every two years or so, but in terms of the tracks on Apocalyptic Love and those on World on Fire, it feels like they were written at the same time and then split, almost like Use Your Illusion I and II, an inadvertent double album so to speak.  To be honest, that is perfectly fine with me, the more music Slash releases, the happier everyone will be.  Now to just get him to tour around the Central New York area…

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hooked on Phonics

I would actually like to hear The Situation try to read Hop on Pop.  It would be the funniest thing I've seen all year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Jersey Themed Entertainment

If I was stuck in a car listening to that, I would find the nearest tree and wrap myself around it.

fyi - I got reeeeeally tired of drawing the interior of that car by the end of this storyline.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Not So New Comic Review: Galactic Guardians (1994) #1

            A new title!  A new team!  The same creative team behind it though, so let’s see if it’s just more of the same.  For those of you uninitiated with the Galactic Guardians, it is an offshoot of the Guardians of the Galaxy, made up of characters that the Guardians have encountered in their first fifty issues, led by former Guardian Martinex.  Okay, everyone on board?  Let’s proceed. 

            We begin by finding out that Mainframe, the computer consciousness of former Avenger Vision is ill and must take himself off-line.  This is obviously not a good thing as Mainframe actually powers a world of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people.  If he just quit it would mean chaos and certain death.  There is a back up plan though, and it means taking the most powerful member of the Galactic Guardians out of commission.  Phoenix must use his power to keep the world going while Mainframe is shut down.  Way to stack the odds against the team from the get-go. 

            Martinex dispatches the rest of the Galactic Guardians, at this point only Firelord and Ghost Rider, to deal with an external threat while sending Replica into Mainframe in order to determine what the problem is that requires a shut down.  Replica gladly obliges and we leave her to exploring as our attention turns to Hollywood who is pissed that he had to fight Overkill over in the Guardians of the Galaxy book so he takes it out on the poor alien that gave him the information.  Just as he’s about to get information out of the little alien guy he is blipped out of existence. 

            Back to Replica, who is still in the midst of searching through Mainframe when she comes across a pile of goo.  Martinex tells her to take a sample and she resists so he goes all Vance Astro and tells her to do her job.  Now, I understand being firm when dealing with a team member that is not performing, but why is every “leader” character that Gallagher writes the exact same cookie cutter?  It’s like all he did was watch the old Fox X-Men cartoon and copy Cyclops’ dialogue. 

            Back to Hollywood, who is now on an isolated planet with Vision, in his old Avengers getup.  We get to learn why Hollywood is so pissed at Vision, and it all stems around the fact that during the War of the Worlds, all the heroes died and instead of Hollywood being there to help, he was teleported away by Vision at the last moment.  He blames Vision for not letting him die with the heroes. 

            We now switch our focus to the rainbow bridge of Asgard as Heimdall comes to face with Silverback, a strange alien creature who wants entry.  Heimdall denies him this so he does what any self-respecting monster would do and attacks him.  This can’t stand though and Woden, Thor’s kid, shows up to beat him back.  And that’s how it ends…for now.

            We do get the second part of Future History though that tells us what happened to the mutants and how they left the planet early and came to settle on Haven.  In short, it’s a concise version of the history we saw thirty some issues ago.


            Next Issue:  More fun with Woden, and Martinex acts like a douche.    

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Garden State

I lived in New Jersey for four years and could never come up with a good reason why it was called the "Garden State".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Late to the Party Video Game Review – Darksiders II

                I was a huge fan of Joe Madureira when I was growing up, as were most people interested in comics in the ‘90s.  When he left to work in video games, it was a dark day indeed, but luckily we only had to wait damn near forever for the first Darksiders game to come out.  The game itself was a lot of fun, very Legend of Zelda with a darker and more mature tone to it.  The character designs were obviously stunning as well.  Being that the game was about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and the first game only featured one of the horsemen, you would expect there to be at least one sequel.  Thankfully we did not have to wait nearly as long for Darksiders II.

                Darksiders II features a new cast of characters (you play as Death, War’s brother this time around) yet they still have the same “Joe Mad” design sense that makes them instantly appealing and a visual treat.  The game mechanics in the sequel are a little different as War was a bruiser while death is a bit quicker and lighter on his feet.  You can still equip slower weapons like maces and clubs, but who would want to?  Death also has the ability to run along walls (much more so than War did in the first game) making the puzzles a bit more interesting this time around. 

                This game definitely feels like a sequel to the first game as it is very similar in terms of its approach.  It definitely still falls under the hack/slash mold of video games where you kill a bunch of enemies and then move forward until you approach more enemies to kill, with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure.  The sequel does add in a bit more in the way of RPG elements in terms of giving Death different weapons or armor to enhance stats that the first game just did not offer.  While this adds a fun bit of customization to your character (and god-bless the animators as whatever armor you place on death shows up in the subsequent cutscenes) and you definitely get to play around with a multitude of different weapons (there are many different scythes to try and your secondary weapon can be anything from claws to maces) it doesn’t do a whole lot besides provide you with the loot to load up on health and wrath potions to get you through boss-fights (something I didn’t bother doing until later in the game).

                The world is very open while still directing you where you need to go and the collectables are plentiful (if that’s your thing).  The enemies can be a little intense at times, they either are incredibly powerful or there are so many that they tend to swarm you, but it is nothing but a momentary blip on the radar if you use your special abilities (the zombies are particularly effective even though they are quite the wrath-drain).  The majority of the bosses are difficult but not impossible, with most requiring that you do something with your most recently acquired gadget (a la Legend of Zelda) in order to defeat them.  While the bosses were generally challenging, especially figuring out that little “trick” that would help you defeat them, the final two bosses, who were straight-up hack and slash until they’re dead were incredibly easy.  For a point of reference, the scribe, the level boss right before you face the final two bosses was so difficult that I had to turn the difficulty from “normal” to “easy” (I know, I’m a pussy) after continually dying (I put it back after beating him).  While the final two bosses, I believe that I may have died once, if at all between the two.  The respite was nice, but I kind of expected more to finish off the game.

                All in all, this was a solid game, one I wish I had played a little more consistently when I bought it instead of letting it sit and coming back to it, but I had a lot of fun with it.  I’m sure it’s really cheap now so I would advise checking it out.  The stages have been set and I’ve heard rumblings of a third installment, so if we all cross our fingers it won’t happen too late for the 360 console generation (because there’s no way I’m spending the money on an xbox one)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guidebook

This might be one of my favorite strips in terms of the artwork.  
I do like the fact that the New Jersey guidebook is a used napkin as well, it makes it feel more real.