An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 1

May 16, 2022
Batman: Arkham Asylum

The game starts with Batman driving up to the legendary Arkham Asylum with The Joker strapped into the passenger seat. Batman hauls Joker into the Asylum and insists on accompanying the guards as they escort Joker to his cell as he thinks Joker allowed himself to be captured. Joker enjoys taunting both Batman and the guards even though he is strapped to a gurney Silence of the Lambs style. There are some electrical problems but they are brushed off as nothing. As you escort Joker, you find out that there was a fire at Blackgate Prison so a lot of prisoners were transferred to Arkham including Joker’s men. You descend into the bowels of Arkham where it is revealed that Harley Quinn is free and has taken control of Arkham’s security system. Joker has made a deal with a corrupt guard which has allowed him unfettered access to the asylum. They kidnap Commissioner Gordon and announce that there are bombs planted across the city that will go off should anyone try to enter the asylum grounds.

Batman chases after Harley Quinn first as she has Gordon captive in the medical wing. In fact, Joker’s men have captured all of the doctors and nurses in the wing. Batman must rescue them as he searches for Harley. Batman follows Harley’s trail to the morgue where he finds out that Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow is also loose. He turns a corner and finds Gordon violently murdered and slumped against a wall. Batman tries to contact Barbar Gordon aka Oracle to break the news to her but gets no answer. He is forced to move on to continue his pursuit of Harley and Joker as the walls seem to stretch and crumble around him. He enters the morgue proper and finds three body bags. He opens the first two body bags and finds his mother and father whose corpses blame him for their deaths. He moves to open the third body bag and out pops Scarecrow who hits him with concentrated fear gas which plunges Batman deeper into a nightmare.

Batman comes to in a surreal dreamscape as he is hunted by an impossibly tall Scarecrow. Batman must use stealth to navigate the gauntlet laid out for him and shine a light on Scarecrow’s avatar to return to reality. Shaken, Batman discovers that a guard’s body is where Gordon was and he can’t trust anything he saw while under the effects of the fear gas. With the actual Scarecrow nowhere in sight, Batman moves on to continue his pursuit, feeling that Gordon can still be saved.

Batman locates and temporarily subdues Harley but Joker releases Bane who is somehow even more juiced than he usually is. The fight is difficult and Batman must focus on removing the shunts used to pump Venom into Bane rather than attack the big man himself. Batman barely survives the ordeal as Bane chases him back up to the surface. Batman activates the Batmobile remotely and uses it to plow into Bane and launch him into the waters of the Gotham harbor, confident that Bane will survive. However, something was very wrong with Bane and Batman deduces that it is probably connected to Joker’s reason for returning to the asylum.

With Gordon finally rescued, Batman retreats to a small Batcave that he secretly installed under Arkham to restock his gadgets and use the computer to figure things out. He discovers that warden Quincy Sharp had hired Dr. Penelope Young as part of Arkham’s new research facility in an effort to cure the patients once and for all. However, Joker’s intricate plan started with manipulating Dr. Young into experimenting with Venom, eventually creating a plant-based hybrid called Titan. This new chemical, which caused subjects to gain enormous strength but also uncontrollable rage, was Joker’s plan to destroy Gotham and finally eliminate the Batman problem. However, Young finally realized that she was being played and refused to cooperate further which prompted Joker to return to the asylum and enact his plan there.  The plan is now clear Batman must prevent Joker from getting his hands on Titan and part of that is finding Dr. Young.

Batman begins to track Dr. Young and rescues hard-nosed guard Aaron Cash who rallies the rest of the still-living guards and gives Batman clues about Dr. Young’s whereabouts. Batman is momentarily sidetracked by another dose of Scarecrow’s fear gas which leads to him reliving his parent’s murder in Crime Alley. While tracking her further, Batman finds the Titan formula and burns it. He finds Dr. Young who has been taken hostage by Victor Zsaz in the warden’s office. After rescuing her, she reveals that she was trying to get another copy of the formula out of the office’s safe. When they open the safe, a Joker bomb goes off which instantly kills Dr. Young. What’s worse, is there are already completed batches of Titan and Joker has them already. 

Batman once again tussles with Harley Quinn in a lengthy battle. After capturing her and sealing her in a cell, he tricks her into revealing that Poison Ivy is being used to manipulate plants in the asylum’s botanical gardens to produce Titan. Batman heads that way to rescue her as she is an unwilling participant. She tells Batman that she can help produce an antidote to Titan but the rare spore she needs is located in the sewers under the asylum. Specifically, the spores are in the lair of Killer Croc.

 Batman descends into the sewers and is ambushed once again by Scarecrow. This time Scarecrow injects Batman with a pure liquid dose of his fear toxin. Batman and the video game itself have a breakdown in perfect fourth wall shattering style. The opening of the game is repeated but this time it is Batman who is strapped to the gurney and the player plays as Joker, escorting his foe to a cell. The villains are in control and Batman and his allies are now the inmates. Once again, Batman breaks through the illusion and finally gets to face Scarecrow one on one in a fair fight. This causes Scarecrow to flee and Batman watches Scarecrow get mauled by Croc before he can save the demented villain. 

Batman sneaks into Croc’s lair and must use stealth and patience to avoid Croc who is swimming in the water all around. In a very lengthy and tense sequence, Batman repels Croc by activating the shock collar still barely hanging on to the beastly man’s neck. Batman is able to synthesize one dose of the antidote before plants destroy his setup.

Batman returns to the botanical gardens to discover that Ivy has been injected with Titan, causing her to lose control and mutate. Batman fights the new monstrous version of Poison Ivy and is able to subdue her. The Joker lays a trap for Batman and captures him. On the roof of the asylum, Batman and the Joker face each other. Batman is exposed to Titan while Joker gives himself a heavy dose. The two fight like gladiators with Joker succumbing more and more to the Titan as Batman resists. Batman eventually uses the antidote on himself before beating Joker with the classic Batman combination of gadgets, cleverness, and fists. 

With Joker defeated, the effects of Titan start to wear off on all those who were dosed. Backup arrives and the Joker is finally arrested for real as he is utterly spent by the battle and the toll Titan took on his body. Batman rushes off to stop a crime in progress committed by Two-Face.

Suicide Squad: Emperor Joker (Movie Pitch)

May 14, 2022

This movie would have taken the place originally occupied by David Ayer’s Suicide Squad which was released to middling success. It is inspired by a video by the YouTube channel Renegade Cut during their ruminations on the DCEU.

Gotham City

Harley is running through a warehouse and is pursued by Batman moving in the darkness like a shadow. He tells her she might as well give up as he has stopped The Joker’s plan. It’s over.  She declares that she’ll never give up when it comes to Joker and shoots at him to no effect and she is caught. As she is being led away by the cops, she locks eyes with Joker who looks away. She is hurt deeply.

Louisiana – Belle Reve Prison – Harley Quinn’s Cell

We start on a zoom-in of a wall calendar as Harley crosses out days in time-lapse. Months go by. She starts scratching out the pictures and tearing the pages out when a month has finished. The camera rotates to a close-up of Harley’s face as we see Amanda Waller approach the cell. Harley does a Hanibal Lecter impression which only gets a slight smirk from Waller. Waller taunts Harley over The Joker not coming to spring her from prison. Harley tells Waller to get to the point as she is in no mood to play. Waller needs Harley’s help to take on The Joker. Harley flatly refuses. Waller states that she has no choice and that Harley should think about how Joker has treated her and how this was her chance to step out from Joker’s shadow.

The team is gathered for a briefing. We get a roll call of the rest of the team roll call style Deadshot (Floyd Lawton), Captain Boomerang (Digger Harkness), Copperhead (Naavya Prasad), Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner), and Fauna Faust. We get Harley’s thoughts on each as she sits in the back of the room. Waller reveals that she holds paperwork to reduce the sentences of everyone who cooperates and survives the mission. If they refuse, she also has planted explosives in the base of their skulls and will not hesitate to execute each of them and start over. The team is rounded out by Solomon Grundy. In Harley’s words, a frickin’ zombie.

 Waller introduces Colonel Rick Flag who tells everybody that he does not care what they did in the past. He only cares about completing the mission. If everybody plays along, things will go fine. Waller reveals that the team will be heading toward Gotham. She shows footage of a Gotham City that is absolutely destroyed to the shock of everyone and a mix of confusion and jealousy in Harley. Waller reveals that the target is the Joker which makes everybody nervous. The Joker has come in contact with an extra-dimensional being and has become frighteningly powerful. He must be taken out before he becomes even more powerful and his madness and destruction spread across the globe. The mission is clear: Kill the Joker. Save the World.

Gotham City – The Joker’s Throne Room

The Joker paces back and forth while talking about his history with Batman before he turns and shoots Batman dead through the forehead. After a beat, we see more of the room and realize that there are actually three Jokers in the room. One is the “real” Joker that we saw earlier but there are two other incarnations. One is a giggling goofball a la Cesar Romero’s Joker and the other is more deadly serious. The Jokers talk about how boring it is to kill the Bat. There’s no challenge in it anymore. Joker waves his hand and the bullet falls out of Batman and he lives again. Chains snake down to ensnare the Bat and lift him up. The Jokers discuss whether they should summon up Robin or Gordon or somebody else to kill in front of Batman. But no, they’ve already done that. They need to find that little pipsqueak with all of the power so Joker can finish the job. Then he’ll have more tricks he can pull off. As we look around the throne room we see that there are many incarnations of Joker from throughout the comics, television, and movies in shadow as the audience.

Harley’s Dream

We see Harley’s origin story through her own eyes. We see her graduating from medical school.  We see her falling for The Joker as a psychiatrist. We see her struggle with her own mental health and eventually go with The Joker when he escapes Arkham. We see her baptism in chemicals. We see her and Joker side by side terrorizing Gotham. She is so happy.

Task Force X Transport

Harley is jolted awake on the plane. She watches the others with skepticism. The group chatters amongst themselves. (Except for Grundy who can barely form words). The villains start talking about Gotham City which only Captain Boomerang has not terrorized. Eventually, Harley tells the others the story of The Laughing Fish. This brings up the subject of The Joker. Deadshot brings up that “When supervillains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.” The others agree that nobody will miss the Joker when he’s gone but stop short when they see Harley’s angry face. She tells them off and stands up for “Mistah J”.

Alarms go off and rockets are headed toward the transport. The rear door is blown open and Harley runs toward the opening to shout that she is in the transport and that Joker should stop firing. It obviously does not work and the transport starts going down. Everybody rushes to grab their gear and parachutes before jumping out. No parachute for Grundy who does not make it out of the transport. 

Gotham City – Alleyway

The group lands in an alley and regroups and gears up. Harley pulls out the pistol that Joker first gave her and a baseball bat. They get coordinates from Waller and her team. Faust is shielding them from Joker’s powers but they will have to move fast. They see somebody digging frantically in the trash and Harley approaches. Everybody but Harley is ready for a fight. Harley taps the guy on the shoulder and he turns around. He has a crude Joker face and he laughs. The laughter attracts a hoard of similar Joker zombies. 

Captain Boomerang: “They’re like the bloody fish!”  

Waller confirms that they’re non-living. The Joker zombies attack and the team (sans Harley) combat the zombies. Deadshot makes it a competition with Flag. Grundy emerges through a brick wall and joins the fight having dug himself out of the wreckage of the transport and beelined for the team. The battle is fierce and everybody gets a chance to shine. Harley is frustrated and a little scared that she actually has to defend herself. The battle ends with her shaking one of the zombies and telling The Joker that she’s coming for him. It’s actually mostly a loving statement but there is just a hint of a threat there. Harley is starting to reach her limit but the team distrusts her.

Part 2 Coming Soon

Media Update 5/12/22

May 12, 2022

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I had heard some buzz for this movie and it became a rare movie that I would see in a movie theater. A proprietor of a laundromat gets sucked into a conflict that spans the multiverse. It is pretty much a movie that defies explanation. The movie stars Michelle Yeoh who does an excellent job balancing comedy, tragedy, and action. Ke Huy Quan had been away from acting for almost twenty years (he was in a movie in 2021) and he is amazing as the emotional core of the movie. Stephanie Hsu is mind-blowing as the troubled daughter. Jamie Lee Curtis and James Hong do so much good work in more minor roles. The movie was amazing. It has a million blind-and-you’ll-miss-it references and jokes and yet it also made me cry. I recommend this movie.

Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

I was totally hyped for this movie for many reasons. First, I liked the first Dr. Strange and enjoyed his comic books. Second, the movie was getting heralded as Sam Raimi’s return to horror. Three, it included some of my favorite MCU characters and had a lot of potential for fun cameos. I was not disappointed. Basically, Stephen Strange must protect a young girl with amazing powers while unraveling a mystic mystery. Benedict Cumberbatch is back as Dr. Strange and he does even better with the role balancing comedy with incredible drama. Benedict Wong returns and is just as funny as usual. I am not spoiling anything by saying that Elizabeth returns and she continues to show such an emotional journey of Wanda Maximoff. Rachel MacAdams is given more to do in this one. Xochitl Gomez is a relative newcomer but she is definitely going places as she is such a great actress. I can definitely see why Raimi directed this one and he has come a long way since Evil Dead. I recommend this movie.

The One

I love supernatural martial arts movies and this is definitely an exemplary movie in that category. It had the perfect balance of humor, action, and a little bit of drama. Also, a ton of early 2000s Nu Metal. The story here is that a man is murdering other versions of himself throughout the multiverse to absorb their power. There is one left to kill but they are now equal in power. Jet Li plays the hero and villain and does a great job at distinguishing the two roles. Jason Statham plays a multiversal cop who is trying to stop everything from going down. Carla Cugino plays the clever wife of the protagonist who gets mixed up in everything. They did a really good job playing with what a multiverse would look like. The differences are often played for laughs, though. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Ava Max – Maybe You’re The Problem

Camila Cabello – psychofreak

Future – WAIT FOR U

Jamantha Greene – My Lamp ft. Mikey T

Mashup of the Week:

DasonRZ Mashups – Get Circus

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Into the Multiverse”
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 4
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 2
  • I finished What We Do In the Shadows Season 1
  • I started Scream Queens Season 2
  • I finished Nancy Drew Season 3
  • I watched The Galaxy Intruder (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Grizzly (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Treasure of the Amazon (Rifftrax Version)

Rollin Stone Top 100 Pt. 14

May 9, 2022

78. The Stooges – Search and Destroy

Iggy Pop and the Stooges were progenitors of punk music and this song definitely shows it. The raw guitars and heavy distortion showed a willingness to push music outside of its comfort noise. The lyrics here also push people out of their comfort zone as they were inspired by news stories about the Vietnam War. The discordant yet rocking sounds definitely put me in mind of the subject matter. This kind of song inspired a lot of my favorites like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and Nirvana.

79. The Four Tops – Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got)

A true classic, that was actually another song recorded before the definitive version. The original version was recorded by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds about a year earlier which was just how things were done then, especially in the R&B genre. One thing about these singing groups is that it is hard to do research on the backing bands. The intro sounds like it could be strings (but it’s hard to tell) anyway it gives a bit of anticipation in the intro. The singing is in the spotlight here and Levi Stubbs does a great job leading while the others are in perfect harmony. 

80. Elvis Costello – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again

Yes, there are a ton of choices I could have made with really rocking tunes like Pump It Up, Radio Radio, or Watching the Detectives but I keep coming back to this recording. Technically, this is a Burt Bacharach song as sung by Elvis Costello. However, this recording is too charming not to mention. This comes from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me which is a really excellent soundtrack. Costello’s playful vocals mix really well with the soft horns and piano work. I also think the song has such good lyrics.

81. The Drifters – Under the Boardwalk

A song that my mom used to sing to me when I was a small child. This is a song that I will forever equate with summer and spending time in either Myrtle Beach or Ocean City, MD (the real Ocean City). I love the sort of swaying tone of the song which is both calm and catchy. I always thought that it was the perfect marriage of surf music and R&B. The song encapsulates a lot of what the summer feels like (even though it’s about a tryst literally under the boardwalk). The lead singer on this single was originally supposed to be Rudy Lewis but he died of a heroin overdose the day before the recording session. Johnny Moore stepped up to the plate in a major way and knocked it out of the park. 

82. Credence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

I was absolutely obsessed with this song for a long time. It got me through some days laden with depressive episodes. It became my unofficial anthem as I often sang it just under my breath as I did a lot of physical labor. It would make me excited instead of tired. Of course, this was a song that I also heard from a young age as my mom was into a lot of southern rock. The guitar riff will live in my head forever and the bouncy lyrics work so well with it. It does not hurt that the song is often used for the soundtracks for a lot of supernatural movies and television shows. It makes sense as it is a song about portents of doom and mysticism. 

83. Eminem – Without Me

There is a lot to choose from as I have been a fan of Eminem’s music since he first showed up. I have not always been a fan of Marshall Mathers but Eminem/Slim Shady is different to me. I like the urgent pace of this particular track. Eminem is a brilliant lyricist as he has a wide-ranging vocabulary and touches on so many parts of pop culture. This track combines a neat horn riff, Eminem’s lyrics, a sort of singsong riff, and actual backing vocals. The music video also includes the highly memorable sight of Eminem dressed as Robin as he acts like a sidekick to Dr. Dre.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 1

May 7, 2022

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Belle asked. “How are you going to bridge the gap?” She squinted at The Enchantress as she held Adam’s hand tightly.

“Would you stop picking at me?” The Enchantress said as she tried to focus on her magic. “It’s distracting.”

“What are you going to do about it?” Belle asked with a sly smirk. “Are you going to turn me into furniture?”

“I could, you know,” The Enchantress said. “You’re very brave now that I’ve promised not to use my magic on you. It’s kind of annoying.”

“Well, yes,” Belle said. “And I’m having a lot of fun.”

“Maybe we should have a little less fun?” Ariel asked, although she did look amused. “Maybe focus on the threat at hand?”

“Fine,” Belle said and shrugged. “I’ll stop torturing her. We’ve made amends and the matter is over.”

“But to answer your question,” The Enchantress said. “I am using my desire to help you heroes to guide my magic. I admit that desire is not entirely altruistic but it is real and it should help locate and connect to the other major point that is experiencing a higher level of portal generation.”

“I really hope that the people there are friendly,” Aurora said, holding the hilt of her sword. 

“My intuition tells me that a villain is not responsible for all of the portalling,” The Enchantress said. “I can feel it. There’s so much of it. They tried to conquer only four worlds that I’ve seen. That suggests that their forces are small. I think if they were invading more worlds then it would be slower. Merely conjecture, though.”

“A fair assumption,” Belle said. “Historically, invasions require a lot of preparation and amassing of forces. Of course, we’re dealing with magic here.”

“We are dealing with magic,” Adam agreed. “Tricky stuff.”

“Let’s remain optimistic,” Tiana said with a smile. “Okay, people?” She had grabbed a heavy iron skillet from the kitchen and was ready to use it if necessary.

“I agree,” Esmerelda said. “Optimistic yet practical. I mean, we can’t account for the unknown.”

“Yes,” Aurora said. “We go into the unknown cautious and prepared. Let’s hope that we’re meeting friends and not enemies.”

“This is exciting,” Ariel said. “It reminds me of when I was first headed to the surface. I’m so excited for you but I’m not going.”

“What?” Aurora nearly shouted which caused The Enchantress to wince slightly. “You’re our leader. You’re knowledgeable about magic and you’re smart.”

“We have plenty of people knowledgeable about magic that can go with you including The Enchantress,” Ariel said. “I need to dive down and explore Atlantica and make sure my father and his subjects are safe. I also need to find Eric. I know that sound selfish.”

“Not at all,” Belle said. “If anything, I’m hesitant to let you deal with a whole underwater kingdom by yourself. I would be curious to go with you if I were equipped to do so.”

“I’m not alone,” Ariel said. “With Ursula’s influence on the minds of my kingdom dissipated, I have plenty of hands on deck. I’ll be fine. If you want to visit Atlantica later, I’m sure some spell could make it possible.”

“I’d like that,” Belle said. She was eternally curious but the water was one area that she had very little knowledge in. She did not even know how to swim. At least, not very well. Still, it sounded like an adventure.

“But you can count us in,” Moana said. “Maui and I know all about the sea. We can help you. Afterwards, you can send us home.”

“I’m not a fan of being volunteered but sure,” Maui said. “You’ve got my hook.”

“Alright,” Ariel said. “Offer accepted. I’m begging the rest of you to go with The Enchantress and save all of our worlds. If the threat is truly not over, your skills will be needed. We will join you later if necessary.”

“It’s a deal,” Aurora said. “It was an honor serving alongside you, Queen Ariel.”

“The feeling is mutual, Queen Aurora.” Ariel said. “I have enjoyed having you all as guests and teammates for however long you’ve been here. Know that, if it is possible, you are welcome to visit here again.”

“So formal!” Tiana said and hugged her. “Come here!” Esmerelda hugged both of them. They laughed.

“I’ll bring the Festival of Fools with me,” Esmerelda said. “We’ll make it a party.”

“We deserve some fun,” Ariel said. “Everybody’s invited.”

“Are we all just about ready?” The Enchantress called out. “The door is about to open.”

“We’re ready,” Aurora said.

“For better or worse,” Belle said. “Let’s put an end to this.”

The Enchantress gestured and a portal opened up. “Let’s go meet our friends on the other side,” She said.

They walked toward the portal and stepped through one by one.

Media Update 5/5/22

May 5, 2022

Jackie Brown

I had seen a little bit of this movie as a kid but I cannot remember how much because my parents shut it off and we probably returned it to Blockbuster Video. Now I can finally watch it on my own. It was well worth the wait. In this, a flight attendant finds herself stuck between a criminal and law enforcement and must concoct a plan to get out of trouble. Pam Grier is so good in the titular role. She is so clever, vulnerable, and funny. I now want to go back and watch some of her blaxploitation films. Samuel L. Jackson is on top of his game as a conniving criminal “mastermind”. Robert Forster often steals the show as a no-nonsense bail bondsman. Robert Deniro, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton have memorable minor roles. The movie is full of twists and turns and excellent dialogue. It is not gory but it can be intense. I recommend this movie.

The Vault

I watched this movie on a whim and was thankful that I did. This movie is about a crew of divers who recruit a genius engineering student to get back a treasure that was taken from them. The movie stars Freddie Highmore in a role where he gets to use his actual accent. He is the genius engineering student and he does a good job as a fish out of water who is great at adapting. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey plays the female lead, a clever and funny con artist. Liam Cunningham is great as the almost fatherly leader of the group. Sam Riley plays a snarky spy-type character who constantly clashes with Highmore. The movie’s pace felt slow in the beginning as I warmed to the ensemble of characters but it really started picking up in the second half. The heist scenes were appropriately exciting and tense and well worth the wait. I recommend this movie.

Army of Thieves
These were the wacky hijinks that I was looking for. This is the story of how a bank teller becomes a criminal safecracker. This movie really rests on the shoulders of Matthias Schweighöfer who plays the quirky lead character. He also directs the movie. He is an instantly likable and absurd character. Nathalie Emmanuel is great as the jewel thief with an eye toward becoming a legend as well as getting rich. The movie follows the progress of three heists. It plays a lot with the traditional heist movie tropes while still keeping things feeling fresh. I recommend this movie and I will be checking out the sequel Army of the Dead.

Music of the Week:

Lizzo – About Damn Time

Olivia Rodrigo – brutal

PSY – That That

Bobby Shmurda – They Don’t Know

Mashup of the Week:

Matt OldbutGold – Lullaby for Gorillaz

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Heist”
  • I finished Peacemaker Season 1
  • I finished The Mentalist Season 7
  • I finished What We Do In the Shadows Season 1
  • I watched more Nancy Drew Season 3
  • I watched more Batwoman Season 2

A to Z 2022 Reflections

May 2, 2022

Another year, another A to Z Challenge has been completed.

I feel like I definitely have the posting part down. I do wish I could have visited more blogs during the challenge but some life stuff came up. My buffer got low but I managed to finish with a burst of three posts in two days so I could take this past weekend to attend the renewal of vows of two dear friends.

I received plenty of lovely visitors and I tried to return the favor as best I could.

Some people have said that I should continue some of my stories. I will think about that. I honestly don’t have anything plotted out beyond the bits that I wrote but one of the stories this year was a prequel to a story from last year. Also, I did continue Poor Unfortunate Souls which I’m about to hopefully finish soon after dozens of posts. If nothing else, I have plenty of ideas for next year.

In the meantime, I’m tired and a tiny bit burnt out so I’m using this post as a bit of a rest.

In the meantime, I hope people had a good May Day. Workers’ rights are important and we are just entering a period where we are realizing that again. Support your local unions and treat all workers with kindness and respect.

Zangief the Brave – A Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter Story

April 30, 2022

Sonya Blade parked her SUV and slipped on her sunglasses. They were a gift from Johnny but they were so useful on bright days. She checked her gun in its holster and then made sure her badge was tucked away. She wished that she could make herself look like an average woman but she had become military through and through. She was happy to move from hunting criminals to hunting down extradimensional invaders. She had been through fire and it had made her stronger but part of that was leaving behind a normal life. So be it. It had to be done.

“Thank you for coming along,” Sonya said, turning to look at Chun-Li Xiang. “All of this fresh blood is going to help us in the fight but I don’t know these people like you do.”

“Well, I investigated a lot of them for Interpol at one point or another,” Chun-Li said. “And I’m also a little better with people than Guile or Cammy.”

“Good,” Sonya said. “We need to recruit the best that you have for the next tournament and that might mean siding with some of your less savory acquaintances.”

“I understand,” Chun-Li said. “I understand the whole deal between us.”

Sonya nodded. “If you help us with this recruitment drive and the next tournament,” she said. “We’ll help you take down Shadaloo.”

Chun-Li nodded, excited by the thought of finally achieving her revenge. She could deal with anything to achieve that goal, even dealing with Outworld and its denizens.

“Well, we’ve brought in Ken Masters, Ryu, Edmond Honda, Luke Sullivan, Karin Kanzuki, Sakura Kasugano,  and Fei Long so far,” Chun-Li said. “We get connections to the US Air Force and MI-6 through Major Guile and Cammy White. We haven’t located Dhalsim or Blanka yet.”

“What about this stop?” Sonya asked, looking over at the bar they were about to enter.

“Oh, I think this one will net us two fighters,” Chun-Li said. “Inside that bar is one of the greatest fighters around. Sometimes he’s known as the Red Cyclone but most of us know him as Zangief.”

“The pro-wrestler?” Sonya asked. “I mean, I’ve seen pictures. He’s ripped but how good of a fighter is he?”

“He’s a really good fighter,” Chun-Li said. “Pro-Wrestling is his day job but he’s been in the street fighting circuit like the rest of us too. I would definitely want him on my side in a fight.  Besides, through him, we might recruit Rainbow Mika and El Fuerte.”

“More pro-wrestlers,” Sonya said.

“Hey, don’t underestimate them,” Chun-Li said. “Zangief has wrestled bears and gone toe to toe with Shadaloo as well.”

“Let’s go talk to him then,” Sonya said and climbed out of the vehicle. She scanned the street up and down instinctively and she watched Chun-Li do the same. It was impossible to push those routines away but they also kept you alive in bad times.

Chun-Li led the way and pushed open the door. She was dressed casually but she still had her hair up in ox horns. Sonya had her hair in the usual combat-ready ponytail and was dressed in all black. The inside of the bar was noisy and rowdy but Sonya and Chun-Li did not even flinch, knowing they could probably take just about anybody in a fight. Chun-Li approached the bar.

“We’re here to see Zangief,” she told the bartender. The bartender gestured to a door behind the bar and the two ladies made their way to the private back room.

Inside that room was the hulking form of Zangief, his shirt barely containing his impressive physique. Chun-Li was not sure she had ever seen him with his chest covered. There were a few burly men and tough-looking women surrounding the big man and a ton of bottles with varying amounts of liquid still in them.

“Chun-Li!” Zangief shouted. “An old competitor of mine,” he told his friends. “Do not be fooled by her size, she is very fierce. Show them your lightning kick.”

Chun-Li smiled. “Now’s not the time for that, Zangief,” she said. “We’ve got business.”

“Show them,” Zangief insisted. “Then business.”

“Fine,” Chun-Li said. “Glad I didn’t wear a skirt today.”

She picked up a bottle, threw it into the air, and suddenly her leg was in motion. It looked like she was kicking with multiple legs as they blurred in the air. The bottle was absolutely obliterated by dozens of kicks that impacted it within a split second. Zangief clapped and everybody else joined in, including Sonya. It was very impressive.

“Very good,” Zangief said. “Now to business. Everyone out, leave me to do business.” His voice was commanding and everybody cleared out before they pissed off the big guy. Zangief grabbed a bottle and poured out three shots. “We drink. To the fight!” He downed the shot in a flash. The ladies shrugged and followed suit. The vodka did not go down easy as it burned their throats and made their eyes water.

“Good stuff,” Chun-Li managed to choke out. “Zangief, this is my friend Sonya Blade.”

“Sonya Blade,” Zangief said, nodding. “Are you also a fighter?”

“Oh I’m definitely a fighter,” Sonya said. “I’ve seen fights you wouldn’t believe.”

“I’ve seen many fights,” Zangief said. “Many fights you might not believe either.”

“What are you doing outside of Russia, Zangief?” Chun-Li asked.

At the question, Zangief’s expression darkened and he shook his head. “I am temporarily out of Mother Russia,” he said. “I could not stand by as they committed atrocities. I was informed that if I did not remain silent, I would not be welcome. I could not stay silent. I continue to protest while abroad.”

“What if I told you that we need you?” Sonya asked. “Would you be willing to fight not for Russia but for Earth?”

“For Earth?” Zangief asked. “Please tell me more, Ms. Blade.”

You’re Doing It Wrong – A Hellblazer/Ghostbusters Story

April 29, 2022

John Constantine climbed out of the New York City taxi on Moore Street and handed the cash over and had the cabbie keep the change. He suddenly missed London and his good buddy Chas. Still, New York City had been his home away from home and it had accumulated as many dark memories as London had. It seemed that New York definitely had its own history of being a nexus for all sorts of nasty things. The demon Mnemoth in particular had made for a particularly nasty trip to the Big Rotten Apple. He wondered how much dust had accumulated in his old apartment. He had no time to think about that now. He had business to attend to.

He walked up to what used to be a fire station but now it had a big sign with a cartoon ghost with a big red line through it. Absolutely, ridiculous. The sign said “Ghostbusters” and these must be the people that John had heard about in the news. He had also felt the disturbance that these people had caused. He did not stop to ring the bell, he just pushed open the door and stepped right inside.

“Right, who can I talk to who runs this establishment?” Constantine called out. “I have a complaint.”

“Welcome to Ghostbusters. My name is Janine. Our service contract comes with a hold harmless agreement and we are not liable for property damage. Do you have a warrant or other writ?” A woman with red hair said almost in one breath like it had been rehearsed.

“I don’t bloody well have a writ,” Constantine said. “I’ve got a complaint.”

“What is the nature of your complaint?” Janine asked.

“You’re doing it wrong,” Constantine said.

“Excuse me?” Janine asked.

“You heard me,” Constantine said. “The name’s John Constantine. Who can I talk to?”

A serious-looking, bespectacled man walked into the room and stopped to look at Constantine.

Janine turned to look at the man. “Egon,” she said. “This man has a complaint. He says we’re doing it wrong.”

“I’ll talk to him.” Egon said. “I’m curious.”

“Should I call Venkman in too?” Janine asked.

“Dear god no,” Egon said. “We all remember how he ruined us with Peck. Could you go to Winston’s office and ask him to come to my office? Come with me, Mr. Constantine.”

Janine quickly walked deeper into the building while Constantine followed Egon to his office. John settled into a chair in front of the desk. They did not have to wait long for Winston to walk in. He took a chair and moved it to the side of Egon’s desk.

“My name is Dr. Egon Spengler, head of research. This is Winston Zeddemore, our head trainer,” Egon said. “Winston, this is John Constantine.”

“It’s Constantine, actually,” Constantine said. “It’s pronounced Constantine.”

“Right, Mr. Constantine has some critiques of our process,” Egon said.

“Is that right?” Winston asked. “I mean, we’re kind of the experts at this ghostbusting thing but we’re always open to new ideas.”

“I don’t mean to insult you blokes,” Constantine said. “But you’re doing it wrong.”

“You have a funny way of not insulting people,” Winston said.

“You said that before,” Egon said. “Enlighten me as to what that means.”

“Well, I’ve dealt with my own share of ghosts and demons but I don’t go blowing up buildings if I can help it,” Constantine said. “You’ve blown up at least two and that bloody statue.”

“This is the first time that we’ve met a competitor,” Egon said. “And you’re willing to compare notes? Are you using a similar proton stream?”

“What? Those glowy guns you lot used on the news?” Constantine asked. “God no, most of the time I solve the problem by conning them. When that fails, I use magic.”

“Magic?” Winston asked. “Really?”

“I would have dismissed such claims previously,” Egon said. “After Viggo, my mind has been opened somewhat. Still, I’ve yet to see a human being perform feats of magic.”

“I could show you,” Constantine said. “If you promise not to pull out your guns all willy nilly.”

The two Ghostbusters nodded and Egon gestured for Constantine to proceed. Constantine stood up to give himself room. He gestured.

“Exsurge, Sanctus! In nomine creatoris! Surge!” Constantine called out. There was a bright light and a brightly glowing ghost suddenly in the office.

Egon pulled out his PKE meter and scanned the ghost.

“That is definitely a ghost,” Egon said. “Impressive.”

“Where did he come from?” Winston asked.

“Thank you for not saying ‘it’,” Constantine said. “Instead of shooting first, why don’t we ask this poor bloke. Hey, who are you?”

“Albert Fleisher,” the ghost said. “I died in the subway below.”

“Well, Al,” Constantine said. “Would you like to move on?”

“Very much so,” Albert said.

Constantine gestured again. “In the name of the Creator, you are hereby commanded to leave this place. By the blood of Man, be not and be gone!,” Constantine called out. “Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine!”

The ghost faded away with a grateful look on his face.

“That’s the thing, gentlemen,” Constantine said. “There aren’t any good guys, and there aren’t any bad guys. There’s just us. people. Doing our best to get by. Most ghosts just want to move on.”

“Shit,” Winston said. “Would you be willing to consult with us?”

“Agreed,” Egon said. I would love to study your methods.”

“I think I can swing sticking around for a bit,” Constantine said with a smile.

Media Update 4/28/22

April 28, 2022

The Alchemist

This one feels a bit like a fairytale. It is light and dreamy and meandering. A woman is drawn into the woods where she meets a man who claims that she looks exactly like his wife who died a century ago. Lucinda Dooling plays the lead and she is amusingly brassy and abrasive while also being vulnerable. John Sanderford plays her put upon sidekick of sorts and the only voice of reason. Robert Ginty plays the titular character and does a good job as a tormented and cursed man. The special effects are delightfully schlocky and the pacing is weird but it was still a fun “bad” movie. I recommend it.

Parasite (1982)

Boy, this movie is hard to find online. Gee, I wonder why? I really wanted to see this movie because it has the great Stan Winston doing special effects on the cheap. The titular parasite is actually very creepy-looking and there are some really good effects from it. The movie actually felt like it might have inspired the Bethesda Fallout games. A man tries to find a cure for a deadly parasite that he helped create to keep it from the government in a post-apocalyptic world. Robert Claudini is an unlikely leading man but does a good job as a stone-faced and reticent scientist. Demi Moore plays the sweet-faced young lemon farmer in her very first movie role. The movie is a bit of a rambling mess but some good action scenes and great horror effects make up for it. I recommend this movie.

Netherworld

A strange movie with some very interesting horror elements. Transformation is a heavily used horror trope in both Empire and Full Moon movies. A young man travels to the south where he has inherited an estate from the father he never knew. Once there, he stumbles into a world of dark magic mixed with lust involving a demonic brothel. There are hints of sex but nothing too graphic. The movie dwells more on the horror aspects. Unlike other movies set in Louisiana, it keeps its magic vague and fictional instead of leaning on the usual mix of voodoo or santeria. This is great because most of the cast is white so there’s no cultural appropriation. Michael Bendetti plays the perpetually clueless yet curious protagonist. Denise Gentile plays the seductive and otherworldly beautiful witch/demon/whatever. I recommend this odd movie.

Music of the Week:

Motionless In White – Masterpiece

The Destroyers – Freak on a Leash (cover)

Dorothy – Black Sheep

Becky G – No Mienten

Mashup of the Week:

Bronze is Bored – Fresh Prince of Slipknot

Weekly Update:

This week’s theme is “Charlie Band”

I watched more Blacklist Season 8

I watched more Riverdale Season 4

I watched more Terriers Season 1

I watched more Scream Queens Season 1

I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 6

I watched more Archive 81 Season 1

I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 12

I watched more Charmed (2018) Season 2

I watched The Killer Eye (1999)


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