Archive for April, 2022

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)

Xinyan’s New Band – A Genshin Impact Story

April 28, 2022

Barbara focused her will on the charm in her hand and conjured up a wall of water. She took several deep breaths and focused on the rippling water. Bit by bit, the surface flattened and Barbara could see her reflection slowly form in the water. The magic of Hydro came so easily to her as it always had. What she saw made her blush a bit. Her costume was not her usual fare. These were definitely not the raiments of a deaconess for the Church of Favonius. They weren’t quite the clothes of an idol either. It was all spikes and sharp lines, different from her usual flowy cloth. She was also a bit overwhelmed by the thick makeup.

“I’m not sure about this new look, Xinyan,” Barbara said. “It’s not really my style.”

Xinyan had been tooling around with her guitar and looked up. “I think it looks great!” she said. “You’re definitely rocking it with that style.”

Barbara sighed. “I mean, thank you, but it’s really more your style than mine,” she said. “It feels like a lie.” She released her will and the water splashed down to the ground and started to soak into the Earth.

“I totally get it but if you’re going to be in the band, you have to have a little more showmanship,” Xinyan said. “We can’t have our lead singer dressed all churchy.”

Barbara had to laugh at that. “Churchy? I guess that describes my style but I do try to throw in a bit of idol style for flair,” she said. “You don’t see the nuns with the frills that I wear.”

“Gotta give it to you on that, you’re never boring Barb,” Xinyan said. “But that’s your everyday. When you’re in a band you have to wear show clothes.”

“You wear the same thing every day, Xinyan,” Barbara said pointedly. “So how does that work into your philosophy?”

Xinyan shrugged. “I’m always on,” she said. “My concerts can start anytime and anywhere.”

“Doesn’t it get tiring constantly running away from the authorities?” Barbara asked.

“The Millelith are totally too slow,” Xinyan said and laughed. “They’ll never catch me. They just don’t appreciate my music but the people do.”

“Maybe this band will change that,” Barbara said. “We could be big and, more importantly, legitimate.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Xinyan said. “I don’t want to lose my street cred, though.”

Barbara smiled. “You don’t have to be afraid, Xinyan,” she said. “This could be the start of something really good and if it doesn’t work then we can go back to what we were doing. If you don’t try then you don’t gain anything.”

“I’m not afraid of anything,” Xinyan said. “But I guess that makes sense. I do want to get my music out to more people.”

“Our music,” Barbara said, gently correcting. “Part of making music together is compromising. Give a little, take a little. Which brings me back to what I will and won’t be wearing.”

Xinyan laughed. “Alright, what are your thoughts?” she asked.

“Again, a compromise,” Barbara said. “I can design something a little flashier but less “churchy”. I’ll even show you sketches.”

“Alright, alright, it’s a deal,” Xinyan said. “I’m not going to make you do anything that you really don’t want to do. I’m just trying to push you out of your comfort zone a little bit.”

Barbara focused again and conjured water to wash the makeup from her face. She felt more like herself.

“What do you mean?” Barbara asked. “I’m comfortable.”

“Right now you are,” Xinyan said. “But everybody knows that you work too hard and play too little.”

Barbara raised an eyebrow. “Everybody?” she asked, a little embarrassment slipping into her voice. “Who is everybody?”

Xinyan realized her mistake. “We don’t all talk about you,” she said. “Some people have seen how you never get any rest. You and your sister Jean. You’re always helping people.”

“It’s a great honor to be of service,” Barbara said a little indignantly. “My family has always believed that.”

Xinyan sighed. “Don’t take offense, Barb,” she said. “We all want to help out as much as we can. As crazy as my life is, I still fight to protect Liyue and the people I care about. I’d fight for you too.”

Barbara blushed slightly. “I don’t doubt it,” she said. “You’re a good friend, Xinyan. You’re a good person.”

Xinyan grinned. “Thanks, not the point. The point is that too much of anything will run you ragged,” she said. “You have to stop working and cut loose now and then. Maybe I can teach you how to have fun.”

“I’d like that,” Barbara said. “And maybe I can teach you how to be a bit more serious.”

“I don’t know about that,” Xinyan said with a wicked grin. “But you’re definitely welcome to try.”

Wonder Woman: The Key Stone (Movie Pitch)

April 27, 2022

(This is a sequel to a proposed Wonder Woman 2 that can be found here which makes this Wonder Woman 3)

It’s 1977, almost 40 years after Diana made a commitment to protect Man’s World with the assistance of ARGUS. To occupy her time she has decided to take jobs as an expert in authenticating and restoring ancient artifacts. This is a way to keep ahead of dangerous magical artifacts making their way into the wrong hands and instead kept safe while being used to educate people about the ancient world. It also allows her to travel the world with ARGUS.

Gateway City

Diana Prince leaves her apartment to walk to work with happy purpose. As she walks to work she sees the good in humanity and the life of the city. Suddenly, she senses something is amiss. An armored car is traveling at unsafe speeds through traffic and it is out of control. Diana ducks into an alley and Wonder Woman jumps and runs ahead of the truck, using her lasso and strength to clear the way and save people from harm. She lands on the roof of the armored car and opens a back door and slips inside. She is immediately attacked by some sort of snarling cat person. Wonder Woman knocks the cat person out of the back of the truck. As the truck hits a curb and starts to flip, she is able to toss the driver and guards to safety.

As she recovers from the crash, she looks to see a giant eye peeking through the back of the truck. She is startled when a large woman’s voice asks if she can hand over the artifact as the truck is lifted into the air. Diana spots a large lock box bolted to the truck’s floor and replies in the negative. Diana leaps from the truck and finds that it is being held by a woman several stories high. Diana lunges at the woman but is swatted away. The woman seems to hear something and complains about ‘standing down’. She drops the truck and starts running with Diana giving chase. Diana tries to follow but somehow loses the large woman around a corner. Diana calls ARGUS agent Paula von Gunther who starts to look into the two women.

Credit Sequence: Newspaper articles and photos pass by of Wonder Woman saving the day

Diana Prince shows up at the museum and apologizes for being late. She is quickly summoned into a meeting with the museum’s director. When she arrives, the director is in conversation with Maxwell Lord. He starts to introduce himself and Diana responds that she knows who he is, a shady businessman. Lord scoffs at that and wants to get back to business. He wants to check the status of the artifact that was supposed to be transported that day. He donated to bring it all the way from Metropolis and wants to make sure it is safe. The Director relates that the transport was attacked but thankfully Wonder Woman prevented its theft or damage but Diana needs to examine it as soon as it arrives within the hour. Lord proposes transporting the artifact to his building as it is more secure but the Director does not think that is appropriate although the offer is appreciated.

In Maxwell Lord’s office, he is yelling at somebody for failing him and how he needs that artifact. It is revealed that he is yelling at the large woman (Giganta) and a Dr. Minerva. Dr. Minerva is angry at being talked down to and transforms into Cheetah through the use of an artifact. She is the cat woman from earlier. A young woman (Troia) appears and says that Lord should have just sent her. Lord reminds all three that they owe him. He saved Minerva’s career, saved Giganta’s life, and literally created Troia. He wants the three to break into the museum and get him the artifact. He is through playing games, it is time for results.

In Diana’s lab, she studies the artifact with the newly arrived Paula looking over her shoulder. It is the Key Stone, a potentially powerful item that can unlock magical power. Diana is even more curious why Lord was so focused on this artifact. What does he have planned? They discuss what should be done about the artifact. They agree that Maxwell Lord should be kept from it. They also worry that the thieves that attacked earlier could easily strike again. Diana researches the Key Stone more and sees that it is at the height of its power later that night due to the alignment of the planets.

The buzzer sounds but it is pretty late for visitors. Doctor Minerva talks her way into Diana’s study, claiming to be Maxwell Lord’s expert there to protect his investment in the museum. As they talk about the artifact, Paula scans Dr. Minerva and reveals that Dr. Barbara Minerva moved from artifact study to artifact theft and was presumed disgraced and barred from the profession as a plea deal. Minerva transforms into Cheetah and starts fighting Diana. Diana gets the upper hand but Troia appears out of nowhere and sucker punches Diana. Cheetah and Paula fight, Troia and Diana fight. The artifact is passed back forth between the four. Troia is a match for Diana’s strength and speed, unnerving Diana. The two villains escape with the artifact after Troia collapses part of the ceiling on Paula. After a beat, Diana gives chase but is punched through the open door by Giganta.

At Lord’s building, he congratulates his henchwomen on getting the artifact but still snarkily insults them. He and Dr. Minerva start to prepare the ceremony. It is explained that he plans to unlock his magical potential by siphoning power from Mount Olympus. Bored and frustrated, Troia and Giganta break into one of Lord’s labs. Giganta tells the story of the magical artifact that saved her life and gave her the ability to change her size. Troia discovers that Lord had her created while studying a woman who looks like Wonder Woman. What does this mean? Are she and Wonder Woman related somehow?

Wonder Woman and Paula break into the lobby of Lord’s building where Giganta, Cheetah, and Troia are waiting for them. Wonder Woman tries to give them a speech about how they do not have to fight and that Lord is using them. Cheetah and Giganta agree but point out they are getting paid, Troia hesitates. The fight begins and both sides dig in. Paula sets off a flashbang which allows it to be two on two. Paula tangles with Cheetah while Wonder Woman fights Troia. Eventually, Paula locks Cheetah in an office.

Wonder Woman fights Troia and Troia questions what Diana is. Diana reveals her proud Amazon heritage and her oath to protect humanity from monsters and the worst of itself. Troia can use her powers for good. Troia rejects that and tearfully attacks and Wonder Woman eventually puts Troia through a wall, knowing the girl can take the punishment.

Wonder Woman returns to the lobby to fight Giganta and finds that Giganta has cornered Paula. Paula distracts an enraged Giganta and Wonder Woman eventually throws a statue of Lord to knock her out, finally getting payback for all of the giant’s sucker punches.

An enraged Troia charges into the lobby and Wonder Woman is ready for her. Troia has comparable strength, speed, and agility but Diana has been doing this a lot longer. This time Diana knows just what the young girl will do and she takes her out in graceful Amazon style. She then subdues the young girl by bending a pipe around her. This time, she should stay down.

Wonder Woman and Paula rush to face off against Maxwell Lord. Lord explains that he has siphoned power from Mount Olympus itself. He has extensively studied the Gods and their workings on Earth including the Amazons. He observed Wonder Woman in the press and put two and two together. Now he will have power surpassing hers. Diana tells him that was an unfortunate choice. She is the Godslayer and stealing her father’s power won’t help Lord. The two of them clash with Paula struggling to find a way to reverse the process. Diana powers up and finally puts the beat down on Maxwell Lord just in time for Paula to reverse the process.

Diana visits Troia in ARGUS holding. She notes that as strong as Troia is, she could have broken the pipe and gotten away. Something in Troia wanted to get caught. She assures Troia that Lord and his henchwomen are going to prison. They will never touch Troia again. Diana is there to give Troia a second chance. Troia may have all of Diana’s abilities, but she has none of the training. Diana offers to teach her. Troia accepts.

New Characters:
Troia – Shahadi Wright Joseph, Jada Harris, Brooklynn Prince
Cheetah – Damaris Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Stana Katic
Giganta – Bella Thorne, Bella Heathcote, Dreama Walker
Maxwell Lord – Michael Madsen, Simon Baker, Damian Lewis

Possible Directors: Ava Duvernay, David Leitch, Alexandra La Roche

Venus and Jupiter – A Sailor Moon Story

April 26, 2022

Mina and Lita had driven up to University that morning for orientation and were busy unpacking in their dorm room. The two of them had decided to room together. It just made sense as they were the last to join their friend group. Of course, they were friends with all of the other scouts but it was clear that there was more history between Serena, Amy, and Rei. Besides, they got along famously.

“Maybe we should get a hot plate so that I can do a little cooking for us,” Lita said.

“But we have meal plans at the dining hall,” Mina said. “Isn’t that a bit of a waste?”

“It’s not the same as home cooking,” Lita said. “I wouldn’t cook all the time, just sometimes.” She sounded a little defensive and offended. She was proud of her cooking and did not want to be dismissed.

Mina did not have to look away from her unpacking to hear the tone in her friend’s voice. “Well, it might be a good idea,” Mina said. “I do like your cooking. Let’s check with the rules of the dorm, though.”

“True,” Lita said. “I wouldn’t want to get us in trouble.” She respected Mina’s adherence to the rules. Mina had been the most serious of the five friends but she had lightened up. Still, Lita wanted to keep her friend comfortable.

“Of course,” Mina said. “We’ll figure this out. Dorm life is different.”

She turned to look at Mina just as Mina pulled out a stylized red domino mask.

“No way,” Lita said. “You kept the mask? That’s so cool.” She walked over to get a closer look.

Mina smiled and held the mask in front of her face. “I could never get rid of it,” she said. “I’ll always remember my time as Sailor V. It’s a huge part of who I am.”

“Of course,” Lita said. “You were all we could talk about. You were the first of us in action. Do you ever miss it?”

Mina shrugged. “It was really exciting being a solo act before I knew about the rest of the scouts,” she said. “But I wouldn’t trade being part of the team for the world. I guess I miss London the most.”

“I’ve never been,” Lita said. “So I guess I’m kind of jealous.”

“It was kind of lonely,” Mina said. “At least, it was at first. I didn’t really know English and my parents were always working. Meeting Artemis and becoming Sailor V was the start of me coming out of my shell. I fought the Dark Kingdom and I eventually learned English in school and from Katarina.”

“The police officer, right?” Lita asked.

Mina nodded. “From Interpol,” she said. “Back before I learned that law enforcement isn’t really equipped to deal with the threats we’re up against.”

“Yeah,” Lita said. “They just get in the way.”

“Exactly,” Mina said. “Maybe one day the Scouts can take a trip to London and I can show you around.”

Lita nodded. “That would be great,” she said. “We’ll get Amara and Michelle to pay for it.”

“What?” Mina asked. “That’s a little presumptuous.”

“Their families are loaded,” Lita said. “We’d have to save up a long time to afford a trip to London.”

“I wouldn’t be opposed to them paying,” Mina said. “But I’m not about to suggest it.”

“Of course not,” Lita said. “I was just joking. Mostly. I like Michelle and Amara.”

Mina nodded. “How do you think it’s going with Serena and Amy?” she asked.

“Serena is probably making a mess unpacking,” Lita said. “Some things change but that girl is still a tornado.”

“And Amy is probably right there patiently helping her organize,” Mina said with a laugh. 

“Well, we’d all be a bit lost without Amy’s patience and organization skills,” Lita said. “Besides, if Serena and Rei had roomed together then they would be at each other’s throats already.”

“Sadly true,” Mina said.

“Do you think we’ll be alright?” Lita asked.

The question caught Mina off guard. “You and I?” She asked. “Of course. We’re going to be great roommates. I promise that I’ll always try to talk out any problems I have.”

“Oh, yeah me too,” Lita said. “But I actually meant the Sailor Scouts. We made it work in middle school and high school but this is college. Are we going to be able to fight evil and pass our classes?”

“Oh!,” Mina said and blushed slightly. “Good question. I think it’s going to be tough but we’ve been through a lot together. There’s no way we’ll quit.”

“Yeah,” Lita said. “Sailor Scouts never say die!”

Under the Helm of Soul – A Ronin Warriors Story

April 25, 2022

Mia sat by the fire and stared at her hands. Sounds around her seemed so distant and muffled and she just focused on her hands. She was still quite a bit shaken and disbelieving about what had happened but everybody else confirmed it. It was hard to match up the feeling of unreality with what she knew to be true. She thought that any moment she would wake up and it would all be a dream but she also knew that was unlikely. She felt a hand on her shoulder shaking her a bit and she slowly surfaced from the deep pool of her own thoughts and emotions.

“Huh?” Mia said softly, looking up at her friends. Ryo removed his hand from her shoulder.

“Just a little worried about you, Mia,” Kenta said with that easy smile of his. “I think you checked out at some point in the conversation.”

“You definitely look checked out,” Cye said. “Are you alright? Do we need to table this discussion for later?”

“No, I guess I’m alright,” Mia said. “I’m just very overwhelmed by all of this. I’m having trouble trying not to think so much.”

“I believe that it was that way for all of us,” Sage said. “At least, it was that way for me. Overwhelmed with power and purpose and magic. It is indeed difficult to navigate.”

Ryo sat back down. “Yeah, you end up trying to make sure that you’re riding the magic and it’s not riding you,” he said. “My experiences with the Armor of Wildfire and the Armor of Inferno have proven how powerful this stuff can be. Sometimes when I think about it, it really scares me.”

“It scares you?” Mia asked. “You’ve never said that before. How can you do the things that you do then? How can you be a hero?”

“Because the world needs me,” Ryo said. “The world needs us.”

“We’re uniquely suited to confront the horrors unleashed from the Nether Realm and their allies here on Earth,” Sage said. 

“We can’t walk away from our responsibilities,” Cye said. “I could never live with myself, seeing the faces of all the people we failed to protect.”

“That’s right!” Kenta said. “We’re the only ones who can make a difference. The Ronin Warriors!” He stood from his street as he cheered almost like a cheerleader. His excitement made Mia smile and, although some of the others may have rolled their eyes, they smiled too.

“Not the only ones anymore,” Sage said. “There’s a new player among us.”

Mia blushed and shook her head. “I still can’t believe that I was actually wearing armor. After studying so much of my grandfather’s research and watching you five, it was mind-blowing to be right there with you on the battlefield.”

“You looked good out there,” Ryo said. “Like you belonged. If you hadn’t jumped into the action, we would be toast.”

“Worse than toast,” Kenta said. “We were just about done for.”

“Thoughts, Rowen?” Sage asked.

Rowen was deep in thought. “Not quite yet,” he said. “I’m thinking.”

“Well, how did it happen?” Cye asked. “You know all of our origin stories. What’s yours?”

Mia smiled. “It wasn’t all that different from your stories,” she said. “I saw all of you in danger, at the mercy of Lady Kayura and the Four Seasons armors. I told Yuli to run but, for some reason, I couldn’t run myself. I could not heed my own warning. Instead, I stepped toward you and in a flash, I was surrounded by pure white light and then I was standing there in my own armor and carrying a shield. I instinctively knew how to cast the spell.”

“A spell that instantly healed all of us and repelled our enemies,” Sage said. “It was amazing.”

“I’m ready to speak,” Rowen said.

“Go ahead, buddy,” Kenta said.

Rowen cleared his throat. “Well, we know that our armors and the armors of the seasons come originally from the magic of Talpa. They were created by The Ancient One and every bit of information we have, which mostly comes from Mia and her grandfather, says that only nine armors were made.”

“Could we have incomplete information?” Mia asked. “It was a difficult subject to research until you all showed up and proved the armors were real.”

“I don’t think so,” Rowen said. “The research was thorough. I have three theories and correct me if I’m wrong, Mia.”

Mia nodded. “I’m all ears,” she said.

“The first is that The Ancient One hid this armor as a failsafe. Seeing as how the Seasons Armors have been corrupted and all but reclaimed, he feared the same might happen to this tenth armor and so he somehow kept it out of the legends. Second, this armor was created by our great need for it in the moment and by Mia’s compassion and knowledge of the armors. Third, it is something else separate from the original armors.”

“All of those are valid theories,” Mia said. “How do we know which one is the correct one?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” Ryo said with a shrug.

“That’s uncharacteristically rude, Ryo,” Cye said.

“Ryo is actually correct,” Rowen said. “There is no way to figure out where the armor came with unless we receive further information. The point is that we have it now and it is an asset for our team.”

“Exactly,” Ryo said. “Which means that we have to train you, Mia.”

“Train me?” Mia asked. “I’ve never really fought anybody before.”

“Probably why you got a shield,” Kenta said.

“Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through everything,” Cye said.

“The other question is what to call it,” Rowen said.

“The Armor of Soul,” Mia said. “I’m sure of it.”

Team Madrigal – Pokemon/Encanto

April 23, 2022

I recently saw this idea pop up on Twitter but I decided to flesh out my interpretation of the idea. I love both the world of Pokemon and Encanto. I actually think the two merge together into a fun AU. I used currently available pokemon from the existing Pokedex because that is all I have. If I had the time, I would have invented some new pokemon. Maybe one based on a capybara.

Alma Madrigal and Team Madrigal

The founder of a family team dedicated to pokemon competitions. Her hometown of Cocora is financially dependent on Team Madrigal and so Alma puts a lot of pressure on the family to keep earnings up. She is suffering her own trauma caused by the violence that killed her husband and nearly killed Alma and her children. This colors her relationships with her family and with their success and failure. She commands a Rotom that possesses their headquarters (or their tour bus) and automates things for her team.

Mirabel Madrigal – Normal-Type Expert

Often benched by her grandmother, Mirabel is actually the most dependable member of the team. She cherishes Normal-Type pokemon, believing that they are underrated and surprisingly capable in a pokemon fight. Her pokemon are scrappy, well-trained, and well-loved. Mirabel’s huge heart and unwavering determination make her a difficult opponent. She is often sidelined and discounted by her own family even though they love her. All of it is just fuel for the fire to prove herself in competition.

Her main team:
Eevee – Her family is on her to evolve Eevee but she never does, knowing Eevee is great just s
Meowth
Chansey
Aipom
Ursaring
Munchlax

Isabela Madrigal – Grass-Type Expert

The most photogenic of the Madrigals, she is often tasked with being the face of the team. She is often used more as a special attraction than a regular competitor. Alma takes a firm hand in guiding Isabela’s career. She only engages in two kinds of matches. The first are matches that they know she can win. The second are matches that will lead to tournaments or highly publicized matches. She is also the only member of the team that participates in pokemon pageants. She finds herself restless and wishing she could compete the way she wants to and get messy and make mistakes.

Her main team:
Bellossom
Sunflora
Ludicola
Roselia
Lilligant
Serperior

Luisa Madrigal – Fighting-Type Expert

The workhouse of the team, she is put in the most matches of anybody mostly because she never complains. Her record suffers from taking so many matches per year but she takes it in stride. She is always willing to lend a hand but it takes its toll on her. She has a lot of anxiety and fears that she will slip up at just the wrong moment. More than anybody else, she is willing to double battle with Mirabel.

Her main team:
Machamp
Hitmonlee
Hitmonchan
Conkeldurr
Pangoro
Emboar

Bruno Madrigal – Psychic-Type Expert

A somewhat nervous man who acts younger than his age, he sometimes clashed with his teammates and the public due to his somewhat creepy mystique through his connection to psychic pokemon. He felt isolated from those that should have been his loved ones. He left competition and disappeared after a fight with Alma that sent shockwaves through the team.

His main team:
Raticate – Not a psychic pokemon but Bruno always had an affinity for rodent pokemon.
Hypno
Mr. Mime
Hattrem
Indeedee
Hoopa

Pepa Madrigal – Lightning/Water Type Expert

The only child of Alma still in competition, Pepa is semi-retired. She has a habit of befriending and teaming with powerful pokemon but she has volatile and unstable emotions that often get in the way. Still, she is a kind mentor for her daughters, Isabela and Luisa. She wants the best for her daughters but is complicit on putting pressure on them to please her mother, Alma.

Her main team:
Vaporeon
Crawdaunt
Primarina
Electabuzz
Boltund
Heliolisk

The Support Team:

Camilo Madrigal – At one point there was an attempt to have him replace Bruno but he did not take it seriously. He has no desire to compete and instead helps transport and take care of the pokemon. He has a Ditto for a partner.

Dolores Madrigal – The tactical scout of the team. She acts as an advance woman to gather information on future opponents and their possible strategies. She has a Chatot partner.

Antonio Madrigal – The youngest member of the family, he wants to be a competitor in the future. For now, he loves feeding and caring for pokemon not currently traveling with the team.

Julieta and Agustin Madrigal – Mirabel’s parents and the logistics department for the team. They organize food and travel for the team and make sure everybody is taking care of themselves.

Felix Madrigal – Pepa’s husband, Luisa and Isabela’s father, and the hype man of the team. He makes sure to be positive and make sure that everybody’s emotional needs are met. Unfortunately, these goals are often derailed by Alma’s issues.

The Secret Defenders – An MCU Story

April 22, 2022

Cassie Lang shifted nervously as she stood in the parlor of the Sanctum Sanctorum. She had been offered a seat but she was too nervous to sit. At least she had stopped herself from pacing back and forth. It had taken a lot of willpower. She hoped that Dr. Strange could help her out. She had made her mom and dad stay home, telling them that this was something she had to take care of by herself. The truth was that they were making her even more nervous and she was old enough to go to a doctor by herself. Especially a doctor that had saved half of all existence with her father. 

A portal opened up a few feet away which caused Cassandra to jump back a foot and prepare to fight as if by instinct. Her father had made her wear a mask just in case she bumped into anybody and her clothing was designed to adjust along with her size-changing powers. She could spring into battle at a moment’s notice. Instead of an unholy monster, a young woman stepped through the portal. She immediately spotted Cassie and lowered her sunglasses.

“Hey. You seem kind of young to be hanging around here,” the woman said. “You know this magic stuff is dangerous, right?”

“I’m aware,” Cassie said. “I wouldn’t be here unless it was necessary. I promise.”

“Fair enough, no offense meant,“ The woman said. “What’s your name?” 

“No offense taken,” Cassie said. “I’ve been used to things getting weird since I was little. My name’s Cassie Lang. It’s nice to meet you.”

The woman stuck out her hand and they shook hands. “Monica Rambeau,” she said. “It’s good to meet you too. Wait, Lang? As in Scott Lang?”

Cassie brightened. “You know my dad?” she asked and then she had a thought. “Oh, was it a good experience or a bad experience?” She knew her dad had had two different periods in his life, one of which involved stealing things.

“I don’t know him personally,” Monica said. “I just remember Jimmy Woo talking about him and he’s an Avenger, of course. I’ve seen that file.”

“Oh Agent Jimmy was really nice,” Cassie said. “I think his visits really helped my dad not go crazy by himself.”

“He’s a good agent,” Monica said. “I’d trust him with my life.”

A portal opened up before they could say more, and an enormous man dressed in coarse white fur tumbled out of the portal. He spoke in a language unknown to Cassie but she knew curse words when she heard them. The man looked very rugged but underneath it all he was quite handsome.

“Where am I?” the man shouted. “Why am I here?” He was absolutely imposing but Monica stepped between the man and Cassie.

“Calm down. I know why I’m here but I don’t know why you’re here,” Monica said. “It might help to know who you are.”

“I am M’Baku of the Jabari Tribe of Wakanda,” he said. “I apologize for my outburst.”

“This place is weird,” Cassie said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“What is this place?” M’Baku asked.

“The Sanctum Santorum of Dr. Stephen Strange,” Cassie said. “Technically we’re in New York City. This is the parlor. ”

“The sorcerer from the battle against Thanos?” M’Baka asked. “What does he want from me? Where is he?”

“I definitely want to see him too,” Monica said. 

“I was waiting for him here,” Cassie said.

“Then I will wait here,” M’Baka said and sat down on a couch.

Another voice called out from the front hall. “Hello?” the voice asked. “Anybody here?”

Monica walked over to the hallway and called out. “We’re in here!” 

A beautiful armor-clad woman walked confidently into the room with a sword strapped across her back.

“You’re Valkyrie!” Cassie shouted in excitement. Her dad had told her all about the badass women in the final confrontation with Thanos. She was just as her father had described. “I’m a huge fan.”

Valkyrie looked surprised but smiled. “I didn’t know I had fans, kid,” she said. “Thanks for the vote of confidence. Is Dr. Strange around? If not, is there a beer I can get at?”

“I just got here myself so I’m not sure what refreshments are available,” Monica said. 

“I was offered tea,” Cassie said. “But I’m not old enough to drink yet.”

“Then where is Strange?” Valkyrie asked.

“He should be here soon, I think,” Cassie said.

“He’d better hurry,” M’Baka said.

“Ok, cool down, big guy,” Valkyrie said.

“I am cool!” M’Baka said and then leaned back in his seat to show how calm he was.

“Very convincing,” Valkyrie said. “You remind me of somebody.”

“Is it Black Panther? King T’Challa?” M’Baka asked.

“No,” Valkyrie said. “I think I’ll actually keep it to myself.”

A door opened and a very gorgeous man walked out with a set of rings on his forearms. “The doctor will be with us shortly,” the man said.

“Does that make you the nurse?” Monica asked.

“Oh no, I’m Shang-Chi, just a friend of the Doctor and Wong,” the man said.

“Then why am I here?” M’Baka asked, standing up to his full height.

Dr. Strange appeared from nowhere without a portal. “You’re here because I summoned you,” he said. “You all are.”

“But I came here to get cured,” Cassie said.

“And I came because you said Wanda was here,” Monica said. “I have questions about Westview.”

“I’m sure you do,” Strange said. “But before all of that, I have need of you. The world needs you.”

“The world needs us?” M’Baka asked.

“For what?” Cassie asked.

“It’s Doom,” Strange said.

Media Update 4/21/22

April 21, 2022

Spider-Man: No Way Home

I have been a fan of Spider-Man since I was a tiny tot. It was one of many comic books that I spent my allowance on and walked several miles to get. I have liked each adaptation of Spider-Man for different reasons and in different ways. This movie was the culmination of two decades of Spider-Man movies. It is the eighth movie but the third incarnation. MCU Spidey has been my favorite because he felt the closest to what I read back in the day. However, I really have appreciated the whole ride. Even the lowest points were a lot of fun. This movie was such a love letter to all of that while continuing the MCU story. Tom Holland really shouldered the movie but had a lot of help from Zendaya as usual. The return of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Thomas Hayden Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhys Ifans, Jon Favreau, and the underrated Jacob Batalon really made for a great ensemble. I recommend this movie.

Moon Knight

I never read much Moon Knight growing up but I did like his design. In some ways, he reminded me of DC Comics’ Azrael. The strength of this series relies on Oscar Isaacs. Playing three different characters in one piece is difficult but he really pulls it off. The visuals are absolutely stunning, full of twisty mystery and strange dream logic. Oscar Isaac pulls off all three characters while being endearing and charming in different ways. Ethan Hawke plays a perfect level-headed creepy villain. May Calamawy plays a badass female lead. I am really interested to see where this one goes because I have no idea. I recommend this series.

The Batman

DC Movies are so much better now that they have largely abandoned the larger extended universe. As the so-called Snyder-verse closes down, the new movies that have popped up have been way more creative. Batman is one of my favorite characters and I was interested in what this new version would be. The movie encountered so many setbacks during production that I had all but written it off. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The extra time definitely let them develop the movie more. The movie feels like an interesting combo of film noir and action-heavy superhero movies. Robert Pattinson is such a good Batman. He realy gets what makes the character tick and does so much with the role. The visuals were so pretty even though they were dark and shadowy, a reminder that dark doesn’t have to mean boring. It was an interesting take on familiar concepts that felt innovative but also comfortable. Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Zoe Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright, and John Turturro made up a great cast. They made some casting decisions that I would not have predicted but it all worked. The movie is a bit long at 3 and a half hours but I never felt like it was dragging. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Avril Lavigne – F.U.

YUNGBLUD – The Funeral

Gucci Mane – Serial Killers

Maggie Rogers – That’s Where I Am

Mashup of the Week:

Helmholtz Mashups – 2011 Beach Dance Party

Weekly Update:

This week’s theme is “The Hero and the Mask”

I finished Scream Season 3

I watched more The Mentalist Season 7

I watched more Nancy Drew Season 3

I watched more The Legend of Vox Machina Season 1

I watched more Blacklist Season 8

I watched more Riverdale Season 4

I watched more Terriers Season 1

I watched more Peacemaker Season 1


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