Black Adam (2022)

My husband and I go see every DC film as soon as it’s released in theaters. I have always been a devoted DC fan even though DC has had quite a few hiccups in creating its own cinematic universe. As far as Black Adam, I completely forgot that this movie was being released this year. For what it’s worth, Black Adam was an enjoyable film, however, I think it emphasizes one of DC’s greatest weaknesses in the way they make their films.

Black Adam opens in ancient times when a civilization attempts to overthrow a tyrannical king. A boy leading the rebellion gets transported to a secretive place where he gains powers. In the present day, archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (played by Sarah Shahi) leads a team to a mountain searching for the Crown of Sabbac. As her team is ambushed by a rival group, Adrianna whispers a phrase that coincidentally released Black Adam (played by Dwayne Johnson). Black Adam has been imprisoned for some time and is worshipped by the city as a hero. Meanwhile, Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) calls in on the Justice Society to stop Black Adam. Hawkman (played by Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (played by Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (played by Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (played by Noah Centineo) come together to capture Black Adam before he does too much damage.

The film itself was fun to watch. I felt myself coasting throughout the film and not getting bored in the slightest. I think Dwayne Johnson was a perfect cast as he fully embodies Black Adam as a character. I loved seeing Amanda Waller / Viola Davis in this as it helps build this cohesiveness that DC is missing. I was a huge fan of Doctor Fate as I thought he brought reason to the group and helped the group see that there may be another option instead of solely bringing Black Adam to prison. It seemed like Cyclone and Atom Smasher had good chemistry together. Each character served a purpose in this team and I liked watching them come together.

The one flaw in Black Adam and in DC’s movies is being able to bring these characters to life for everyone. I think DC in a lot of ways makes their films assuming that people will know who these characters are. If I were to bring my friend to see this movie with me, she probably wouldn’t be able to fully invest in the story because there wasn’t any backstory brought to the characters. It wasn’t discussed how Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher came to be. There were a few conversations in passing where Atom Smasher talks to his uncle who used to have the suit or how Cyclone was experimented on. I would have liked to see more backstories or flashback scenes of pivotal moments in their lives. Marvel on the other hand is excellent at this. They build these characters into their own solo movies, so fans start to connect with them. I don’t think the characters in Black Adam are on that level because they weren’t introduced in other live-action films. DC should make these movies that appeal to both fans of the comics and fans of superhero content who may not read comics on a regular basis.

Black Adam by DC film standards was a fantastic film. I’m partial to Doctor Fate as there’s a lot of comic book crossover between Doctor Fate and another favorite character of mine, Zatanna. If you see Black Adam, make sure you stay for the extra credit scene, you won’t want to miss it!

Overwatch 2 – First Thoughts

Overwatch 2 is finally out! It seems like there were several delays which surprises me since I felt the first Overwatch game was immensely popular. As soon as the game was released, I downloaded it on my husband’s Xbox Series X. After playing a few games, I wanted to share what I think of the game as it seems like fans of the series have some strong opinions.

To start off, I started playing Overwatch back in 2016 when my husband bought the game for me while we were in college. I played on and off throughout the years picking up Overwatch again during the pandemic. I have always been drawn to D.Va although I switched to Zarya in recent months and now Zarya is my go-to character whenever I play. I have been looking forward to playing Overwatch 2 as I had high hopes for the game along with seeing new maps and new characters being added.

Playing Overwatch 2 doesn’t feel like that different of a game. I was surprised because when I logged into play, I noticed that there were several characters locked. I had to play a few rounds to unlock some of my favorite characters and I’m not sure why that was needed? After some searching online, Blizzard locked some of the characters to help ease players into the game and without feeling overwhelmed. I was told by a friend of mine that this may be because my Blizzard account didn’t sync properly, so it’s having me start over by unlocking the characters. I’ll have to look into why that was the case to hopefully save me time. It’s interesting that Overwatch 2 decided to lock some of the characters. Overwatch does have a lot of characters to pick from, but I don’t see that as being an intimidating feature. I think it’s exposing players to various options and finding the character that best suits their playstyle.

As far as new characters, there were 3 new characters included upon release. I have only played Junker Queen so far and I could see myself playing as Junker Queen in future games. I guess I was picturing more new characters than just 3 on release.

In a general search of Overwatch 2, I’m seeing the common phrase “laziest sequel” being applied. I completely agree. For the length of time in releasing Overwatch 2, I’m surprised that it doesn’t feel any different from the first game. There was a lot of hype regarding Overwatch 2 and I can’t help but find myself a little let down considering what my expectations were and the reality of what the game actually is. I will still play it because Overwatch is a comforting game for me, but I wish I had more.

The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

I read The Killing Code by Ellie Marney a week or two ago and I’m still thinking about this book. I am not usually drawn to historical fiction or romance, but the premise of this book drew me in. The Killing Code focuses on the women who helped break coded phrases and messages during WWII. Combining this premise with a murder mystery and I knew I had to bump this up to the top of my reading list. The Killing Code is a wonderfully written, historical thriller that focuses on the women who helped the war effort.

Kit Sutherland is a code breaker working at Arlington Hall, helping to break codes from enemy lines. While Kit works for the war effort, she uncovers a string of murders that seem to be targeting girls who work for the government. Kit teams up with her supervisor Moya Kershaw, Dottie Crawford, and Violet DuLac to review the evidence and find out who’s behind the murders.

I loved everything about this book! I loved the setting in Virginia and how they work in the same compound near Washington DC. I liked how in each chapter of The Killing Code there were quotes from actual codebreakers in the war. I thought it added to the aesthetic and setting of the book.

As far as the characters, I thought Kit’s backstory was really interesting and I liked how it tied into the reveal of the killer. I can’t go into it in detail without spoiling the book. Kit and Moya develop a romantic relationship throughout the book and I adored them together! They have very different personalities, but I thought they complimented each other. Dottie has personal attachments to the case as she knew one of the girls who was killed. Finally, there’s Violet who faces racial discrimination throughout the book along with contemplating whether she wants to submit her college application. Each of the characters had their own journey which I thought helped define them and made them memorable.

Once I started The Killing Code, it didn’t take me long to finish the book. I looked forward to completing my day, so I could get back to reading the book. While I think this book was written as a one-off, it would be interesting to see a sequel. It could focus on a different portion of history and where everyone went after the war ended. The Killing Code was so good and I will be on the lookout for Ellie Marney’s other books. I rated The Killing Code five stars on Goodreads.

Traveling for Conventions – Pros & Cons

Photo from Kansas City Comic Con – August 2021

It’s a little shocking, but I haven’t been to a single convention this year. I had plans on the weekends when the conventions were occurring, or I had to rethink my travel plans due to airfare price increases. In the past few years, I have found several out-of-state conventions that I love to attend. However, traveling for a convention has its downsides. I wanted to share my experience with traveling to conventions out of state along with the pros and cons of both.

Pros

Exploring a New City

Indianapolis (Gen Con), Chicago (C2E2), and Kansas City (Planet Comic Con) are all cities I have visited because there was a convention that I was able to attend. I have been to Chicago and Kansas City so many times and yet I always find something new. It could be a new restaurant or brewery or a tourist attraction that I didn’t have time for on my prior trips.

Traveling + Conventions = My Two Favorite Things

Being able to combine my love of traveling with the thrill of attending a convention has been a blast. I like being able to be a tourist while also taking a day off and cosplaying or browsing the artists who are tabling at the event. I still have Emerald City Comic Con on my list to visit along with New York Comic Con.

Cons

Travel related expenses

I’m fortunate because I have friends and family in various parts of the US. However, that only goes so far. I need to decide how I’m getting to the convention (flying, driving, or taking a train). Once I figure out my method of transportation, I have to weigh out the costs and the PTO I have to take off of work. While I love road trips, I wouldn’t consider driving to Seattle for example because of how time-consuming that would be. It gets to the point of contemplating if I have money to travel especially now that I’m a homeowner.

Time Consuming

Traveling for a convention is time-consuming. It’s kind of nice to attend a convention within 2-3 hours of driving and be able to get home and relax. Waiting around at an airport, or spending 6+ hours in the car is a huge chunk of time out of my day.

In general, I do think it’s worth it to travel for a convention if you like the city the convention is held or the convention itself. I don’t think I would ever travel on a whim to a convention unless I researched the con beforehand. How far have you traveled for a convention? Let me know in the comments below.

New House – New Memories

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but me and my husband bought a house! We spent all last weekend moving our stuff with the help of friends and family willing to take the time to assist. It’s been a process of unpacking and deciding where everything is going in our new space. While living in an apartment worked for a while, it always felt temporary. This is the house that me and my husband plan on living in for many years to come.

Our house hunt started shortly after our trip to Austin. Me and my husband talked about what’s next for us this year and my husband brought up the idea of starting the process of buying a house. He was looking forward to the idea of making our house a home and putting our money into something that’s a long-term investment. Shortly after this conversation, we proceeded with the next steps including partnering with a realtor.

Our house search in a lot of ways was pretty organized. We knew exactly which area of the Twin Cities we wanted to live which helped narrow down our search. We devoted a full day to walk through six homes back to back. From there, we found a house that we loved which led to us putting in our offer. Our offer was accepted the next day. I remember my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest when our realtor told us that our offer was accepted.

From there, it was a lot of paperwork to fill out and different things that needed to be aligned. The process itself moved fairly quickly. I’m grateful to my husband who took on a lot of the work and made this process a lot easier to handle.

2022 has been a jam-packed year and I’m thrilled to add geek elements to our home.

The Fate of Laudna – Critical Role

Spoilers for Campaign #3 of Critical Role

I have talked about Critical Role many times and I plan to keep doing so. I have been watching both Campaign #3 Bells Hells along with Campaign #1 Vox Machina simultaneously as I hope to eventually be fully caught up on all things Critical Role. Campaign #3 has been having a major moment and the fate of one major character is unknown. I wanted to talk about Laudna (played and voiced by Marisha Ray) and her fate.

Spoilers for Campaign #3 of Critical Role Ahead

Before I talk about the episode, I wanted to talk a little bit about Dungeons & Dragons mechanics, so summarizing a moment in Critical Role, it will make more sense. In Dungeons & Dragons, when a character loses all of their hit points (or health points if you will) they go “unconscious” If the player isn’t healed, they roll a death saving throw which is completed by rolling a 20-sided die. Rolling a 1-10 counts as a failure while rolling an 11-20 is a success. If a player rolls a 1, they get two failed death-saving throws in one roll. With three death-saving throws accrued, a character dies.

In episode #34 of Campaign #3, Fearne (played by Ashley Johnson) and Orym (played by Liam O’Brien) are dead as they were killed in battle. Fresh Cut Grass (played by Sam Riegel) had a spell that he used to bring back Fearne and once Fearne was alive, Fearne would bring back Orym using a similar spell. Before all of this happened, Laudna was down and had to roll death saves. Unfortunately, Marisha had a failed death save already, and ended up rolling a natural 1 meaning her character, Laudna dies. Once Fearne was brought back to life, she had to pick which character to save: Laudna or Orym. Fearne picked Orym and Laudna permanently died. I’m probably not doing the best job at explaining this, but the whole cast was emotional. As I was listening to this episode, I also became a little emotional too.

I mentioned it multiple times before, but I’m playing in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign that occurs every other Thursday. When I created my character, Laudna was a big inspiration for me. To see that Laudna may be permanently dead was gut-wrenching as she was one of my favorite characters throughout this campaign. I’m bummed because I like the other characters, but Laudna was special to me.

Character death can happen in Dungeons & Dragons. It doesn’t make me want to stop watching Critical Role by any means, but as mentioned, I’m a little bummed that one of my favorite characters isn’t going to appear anymore. There’s a part of me that is holding out for Laudna to come back, but it’s not likely. If you’re watching Critical Role, let me know in the comments how this felt for you or who your favorite character is in Campaign #3.

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare

I picked up Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare back in April at Independent Bookstore Day earlier this year. I originally was planning on reading this book in the month of October, but I ended up reading it earlier than I anticipated. Go Hex Yourself was a fun, spooky read, but I couldn’t help to want more from the story.

Reggie Johnson is in need of a job. She applies for a job in the paper and in her eyes, she thought it was a position working for her favorite card game “Spellcraft: The Magicking” Instead, Reggie uncovers that she ended up applying to be a witch’s familiar. Reggie decides to take the job and is quickly introduced to Ben Magnus, who is the cousin of the witch Reggie is working for. Ben tries to put distance between himself and Reggie, but ultimately, a situation arises where Reggie and Ben are forced to work together to break a curse that was set upon someone close to them.

I adored the setting of Go Hex Yourself. It was hinted that this book takes place somewhere outside of Boston. I thought this worked well with the story as I kept picturing brick roads, gothic houses, and trees with changing leaves. Reggie ends up staying at this mansion while she works and it’s described in detail what a witch’s laboratory looks like and all these vials for potion making. I thought it helped me click with the story more as I could truly picture this environment that Reggie is working under.

As far as the romance was concerned, I didn’t love Reggie and Ben together. It’s been hinted that this book is a “Reylo” book. For those who are unfamiliar, “Reylo” are a group of fans who believe that Kylo Ren and Rey from the Star Wars movies should be a romantic pairing. Ben is described as moody, having darker hair and overall looking quite similar to Adam Driver while Reggie has long brown hair, she’s quiet at certain times, and she comes from a rough background. I’m not a “Reylo” fan personally and I think that had to do with the romance and how it played out. I felt at times that Reggie and Ben weren’t made to be together and I couldn’t help but think if they would actually last after the book ends.

I did enjoy reading Go Hex Yourself simply for all the spell casting and overall story of how witches exist in the present day. Go Hex Yourself is part of a series and I’m looking forward to the next book because that book stars Penny, someone Reggie interacts with in Go Hex Yourself. I found myself liking Penny more than Reggie at times, so I think the sequel will be something I will enjoy more than the first book. I rated Go Hex Yourself three stars on Goodreads.

Celebrating Spooky SZN – Door County

I took a little bit of a writing break which was quite refreshing. During this time, I went with my husband’s family on a short trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is a county in Wisconsin that consists of several towns that are right along the water. Green Bay is on the left side of Door County and Lake Michigan is on the right. If you look at a Wisconsin state map, there’s a portion of Wisconsin that sticks out and that’s where Door County is. I have never been to Door County before and I was stunned by how beautiful this portion of Wisconsin is.

Everyone who has been to Door County would easily say it’s the most beautiful portion of the state. We would walk through all of these bay towns and it felt like I was on the East Coast. There were all these restaurants, coffee shops, and small businesses that bordered the water. I found myself enjoying walking and taking in all the scenery. Walking and hiking in general are one of my favorite forms of exercise and Door County has plenty to offer.

Door County is one of the best places to visit in the Fall. As my husband and I drove up to Door County, we saw several billboards for a winery that made Halloween wines. Door County Peninsula Winery has three specialty wines that they make every Halloween. When we went to their indoor space, they had it all decked out in Halloween decorations. It made the experience more fun. Everywhere we went in Door County seemed to have some sort of Halloween decoration hung up. Besides visiting various distilleries and wineries, there are also plenty of apple orchards and barns to visit that sold local homemade goods. No matter where we went, each place was so lively.

Visiting Door County was a perfect, local trip and I’m glad I could take a mini break to unwind and come back feeling recharged. As far as vacations, this is my last big trip of the year. I have a friend getting married next month and with the holidays coming up quickly, I probably won’t have the time to commit to traveling anywhere else. Door County was exactly what I needed and now I’m even more excited for Halloween.

Is there too much Superhero Content? – Thoughts

I love reading comics which shouldn’t be a surprise considering what I write on BizarreBrunette. I wrote about She-Hulk last weekend and when I mention the negative reviews, another theme that I’m seeing is people who feel that there’s too much superhero content specifically Marvel releasing their shows on Disney+ I wanted to dive into this as I think it’s an interesting topic to address.

Personally, I’m all for the Marvel, DC, or comics-related movies or TV series. I like living in an era where we are seeing beloved characters and their stories being adapted. As a DC Comics fan, I never thought I would see Doctor Fate in a live-action movie especially when Doctor Fate is being played by Pierce Brosnan. I’m also excited for Captain America New World Order coming out in 2024, The Marvels coming out in 2023, and Thunderbolts coming out in 2024. I want to see more Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) appearances throughout the Marvel universe. I’m also curious if Joaquin Torres (played by Danny Ramirez) will have a bigger role in Captain America New World Order.

I can understand if someone isn’t a big comics or superhero fan, I can see where this is a lot of content to keep up with. It seems like there is always something new coming out and it’s easy to get behind on watching every movie or TV series. I think it’s normal to feel some sort of fatigue. While I am a big fan of superhero content, I do sometimes have to take a break and watch a completely unrelated movie or TV series, so I can dive back in when I’m ready.

As mentioned, I’m all for the superhero content. It’s been awesome to see comics so heavily represented and I enjoy hearing about people who are getting into comics for the first time. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments; do you feel that there is too much? just enough? or what would you like to see be adapted if it’s not already?

Pirate Spotted at the Minnesota Ren Fest

I last went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in 2019 or pre-pandemic. I was planning to attend in 2021, but wedding plans quickly booked my weekends. I wanted to make it a priority to attend this year. I’m so glad I was able to go.

Normally, we always drive to Ren Fest, but this year we decided to take the bus. There’s a bus that will do drop-offs at the entrance. It’s well known that Ren Fest has extremely long wait times to get into the fairgrounds. By long, I mean you could easily be waiting 2+ hours in order to park a car. Once I found out the bus was an option, I kick myself as to why I didn’t do this years ago. It was so slick. There were times that the bus had to wait, but once we got closer, there was a bus line that was created, so we could bypass a lot of the car lines. I think it took 20-30 minutes to get there versus hours waiting in a car.

In previous years, we try to go towards the middle of September as it’s supposed to be cooler. However, the weekend we went, it was 80 degrees! It was nice to not be cold, but it messed with the tradition. I used to always order soup in a bread bowl, but it was too hot. I opted for potato skins, chicken fajita, and a chicken wrap for dinner. I did stick with the apple cider float which I still love. It’s the perfect Fall beverage.

This year, I decided to wear a full costume! I decided to go with a pirate look. I rented my costume from Royal Fashions Costume Emporium which I have been doing since 2018 except I would always rent for a convention and not for Ren Fest. Renting a costume is great because it’s cheap and I don’t have to store it anywhere. It was a little bit hot, so I ended up not wearing my red pirate jacket as I really didn’t want to overheat. Wearing a costume for Ren Fest is so fun and I plan on doing this every year going forward.

We spent six full hours at Ren Fest which included seeing two live shows, shopping, and walking around. I missed going to Ren Fest, so I’m happy that I was able to go this year.