Friday, February 26, 2021

Barbecue's Bonfire 2/26/2021: It was Agatha All Along Edition


   Hey everyone! Welcome to this week's installment of Barbecue's Bonfire, a weekly chance for me to unpack all of the pop culture stuff I've consumed this week! This week is loaded with Marvel marvelousness!


 Tonight is Episode 8 of WandaVision and by gosh am I excited! Last week's episode was pretty good and while we all expected Agnes/ Agatha Harkness to reveal herself as being more significant than Wanda realized at some point, this episode definitely managed to reveal her as a big bad in the most charmingly fitting way possible. Is Agatha really the big bad or is Mephisto still behind things? I still think the true parentage of the twins is is tied to either Agatha or Mephisto's meddling and that their existence might be part of the cost for some nefarious assistance given to Wanda in order to create the Hex. The scenes of Vision and Darcy making their way to Wanda's aid were both poignant and hilarious while Wanda's explanations of the events of the show thus far make her predicament more tragic. Wanda really and truly has lost everyone in her life and it's hard to blame her for lashing out at those trying to take the reality she has created from her. Monica Rambeau is a real powerhouse and I'm curious as to who she'll ultimately have to confront to help make things right. If Wanda allies with her they'd be a powerful team. And Pietro? Is he really a Multiverse version of Quicksilver or is he someone else in disguise....

More Marvel madness after the break...


 WandaVision has my daughter so invested in the characters that she was interested in jumping in and beginning to watch through the Marvel Cinematic Universe so we started with Iron Man on Saturday evening. I hadn't watched most of these in a few years and Iron Man is still fantastic. The film is truly the foundation of the entire Marvel Universe and the personalities, especially Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, really cement the film. The MCU has done such a fantastic job of making their characters likeable and able to command as much attention out of their costumes as in them. My daughter was thrilled with this one, especially the time spent in Tony's lab and any appearance of Iron Man himself. John Favreau really nailed this one and it holds up so well. It's fun to go back and see how Tony Stark's character grows throughout the films and all of the little nods to various plot points and such that pay off years down the line.

   Next up we watched 2008's The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. This one isn't on Disney+, apparently because Universal has distribution rights, but we own it on DVD so all is well. I remember really liking this movie when it came out and, rewatching it years later and having seen multiple films with Mark Ruffalo as the titular character, I still think this one holds up. I like that this one isn't an origin story, although it still reveals the origin of the Hulk in bits throughout the film for those unfamiliar with the character. My daughter didn't seem to care for this one as much when the Hulk wasn't on screen but I think it's a strong Phase I film. It feels like a mixture of an MCU film and a pre-MCU superhero film at times but it still doesn't shy away from embracing the comic book nature of the film. This one has more than a few loose ends that haven't paid off yet (the Leader, Doc Samson, the whereabouts of the Abomination) so it'll be interesting to see if the MCU ever revisits those characters and events (I think Tim Roth is supposed to reappear as Emil Blonsky/ Abomination in the upcoming She-Hulkseries). I liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and it took me a few films to eventually warm up to Mark Ruffalo in the role though at this point Ruffalo has definitely made the role his own.

   I love Iron Man 2. I remember going to see this with a huge group of friends back in 2010 and being so excited for this one. I wasn't disappointed and, even now, it's one of my favorites. To me, it's the first movie that really shows what the MCU was going to be able to offer. We've seen superhero movies for years tease big things but Iron Man 2 delivered. War Machine? Black Widow? Nick Fury? Other stuff happening (the events of Thor in New Mexico) in the background? That's pure comic book goodness. It still focuses on Tony Stark, though, and while they don't focus explicitly on his alcoholism, they do acknowledge it in conjunction with his blood poisoning from the palladium core of the arc reactor which brings a somber tone that references Tony's self destructive behaviors in the midst of the chaos of the film. The action scenes are incredible and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow is stunning. While Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko is visually compelling and great in action scenes, the connection between Tony and Ivan is a bit nebulous. I get it, but it could have been made a bit stronger. Really, Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer is the best, most scenery chewing bad guy in the film, and the movie's all the stronger for it. This one is incredibly fun while growing both Tony and Pepper as characters and expanding the MCU. That final shot of Agent Coulson investigating Mjolnir definitely one ups Nick Fury's appearance at the end of the original film for sure.

   Last weekend I also got the chance to finish another novel on my Stephen King read-through, 1996's Desperation. Desperation is another novel I knew next to nothing about going in but which I really enjoyed. The book starts really strong with a few groups of seemingly random strangers passing through a nearly abandoned Nevada town taken captive by a small town cop gone rogue and it just keeps going from there. This is a fast paced book with a story that takes place over a very short period of time. It's violent, disturbing, and rather unpredictable but it's also a story about survival, faith, and finding meaning and purpose when life can be so unpredictable. If you've read a lot of Stephen King you'll definitely feel some familiar plot elements (an unknowable ancient evil entity, a child with miraculous powers and insight, and a writer trying to wrestle with his demons) that kept making me think of The Tommyknockers, It, and The Stand. It's not one of the greatest King works, especially after a period in the early 1990s where he wrote some more mature, unique novels, but this one is a fantastic, tense story that feels like a King take on a grindhouse kind of tale. 

  I also read the newest TPB of Doctor Aphra. Like the main Star Wars title from Marvel, Doctor Aphra has also been renumbered since the stories told now take place after The Empire Strikes Back so this is Volume 1: Fortune and Fate. While there's nothing earth shattering that happens in most Doctor Aphra stories, I still really enjoy them. The mixture of Star Wars and Indiana Jones just appeals to me and this is prime comfort reading! It's a great, fast paced tale with a mixture of new characters and characters who appeared previously in the Doctor Aphra series. Alyssa Wong does a great job writing the series while the art from Marika Cresta and Rachelle Rosenberg is incredible. Twists, turns, traps, temples, and treachery! What more could you want?

   Lastly, my wife and I finished Blackadder II, the second series of the Blackadder which sees Rowan Atkinson playing Edmund Blackadder, the great grandson of the original Black Adder. Set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Blackadder is part of the queen's court and is constantly trying to gain the queen's favor while trying to get out of the messes that his crew gets themselves into. Whether it's attempting to pretend to be the deceased to hide the fact that he prematurely executed someone, mounting a sea voyage with no crew and an inept captain, serving a raw turnip "shaped like a thingy" to his aunt and uncle who are the strictest Puritans in London, or escaping the captivity of a German prince who is also a master of disguise (played by Hugh Laurie), the Black Adder and his cohorts, Baldrick and Lord Percy, go back and forth between wit and silliness at a moment's notice. It's quite funny, especially for fans of Atkinson and his incredible comic timing. I enjoyed this series more than The Black Adder though I did miss Brian Blessed's presence. if you've seen the show, I've got one word for you.... Baaaaa!!!

Let's wrap things up by checking out the most popular reviews of the week, shall we?

Kuiil from Star Wars: The Black Series is still at the top. As one of the newest Black Series figures out there he seems to be pretty popular. Folks loved this character and it's cool to finally have him on the ever-growing shelf of figures from The Mandalorian. Kuiil turned out great and this is fourth week on the list.

Missing in Action: Toylines that Didn't Make the Cut in 2020 is one of my annual end of the year lists. This one is always interesting, though sometimes heartbreaking, as I go over the toylines I loved from the previous year that seemed to have disappeared. This year's heartbreaker for me was Hasbro's Overwatch Ultimates. I loved that line! This is the second week it's on the list so maybe others are heartbroken, too!

Rey (Dark Side Vision) from Star Wars: The Black Series is another figure from the most recent series of Star Wars: The Black Series and she seems to be the hardest to find of the new stuff. Hasbro definitely seems to have put the brakes on the product for The Rise of Skywalker so I think we're fortunate this one made it out. Daisy Ridley + a red lightsaber = profit! This is her fourth week on the list.

Lords of Power from Masters of the Universe Origins was the 2020 PowerCon exclusive set based on the prototypes for the vintage MOTU line when the line was still going to be called Lords of Power. The set is on its seventh week on the list and while it was way, way too expensive, it's also pretty cool for fans who take interest in the development of MOTU. MOTU Origins looks like it's going to have a big year in 2021 and that very well may drive up demand for this set.

Dorina Onoris from Mythic Legions is a newcomer this week and while she's totally "not She-Ra" she's definitely one of the best She-Ra figures that's been released. I don't pick up many Mythic Legions figures (really only the MOTU inspired ones) but I'm always quite pleased with them. This is Dorina Onoris' second week on the list and she went up another slot.

Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars: The Black Series is another brand spanking new Black Series figure. He's coming in cases all by himself which doesn't seem like a smart idea, though, but I'm not seeing him piling up anywhere yet. Is anyone else afraid that Hasbro's going to flood the market with Jar Jars yet again? We'll see. This is his fourth week on the list so maybe the Jar Jar fans are showing up in greater numbers than they have before, though he did drop a slot this week.

That's it for this week! 


  1. Have you also read The Regulators by King? They're weird mirror versions of each other.

    1. That's the next one I'm reading. I'm currently reading Light of the Jedi and then I'll probably start the Regulators. I've heard that and I'm curious to see how it works out. I remember them both coming out around the same time (Regulators is "Richard Bachman" while Desperation is King) and knowing there was a connection but I was pretty young and wasn't reading King yet.

    2. I read them back to back in the 90s and I remember it being quite an experience.

  2. Make sure you stick around for the mid-credit scene of WandaVision episode 8.

    1. Oh, definitely! I'm very excited for this week's episode. Did you see Hasbro showed off a Marvel Legends version of Vision from episode 8 yesterday? That's pretty cool, though I want to see a Marvel Legends Agatha.

    2. I missed the Legends fig but did see the Funko Pop of him and Agatha.

    3. I only bought one Marvel Legends figure last year but I would buy the heck out of an Agatha Harkness figure. I hope she gets a Legends figure.


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