Friday, April 23, 2021

Barbecue's Bonfire 4/23/2021: The Salame, Ascendancy, and End of Phase III Edition


   This week's installment of Barbecue's Bonfire is loaded with lots of stuff! It didn't feel like this past week and weekend was this busy but I guess it was! What all was I up to? Well, how about finishing Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? We watched Spider-Man: Far From Home on Sunday evening with our daughter, a film my wife and I hadn't seen either, and now Adora has seen all of the MCU films. Wow! It's been a really fun journey and I know she loved it. 

   2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home is technically the end of the Marvel Phase III films and it was really a nice way to end that Phase, giving us a glimpse of what life looked like after "The Blip." Tom Holland's Spider-Man is obviously at the front and center here but the film has a solid supporting cast with Peter's lovable classmates, especially Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned, Happy Hogan providing support, and Nick Fury and Maria Hill struggling to deal with the reality of threats in a post Avengers world. This is a really fast paced movie that balances menace and fun nicely, giving both Peter Parker and Spidey a chance to shine. If you're at all familiar with Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) then you're surely suspicious of his almost mentor-like role towards Peter. He was an interesting choice for this film and I liked how things played out. The mid-credits scene really has me excited for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which seems like it has the potential to be a darker film than the previous Spider-Man installments.

As always, there's lots more after the break...

   Tonight I'll be watching the 6th and final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and last week's episode, Truth, really set up what should be an interesting climax. Episode 5 was packed with depth and I'm excited to see Sam make his own decision to become the Captain America he believes the world needs right now. His training montages were pretty slick. Sam and Bucky are so good together and I'm thrilled to see how they do facing up against the Flag Smashers and possibly even against John Walker, presumably as the US Agent. Who else is thrilled to see the costumes for Falcon and Bucky going into episode 6? Bucky may not change much but I'm thinking for Sam we could be in for something pretty special. 

    Over the weekend I finished Timothy Zahn's Thrawn: Chaos Rising, the first book in the Ascendancy Trilogy. Set during the Clone Wars but within the Unknown Regions, the story tells of the rise of Thrawn in the military of the Chiss Ascendancy as he uses his intellect, attention to detail, and cunning to foil a plot against his people and other nearby planets. Zahn is a legend in Star Wars and this new take on Thrawn is interesting because it's far more of a true sci-fi book rather than space fantasy/ adventure we usually get. It's a solid read but I must warn you that it does tend to get very dry at times and there's not much descrption of what characters or other alien races look like. I kept reading as I was interested in the plot and Thrawn's plans but there were regularly pages and scenes that I really had to force my self through, particularly in the first half of the book. I'm interested to see where this trilogy leads to as I've enjoyed the rest of Zahn's Thrawn-centric books and, of course, I do like that it takes place "Beyond a galaxy far, far away" so we're really seeing a very different side of things but I'd recommend this to hardcore Star Wars readers and fans of Thrawn only.

   I enjoy finding random games for cheap on the Nintendo Switch E-Shop and a few days ago I downloaded Miniature- The Story Puzzle for probably $2 or less. I've always been fascinated by miniatures and dioramas so this game jumped out at me. The general idea is that you use a camera to look at five different scenes, out of order, that each depict a part of a story, and look for clues and logic to place them in the correct order. It's a cool concept and I love the tone of the game. Unfortunately, the game has a lot of problems and really isn't worth your time. First, there's no tutorial or even explanation of what to do. It just feels very slapdash and frustrating as if the gameplay itself is an after thought compared to the cool rendered dioramas. Second, the game is incredibly short. Twelve scenes, most of which you can solve in 2 to 3 minutes on the first try. Last, the game has an interesting concept but it never goes anywhere. The gameplay on the first scene is the same as at the end. It doesn't increase in difficulty nor does it add any new hooks or surprises. It feels like a rather simple minigame from a larger, better game rather than it's own unique experience which is disappointing.


   I've never been a big Marvel reader but after watching through all of the MCU films I grabbed the Demon in a Bottle hardback off my self and read through it again. I probably hadn't read it in 10 years or so. Originally covering issues #120-#128 of Iron Man this 1979 tale depicts Tony Stark nearly losing everything due to a triple threat of the villainous Justin Hammer, a hostile takeover by S.H.I.E.L.D., and his on personal demon, alcoholism. It's a dark turn for a late 70s comic but it's well told by David Micheline and Bob Layton even though the conclusion is a bit abrupt. I love the art, too, with solid work by Carmine Infantino, Bob Layton, and John Romita, Jr. It's definitely one of the most well known Iron Man stories out there prior to the modern era and while the MCU doesn't ever fully tackle it there is clearly inspiration from the storyline in Iron Man 2. I wish there were a few more issues from the beginning of the storyline (#118 and #119) as part of the collection as #118 is referred to multiple times in the storyline. What other Iron Man stories would you recommend to me? 

 I even read some poetry this week. Who is the poet? David Liebe Hart! I consider myself a David Liebe Hart and I recently ordered his book of poetry Supreme Poems. If you're at all familiar with David Liebe Hart then you probably know what to expect: Aliens, religious thought, trains, peace, lost love, and cactus women. It's a bizarre experience for sure and it appears to be based on handwritten poems so there are lots of weird spelling and grammatical errors that make it all the more charming. I ordered mine from Art by Liebe Hart and you can find lots more of his stuff over there. I wish more of David's stuff was on CD, though, as I just don't do the digital music thing. I still carry binders of CDs in my vehicle. What can I say? I'm old school like that. 

Before we say salame let's take a look at the most popular reviews of the past week. There are a few of these hanging on for quite a few weeks now!

Mother Boxes from DC Comics Multiverse: Justice League is a review from 2017 that shot up in popularity no doubt due to how well received the Snyder cut of Justice League has been. These were a build an accessory that came with a few of the Walmart exclusive figures back when Mattel still had the DC license. This is its fifth week on the list so folks are still way into this. 

Battle Mode Kobra Khan from Vinyl SODA is the first chase variant from Funko's Vinyl SODA line I've managed to get and I was pretty thrilled to open a can and find him in there. I don't like snakes at all in real life but I love the MOTU Snakemen and I usually put Kobra Khan with them rather than with the Evil Warriors. This is Kobra Khan's third week on the list and he keeps going up!

Aerial Threat from Fortnite: Legendary Series is probably the most boring figure in the line. I'm just not a sports fan but apparently plenty of other people are. His weapons are nice, though, as is his cool zombie soccer ball companion. Apparently people like him because this is his third week on the list. 

Orko (Exclusive) from Sideshow was part of last month's March Magic and I'm really happy it's proven to be a hit as this is Orko's second week on the list. I love Sideshow's statues and I'm thrilled that Tweeterhead has picked up the scale and style with their Masters of the Universe Legends line. A review of Hordak is still incoming!

Man-E-Faces from Masters of the Universe Origins has popped up on the list! This guy is really fun and Mattel did a nice job with the Origins figure. When reviewing this guy I realized how few Man-E-Faces figures I've reviewed. Maybe he needs his own focus month in the near future...

Trap Jaw from Pint Size Heroes is from last year's Trap Jaw-ly celebration and for some reason it got really popular this week. Weird, huh?

That's all for this week! Enjoy the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, groove to some David Liebe Hart tunes, and let me know what are some other worthwhile Iron Man stories!


  1. You gonna watch Mortal Kombat on HBOMax?

    1. If I had HBO Max I would. I honestly might go to a week night show at my local theater. They're rarely busy and I'm vaccinated, so that might work out.


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