Listen to Episode 177, “The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes (feat. Eric Sipple)”

sandman1

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #8 by Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III.

Gobbledygeek episode 177, “The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

You ever have that dream where Paul and AJ are discussing the greatest comic book of all time in ten spoiler-free monthly installments? Yeah, us too: beginning with this episode, the boys bring the Four-Color Flashback feature to the show, dissecting Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman through the rest of the year. Friend of the show (at this point, he’s more of a lover) Eric Sipple joins us for a discussion of The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes. The great tale of Morpheus, lord of dreams, gets its start in a fashion that’s not always representative of what it would become (DC superheroes), but the gang is on hand to point out all the ways in which it is uniquely Sandman (a horror story about stories). Plus, Amazon’s a little icky and Marvel has a prime opportunity for diversity with Iron Fist.

Next: despite the words that come tumbling out of AJ’s idiot mouth, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not next week’s episode. We’ll force him to come up with something.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol. I – Preludes & Nocturnes.”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Comics of 2012

We’ve already listed our favorite TV shows and movies of last year, and we’ve got a couple more lists just before the new season begins. Here are our favorite comic books of 2012; check back tomorrow for our favorite albums (though, considering our extensively detailed history of not knowing how to talk about music, with YouTube clips instead of commentary).

PAUL: 10. THOR: GOD OF THUNDER (Marvel)

Thor in 'Thor: God of Thunder' #1. Art by Esad Ribic.

There was a period of time when Thor was my favorite character in comics. The golden Walt Simonson era was for me the height of otherworldly sword and sorcery super heroics. And while its been quite some time since the character has achieved anything close to that level of wonder, in recent years he’s enjoyed something of a renaissance. From his “death,” to his literal return to Earth under the guidance of J. Michael Straczynski, to his big screen debut, the petulant son of Asgard is kind of back in a big way.

Thor: God of Thunder is the newest incarnation of the title, with the unlikely writer Jason Aaron giving us a triptych of thunder gods, a tale of an alien butcher seeking to torture and destroy all deities told across three different periods of Thor’s life. We see young, arrogant Thor (pre-Mjolnir) and his first meeting with Gorr the God Butcher; modern-day Avenger Thor going full CSI trying to solve the mystery of who or what Gorr is; and far-future Thor, old and broken, sitting on the throne of an empty Asgard, the last surviving god, waiting for Gorr to finish him. It’s a brutal, bloody, and fascinating premise, though I do wish Gorr was slightly more imposing-looking rather than just being a Voldemort rip-off. Aaron creates a genuine mystery and sense of danger with real stakes for our hero, and the painterly art of Esad Ribic suits the romantic epic nature of the story. It’s not quite Simonson-level Mighty Thor (there’s thus far no Beta Ray Bill here), but Thor: God of Thunder is the best the character has been in a long time.

AJ: 10. ANGEL & FAITH (Dark Horse)

Angel, Willow, Connor, and Faith in 'Angel & Faith' #14. Art by Rebekah Isaacs.

I know Whedon fandom is crazy, but I might just be the biggest Buffy fan on the planet. That’s a huge claim, and while I haven’t tattooed James Marsters’ face on my ass or anything (yet), it really is difficult to describe how much Joss Whedon’s world means to me. Without Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I wouldn’t be here today. You wouldn’t be reading these words and I would have even less of an idea of what I want to do with my life. So it pains me greatly to say that the canonical Season 8 and Season 9 comics, though they have certainly had their moments, are largely disposable and occasionally worse. But then there’s Angel & Faith, which has done the impossible, making a monthly comic book series feel like the weekly television shows we fell in love with all those years ago. Christos Gage knows these characters inside and out, both their voices and their motivations. It’s never a question of if the comic will tie back into the shows’ stated mythology, but when and how spine-tingling those connections will be. These are the characters I have loved for a good deal of my life in a story that’s being brilliantly told by Gage and brought to life with wonderful clarity by artist Rebekah Isaacs. If you’re skeptical about Buffyverse comics, you have every right to be, but this one should be a priority.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2012

Last week, we discussed our favorite TV series of the last year. This week, we turn to the big screen.

PAUL: 10. DJANGO UNCHAINED (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

Jamie Foxx in 'Django Unchained'

With Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino takes us once more back to a terrible moment in our history, and once again asks us to indulge him his little anachronisms and revisionist revenge fantasies. This time, instead of Nazis and baseball-bat-wielding Jews, we get slavers and bounty-hunting dentists. Set in the pre-Civil War Deep South, Unchained is Tarantino’s homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of Leone and Corbucci, which he prefers to call his Spaghetti Southern. I’ll say that the absence of editor Sally Menke is sharply felt here, though. If I, of all people, notice the nearly three-hour runtime, then there could’ve been some tightening. The cast is great across the board, including a list of hidden cameos longer than my arm (among others, original Django Franco Nero makes an appearance). Jamie Foxx is great in the title role, though I imagine what Will Smith could’ve done with the part, as was the original intent. Leo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins all shine in their respective roles. Kerry Washington was reduced to little more than the damsel in distress, however, which is unusual for a Tarantino picture. But the standout here is Christoph Waltz. He is every bit as charmingly heroic and admirable this time as he was charmingly repulsive and hateful in Basterds.

AJ: 10. MOONRISE KINGDOM (dir. Wes Anderson)

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Wes Anderson’s films often have a childlike quality about them, whether it be his colorful storybook compositions or the petulance of many of his characters. So it’s fitting that he’s finally made a film about children, one in which the kids are on the run from what’s expected of them and their adult guardians are forced to accept the roles they’ve played in their children’s abandonment of them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both in their first screen acting roles, give perfectly awkward performances. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are in their element here, while Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton join the auteur’s troupe with ease. Perhaps most encouragingly, Moonrise Kingdom is the first sign of life in years from Bruce Willis–who, with a movie soon to appear on our lists, proved later in the year that he’s most definitely still kicking–and Edward Norton, two actors who really needed a movie like this.

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Listen to Episode 123, “Twisted Christmas: How Horrible Our Christmas Will Be!”

'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

Gobbledygeek episode 123, “Twisted Christmas: How Horrible Our Christmas Will Be!,” is available for listening or download right here.

Christmas is upon us once more, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to get twisted. I don’t know what that means, but how about you join us in watching The Nightmare Before Christmas? The boys take a look back at the 1993 stop-motion classic, raving about its music (even misguidedly singing a bar or two), praising its glorious stop-motion animation, and take an honest look at Jack’s (possibly regressive?) character arc. Plus, the boys bemoan DC’s treatment of Gail Simone and AJ addresses the Homeland controversy.

Next: it’s the one you’ve been waiting, the one that’ll shut us up for a whole month! It’s the SEASON FINALE! We’ll talk about our favorite and least favorite things of the year 2012.

(Show notes for “Twisted Christmas: How Horrible Our Christmas Will Be!”)

Listen to Episode 122, “Gobbledygeek Gift Guide 2012″

Art by Michael Cho.

Art by Michael Cho.

Gobbledygeek episode 122, “Gobbledygeek Gift Guide 2012,” is available for listening or download right here.

The season of giving is once more upon us. Ever helpful, Paul and AJ list a number of Christmas gift options for that special geek in your life: from movies (like In the Mood for Love on Criterion Collection Blu-ray) to TV (the complete series of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!), comics (Saga: Vol. 1) to books (Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution Was Televised), toys (cute lil’ Funko Pop figures) to games (Dishonored), and more. Don’t forget to thank us for rescuing your Christmas.

Next: the holiday gets twisted with The Nightmare Before Christmas.

NOTE: Links to every single item we mention in the episode can be found in the show notes.

(Show notes for “Gobbledygeek Gift Guide 2012.”)

Listen to Episode 110, “#12″

Gobbledygeek episode 110, “#12,” is available for listening or download right here.

It’s been one year–and exactly half the show ago–since DC rebooted their entire line, dubbing this bold creative decision/shameless marketing ploy the “New 52.” Paul and AJ check back in on the New 52, pointing out what’s working (Animal Man, Swamp Thing) and what’s not (Justice LeagueDetective Comics). Has this whole thing been worth it? Has it made a difference for the company? And what are we to make of the editorial troubles that have been messily dragged out into the public? We can’t promise any good answers, but we sure try! Plus, AJ talks about the best birthday present he received and Paul has exciting adventures at the zoo.

Next: celebrate Gobbledygeek’s eleventy-first episode as the boys discuss the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated musical television special The Hobbit. BYOPW (bring your own pipe-weed).

(Show notes for “#12.”)

Gobbledygeek Gift Guide 2011

On the new episode of Gobbledygeek, Paul and AJ told you about all the things you should buy this Christmas season, and now here’s a comprehensive guide! (Including a few items that weren’t even mentioned on the show.)

Note: Most links and prices are from Amazon.

BOOKS/COMICS

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
$14.33

Hands down one of the best science fiction books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s like my admittedly overdeveloped nostalgia gland were milked and distilled onto the page. This book is my geeky, pop-culture DNA printed in ink. ~ Paul

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Last Month’s Comics: ‘Uncanny X-Men’ Ends (Until the Next Issue), ‘Spaceman’ Lifts Off

Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are.

This column is later than usual, as I was a little preoccupied earlier this month, but for all those still madly wondering about what October 2011′s comics had to offer, here we go…

BEST #1

Spaceman #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: Vertigo

I’ve read only a fraction of Azzarello and Risso’s acclaimed 100 Bullets, which ran for ten years from 1999 to 2009, but one needs no familiarity with their past work to be immediately sucked in by the opening chapter of Spaceman, their new nine-issue mini-series from Vertigo. It takes place in a weird, sad future, just a few monsters and flying cars away from the one in Joss Whedon’s Fray. Our protagonist is Orson, a monkey-ish man genetically engineered to travel to Mars, a trip the human race never got to make. Orson and his low-class friends speak in bizarre, disjointed slang; “okee” is how they say okay, and they actually say “LOL LOL LOL” instead of laughing. In this first issue, Orson has ominous spaceman dreams and becomes involved in the kidnapping of the adopted child of reality TV stars. Eduardo Risso’s art is terrific, Brian Azzarello’s storytelling immediately compelling. Choice line, as Orson’s alarm chirps “New day, new day, new day” while he opens the door on a bleak, cloudless future: “Why, you lyin machine…it’s the same fuck old day it always is.” (Plus: $1!)

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Last Month’s Comics: ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ Swings In and DC’s New 52 Roll Out

Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are. This feature started last month.

So, September 2011, what kind of havoc did you wreak? Let’s find out…

BEST RETURN TO FORM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1
Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors)
Publisher: Dark Horse

To say that I was pleased upon finishing the first issue of the new “season” of Buffy is an understatement. Season 8 started off very well, with Buffy leading an army of 500 Slayers and trying to unmask the mysterious foe Twilight. And to tell the truth, it was great for much of its run, with an occasional stumble (vampires being outed to the public wasn’t handled with much finesse). But the last story arc, with the reveal of Angel as Twilight, cosmic sex, and general batshit insanity, was so damaging that even someone who considers Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the greatest piece of entertainment ever given us by man had come to the conclusion that it might be for the best if Ms. Summers was finally laid to rest. The final issue of Season 8, though, was a dramatic 180 from the pace and structure of the last few issues leading up to it, and the Season 9 premiere continues in that vein. With Giles gone and magic vanquished, Buffy is depressed and adrift, working as a waitress and getting blackout drunk. It’s all done with Whedon’s razor-sharp wit and keen sense of twenty-something angst. The final “shock twist” is so humdrum and everyday it’s hilarious. In many ways, the metaphorical “party” is over for our Scoobies; now what? I can’t wait to find out.

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Listen to Episode 67, “Of Sci-Fi, Slayers, and Spider-Men”

Gobbledygeek episode 67, “Of Sci-Fi, Slayers, and Spider-Men,” is available for listening or download right here.

Welcome, boys and girls, to another off-the-cuff, scriptless episode. After some quote-unquote “banter,” the boys talk about why we geeks are so drawn to works of fantasy and science fiction. They also say some words about the latest wave of DC Comics’ New 52, AJ shares his thoughts on the films Our Idiot Brother and Horrible Bosses, and Paul waxes rhapsodic on Another Earth. But of course what we all care about here are the boys’ thoughts on the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1 (hint: they dig it), and Ultimate Spider-Man #1, which includes mocking the %#$& out of “valued reader” Jimmy Champane and “formerly happy Marvel true believer” Douglas Maxfield. Good times.

(Show notes for “Of Sci-Fi, Slayers, and Spider-Men.”)