Paul’s Top 10 Comics of 2014 (and AJ’s Lament)

'Saga' art by Fiona Staples.

‘Saga’ art by Fiona Staples.

Last week, we brought you our top 10 films of the year. It was different from past years in that while I still wrote words and words and words, Paul presented his list without comment. He continues that trend with his top 10 comics of 2014. Meanwhile, I’m getting into some unusual territory by admitting that I don’t have a list. Sure, I could have scraped something together, but it wouldn’t have felt right.

I adore comic books–look no further than the year-long Four-Color Flashback series on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman we just wrapped in December–but this was the year they unfortunately fell by the wayside of my pop culture habits. There are a few reasons: comics are expensive, often going for $2.99, $3.99, or even more for a bundle of 20-25 sheets of paper; reading is a solitary, time-consuming activity which requires laser focus, unlike a lot of movies and TV (I’ll probably get in trouble for that), and this year I chose to devote much more of my reading time to prose; and lately, I’ve grown to prefer sitting down with one-and-done graphic novels or trade paperback collections to only getting a single hit of a story each month.

Then there’s the fact that 2014 was the year I (and Paul, and frenemy of the show Eric Sipple) published a book. I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but actually putting blood, sweat, and tears into finishing a real product available for purchase left me with a lot less free time. Video games were the first casualty–I played the very comics-oriented LEGO Marvel Superheroes for a few days, but that was about it–and then, completely by chance, I noticed comics becoming the second. Which is ironic, considering how heavily indebted The Deli Counter of Justice is to superhero comics.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)


10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

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Listen to Episode 209, “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones”

Art from 'The Sandman' #68 by Marc Hempel, Richard Case, and Daniel Vozzo.

Art from ‘The Sandman’ #68 by Marc Hempel, Richard Case, and Daniel Vozzo.

Gobbledygeek episode 209, “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

All good things got to finish some time. Paul and AJ have reached the climax of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, in its penultimate installment, Vol IX: The Kindly Ones. As Morpheus’ strict adherence to rules proves to be a cage of his own making, the Furies come down upon his head, wreaking havoc in the Dreaming and tying together many of this epic series’ loose ends. Meanwhile, Lucifer plays piano, Rose meets Jack (non-Titanic edition), Matthew lacks pennies, and Lyta’s hair drinks most of the water. It’s been a hell of a ride.

Next: the boys get in the twisted Christmas spirit with a look back at Scrooged.

(Show notes for “The Sandman: Vol IX – The Kindly Ones.”)

Listen to Episode 206, “What’re You Gonna Do with Those Pies, Boys? (feat. Greg Sahadachny)”


Gobbledygeek episode 206, “What’re You Gonna Do with Those Pies, Boys? (feat. Greg Sahadachny),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Some call it All Hallows’ Eve. Others, All Saints’ Eve. Most know it as Halloween. Here at Gobbledygeek, October 31 always has been and always will be observed as Gobbledyween. Fan favorite Greg Sahadachny, of The Debatable Podcast and All the Pieces Matter, joins Paul and AJ to round out this year’s celebration of all things horror with a discussion of the 1988 cult (?) classic (?) Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Armed with popcorn guns and living balloon dogs, these klowns descend from the stars just like the Blob to wreak havoc on small town America and–that’s really all the movie is, just one goofy clown-related death after another. Paul doesn’t think too highly of the movie, and while it would be insane for anyone to think too highly of it, AJ and Greg argue that it’s just too darn innocent to hate. Also, why are clowns so scary? Plus, AJ becomes hopelessly addicted to Jurassic Park: Builder and attends a groovy screening of Halloween at The Nightlight.

Next: the Geek Challenge rears its head once more, as Paul challenges AJ to Big Trouble in Little China, and AJ challenges Paul to The Wages of Fear. Because they’re both about truckers?

Listen to Episode 205, “I Have Obligations to My Employer! (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis)”


Gobbledygeek episode 205, “I Have Obligations to My Employer! (feat. Kenn Edwards & Joseph Lewis),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis check in to Gobbledyween 2014 to talk The Shining with Paul and AJ. A large part of the conversation revolves around a question you may not have asked about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 Stephen King adaptation: is it supposed to be funny? AJ’s not sure and has mixed feelings on the overbearing synth score and lack of subtlety, while Joe argues it’s really a darkly hilarious domestic comedy. Other points of discussion include how supernatural the film is or isn’t, how to read the ending, and the insane fan theory documentary Room 237. Plus, the gang offers thoughts on The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and raves about the podcast Serial.

Next: Gobbledyween comes to a close for another year as Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast stops by to discuss Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

(Show notes for “I Have Obligations to My Employer!”)

Listen to Episode 204, “Here’s Your Meatball (feat. Eric Sipple)”


Gobbledygeek episode 204, “Here’s Your Meatball (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Mad scientist (and The Deli Counter of Justice co-editor) Eric Sipple joins Paul and AJ for the second feature attraction of Gobbledyween 2014: Stuart Gordon’s 1985 cult classic Re-Animator. The two biggest surprises about Gordon’s loose Lovecraft adaptation are 1) that it’s a genuinely well-made film and 2) that Jeffrey Combs’ batshit crazy Dr. Herbert West isn’t actually the main character. The gang discusses the movie’s boring-ass protagonist, its demented sense of humor, and the arguable merits of that scene. You know the one. Plus, the boys talk Marvel’s Civil War plans and AJ reads Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein.

Next: Smoke Gets in Your Ears: A Mad Men Podcast co-hosts Kenn Edwards and Joseph Lewis check in to discuss Stanley Kubrick’s 1981 Stephen King adaptation The Shining.

Listen to Episode 203, “I’ll Lick the Stamps”


Gobbledygeek episode 203, “I’ll Lick the Stamps,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Close the shower curtain, it’s time for Gobbledyween! Our fifth annual month-long celebration of all things bump in the night gets off to a slashing start with a discussion of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho. Often imitated (once quite literally) but never duplicated, Paul and AJ dissect the film’s shifting points of view, the many taboos it broke, how its lengthy silences speak volumes, and yeah, that really dumb psychoanalysis scene. Plus, AJ joins Nicolas Cage for a post-Rapture nap with Left Behind while Paul goes to Disney Infinity and beyond with the new Marvel superheroes expansion.

Next: Gobbledyween 2014 comes back to life as Broken Magic author and The Deli Counter of Justice cohort Eric Sipple drops by for a look back at Re-Animator.

(Show notes for “I’ll Lick the Stamps.”)