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.
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
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
Welcome to our new column, “Four-Color Flashback,” in which we will occasionally discuss classic or interesting comic book runs. First up is the legendary 35-issue span encompassing Chris Claremont’s work with John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men. So legendary, in fact, that I’m amazed I’ve never read it. Claremont’s initial 16-year run on the book, from 1975 to 1991, has been so influential on not just the most successful superteam in the business, but also modern superhero comics as a whole, that at times it can feel like you’ve read the whole thing even if you’ve read nary a page. The four years from 1977 to 1981, during which John Byrne joined the series as penciler and co-plotter, are largely regarded as the pinnacle of Claremont’s work on the title. What with X-Men being in the air as of late, considering the release of X-Men: First Class and my recent purchase of the two hardcover editions of Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run (itself a loving homage to 70’s-era Claremont), I’ve decided that now is as good a time as any to finally read the thing. If you’d like to play along, I’ll be covering seven issues a week for five weeks, starting with #s 108-114.
First, a little history on both myself and the X-Men. As a big comics fan, I’ve read many X-Men comics over the years, including some of Claremont’s later or more recent work. When I was younger, I cut my teeth on my dad’s comics collection, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve read some of the Claremont/Byrne stuff, as he owned his fair share of 70’s and 80’s X-Men. Though if I did, I don’t remember much beyond certain cover images. As for the X-Men themselves, before Claremont came along, well, Marvel’s mighty mutants were in dire shape. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who brought us so many of our popular superheroes, had created the pupils at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in 1963. The resulting 19-issue run, which I have read, is fun in the classic Lee/Kirby mold, and even introduced the series’ common sociopolitical themes, with the mutant-hating Bolivar Trask alerting humanity to the so-called “mutant menace” and creating the Sentinels to eradicate all mutant life.
In our latest episode, Paul and I mentioned a number of comics recommendations for beginners in a variety of genres. However, we also mentioned that we had to pare down our lists significantly so that the topic would even approach being manageable. Here, as promised, are our other selections.
FANTASTIC FOUR #232-293 (John Byrne)
After his legendary Uncanny X-Men run, John Byrne took over Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four. Cinematic storytelling, emotional character shake-ups, shocking betrayals. And he grew up Sue Storm, taking her from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman.
The twenty-ninth episode of Gobbledygeek airs live tonight at 10:00 PM EST right here. It’s our third Halloween-related show, and our first in our new time slot of Thursdays at 10. Tonight we’re all about pesky poltergeists, spectral spooks, ghoulish ghosts, and hang on a second, I’m leafing through the Stan Lee Appendix of Alliteration for more corny phrases. In a word, spirits and the beyond, and how they’re reflected in our popular culture. In particular, I’m interested in seeing if I can wrangle the origin story of Paul’s online username, Haunt, out of him tonight… In the bonus hour, we’ll have DVD releases and more.
Reminder: Calling into the show is potentially a toll call, but if you’ve got a free Skype account and a free BlogTalkRadio account, you can use the free “Click to Talk” button to call in…for free!
The graduating class of Sunnydale High School 1999.
Totally slipped my mind to make this post yesterday morning, so here we go: Friday’s Gobbledygeek, “Higher Education,” is available for listening right here. Fictional schools discussed are Sunnydale High, Greendale Community College, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and many (seriously, many) others. No annoying tech problems this week, either! In the bonus hour, we talk about the DVD’s that will be out this Tuesday, the new direction the Batman comics are taking, and this season of True Blood so far (though largely spoiler-free, since Kevin hasn’t started the season yet, and we wanted to be all considerate-like). Enjoy!
Last night, Paul and I reached the conclusion of our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. Here are choice excerpts from our top 10’s, but be sure to listen to the whole show to hear everything we said:
PAUL: Calvin & Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes)
The series was not only the funniest comic strip of all time (and on this point I will brook no dispute), but it was almost the most philosophical, satirical, and thought-provoking.
AJ: Death (The Sandman)
With the usual concepts and presentations of Death’s visage from Western culture so ingrained in my mind, just the idea that Death didn’t have to be gloomy or terrifying, and instead could be a radiant beacon of hope, felt stunningly fresh and bold to me.
Last week, Paul and I reached the halfway mark of our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture. Here are excerpts of our thoughts on our picks for #s 60-51, but be sure to listen to the show for our full rundowns.
PAUL: Vincent (Beauty and the Beast)
Speaking with a gruff but gentle whisper and all but hidden beneath an impressive leonine Rick Baker prosthesis (which didn’t, but absolutely should have, won awards), Perlman was the very definition of Romantic-with-a-capital-R misunderstood emo monster heroes for a generation.
AJ: John Locke (Lost)
His regained ability to walk gave him a new lease on life, and he looked at the island as a beautiful, supernatural force. He refused to leave, and tried to get the rest of the group to stay as well, believing them to be there for a greater purpose. The constant push-and-pull between Jack, the man of science, and Locke, the man of faith, became the series’ core thematic conflict.
Came across a pleasant little surprise on Netflix Instant last night: Comic Book Confidential, a 1988 documentary by Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann which takes a look at the history of comic books. It’s interesting from a historical perspective, since this was right when comics were really beginning to be embraced as an artform by the public, what with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns having been released to critical and commercial acclaim. Obviously, there was still a long road ahead, and even now most people continue to think of comics largely as kids’ stuff with flashy superheroes and WHAMMO! sound effects. At around 85 minutes or so, it briskly takes you through the early funnies, the whole Fredric Wertham/censorship debacle, the first superheroes, and the Marvel boom before going on at length about the underground scene. We hear and see from a lot of comics legends: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Bill Griffith, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, and Harvey Pekar, among others. Interestingly, neither in the brief look at then-current superhero books nor in the Frank Miller interview is Watchmen mentioned. Anyway, it’s a cool movie and a nice condensed history.
Originally published on May 8, 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux, based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
I attended a packed midnight screening of Iron Man 2, and directly beforehand, in the same auditorium, a considerably less packed screening of the original Iron Man. The first is every bit as great as it was two years ago; it is charming, rich with character, brilliantly acted and directed, and with not a wasted minute. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, drama, and action, a genuine crowdpleaser in every sense.