Listen to ‘The Avatar Returns’ Episode 24

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The Avatar Returns episode 24 is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Amon wants a revolution, but first we get a revelation. Chapter 103, “The Revelation” to be precise, wherein we learn that the leader of the Equalists, while really scary and kind of a dick, might possibly have a point? Paul and Eric are in full-on fanboy mode, but Arlo is initially uncomfortable with the muddy moral waters this new series is treading in, with “villains” that are actually the oppressed and “heroes” that could in fact be the oppressors. But Amon has a plan, and it involves taking away people’s bending abilities! And in chapter 104, “The Voice in the Night” haunts Korra with the fear of that very thing. We talk again about how The Legend of Korra is the Angel to Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, exploring more mature, challenging, and morally ambiguous subject matter than perhaps its parent series. Also, we meet the wonderful Asami (we’ll get through this love quadrangle stuff, I promise), the adorable Pabu (he’s a friend, not a snack), and we jump to some disturbing conclusions about the Republic City Council, start to get really worked up about it, and then realize that we may already be falling for Amon’s propaganda crap.

Oh yeah, and we finally, officially settle on a time for the live-action The Last Airbender film. We will suffer for your entertainment.

Next: we hit the Korra Book One midpoint with chapters 105-107, “The Spirit of Competition,” “And the Winner is…,” and “The Aftermath.”

(Show notes for The Avatar Returns episode 24.)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 New & Returning TV Series of 2013

Last week, we brought you our favorite movies of last year (finally saw Inside Llewyn Davis, by the way, and yes, it would have made the cut). This week, we change channels to focus on TV. We’re doing things a little differently this time out, with separate top 10 lists for new shows and returning favorites. Though there were a lot of new shows I enjoyed over the past year, I’ll admit I couldn’t stretch them to 10; instead, I’ve got 8, while Paul’s just crazy enough to have a full 10.

As always, there are shows we couldn’t get around to: I haven’t seen Rectify, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, or The Wrong Mans, all of which I’d hoped to see in time for this list. Oh, and to absolve him of all guilt, I should mention that Paul has never seen Breaking Bad. Wait, I don’t think that absolves him.

NEW SERIES

PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)

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I wasn’t particularly interested in a television adaptation of the Thomas Harris characters. But names like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, and Bryan Fuller pulled me in. It’s one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly…haunting shows ever to make it to network television. It’s also one of the most shockingly violent and grotesque. All positives in my book. But I can’t put it any higher on my list because it’s crushingly depressing.

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Listen to Episode 128, “What’s Your Heroic Damage”

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Gobbledygeek episode 128, “What’s Your Heroic Damage,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

What does it mean to be a hero? Does “escapism” have to be a derogatory term? Can good guys be as compelling as their supporting casts and villains? To explore these questions, Paul and AJ are joined by friend of the show/Broken Magic author Eric Sipple and TV writer/producer (of Angel, among other things) Mere Smith. There’s Angel talk, obviously, but also some Spider-Man and some Rurouni Kenshin, plus plenty of Eric-bashing.

Next: Rob Hunt and Joanna Gaskell from Standard Action return to tell us all about season 2!

(Show notes for “What’s Your Heroic Damage.”)

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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Four-Color Flashback: ‘Preacher: Vol. 9 – Alamo’

Welcome to the final week in our discussion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Paul: It ends here.

Nine volumes. 66 issues. Five one-shot specials. A four-issue tie-in miniseries. And a tanker truck full of blood and guts. Our pissed-off preacher, gun-toting girl Friday, and blood-drinking BFF all converge, where else? Texas. The Alamo, to be precise. And things get both big and small, epic and very, very personal.

Oh, and one poorly written report gets taken out behind the woodshed and shot the fuck up.

So AJ, mi compadre, what did you think of the grand finale?

AJ: Where to begin? Perhaps it’s best to start with my one sizable complaint before moving on to everything that worked so, so well here. Last week, we talked about the watering-down of Herr Starr, of how even though he’s the series’ ostensible antagonist, his misadventures have often been treated as comic relief. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but I completely failed to realize that taking revenge on Jesse had supplanted bringing about Armageddon as his goal in life. So when he announced his plans to the Elite Council, I was just as confused as they were (luckily, I didn’t get murdered right after). I feel like a discussion of Starr as the series’ Big Bad could take up its own post, so I’ll just say that though I loved the vast majority of what we ended up getting, I can’t imagine what an epic ending Armageddon could have provided.

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Four-Color Flashback: ‘Preacher: Vol. 2 – Until the End of the World’

Four-Color Flashback returned last week with the first of nine installments discussing the controversial Vertigo series Preacher. I’m new to the series, Paul’s been a fan since it first started in 1995, and we roundtable it. (Or is it a cross-table? There are only two of us.)

This week, we discuss Preacher: Vol. 2 – Until the End of the World

Paul: Okay, Mr. AJ, you survived the first explosive, expletive-laden volume of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. Here we are, back for more, so tell me…how do you think the second volume, Until the End of the World, holds up?

AJ: I loved the first volume. I had some problems with it–Arseface, Detective Bridges’ sexuality–but on the whole, I thought it was a really entertaining comic with some brilliant ideas. I’m happy to report that Until the End of the World not only continues the witty, profane, blood-splattered fun of Gone to Texas; it also does it one better by introducing some seriously compelling bits of mythology.

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‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review: Scary Movie

Saying this upfront: NO SPOILERS. Paul and I have also discussed the film on the show.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bunch of kids pack into an RV for a weekend of fun, sex, and sexy fun. That they encounter the extremely creepy owner of an ancient gas station on the way does nothing to deter them from their destination: a remote cabin in the woods, owned by one of the kids’ cousins. The place immediately seems a little off, there’s some disturbing stuff in the cellar, someone maybe reads Latin, and eventually bloody mayhem ensues. Though they should know better, each one succumbs to some very stupid behavior for which they will be punished.

This is the set-up for dozens, maybe hundreds, of horror movies. The Cabin in the Woods is something different. When we first meet these kids, they seem like lively, intelligent college students. They don’t seem like they would do some of the dumb things they end up doing. Which seems par for the course for this kind of movie, except The Cabin in the Woods dares to offer a justification as to why the victims would seemingly offer themselves up as fodder. There’s more here than meets the eye. Characters played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are part of a shadowy organization which makes everything much more complicated. This I guarantee: If you’ve only seen the ads, which paint the movie as your generic Halloween Saw Massacre deal, it is not that. At all.

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