Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 326, “The Rocketeer / Pleasantville: Flying Colors”

Gobbledygeek episode 326, “The Rocketeer / Pleasantville: Flying Colors,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

That venerated institution, the Geek Challenge, takes to the bright blue sky with a pair of retro ‘90s flicks. First up, Paul challenges Arlo to Joe Johnston’s 1991 Billy Campbell-starring adventure The Rocketeer, a proto-First Avenger that mixes pulp fiction with ‘30s Hollywood. Then, Arlo challenges Paul to Gary Ross’ 1998 directorial debut Pleasantville, which finds Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon zapped inside the black-and-white world of a hunky dory ‘50s sitcom. These films look backward to say something about the present, and while one admittedly has a lot more on its mind than the other, the boys find both to be unsettlingly timely. From populist demagoguery to villains that no longer feel like an historical artifact, Paul and Arlo mine a lot from these goofy, decades-old movies. Plus, Arlo remembers that comics exist.

Next: after a week off, the boys return to discuss experimental arthouse feature Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, which will be of interest to only the most devout cineaste.

(Show notes for “Flying Colors.”)

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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Listen to Episode 107, “@#$% You, Science!”

Gobbledygeek episode 107, “@#$% You, Science!,” is available for listening or download right here.

Paul and AJ had an idea for what they wanted this show to be about: science! Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out. Fortunately–we think–they managed to come up with a bunch of other things to talk about: Joss Whedon’s return to The Avengers, Jason Shayer’s blog about 1980s Marvel, the found-footage horror of V/H/S, how AJ pretty much bawled his eyes out at the new issue of Spider-Men, and, yes, science (Mars Curiosity for the win).

Next: Geek Challenge time once more! Paul will watch Grave of the Fireflies and AJ will watch Watership Down. That’s not gonna be depressing at all.

(Show notes for “@#$% You, Science!”)