Listen to ‘The Avatar Returns’ Episode 40

Art from ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender – Vol. 4: Smoke and Shadow’ by Gurihiru.

The Avatar Returns episode 40 is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

This week, a break between seasons of The Legend of Korra means a return to the days of old as we look at the fourth collection of the Dark Horse Comics Avatar: The Last Airbender series, Volume 4: Smoke and Shadow. Having reunited with his long lost mother Ursa, Zuko returns with her to the Fire Nation Capital City (which really needs a name) and wackiness ensues, some of which serves to remind us that Avatar has actually really always been The Zuko Show. Even with Mom back in the picture, daddy (and uncle) issues continue to dominate the story. Mai, Ty Lee, and Suki finally get some much-needed page time, even as we lose Katara and Sokka (and the comic relief that Sokka provides). We discuss how relevant this volume feels today with its look at totalitarianism and the struggle to balance security and freedom. And Azula is back and feelin’ good with a brand new Sisterhood of Evil Mental Patients in tow.

Speaking of character development, Arlo finally achieves his own Avatar State as a podcaster. And Eric makes a Hamilton reference! I’m Paul Smith and you’re listening to All Benders Considered on NPR.*

(*) Not really, but…yeah.

Next: the end is coming. This is it, we begin our exploration of the final season of The Legend of Korra with Book Four: Balance. We’re kicking it off with chapters 401, “After All These Years,” 402, “Korra Alone,” and 403, “The Coronation.” (And we are so deeply, deeply sorry for Arlo’s predictions on what those episodes will be about.)

(Show notes for The Avatar Returns episode 40.)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 302, “Y: The Last Man – Vol. 2: Cycles (feat. Donora Rihn)”

Art from 'Y: The Last Man - Vol. 2: Cycles' by Pia Guerra and José Marzan Jr.

Art from ‘Y: The Last Man – Vol. 2: Cycles’ by Pia Guerra and José Marzan Jr.

Gobbledygeek episode 302, “Y: The Last Man – Vol. 2: Cycles (feat. Donora Rihn),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Bringing a much-needed feminist perspective to a story about a man surrounded on all sides by women, Jeff Bridges poet Donora Rihn joins Paul and Arlo for their year-long Four-Color Flashback exploration of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s acclaimed Vertigo comic book series Y: The Last Man. This time, the gang discusses Vol. 2: Cycles, which collects issues #6-10 of the original series. Donora asks Paul and Arlo how they perceive the book as men, and if they think it shows Yorick growing into his role as the last man on Earth; in turn, Paul and Arlo ask Donora if she finds Vaughan’s narrative voice to be overwhelmingly male and if it fairly represents its many female characters. In between, Arlo can’t stop recommending things to comics newbie Donora, there is yet more praise of Guerra’s clean and beautiful artwork, and there are select readings from Valeria Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto. Plus, Donora has a new name and the gang remembers the late great Bill Paxton.

Next: after a week off for another of Arlo’s poop cruises, the boys sharpen their claws to discuss the final Wolverine film, Logan.

(Show notes for “Y: The Last Man – Vol. 2: Cycles.”)

Listen to ‘The Avatar Returns’ Episode 39

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The Avatar Returns episode 35 is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

This is a big one, kids. Team The Avatar Returns assembles to breakdown their thoughts on the final four chapters of The Legend of Korra, Book Three: Change. There’s a lot to cover, starting with the typical children’s television tropes of on-camera assassinations and Boxer Rebellions when Zaheer proclaims “Long Live the Queen” in chapter 310. In 311, “Ultimatum,” he may possibly have bitten off more than he can chew when he challenges Tenzin to a slap fight after airbending school. Bolin learns that the answers were inside of him all along in 312, “Enter the Void.” And Korra She-Hulks out all over Zaheer’s face in the final showdown of 313, “Venom of the Red Lotus.”

Paul gets weepy over the incredible fight choreography this season. Eric is positively giddy with anticipation for Book Four: Balance. And Arlo drops the knowledge we’ve all needed about Shadow the Hedgehog.

Next: as always the break between seasons of Korra gives us another opportunity to revisit old friends by exploring the official Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel series from Dark Horse Comics. This time we reconnect with the Aang Gang as they face Vol. 4 – Smoke and Shadow.

(Show notes for The Avatar Returns episode 39.)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 301, “The X-Files: Season 4 (feat. Wesley Mead)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 301, “The X-Files: Season 4 (feat. Wesley Mead),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Just in time for everyone’s distrust in government to be at an all-time high, Wesley “Wezzo” Mead joins Paul and Arlo once again to discuss Chris Carter’s seminal sci-fi series The X-Files. This time, the gang sets their sights on season 4, and opinion seems to be divided on just how well the season holds together. Is this where the mythology stuff starts to really go off the rails? Does Scully’s cancer make for a compelling dramatic throughline? And most importantly of all, is there an obvious heir to Darin Morgan’s throne (a couple suggestions are thrown out)? Plus, Wezzo laments the progression of Brexit, while Paul and Arlo sift through the Trump Administration’s mounting atrocities; and on a happier, sillier note, the gang has a blast with The Lego Batman Movie.

Next: this year’s Four-Color Flashback exploration of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man continues. Jeff Bridges poet Donora Rihn joins Paul and Arlo to discuss Vol. 2: Cycles.

(Show notes for “The X-Files: Season 4.”)

Listen to Our Hiatus Special, “2016: The Buffy Season 6 of Years”

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The Gobbledygeek hiatus special, “2016: The Buffy Season 6 of Years,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

We’re back! Sort of. Before Gobbledygeek‘s official return next month, Paul and Arlo explain the terrible real-life circumstances that led to the hiatus. The boys discuss grief, loss, tragedy, depression, and a whole bunch of other super fun and upbeat things! To end things on a positive note, they also discuss some happy news and the pop culture they’ve enjoyed during the hiatus (Westworld! Arrival! Moonlight!).

Next: the show returns toward the end of next month to make another journey to a galaxy far, far away with a discussion of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

(Show notes for “2016: The Buffy Season 6 of Years.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 296, “Swing Away (feat. Kenn Edwards)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 296, “Swing Away (feat. Kenn Edwards),” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Armed only with a glass of water and his trusty baseball bat, Kenn Edwards of So Let’s Get to the Point invades the podcast this week to help Paul and Arlo kick off Gobbledyween 2016. This year’s month-long horror-fest gets off to a miraculous start with a discussion of M. Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi thriller Signs. After the runaway success of The Sixth Sense and the lukewarm contemporary response to Unbreakable, Signs is often considered the last film Shyamalan made before a precipitous decline; that is, when it’s considered at all. The gang gets to the core of what makes Signs a worthwhile film, including a question you may hear repeated about the other movies on this year’s slate: Is it a horror film at all? The boys also delve into Shyamalan’s exploration of faith, how the film functions as a response to 9/11, whether or not it’s okay to still enjoy a Mel Gibson performance, and more. Plus, Paul violently shames Arlo for not watching Luke Cage, and the mythical episode 300 is teased.

Next: Gobbledyween 2016 grows fangs for Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vampiric neo-Western Near Dark.

(Show notes for “Swing Away.”)

Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 295, “Grendel: Part 7 – God and the Devil, Part 2”

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Gobbledygeek episode 295, “Grendel: Part 7 – God and the Devil, Part 2,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Vampires, bananas, and Weird Al-esque song parodies, oh my! Paul and Arlo may be winding down their coverage of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, the subject of this year’s exceedingly popular (ahem) Four-Color Flashback series, but the story shows no signs of letting up in “God and the Devil” chapters 7-10. A cosmetically altered face from the distant past returns, incest is rationalized, and produce is used in an attempt to rape the sun. The boys question some of the story’s leaps in logic, and the general coherence of the Grendel cycle, while admiring its utter batshit insanity and dynamic artwork. Plus, Paul watches TV (Arlo does too kind of) and Arlo’s life has exploded.

Next: fall is in the air and blood is on the silver screen. Gobbledyween 2017 kicks off as Kenn Edwards of So Let’s Get to the Point swings by to discuss M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.

(Show notes for “Grendel: Part 7 – God and the Devil, Part 2.”)