Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 298, “Grendel: Part 8 – Devil’s Reign”

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Gobbledygeek episode 298, “Grendel: Part 8 – Devil’s Reign,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

Wait, what’s that? Not only did someone listen to our Grendel episodes…but they decided to join us on air?! Wonders never cease. Joining Paul and Arlo to finish last year’s Four-Color Flashback series on Matt Wagner’s Grendel is Chance Mazzia, who actually discovered the show thanks to Wagner’s whacked-out opus. The gang discusses “Devil’s Reign,” collected in Grendel Omnibus: Vol. 3, which is not technically the end of the sprawling series but marks a fine endpoint for their analysis. Orion Assante seeks to unite the world, but at what cost? Among this week’s subjects are vampirism and Elvis, Trump and Obama, and the subtle art of dick jokes.

Next: a new Four-Color Flashback is upon us. This time the boys will be discussing the presumably much more popular series Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Up first is Vol. 1: Unmanned.

(Show notes for “Grendel: Part 8 – Devil’s Reign.”)

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Listen to ‘Gobbledygeek’ Episode 274, “Grendel: Part 2 – Devil’s Legacy, Part 1”

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Gobbledygeek episode 274, “Grendel: Part 2 – Devil’s Legacy, Part 1,” is avalable for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.

For their second Four-Color Flashback installment discussing Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Paul and Arlo jump into the first half of the first proper story arc, “Devil’s Legacy” chapters 1-7, collected in Grendel Omnibus: Vol. 2 – The Legacy, pp. 66-246. (This thing’s had a convoluted publishing history.) Anyways, as the boys discover, there’s been a radical shift from the series’ introductory story. Gone is Wagner’s Art Deco-cum-manga art style, replaced by the vibrant, angular artwork of Jacob and Arnold Pander; the storyline has also moved into the “near future” circa 1986, which thanks to some clever math, Paul figures out is probably somewhere around 2005. Most importantly, Grendel’s mask is now worn by Hunter Rose’s step-granddaughter, journalist Christine Spar, who is spurred into action by personal tragedy. Do these stylistic shifts work? Is Wagner’s overblown dialogue a noir-ish affectation or merely self-indulgent? Remember when Donahue was a thing? All this and more, plus Paul and Arlo are shocked by the passing of Prince.

Next: so shocked, in fact, that our next episode is devoted to him. The boys will discuss Prince’s music, as well as three of his films: 1984’s Purple Rain, 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon, and 1987’s concert film Sign ‘o’ the Times.

(Show notes for “Grendel: Part 2 – Devil’s Legacy, Part 1.”)

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

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
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)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
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)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

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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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. 8 – All Hell’s A-Coming’

Welcome to week 8 of 9 in our discussion of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

AJ: Here we are. The penultimate volume of Preacher. Given the title and the fact that we’re very near the end, I thought there would be a lot more violence and bloodshed. Instead, All Hell’s A-Coming turns its focus inward, with a lot to say about our heroes and their pasts. The past is a big theme here, not only because of the extended flashbacks but also because people and things from long ago keep coming back to add wrinkles to the story.

Speaking of those extended flashbacks, where should we start: Tulip or Cassidy?

Paul: I say we take it in order, so Tulip.

AJ: The beginning of this volume is all kinds of heartbreaking. A listless Tulip dragging herself out of bed, trying and failing to find the drugs she’s felt she’s needed for these past months. Last we saw Cassidy, we were beginning to realize that he might not have been the fundamentally decent person we thought he was. That continues in the opening scene, as he tells Tulip that everything’s all right, she only needs her medicine, and “Don’t make me take that fuckin’ guy away from you.” Followed immediately by Tulip blasting him into the sunlight. Tulip flees the hell that Cassidy has made for her, then we learn all about how she became who she is.

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Four-Color Flashback: ‘Preacher: Vol. 5 – Dixie Fried”

Welcome to week 5 of 9 in our analysis of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher. For more, read weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Paul: Juhz. (Justice.)
Vuhh. (Vengeance.)
UHFUH. (ARSEFACE.)

AJ: As much as I’ve had my problems with Arseface thus far, any time he said something like that in this volume, I cracked up. UHFUH.

Paul: He’s just so sweet and earnest.

AJ: He really is. And the gang cracking up while he has them at gunpoint? How can you not laugh at that?

Paul: Poor Uhfuh.

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