Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review--Wife of the Year

Best Wife!

Last year I discussed how Samii was my fianceé of 2014. Well, someone else is allowed to be the fianceé of 2015 because now Samii is the best wife of 2015! We got married on October 21st in a small ceremony in our living room and she is without a doubt the best wife of 2015. Your opinion may differ from mine, but should you lack a wife feel free to tell people you read about the wife of the year on this website.

Those are my posts for 2015 in review. I hope everyone has a wonderful 2016!

2015 in Review--Best Cancelled Comic

Always a Shame
There are comics that could be considered just too beautiful for this world. Sometimes it is revealed they will be cancelled via a solicitation that declares an issue the last. Other times they will even have upcoming issues solicited but suddenly end. It is always painful when this happens, and this year there was one comic in particular I was devastated to see end abruptly and without warning.

At only four issues, "Material," in fact had three more solicited before the writer, Ales Kot (who've I've been discussing a fair amount in these 2015 in Review posts) announced it was suddenly canceled. He later clarified a bit more that it just seemed the market wasn't into something like, "Material," and that it maybe, just maybe might continue in a periodical form, coming out in bigger chunks.

Reading between the lines here I'm thinking either, "Material," didn't sell well enough for it to make sense to keep publishing it, or it ruffled too many feathers and someone told Kot--be that Image, his friends, etc.--that he needed to stop before the boat found itself rocked too much. Because boy was this a comic that rocked the boat. You had a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who despite being innocent was tortured relentlessly and is now trying to adapt to everyday life. There is a young black man forced to work as an informant for a cruel and violent police-officer in Chicago. A professor who is fed-up with his listless class and potentially has been contacted by a sentient form of the internet (or is someone just playing an elaborate prank on him? He isn't sure). Then there is the actress who is simply trying to reboot her career with her own personal issues serving as the biggest obstacle.
These people never find their stories intersecting but they clearly relate in a variety of thematic ways. This is the kind of comic that had liner-notes listing all the young black men murdered by police officers who then got off scott-free. This is a comic that recommends you read books on theater and art with links you can type into your computer to learn more. This is a comic that I now have to say, was a comic because the world is cruel and this ended right as it started making me really care about these individuals and their horrendously fucked-up lives.

Ales Kot says in one issue of this series that, "Comics will break your heart." He wasn't exaggerating because I'll be damned if I don't feel quite heartbroken that this amazing book ended so suddenly. I just can only hope it does come back in some form or another, and be somewhat thankful it did resolve a lot of things within its 4th issue to a degree that I'm not left wondering too much about all the characters. Still, it's such a shame something as mind-blowing as this ends.
"Comics will break your heart," indeed. Screw you, Kot, for making me care so much about a comic. Screw you, and thank you.

2015 In Review--The Publisher That Lost Me This Year

Losing Interest
Sometimes try as hard as a comic publisher might, I just find a number of their stuff lacking. I am reading much less of certain publishers I used to almost exclusively read (Marvel) but there is one publisher who this year went from having at least a handful of titles I read to now no titles.

The Publisher that Lost Me This Year--DC
I am currently regularly reading zero DC titles. Zip, nothing, nada. I mean, not even Vertigo stuff. Things looked slightly promising with their attempted tonal-shift that had a different feel, but that seems to have fizzled out and while some things are still unique and different (Batman is Jim Gordon, for reasons), I basically have seen nothing from DC that interests me. Their huge re-launch in 2011 seemed promising but ended-up being a lot of wasted potential. The company is flailing about with apparently more retitling and re-launching on the way.

They undid some of the re-launch by hinting at past DC-Universes with, "Convergence," which if anything just made people long for the DC comics of old, and apparently the best title right now from the publisher is one featuring the Justice League that seems to be mostly removed from the current continuity (or taking place before most of the current comics).
"Convergence," just made people miss the old DC.
It's really a shame as I've greatly enjoyed past DC comics and still have a fondness for works published by the company done by creators I greatly enjoy (I loved, "The Multiversity," for example). I'm not sure what the solution is, but 2015 is basically the year DC lost me.

Side Note: I have heard that, "Omega Men," is great and am thinking I'll pick up the 12-issue epic once it concludes.

2015 In Review--Weirdest Comic of the Year

Just Plain Strange
There are always comics that go beyond being a little different and enter the realm of outright weird. This year one comic handily took that title and another comic was a bit too new for me to fully qualify, but easily is a runner-up.

This series has had six issues come out, and despite starting out a tad slowly (or maybe because it started slow), it has over time grown increasingly dark and twisted, with issue #6 taking things to a whole 'nother level of terrifying, bizarre, and just plain weird. Between the slipping grasp on reality held by the main character named Robert Black, otherworldly entities influencing people in horrific ways, and all sorts of surreal nastiness, this is an abnormal kind of comic for sure.

Some people have protested that Alan Moore is over-the-hill but I think he still has some solid stories in him, as evidenced by the madness on tap in this series. The clever way Moore works-in characters from throughout the bibliography of HP Lovecraft is crafty, and it is ingenious how Moore puts elements into the story of things that would have upset/disgusted Lovecraft (namely that Robert Black is both secretly gay and secretly Jewish) and makes the prejudices of Lovecraft's era--reflected in Lovecraft's own writings--an intriguing part of the story itself.  Moore deserves immense credit for that smart way of using Lovecraft's own fears, "against him," as it were.
A well filled with a gross plant infecting all around it,
a clever metaphor for the madness afflicting the main character.
At this mid-way point in the series it has become harder than ever to tell what is real in our character's world, and what is his imagination/an evil force influencing him. It is scary, uncomfortable, and of course very, very weird. This is why, "Providence," is my weirdest comic of the year.

The Vision
Only two issues have come out so far of, "The Vision," but they have been superbly twisted and strange enough to really make an impact on me. Putting the concept of the main character, The Vision, being a synthetic human struggling to be, "Normal," to the forefront, this comic follows The Vision and a family he has created of a wife and two children. Without the narration the comic would be a tad uncomfortable, but thanks to the third-person narrative boxes discussing how all these characters The Vision and his family meet will soon die due to the actions of The Vision and his family the comic ramps-up its ominous tone to the stratosphere.

The weird disconnect between these robotic beings struggling to understand humans while not having emotions (or do they?) makes for some fascinating reading. This series is still too new in my opinion to be declared the weirdest comic of the year, but it certainly has struck me as odd enough between its subject matter and discomforting narration to be considered the runner-up.

Wacky Stuff!
There may not have been anything as odd as this,
but things still got pretty strange!
There are always comics that can be a little different, but sometimes you just want to enjoy something really weird. These two comics fit that bill in my opinion and I encourage you to read them and see if you agree with me.

2015 in Review--Beverage of the Year/Surge Returns to Store Shelves!

A Tasty Beverage
Previously I have at times focused more on food as a best-of post, but this year I wanted to discuss a drink I was excited to see return to store shelves. That drink? Surge!
Back in the late 1990's and early 2000's I greatly enjoyed drinking me some Surge. It was like a better-tasting Mountain Dew courtesy of the Coca-Cola company. However, it wasn't quite popular enough and Coke discontinued it. Many tears were shed as sadness engulfed the world. However, there were people out there who kept petitioning Coke to bring it back, and after enough viral campaigns it was announced back in 2014 that Coke would make Surge available--albeit only via Amazon.

It sold out, quickly.

The surge was so popular and people went so crazy for it that a year later, in the early Fall of 2015 Coca-Cola returned Surge to store shelves, as easy to find at your gas station as most other sodas. I for one welcome this tasty treat loaded with caffeine and artificial-cirtusy-goodness back and hope it is here to stay.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Review--Ongoing Series of the Year

The Going-Ons with Ongoings
Even these books (some got into the 600's) have re-launched at various points.
There are comics that technically aren't supposed to end. The thing is, almost all of them do. That said, comics which were solicited as being theoretically unlimited in issues deserve awards too! That's why I'm honoring one ongoing that it was suddenly revealed will end with its upcoming 12th issue, one comic that launched, ended, and re-launched with a new first issue in the same year, and another title that is just damn good.

The Fadeout
There are many great duos out there. OutKast, The Russo Brothers, PB&J, and so forth. Comic books have stellar teams too, just look at Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. One team who consistently put out great stuff however would be the two guys known as Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips. They both do great work on their own, but the immense body of work put out by them working in unison illustrates mind-boggling creativity and craft. Their immense talent resulted in this fascinating exploration of 1940's Hollywood and the dirty, dark secrets the supposedly happy and shiny era had.

I was surprised when it was suddenly revealed the comic would end with issue #12, which Brubaker said in the comic's back-matter he and Philips had planned for, but I was always under the impression this comic could just go on and on with fascinating mysteries, drama, and all that good stuff. That final issue is due in early January and I am both excited to read it and sad for the series to end. The fact it was solicited as ongoing is why I'm putting it in this category, and should you love movies, crime comics, or just general amazing writing and artwork you definitely ought to check this series out.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
This comic actually launched, was great, and then due to, "Secret Wars," had to re-launch with a new #1 but in actuality just continue from where it began (and cleverly acknowledge but not tie-in too much with other comics Squirrel Girl appears in). The secret to this comic being so great is that it genuinely seems to have an affection for its main character, be it how writer Ryan North shows her as a chipper and smart problem-solver, or the way artist Erica Henderson draws Squirrel Girl in a way that actually looks normal and human (as opposed to impossibly curvy/the female super-hero cliché).

The way North and Henderson balance-out the everyday life of Doreen Green (her actual name) with the super-hero aspects results in a comic that is half, "Slice-of-life in the day of a college student," and half, "Lighthearted and fun heroics!" There is also the ingenious way that the creators acknowledge Squirrel Girl's uncanny ability to beat supposedly world-ending threats, and cleverly twists that concept so that she actually does conquer Galactus or Dr. Doom in a reasonable way. Oh, did I mention the comic is hilarious and fun? I did? Well, it is, and it is without a doubt one of my favorite ongoing series of the year.

Southern Bastards
I already discussed how Jason Aaron was my runner-up for writer of the year based just on, "Southern Bastards," alone, and that should tell you a lot about how good this comic is. Whether it is the mixture of love and disgust held by the creators for the South, the careful plotting building its way to what I imagine will be an epic climax of the town turning on the evil man terrifying them, or just the stellar artwork by Jason Latour, this is a superb series. Plus, the letter-pages often have tasty recipes for assorted Southern dishes!

The manner in which Aaron has injected so much dark humor, brutal violence, and heart into this title is wonderful, and with Latour's masterful artwork this has been an amazing book. No other comic takes everything good and bad about the South the way, "Southern Bastards," does, and boy am I eager to see where it goes in 2016.

2015 In Review--Embarrassing Comic Delay of the Year

How Embarrassing!
People generally don't like to look like fools, as if they have egg on their face, in the same manner as a horse's ass, etc. That said, we all sometimes do something that is quite embarrassing, be it saying the wrong thing, or making a promise we then can't keep. One thing that can make us look especially bad is when we state we're going to be somewhere--say, the comic shop--at a certain time. Then we find ourselves a bit delayed and don't arrive quite on time. By a number of months. It gets to the point where we said we would arrive at the comic shop when it was the Fall and now  we're not going to actually get there until 2016. We would look pretty silly if that occurred, wouldn't we? So yeah...

Secret Wars and Its Numerous Delays
See you in 2016!
We still haven't finished, "Secret Wars." The one big hint that we might have some trouble was when Marvel announced they would be splitting the eighth issue/expanding the story and needed to add a ninth issue to conclude everything. That sounded vaguely like, "We are already so behind we need to push the last issue back a month and by throwing in a few extras maybe we can split stuff up," but things weren't really bad until issues started slipping...and slipping...and now we're at the end of 2015 with a series that initially was going to end in October-or-so but won't have its last issue out until January 6th (precluding any further delays).

The most embarrassing thing about all this was how, "Secret Wars," was supposed to have all these carefully timed tie-ins and then lead-in to a relaunch of all the tie-in comics for the event have wrapped. As for the new books? Well, those comics have come out and some are on their 3rd issues, making it pretty easy to guess some of the final elements of, "Secret Wars," or decide that this, "Universe-altering, super-amazing, wild and crazy," event was actually kind of inconsequential overall. That is, it was unimportant other than that it seems to have gotten rid of the Fantastic Four as a part of a vendetta against the characters--thanks Marvel CEO, Ike Pearlmutter!
The 3rd issue of a comic supposed to start after, "Secret Wars," came out this week.
That's right, the THIRD!
This is one pile of shame for Marvel. We can all try and make the usual excuses about how events are hard, things that can't be predicted occur, etc. etc. we really can do that. It's just, the thing is, when you're a billion-dollar corporation and seem to habitually have delays in your events this goes from being a bit of an embarrassment, to a colossal mess. Considering how awful this all has looked, I hereby, declare Marvel and its, "Secret Wars," as the embarrassing delay of the year. I hope they enjoy their, "award," whilst finally finishing this event. At least it apparently is pretty decent and will read well in trade. That's a positive thing, right?

2015 In Review--Best Music Album

Best Album of the Year?
This really shouldn't be any surprise considering when I first discussed it I declared it Album of the Year, and many other critics out there seem to agree with me. So yeah, thank God rap music has someone like Kendrick Lamar

To Pimp a Butterfly
From his lamentations of the state of racial disparities in America, to using his dick as a political metaphor, reminiscing on the past, and stating hopes for the future, ""To Pimp a Butterfly," is without any question my album of the year in terms of musical quality, lyrical ability, and how many times I listened to it. As depressing as it is to think, I didn't have an album of the year in 2014. I had some things I really liked, but to declare something so amazing it was the best of 2014 seemed impossible. Now, saying anything else besides, "To Pimp a Butterfly," is the album of 2015 would feel absurd.

Lamar puts so much into these nearly 80 minutes that after listening to it you feel less like you've absorbed a music album so much as an epic verbal novel sprawling in its themes yet unified in the focus of its author stating, "Here's what I think, and why." This album is a masterpiece, and Kendrick deserves every one of those 11 Grammy awards he's been nominated for.

2015 in Review--Best Writer

One Stood Tall
Out of all the amazing writing this year, one writer stood tall and above the others with almost every thing he put out being its own piece of brilliance. That person? Ales Kot--who also had the best single issue of 2015 in my eyes.

Ales Kot
"The Surface", "Wolf", "Zero", "Material", "Dead Drop". These words all describe things by Ales Kot which I read this year, and are all things I loved to varying degrees--with some being oh-my-God-incredible ("The Surface", "Material", "Zero"), and others at least really good ("Dead Drop", "Wolf"). Whether taking a story that started out seeming like a simple tale of a soldiers in the future before morphing into a treatise on the nature of good and evil, or simply showing us the life events of everyday people dealing with some really trying circumstances, Kot has a way of making us care dearly about his characters and their stories.

Perhaps this is because Kot injects so much of himself into his writing, literally appearing within the final issue of his comic, "The Surface," and sharing a ton of personal details that result in us readers feeling like we know him not just as a writer, but on a deeply personal level.
It isn't just characterization Kot excels at, his ability to draw from the news and popular-culture before coalescing these sources into a story is incredible. The world of "Material" is a perfect mirror of our own, ugly scars and injustices just as apparent in our reflection as the real world Kot takes these ideas from. Kot creates this amazing stories that are grounded in reality, but is just as able to give us a something more akin to fantasy such as in his comic, "Wolf," which features people with special abilities, but instead of super-hero outfits they just try to live a normal life with what little gifts they have. Throughout "Wolf" Kot has given us a world that again could be a mirror to our own with the racism and struggles--but in this case is more of a fun-house mirror what with the vampires and a little girl who may be the Anti-Christ.

Kot is a relatively newer talent, having emerged on the scene with, "Wild Children" and "Change" back in 2012. If he has already created work this good in that shorter span of time I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Runner-Up: Jason Aaron
Jason Aaron has something mind-blowing in the form of his comic, "Southern Bastards." Even though it may have a rare slow issue, the way the comic has been coming to a slow boil since the death of whom we thought would be the protagonist in issue 4--Earl Tubbs. Since his murder at the hands of Coach Boss the tension has been growing as we watch the countdown to the town's big Football game, Tubb's daughter coming to town, and a lot of people clearly ready to knock Coach Boss from his place of power.

Something incredible is brewing in "Southern Bastards" and if the story achieves as incredible as climax as I'm hoping it will Aaron may very well be my writer of the year for 2016. The thing just is that I couldn't award him that for 2015 because while "Southern Bastards" is mind-blowingly good, it is the only thing by him in 2015 that made me go, "Wow!" (although that first issue of "The Goddamned" makes me think that may be quite the title to watch too).

Between Kot, Aaron, and plenty of other great writers 2015 was full of some stellar stuff!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 In Review/Television Tuesday--My Favorite Type of Show This Year

The "Reality" Continues
Last year I talked about how reality television on TLC was a guilty pleasure of mine. Well, this year I branched out a bit and enjoyed reality shows on other channels too. The thing is, my three favorites all were one type of show and shared a theme, somewhat.

Marriage-Themed Reality Television
Yes, that is Mama June and Sugar Bear.
They are in the cast for, "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars

"90 Day Fiancé," "Married at First Sight," and, "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars," all involve people either in the process of getting married, getting married to a stranger, or dealing with a horrifically broken marriage. I've discussed a previous season of, "Married at First Sight," and the new one has kicked-off recently. "90 Day Fiancé," just finished its season, and we also have what looks like might be the most epic, "Marriage Boot Camp," ever just started in the last few weeks of December (with the previous season bleeding into 2015 too) featuring among the cast none other than Mama June and Sugar Bear--apparently trying to work things out now that the, "Honey Boo Boo," money ain't flowing in anymore.

All these shows are of course different in how they tackle the theme of marriage, but the uniting factor is how it basically takes the symbolic idea of marriage as this kind of happy perfection and points out, "Hey, it ain't always flawless!" Whether it is strangers who volunteer to get married and then have to live with the consequences on, "Married at First Sight," where the metaphor of marrying a stranger can apply to a number of people, or couples with geographic and cultural differences trying to work through it on, "90 Day Fiancé," there is something oddly satisfying at seeing the myth of an easy marriage exposed as being a mere fantasy--real marriage takes work.
I really liked Kyle and Noon on, "90 Day Fiancé,"
they illustrated how when you're in love you may fight, but you never stop caring.
Nowhere else is the evidence of what happens when you don't work at your marriage more abundant than on, "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars," where various couples who either came together because of reality television (those, "The Bachelor," shows), or two folk who happened to be on reality television, find out that just because they can try to portray one image on television that never means the marriage is that way too. There are the couples who are loud and scream and argue in front of everyone, but then there are those who try to act perfect and happy but are actually maybe the most dysfunctional--just like real-life!

Some people dislike these shows and say they make a mockery of marriage, etc. etc. My thoughts are there are plenty of people who made marriage look bad with their actions long before reality television (I love when someone whines about, "The sanctity," of marriage and is on their fourth wife), so if anything these shows portray marriage as the complex creature it is, warts and all. There is beauty and difficulty when two people get married, these reality television shows just help make that quite evident. That is why marriage-themed reality television was my favorite kind of T.V. this year.

2015 In Review: Mini-Series of the Year

Because Not All Stories Have to Be Never-Ending
If it's called, "The Neverending Story,"
isn't it kind of false advertising (due to actually ending)?
Mini-Series are unique beasts. While there are ones that take place in an established comic-Universe and clearly tie-in with other stories, often a mini-series is its own tale with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Now, it could be argued what exactly constitutes a mini-series, but I would argue if it is solicited as a comic that is not ongoing and it is made clear you're looking at something that will be less than 12 issues, it fits the bill as a mini-series.

Therefore, comics that are solicited as being ongoing but which get cancelled, or a series where it is suddenly revealed it will be ending don't count. No, these puppies are clearly solicited as being an exact number of issues, and even if they grow or shrink an issue (or two), they still are basically self-contained joys. Taking that into account, two titles are easily my favorite mini-series of 2015.

James Robinson and Greg Hinkle play exaggerated versions of their real-life selves who are hired to write and illustrate a reboot of the public domain character Airboy and find their world turned upside-down when he enters reality. Yeah, it sounds pretty silly but what makes this work is the mixture of the positivism of this comic hero from the 1940's with the very real and very angry thoughts of Robinson.

James Robinson may be making himself look a bit sillier and harsher than in real-life, but there has to be some truth to his character's discussion of feeling like people only know him as the person behind the, "Starman," comic and that folk think he can't do anything else. Watching this sorta-fictionalized version of James Robinson come to terms with the fact he is a depressed, miserable human being who needs to change carries with it a twinge of autobiography that makes the surreal elements encountered by he and the comic's illustrator, Hinkle, work all the better.
As is made evident at the end of this mini-series, perhaps the key to happiness isn't to be as nihilistic as Robinson or as idealistic as Airboy, but to find some kind of balance in-between the two and just work hard to have a good life. Thanks to its clever plot with fun meta-elements, and the creative way it injects the real-life Robinson and Hinkle into the story, "Airboy," is without a doubt one of the best mini-series this year.

The Humans
Written by Keenan Marshall Keller and illustrated by Tom Neely, "The Humans" is  a comic set in the late 1970's where humanoid apes exist and basically live the lives we did back then--with this mini-series focusing on a biker gang (know, obviously, as The Humans). This ain't, "Planet of the Apes," however, or a sci-fi tale. Putting the ape-angle aside this is one the the grittiest, roughest, and most violent and raunchy comics this year. It also shockingly can be really subtle and smart too, full of political commentary.

In the form of the character Johnny, a Vietnam-Vet who witnessed unspeakable things, the comic's creators have given us a character who longs to return to the feeling of joy and brotherhood he had with his fellow bikers, only to find he left a piece of himself he can never get back overseas. He also finds that you really can't ever make things return to how they were--life always changes. I make this sound like a deeply sad comic, but despite this very somber topic, there is still plenty of awesome jokes, exciting fights, raunchy sex, and general wildness you would expect from a biker gang in the late 1970's.
Marshall and Neely give readers just the right mixture of, "Lowbrow," sex and gore combined with literary ruminations on what makes us human and the measure of good and evil. After all, The Humans aren't really good guys, they just maybe are the least bad of everyone, and the comic makes sure to point that out, often asking the reader, "Do you really think you should be cheering for these people? Do you like seeing this madness?" This expert blend of tone, masterful plotting, and gorgeous artwork all result in a mini-series that as of wrapping-up this month (with future minis hopefully coming soon) is easily one of my favorite mini-series of the year.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 In Review--Too Many Great Comic-Artists of the Year To Pick

I Can't Choose!

2015 had too many amazing artists. Whether it was Steve Skorce on the recently-concluded, "We Stand on Guard," or Piotr Kowlaski on, "Sex," there was some great art out there. We had R.M. Guéra providing amazing art for the start of, "The Goddamned," and, "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," wouldn't be nearly as much fun without Erica Henderson's artwork. Fiona Staples continued to amaze with, "Saga," and Jamie McKelvie's work on, "The Wicked and the Divine," or the latest mini of, "Phonogram," of course was stunning too.

This year really was rich in artistry. You could have Tom Neely supplying gritty and gruesome work on, "The Humans," in one comic and fun and peppy artwork in the Ant-Man titles. There were rich fantasy worlds supplied by Sana Takeda in, "Monstress," and amazing sci-fi thanks to the artists on varying issues of, "Mercury Heat," Omar Francia and Nahuel Lopez.
Yes, there really was just some flat-out wildly good art this year, and I feel I cannot pick someone as, "Best," because there was just too much high quality from everyone. I suppose that is a nice problem to have, that so many people impressed me to such a high degree. Maybe next year there will be someone who stands-out above the rest, but this year it was just a lot of greatness.

2015 In Review--Publisher of The Year

An Odd Award, In Some Ways
None of these fine publishers or imprints...
Declaring someone a publisher of the year is in some ways an odd award. I mean, the creative team behind a comic generally deserve the credit for what comes out, don't they? Sure, a publisher can sometimes have the rights to certain characters or such, but it comes down to the creators to make something special. Therefore, what if I gave the award to a publisher who did something cool like let the creators keep the rights to their comics? A publisher who helped people with cool stuff get access to some of the resources that might otherwise make publishing their comic a bit too prohibitively expensive? There is such a publisher, and they are my publisher of the year.

Image Comics
Image has been around since the 1990's, but it much different now than it was then. Basically founded by a bunch of artists fed-up with their treatment at Marvel, Image at first had a bunch of horribly-written super-hero stuff of little note other than it helped create the mega-popular (for a time) character, Spawn. Things shifted over time however, and Image kept their concepts about letting creators have the rights to their properties but started launched more and more unique and different things. Whereas once Vertigo had been thought of as the place to go for mature and intriguing comics, Image started to get that focus Now today huge hits such as, "Saga," or the behemoth that is, "The Walking Dead," call Image their home, and this littler publisher that could turned into the big publisher that did.

That's Image, and seeing as how they make-up much of my reading-list of comics, that tells you I'm pretty impressed with their output--in general--there are always some stinkers that come out, remember, "Happy"? The occasional bomb aside, Image is a publisher I am pleased to be reading! I am excited to see what 2016 brings for the publisher and look forward to great things.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 In Review--Video-Game of the Year (That I Managed to Play)

Too Much Awesome!
I'll get to you sooner or later, "Fallout 4!"

There were a lot of great games that came out in 2015, and many of them I still fully intend to play but just haven't had the chance to do so. Whether, "Lego Dimensons," "Life is Strange," or, "Fallout 4" there was some superb stuff I really want to try out. That said, I can say what my favorite game of 2015 was that I was able to put some time into...

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Putting aside how the story was pretty weak compared to previous entries, this was an amazing game and the best swan song for Hideo Kojami's time with Konami anyone could have hoped for--and now that he is free of them I look forward to what he makes in the future. My early impressions of MGSV were quite positive, and after having dedicated even more time to the game, I can conclude it is indeed just flat-out amazing other than some complaints here or there (but nothing's perfect).

The sheer variety of ways to tackle a mission, deck-out your character, comrades to kick-it with, and your very own base to tweak results in something that is as fun as it is full of depth. That the gameplay is just so incredible helps make-up for the strange misfire that the story can at times feel like. This is just an utterly amazing title, and hearing how Konami may have cut features to save money only makes one wonder if this title could have even gotten any better. Regardless of those, "What-ifs," however, this is still my favorite game of 2015...that I was able to play.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015 In Review/Film Friday(On a Saturday)--Best Movies I Still Need to See

Many, Many Movies
2015 has been a good year for movies. It has been a somewhat bad year for me making the time to see all the ones I want to see. Therefore, this is quite the meaty list I have now of movies which came out in 2015 I would like to watch, but haven't. Note that some of these movies may not even be that good, but I want to view them for some reason or another, and hope to sometime in 2016 (or maybe one or two in this last week of 2015). To qualify for this list it has to be a movie that came out in theaters, as once we start adding Netflix specials or Direct-to-DVD flicks that are worth viewing this list becomes unmanageable and even more huge. Here is my list, in alphabetical order!

The Best Movies of 2015 (That I Still Need to See)
Beasts of No Nation
This was a Netflix movie but also premiered in theaters so I'm saying it can be on the list. An apparently difficult and complex story about children soldiers in Africa, this sounds like a film that will be hard to watch, but rewarding. Plus, it has the stellar Idris Elba!
Black Mass
This movie is also known as, "Johnny Depp makes up for Mortdecai, but still gets to morph his appearance." Yes, this is another flick where Depp dons elaborate outfits and wears a ton of makeup, but it is in the service of him playing the infamous Whitey Bulger. This movie sounds intriguing in its recording of Bulger's strange life, and I'm eager to watch Depp in a serious role--something which he excels at as much as his lately better-known comedic characters (Jack Sparrow, and etc.).
Bridge of Spies
Steven Spielberg teams up with Tom Hanks, that's a recipe that can't fail (let's ignore, "The Terminal," please)! For real though, this sounds like quite the interesting historical drama that I believe is loosely based on some real events.
A drama about love between two women back in the 1950's when being gay could put your life in immense danger. I'm a fan of Cate Blanchett so that is the main reason I would see this, with reviews saying she delivers, "A spellbinding central performance."
One reason I am a fan of Spike Lee is that whether his movies are hits or misses he always has a statement he wants to make, and every movie he creates makes that statement. Sure sometimes it is an unneeded remake ("Oldboy") but other times it is something masterful ("Inside Man"). I've heard a lot of mixed things about, "Chi-Raq," but considering the cast and how even a mediocre Spike Lee movie tends to be better than many, "Good," movies I'm eager to see, "Chi-Raq."
Ryan Coogler is a stellar director and Michael B. Jordan is a great actor--they've worked together before on, "Fruitvale Station," and bringing talented individuals such as themselves on for a film in the, "Rocky," Universe sounds like an idea just strange enough it might work. Well, work it did with, "Creed," apparently being a superb film about family legacies and how they shape us--with Sylvester Stallone reprising his role as Rocky Balboa to cement that idea.
A young man obsessed with 1990's Hip-Hop culture finds himself embroiled in a bunch of trouble and in the process learns a valuable lesson about being himself. It sound a little corny, but I like the sound of a coming-of-age story without all the angst and drama that these movies sometimes have.
Ex Machina
Called the sci-fi movie of year by many (although another film on my list has been deemed that by folk too), this yarn about artificial intelligence and what happens when we make our computers possibly too smart looks fascinating. 
Fifty Shades of Grey
I know, I know. This is apparently a terrible movie based on an awful book that makes the BDSM community look bad, but I like some of the cast and wonder just how bad it could be. I mean, I know it'll be atrocious, but maybe there is some redeeming value?
The Gift
This looks like quite the tense thriller with hints of some secrets being held by both characters, and it being a case where it is not necessarily clear-cut who is a good guy and a bad guy.
The Good Dinosaur
All I know about this is that its a Pixar movie set in a world where dinosaurs survived and humans evolved to the point of being able to hang-out with them. The Pixar pedigree makes me think I don't need to know too much more to want to see this.
Growing-up I adored the, "Goosebumps," books so much, so seeing a movie that uses them as an inspiration in some form or fashion seems like a fun concept.
The Hateful Eight
I love the movies of Quentin Tarantino, and with a cast like this I'm eager to see what the movie has in store.
Inside Out
As I discussed above, Pixar makes great films. After seeing the reviews for, "Inside Out," it seems like it is a quality piece of movie-making.
Jem and the Holograms
I heard this was bad, it had one of the worse box-office openings ever, and even the preview for it looked stupid, but I loved the 1980's cartoon so much when I was little (I would watch VHS tapes of it) that a part of me wonders just how badly this movie messed it up.
Jupiter Ascending
Another movie that I heard had a lot of problems, but this looks too weird to pass on.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Considered by many to be not only the best sci-fi movie this year, but possibly best movie of the year, period. Hearing so many people gush about it makes me a little embarrassed I still haven't had the chance to see this.
The Martian
Matt Damon, abandoned on Mars. It has humor (apparently enough for the Golden Globes to call it a comedy), drama, and science-fun! I'm down.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise is more bearable when he either plays-up the fact that people think he is a jerk in real-life and can act it out in movies (see my review of "Edge of Tomorrow," for some discussion of that) or when he is part of a big ensemble cast wherein a variety of personalities can shine. I've always enjoyed the, "Mission Impossible," films and find they are unique in that as a series they actually seem to get better and better with each installment.
San Andreas
Because sometimes you just want to watch a fun disaster movie, and if it stars Dwayne, "The Rock," Johnson doing his usual likeable-guy performance, then that's all the better.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
This is quite simply going to make all the money, because folk from young to old want to see it. Even though I was already exposed to some spoilers online I still am eager to take-in the next era of the saga.
Straight Outta Compton
I love rap, especially the kind from the 1990's. N.W.A. of course played a large role in what we heard coming out of the Hip-Hop scene in those earlier years of that last decade of the century, so I'd be eager to see this.
Terminator: Genisys
Even though this new one apparently sucks, I have enjoyed the older entries in this series and even, "Salvation," had some good moments. I just kind of feel obligated to see this more than anything else.
The Visit
The flick where M. Night Shyamalan proved he still could make good movies. I'll even forgive its utilization of the over-used, "Found footage," motif far too many films engage in now because apparently he uses it in a clever enough way, and with a good dash of humor, that it works out for the best.
The Walk
The amazingly true story about Philippe Petit, who walked a high-wire between the World Trade Towers in 1974, this movie looks as impressive as it does disorienting for anyone with a fear of heights.

That's a Lot!
Clearly I have a lot of movies I need to find the time to watch. Between these and all the television shows, books, and other forms of entertainment I want to take in I clearly need to find more time!