We are now firmly intrenched in 2014 which means I can go through and pick out all the stuff I liked the best in comics, movies, music and all things Geek Hard! Let’s get crackin, shall we?
Favourite Comic Book (Ongoing) – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW)
I have been telling everyone I know (including you readers) about my love for the lean, mean, green machines but this year, IDW’s main Turtles title really ratcheted it up a notch or six. For a majority of this year (#21 – 28 with a few micro series tie ins), City Fall ended up being a tremendous story about a war the Turtles end up in and through the entire story the odds keep heading in The Foot’s favor. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz did a tremendous job making the story fairly unpredictable and enjoyable. Maybe it’s cliche to say this, but this year was the Turtles‘ Empire Strikes Back run and I have no idea where they are going after this. I can’t wait to read it. This is the kind of storytelling that I love to be able to point to as what comics have to offer. Despite the fact that the stars of this book are in large part mutated animals and the villain is a resurrected ninja, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been filled with legitimate emotion backed by some really kick-ass action and dialogue. I was concerned for the Turtles as I really had no idea how this story was going to end. Everyone involved with Turtles at IDW should be proud of themselves and the work they have done.
Favourite Graphic Novel – Battling Boy (First Second)
This year was a great year for graphic novels. In the last few years, Darwyn Cooke has destroyed all competition with his Parker adaptations and while Slayground (IDW) is exceptional, his competition won out by a narrow margin. In fact Slayground would be 3rd in my list of favourite graphic novels, right behind Boxers and Saints from Gene Luen Yang (and First Second) and Paul Pope’s Battling Boy. Pope did something extraordinary this year. He created a whole new super hero universe that feels like a great update of Kirby’s sensibilities. I love Battling Boy and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two to pieces of the story. This had equal parts fun and action with amazing artwork from the always engaging Pope. If Kirby was still alive, he would have bought this book.
Favourite Film – (tie) Pacific Rim and Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I know there will be critics out there who might snicker at my picks but screw it. These are not the best movies ever made but they were the ones I enjoyed the most this year. 2013 at first glance was a glut of crap. There were a lot of movies that were guilty of the biggest crime a film can be charged with: mediocrity. I would prefer to see an awful film as opposed to one that’s just towing the line and for lack of a better word or sound effect, “meh”. At least awful I can make fun of and enjoy as a bad movie. Status quo is just boring.
But if you dug a bit deeper, there were a lot of good to great films out there, sometimes you just had to hunt them out. Despite being the subject of a huge amount of films, the legend of Ip Man resurfaced in a fantastic film called The Grandmaster. Thor 2 was great. I will stick to my guns and defend Man of Steel’s awesomeness. I really enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. But in the end, I had to try and narrow it down a little bit and I got to two very different films.
Pacific Rim is a movie I would have made myself. Guillermo del Toro is like the Mexican brother I never had. We grew up on similar books and movies and we just seem to have the same sensibilities in terms of what we like in the nerd realm. Pacific Rim is about giant monsters vs giant robots (or battle suits if you prefer). It is a simple idea but it’s executed in the best ways possible. It has story but you’re not drowning in it. The characters are fully fleshed out but with nothing that isn’t needed. The actors are great and the special effects are amazing. The sets are amazing but what amazed me the most was how well the CGI merged with the physical effects. Towards the end of filming, I got a chance to briefly walk around the Pacific Rim set in Toronto (specifically, I was in one of the staging bays for the jagers) and even unlit and not fully set up it was impressive. The CGI didn’t only make the scale huge but it blended right in. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a film like this.
The second installment in the Hunger Games franchise caught me a little by surprise. I wanted to see it but I didn’t realize how well the film was going to be pulled off. The thing I admired about the Hunger Games books is that they didn’t pull punches. I’m glad to see the film series seems to be headed in the same direction. With the end of the first film, you’d kind of think that the characters live happily ever after and it wouldn’t be more wrong. Yes, now they have food and a better standard of living but Katniss and Peeta are far from happy. They are trapped in the games via the promotional tours they have to do and both of them now suffer from PTSD. Their world is in the beginnings of an upheaval the likes of which the ruling class does not want to see. The games are even more brutal and the stakes are higher then they were before. At the end of the film you are left with numerous questions and the feeling that these characters are not going to have a happy ending. A bold move considering that this movie is mainly aimed at teenagers which is the other reason I really liked it. Catching Fire is not aimed at me but I loved it. It’s well written, well directed and is going down a road a lesser teen film would avoid.
Favourite Album: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
The best disco and electronic dance music you never knew you wanted. This album is one of those albums I played over and over again. When I got tired of a new album, Daft Punk would be put back in. It is absolutely fantastic and you should put it on your music device of choice, right now. If you’re curious about my complete list, make sure to drop by A Journal Of Musical Things.
Favourite Interview – Slash
How could it not be? While I’ve never been a huge Guns n Roses fan, I’ve been a fan of the man’s guitar playing for a number of years and he is a legit hall of famer. I loved doing this interview because at the end of the day, Slash was a great guy. I screw up his movie’s title – he picks up the ball and makes a joke out of it. We finished the interview a bit early and shot the shit for ten minutes. I also really love this interview because of regular Geek Hard convention corespondent, Ken Baumgartner. While I always think Ken does great work with his interviews, Ken really upped his game on this one.
Favourite Cosplay – Dark Helmet
Expecting boobs? Sorry about that but I love when a cosplayer really gets it down right and the guy Ken interviewed as Dark helmet had a fantastic costume from head to toe, right down to the coffee cup. Good work man.
And now on to 2014. Where if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!