Monday, 21 December 2015

The Best Stuff of 2015 (according to me)

(Click here for The Best Stuff of 2014)

Best comic of 2015: 
Dan Jurgens & Lee Weeks' Superman: Lois & Clark



Only two issues in and I just love this book!

The New 52 has given us some brilliant Superman stories (as well as some stinkers). But this book, which features the pre-reboot versions of the titular characters, hearkens back to the days when the Super-books had the one thing the New 52 Superman has been lacking - consistency! Consistency of tone, characterisation, and quality. This book feels like it's come straight out of those days! Jurgens has really made me feel like I'm meeting two old friends again for the first time in years, and Weeks' art is beautiful. But that's not to say that Lois & Clark is just a big nostalgia wank-fest. The characters have moved forward since the '90s; not only are they trapped in a world they never made but they're raising a son too! They're currently trying to keep their heads down so as not to be mistaken for their New 52 counterparts while also trying to use their knowledge of their world's events to avert future threats before they happen. That's quite a clever, compelling status quo that will hopefully hook a few newer Superfans as well as 80s/90s kids like me. But, as I said, we're only two issues in. Will this series be able to maintain the consistency of the era that inspired it?

Runner Up:
Batman

There's no sign of the quality dipping on last year's entry in this slot. Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo may have put Jim Gordon in the Bat-Suit, but they're still managing to keep us immersed in a new Bat-Golden Age!

Most underrated comic of 2015:
Benjamin Percy and Patrick Zircher's Green Arrow



When the fantastic writer/artist team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino left Green Arrow it seemed that DC were going to let the book fade into mediocrity once again. Luckily Percy and Zircher soon came on board and gave us a mature, and unique take on Oliver Queen that's wonderful to look at and feels just like the legendary Mike Grell run of the '80s. The character of Oliver Queen has never been portrayed this young in a contemporary setting, and yet I recognise him. He seems just as Grell's middle-aged Oliver would seem if he had been a young man. The whole macabre, flirting-with-the-supernatural tone of the book feels exactly like a Vertigo book from the early days of Sandman, Hellblazer, Doom Patrol, & Books of Magic. And yet bizarrely, I hardly ever see anyone talking about this book, and there are even rumours that it's facing cancellation. If this is true it's a damn shame.

Best event of 2015: 
Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic's Secret Wars



This series has yet to finish as it's been plagued with delays, but it's worth the wait. I originally wasn't going to bother with it as I'd found Hickman's build up to this event in Avengers and New Avengers to be an admirable but complex and depressing experience. About half way through Secret Wars I realised that it was basically the "final" Fantastic Four story disguised as a Marvelwide event and so I quickly caught up and haven't regretted it. It's a testament to Hickman's writing that I feel I can follow his story quite easily without having read the years of build up and multiple tie ins. Also, Ribic's art is beautiful and fits the story perfectly. Sometimes it's murky and dreamlike, a style that's entirely appropriate for a planet of 'What-If's held together by the imagination of a madman. On other occasions it's full of cold, hard detail, like the now famous panel that depicts Dr Doom's scarred face for the first time ever. Late it may be, but Secret Wars is also the best Marvel event since Civil War.

Runner up:
Paul Cornell & Neil Edwards' Doctor Who: Four Doctors

After reading the first issue I dismissed this series as "a fan-wanky mess of bickering Doctors." I'm glad I gave it a second chance. Once the separate voices of the different Doctors start to emerge it's actually loads of fun.

Most disappointing comic of 2015: 
Superman - Truth



Like last year's entry for this slot, Superman- Doomed, this arc started off well. Extremely well in fact. Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's Action Comics chapters in particular were full of wonderful moments, including Superman playing with the children of a Metropolis neighbourhood, before protecting that neighbourhood from police brutality in a spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, over in the main Superman title Gene Luen Yang gave us lots of focus on Lois and Jimmy, something that's been missing for a while. Like Doomed however Truth has pretty much said all it has to say and now seems to be repeating the same beats over and over, waiting for March when the story is set to conclude. There's only so many times you can see Superman punch a shadow demon, or seethe in frustration at his current predicament. Worse still, Superman's been possessed by shadow demons over in Action, leaving us with exactly the same tired old "must...fight....it" stuff we got sick of in Doomed. This story arc is actually a great idea, but like Doomed it needs to have been tightened up instead of dragged out. Having said that, Howard Porter has taken over art duties on Superman and he's phenomenally good, so it's not all bad.

Best Comic Book Film of 2015: 
Ant-Man



Both Ant Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron were two of the weaker entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but both were still lots of fun, and Ant Man in particular seemed a lot better on second viewing without the weight of expectation. Tragically Fantastic Four seems like it could have been better than both of them had it not been butchered by Fox.

Best non-comics related film of 2015: 
SPECTRE


Even if the rest of the film was rubbish, the opening scene alone would make this one of the best films of the year. Thankfully the rest of the film isn't rubbish. Far from it! This film combines the best aspects of Daniel Craig era Bond with the best aspects of "classic" Bond. It feels like Skyfall and You Only Live Twice have been spliced together by an expert to make a Bond fan's dream film. It was such a high-note for Craig to end on that I actually hope he doesn't come back for one more, despite the fact that he's absolutely perfect as Bond.

Runner Up:
The Martian

Such an amazing film! It blew me away. I love how the message of the film is essentially, the human race is awesome. Yeah, a lot of what we do is horrible but we do amazing things too.

Best TV show of 2015:
Doctor Who



I almost didn't put Doctor Who in this slot this year (see the Runners Up) but then I remembered two things:
1. DAVROS!!! He's my favourite Who villain and I had no idea he was coming back, it was a wonderful surprise. Davros' two-parter allowed Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach to have an extended Doctor/Davros face off that really highlighted the strengths of the actors and the characters. Jenna Coleman's Clara and Michelle Gomez' Missy also made a very entertaining double act.
2. Heaven Sent. What an episode! Arguably the greatest actor to play the Doctor gets an episode all to himself, with a plot that builds up the momentum beautifully to an elegant and satisfying climax.

Runners Up: 
Daredevil and Jessica Jones

Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham may be soapy and fun, but Daredevil and Jessica Jones are the real thing. Proper grown up telly! The Breaking Bad of superhero shows. Both are brilliant in different ways. Daredevil has the most thrilling action scenes and the most cathartic climax, but Jessica Jones has the most powerful characters. David Tennant's Kilgrave is a particularly superb character. He embodies male entitlement, rape culture, and even depression itself, all in one horrific package.

Best things I discovered in 2015 that everybody else already knew about:
Tim Seeley, Tom King, and Mikel Janín's Grayson


Wow! The critics weren't lying about this were they?! Grayson is something quite special. I recommend it to anyone who likes spy stuff, superhero stuff, Batman/Nightwing stuff or just tightly written, superbly drawn comics with an engaging, likeable lead character.

Best things I did in 2015:

I met Colin Baker, Peter Purves and Nicola Bryant. I had a long chat with a brilliant comics artist, Lew Stringer, who drew me Suicidal Syd from Viz. I met three real life superheroes.  I got Margot Kidder's autograph. I went to a Morrissey concert and he was on top form. I sort of went viral with a Youtube video I made. Then I did it again. I argued with a comics creator on Twitter. It's been a pretty good year.

In 2016 I'm moving to Bristol and Batman V Superman is out, so if Western Civilization doesn't collapse it should be a great year.

What have been your geeky highlights and lowlights of 2015?

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention, Paul! It was good to meet you and have an interesting chat. All the best for 2016!

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    Replies
    1. Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to you. :)

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