Pointless Nonsense

Posted in comics, movies, top10, tv by Bill on June 14, 2017
Belated annual top ten of stuff from June 2016-May 2017 (so Wonder Woman will show up next year).
TV Half Hour:
  1. Bojack Horseman – Still loving this show, and it started to get some real critical respect this year (Time named the mostly-silent episode the best TV episode of 2016).
  2. The Good Place – I found the show fun and funny at first, though I was a little iffy on how it would work long-term. The end of the season did an amazing job in… not exactly making me sure hot it would work, but desperate to know where it’s going.
  3. Master of None – Getting close to the line of taking itself too seriously, but fortunately it remains pretty full of jokes.
  4. The Detour – I feel like this show shouldn’t be as good as it is? And yet it has huge laughs in almost every episode.
  5. Fleabag – Downer comedies (aka “sadcoms”) are kinda my thing, especially when there’s a self-loathing protagonist.
  6. The Last Man On Earth – Also a running theme here is plot-heaviness. This and The Detour are as serialized as any drama.
  7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – First traditional sitcom on here, where the status quo is maintained after most episodes and the tone is generally upbeat. Andre Braugher continues to get robbed during awards season.
  8. Great News is the new 30 Rock. Also Briga Heelan is totally cute.
  9. Silicon Valley annoys me with the technical stuff this year (mobile networks lack the bandwidth and phones lack the uptime% to serve as nodes on a peer-to-peer network, even with fictionally good compression!) but it’s still really funny. The hot dog app alone is enough to make this season a win.
  10. The Mick – I kinda thought this would suck, but it manages to do It’s Always Sunny style comedy in a more traditional sitcom format. There’s a family learning lessons and all, but there’s also episodes that build up to a huge payoff of characters being shockingly horrible in hilarious ways.
Missed the cut: Veep, Archer, and Kimmy Schmidt are all still good, but none at their peak form. Veep has actually had some of their more memorable filthy insults this year, but the plot direction is… meh. I don’t give two shits about a library. Love had a solid second season, but it’s clearly a second-tier sadcom. Rick and Morty had only the one episode in the past year. Trial & Error was pretty good and is surprisingly renewed even though nobody was talking about it (or, judging by the ratings, even watching at all).
TV Hourlong:
  1. Black Mirror‘s first season on Netflix was ridiculously good. If I was doing top 10 hourlong episodes of the year, I think there would be 3 from this one 6 episode season (I’m not on the San Junipero bandwagon though it was pretty good, and Men Against Fire and Playtest were only ok).
  2. Better Call Saul – I heard an interview with Chuck Klosterman talking about the ethics of Breaking Bad – the main character starts as 100% ethically sound, but by the end of the series he’s 100% ethically corrupted, and the question is when do you, as the viewer, recognize him as a villain rather than a hero? I thought that was kinda interesting. And it applies some here too, though Jimmy/Saul starts out fairly ethically compromised already. It builds tension better than anything else on TV, which is even more impressive given that I know the fates of many characters.
  3. Westworld caused me to spend more time theorizing about what’s going on than any other show in a long time. Also I like seeing comics writers I like (Ed Brubaker in this case) break into higher paying gigs with a union and health insurance.
  4. Fargo probably wouldn’t be so high if Mary Elizabeth Winstead wasn’t so trashy-hot this season. It’s still very good, but not up to season 1 or 2 levels, IMO.
  5. Game of Thrones is still awesome, but it only had a half season in the 6/16-5/17 period.
  6. The Expanse didn’t have the breakout season 2 that I was hoping for, but it was still good.
  7. Sherlock kinda disappointed with the overarching plot, but it was still fun and had interesting cases of the week.
  8. Stranger Things seems like more than a year ago, but it was just last summer. Season 2 isn’t until this fall, so I figure at that rate, by season 4 all the kids will have deep voices and be tall and gangly and weird, so get ready for that.
  9. iZombie mixes the short- and long-term plots as well as any show currently running. Not surprising given the Veronica Mars connection.
  10. Luke Cage is the only superhero TV show here, which speaks both to the fading quality of most superhero shows, and to my own level of burnout on them. But this one was definitely good.
Missed the cut: Preacher is pretty good but I still don’t know how they’ll handle the big moments without losing every sponsor. I liked The Night Of a lot. Gotham has gotten highly entertaining, even if it still makes little sense.
Movies:
  1. John Wick 2 – Really my only complaint is that Bridget Regan wasn’t in it. Who would have thought my favorite movie of any year would star Keanu Reeves?
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I think might turn out to be not-essential-rewatching, but it really was well done and a fun ride.
  3. Arrival was really thought provoking and I always appreciate when a studio spends money on a non-franchise sci-fi movie.
  4. Logan is a nice conclusion to the original set of X-Men movies. I kinda wish they’d stop making them for a while, but that’ll never happen.
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 remains full of amusing wisecracking and whatnot.
  6. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping apparently only made $9.5mil at the box office, which is ridiculous. But maybe it appeals to the kind of people who would either pirate it or wait for it on netflix or something. As I did. Equal Rights alone is worth the price of admission.
  7. Doctor Strange and the ones below it are here because I don’t see enough new releases anymore. It was fine, but hard to get too excited about.
  8. All the Way, the HBO adaptation of the LBJ/MLK play, was pretty decent.
  9. Loving, about the couple that helped overturn interracial marriage laws, same.
  10. Swiss Army Man, I guess? I didn’t particularly like it, but I’m certain it’s the best farting corpse movie I’ve ever seen.

Comics (I used to split these up into superhero and non-superhero but I’ve really cut back on my reading):

  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Nothing is more reliably entertaining. Marvel’s in the midst of a really ill-advised crossover event, and this is one of the few of their titles I haven’t stopped reading.
  2. Injection – Literally 3 issues this year, but I don’t care. I really like this series.
  3. Saga had only 6 issues but it’s still very good too.
  4. Sex Criminals only 4 issues, thanks to artist Chip Zdarsky taking on a bunch of writing gigs and becoming a bit of an internet celebrity (I don’t follow his (or anyone’s) twitter, but when I do see things reposted from it, they’re very funny…. “going to go see Wonder Woman and if it turns out Wonder Woman’s mom isn’t named Martha I’m fucking leaving”).
  5. Black Widow had a short run by the Waid/Samnee team that did a killer Daredevil run. This wasn’t at that level, but it was still a good read.
  6. Invincible is wrapping things up and has kinda renewed my interest in the series (that never completely waned, but it was for a while kinda low priority reading).
  7. Kill or Be Killed is the latest Brubaker/Phillips thing, this one a supernatural (maybe?) revenge story.
  8. Ms. Marvel is avoiding (mostly? so far?) the crossover business, and it’s still light and fun.
  9. Lazarus¬†– The TV section’s theme was sadcoms and serialization, the comics section’s theme is “6 or fewer issues for the whole year.”
  10. Clean Room turned out to have a short run that ended this year (I’m still not entirely sure if it was always intended to be 18 issues or if they wrapped it up quickly due to sales). Not was good as I’d hoped given a promising start, but I liked it.

Posted in comics, movies, top10, tv by Bill on June 8, 2016

Returning to the annual top 10, as usual timed around the TV season rather than the calendar.

TV Half Hour:
bojack

  1. Bojack Horseman continues to combine silly animal jokes, show business jokes, and incredibly depressed characters in a way that completely appeals to me. Season 2 was almost as good as the first, and season 3 is coming in July.
  2. Master of None is funny and raises serious issues without being preachy.
  3. The Venture Bros. had a new season, which had a ton of plot, and some very funny parts. But a little disappointing, given the two and a half year wait.
  4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains solid. How is Andre Braugher not winning Emmys for this?
  5. Archer is still churning out quality episodes. Kung Fu Krieger alone was worth the whole season.
  6. Rick and Morty – I’ve had “Get Schwifty” stuck in my head for almost a year now.
  7. The Grinder, sadly, wasn’t picked up for season 2. But it was definitely the best new network sitcom of the year.
  8. The Last Man on Earth isn’t the funniest show, exactly, but it has a weird mix of human drama and… I dunno. There’s something fascinating about the main character, where you’re always thinking “I get where you’re coming from, but why are you approaching the problem in the most dickish way possible?”
  9. The Detour managed to sustain an entire season, and somewhat surprisingly has a nice setup for a second season, for which it has been renewed.
  10. Peep Show‘s final season wasn’t its best, but Mark’s dinner party with “Moroccan” food was goddamn hilarious.

There are a lot of good shows on right now, since this leaves out Bob’s Burgers, the relatively satisfying end of Gravity Falls, Love, Kimmy Schmidt, Veep, Silicon Valley, and Blunt Talk, all of which I enjoyed quite a bit.

bcsTV Hourlong:

  1. Better Call Saul is still amazing, and violating my “prequels suck” stance.
  2. Jessica Jones – I think this is the best live action superhero TV season yet.
  3. Fargo got a little weirder this season, but I was surprised how the semi-anthology-ness of it didn’t kill the momentum of the first season.
  4. Game of Thrones – the weird nature of me doing this in early June is that I’m basing this on the last third of season 5 and the first 2/3 of season 6. But so far so good.
  5. iZombie probably shouldn’t be as good as it is, but it’s managing to recapture some of the Veronica Mars feel with a damaged/cute/smart/sardonic lead, an entertaining supporting cast, and an ever-expanding universe of small characters who pop back up often.
  6. Daredevil season 2 wasn’t as good as the first, but still very good.
  7. Person of Interest is dialing up the science fiction for the home stretch, which is the stuff that intrigues me the most.
  8. The Expanse has, unfortunately, not entirely lived up to the potential it had in the pilot, but it’s still pretty good. And I’d still call it promising. I may have to re-watch the first season at some point, though, because I already have only a fuzzy recollection of what happened, and it’s 6+ months until season 2.
  9. 11.22.63 wasn’t spectacular or anything, but it was a good story. Sarah Gadon should be in more stuff.
  10. Flash is still solid. I’m nervous about the implications of the season finale though.

Movies:

tfa

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I want to say “duh” here, but a lot of the discussion I have about this movie focuses on a couple small problems and leaning a little too heavily on borrowing the original formula. But in creating a good movie in the face of massive expectations, bringing back the sense of fun and adventure to Star Wars, it really was a great achievement in mass-market moviemaking.
  2. The Nice Guys – I think the only reason I’m not a serious devotee of classic crime movies is that they tend to be overly serious, but when Shane Black does a movie like this, it keeps all the plot twists and cynical outlook but fills it with jokes, and I love it.
  3. The Martian took kind of a similar approach, cram a science fiction movie full of jokes to make it more palatable to a broad audience. And I already like scifi so it was great.
  4. Deadpool is ultimately really dumb, but also really, really funny.
  5. Captain America: Civil War was disappointing in some respects but it has a great cast and a really good big action sequence in the middle and snappy dialogue throughout.
  6. The Big Short – I lack the attention span/concern for the world around me to do much serious reading or viewing of documentaries or anything like that, so I’m pretty reliant on infotainment. And this was a good piece of infotainment.
  7. The Hateful Eight – QT does long, profane speeches and tense build-up to extreme violence very well.
  8. Inside Out – Fuck you, Pixar, for making me feel feelings.
  9. Ant-Man – I wonder how much I would have liked this without Paul Rudd’s charm and Evangline Lilly’s hotness, but whatever the reason, I did enjoy it a lot.
  10. Spectre – I guess Daniel Craig’s final Bond movie, and a good one to go out on.

Non-Superhero Comics:
injection

  1. Injection is Warren Ellis’s weird scifi/fantasy/horror thing with a bunch of oddball characters and… it’s hard to say much without giving things away. But I look forward to it more than anything else right now. My only complaint is that it’s doing the now-standard TPB worth of material followed by a hiatus, and the break before the start of volume 3 is about to begin.
  2. Saga: still good.
  3. Sex Criminals: also still good.
  4. Chew: nearing the end, and another one that’s still good.
  5. Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses: The Stray Bullets series took a decade hiatus and came back as if it never missed a beat. There’s been a heist in the works for about a year, but it’s never felt like David Lapham is stretching things out, he just has a lot of things going on at once between drug dealers, strippers/hookers, little kids, teenagers in love/lust, and even an occasional diversion into Amy Racecar fantasy world.
  6. Clean Room is another scifi/fantasy/horror thing, this one from Gail Simone. A lot more fucked up, and it is based around a Scientology-type religion that is either helping people or driving them to suicide.
  7. James Bond is Warren Ellis’ original comic story based of the Fleming novels (not the movies). More violent and less sexual than I’ve come to expect from the movies. The first storyline was really good, and I believe there’s another planned later this year.
  8. We(l)come Back is about an ancient war that secretly continues today, being fought by people who reincarnate into new lives every time they die. Lots of chase scenes and action. And it sorta takes off from there. Unfortunately, the original artist left, and I haven’t quite gotten used to the new one, but it’s an interesting story nonetheless.
  9. Lazarus is unfortunately experiencing some delays, and they only put out about 6 issues in the past year. But they’ve been excellent.
  10. The Legend of Luther Strode didn’t go out on its best volume, but Tradd Moore’s art is still really good, and I had a strong affinity for the Petra character all the way to the end.

usgSuperhero Comics

  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is an absolutely ridiculous series about a CS student/superhero who eats nuts and kicks butts. The qwantz guy writes it, and it’s just all-around great.
  2. Catwoman had a really top notch run by writer Genevieve Valentine that saw Selina semi-retire that Catwoman costume to take over leadership of one of Gotham’s crime families. It was a moody noir book for a while, and it was great.
  3. Batgirl wrapped up the whole “Batgirl of Burnside” business leading up to DC’s new Rebirth status quo, and it was a good run while it lasted. Cool design, good art, a less grim mood. A breath of fresh air when DC was locked in a single tone across almost their entire line.
  4. Howard the Duck is written by Sex Criminals artist Chip Zdarsky and it’s full of weird jokes like you’d expect from him. Always an entertaining read.
  5. Invincible had a weirdly long break while they prepped for a status quo change, a temporary return of the original artist, and prepping for what looks like some major stuff coming down the line. Hard to believe this is still going strong, but it really is.
  6. Batman saw the whole business with Bruce Wayne being “dead” and Jim Gordon in a robot suit taking over as Batman for a while. Not one of my favorite Batman runs, but it was still well done.
  7. Black Canary is hit or miss on the writing, but Annie Wu’s art and character design are awesome.
  8. Patsy Walker: Hellcat is another one of the goofy/light/fun superhero books I’m increasingly grateful for.
  9. Astonishing Ant-Man is also goofy and fun, but not really light. But it’s in the middle of a clever storyline about the introduction of a Hench app that allows you to hire villains and henchmen like an Uber ride.
  10. Gotham Academy, the last of the light/goofy/fun ones. Maps Mizoguchi is one of the better new characters they’ve had in a while.

Posted in comics, movies, top10, tv by Bill on June 10, 2015

My annual top 10 of everything, presented in early June because I’m a rebel with no regard for normal calendars.

Half Hour TV:

bojack

  1. Bojack Horseman, Netflix’s cartoon about anthropomorphic animals and sadness stuck with me more than any other show this year. It started off a little slow, but by episode 4 I was loving it, and towards the end it got really heavy and weird, in a good way.
  2. Community being on Yahoo is a little bit annoying. I have to remember to go to some new site to find it, and they screw up the placement of the ads sometimes (where it abruptly cuts to commercial in the middle of a sentence, then at the end of the break, you hear 4 words and then there’s a fade out/fade in where the ad break should have gone). But the show’s still smart and different and funny and Keith David and Paget Brewster are welcome additions to the cast.
  3. Big Time in Hollywood, FL is a very unusual show that the more I think about it, the more it reminds me of Evil Dead II except with crime instead of horror. It mostly plays with the tropes of the genre straight, but when somebody gets their hand blown off, we aren’t supposed to feel for the character or anything like that, we’re supposed to laugh as he manages to get the advantage in the fight by spraying blood from his wrist into the face of his opponent. The same people did this youtube series, which is a fake reality show but told entirely through “Next time on…” teasers. About a minute into that, you pretty much see the comedic sensibility of Big Time summed up perfectly.
  4. Parks and Recreation was still a very good show right up to the end, and I thought it had a fitting conclusion. It managed to not be too sappy but give satisfying endings to everyone.
  5. Brooklyn 99 remains very good, but for some reason I always feel like it could turn to crap any minute. And I don’t think there’s any rational reason to feel that way.
  6. Gravity Falls would be higher up if it put out more episodes. But it’s very, very slow going. Still, it’s an excellent supernatural conspiracy mystery comedy show, even if it’s probably supposed to be for 10 year olds.
  7. Archer is still solid. Though I feel like it always needs more Cheryl/Carol.
  8. The Last Man on Earth is a title full of lies, but the show has been interesting. It’s not always the funniest, but I am always curious to see where it goes next.
  9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is actually quite weak story-wise, and a lot of the jokes are iffy, but Ellie Kemper is really likable and makes it work.
  10. Bob’s Burgers is consistently good.

Missed the cut: It’s Always Sunny and The League are fine but I can’t get too excited about them anymore. Silicon Valley is interesting enough but sometimes it goes long stretches of not being very funny at all. Louie is getting weird.

Hourlong (or more) TV:

bcs

  1. Better Call Saul somehow doesn’t bother me like other prequels tend to. How did the guy from Mr. Show end up as the star of TV’s best drama?
  2. Daredevil is the TV adaptation of comic books I’ve been hoping for since the whole live action superhero boom started. If they do anywhere close to this well with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, I will be a happy man. Though happier still if they cast an Asian American as Danny Rand, but I don’t have enough faith in Marvel to expect that to happen.
  3. Justified went out on a really good note, with an exciting finale that wrapped things up nicely but not too neatly.
  4. Game of Thrones is still very good, but I really wish it wasn’t so rapey.
  5. The Flash is goofy and sometimes nonsensical but that’s how most superhero stories are supposed to be.
  6. How to Get Away with Murder played games with its timeline to make for a really engaging first season. I have no idea how they’ll manage to keep the same level of excitement for another season, but I hope they figure out a way.
  7. Agent Carter is actually getting a second season, which surprised me. But I liked the show, and Hayley Atwell is really attractive.
  8. iZombie brings back some of that classic Veronica Mars feel. It’s not as good, I preferred the film noir take on high school to the teen drama take on zombies (albeit with adults), but I do like the case-of-the-week mixed with lots of long-term subplots and a sardonic cute girl lead.
  9. Orange is the New Black‘s second season still kinda suffered from the protagonist being the least interesting thing about it. But it’s still a good show.
  10. House of Cards was better with Kate Mara, but Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood is still awesomely evil.

Missed the cut: The Americans is starting to get called “the best show you’re not watching” all over the place but also starting to lose my interest. The longer Suits goes, the more petty everyone on the show seems.

Superhero Comics:

batmaneternal

  1. Batman Eternal was the year-long weekly series featuring a much wider cast and more long-term mystery than typical monthly comics, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
  2. Catwoman had been a pretty typically bad T&A book ever since the New 52, but partly due to the events of Batman Eternal and partly due to bringing in writer Genevieve Valentine it turned into a gritty organized crime story, and a damn good one.
  3. Daredevil has been written by Mark Waid for years now, and at some point I’d expect the quality to fall off, but it’s consistently one of the best comics out there.
  4. Moon Knight, the tail end of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s short run on the series, was excellent. The fifth issue was one of the best single issues I’ve read in a long time. Only this low because just 3 issues were Ellis/Shalvey, the rest were forgettable and I quit reading it.
  5. She-Hulk was sadly cancelled after 12 issues, which is a shame. It did the superhero/lawyer thing as well as any Daredevil series, and kept a fun light tone. The only real drawback was that I didn’t like the artist’s style.
  6. The Punisher has been written by Nathan Edmonson for over a year now, and he has done a lot of things I really like. He didn’t forget about Rachel Cole-Alves, he brought in the military to try to take down Frank, kept a serious tone while raising the stakes and still having Frank be obsessed with putting skull symbols on everything. It’s a quality series.
  7. Batman has still been good, but I didn’t really like the conclusion to Scott Snyder’s big Joker story arc.
  8. Batgirl, like Catwoman, had been pretty weak, but they revamped it, sending Barbara to college with a new costume redesign and moved away from the grim tone that had made the book kinda boring. And they had Black Canary around, who will be getting her own series in a bit.
  9. Mighty Avengers/Captain America and the Mighty Avengers is the Avengers team with Luke Cage, Monica Rambeau, Sam Wilson, the new Power Man and White Tiger, the Blue Marvel, and sometimes Spider-Man and She-Hulk and Jessica Jones and this wizard guy who’s name I always forget. It’s just a fun series. It was briefly derailed by Marvel’s really dumb Axis event where briefly (except for Iron Man, who remains Axis flipped) a bunch of heroes turned evil and villains turned good, so they had to deal with evil Sam Wilson FalconCap, but quickly returned to the quality it had before.
  10. Grayson spun out of some DC event where Dick “Nightwing” Grayon’s identity was revealed to the world and he “died.” In this series, Batman and Dick faked his death to have him infiltrate Spyral, an espionage group with questionable motives. Dick and his partner Helena Bertinelli do spy stuff, and he feeds intel back to Batman. Despite being really different, it remains unquestionably a Dick Grayson book, with all the acrobatics and wisecracking and stuff.

Missed the cut: Ant-Man, Black Widow, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, and Gotham Academy are all very good.

Not enough issues to make a call: Hawkeye (3 issues in a year, still waiting on the last one), Spider-Woman (it was an uninteresting book with a garbage artist until a creative team switch in March).

Non-superhero Comics:

saga

  1. Saga is still really good.
  2. Chew is sometimes troubled by an irregular shipping schedule. They seem to do between 6 and 10 issues a year. But they are always good issues, at least.
  3. Lumberjanes is weird in that I wouldn’t imagine myself enjoying a comic about adventures at a girls’ camp as much as I do, but this comic makes me laugh a lot.
  4. Trees is Warren Ellis’s scifi series about giant monolithic devices planted by aliens on earth that don’t seem to do anything. So far, it’s mostly a slice of life book about a world where people have gotten used to these “trees,” but the end of the first volume seems to promise some plot progression in interesting directions.
  5. Darth Vader is part of Marvel’s new Star Wars line, and it’s been surprisingly good. It helps that one of the characters is a hot/kinda evil lady Indiana Jones type, which… why isn’t that a thing more often?
  6. Stray Bullets, which took an almost 10 year hiatus before returning in March 2014, is somehow still a really interesting comic. It’s mostly a crime story that follows Virginia Applejack, who was a little kid when the series started, but I think she’s 20-ish now. But I keep hoping they’ll bring back Amy Racecar, the star of nihilist scifi/crime comics written and drawn by the character Virginia, who has appeared in several issues throughout the run.
  7. Lazarus had a big cliffhanger two issues ago, and then in the last issue detoured to totally unrelated events. Which is good writing but also a dick move, so I’m kinda pissed at Greg Rucka right now. But this is a quality series, and Michael Lark is the perfect artist for a dystopian future story about a badass woman.
  8. Revival is Fargo-meets-zombies sort of comic from the writer of Hack/Slash, which is consistently solid.
  9. Stumptown put out a five issue miniseries this year, and Greg Rucka can still write the hell out of a PI story.
  10. Private Eye, Brian K. Vaughan’s digital-only series, wrapped up this year. It wasn’t the greatest, but still interesting.

Missed the cut: Sex Criminals and Rat Queens are still very good, but their publishing schedule has slowed to a crawl. Atomic Robo finished a fairly lackluster last print volume, before moving 100% online, the beginning of the next volume is promising so far, but the last print one was the worst Robo to date.

Not enough issues: Fight Club 2, Injection, The Legacy of Luther Strode, and Red One.

Movies:

interstellar

  1. Interstellar wasn’t perfect, but I do love accessible big idea scifi that makes you think, especially when there’s time stuff going on.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the most fun superhero movie so far.
  3. John Wick surprised the hell out of me with how good it was.
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road was weird as hell, I understood at most 2/3 of the dialogue, left the theater knowing like 3 character names, but it was still pretty great.
  5. Big Hero 6 had a solid story, good action, a quality sense of humor, and a pretty nice animation style.
  6. Gone Girl is clever as hell, but I still worry about douchebags getting the wrong idea from it.
  7. Avengers: Age of Ultron probably suffers from high expectations. Underwhelming for what it could have been.
  8. Edge of Tomorrow still has one of the worst titles of any movie ever, but it was highly enjoyable.
  9. Snowpiercer had some flaws, but it also had some really great parts.
  10. Birdman, I guess? I didn’t really love it, but it was impressive in a lot of respects.

Missed the cut: Kingsman, The Imitation Game, They Came Together were all fine too.

Posted in comics, movies, top10, tv by Bill on June 6, 2014

Once again, a top 10 of everything, having picked June 1st as the cutoff date because it’s roughly the end of the TV year.

Half Hour TV:

b99

  1. Brooklyn Nine Nine – Maybe because it’s the new hotness, but it actually felt like the best comedy on TV this year. It’s not doing anything incredibly inventive, it’s following a lot of single camera comedy trends. It’s just well-written and has a great cast.
  2. Venture Bros. – Not its greatest season but it still had some major highlights. Hopefully not another 3 year wait for next season (they have said a special will be coming late this year followed by a season in 2015, fingers crossed).
  3. Archer – Archer Vice made for an odd season, but still a very funny one.
  4. Parks and Recreation – Had some speedbumps this year with some cast changes, but still one of the better shows out there. The time jump season finale could be interesting next year… or a disaster, who knows.
  5. Louie – I still feel like this show is getting less funny as it goes. I still like it, but there are really long stretches where there’s nothing funny at all. The early seasons, it managed to be just as good otherwise, but also very, very funny, so I still miss that.
  6. Bob’s Burgers – I have a hard time remembering what actually aired this year, since I caught up on the show from start to finish this year, but it’s an excellent, excellent show. I’d watched the pilot and seen a few minutes here and there but it never really clicked for me until I gave it another shot.
  7. Gravity Falls – This is a cartoon on the Disney Channel and it only aired like 3 episodes and a few online shorts in the past year, but dammit it’s good. Tons of mysteries, crazy adventures, and it’s really funny.
  8. Community – It was a big step up from the misfire last season, but didn’t exactly return to form. Still sad to see it go.
  9. Modern Family – I guess it’s only been 5 seasons, and I’m sure it won’t happen because it makes too much money, but I think it’s time for this show to die. It’s unquestionably on the down swing, the formerly young kids are either awkwardly or distractingly hitting puberty, and the gay wedding and the new baby are basically the things you’d expect to see when they’re wrapping up.
  10. Silicon Valley – Basically cracked the top 10 for this one scene in the season finale that absolutely killed me. That episode was a lot better than all the previous ones, both in terms of story and humor. I still find Amanda Crew (basically the only woman on the show) to be really, really attractive too.

Missed the cut: Legit (the drug/alcohol stuff is getting pathetic), Wilfred (honestly it’s been so long that I forget what happened last season), Veep (it’s fine, and I’m liking the campaign stuff more than the general VP stuff, just not one of my favorites), The Boondocks (it doesn’t seem very good anymore?), Cougar Town (another one where it’s time to go… but apparently next season is its last), Avengers Assemble (I really don’t care about this show anymore, and I miss Earth’s Mightiest Heroes).

Hourlong (or more) TV:

bb

  1. Breaking Bad – Solid final season, satisfying finale, one of the best shows ever.
  2. Game of Thrones – In Venture Bros. commentary, Doc Hammer says he doesn’t watch this because it sounds like Falcon Crest with dragons. But that sounds awesome! And is basically what it is. But also with a lot of blood and nudity.
  3. Sherlock – Season one is still their best, but this show is still great.
  4. Orange is the New Black – Based on the first season, not the just-released second one (which I’m only just starting). It’s an excellent show, the only thing keeping it from greatness is the kind of shitty main character and her very shitty husband. Any time Jason Biggs is on screen, I kind of zone out.
  5. House of Cards – Kevin Spacey kills it on this show, and I do love both political drama and dark, cynical drama, so this is right up my alley.
  6. Suits – I worry about this show going forward, because the premise is getting more and more ridiculous over time. But somehow they’ve managed to keep it entertaining.
  7. Psych – Another solid final season with a satisfying ending. This leaves Royal Pains and White Collar as the last of USA’s fun shows. With HBO, AMC, and FX constantly churning out dark anti-hero dramas, I really liked that USA just had light dramedy. But they’re increasingly going in the same direction as everyone else.
  8. Justified – Next season is the last one, apparently, and this season felt more like getting things set for a big showdown next year. I do like Alicia Witt’s white trash hotness though (much like when she was on FNL).
  9. Fargo – One exception to FX’s dark anti-hero thing, this is… still dark, but if you had to pick a main character it’d be Molly, and she’s not even remotely an anti-hero. It’s definitely not like anything else on TV.
  10. Pick one of: Arrow, Lost Girl, The Walking Dead: These shows are all dumb and I could (and do) nitpick all the stupid stuff they’re constantly doing, but I find them entertaining anyway.

Missed the cut: The Newsroom (this season was terrible, a show I appreciated for snappy dialogue and ridiculously optimistic liberal bullshit became a show about pessimistic liberal bullshit and random pairing off of characters because maybe this was the end), The Bridge (I really liked the beginning, but lost interest more and more as it went along), Homeland (one of the best shows on tv in season one, I may not watch it next season), Person of Interest (probably should be #10 instead of those dumb shows, but I lose interest in a lot of their cases of the week), True Detective (I enjoyed it, but not as much as everyone else, apparently, and the ending was fairly underwhelming), Shameless (last season blew me away, this season was just a downer), Mind Games (over too quick to really matter, but I wish this had caught on), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hey this show kinda sucks huh? even with a couple hot actresses and a Cap 2 tie-in, meh)

Movies

cap2

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Best Marvel movie to date? Probably.
  2. Pacific Rim – One of those things, maybe honest trailers, kept calling it “so dumb, but so awesome” which is about right. But I would put the emphasis on awesome. I even liked the tie-in comic.
  3. Gravity – I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson on all the physics goofs, but I still thought it was an excellent movie.
  4. Thor: The Dark World – The Thor movies and Cap 1 are definitely the lesser Marvel Studios movies. Though I’m expecting Guardians of the Galaxy (based on having seen no trailers) to join them. But they’re all still pretty good.
  5. American Hustle – A 70s crime/con story, ridiculous wigs for the guys and ridiculous cleavage for the ladies? Of course I’m going to enjoy that.
  6. The World’s End – Got pretty weird towards the end, but it was very funny. The thing that may impress me the most about the “cornetto trilogy” is that Simon Pegg plays very different characters in each one. He could have a career playing Shaun type characters, nerdy loser but ultimately good guy. Instead he plays super serious dude, or alcoholic asshole.
  7. The Way Way Back – Basically because Sam Rockwell is one of the most entertaining actors out there. And also because I don’t see as many movies as I used to, so these last few are pretty mediocre.
  8. The Wolverine – Also, I don’t see as many movies as I used to.
  9. Red 2 – Did I mention that I don’t see as many movies as I used to?
  10. Monsters University – See above.

Edit: Crap, I skipped Veronica Mars, which should go at #6 and bump everything else down one.

Missed the cut: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (after the third one comes out, someone edit them down to about 4 hours combined, and I bet it’ll be great).

Comics:

saga

  1. Saga – Still excellent.
  2. Locke and Key – I was pleased, but not thrilled, with the ending. Overall, one of my favorite series ever.
  3. Sex Criminals – Googling for this series probably puts you on some kind of list, but it’s worth it. This is a very original concept, and of course raunchy and funny too. The first trade is also very cheap.
  4. Batman Eternal – Too many current Batman comics ignore all the great and weird things about Gotham and just have Batman, Alfred, a villain, and maybe a love interest. Batman Eternal, a new-ish weekly Batman series, is telling a long story about Carmine Falcone’s return to Gotham, a gang war, Commissioner Gordon being in prison (and presumably set up), and all sorts of other stuff. It brings in Catwoman, Tim Drake, Spoiler, Jason Bard, Spectre, Batwing, Bluebird and tons of others, to make this series’ Gotham the vast array of characters that it was when I thought the Batman line was at its peak (roughly from No Man’s Land to Gotham Central).
  5. Rat Queens – A regular fantasy type setting, but with a group of ladies who curse and take drugs and fuck. It’s not too far in, but I’m enjoying the hell out of it so far. Also plugging a cheap first trade for this one.
  6. Daredevil – I thought the move from Hell’s Kitchen to San Francisco might derail the series, but it’s actually still one of the series I most look forward to.
  7. Hawkeye – The quality has gone down, the story pace is absolutely glacial, and it’s not as energetic/funny/action packed as before. It’s like Fraction took all his good ideas and instead of using them on Hawkeye, he moved them to Sex Criminals. But Kate Bishop is still the best.
  8. Chew – This is starting to hit the home stretch, at #41 out of a planned (I think) 60, and it remains funny and plot-twisty and full of weird/funny/random shit thrown in the background by Rob Guillory which I really appreciate.
  9. Li’l Gotham was a fun series with chibi versions of Batman characters having goofy adventures. Sadly, it only ran for 22 issues, and it was digital first so the issues were shorter than normal. But it was great.
  10. Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell – An OGN that at one point was maybe going to be called The Fishnet Brigade (a much better title, IMO), it’s surprisingly good. The writer, Paul Dini, is married to a magician, and that comes out every time he writes Zatanna. Usually in a bad way, he keeps trying to push Batman/Zatanna as a thing. But here it works pretty nicely. Just a fun adventure with two characters that have been pretty neglected since the New 52.

Missed the cut: Mighty Avengers (idiot fanboys dismissed it as “the black avengers” when it was announced, but it’s actually the best Avengers title going right now, shitty Greg Land art notwithstanding), Wild Blue Yonder (it’s like a grown up TaleSpin but without the anthropomorphized animals, and other than an erratic shipping schedule it’s pretty awesome), Atomic Robo (unlike movies, I read shitloads of comics, so falling out of my top 10 doesn’t indicate mediocrity, most of these are still good), Lazarus (a little disappointing given my love for both the creators and subject matter, but I still have high hopes for this), The Manhattan Projects (kind of losing steam, but I’m in this for the long haul regardless), Captain Marvel (it works better as a series about this punch-first-ask-questions-later superheroine and her band of misfit friends, but sometimes it turns into this sort of serious woe-is-me kinda thing and I don’t like it as much), Skullkickers (still a lot of fun, but the most recent story arc is not my favorite), Lumberjanes (is only two issues in, but it’s adorable), Alex + Ada (has a lot of things that appeal to me, AI/Singularity type concepts, I just wish the story would move a little faster), East of West (I have no idea what’s going on but I’m still enjoying it), Fables (if it weren’t about to end I would have quit it by now), Moon Knight (Warren Ellis’ short but strange run is almost done, I’ve enjoyed it but may not continue once he leaves), The Wake (started off as an Aliens but with sea monsters thing, but went off in an interesting/unexpected direction), Revival (the guy who did Hack/Slash writing a sort of Fargo/Zombies thing, I never would have expected it to be as good as it is, but it’s quite good), Velvet (I love the concept, some shit happens and it turns out a Miss Moneypenny type, despite being a little older, has been pretending to be some secretary when she’s actually a badass spy too), Trees (Warren Ellis’ latest series with a really interesting beginning, but the first issue only just came out)

Posted in comics by Bill on January 4, 2014

Comics, new-ish and old, roughly best-to-worst:

Velvet is essentially what if Moneypenny was secretly a trained operative, possibly even more dangerous than 007. It’s by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, who used to do quality Captain America comics together, so action and espionage are right up their alleys. velvet
Leaving Megalopolis is by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore, the same people who did Secret Six, and tells the story of a city overrun by superheroes turned evil, and regular people’s struggles to get out alive. It’s a not-too-subtle commentary on comics in general (since modern grim and gritty comics generally feature asshole superheroes, and fans of superheroes are largely trapped reading them or none at all). It wasn’t great, Simone’s at her best when she writes people having fun and making lots of jokes. But it’s not bad at all. lm
Armor Wars is supposedly the classic Iron Man story, and it wasn’t bad. The concept is solid, Hammer stole some Stark tech and sold it to a bunch of armored villains, and Tony is determined to reclaim it all. But despite being from 1987-88, after the big deal comics like Watchmen, Born Again, TDKR, Year One, etc, seemed to modernize superhero comics, it’s 100% old-fashioned. armorwars
Amazing X-Men seems to be the comic where they’ll bring Nightcrawler back to life, as foreshadowed in Wolverine and the X-Men, which is also written by Jason Aaron. It’s kind of amusing so far, but not being a huge X-Men fan I’m only lukewarm on it. amazingxmen
Buzzkill has a killer concept, a superhero goes to AA to battle his addictions, but he gets his superpowers through booze and drugs. In execution it’s a little disappointing. Probably has some interesting things to say about addiction and its impact on your loved ones, but that’s pretty lost on me. buzzkill
Demon In a Bottle is the Iron Man story from the late 70s that establishes Tony Stark as an alcoholic. It also introduces Justin Hammer as a villain. It’s a pretty decent read for its time, but it’s pretty weird how quickly the story breezes through the process of addressing his alcoholism. Modern comics definitely would have drawn out the angst a whole lot more. diab

Posted in comics by Bill on October 24, 2013

New-ish comics, roughly best to worst:

Rocket Girl tells the story of a teenage girl cop from the future with a jetpack traveling to the 80s to stop some people before they can do evil stuff in the future. They had me at time travel and jet packs. rocketgirl
Avengers: Endless Wartime is a loosely movie-inspired graphic novel from Warren Ellis, which is mostly notable for being extremely snarky. There are quite a few laughs in there, but it’s an odd read because you feel like the Avengers don’t even like each other. avendwar
Pretty Deadly is Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios’ new series for Image which is apparently about the daughter of death as some sort of spirit of vengeance in the old west. Which plays to Emma Rios’ strengths, I think. The first issue didn’t really grab me but I like the idea. prettydeadly
Hinterkind seems loosely based on those history channel specials they used to do about nature reclaiming cities after mankind ceased to exist. Some sort of apocalyptic event happens a long time before the series starts, and it’s set in the wilderness that used to be New York City. Which is a pretty cool setting, but I’m not loving the art or the antagonists, so I may drop this quickly. hinterkind

Posted in comics by Bill on September 30, 2013

New-ish comics, roughly best to worst:

Sex Criminals (linked preview might be NSFW, I’m writing this at work so I didn’t even let it load) is the obviously not-for-kids comic from Hawkeye writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky, which tells the story of a girl who discovers that she gets special powers after having an orgasm. And then, I think, tries to use those powers to rob a bank to save a library. The first issue is quite funny and the story is promising. sexcriminals
Rat Queens is a fantasy/comedy/something, about a group of women in a LotR/D&D type world who adventure together. It’s pretty similar to the series Skullkickers, which I also like a lot. But it’s a lot more R-rated with the language. And there are other adventuring groups that kind of remind me of The Warriors since they are sort of themed. It’s a fun first issue, looking forward to more. ratqueens
March is an autobiographical comic by Rep. John Lewis, civil rights activist/congressman from Atlanta/frequent Colbert guest. Pretty interesting read. Also reminds me that I still haven’t finished my uncle’s book on the Freedom Riders. march
God Is Dead is Jonathan Hickman’s provocatively titled new series for Avatar, the people who mostly publish porn and gore. I had really high hopes for this, even though, as usual for creators I really like, I went in with no idea what it was about. Turns out it’s about gods of polytheistic religions (Greek, Norse, Aztec, etc) coming back to earth and being pissed that they aren’t being worshiped like they used to be. It’s fine, and there are some interesting ideas in there so I’ll keep reading, but for some reason I was expecting more. godisdead
Mighty Avengers is basically a team of black heroes. Luke Cage and Monica Rambeau are the main draws. There’s also a super secret member who hasn’t been revealed yet. And OckSpidey (Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man’s body, because comics) seems to be around though I don’t know if he’s a permanent fixture. I was worried about this because the artist is notoriously terrible (and the art is very bad) and it’s easy to screw up a team of black heroes. But the writing was pretty solid. Enough to overcome Greg Land’s porn-tracing same-facing ways and make it a pretty solid first issue. mightyavengers
Trial of the Punisher is a new Punisher series (or I assume it’s a miniseries but I don’t really know) where Frank Castle is actually put on trial for his crimes. While he’s done a lot of prison time, I think this is the first time a Punisher comic has actually shown him in court (as a defendant, anyway, I feel like he might have already busted into a court and shot a corrupt judge or DA). It’s off to an ok start, and I’m glad there’s a Punisher series of some sort going again. trialofthepunisher

Posted in comics by Bill on July 30, 2013

New and older comics, roughly best-to-worst:

Wonder Woman: Hiketeia is a graphic novel from a few years back by Greg Rucka and J.G. Jones and it was a pretty simple story about someone who’d run afoul of Batman requesting a sort of asylum type thing that Wonder Woman was bound by tradition to accept. ww-hik
Red Sonja is a new series featuring the classic character written by Gail Simone. Red Sonja’s not a character I’ve ever really liked (I’ve never even seen that movie from the 80s), but I am a fan of Simone’s writing. It’s an interesting take on a character, I can’t imagine it’s easy to reconcile a strong/violent woman with a chainmail bikini, but they seem to have come up with an approach that works. Or at least, the first issue was quite entertaining. redsonja-1
Day Men is a new series about a human who works for a powerful vampire family, acting as their agent during the day. I thought it was a semi-novel approach to vampire stories, and a stylish looking cover so I checked it out and I was pleasantly surprised by an entertaining first issue. day-men-1
The various Top Ten sequels and spinoffs (Smax, The Forty-Niners, Season Two, Beyond the Farthest Precinct) are a mixed bag. Smax may have been the most enjoyable, but it was also the most objectionable. Alan Moore gives the title character a horrific backstory full of rape and incest for no good reason. The Forty-Niners had really nice art, with Gene Ha still doing the pencils but seemingly going for a vaguely Alex Ross-ish style that evoked the 1949 sort of aesthetic, and it told a generally nice story of newcomers to Neopolis. But it lacked the sense of humor and the reference-heaviness of the original series. Beyond the Farthest Precinct is definitely the weakest of the bunch, it involves neither Moore nor Ha. And Season Two, drawn by Ha but not written by Moore, feels incomplete. My understanding is that Gene Ha wants to do more, but DC doesn’t want to let him. Oh well. 49ers

Posted in comics by Bill on July 10, 2013

Comics, new and old, roughly best to worst:

Lazarus is a new creator-owned series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark that takes place in the near-ish future where governments have disappeared, their power long since eclipsed by corporations, and now elite wealthy families each have areas they control and fight over. The title, Lazarus, refers to a member of each family that gets all sorts of biotech upgrades, including the ability to basically be killed but still come back to life. The main character is one such Lazarus, who against her training, starts to not like killing for her family. Which is a little bit generic, I guess, but the setting is quite cool and it’s very, very violent, and I like that sort of thing. lazarus
Batman/Superman is DC’s answer to the question “aren’t there enough boos about Batman already?” (Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, The Dark Knight, Batman Inc, and Legends of the Dark Knight… plus there’s Batgirl, Batwoman, three books featuring former Robins, Worlds’ Finest about Huntress who this time is Earth 2 Batman’s daughter, and two more series set in Gotham). The main draw here is Jae Lee, who has his detractors but I think his art is fantastic. Greg Pak is writing, and I haven’t read very much of his stuff but his reputation is pretty decent. The first issue was solid, and featured about 2 pages of the best Catwoman of the New 52, so I’m more or less sold on this as a series. batsup
Patsy Walker: Hellcat features the title character with one of the weirder histories in comics. Originally the star of multiple teen romance comics in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, before being inexplicably introduced into Marvel’s superhero universe in the 70s and later acquiring superpowers. This miniseries from a few years back combines both facets of the character, going for a manic comedic tone while doing all sorts of superhero action. It was really a quite enjoyable read. pwhellcat
Avengers A.I. spins out of the Age of Ultron event, where Hank Pym’s Ultron-defeating virus has itself gained some measure of sentience and Pym and several AI characters have to team up to stop it, under the leadership of new-to-616 Monica Chang (who in the Ultimates is the 2nd Black Widow and current head of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Vision, Ultron’s son from Runaways, and a Doombot are on the team. It’s an interesting team and concept, but I’m not sure it’s a concept that can carry a series. avengersai
Madrox was the miniseries that introduced the idea of X-Factor Investigations, leads right in to the recent-ish long running X-Factor series, and tells the story of Jamie “Multiple Man” Madrox doing the first of his detective work. It’s actually pretty decent, but I discovered while reading it that I find Madrox’s powers quite unsettling. He makes duplicates and sends them off to learn a new skill or something, to then re-absorb them to acquire the skill. But the absorption process is weird and for some reason everything about the whole process just gets me thinking how creepy it would be if this was a real thing. And that general sense of discomfort just made me not want to try the ensuing X-Factor series at all. madrox
Amalgam Comics was a crossover-ish thing between DC and Marvel where their top characters were merged together and had a number of one-shots telling stories based around these concepts: The Dark Claw (Batman/Wolverine), Amazon (Storm/Wonder Woman), etc. The stories were mostly pretty lame, only a few of them made me think I’d want to read more about them. But it was still interesting to see what they’d done, like the character combos they picked and the design choices and whatnot. amalgam

Posted in comics by Bill on June 20, 2013

Old and new comics, roughly best-to-worst:

Wild Blue Yonder was apparently a kickstarter, but I don’t remember hearing a thing about it. But it’s basically Tale Spin, but for adults and with regular people instead of talking animals. Air fortresses and jetpacks and stuff. There’s not much story at this point, they basically just gave us a POV character and introduced the good guys and the bad guys. But… air fortresses and jetpacks and stuff are really cool. wby
X-Men is a new series which features some of the women of the X-Men: Kitty Pryde, Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, Jubilee, and Rachel Grey. I’m still not particularly well versed in X-Men, but I do like most of these characters, and it’s written by Brian Wood and I tend to like his stuff. And I liked the first issue, even though it’s based around an X-Men villain I didn’t know (Sublime, a “sentient bacteria”). x-men1
The Wake appears to be about some sort of sea monster, but the first issue doesn’t reveal a lot. It mostly did character introductions, but the general vibe of spooky science fiction definitely intrigued me. That it’s being written by Scott Snyder (Batman) and Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus), both of whom I tend to like, only has me more interested. thewake
Hulk: Gray is part of a series of miniseries(Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow) by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale exploring the tragic pasts of various marvel characters (there’s one issue of Captain America: White that came out years ago, but no progress on the rest of it). It’s nothing special, story-wise, it just re-tells the Hulk’s origins and steals the traditional dynamic between Banner/Hulk and the Rosses, but Tim Sale is a great artist so it’s entirely readable. But Spider-Man: Blue and DD:Yellow were both better. hulkgray
Power Girl had a series a couple years ago, the first 12 issues of which were drawn by Amanda Conner. I’ve always really enjoyed her art but haven’t read much from her (The Pro is terrific, Two-Step, despite being written by Warren Ellis, was not my style). So I decided to check out this series, even though the T&A (with a very capital T) aspect of Power Girl has never interested me. And they do make plenty of references to the fact that she has a sizable rack, which is fairly tiresome, but overall it was a good read. Conner’s knack for facial expressions makes the non-superhero scenes at work or with friends much more entertaining than the writing otherwise would have made it. pg
Daredevil: Dark Nights is a second Daredevil series, which seems like a bad idea because not many characters can sustain two titles at once. But he is one of my favorites, and the first issue kicks off a nice enogh story, so I’ll be following it. dd-darknights
Six-Gun Gorilla I just read because of the title, cover, and Si Spurrier (of the excellent/messed up Crossed: Wish You Were Here webcomic) writing it. I assumed it would be ridiculous over-the-top action, because… Six-Gun Gorilla. But the first issue is actually more concerned with commentary on war and media and things. Which is not at all what I expected. But there is a gorilla with a six-gun. I dunno. I’m curious to see where it’s going. sixgungorilla