Saturday, December 31, 2016

Monthly Update - December 2016


1. Read 15 Books (5)
  • None
2. Read 100 Graphic Novels (69)
  1. The Fade Out HC
  2. Suicide Squad Vol 5: Apokolips Now
  3. Bloodshot Reborn Deluxe Vol 1
3. Catch up on TV/Movie DVDs and Blurays
  • None
    4. Play 15 New Boardgames (36)
    • Letters From Whitechapel
    • Pandemic Iberia
    • Joking Hazard (x2)
    • Rent-A-Hero
    • Instanbul
    • Love Letter Adventure Time
    • Superfight
    • King of New York
    My Picks of the Week For This Month:
    1. Champions #3
    2. Moon Knight #9
    3. Hawkeye #1
    4. Descender #17
    5. Power Man and Iron Fist Sweet Christmas Annual #1
    6. Thanos #2
    7. Saga #41
    8. Spider-Woman #14
        Other Comics I Read This Month (634+48 = 682):
        • All-New Wolverine #15
        • Amazing Spider-Man #22
        • Avengers #2
        • Batman/TMNT Adventures #2
        • Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #3
        • Black #3
        • Black Hammer #6
        • Black Widow #9
        • Britannia #4
        • Captain America Sam Wilson #16
        • Captain America Steve Rogers #8
        • Champions #3
        • Civil War II #8
        • Clone Conspiracy #3
        • Daredevil #14
        • Descender #17
        • Detective Comics #946
        • Divinity III Stalinverse #1
        • Doctor Strange #15
        • Doctor Strange Sorcerers Supreme #3
        • Faith #6
        • Fix #7
        • Gamora #1
        • Grand Passion #2
        • Harbinger Renegades #2
        • Hawkeye #1
        • Hulk #1
        • Invincible Iron Man #2
        • Klaus & Witch of Winter #1
        • Lake of Fire #5
        • Moon Knight #9
        • Motor Crush #1
        • New Super Man #6
        • Nova #1
        • Occupy Avengers #2
        • Power Man and Iron Fist #11
        • Power Man and Iron Fist Sweet Christmas Annual #1
        • Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens #3
        • Reborn #3
        • Saga #41
        • Serenity No Power in the Verse #3
        • Spider-Woman #14
        • Star Trek Green Lantern Vol 2 #1
        • Star Wars #26
        • Star Wars Doctor Aphra #1-2
        • Star-Lord #1
        • Thanos #2
        TV I Watched This Month:
        • Arrow "What We Leave Behind"
        • Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Skyfire Cycle" "The Overmining" "Captain Latvia"
        • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend "Why is Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Eating Carbs?" "Who Needs Josh When You Have A Girl Group?"
        • DC's Legends of Tomorrow "Invasion!" "The Chicago Way"
        • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
        • The Flash "The Present"
        • Fleabag "Episodes 1-6"
        • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee "December 5, 2016" "December 12, 2016" "December 19, 2016"
        • Justice League Action "Shazam Slam"
        • People of Earth
        • Pitch "Scratched" "Don't Say It"
        • Sense 8 "Christmas Special"
        • Shut-Eye "Death" "The Hanged Man" "The Fool"
        • Star Wars Rebels "The Last Battle" "Imperial Supercommandos" "Iron Squadron"
        • Timeless "Stranded" "Space Race" "Last Race of Bonnie & Clyde" "The Capture of Benedict Arnold"
        • Westworld "The Bicameral Mind"
        Top Ten Shows This Month:
        1. Westworld
        2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
        3. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
        4. Shut-Eye
        5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
        6. Fleabag
        7. Flash
        8. Star Wars Rebels
        9. Pitch
        10. Timeless
        Movies I Watched This Month:
        • Rogue One (x2)
        • Matchstick Men
        • Keanu
        • Major League
        • Star Wars Force Awakens
        • Grand Budapest Hotel
        • Captain America Civil War
        Places I Ate This Month (279+19=298):
        • Blackstar Co-Op
        • Brooklyn Pie Company
        • Haymaker
        • Hoodie's Subs (x2)
        • Hoover's
        • Jason's Deli
        • Juarez Mexican Bakery (x2)
        • Kerbey Lane
        • Michi Ramen
        • Peached Tortilla
        • Popeye's
        • Shake Shack
        • Smokey Mo's
        • Texas Chili Parlor
        • Texas Roadhouse
        • Torchy's Tacos
        • Vera Cruz Tacos

        Thursday, December 29, 2016

        Best of 2016 - Food

        Last year I ate out over 250 times. This year it was more like 300.

        I'm not qualified to be a food critic, but I did eat a lot of food and I do have opinions. So here are my top 10 favorites, the ones that are accessible, affordable *and* delicious enough that I went there numerous times during the year. My list of favorites is mostly down to how many times I went there, with a little fudging.

        1. Chi'Lantro
        2. Jack Allen's Kitchen
        3. Shake Shack
        4. Mod Pizza
        5. Chuy's
        6. Deckhand Oyster Bar
        7. Hopdoddy's
        8. Michi Ramen
        9. New Fortune Chinese
        10. Lucy's Fried Chicken
                        I also kept track of where I ate lunch this year, and these are my favorites, based on how often I ate there. It's not just quality of food, here, but also closeness to work, where I'm usually eating lunch.

                        Lunch Favorites:
                        1. Popeye's ( at least 1/month)
                        2. Torchy's Tacos
                        3. Wendy's
                        4. Fuddrucker's
                        5. Vera Cruz All Natural Tacos
                        6. Hoodie's Subs
                        7. Brooklyn Pie Company
                                  Then there were the places that I ate at once or twice, due to either it's location (downtown especially) or price. This list is purely down to my favorites, where I'd eat if location and price were no object.

                                  Rare Treats:
                                  1. Franklin Barbecue
                                  2. Gus's Fried Chicken
                                  3. Terry Black's BBQ
                                  4. Peached Tortilla
                                  5. Haymaker
                                  6. Black Star Co-Op
                                  7. Fogo de Chao
                                  8. Lucy's Fried Chicken
                                  9. Noble Sandwich
                                  10. Salt & Time
                                  11. 24 Diner
                                  12. Thai Kun
                                  French Quarter Grille, Odd Duck, TNT Tacos & Tequila were all on last year's list but I didn't get a chance to eat there this year.

                                  In addition, while I ate out a lot this year, I also tried to cook more, and added several new recipes to my repertoire.

                                  New Recipes:
                                  1. White Chicken Chili
                                  2. Chicken, Asparagus & Mushroom Stir Fry
                                  3. Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings
                                  4. Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
                                  5. Sweet & Salty Chicken Thighs
                                  6. Panko Breaded Asparagus
                                  7. Skillet Green Beans
                                  8. Fried Rice
                                  9. Beef & Potato Stew

                                  Best of 2016 - Television

                                  Best Shows (Every Category):
                                  The "cut the cord" experiment has paid off with even more television.

                                  In general, this list is the "If I had to cut back to a certain number of shows, based on money, time, etc., this is the list of shows I'd cut first (starting with #50) to shows I'd cut last (starting with #1). Last year this list was 48 shows, and there are 25 shows from last year's list that weren't on here (either they ended, didn't have a new season, or I stopped watching them), so I added 27 new shows this year. Last year I added 24 new shows.

                                  There were 8 shows didn't have new seasons (Fargo, Catastrophe, Master of None, The Leftovers, Rick and Morty, Sense8, Jessica Jones, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), 11 shows ended or were limited run (Deutschland '83, Show Me A Hero, Justified, Parks & Recreation, Hannibal, Mad Men, Key & Peele, Louie, Community, Wet Hot American Summer, The League) and 6 I stopped watching or plan to catch up on later (The Daily Show, Wayward Pines, Scream Queens, Man Seeking Woman, Narcos, Man in the High Castle)
                                  1. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
                                  2. Atlanta (FX)
                                  3. Westworld (HBO)
                                  4. You're The Worst (FXX)
                                  5. Better Call Saul (AMC)
                                  6. Game of Thrones (HBO)
                                  7. The Americans (FX)
                                  8. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
                                  9. Better Things (FX)
                                  10. Stranger Things (NETFLIX)
                                  11. The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)
                                  12. Togetherness (HBO)
                                  13. The Good Place (NBC)
                                  14. Insecure (HBO)
                                  15. The Night Of (HBO)
                                  16. Night Manager (SUNDANCE) 
                                  17. Billions (SHOWTIME)
                                  18. Mr. Robot (USA)
                                  19. Broad City (COM)
                                  20. Veep (HBO)
                                  21. Silicon Valley (HBO)
                                  22. Supergirl (CBS/CW)
                                  23. Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt (NETFLIX)
                                  24. Orange is the New Black (NETFLIX)
                                  25. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)
                                  26. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
                                  27. Bojack Horseman (NETFLIX)
                                  28. Casual (HULU)
                                  29. iZombie (CW)
                                  30. Voltron Legendary Defender (NETFLIX)
                                  31. The Get Down (NBC)
                                  32. Timeless (NBC)
                                  33. Luke Cage (NETFLIX)
                                  34. Daredevil (NETFLIX)
                                  35. Flash (CW)
                                  36. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser (COM)
                                  37. Review (COM)
                                  38. Pitch (FOX)
                                  39. Star Wars Rebels (DISNEY XD)
                                  40. Agent Carter (ABC)
                                  41. Preacher (AMC)
                                  42. Making A Murderer (NETFLIX)
                                  43. Inside Amy Schumer (COM)
                                  44. DC's Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
                                  45. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (BBCA)
                                  46. Lethal Weapon (FOX)
                                  47. 11.22.63 (HULU)
                                  48. Angie Tribeca (TBS)
                                  49. Humans (AMC)
                                  50. Arrow (CW)
                                  Best New Show:
                                  1. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
                                  2. Atlanta (FX)
                                  3. Westworld (HBO)
                                  4. Better Things (FX)
                                  5. Billions (SHOWTIME)
                                  6. Stranger Things (NETFLIX)
                                  7. The Night Of (HBO)
                                  8. Night Manager (SUNDANCE) 
                                  9. The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)
                                  10. Insecure (HBO)
                                  11. The Good Place (NBC)
                                  12. Voltron Legendary Defender (NETFLIX)
                                  13. The Get Down (NETFLIX)
                                  14. Timeless (NBC)
                                  15. Luke Cage (NETFLIX)
                                  16. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser (COMEDY)
                                  17. Pitch (FOX)
                                  18. Preacher (AMC)
                                  19. Making A Murderer (NETFLIX)
                                  20. DC's Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
                                  21. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (BBCA)
                                  22. Lethal Weapon (FOX)
                                  23. 11.22.63 (HULU)
                                  24. Angie Tribeca (TBS)
                                  25. Humans (AMC)
                                                                                Best Comedy:
                                                                                1. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
                                                                                2. Atlanta (FX)
                                                                                3. You're The Worst (FXX)
                                                                                4. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
                                                                                5. Better Things (FX)
                                                                                6. Togetherness (HBO)
                                                                                7. Insecure (HBO)
                                                                                8. The Good Place (NBC)
                                                                                9. Veep (HBO)
                                                                                10. Silicon Valley (HBO)
                                                                                Best Drama:
                                                                                1. Westworld (HBO)
                                                                                2. Better Call Saul (AMC)
                                                                                3. Game of Thrones (HBO)
                                                                                4. The Americans (FX)
                                                                                5. Stranger Things (NETFLIX)
                                                                                6. The People vs. OJ Simpson (FX)
                                                                                7. The Night Of (HBO)
                                                                                8. Night Manager (SUNDANCE) 
                                                                                9. Billions (SHOWTIME)
                                                                                10. Mr. Robot (USA)

                                                                                Best of 2016 - Graphic Novels

                                                                                Every year, my list gets shorter and shorter. 2014 was 8, 2015 was 6... this year... 6, and a lot of them are merely new volumes in series I've been enjoying.
                                                                                1. Amulet Vol 7
                                                                                2. Bandette Vol 3 HC
                                                                                3. Chester 5000 Vol 2: Isabelle & George
                                                                                4. Cleopatra in Space Vol 3
                                                                                5. The Nameless City Book One
                                                                                6. Wonder Woman Earth One HC

                                                                                          A lot of the collected editions I bought this year are collections of series mentioned in my other Best of posts (Amazing Spider-Man, The Fix, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Descender, Birthright, etc.) but here's a list of my favorite collected editions not otherwise mentioned:
                                                                                          1. Airboy HC
                                                                                          2. Alex + Ada Vol 1 HC
                                                                                          3. Astro City Honor Guard HC
                                                                                          4. Avatar Smoke & Shadow HC
                                                                                          5. Daredevil by Waid & Samnee Vol 5 HC
                                                                                          6. Darth Vader Vol 1 HC
                                                                                          7. Descender Vol 1 TP
                                                                                          8. Green Arrow Vol 4: Blood of the Dragon TP
                                                                                          9. Green Arrow Vol 5 Black Arrow TP
                                                                                          10. Green Arrow Vol 6 Last Action Hero TP
                                                                                          11. Hawkeye Vol 2 HC
                                                                                          12. Hawkeye Vol 3 HC
                                                                                          13. Lazarus Vol 2 HC
                                                                                          14. Star Wars Heroes of the Rebellion HC
                                                                                          15. Star Wars Shattered Empire HC
                                                                                          16. Star Wars Vol 1 HC
                                                                                          17. Suicide Squad Vol 3: Rogues
                                                                                          18. Suicide Squad Vol 4 Janus Directive
                                                                                          19. Suicide Squad Vol 5: Apokolips Now
                                                                                          20. Supergirl by David & Frank Book One TP
                                                                                          21. Tales of the Batman Alan Brennert
                                                                                          22. Twilight Children TP
                                                                                          23. Usagi Yojimbo Vol 30 TP
                                                                                          24. We Stand on Guard HC

                                                                                                                                                Wednesday, December 28, 2016

                                                                                                                                                Best of 2016 - Top 10 Ongoing Comics

                                                                                                                                                My comics taste still runs pretty mainstream. Never claimed to be an iconoclast or a capital-A Art comics fan in general. My comics love was heavily formed in the years of 1984-1992, for the most part. My character selection has grown more diverse, but a lot of the talent behind the books I love remains dudes, and often white dudes at that. The industry still has a long way to go toward diversity, or maybe my tastes do, honestly probably a bit of both. At any rate, these lists are my favorites, based on a reading of over 500 single issues for the year, and access to more than that.

                                                                                                                                                Last year, Image had 6 of my top 10, and Marvel had the other 4. This year, Marvel overtook Image, holding 8 of the top sots, with Image claiming only 2. Big year for superheroes, as all 8 of the Marvel series are in that genre, while Image hangs on with two science-fiction books.

                                                                                                                                                Last year, none of the series in my top 10 published 12 issues. This year, eleven or twelve issues was the standard at Marvel, but Amazing Spider-Man published 17 (!), All-New All-Different Avengers hit 13, Saga managed 8 and Descender hit 11. Not bad.

                                                                                                                                                1. Ms. Marvel #3-14 (Last year: #1 on my Best Ongoing Series)
                                                                                                                                                My favorite book three years running with no sign of slowing down. The year opened with a story of Ms. Marvel dealing with cultural assimilation as a trendy new corporation tried to rebuild Jersey City and use her image to do it. They did a fun weird science story involving cloned Kamalas. Dealt with Kamala's upcoming role as the young central figure of the soon-to-be Champions. Then it was Civil War II, where G. Willow Wilson did a great job threading the needle of Kamala's hero worship of Captain Marvel and her own moral compass in a believable way that honored both characters, followed by a memorable one-shot with Kamala returning to Pakistan and another memorable (for kinda the wrong reasons) optimistic one-shot about voting that had the unfortunate timing of coming out right after Trump got elected when we all thought we were getting Hillary. Overall, a great year and the artwork, whether it was by regulars Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona or newcomers like Mirka Adolpha or Nico Leon, is always fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                2. Captain America Sam Wilson #5-16 (Last Year: #7 on My Best New Series)
                                                                                                                                                After wrapping up the introduction of the new Falcon and the Serpent Society, Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna turned their attention to the paranoid thriller conspiracy Standoff (which I largely liked, and loved all the Sam Wilson issues), addressed Black Lives Matter by way of Gruenwald creation The Americops and Fabian Nicieza creation Rage, made fantastic use of U.S. Agent, and even gave us a solid one-off wrestling issue with D-Man and Battlestar. Combining politics, humor, action and an absolute love for the Gruenwald Cap that might even surpass my own, this book was consistently at the top of my favorites every week it came out.

                                                                                                                                                3. Spider-Woman #3-14 (Last year: #2 on my Best Ongoing Series)
                                                                                                                                                I'll be honest, no small part of my love for this book comes from Javier Rodriguez artwork, but no small part of my joy came from Dennis Hopeless nailing the balance of superheroics and personal drama of single motherhood for Jessica Drew. Reminded me of how Dan Slott balanced legal drama with outrageous superheroics in his She-Hulk run. Kudos especially for the reinvention of Roger a.k.a. Porcupine as Jess's loyal guy Friday and Ben Urich as her reluctant older ally. As with Ms. Marvel, the close relationship between the lead character and Carol Danvers meant fireworks during Civil War II.  The end of the year saw Veronica Fish replacing Javier Rodriguez, but while I'm sad to see him go, this is my favorite work from Fish thus far, and I remain optimistic this will be in my top 10 next year, as long as it survives the dreaded axe of cancellation. This is definitely one of those "best books not enough people are reading."

                                                                                                                                                4. Amazing Spider-Man #6-22 (Last year: #7 on my Best Ongoing Series)
                                                                                                                                                We're in year eight of Dan Slott's work on Spider-Man, and he continues to take ideas that sound terrible on the face of it and make them compelling, instant classic reading. He's teamed with Christos Gage, one of my favorite writers in comics ever since his Deadshot mini, and the two of them have been doing great Spider-Man. This year, they continued the trend of Peter Parker as a worldwide entrepreneur who sometimes farmed out Spidey work to the Prowler, teamed up with my favorite superspy Mockingbird and took on the Zodiac with the help of SHIELD. Aging Peter up and making him something of a Tony Stark figure shouldn't work, but it does, and I'm surprised to find it feels like the '80s Spidey I grew up with, or at least a perfect evolution of same. Then they brought back Mr. Negative, a less-than-inspired addition to Spidey's villains, made him interesting (bonus points for using Cloak & Dagger really well), and did a pitch-perfect Iron Man team-up that also played into the potential dangers we saw in the Secret Wars Spider-Man Renew Your Vows series last year.

                                                                                                                                                Not content to simply touch on the Spidey/MJ relationship and then *not* give fans the reunion they wanted, Slott and Gage just put their tongues right on the third rail of Spider-Man stories and gave us a new take on the clone saga, which up to this point has been compelling reading with a fascinating take on the Jackal (another Spidey villain I didn't think I liked). All of this with fantastic art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and others.

                                                                                                                                                5. All-New Wolverine #4-15 (Last Year: Too new to judge)
                                                                                                                                                Tom Taylor first caught my eye with his work on the Injustice series at DC, and he brought his gift for dialogue and humor even among dark subject matter and fantastic action with him. The artists were a varied bunch: David Lopez, Marcio Takara, Ig Guara and Nik Virella, but I thought each and every one of them did a fantastic job with the action and humor of this book, and it's no small task for the others to live up to Lopez, an artist whose work I've admired since Fallen Angel. Taylor doesn't shy away from Laura's dark past without making the book overwhelmingly grim or exploitative, and his superheroes-meets-espionage tone and plot was on point this year. Mix in a fun crossover with Unbeatable Squirrel Girl that gave us a pet Wolverine and Gabby, who hits the same notes that Molly did in Runaways, and you've got a book that is firing on all cylinders on a monthly basis.

                                                                                                                                                6. Descender #9-17 (Last Year: #3 on my Best New Series)
                                                                                                                                                Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's sci-fi epic continued this year in fine form, wrapping up a visit to the Robot Resistance homeworld before jumping into a series of issues that illuminated the backstories of the characters, deepening characters I had already fallen in love with. The new story, recently begun, and aiming to bring together the disparate characters again, is also promising.

                                                                                                                                                7. Saga #33-40 (Last year: #3 on my Best Ongoing Series)
                                                                                                                                                Slipping another few spots, not because I don't still enjoy it but because it's become more familiar, and at the same time I've realized that I really enjoy it more in the larger trade paperback sized chunks. That said, it's still #8 on my top series, and tossing our cast into a warzone provides an interesting look at Marko and Hazel after they've spent a considerable amount of time in peacetime.

                                                                                                                                                8. Doctor Strange #4-15 (Last Year: Too new to judge)
                                                                                                                                                Kicking off the year with art by legendary artist Kevin Nowlan (who'd return for another issue later in the year) was a good start, and Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo quickly rose to the top of my all-time Doctor Strange teams. The battle with Empirikul, the anti-magic technological force, presented a lot of interesting ideas about the cost of magic, was weird and Ditko-esque while also being modern and gritty, and though I'd worried about the notion of de-powering Doctor Strange, so far it's made for really interesting reading, as Aaron returns a parade of his classic villains (Mordo, Dormammu) along with some weirder ones (Satanna and The Orb?) and Bachalo continues to do career-best level work.

                                                                                                                                                9. Daredevil #3-14 (Last Year: #9 on my Best Ongoing Series - different version)
                                                                                                                                                After Waid and Samnee gave us such a perfect Daredevil run, I didn't expect to love the follow-up just as much. But Charles Soule brings a different, grittier tone to Daredevil that I really like, and little twists like moving him back to New York as a prosecutor or introducing a new sidekick, a Chinese-American kid with an invisibility suit, really make it stand out from what went before. I'm a little sad that none of Waid's re-invention stuck, and a little annoyed that we've gotten to issue #14 with no actual explanation of how or why Matt put his identity back in the box, but when we're getting a perfect Elektra/Hand 2-parter, or a Spider-Man/Daredevil team-up, or a creepy new villain in the closing story of the year, it's hard to focus too much on that. Especially when the art, featuring a stunning noir color palate from Matt Milla, is continually top-notch, whether it's veteran Ron Garney working in a new style or newcomer Matteo Buffagni.

                                                                                                                                                10. All-New All-Different Avengers #3-16 (Last Year: Too new to judge)
                                                                                                                                                I have to admit, a lot of my love for this series has been transferred to Champions, and it feels almost like this was a booster rocket to launch that book. But... everything I love there started here, notably the friendships/rivalries between Nova, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar also introduced the new Wasp, who I like a lot, and did a star-faring story that I quite enjoyed.

                                                                                                                                                Of the series in my Top 10, five of them (Daredevil, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Amazing Spider-Man, and Saga) were also in 2015's Best Ongoing Series, and two of them (Sam Wilson and Descender) were in my Best New Series of 2015. The other three (All-New All-Different Avengers, Doctor Strange, and All New Wolverine) were in my "too new to judge" section.

                                                                                                                                                Also in the running: All-New Hawkeye #3-5, Astonishing Ant-Man #4-13, Astro City #31-40, Beauty #6-11, Birthright #13-20, Chew #55-60, Darth Vader #15-25, Huck #3-6, Klaus #4-7, Lazarus #22-25, Paper Girls #4-11, Silk #3-14, Star Wars #14-25, The Fade Out #12 and Velvet #13-15. In several cases, they didn't make the cut not due to quality but due to the small number of issues produced for the year, relative to what's on the list, and in a couple others, it's because they read better in collections for me. My top 10 are books that I love to read in single issues and then reread in collected format.

                                                                                                                                                Tuesday, December 27, 2016

                                                                                                                                                Best of 2016 - Comics Miniseries and One-Shots

                                                                                                                                                Last year, I had a top 10 filled up with Marvel, mostly Secret Wars, with the notable exception of We Stand on Guard, another great Brian K. Vaughan book with fantastic art by Steve Skroce. This year? A little more diverse, but still largely Marvel.

                                                                                                                                                Best Miniseries:
                                                                                                                                                1. Nighthawk #1-6 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                2. Captain Marvel #1-10 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                3. Star Wars Han Solo #1-5 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                4. Lake of Fire #1-5 (Image)
                                                                                                                                                5. Voltron Legendary Defender #1-5 (Lion Forge)
                                                                                                                                                6. Britannia #1-4 (Valiant)
                                                                                                                                                7. Klaus #1-7 (Boom!)
                                                                                                                                                8. Civil War II Ulysses #1-3 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                9. Shaft Imitation of Life #1-4 (Dynamite)
                                                                                                                                                10. Interceptor #1-4 (2000 AD)

                                                                                                                                                Also in the running: Three other Civil War II tie-ins (Amazing Spider-Man, Gods of War, X-Men), Civil War II (the ending ruined it, but I liked a lot up until that point), Empress, Vote Loki, Divinity II (Valiant), and Gutter Magic (IDW)

                                                                                                                                                I read close to 100 first issues and one-shots this year, so I'm adding a category for this as well.

                                                                                                                                                Best First Issues:*
                                                                                                                                                1. Thanos #1 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                2. Hawkeye #1 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                3. Occupy Avengers #1 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                4. Batman/TMNT Adventures #1 (DC/IDW)
                                                                                                                                                5. Future Quest #1 (DC)
                                                                                                                                                6. Black Panther #1 (Marvel)
                                                                                                                                                7. Doom Patrol #1 (DC/Young Animal)
                                                                                                                                                8. Ether #1 (Dark Horse)
                                                                                                                                                9. Kim & Kim #1 (Black Mask)
                                                                                                                                                10. Eclipse #1 (Image)

                                                                                                                                                *Caveat: I didn't include any of the first issues from my Top 10 new series. So you can consider this really the bottom of a Top 20 list if you want.

                                                                                                                                                Those that almost but didn't quite make the top 10 include: Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #1 (DC/Young Animal), Gamora #1, Star-Lord #1, and Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel), Black #1, Jade Street Protection Services #1 and The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask), Motor Crush #1, Moonshine #1 and Reborn #1 (Image), Divinity III Stalinverse #1 (Valiant), Night's Dominion #1 and Heart-Throb #1 (Oni Press), Motor Girl #1 (Abstract Press), Red Dog #1 (451 Studios), Warhammer 40K Tide of Iron #1 (Titan) and Vampire Hunter D Message From Mars #1.

                                                                                                                                                Best One-Shots:
                                                                                                                                                1. Criminal 10th Anniversary Special
                                                                                                                                                2. Doctor Strange Last Days of Magic #1
                                                                                                                                                3. Suicide Squad War Crimes #1
                                                                                                                                                4. Dark Knight Returns The Last Crusade #1
                                                                                                                                                5. Lazarus Sourcebook #1

                                                                                                                                                Monday, December 26, 2016

                                                                                                                                                Best of 2016 - Top 10 New Comics

                                                                                                                                                Best New Series:
                                                                                                                                                Marvel has five of my top 10 (down from eight last year), Image has two (up from one), Dark Horse has one, DC has one and Valiant has one. And once again, none of my favorite series are in any danger of cancellation, although Black Widow is coming to an end with issue 12.

                                                                                                                                                Eight of them are superhero books, up from the five last year, and you could argue for Kill or Be Killed as a supernatural vigilante tale as well. The other is a humor/crime book. The superhero genre has its hooks in me this year, it seems. And none of the books in my top 10 published 12 issues, although Power Man & Iron Fist did if you count Walker's contribution to Deadpool #13 and the Sweet Christmas Special (which I do).

                                                                                                                                                1. The Fix #1-7
                                                                                                                                                Two corrupt cops, a drug-sniffing dog, an insane Hollywood producer, a vegan crime boss... I love this book. It's laugh out loud funny, clever and absolutely fearless. Nick Spencer writes terrific dialogue and characters, reminiscent of Shane Black's movies, and Steve Lieber is probably the only guy who could draw this, mixing perfect realism with outlandish, cartoonish situations in perfect measure.

                                                                                                                                                2. Power Man & Iron Fist #1-11/Sweet Christmas Annual #1
                                                                                                                                                I've known for a long time that I wanted the classic Power Man & Iron Fist team back, but I couldn't have imagined that David Walker and Sanford Greene could bring it back this well. Danny and Luke have both been through a lot, Luke in the Avengers and Danny in Immortal Iron Fist, and Walker acknowledges that evolution while getting to the core of what makes them friends. That evolution is also evident in his use of a variety of C-list and D-list villains, mixed in with new creations. It doesn't hurt that he gave us the best take on Civil War II in his tie-in issues, as Luke and Danny decide the side they're on is the one that doesn't fight friends. Then there's the artwork by Sanford Greene, which I wasn't sure of when I saw promo pieces, worrying that his stylized art wasn't going to be what I wanted, but it's a perfect fit for the book. He gets the physicality of Cage, the wiry agility of Danny, the look of the settings, and does fantastic designs for the characters old and new.

                                                                                                                                                3. Kill or Be Killed #1-4
                                                                                                                                                Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are on my short list of creators whose work I will buy sight unseen. They've proven their track record, from the Wildstorm supervillain/spy epic of Sleeper to the '50s Hollywood noir of The Fade Out, and this new take on '70s-era vigilantism with a modern, dark-as-hell twist is no exception. Exceptional character work, a fascinating premise and stunning artwork, this is another promising outing from one of the most consistently excellent teams in comics.

                                                                                                                                                4. Champions #1-3
                                                                                                                                                This one is an exception to my usual rule. I don't compare three issue runs with larger runs. But Champions is so damn good, in all three of it's issues thus far, that it's definitely in my top five this year and certain to be there next year as well. Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos memorably teamed on Impulse, and this collaboration finds them just as in sync. It's a perfect evolution of the teenage superhero book, an aspirational tale about youth rising up to meet the challenges that their elders have failed to handle, and it's as important in its way as Captain America Sam Wilson even if it's more social than overtly political. It's also a damn fine superhero yarn, with classic superhero action in each issue.

                                                                                                                                                5. Moon Knight #1-9
                                                                                                                                                I've always loved this character, but the last several takes haven't done much for me. Charlie Huston, Mike Benson and Brian Bendis all focused on the character being crazy and violent, and while that's a part of him, he's far deeper and more interesting than that. Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood have brought back the almost mystical strangeness that defined the character when Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. It's a run that required some patience, as the question of what was real and what wasn't still isn't entirely settled, and when they added in dream sequences with guest art from Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe and Wilfredo Torres, it almost got to be too much, but ultimately I thought it was a great ride, and I look forward to more in 2017.

                                                                                                                                                6. Black Widow #1-9
                                                                                                                                                Mark Waid and Chris Samnee did a fantastic job on Daredevil, and I was anxious to see what they'd do with Black Widow. I wasn't disappointed, as the series opens with one of the best chase sequences I've ever read in comics, and then went into a great suspense espionage series that gives Natasha a depth she's rarely been given.

                                                                                                                                                7. Black Hammer #1-6
                                                                                                                                                This Dark Horse series from Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston reads like a Vertigo series from the Grant Morrison heyday. Using archetypal superheroes and a small town setting, it tells a story of a dysfunctional family in an unusual and compelling way. It's strange and charming, and even though I'm not 100% sure what's going on now, I'm enjoying watching it all unfold.

                                                                                                                                                8. New Super Man #1-6
                                                                                                                                                Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic are doing one of the two DC Rebirth books I stuck with (the other was Detective Comics). It's an imaginative look at what the Chinese superhero situation might look like in the DC Universe, incorporating previous work from Grant Morrison and others, and it's got a really entertaining lead cast of the "Justice League of China," especially Kenan Kong, the titular New Superman. Incorporating fun DC elements like Starro along with a brand new setting, this book is inventive and lots of fun.

                                                                                                                                                9. Faith #1-6
                                                                                                                                                Valiant's breakout hit, Faith is an unusual character, overweight in a genre that tends toward the athletic (and for women, usually sexualized and buxom), meta-aware of geek stuff like science-fiction and superheroes even though she lives in a superhero world, and full of costumes and codenames in the more realistic Valiant universe. Her book has been entertaining, and doesn't require any knowledge of the Valiant universe at large, although as someone who has been enjoying Valiant in general, I love what Faith represents as an entryway to new readers who can discover all the good stuff they're putting out.

                                                                                                                                                10. Captain America Steve Rogers #1-8
                                                                                                                                                Though my love for this book is nowhere near as much as for Sam Wilson, Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz made a ballsy choice in deciding to bring back Steve Rogers as a secret agent of Hydra. The story is moving a little slow for my taste, but it definitely has twists and turns I don't see coming, and is playing in the same territory that Kurt Busiek's Thunderbolts did when it was doing stories of more nuanced villains.

                                                                                                                                                New Series That Are Too New To Judge:
                                                                                                                                                These series are not quite far enough for me to judge them Best New Series yet, but I really like them all, and I can see any of them making my Best Continuing Series next year. Because I don't think it's fair to compare a single issue or a two- or three-issue run to the more extended runs above, I'm ranking these separately. Last year, four of the 16 series (Daredevil, All New All Different Avengers, Doctor Strange, All-New Wolverine) on this list made my Best Continuing Series, and another (Huck) made my Best Limited Series.
                                                                                                                                                1. Batman/TMNT Adventures #1-2
                                                                                                                                                2. Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1-3
                                                                                                                                                3. Clone Conspiracy #1-3
                                                                                                                                                4. Disney Pirates of the Caribbean #1-2
                                                                                                                                                5. Doctor Strange & The Sorcerors Supreme #1-3
                                                                                                                                                6. Doom Patrol #1-3
                                                                                                                                                7. Grand Passion #1-2
                                                                                                                                                8. Occupy Avengers #1-2
                                                                                                                                                9. Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1-3
                                                                                                                                                10. Reborn #1-3
                                                                                                                                                11. Star Wars Doctor Aphra #1-2
                                                                                                                                                12. Thanos #1-2

                                                                                                                                                Thursday, December 01, 2016

                                                                                                                                                Monthly Update - November 2016


                                                                                                                                                1. Stay on budget. I've bought 10 of my 12 seasons (Angie Tribeca, Better Call Saul, Full Frontal Seasons 1-2, Supergirl, Last Panthers, Preacher, Night Manager, Mr. Robot, You're The Worst) which puts me right at the budget for the year. Overwatch put out a free Halloween mode, and that's been keeping me plenty busy in videogame land. Although I'm already eyeing some stuff for next year.

                                                                                                                                                POP CULTURE GOALS:

                                                                                                                                                1. Read 15 Books (5)
                                                                                                                                                • None
                                                                                                                                                2. Read 100 Graphic Novels (66)
                                                                                                                                                1. Supergirl by David & Frank Book One TP
                                                                                                                                                2. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 1 HC
                                                                                                                                                3. Alex + Ada Vol 1 HC
                                                                                                                                                4. Star Wars Heroes of the Rebellion HC
                                                                                                                                                3. Catch up on TV/Movie DVDs and Blurays
                                                                                                                                                • None
                                                                                                                                                  4. Play 15 New Boardgames (30)
                                                                                                                                                  • Pandemic Legacy
                                                                                                                                                  • Machi Koro
                                                                                                                                                  • King of New York
                                                                                                                                                  • Mysterium
                                                                                                                                                  • Die in Space!
                                                                                                                                                  • Spartacus A Game of Blood & Treachery
                                                                                                                                                  My Picks of the Week For This Month:
                                                                                                                                                  1. Champions #2
                                                                                                                                                  2. Occupy Avengers #1
                                                                                                                                                  3. Power Man and Iron Fist #10
                                                                                                                                                  4. Batman/TMNT Adventures #1
                                                                                                                                                  5. Captain America Sam Wilson #15
                                                                                                                                                  6. Thanos #1
                                                                                                                                                  7. Captain Marvel #10
                                                                                                                                                  8. Star Wars Han Solo #5
                                                                                                                                                  9. Black Widow #8
                                                                                                                                                  10. Serenity No Power in the Verse #2
                                                                                                                                                      Other Comics I Read This Month (577+57=634):
                                                                                                                                                      • All-New Wolverine #14
                                                                                                                                                      • Alters #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Amazing Spider-Man #21
                                                                                                                                                      • Avengers #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Avengers #1.1
                                                                                                                                                      • Batman/TMNT Adventures #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Black #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Black Hammer #5
                                                                                                                                                      • Black Widow #8
                                                                                                                                                      • Britannia #3
                                                                                                                                                      • Captain America Sam Wilson #15
                                                                                                                                                      • Captain America Steve Rogers #7
                                                                                                                                                      • Captain Marvel #10
                                                                                                                                                      • Champions #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Chew #60
                                                                                                                                                      • Civil War #7
                                                                                                                                                      • Clone Conspiracy #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Daredevil #13
                                                                                                                                                      • Disney Pirates of the Caribbean #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Doctor Strange #14
                                                                                                                                                      • Doctor Strange and the Sorcerors Supreme #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Doom Patrol #3
                                                                                                                                                      • Ether #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Ghost Rider #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Grand Passion #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Great Lakes Avengers #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Hadrian's Wall #3
                                                                                                                                                      • Harbinger Renegades #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Invincible Iron Man #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Jessica Jones #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Kill or Be Killed #4
                                                                                                                                                      • Lake of Fire #4
                                                                                                                                                      • Moon Knight #8
                                                                                                                                                      • Moonshine #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Motor Girl #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Ms. Marvel #13
                                                                                                                                                      • New Super Man #5
                                                                                                                                                      • Occupy Avengers #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Power Man and Iron Fist #10
                                                                                                                                                      • Prowler #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Reborn #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Red Dog #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Saga #40
                                                                                                                                                      • Savage #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Serenity No Power in Verse #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Silk #14
                                                                                                                                                      • Slam #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Spider-Woman #13
                                                                                                                                                      • Star Wars #25
                                                                                                                                                      • Star Wars Annual #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Star Wars Han Solo #5
                                                                                                                                                      • Thanos #1
                                                                                                                                                      • The Castoffs #2
                                                                                                                                                      • The Skeptics #2
                                                                                                                                                      • Vampire Hunter D Message From Mars #1
                                                                                                                                                      • Voltron Legendary Defender #4
                                                                                                                                                      TV I Watched This Month:
                                                                                                                                                      • Arrow "A Matter of Trust" "Penance" "Human Target" "So It Begins" "Vigilante" "Invasion"
                                                                                                                                                      • Atlanta "Juneteenth" "The Jacket"
                                                                                                                                                      • Better Things "Duke's Chorus" "Scary Fun" "Hair of the Dog" "Only Women Bleed"
                                                                                                                                                      • Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Monster in the Closet" "Mr. Santiago"
                                                                                                                                                      • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend "When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?" "All Signs Point to Josh... or is it Josh's Friend?" "When Will Josh And His Friend Leave Me Alone?"
                                                                                                                                                      • The Crown "Wolferton Splash" "Hyde Park Corner"
                                                                                                                                                      • DC's Legends of Tomorrow "Justice Society of America" "Shogun" "Abominations" "Compromised" "Outlaw Country"
                                                                                                                                                      • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency "Lost and Found" "Rogue Wall Enthusiasts"
                                                                                                                                                      • The Flash "Monster" "Shade" "Killer Frost" "Invasion"
                                                                                                                                                      • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee "President Obama" "Meet the (Russian) Press" "Post-Election" "November 14, 2016"
                                                                                                                                                      • The Good Place "...Someone Like Me As a Member"
                                                                                                                                                      • Insecure "Racist as Fuck" "Thirsty as Fuck" "Shady as Fuck" "Guilty as Fuck" "Real As Fuck" "Broken as Fuck"
                                                                                                                                                      • Last Week Tonight With John Oliver "School Desegregation" "Multilevel Marketing"
                                                                                                                                                      • People of Earth "Pilot" "Sponsored By" "Acceptance" "Past, Present and Future"
                                                                                                                                                      • Pitch "Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez" "Wear It" "San Francisco" "Unstoppable Forces & Immovable Objects"
                                                                                                                                                      • Stan Against Evil "Dig Me Up, Dig Me Down"
                                                                                                                                                      • Star Wars Rebels "The Antilles Extraction" "Hera's Heroes"
                                                                                                                                                      • Supergirl "Survivors" "Crossfire" "Changing" "The Darkest Places" "Medusa"
                                                                                                                                                      • Timeless "Party at Castle Varlar" "The Alamo" "The Watergate Tape"
                                                                                                                                                      • Tracey Ullman's Show "Pilot"
                                                                                                                                                      • Westworld "The Adversary" "Trompe L'Oeil" "Trace Decay" "Well Tempered Clavier"
                                                                                                                                                      • You're the Worst "Talking to Me, Talking to Me" "The Inherent, Unsullied Qualitative Value of Anything" "You Knew It Was A Snake" "No Longer Just Us"
                                                                                                                                                      Top Ten Shows This Month:
                                                                                                                                                      1. Westworld
                                                                                                                                                      2. Atlanta
                                                                                                                                                      3. Better Things
                                                                                                                                                      4. You're the Worst
                                                                                                                                                      5. Insecure
                                                                                                                                                      6. The Good Place
                                                                                                                                                      7. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
                                                                                                                                                      8. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
                                                                                                                                                      9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
                                                                                                                                                      10. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
                                                                                                                                                      Movies I Watched This Month:
                                                                                                                                                      • Doctor Strange
                                                                                                                                                      • Scott Pilgrim vs The World
                                                                                                                                                      • Midnight Run
                                                                                                                                                      • Time Bandits
                                                                                                                                                      • L.A. Story
                                                                                                                                                      • Planes, Trains and Automobiles
                                                                                                                                                      • Ocean's 11
                                                                                                                                                      Places I Ate This Month (254+25=279):
                                                                                                                                                      • Brooklyn Pie Company
                                                                                                                                                      • Chili's
                                                                                                                                                      • Chi'Lantro
                                                                                                                                                      • Corner Bakery
                                                                                                                                                      • Firehouse Subs
                                                                                                                                                      • Fuddrucker's (x3)
                                                                                                                                                      • Haymaker
                                                                                                                                                      • Hoover's
                                                                                                                                                      • Jason's Deli
                                                                                                                                                      • Juarez Mexican Bakery
                                                                                                                                                      • Mod Pizza
                                                                                                                                                      • New Fortune Chinese
                                                                                                                                                      • Outback Steakhouse
                                                                                                                                                      • P. Terry's
                                                                                                                                                      • Pluckers
                                                                                                                                                      • Popeye's (x2)
                                                                                                                                                      • Red Robin
                                                                                                                                                      • Shake Shack
                                                                                                                                                      • Torchy's Tacos (x3)
                                                                                                                                                      • Wingstop