When the prospect of putting together a piece on my favorite things of 2017 presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Then I almost immediately regretted it because 2017 has been a waking nightmare from which there was no escape. OR HAS IT?
While it’s super important for me to “stay woke” (as the kids say) and stay angry, it’s exhausting. So when I began to think back over the year and how I coped with it, my chosen methods of escapism began to float to the top. Let’s have a look.
Comics are and always shall be my number one go-to for escapism. Every Tuesday (I get my books a day early because I’ve got a man on the inside) I’ll get my stack of books from my local comic shop, turn off the TV, and enjoy myself. It’s a weekly fix I don’t think I could do without.
Detective Comics: This is a book that made my Gift Guide this year because it’s so damn good. It’s a Batman book with a focus on supporting characters and it surprised me with its willingness to delve into the convoluted Batman lore of the 1990’s.
Royal City: This is my go-to creator owned book this year. Jeff Lemire continues to do stellar work in this book that chronicles the lives of one family in a small town that’s seen better days.
Independent Comics: Since coming aboard at BiffBamPop! I’ve covered a number of independently published comic books… and they’ve all been great! It’s always refreshing to see people doing great work that’s not Spider-Man or Batman and it gives me a tremendous amount of hope for the medium. Self-publishing can be an uphill battle since most comic fans’ eyes will glaze over when they’re told the book isn’t by Marvel or DC. So, to the independent comic makers: Keep up the good work! To the general comic book reading populace: Expand your minds, squares!
Logan: I hadn’t expected to have the experience that I did while watching the movie. To be kind, the 20th Century Fox X-Men movies haven’t always been the greatest. In fact, there may be one or two of them that are perennial favorites on worst-of lists. But over the last 17 years Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has always been consistently great. Never before has an actor (who was literally their SECOND CHOICE) completely inhabited a role and made it impossible to think they would ever leave.
In the end, we got the Wolverine movie that we always wanted. It was surprisingly dark, unsurprisingly violent, and unexpectedly emotional. To say that I was a bit of the mess leaving the theater is probably the understatement of the year. And this was a movie about a superhero with metal claws that come out of his hands. How is that even possible?
Blade Runner 2049: The film that answers the question, “Can we make a big budget follow-up to a cult classic that will itself become a cult classic?” Yes. Yes they did. It boggles the mind that they gave Denis Villeneuve a dump truck full of money to make a sequel to a movie that bombed in 1982 and expected this one to be a hit.
This movie should be the gold standard for how to continue a narrative in ways that don’t feel obvious or forced. Harrison Ford makes another stop on his victory lap of revisiting every character he’s ever played, Ryan Gosling continues to baffle me by doing a lot with a little all while carrying the film, and Jared Leto plays a weirdo. This movie is destined to stand alongside the original as one of the greats.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi: I was actually going to put this on the list before seeing the movie, so confident am I in Star Wars. The movie came out, I predictably loved it, then I woke up the next day. The internet was on fire with the hottest of takes on why this was the worst Star Wars movie since The Phantom Menace.
Immediately I had to do a quick poll of my friends that saw it. 90% were favorable and 10% lukewarm (PUN!). Then I decided to roll up my sleeves and get dirty by trying to find out why people didn’t like it. As it turns out, some sci-fi fans DO NOT like having their expectations subverted. They DO NOT like when a movie challenges their expectations and goes off in a new and unfamiliar direction. Which, if you think about it, is a curious position to have for a genre where LITERALLY ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
So they leveraged Twitter hashtags, made YouTube videos, and created bots to down vote the Rotten Tomatoes score all because the movie didn’t go like they expected it. To put things in perspective, Justice League has a 41% critic score on RT and a 78% user score and it was objectively not a good movie. The Last Jedi is currently at 92% critics and 54% user.
It’s utter madness that people will go out of their way to make something less enjoyable for others. The Last Jedi was not only a good movie, it was a great Star Wars movie. Have fun being wrong, nerds.
I am, at best, a casual gamer. I bought a PS4 mostly because I needed a new Blu-ray player and I use it on occasion, so this will be a short section on my favorite video game experiences from this year.
The SNES Classic: I love that I was actually able to GET one of these the day it came out. Unlike its predecessor the NES Classic (which I didn’t acquire until this year) the SNES Classic was in ready supply for those who wanted it. It’s a cool machine in a slick, small package and it’s just plain fun. Nintendo has really cornered the market on capitalizing on the nostalgia of casual gamers and it doesn’t hurt that these games still hold up after 20+ years.
What Remains of Edith Finch: A friend told me that this genre of game is referred to as a “walking simulator” and I shall hate him forever for the disservice he has done this game. What it actually ended up being is a first-person perspective adventure game… but it’s so much more than that.
As the title character you explore your abandoned family home that has shades of the Winchester Mystery House. With each room belonging to a different family member and each room having a distinct design and style of gameplay you feel like you’re getting more than one game out of the experience.
I can’t say enough good things about this game. The story was amazing, moving, and will stick with you for days after you’ve finished playing it. It feels like a ridiculous admission that a video game brought me to tears but here we are. It’s a must play.
There you have it, a few things that made it possible for me to endure the year! Now, go check them out!