For all the strife our world went through, there were some solid pop culture releases that managed to make the year a little better place. As my colleagues here have been running down their favorite things, so too shall I. Let me know what you enjoyed, and if any of my faves made your list as well.
Secret Empire (Marvel): Yes, I know that this was a divisive story for many Marvel fans, what with Captain America becoming the leader of Hydra, betraying both his ideals and his friends in the process. However, as “controversial” as the story might have been, the mini-series that brought it all to a head was a strong, solid read, courtesy of concept mastermind Nick Spencer and artists Rod Reis, Daniel Acuña, Steve McNiven and Andrea Sorrentino. Unfortunately, Secret Empire brought out the worst in fanboys, some of whom seemed to forget that part of storytelling is taking us out of our comfort zones.
Doomsday Clock #1 (DC): Another title that had fans screaming sacrilege, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank took on the perhaps unenviable task of linking the DC Rebirth to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic comic book series, Watchmen. The decision is certainly a risk, as many hardcore fans view Watchmen as simply untouchable. However, the first issue of Doomsday Clock, which debuted in November, managed to alleviate concerns, at least for a time, thanks to the simply powerful combination of words and art. While the second issue, released this past Wednesday, had a distinct fall-off in my mind from a script perspective, it doesn’t diminish the genuine awe I felt reading #1. While the original Watchmen is a masterpiece, depending on your point of view, it’s a flawed one; perhaps Doomsday Clock will wind up the same way.
Deadman by Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection (DC): At long last, DC finally compiled artist Kelley Jones’ incredible work on the character of Deadman. At the end of the 1980s, Jones, whose main inspiration was the incomparable Bernie Wrightson who passed away this year, worked with writer Mike Baron on a variety of horror stories featuring Deadman, most notably the Love After Death and Exorcism prestige mini-series, the former of which is one of the most chilling comics I’ve ever read. For fans of Deadman and horror, this is a must-buy.
mother!: Darren Aronofsky goes David Lynch, and it absolutely worked for me. If you’re religious, or need your films to really make a lot of sense, you should probably steer clear. But if you’re into waking dreams and up for allegory, find some time to dive into mother!
IT: Absolutely one of the scariest films I’ve seen in forever. I make no bones about the fact that I kept my eyes covered for a good portion of this one.
Blade Runner 2049: Ridley Scott says that this film bombed because it was too long, seemingly forgetting that the original didn’t perform at the box office either, and only found its audience over subsequent years. Director Denis Villeneuve delivers a staggering blockbuster of incredible beauty; if you didn’t see it in theaters, shame on you.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: Sony and Marvel teamed up to make a Spider-Man film that genuinely felt like it was pulled from a Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run, except with souped-up toys. Tom Holland is the perfect Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and audiences agree, making the film one of the biggest of the year in North America.
Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series: As a longtime fan of the original Twin Peaks and its prequel film (I wrote a book about the show, donchaknow), I tried to keep my expectations in check as to what the third season would offer. But, like everyone else, there’s no way I could have predicted that David Lynch and Mark Frost would not only make a worthwhile series, but that they would blow any and all television conventions through the roof. Eighteen hours of storytelling brilliance, led by a constantly astounding Kyle MacLachlan. Carve out some time, grab a light, and just watch.