Heroes and Villains: A Look Back At The Year That Was 2018

Here it is, the end of 2018…allegedly. I say “allegedly” because while I see that the calendar says it’s December 2018, I feel that it’s always been December 2018 and we’re trapped in some kind of waking nightmare. As a society, that is. Thing have been pretty okay for me, I mean I get to write about comics and comics related things every week. Living the dream!

I’m not about to do a “best of” list because I really don’t consider myself to be the arbiter of what is and is not the best out there. The things I’m going to run down in this column may not be the best…just better than most as far as I’m concerned. For whatever reason some of these things brought me joy and much needed escapism during the ten thousand days of 2018.

A brief aside, take a moment and remember that both Black Panther AND Solo: A Star Wars Story came out this year and were separated by only a few months. If that doesn’t prove to you that 2018 is supernaturally long, I don’t know what will.

The ‘Burbs

Early on in the year, one of the finest films to ever grace the silver screen finally got the remastered blu-ray that it deserved… The ‘Burbs. Arguably (in that I will debate you with little or no provocation) Tom Hanks’ best work, The ‘Burbs is less a horror-comedy and more of a comedy-horror movie that ventures into some of the darkest territory there is: suburbia.

This is one of my favorite films and Shout! Factory gave it a top flight remaster that’s jammed with a sorts of bonus features. It’s an essential purchase for any fan of Joe Dante’s work.

Marvel Movies

As a I mentioned above, we got Black Panther this year AND Avengers: Infinity War AND Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse. Ant-Man and the Wasp happened too! But more about the first three I mentioned.

Black Panther was a legitimate phenomenon that shattered all sorts of box office records, gave us a slightly new twist on the stock Marvel hero’s journey and gave us one of the all-time best Marvel villains. Then Marvel followed it up by dropping an epic crossover movie a decade in the making that pulled the rug out from under a largely unsuspecting audience.

I saw Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse last weekend and was suitable impressed with it and (surprisingly) nearly got brought to tears at least twice. The movie feels like the Spider-Man movie we needed given where we are in the character’s cinematic history. The animation was some of the best I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see it again.

Selfishly, the “best” part of the movie for me came in the form of an Easter Egg for a fictional movie sequel to Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s long departed and much loved Clone High tv show. I desperately want Clone College to be a real thing and hope springs eternal that it will be.

Spider-Man for PS4

I don’t have a ton of time for video games so I try and make my purchases count; Spider-Man delivered for me in a big way. Much like the movie I was just gushing about, this game tells a great Spider-Man story for the video game medium. It’s also pure wish fulfillment for any Spider-fan that has longed to swing through New York, fighting bad guys.

Spider-Man

The highest praise I can offer for this game is that I want more of it. I very rarely 100% games and I’m damn close to doing it on this one, but those Taskmaster missions are IMPOSSIBLE. I’m looking forward to getting the DLC missions so I can swing back into Spider-Man’s world for a little while.

The Venture Bros.

Another “that was THIS year?” for me was that we managed to get a new season of The Venture Bros. from Adult Swim. Given that they’ve produced only seven seasons over fifteen years it always feels Ike an event when the show returns. Better still, the series creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publcik manage to maintain a level of quality from season to season that is seldom seen from animated shows that have run this long.

Mandy

A friend described Mandy to me as “an MST3K-level movie that somehow sticks the landing” and I cannot think of a more apt description. Watching the movie was a surreal experience and I’m a little sad I wasn’t able to do it with an audience. I feel like Mandy is the opening shot in a whole new wave of midnight movies.

Mandy

Comics

I’ve saved the ultimate cheat for last. I can’t pick just one! There was so much great stuff that came out this year.

In doing Heroes & Villains from week to week I’ve had the unique pleasure to be given a glimpse at all the great stuff that’s being put out by creators that I may not have otherwise seen. Marvel and DC are great, and the scratch an itch but one can not survive on superhero books alone!

Whatever I’m writing about that week is my favorite book right then. It’s my job to to hopefully hype up books you may not have otherwise considered. There are a lot of creators out there that are absolutely doing some of the best work of their careers and you’re doing them a disservice by being too chicken to pick up a book that doesn’t have a guy in a bat costume on the cover.

Comics are literature. Comics are art. There’s a lot of amazing books out there if you just go and look for them.

2019

2019 is allegedly days away as I write this even though I have my doubts. I don’t know what 2019 has in store for me but there are a fair few things that I’m looking forward to seeing, doing, reading, and otherwise experiencing.

As it stands now I’m taking brief break from my day job AND H&V to relax, recharge and otherwise enjoy the holiday. I’ll be back at it on January, 9th writing about who knows what! While I’m away, get out to your local comic shop and drop some of that Christmas coin on an indie book you’d normally not read, you’ll be glad you did.

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