Friday, January 8, 2016

Donist World 2015 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting (Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin sounding stuff that I don’t understand.)

Hey there, denizens, and Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier,  whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cartographer of life Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Last week’s post took a while to put together, and seeing as how we didn’t even start writing until that very Friday, I did not have the time to include the “Heavenly Things” portion of the Year-End Roundup. So, please have a look at my top 30 heavenly things of 2015, while the Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before we begin to map the course of our lives for the coming year.

Friday Slice of Heaven For the Year - Part 2!

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2015 (Part 1), 2014 (Part 1), 2014 (Part 2)20132012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below came out before 2015, but 2015 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these things as much as we do.

Donist World 15 (Times Two) Heavenly Things (In Alphabetical Order)

  1. 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast) - There are some great podcasts out there, but none leave me as eager for the latest weekly installment than the EOC podcast, which is exactly what its name suggests: a comic book podcast. The thing I love about EOC — aside from getting me through some of the darker times at an old job I had — is how passionate David, Jason, and Vince are about comics and all things comics related. They succeed in delivering a show that makes you feel as if you are sitting right there with them and part of their comic book family for the near-three-hour show. Not only am I a huge fan, but EOC keeps me fit as I try to only listen to the podcast while on long runs as encouragement for getting out there and working off that pizza…and beer…and cookies…and…
  2. Arrow (Television Show and Blu-ray) - Even though the third season of this show seemed to meander a bit, it was still a blast. Throw in a few The Flash crossovers and this Donist is just as happy as can be. We are now about a third of the way through the fourth season, and I am loving seeing former side characters step up to become forces to be reckoned with. I am quite eager to see how things play out in 2016. 
  3. Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man (Movie and Blu-ray) - Okay, I don’t think Marvel will ever top 2014 when they released the one-two punch of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, but 2015 was still plenty of alright. Both Avengers: AoU and Ant-Man are thoroughly entertaining and — come to think of it — both are something I need to watch again in the near future.
  4. Beer (Beer) - Rest assured, Denizens, beer will be on these Roundups for as long as I do them. I love beer. I love to drink it. I love to make it. My favorites this year were: Pliny the Elder (Double IPA from Russian River Brewery), Grapefruit Sculpin (IPA from Ballast Point), Nelson (IPA from Alpine Beer Company), Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year (Coffee Stout from Stone Brewing Co.), and Wookey Jack (Black Rye IPA from Firestone Walker Brewing). The two craziest beers I had were the phenomenal Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale (Elysian Brewing) and the stoopidly strong Cuivre (Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale by The Bruery).
  5. Danger 5 (Television Show) - Ha ha ha ha. You can watch this show on Netflix, which I strongly encourage you to do as soon as possible. This Australian gem captures all of the best / worst / cheesiest moments of ’70s film and television as a group of special operatives head out on a weekly mission, which inevitably ends up being…to kill Hitler. Fighter jets with visible strings, dinosaurs, spies, judo chops, robots, clones, mixed drinks, and a level of silliness that still has me cracking up just thinking about the show, provided this Donist with his basic food groups of humor. It also has a kick-ace soundtrack. Season two takes a decidedly different turn in tone, but so did the ’80s…way…back…when. 
  6. Daredevil (Television Show) - I wanted this show to be good sooooo bad. SO BAD! And Daredevil managed to be far better than I ever hoped. Holy moley, this show is fantastic. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, ALL perfectly nailed the characters I have loved for most of my life. The dramatic moments are tense, the fight scenes flawless (you MUST see the one-take fight scene from episode two that gives anything in The Raid a run for its money), and the story is faithful to the source material while also managing to be fresh. Season two cannot come soon enough.
  7. Ex Machina (Movie and Blu-ray) - Here’s the thing: not every sci-fi show needs digitally created spaceships, or aliens, or explosions, or one-liner zingers. Nope. This thought-provoking, slow-burn, sci-fi drama makes due with one digitally created robot, a handful of actors, and an elaborate, isolated home setup in the wilderness. The near-palpable tension of Ex Machina had me on edge from beginning to end, and stuck with me for quite some time afterwards. I will revisit this one some day in the future.
  8. The Flash (Television Show and Blu-ray) - While DC’s fantastic Arrow leans toward the darker side of things — which is great — The Flash looks to balance the scales with a (slightly) lighter superhero drama. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen is charming to the max, and puts everything into his character, as does Ramon Valdez (who plays Cisco Ramon…one of my many favorite characters), as does, come to think of it, everyone on this always fun superhero show. It needs to return from its hiatus ASAP!
  9. Game of Thrones (Television Show and Blu-ray) - Yeah, I also wanted to smash some stuff (not my stuff, of course) following the season five finale, but after some deep breaths, some stretches, and a long run, I was able to come to the conclusion that it’s all going to be okay. <sigh> <ugh> I hope it’s going to be okay. This season was a punch to the gut (actually, more like 27 punches to the gut), but it also had some jaw-dropping, teeth-clenching, wide-eyed moments I need to revisit before the arrival of season six.
  10. The Good Wife (Television Show and DVD) - So, what does this show have to do with comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, beer, horror, or any of the things I tend to ramble on and on about? Nothing, Denizens. Nothing. What it does have in common with things I thoroughly love is the show’s dedication to great storytelling. Julianna Margulies is a powerhouse actor on this legal drama about a woman rebuilding her life and career in the wake of her husband’s public scandal and conviction. We should all be open to broadening our horizons, and there is no better way to this than with the tremendous The Good Wife.
  11. Gotham Academy (Comic / Graphic Novel) - I have strayed a bit from the DC Comics (and Marvel Comics if we are keeping tabs), but when had a sale too good to pass up on this title I had to take a chance; I’m glad I did. Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschel, the book follows Olive Silverlock’s return to the prestigious Gotham Academy school, where nothing is ever as it seems. You could probably classify Gotham Academy as DC’s attempt to create a YA book, but with the talent involved what you get is a fun, captivating, beautifully illustrated series that I desperately need to continue with upon the release of the second volume.
  12. Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel) - As a kid growing up in the ’70s, I was only allowed to buy so many comics. Unfortunately, there were many other options calling to me that Howard the Duck always ended up getting bumped to the side. Bummer about this, but I was probably too young to get much from Steve Gerber’s commentary on corporations, politics, or madness anyways. As an adult, though, I loved every page of this book, especially given the Frank Brunner and Gene Colan art. Howard the Duck is not just a cult classic, it is a classic.
  13. Inside Out (Movie and Blu-ray) - Pixar! I knew they still had it in ’em! After skimming tons of glowing reviews for this gorgeous animated film, Amy the intern and I begrudgingly made our way to the theater to find an exceptional movie about the nature of emotion, growing up, and change. Dang, it’s been months since I saw Inside Out and just thinking about it is kinda tweaks with my feelings.  Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Disgust have been running the show that is Donist’s brain for too long — time to replace many of those orbs with some dang Joy for a change. You should do the same and watch this great move. Be warned…you will cry.
  14. iZombie (Television Show and DVD) - After having binged our way through our share of programming, we finally found ourselves between shows. Despite iZombie being produced by Rob Thomas (of the awesome Veronica Mars series), Amy the intern initially wanted nothing to do with “yet another scary zombie show.” That’s not what this is. Based on of Chris Roberson and Mike Allred’s comic book series of the same name, iZombie is about future doctor-to-be, Liv Moore, after she is turned into a zombie. She works at the Seattle morgue where she eats brains to gain “impressions” from the hosts, solve crimes, and keep her from going into “full-on zombie-mode.” Engaging, at times gross, and most of all fun, iZombie is a show I’m so glad we gave a chance. Plus, Rose McIver is charming enough to wake the dead.
  15. Jessica Jones (Television Show) - The Netflix Marvel Originals this year greatly surpassed my expectations, in fact they crushed them. I only read a few issues of the Alias comic book series, and this show about a complex, superpowered P.I. (fantastically played by Krysten Ritter) with a messed up past made the Thanksgiving Weekend a great one. Action, drama, a great story, a wickedly terrifying villain (David Tennant), an awesome Luke Cage (Mike Colter…ummmm…yeah, I was his body double for the show. You believe me, right?), cool sets, and it filled me with a sense of excitement for whatever Marvel has in store for us next. Watch it now!
  16. Justified (Television Show and Blu-ray) - Crud. We only have one more disc of the season six series finale left to watch. By the time you read this, we will be done with this awesome show. Based on Elmore Leonard’s short story Fire in the Hole, the series follows Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (perfectly portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, who Amy the intern loves to remind me is one of the sexiest men alive), who returns to Harlan County, Kentucky, to right the wrongs perpetrated by former childhood friend, Boyd Crowder. This show has been a fantastic ride, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.
  17. Learnin’ Things and Stuff - Just a quick Donist World Self Improvement mantra to tout the joys of lifelong learning. This year I learned the Digital Publishing Suite side of InDesign (before money-grubbing Adobe decided to change up their business model and remove it to a separately charged program) and created a Comic Books & Craft Beer app. On my own, I learned HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and some Ruby on Rails with a plan to go deeper in 2016. Plus, learnin’ sh!t is fun, yo!
  18. Locke & Key (Audiobook) - The Locke & Key comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez is not just one of my favorite horror comics, it is one of my favorite comics…period. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the creators were offering an audiobook version of the series for free through Audible/ Be warned, though. I think listening to this exceptionally produced and voice acted audiobook will be confusing to those who have NOT read the original comic book version first, as pictures do speak louder than words…errrrrr…voices. Unfortunately, the free promo is over, but you can still buy the 13.5-hour-long expansion to an already killer work.
  19. Mad Max: Fury Road (Movie and Blu-ray) - My best friend emailed me on the day the first trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road popped up online and said I should check it out. My initial thought was that the trailer would point to a cheesy, awful reboot of the Mad Max franchise that I would have no intention of ever watching. Wrong. I was blown away. Cut to opening day, and I was not disappointed by this insane, whirlwind of a movie that left both of us reeling. I am holding off buying this one until the inevitable “directors cut” with the rumored black and white version finally drops. This one is a blast!
  20. Mad Men (Television Show and Blu-ray) - As I have said before, I went reluctantly into Mad Men, but one day Amy the intern was playing the first episode of the first season in the background, and I stopped what I was doing so I could give this Donist World Darling the proper attention it so rightly deserved. The series wrapped this summer and it was everything I wanted it to be. Mad Men is a brilliant period piece and character study, and the question around the Donist home is not what our favorite moment of the series was, but when we are going to start re-watching this amazing show.
  21. Manifest Destiny Vol. 2: Amphibia and Insecta (Comic Book and Graphic Novel) - I freaked out about the first volume of the series (here), and I sung the praises of the second volume (here), and now I am gladly proclaiming my love of this series once again. Oh my stars and garters this series is great! A revisionist look at the Lewis and Clark expeditions, only with some truly terrifying monsters and mind-bending mysteries thrown into the mix. Manifest Destiny Vol. 3: Chiroptera and Carniformaves comes out in just over a month, and it is safe to say that it is one my most anticipated reads of 2016. Please please please pick up this scary-but-exciting-as-heck series as soon as you can so that we continue to see this story unfold!
  22. The Martian (Novel, Audiobook, and Movie) - It’s not that far of a stretch to say that we comic book readers are an obsessive lot. So what happened after I read the first few sample pages of the novel? Why, I bought the Kindle version of the book (couldn’t wait to get a physical copy), and I doubled down on the bargain-priced audiobook. I then blasted through the novel, immediately went on many long runs so I could dive back in with the audiobook, and then a week upon finishing that saw the brilliant theatrical rendition starring Matt Damon. Now, whenever I am worried or stressed out about something, I think, What would Mark Watney do? However you choose to experience The Martian, you win at the game of awesome.
  23. Miracleman Book 3: Olympus (Comic Books and Graphic Novels) - This is the hardcover I have been waiting to own for almost three decades. Written by Alan Moore with stunning art by John Totleben, Miracleman is one of the harshest looks at the superhero genre to ever see publication, but is also one of the best. I both loved and was appalled by this series as a kid, and the same holds true today after reading this newly colored and lettered volume. Now, if only Marvel would stop with the single issues and just put out the Gaiman / Buckingham hardcover(s) so we can get on with the never-published material we have been waiting for, I will be a happy camper.
  24. Pumpkin-Flavored Anything (Pumpkin Y’All!) - I don’t need to go into much detail here, do I? You’re either a pumpkin fiend or you’re not. I love the pumpkin pancakes, scones, muffins, and pies. Pumpkin beers are 50% hit or miss with the aforementioned Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale by Elysian Brewing being one of my favorites, and Avery’s Pum[KY]n existing as a mind-altering experience (and pricey) that all beer nerds need to check out. Amy the intern’s chocolate chip pumpkin cookies are to die for. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s pumpkin coffee is a just plain awful, but you can’t win ’em all.
  25. Ready Player One (Novel) - Yes this book was released back in 2012, but I discovered it this summer. Written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One taps into everything I have grown to love throughout my life: sci-fi, comics, new wave music, television, film, evil corporations (love to hate), and the list goes on and on. Set in 2044, Wade fancies himself as the king of pop trivia, which he uses to great success…in the virtual world known as OASIS. Wade’s real life? Not so thrilling, until a real world corporation seeks to bend him to its will. An enjoyable read that had me doing some research of my own on many of the references — Sword Quest: EarthWorld, anyone?
  26. Star Wars: Crimson Empire and Legacy (Graphic Novels) - I was able to get the Crimson Empire Omnibus and the three Legacy Omnibus volumes during a Comixology sale that priced each of the 400+ page tomes at $3.99 each. Crimson Empire is a blast (focuses on a character from the Emperor’s Crimson Guard) and I am about to finish the first Legacy (Luke Skywalker’s grandson Cade Skywalker features prominantly), and loving every page of each. Yeah, they are “expanded universe” and no longer in canon, but who cares; they are fun and worth checking out.
  27. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Movie) - Dang, Denizens. I saw the first trailer and then did everything I could to not see or read a smidgeon of info about this movie. With perseverance and a great amount of luck, I made it to the theater with little interference from Disney’s meddlesome marketing machine; just a scratch or two. After the utterly stupid “prequels,” I had some doubts as to whether or not the film could recreate the excitement of the original Star Wars, but Abrams pulled it off with flying colors. I cannot wait to rewatch this awesome sci-fi extravaganza that made me feel once again like young Donist.
  28. Starlight (Graphic Novel) - Written by Mark Millar and gorgeously illustrated by Goran Parlov in a style that oftentimes reminded me of Moebius, Starlight completely took me by surprise. I had grown tired of Millar’s previous ultra-violent fare, but found this fantastic, heartfelt story thrilling and compelling, and was smiling all the way through to the end. Part sci-fi love letter to pulp heroes such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, part commentary on living life to its fullest, Starlight is a graphic novel I would gladly hand to anyone seeking an introduction to the wonderful world of comic books. I reviewed all six issues here, and will be rereading this heavenly treasure again soon.
  29. Stray Bullets: Uber Alles Edition (Graphic Novel) - Yes, I am exceptionally late to the game on this series that came out during the heyday of the black and white indie boom, and before the money grabs that severely damaged the comics industry. You will probably need a spotter to heft this 1200-page beastly tome as each reading is a bit of a weightlifting workout, but this truly fantastic comic is 100% a must read for all fans of crime comics done right. This volume contains issues 1–41 — I gushed about this one in a quick look here and then as a whole here.
  30. The Wicked + the Divine Vol. 2: Fandemonium (Comics and Graphic Novel) - Wait a minute…what?!?! I did not talk about the second volume of the freakin’ great series The Wicked + the Divine?!?! <sigh> Sorry about that, Denizens. First off: my extensive thoughts on the first volume here. My thoughts on volume 2: VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The deal about this series is that I keep buying the trades, and then a friend comes to visit resulting in me giving them my copy of this fantasy comic about gods being reborn on Earth every 90 years (a VAST over-simplification of the story). I then repurchase the trade and repeat the process. The third volume comes out in less than a month, and I’m sure I will be giving it away to a new eager reader upon finishing that one, too. You need to be reading this.

The "Pending" Reading List
Parker "The Score"
From Hell
Locke and Key…the whole dang thing (rereading!)
Woodwork - Wally Wood
Amulet Vol. 6
The Royals: Masters of War
Ms. Marvel Vol. 2
A Bunch of Kickstarter Comics

If there is anything you think I should be reading (or beer I should be drinking) then let me know either here or on twitter (@TheDonMcMillan) or email me at Thanks for reading Donist World and all the best for you in 2016!


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