Sunday, December 30, 2018

Donist World 2018 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, but the perfect soundtrack for contemplating the things we love. Welcome to…

Donist World 2018 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

Hey there, Denizens, and a soon to be 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/New Year kibble nibbler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2018 while Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before mapping out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups to see all things heavenly including Part 1 for 2018. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2018, but 2018 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 our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)

1) 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast)

Yup, still my favorite podcast after all these years. You catch that? Not just my favorite comic book podcast, my favorite podcast. Period. David, Jason, Vince, and the occasional special guest have helped me get through some dreadful times at a job long past and currently make my work commute infinitely more tolerable. They discuss everything from current mainstream comics, to lesser-known titles, to books of the past, to the comics industry as a whole, to other media, and regularly have comic creators take up the fourth chair. I’ve never met these cats, but they feel like family at this point and I adore their show…even though they are wrong about The Goon...just sayin’. I contribute to their Patreon, and you should too.

2) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)

While we’re on the subject of podcasts…Marcus, Ben, and Henry also seem like my younger brothers from other mothers. If you are looking for a podcast that is laugh-out-loud funny while being painstakingly researched on such topics as serial killers, cults, cryptids, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and the supernatural, then look no further. I will admit that it took two episodes for me to fully get into the show, but once it became clear how much work they put into each installment and how informative each one is, I was 100% in. Over the past two years, I’ve listened to all 340+ episodes—some multiple times—made my wife a believer, and have been contributing to their Patreon for almost a year now. You can also visit their site here.

3) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Movie)

Talk about a complete surprise. I first heard about this one earlier in the year and I honestly wrote it off as a Meh, maybe I’ll watch it when it comes to streaming. Then the buzz started happening. Work colleagues who don’t care about comic books or movies about comics were carrying on about it, and reviewers I trust and follow were going crazy about it as well. I decided why not check it out. HOLY MOLY! It is a masterpiece. Everything from animation, music, and most importantly story contributed to a cinematic triumph that is not only the best animated film I saw in 2018 but one of the best films I have EVER seen. I cannot wait to rewatch and to pick up the Blu-ray whenever it is released. Definitely, see it on the big screen with a great sound system, you will be so glad you did.

4) The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling (Graphic Novel)

My brother surprised me with this book for my birthday. I had never heard of the publisher or the creators and I had no idea that this book even existed until he placed it in my grubby mitts. This well-researched book explores the roots of wrestling from back in prehistoric times to carnival sideshows to the current multibillion-dollar industry it is today. Jeff and I became fanatics right around the time of the WWF’s Wrestlemania II and followed for many years after. This book touches upon not just those halcyon days, but well before and well after. I especially enjoyed learning about the insane business dealings and inside politics of “The One True Sport.” Whether or not you are a wrestling fan this is one you should check out. (Created by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno, published by Ten Speed Press)

5) Kingdom Rush: Vengeance (iOS Game)

One franchise of tower defense games will rule them all! Kingdom Rush sucked me in. Then came Kingdom Rush: Frontiers followed by Kingdom Rush: Origins. Heck, Ironhide Game Studio even took a fun-as-all-get-out leap into outer space with Iron Marines, but now they’re back on Earth with their latest installment Kingdom Rush: Vengeance! This time around, you take the side of the evil Vez’nan as you control goblins, dark elves, the undead, and all manner of hellishly cute creatures as they strike back. I am already anxiously awaiting updates to my favorite iOS game franchise of all time.

6) Avengers: Infinity War (Movie)

After years of building off of the massive success of the first Iron Man film, the moment I never thought would see (I also never thought I’d see an Iron Man movie) finally arrived: Thanos on the big screen. All the Avengers, Doctor Strange, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Spider-Man somehow broke through oppressive corporate nonsense to come together to face their most dire foe. Their meeting was better than anything I could have ever hoped for. After nearly two and a half hours of action and thrills and staggering shocks, I left the theater completely exhausted and not sure how to process the tragic (yet completely expected by this comic book fan) events of the movie. I will be taking the day off of work the Friday the sequel debuts so I can grab lunch, have a few beers, and see how it all ends.

7) Thanos Wins (Graphic Novel)

Donny Cates has been blowing me away for the past year and a half. He has been crushing it with his Marvel work on titles like Doctor Strange, Damnation, Venom, and The Death of the Inhumans. He even wowed the Donist World puppy executive team with Cosmic Ghost Rider, a character he created (or rather, created off of previously created characters and concepts), but what blew us away the most was the series that introduced that character in the first place: Thanos Wins. Now, I’ve said many times, that Jim Starlin is the only one who has ever really handled Thanos to my satisfaction, but then Cates comes in and gives us a tremendous look at what happens when Thanos gets what he has always wanted. We finally see what happens when Thanos wins. I am definitely rereading this early in the new year. (Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw and others, published by Marvel Comics)

8) Deadpool 2 (Movie)

I always thought the character of Deadpool was…whatever. He was fine, but not something I really gave much thought about. Then I saw the first Deadpool movie. Oh. My. Gawd. I was laughing so hard I was crying, and that was during the opening credits. The rest was even better. Then came the sequel. I don’t know what it says about me, maybe it’s the times, but I had little hope for what the sequel would bring. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Deadpool 2 was every bit as good as the first with the introduction of Cable (Josh Brolin...awesome) and Domino (Zazie Beetz...awesome…and gorgeous) and the rest of “X-Force.” I just watched this for a second time a couple days ago and I’m already gearing up for a third. Great action, great comedy, great thrills, oh my!

9) Marvel on Netflix (Television)

Yeah, I know, I’m totally cheating, but it’s my list and I can do whatever the hell I want, including lumping a bunch of great shows into one category. Daredevil season three was definitely the best of the four series we saw this year, but Jessica Jones was exciting, Luke Cage was consistently better than the first season, and Iron Fist miraculously rallied into something I thoroughly enjoyed after the fairly-awful first season gave one of my favorite Marvel superheroes a thousand-palms strike to the midsection. Man, I was even thoroughly stoked for the hinted at third season of Iron Fist…only to find all of the series had been canceled. WTF?!?! We’ll see what happens in the new year, but my hopes for a Heroes for Hire or Daughters of the Dragon series are probably going to be dashed.

10) Unnatural (Graphic Novel)

Whoa! Oh my. Excuse me as I fan myself, for I do believe I have the vapours. My goodness. First off: not for the kiddies and NSFW. Lordy no. Just look at the cover and you will get a hint as to why. This is a world where anthropomorphic animals run the show, and some of them—specifically the star, a pig girl named Leslie—are S-E-X-Y as hell. Leslie works a dumb job, spends time with her housemate, obsesses over sushi, and often dreams about her big, bad wolf. The problem with Leslie’s involuntary fantasy is that the totalitarian government (ugh, so much totalitarianism these days) has decreed that interspecies relationships (and homosexual relationships, for that matter) are “unnatural” and a punishable crime. Breathtaking art and colors bring to life this beautiful statement about love and the perils of oppression in a twelve-issue series from the hyper-talented Mirka Andolfo. Part social commentary and part drama with a dash of the supernatural, Unnatural is a thrilling and sexy-as-hell comic that I can’t wait to see more of in 2019. (Everythinged by Mirka Andolfo, published by Image Comics)

11) Spider-Man (PS4 Game)

Sigh. I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t. But I know The Last of Us 2 is going to be coming out someday hopefully soon, and Best Buy was having a sale on the PS4. I bought one. For $199.99, I got a PS4 bundle that came with the new(ish) Spider-Man game and I was in no way ready for the experience. Yes, the story is great, the animation is gorgeous, and it’s mighty satisfying to web some fool to a wall before he knows what hit him, but the highlight of this game is being Spider-Man as he swings all across New York City. Man, climbing to the tippy-top of a skyscraper, leaping off into the vast sky, plummeting down countless stories only to catch yourself at the last minute with a strand of webbing before swinging to a senses-shattering leap across the park to land atop a light post before striking down some muggers?!?! Okay, beating up the muggers is fun, too. This game is pure joy and I still have so much to see and do.

12) Extremity Volume 2: Warrior (Graphic Novel)

The first volume of Extremity took my breath away in 2017 and the final, concluding volume did the same in early 2018. An odd mixture of Hayao Miyazaki’s manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and the film Mad Max: Fury Road, Extremity follows Thea of the Roto clan as she continues her path of bloody vengeance against a rival clan that took her family and her greatest gift. The cycle of revenge and violence will never cease unless Thea can somehow change, and change is never easy. This is the book that turned me on to Daniel Warren Johnson who is now not just one of my favorite artists, but one of my favorite writers as well. I truly hope Extremity one day gets the oversized hardcover volume it so rightfully deserves. Brutal, haunting, yet beautiful all the same. This one is a must-read, must-own series. (Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics)

13) Space Riders, Volume 2: Galaxy of Brutality (Graphic Novel)

Okay, Denizens, dim the lights, pop a relaxing edible, finish that glass of beer/wine before pouring yourself a fresh one, and embrace your chill. Be sure to have some prog rock playing to fully embrace the mood…before having the needle on the record scratch and sharply kick into some late-’70s/early-’80s, melt-your-face-off heavy metal as you jump forward in time while simultaneously traveling backward to four-color, cosmic COMIC CALAMITY!!! That is what reading the mindbending awesomeness of Space Riders is like, a warm, velvet-gloved hand slapping you across the face. Join Capitan Peligro and the crew of the Santa Muerte as they right the evils corrupting the galaxy. Kirby meets LSD while under a black light. You need to read volume one first, before diving in deep on this fun as hell series. Fuck, yeah! (Written by Fabian Rangel Jr., illustrated by Alexis Ziritt, published by Black Mask Comics)

14) The House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus, Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)

This massive tome was a birthday present to myself this year and I’ve been loving every one of its 860+ pages. This thing isn’t the easiest to read—it sure does weigh a lot—but it is so very worth it. With stories of horror and general creepiness from the ’70s as narrated by horror host extraordinaire Abel (of Cain and Abel fame), I have but five issues remaining until I reach the end. Of what I have read thus far, I would say that roughly 85% of the stories are great with the rest being merely good. Inside, you will find such talents as Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Don Heck, Jim Aparo, and so very many others. I can only hope a second volume arrives soon, but I will merrily pass the time reading the companion book The House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus, Volume 1 when it releases next week. (Written and illustrated by various, published by DC Comics)

15) Invincible Compendium, Volume 3 (Graphic Novel)

I originally read Invincible in trades but fell off the series around volume 14. No reason why. I still adored the book, I just lost track of things. Then, years later, I heard it ended and it got me remembering about what I had been missing. So, I got all three compendiums and read them back to back. Oh, my stars and garters, had I been missing out. This ultra-violent story of young Mark Grayson finally coming into his superhuman powers and becoming a superhero who has to navigate secret identities, legacies, parental baggage (which is extensive to say the least), love, duty, betrayal, and so much more, ended up being one of the best superhero sagas I have ever read, and it’s not even one of the Big Two. I will also say that the finale is one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. Well worth reading all 144 issues from beginning to end in one fell swoop. (Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker, published by Image Comics)

16) Black Hammer Library Edition, Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)

As a huge Jeff Lemire fan, I have to admit I definitely lagged a bit on picking this one up. I’m not sure what the holdup was, but when I finally read the first trade, I instantly understood exactly what I had been missing. Black Hammer is essentially a love letter to the comics of old that celebrates superhero/horror/mystery genres by featuring new characters who are amalgamations of the classic Marvel and DC characters we all know and love. In Black Hammer, a group of heroes is trapped in a mysterious, lone town in the country where they have to hole up and try not to be discovered by the normal townsfolk. But even after the greatest of them is killed while attempting to leave the area, some begin to grow accustomed to rural life while others will do anything to escape it. This series is one of my top five comics currently being published and I love the various spin-offs as well. When this greatly oversized volume stuffed with extra goodies was released, I knew it had to be mine. There’s a reason why this series has been optioned for both movies AND television. Take the plunge and get it, get it, get it!

17) The Venture Bros. Season 7 (Television)

Wow. It’s been a good, long while since we last heard of The Venture Bros. so imagine my surprise when I did a random search online only to find that the first new episode in years was dropping in less than two weeks. Joy. The Venture Bros. is animation gold that is 100% for adults and rightfully so—especially given the Eyes Wide Shut-esque episode that had full-frontal nudity throughout. I have been with the show for nearly fifteen years now, and I will be with it until it ends while laughing time and time again with each rewatch. For those unfamiliar, The Venture Bros. follows the Venture Family: Dr. Venture, a former “boy adventurer” and now an ethically-challenged super scientist forever overshadowed by his father’s legacy; Hank and Dean Venture, Dr. Venture’s sons who tend to get into all sorts of trouble be it lizardmen, villains, or the prospect of girls; Brock Samson, the Venture family’s murderous bodyguard; and H.E.L.P.eR., a oftentimes useless robot. The Ventures are constantly under threat from b-list villains, like the Monarch, and their endless supply of henchmen. Basically, it’s a modern, comedic twist on Jonny Quest with curse words, satire, nudity, laugh-out-loud goofiness, and a whole lot of pokes at all the pop culture I love. So very good!

18) Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Television)

I was crazy for the Afterlife with Archie comic when it came out so many years ago, and I was equally thrilled by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina when it, too, was released. I LOVED the new horror twist on Archie and was always eager for the next issue…until they stopped coming altogether. That was a few years ago. Now, we at least get somewhat of a bone thrown our direction with the Netflix release of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Although not exactly as dark and doom-ridden as the comic, the television show is an immense and welcome surprise. Everyone has their moment to shine in this series with Kiernan Shipka stealing the show. Scary, funny, touching, and thoroughly entertaining, Sabrina tends to pay homage to many of the great horror films of the past, while offering plenty of clever commentary about society and religion as the menace of Satan looms in the wings. A great Christmas special just came out to tide us over until the series returns in April 2019!

19) Deadly Class (Television)

You all know I’m a huge fan of Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class comic, but I was a little worried when I heard that SYFY had picked up the rights to the television show. After seeing the advance premiere of the pilot episode, it is safe to say I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The show does not pull any punches in regard to the action and violence seen in the comic and it remains set in the ’80s with a kickass soundtrack that matches the time period. Every actor perfectly encapsulates their role and although there are some minor plot changes here and there, the pilot completely rings true to the comic and does what it is supposed to do: it leaves me desperate for the next episode. Dang! Best buckle your seatbelts, this one is going to be a helluva ride.

20) Beer (Beer)

As always, let’s close out with a look at the beers that wowed me the most in 2018. Some of these will pop up year-after-year, while others make their shiny first appearance:

  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels from Founders Brewing Co.) - Man, this one came and went too fast. At least I have two bottles left until this tried and true Donist World darling returns.
  • w00tstout 2018 (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - Hells yes! They put this out in six-packs! Hells no! I only got one six-pack and never found anything other than a single 22oz bomber after that. You came and went too fast w00t, much too fast.
  • Pliny the Elder (Double IPA from Russian River Brewing) - Finally. We are finally starting to see more Russian River beers here in town. I have had Pliny on draft at a tap room and bought a bottle at another. Still one of my top three beers.
  • Pump[KY]n (Imperial pumpkin porter aged in bourbon barrels from Avery Brewing Co.) - I had this one two days after my birthday while watching Avengers: Infinity War at home. It might be $14.99 for a 12oz bottle, but this baby packs an 18.6% ABV punch. Man, I love this one.
  • Spruce Tip Sculpin (IPA with spruce tips from Ballast Point Brewing Company) - Yes, I know they’re almost considered “Big Beer” because of their partial buyout, but dang if this update on the classic Sculpin isn’t all sorts of great. A perfect beer for the holidays.
  • Celebration Fresh Hop IPA (IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) - Speaking of great holiday beers, this classic never gets old…especially since it’s about to vanish from store shelves until next year. Time to get some more.
  • Big Bad Baptista (Imperial stout from Epic Brewing Co.) - I wish I had bought a few more bottles of this super-duper stout aged in whiskey barrels with vanilla, cinnamon, Mexican coffee, and cacao nibs. Damn, this one’s good.

That wraps up this year’s roundup. If you think of anything I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know. I hope you had a fantastic 2018 and I wish you all the best for 2019! Thank you for reading.


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