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 2019 Year-End Roundup (Part 2)!
***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 2019. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2019, but 2019 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) ’80s Anime (Television and Movies)
As comic book and sci-fi fans (i.e. nerds), especially those of us creeping on in years, we tend to gravitate toward the nostalgic and our remembrances of things from our youth, things that really created a lasting impression. Returning to these things as adults, well, sometimes our fond memories just don’t stand up to the test of time (the original Star Wars trilogy, for instance…simmer down, simmer down, they just don’t thrill me the same way as when I was a kid, I still love them, though). The great thing is that some shows that wowed me back in the day actually do stand up to how I remember them and such is the case with much of the ’80s anime I loved so much. Here are some I revisited in 2019:
- Riding Bean - An Original Video Animation (OVA) from 1989 that you can watch by subscribing to the Night Flight service or by buying the available DVD. The story is fairly simple, but thrilling: Bean Bandit is a driver with his gun-toting sidekick Rally Vincent getting into all sorts of trouble. Trailer
- Bubblegum Crisis - Eight episodes of OVA fun from 1987 with armored woman protecting the city from the menace of rogue “Boomers,” robotic workers that get twisted and go insane. Also on Night Flight and a Blu-ray is available. Trailer
- Gunbuster - Released in 1988–1989, Gunbuster is one of my all-time favorite anime series. Everyone who likes anime must check it out, but I am sorry to say that the DVD and Blu-rays are OOP and I don’t believe these six tremendous episodes are streaming anywhere as of now. Sorry. Trailer
- Fist of the North Star - The movie released in 1986 alongside the regular television series (which I have not seen). This “beat ’em up” spectacular gets a little wonky on the making sense side of things but, hey, grab a beer and go for it. I watched it on Prime, but I don’t think it is currently streaming there. Trailer
- Lily C.A.T. - 1987’s Lily C.A.T. is one that I forgot I had seen before, but stumbled upon while searching Amazon Prime. An anime homage to the movie Alien, this short, fun, and oftentimes scary movie was totally thrilling and a heck of a lot of fun. Fan-made trailer
- Space Adventure Cobra - When a space pirate seemingly returns from the dead—along with his psycho-gun arm—he falls for a beautiful bounty hunter who wants to collect on his head. So much fun and a trip and a half with some truly experimental visuals on this 1982 treasure. There’s also a television series that I need to find and watch. The movie is available on Amazon Prime. Fan-made trailer
There are a ton of other movies and television anime out there that I need to reacquaint myself with including Robotech: The Macross Saga and hopefully Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato (if I can track them down).
2) Avengers: Endgame (Movie/Blu-ray)
Oh, my stars and garters! If I had seen this as a kid, it probably would have killed me. To see most of my favorite heroes (sorry, Adam Warlock) fighting Thanos would have been more awesomeness than my short, pudgy frame could have handled. After 11 years of buildup after the release of Iron Man—a movie, at the time, I never dreamed would exist—Marvel actually succeeded in pulling off the impossible with a thrilling movie that brought it all home, especially after the devasting events from the previous year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Dang, I think I need to watch it all over again…for the third time.
3) Danger 5 (Television)
Okay, yeah. I know. Danger 5 came out a while ago, and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of this hilarious, Australian-produced spoof on American spy shows from the ’60s/’70s that focused on World War II (for the first season) and of the dark, gritty action shows that encapsulated much of the ’80s (for the second season). In fact, this is probably the third or fourth time I’ve watched and laughed my way through Danger 5. Basically, Danger 5 are comprised of five secret agents from five different countries: Jackson (US), Claire (UK), Tucker (Australia), Ilsa (Russia), and Pierre (From somewhere in Europe, no one knows). These secret agents are tasked with killing Hitler by Colonel Chestbridge, an eagle-headed military man who is not above whipping out the “Sit Down Gun” to keep his people in line. The Danger 5 face off against Nazi lizard men, weaponized dinosaurs, and weirdo Kaiju in their efforts to take out the Fuhrer, which they succeed in doing…or did they? Thus kicks off the second season, which contrasts the bright and cheery first season with a gritty ’80s feel that deals with cops, high school, shopping malls, ninjas, and…oh, yes, more dinosaurs. Basically, Danger 5 is batshit crazy and I absolutely love every dang episode. Unfortunately, it is no longer streaming on Netflix, but I was able to find low-res episodes on YouTube. Once you watch the first couple of bizarre episodes (with their model cities, planes with strings attached, and brutal overacting) I can guarantee you’ll be hooked. Just be sure you have your perfect cocktail recipe to read off to Pierre. Hurrah!
4) 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast)
Yup, David, Jason, and Vince B. continue to produce my favorite podcast after all these years. This is not just my favorite comic book podcast, but my favorite podcast. Period. The boys and the occasional special guest make my work commute infinitely more tolerable as well as keep me running an extra block or two or three when I’m out exercising. 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 simply adore their show.
5) Game of Thrones (Television Show on HBO)
Yes, the show that had captivated pretty much everyone I know in both my personal and professional lives finally came to an end with the eighth season. Did it end how I hoped it would end? Not quite, but I still greatly enjoyed it and it is still very much something all fans of fantasy need to experience. Do I wish the creators would have drawn out various moments (Daenerys losing her cool or her and Jon Snow drifting apart after being one hell of a power couple) and wrapped up other plot lines/moments more quickly (episodes where people hung around chit-chatting that didn’t serve much of a purpose)? That “Long Night” episode with the Night Walkers, though, dang…that was freaking intense and awesome.
6) House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)
I love these beastly books. Over five pounds and filled with 26 issues of pure ’70s horror brought to you by such greats as Bernie Wrightson, Jack Kirby, Len Wein, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Alex Toth and so many more. Individual stories can run anywhere from one page to eight and all are geared toward the creepy side of the spectrum. You might need a spotter to heft this monster and you will definitely want to pick it up on sale, but most of the stories in this massive tome are total gems that will thrill, chill, and give you your fill…of the heeby-jeebies, that is. Oh, and lookie there, I just received the latest volume of this book’s sister title: House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2!
7) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)
At almost 400 episodes of cryptids, serial killers, conspiracy theories, reptilians (like Moscow Mitch McConnell), and all other assortments of oddity subject matter, I have listened to every episode—some multiple times. I generally listen to Ben, Henry, and Marcus at work and there have actually been a few times I had to press pause and “walk it off” because I was cracking up and starting to scare my coworkers. Give ’em three episodes or so on something you’re interested in like Jeffrey Dahmer (icky!) or Albert Fish (brrrrrrr) and you will be hooked. I also love having random people say “Hail Yourself!” when I’m wearing my TLPotL t-shirt. I also can't wait for their book The Last Book on the Left to come out.
8) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show on HBO)
It’s a shame that in order to get to the heart of what is actually happening in the world that we have to turn away from regular news sources (and no, Faux News is not a credible source of news or an example of journalism in any sense of the word) and turn to a comedy show filled with f-bombs to get to the truth. Oliver makes me laugh when my heart is racing at the latest awfulness being enacted/enabled by our criminal of a President and the GOP. It’s going to be a long wait until Oliver returns in February when I’m sure we will be needing our spirits lifted from whatever shitshow Drumpf is enacting upon the world at that particular moment.
9) Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection (Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics)
Did you know that J. Jonah Jameson has a son? How about that he was an astronaut? No? Well, he does and he’s all sortsa dreamy. John Jameson also recently came back from a trip to the moon where he brought back a mysterious, groovy red gem that he, in turn, swiped from his job. Long story short, he’s a man-wolf now. Yup. Goes around attacking people, causing, mayhem, and fighting the likes of Spider-Man and Frankenstein’s monster. Some might call it a curse. All kidding aside, I loved this collection that brought back some fond memories of listening to the Power Records 45 rpm/comic over and over and over again. I also had a smattering of issues from the ’70s featuring Man-Wolf that I loved and this wonderful collection brought it all back while also introducing me to the insane issues where Man-Wolf goes from savage beast to swashbuckling fantasy hero. Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection stands up to the test of time and is well worth seeking out for some weirdness from the likes of Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Doug Moench, John Byrne, John Romita, and many more.
Also, bonus points if you know what the hell is going on in this panel from the book...wow…just wow.
10) Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother (Graphic Novel from Titan Comics)
Sadly, Ms. Tree is a crime comic from the ’80s that I somehow missed the first time around that survived a few publisher jumps and lasted until the early ’90s. Michael Tree—yes, her name is Michael, don’t call her Michelle—is a female private detective who after the murder of her husband takes over the successful private detective business and finds herself in all sorts of dangerous situations. Written by Max Collins and illustrated by co-creator Terry Beatty. Ms. Tree began a 50-issue run that began in 1983 at Eclipse Comics, then went to Aardvark-Vanaheim, then to Renegade Press. During that time there was a Summer Special, a 3-D comic, another 3-D comic, a three-issue crossover at First Publishing called The P.I.’s: Michael Mauser and Ms. Tree, and finally a 10-issue run at DC Comics for the Ms. Tree Quarterly which was an 80-page noir spectacular in each issue. The first Ms. Tree collection from Titan Comics opts to not go chronologically and reprints a few stories from Ms. Tree Quarterly and boy howdy are they great. You don’t need to start at the beginning as this collection throws you in the deep end and you hit the ground running with no trouble at all. I can’t wait to get the next volume this summer.
11) Pod Save America (Podcast)
It’s kind of hard to say that I “enjoy” this podcast as it is a response to the horror/shit show that is everything Trump and the GOP. Former aides of President Obama, Jon Favreau—Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor—recap the week’s calamities, bringing actual facts and insights into the world of politics. Yes, they skew to the “Left,” but that just means they are critical of both sides (god, I hate those words…both sides, ugh) and call out where the crimes, lies, and injustices are taking place. Pod Save America cheers me up when the news of the world is so damn horrendous and political criminals seem to get away with robbing us of our money, our healthcare, our retirement, and our rights as the uber-wealthy get richer and richer.
12) Resident Evil 2 (Playstation 4 Video Game)
This is the remake of the Playstation 2 game that blew me away so many years ago with its combination of zombies, corporate conspiracies, puzzles, nigh-unstoppable monsters, and limited resources. The main differences: some majorly kicked up graphics, tweaks to the actual story, and I believe some end-of-game extras…provided you didn’t die a whole bunch like I did. Oh, well, that’s okay, I’ll just have to play the game again, only this time I will start with Claire instead of Leon to get some slightly different cut scenes. Whether you played the first Resident Evil 2 back in the day or not, this remake is well worth your time if you are a fan of survival horror games and it’s pretty darn cheap nowadays, too. I will say this, there ain’t no better feelin’ than launching an incendiary round straight into a plant-man’s face. Prepare to be scared!
13) Stranger Things (Television Show on Netflix)
If you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Stranger Things. Between the ’80s nostalgia kick, the amazing and loveable characters, the creepy monsters, secret agencies and special powers, the phenomenal soundtrack and score, and so much more, the first season blew my mind even more than Game of Thrones at the time, as did the second and the third seasons; the title credits alone are something I never get tired of experiencing. Scary and unnerving, laugh-out-loud funny, and oftentimes heartwarming, this show hit pretty much ALL of the Donist buttons in the best of ways. Now, with news of the fourth season beginning production just a few days ago, I’m going to be biting my nails until it releases (hopefully) much later this year. I guess I’ll just have to head out to the mall, play some Space Invaders at the Gold Mine, and drink Orange Julius drinks until I’m sick in order to pass the time. I think what this Donist needs is a bingemode rewatch of epic proportions. *side note—I REALLY want this Lego set.
14) Swamp Thing by Alan Moore Absolute Edition Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)
Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of my top-three comics of all time. It never gets old for me and it is one I read every other year. It makes me want to be a better writer and it took my love of the original series (check the next item) that I have loved since the age of five or six and compounded it countless times over. I have all of the original issues, the first round of trades, and now this glorious deluxe hardcover. This gorgeous, slipcased edition holds an oversized, velvet wrapped hardcover with metallic inks and a ribbon bookmark and boasts recolored artwork that is stunning and vibrant—as the Green should be—but I will say that I still hold a place in my heart for the original colors. This beast of a collector’s treasure trove is a must-own collection, but it is damn expensive given that it only contains issues 20–34 and Annual #2. That said, it does have a substantial amount of backmatter including additional stunning art from Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, and others that make this well worth the price. I love this book and I can’t wait for the second volume that drops in August of 2020.
15) Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Omnibus (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)
As I have said countless times over the years, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing is the series that showed me not all comics are created equal. It was with Swamp Thing #10—damn, I love this issue!—that Wrightson’s stunning art changed the way I looked at comic books with his depiction of the horrific Anton Arcane battling my favorite swamp monster as the moon blazed through the trees and deep, sprawling shadows lined the combating monsters, their muscle definition conveying the toll each of their blows was taking. But there was also a solid story, that even though my reading was limited at such a young age, to which I was able to follow along. Un-Men resurrecting the “deceased” Anton Arcane, escaped murderers in chains, the horrors of slavery, hauntings, and the deepest and darkest of evils all came through loud and clear as I lingered on each lovely page. I read that issue until it literally fell apart, but with this must-own omnibus, you get it all. This collection contains The House of Secrets #92 (first appearance of the Swamp Thing…or at least an early version of him), Swamp Thing #1–24 (with the incredible run from Wein and Wrightson as well as some…interesting…later issues from other creators), Saga of the Swamp Thing #1–19 (which preceded Alan Moore’s life-changing run and that had plenty of fantastic issues from Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates), and Swamp Thing Annual #1. Fans of Moore’s issues should definitely check out Alec Holland’s original roots and fans of the character cannot do without this historic book.
16) Unnatural (Graphic Novel from Image Comics)
2020 saw the release of the “final” two trade collections of Mirka Andolfo’s gorgeously painted, infinitely sexy, don’t-let-your-coworkers-see-what-you’re-reading, NSFW (get the hint?) adventure/supernatural/erotic comic book series. The story follows Leslie, an anthropomorphic pig girl, who has a power growing within her linked to a long-passed big, bad wolf who gives her all manner of dreams. Couple this with a mysterious cult who seems to know of her power and seeks to take it from her by any means necessary and Leslie’s once-normal life becomes a fight for survival. Always looming in the background, however, are the ultra-rightwing laws that prohibit inter-species as well as same-sex relationships among the populace and forced “racial purity” by requiring young adults to find, date, marry, and procreate only with a member of their own species of the opposite sex after a certain age. Unnatural is a wonderful series that is something to behold and one that I hope to see more of following the hint that there is more to come. I will definitely be following Andolfo to whatever she does next. Did I mention this series is NSFW? Whoa, spicey!
17) Us (Movie)
If you had told me that Jordan Peele of the hilarious Key & Peele television show was going to direct/produce/write two of the best horror movies of the past couple of decades, I would have said you were nuts. I’m so glad to be wrong. After the phenomenal Get Out, Peele delivers Us, a taut, psychological horror about a family on vacation who is tormented by a family of twisted doppelgangers. That’s all I’m going to say about it other than you need to see this masterfully written and directed movie that had me checking under the bed and nervous to open the door to the outside world.
18) Watchmen (Television Show on HBO)
They said it couldn’t be done. I didn’t believe it could be done. But HBO and Damon Lindelof actually pulled off a continuation of the industry-disrupting, masterpiece Watchmen (written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, DC Comics, 1986) comic book with nine brilliant episodes that completely drew me in from the first episode all the way through to the end. The television show, set thirty years after the events of the comic, provides the next logical path for the surviving characters while introducing a host of new characters into a world that is once again on the brink of collapse, only this time there’s the double-sided threat of the white supremacist, Rorschach-identifying, Seventh Kavalry and the corporate juggernaut that is Trieu Enterprises. Thrilling, humorous, freaking weird, and with continually building mysteries to which you eventually receive answers, Watchmen—like Stranger Things S3 and Game of Thrones S8—had me anticipating and celebrating every moment I was able to watch the next enthralling episode. If you have not read the original comic, then you should be able to follow the story of the television show—plenty of people have been able to do so—but you will definitely get more out of this exceptional television show after reading what is the greatest comic book series of all time.
19) Weapon Brown (Graphic Novel from Death Ray Graphics)
First up: Just rush out and buy this. Do it. This is a must-read comic of epic proportions that completely took my breath away this summer after I had heard about it from Jason Wood on the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. Everythinged by creator Jason Yungbluth, this is what happens when you take Charlie Brown and Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, put them in a post-apocalyptic world, change their names to Chuck and Snoop, give Chuck a deadly robotic arm, and have them cross paths with other popular strip characters like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, and tons of others. Not only that, throw in some harsh language, sex, nudity, violence, and some of the most creatively insane ideas I have ever witnessed on the page, and you get Weapon Brown. It is true that this 400+ monster of a heavenliness released a few years ago, but it sure as heck is new to me, thus the addition to the Year-End Roundup. I REALLY hope to see a return to this gem of a comic at some point in the near future.
As indicated by the extra eight pounds I put on toward the latter part of the year, beer doesn’t really appear to be loving me as much as I love beer, thus my 2020 resolution to greatly dial back my beer and alcohol consumption. That said, I do need to mention some of the outstanding beers/breweries that rocked my world in 2019, that will probably sneak into many a pint glass in 2020 when I consciously decide to indulge:
- Alvarado Street Brewery (Brewery) - My friend introduced me to this brewery back in the fall, when their offerings began appearing in select places around Santa Barbara. They release tons of mind-blowing Hazy IPAs in ’80s-inspired, beautifully-designed, individual, 16-ounce cans. And when I say “tons,” I mean if you find a beer you love (VERY likely), don’t expect to find it on the shelves the following week. The good news is that whatever offering happens to be available at any given time, it is sure to be at worst better than everything else and at best something life-changing.
- Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels from Founders Brewing Co.) - At least I have four bottles left until this tried and true Donist World darling returns.
- w00tstout 2019 (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - Hells yes! They put this out in six-pack cans with box and can art by none other than comic great Alan Davis! Hells no! I only got one six-pack in reserve left. You came and went too fast w00t, much too fast.
- 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.) - A super-duper stout aged in whiskey barrels with vanilla, cinnamon, Mexican coffee, and cacao nibs that is now readily available after Epic’s acquisition of Santa Barbara’s own Telegraphy Brewery which is within walking distance. Damn, this one’s good.
- Modern Times Brewery (Brewery) - Modern Times just opened a location on State Street and if I’m in the mood to sample a bunch of fantastic Hazy IPAs or barrel-aged stouts, then heaven is but a short drive away.
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 2019 and I wish you all the best for 2020! Thank you for reading.