Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011’s Best Stuff

I waited on this longer than I had planned. I mean, it’s going to be on time (which you can tell because you’re reading it), but I kept putting it off.
I’ve actually put a lot of things off this last couple of months. I finally figured out that it wasn’t the weather or Thanksgiving or lack of parties that has had me down. It’s work. I’m in one of the miserable slumps I go through every ten months or so where I am just despairing about having to do this for twenty-five (or more) more years. But I think I’m coming out of it now. A new year is looming and I see nothing but hope and joy in the future. No, seriously. I’m starting to feel good. Of course, another major factor is that as I write this introductory section I am a few hours away from seven days of work-free life. And I need it. Badly.

And the best part is that the final day of my vacation will see not only the return of a DCW Hooligan, but the event that is subbing in as my New Year’s Eve party since I will be at work – the Tone Deaf Pig-Dogs are playing at the Clermont again. Shit yes. Old punkers and older titties and I cannot wait.
But for now, let’s get down to business. We’ve got neat-o stuff to discuss.

Best Movie – Captain America
First let me give an honorable mention to Tucker & Dale Versus Evil. It was absolutely amazing, but does not have the same replay value as Cap. I’ll watch Tucker & Dale again, but I’m going to be watching the winner here a lot.
A whole lot, because I bought the Blu-Ray and have watched that twice already. Sometimes when I love a movie in the theater or the first time I see it or whatever it just doesn’t seem to shine as much the second or third time around. Captain America got better. I loved it even more the second time and the third recognized that it was going to be one of those movies like Big Trouble In Little China or Wrath of Khan that I’m going to watch over and over again. Everything about the movie is almost perfect. From the cast to the story to the overall old-school feel Joe Johnston gave it. Even the score is just fantastic.
I also have to give The Muppets an honorable mention. Like Tucker & Dale and Mary Poppins, it was practically perfect in every way, but just doesn’t have the same replay value as Cap.
Best Ongoing Comic Book –
Uncanny X-Force
DC really fucked themselves on this one. I tend to define “Ongoing Comic” as something you get twelve issues of in a year, and I didn’t buy twelve straight issues of anything from DC. And I’m sure DC was just frothing at the mouth to find out what obscure blogger #1,38,922 was going to pick as the best comic of the year.
So DC was pretty much out, but I did buy twelve issues of quite a few titles from IDW, Image, and Marvel. I enjoyed Hack/Slash all year, The Walking Dead continues to be twice as compelling as the AMC snoozefest it spawned, and Deadpool MAX is consistently hilarious.
But Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force makes me hungry. If some horrible asshole told me I could only buy one comic, this would be it. Every month I cannot wait to get my hands on these fantastic stories. I don’t always make it to the comic shop on Wednesday, except when this book is coming out. The story that Remender has woven around Angel, Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fanotmex (one of my favorite mutants), is compelling and affecting. This is old-school Marvel Mutant storytelling at its very best; Claremont’s form brought into the modern era of sequential art.
Speaking of art, it has been top-notch in this book from the start. Jerome Opeña, Esad Ribic, Rafael Albuquerque, Billy Tan and Mark Brooks are all excellent creators whose styles are consistent and complimentary enough that there was never a jarring transition that disrupted the book. Whoever is in charge of such things should be commended, because every book I’ve ever followed has suffered from that at some point.
I love this fucking book.
Best Story Arc in A Comic Book –
Cobra Civil War
I wasn’t totally on board with IDW’s take on GI Joe in the beginning. It took a while for things to get going and there was so much of Cobra getting over on the Joes that it was getting ridiculous. But it all totally paid off. The discovery of the Cobra organization was handled so well across all of the GI Joe titles that looking back on it I am amazed at the minds behind it. It was a ballsy thing to take so long to fire things up.
But when they did light the fuse, IDW did not fuck around. Beginning with the death of Cobra Commander and culminating only recently with a new player taking the mantle (no spoilers here, but I have a feeling there’s another surprise in store there), Cobra Civil War felt like the most epic story that has been told in the world of GI Joe since Larry Hama’s original run. I loved DDP’s take on GI Joe, but even their amazing and colossal World War Three storyline doesn’t compare with this one.
After Cobra Commander is assassinated by deep-cover operative Chuckles (!), Cobra’s Board of Directors (or whatever) hold a competition for the top Cobra operatives to see who will be the new Commander of Cobra’s forces. It’s just awesome, people. Please buy it when they collect it. It’s a great story and each tie-in book was always near the top of my stack. I can’t wait to sit down and read the whole thing again.
Best Single Issue Comic Book –
Batgirl #24
I have no problem telling you that if this series had not ended it would have beaten Uncanny X-Force as Best Ongoing. Bryan Q. Miller took a character that many people hated – though I have always liked Stephanie Brown – and made her as iconic as Tim Drake or Wally West.
This was the final issue of Miller’s run and I still think it is a crime that Miller isn’t writing Stephanie Brown right now. But the issue itself was as near-perfect a conclusion as you could want. It wrapped up all of the lingering stories from the previous twenty-three issues while painting a hopeful future (that we’ll sadly never get to see) for Steph. This book made me very sad and very happy at the same time. Thank you, Mr. Miller and fuck you, DC.
Best TV Series – Fringe
For three years in a row I have chosen this marvel of serialized science fiction as the best show on television. This is remarkable not just for the fact that it has beaten out every other show on the air (that I watch), but also because it has had three excellent seasons. In a row. Not even Buffy did that. I can’t think of another show I’ve watched ever that had three great seasons in a row. Or maybe even at all.
Fringe continues to be fresh and exciting. When it changes the status quo it does so successfully and it never feels like a cheap gimmick (even though we all know it sort of is). It pulled of a game change in a way that not even the almost-flawless Eureka could. The characters are all fresh in ways ranging from subtle to dramatic. But everybody has been affected to some extent by the loss of Peter Bishop. These are fundamentally different people, yet they are still the characters we’ve grown so fond of over the past four years.
Fringe manages to be epic and intimate at the same time. I doubt that it will retain its vitality and momentum every single year and every year I am proven wrong.
Best New TV Series – American Horror Story

What an absolutely sick and fantastic show.
Everything about it hits just right for me, from the storytelling to the setting to the fantastic acting to the cinematography. Every second of American Horror Story is delightful. This is a show that I am going to sit down and study with relish once it comes out on Blu-Ray. I can’t wait to watch the whole thing in a short span of time.
It is amazing to me that such a bizarre, grotesque story has unfolded as cohesively and competently as this one. The story of this house and its inhabitants has been so well-paced and thoughtfully executed; like nothing I’ve seen on television in years. There was a clear plan from start to finish and the creators stuck to it. It’s been such a rewarding experience following these characters and their stories.
Also, young Moira is so fucking hot that, in the words of Brian Posehn, “I wish I had two dicks so I could beat off twice as hard to her.”
Best “Reality” TV Series – Tosh.0
Once again Daniel Tosh wins this category handily. With the best presentation and sharpest writers of any show in the category, Tosh.0 is a show we watch as soon as we can. Now that we record almost everything we watch on the DVR, it’s impressive for anything to be a priority.
Note: I thought the Fear Factor revival might sneak in at the end of the year and win this one. Nah. I still love it and the new ones are really good, but Tosh still wins.
Best Wrestler – CM Punk
For months now CM Punk has been the only reason I was still watching WWE programming. While I actually stopped watching entirely back in November, Punk still provided me with a ton of entertainment the rest of the year. His matches are always as good as they can be given the environment - his series with Cena are among my favorites – and his mic work is beyond reproach.
While I have actually enjoyed the efforts of some local indie wrestlers far more – Dany Only, Pandora, Shane Marx, to name a few – this year, Punk is the guy that’s on TV and is the most accessible. And there’s no denying he’s just as good as he says he is.
Biggest “Holy Shit!” Moment in Wrestling – CM Punk retains the WWE title and walks out
I had no problem picking this one because there were so few. Punk shocked the world by sitting down on the RAW stage and cutting one of the best fake shoot promos any of us have ever heard. And then he claimed he was going to leave WWE after successfully defending his WWE Championship. And he did.
Of course, WWE completely mishandled every single thing after that, but Punk’s execution was flawless and the resulting media frenzy could have been the biggest help to the business in years if WWE management weren’t a bunch of scared, incompetent fuckwits who wouldn’t know a good idea if it was taking a shit in their gym bags.
And don’t get me wrong – Punk winning that match and just walking the fuck out was great and surprising. And the few weeks after that where he showed up in random places with the title and talked shit were outstanding, particularly the Mattel panel at San Diego comic Con. But then he came back and everything was just business as usual. Which leads me to a new category:
Best “Holy Shit!” Moment in Wrestling –
The Empire takes over Platinum Championship Wrestling
Punk’s actions were the biggest. They were televised. Everybody was talking about it, and it cannot be denied that initially it was a well-executed plan.
But the thing that actually shocked me the most took place in front of about eighty people at the Academy Theater in Avondale Estates on November 11, 2011. The institution that is Platinum Championship Wrestling was effectively ended when Shane Marx – perennial white hat and default face of PCW – turned on the company and helped the fiendish coalition known as the Empire take control of everybody’s favorite local wrestling promotion.
Yeah, yeah. It won’t last. PCW will be PCW again at some point. But it was surprising for the Empire to win and absolutely shocking for Marx to be the catalyst of that win. And the best part? That it all makes sense. Marx lost the title and never really seemed to get a fair shot at regaining it. The biggest name in the company, the symbol of PCW, and he never got his chance. And it took months for this to unfold.
Best Album –
The Hunter – Mastodon
This was a tough one. In addition to the winner up there, we also got a fantastic new album from the Beastie Boys, Anthrax’s return to thrash metal greatness, and an excellent new album from Kittie. But The Hunter stands above them all. I cannot stop listening to this album. It’s one of those deals where if I’m listening to my Zune on random and a song from The Hunter comes on, I have to go and listen to the whole album.
Of course, I’m the same way with Le Sexoflex, but that came out a couple of years ago.

Best DVD/Blu-Ray –
Batman: Year One
I looked all over Needless Things and apparently I never did a review of this one. I’m going to make up for that now:
           Batman: Year One is so much more awesome than I really expected it to be. Go buy it immediately.
5 out of 5
That sums it up. It really is a nearly perfect adaptation of Miller and Mazzuchelli’s masterpiece. The animation brings Mazzuchelli’s artwork to life with very little in the way of modification. The story is almost one hundred percent intact. The voice work is all very good, but Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle and Bryan Cranston as Lieutenant James Gordon stand out.
Among the extras are a Catwoman short that is excellent, a preview of Justice League: DOOM (which looks excellent), a couple of featurettes, a commentary by many of the creators including Andrea Romano.
Best Show to Watch With Kids –
Adventure Time With Finn & Jake
We all love Adventure Time. The humor is clever enough for adults and broad enough for kids. The animation is both simple and complex and the stories are the same. We like Regular Show also, but it gets a little racy for 4-year-olds sometimes so that loses points.

Best Toy Line –
Doctor Who by Character Options
I almost gave this one to the UK-based company last year, but couldn’t quite justify it due to what I perceived as limited play value and the unquestionably high prices of their toys (in the US, anyway). But this year CO has hit the biggest home run ever by expanding the line, keeping their prices the same despite the rising MSRP of other toy lines, and just generally providing the most comprehensive toy line outside of Hasbro’s Star Wars juggernaut.
Would you like a replica sonic screwdriver priced like a toy? Done.
How about a plush talking Dalek? Done.
Oh, perhaps you’re a fan of the classic Doctor Who of 1963-1989? Have fun saving enough cash to buy everything available.
Or maybe you wish LEGO had the Doctor Who license so you could build your own TARDIS or even a Dalek assembly factory. Screw you, LEGO. Character Options did it themselves. A full line of mini figures and playsets from the classic series and the relaunch are available now.
Not only has CO broadened the scope of its’ Who toy line, it has also improved the quality of its core lines – Classic and Modern. The articulation and decos on the figures has been getting better with each release. I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing about this fantastic, all-encompassing line of Doctor Who toys. So awesome.
Best Online Store – JRsToyworld.com
Okay, this might be kind of tough to justify since I only buy Doctor Who toys from this place. But this really is the best place to get them. The prices are always better than BigBad or EntertainmentEarth. Sometimes by a little, sometimes dramatically. But the customer service is outstanding, they seem to get everything a good bit earlier than the others, and you can use PayPal to reserve stuff.
Best Website – JimShooter.com
Earlier this year Jim Shooter started this blog collecting his reminiscences, ideas, and beliefs about the comic book industry and on occasion life in general. Almost every single entry is a compelling read on its own, but Shooter’s interactions with his commenters is equally entertaining. Some are fans and some are professionals, but Shooter treats them all as equals.
I’ve never before seen such a thorough and revealing look at the industry that I loved since I was a little boy.
Best Thing on the Internet – Things Could Be Worse
I found this late in the year, but it is outstanding. It’s awfully steampunky, but addictive as heck. Don’t take my word for it – go check it out. I guarantee you’ll flip through at least twenty entries before you can tear yourself away.
Best Live Event –
Monstrosity Championship Wrestling – 10/22
Yeah, this wins simply because I was the ring announcer. But it was still a heck of an entertaining night.
Best Song –
"Make Some Noise” – Beastie Boys
While I couldn’t choose the Beastie’s new album over Mastodon’s as the best this year, I can definitively claim “Make Some Noise” as the best song. Not only is it simply a kickass song, it was also the ultimate return of one my favorite bands ever. This is the classic Beastie Boys sound I've been waiting to hear.
I would give an honorable mention to Anthrax's "Fight Em' ("Til You Can't)", but that song is actually three years old.
Best Music Video – "Juiceboxxx"
Le Sexoflex
I can't explain it, but Le Sexoflex has become one of my favorite musical entities over the past year. Their album/mixtape Invagine the Pussibilities is one of the filthiest and funniest things I have ever heard, while still being a very solid musical accomplishment. Also, they proposed to me via Facebook and that gets all kinds of points from me.
"Juiceboxxx" is one of my favorite songs on the mixtape and thanks to the beat and the filthy, sexy lyrics is classic fuck music. Not lovemaking. Fucking.
The video was directed by one Chuck McCarthy, who also stars as the creepy stalker. I don't know anything about the guy really other than he made a super funny video. Also, Princess Genius at the end of the video - holy shit, you guys.
Best Individual Toy –
Starscream Sky Striker by Hasbro
The regularSky Striker was a fantastic toy. It would be the winner if this SDCC Exclusive variant had not been released. But to repaint that excellent toy as Starscream, throw in Cobra Commander as a pilot, and even include a tiny Megatron gun; well that’s just fucking genius. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t actually transform, this is a toy anybody who was a kid in the 80’s dreamed about. And Hasbro made it happen.
Best “News Format” TV Show – Attack of the Show
AOTS is still regular viewing in the Troublemaker house, but I feel like 2011 was a bit rocky. Candace Bailey took over at the beginning of the year, and while she is adorable and very entertaining to watch, she lacks the edge that Sarah Lane and Olivia Munn had and the show is a bit softer and less entertaining as a result. I hate to say anything bad about such a seemingly sweet person, but I just don’t think she’s the best fit for the show.
However, AOTS is still the only place for all the stuff I care about (and some I don’t, Whips, Rides and Hoons) and they mostly do a great job of catering to my dorky self. The game and tech reviews are trustworthy, Around the Net has the most current videos from the internet, and the off-the-cuff atmosphere is a lot of fun during the guest interviews. Throw in an excellent group of co-hosts and correspondents – Chris Gore, Sara Underwood, Blair Herter, Chris Hardwick, Alex Sim-Wise and my new favorite Grace Helbig – and you’ve got a fast-moving, entertaining show that is well worth your DVR space.
Note: Needs more Sim-Wise. Lots more. Whoo.
Hottest Chick of 2011 (Aside from Mrs. Troublemaker, of course)–
Alexandra Breckenridge
Normally I try to judge this category on more than just looks, and the fact that I don’t know a thing about Ms. Breckenridge’s for-real personality should really disqualify her. I try not to be shallow, people. Well, not totally shallow. But HOLY SHIT, DUDE:

Yes. I know that song is fucking terrible. I didn't make the video.
Best T-Shirt – Appetite For Eternia
This is really just one of the greatest t-shirts ever: Here's a better shot of the design:
I just really wanted to get that awesome Skeletor plush in there. You can go buy one here.
Best Meat –
Jason Wilson’s “Dennis the Penis”
I don’t know if Mr. Wilson actually calls it that, but he should. Also, this is an inside joke that only he and I will get and he probably won’t even see. But that’s how I roll.
Best Action Figure –
GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
Snake Eyes (Ninja Commando)
In a year that offered Outer Space Men, Leela, Leech, Alice from Resident Evil (finally!), the craziest fucking Freddy Krueger you ever saw, and countless outstanding GI Joes it was difficult to pick a winner. But Snake Eyes takes the prize.
This is nearly the perfect version of the Joe’s resident ninja/commando. He includes every weapon Snake Eyes might conceivably carry, is immaculately sculpted, painted and articulated, and was seven bucks.
If you want more, go here, but just know that I stopped buying multiples of characters just for the heck of it long ago (when I have a choice) and was still thrilled to own this one.
Best Restaurant – Pallookaville!
Yeah, I know this isn’t technically a restaurant, but shut up. If I could only ever eat out at one place forever, it would be Pallookaville. Not just because the corndogs they make are the most amazing fucking thing ever, but because Lil’ Troublemaker loved ‘em and that kid does not love food. Seriously guys, think about this: they’re just corndogs. Hot dogs in cornmeal on a stick. But they’re better than pizza. Better than chicken fingers. Better than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, even. And I make really fucking good PB&J’s.
If you happen to see the Pallookaville chow wagon around town, you go over there and buy a fucking corndog. Otherwise you are clearly demented.
Best Dragon*Con Costume –
Kraven the Hunter
Okay, my penis wanted me to give this coveted award to Red Devil Dawn:
But I think we all know that's pretty far from the best costume that was at Dragon*Con this year. It might be worn better than many others, but there honestly isn't that much to it. But it is a very nice costume.
So the for-real best costume goes to this fella:
That's just a darn good costume. Lots of others probably took more work, but the guy nailed Kraven. I'm pretty sure he wanted to nail me, too. Can't fault good taste.


Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

3 comments:

  1. Great post & great t-shirt! LOL! I MUST see that Year One- one of my all time favorite books!

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  2. I'd gotten waaaaaaay behind in my GI Joe reading, and only just the other day started to dive into Cobra Civil War. It's so fantastic that I almost read the entire story arc in a single sitting (there's, like, 5-6 issues left to go still that I will be reading tonight--thank you for not spoiling it).

    Also, I, too, would like to offer a big "fuck you" to DC for ending such an incredible title as Batgirl was (especially given how disappointing the current Batgirl book is...).

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  3. ToyBox - Yes. Go out and buy Year One RIGHT NOW!
    Varis - Batgirl is better written in Nightwing for some reason.

    ReplyDelete