After giving ourselves a well deserved week off from the Watchlist we’re back with the first Watchlist of 2013. If you’re just joining us in your hungover state and considering tomorrow’s comics then this is the place to get your recommendation. Jo, Stephen and I sit round our JLA type table and discuss the options and give you an idea of what to look out for.
Jo – Colder #3 by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra:
Colder, written by Paul Tobin, with artwork by Juan Ferreyra, published by Dark Horse, is scheduled for release this Wednesday and despite being up against the likes of Marvel NOW!, Prophet, The Manhattan Projects, Punk Rock Jesus and the latest installment of ‘Death of the Family’, it’ll be atop my reading stack. The creative team behind Falling Skies is going ‘great guns’ – Tobin’s dialogue is snappy and he’s developed character and plot well so far, whilst Ferreyra’s art has possessed a hypnotic quality, as well as a fluidity, often absent from the medium. Will Reece and Declan be able to escape Nimble Jack’s world of chaos and monsters? Find out this week!
Stephen – Batman Incorporated #6 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham:
Grant Morrison’s second volume of Batman Incorporated continues this week, and shows no signs of letting up the pace or quality that has come to be expected from the title. After last issues explosive events we are promised further exciting adventures in issue 6 with Bat-Robots fighting Man-Bat armies as Leviathan’s control over Gotham City tightens. This issue also sees the return of the mysterious Leviathan agent known as The Heretic, first encountered in Batman: The Return. The writing on this title is Morrison at his mind-bending best, and the art by Chris Burnham is so, so good it leaves an imprint on your retina. Go buy this comic book while it still exists, because it won’t be around forever.
Mark – Morbius Living Vampire #1 by Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson:
Who loves Vampires? Who’s been reading Amazing Spider-Man? I’m pretty sure most people’s hands went up then. The first time I ever came across Morbius was in the Spider-Man 90’s cartoon and have loved the character ever since and after Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 which was pretty much a the zero issue for the his ongoing – I’m sold. The point one issue showed me more of his character than I’d realised he had and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. It also helps that Joe Keatinge has been doing some wonderful work over at Image Comics on Hell Yeah and Glory. Give it a go – what’s the worst that could happen?
I’ve known Victoria for only a short space of time. But her style and demeanor have always been an inspiration to me. She has a wicked fashion sense and her Cosplay is really great and somehow effortlessly accurate. Her YouTube channel explores her passion for collections, particularly in the realms of Comic Book characters and film characters in the form of Figures and Hot Toys. So, here is my interview with her, hopefully she’ll inspire you, as she has me.
Geeks Unleashed: Your YouTube channel is awesome. Tell us a bit about your collection.
Victoria Osborne: Firstly, thank you! I collect many different things, I review blu ray steelbooks and figures mostly. I’m a huge movie buff. My Hot Toys figures consist of Marvel and DC superheroes, Leonidas from 300 and a Martian soldier from Mars Attacks! Other things I don’t review but have always been collecting include Pokemon merchandise, My Little Pony (first and third generation) and general cute stuff like Hello Kitty and Tokidoki.
Geeks Unleashed: Where did your passion for HotToys etc. stem from?
Victoria Osborne: I have always loved to collect, it started with Playmobil and Lego when I was little and just stems from my love of having a ‘complete’ set of things. If I had a Playmobil hospital set, I needed the Ambulance to go with it, then the helicopter ambulance just to give my imagination that added extra when I played with my toys.
I love the detail and effort that goes into making a Hot Toys figure. I enjoy having a little piece of every bit of my interests around my room.
Geeks Unleashed: Have you been a geekette for long?
Victoria Osborne: Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a fascination for Sci-Fi and fantasy. Growing up my favourite shows were Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape. I had costumes even then, including a little Superman outfit which I begged my parents for even though it had boys sizes on the label. I got a PlayStation for Xmas when I was nine and that began my passion for gaming!
Geeks Unleashed: Tell us about your tattoos? They are badass.
Victoria Osborne: Tattoos can mean anything to anyone, but like my collections in my room, I like to collect designs of my favorite things on myself ! I had my favorite My Little Pony characters done of Fizzy and Galaxy who are first generation and Starcatcher who is a third generation pony. My Toy Story half sleeve is self explanatory, who doesn’t love Woody and Buzz? I love toys, I love Toy Story. Then I moved onto my Marvel pieces. Getting a Punisher skull behind my ear, the Cap shield on my elbow and my Iron Man pieces are all homage to my favorite heroes!
Geeks Unleashed: You have wicked geek style, tell us where you get your inspiration from.
Victoria Osbourne: I like to call it geek chic! My inspiration is once again from all of my favourite things, but mixed together. I always like to have a bit of my personality in every outfit. Even if it’s something formal, I would dress it up by wearing my Lord of the Rings necklace. Most of my casual wear is just me, throwing on a gaming or movie related tee.
Geeks Unleashed: I love your tees. You wear the most awesome Marvel stuff, can you recommend any places to purchase these?
Victoria Osborne: Most of my Marvel tees are from really simple places like HMV or Play.com
If I’m wanting something a bit more special I check out places with more custom designs like Redbubble.
Geeks Unleashed: Talk us through your cosplay. I’m thinking about Rogue etc. I think it’s really well done.
Victoria Osborne: My Rogue cosplay is a funny story, I initially just wanted a Rogue outfit because she is my favorite X-Men character and I wanted to own an outfit to be there for any impending conventions etc. A friend of mine ended up having an X-Men themed Halloween party so I just had to go all out. The bodysuit itself was custom made for me by a lovely company called Arena Costumes. I spent days trawling the internet for the perfect brown jacket and yellow boots but it still wasn’t complete! I had to commit 100% to the costume and bleach my hair to match Rogue’s even though it had been black for over ten years. Nightmare, but worth it.
Geeks Unleashed: Have you got any good gamer apparel websites to recommend?
Victoria Osborne: If you are wanting a great gaming related tee, the best places to stop off at are the actual gaming company stores themselves. All my Mass Effect tees are from the official Bioware store. Always check Qwertee,com for that added geek mix as well.
Geeks Unleashed: What’s your favorite cult movie?
Victoria Osborne: American Psycho!
Geeks Unleashed: Ever taken fashion inspiration from movie characters?
Victoria Osborne: A lot of the time I watch movies and love characters outfits but wouldn’t think they would translate very well in day to day fashion but I always like to pick up on little things. Even if it’s wearing a Black Sabbath tee that Tony Stark wore just so I could hope to look as cool as he does!
Geeks Unleashed: Any final words?
Victoria Osborne: Some people would find collecting figures a pointless hobby but there is something for everyone in the collecting world. Whether it be movies, gaming, real life icons. I have a great passion for all these things and I just like to translate it into more aspects of my life and would like for people to enjoy that too.
2012 was Geeks Unleashed first year on the interwebs and we want to thank our readers for coming by to visit us and that you continue to do so. It’s been an Amazing first year and we look forward to spending many more with you.
Happy 2013 to you all from everyone at Geeks Unleashed!
Ah, New Year’s Eve: the ultimate excuse to get up and party down. Tonight, people the world over will be celebrating New Year’s Eve in a variety of settings, in a variety of ways, and of course, with a variety of drinks. But if there’s one New Year’s Eve constant, it’s music. Yes, no party, New Year’s or otherwise, is complete without it. So, in honour of tonight’s impending festivities, I present to you my top ten party songs of all time. I’m not stranger to creating top ten lists, but this was one of the hardest I’ve ever come up with. Party music is a tough one. There’s music that’s clearly great party music (some hip-hop and electronic music for example). Then there’s the music that’s great party music only because you and your mates used to party to it (Alabama’s ‘Song of the South’ comes immediately to mind). For the purposes of this list I’ve tried to stick to the former category, but alas, man can ne’er erase the mark of experience. Enjoy, and have a happy and healthy (and music-filled) New Year!
1. C’Mon Everybody by Eddie Cochran – Opening with the immortal line, ‘come on everybody, let’s get together tonight’, not only is it one of the greatest party tunes of all time, but it’s also one of the greatest rock songs of all time. If you’re in the mood for something a little heavier, try Humble Pie or Zeppelin’s live covers of this classic.
2. Here I Go Again by Whitesnake – This is one of those anthems that seem to be tailor made for parties. The subdued beginning of the song means you can get more than a minute into the song before anyone even realizes what’s playing, but once they do, you can be sure fists will be in the air, and everyone who knows the words will be belting the chorus.
3. ________ by Andrew W. K. – How could I pick just one Andrew W. K. song? The undisputed king (and inventor?) of party rock, Andrew W. K. is partying personified. Highlights include his entire first album, I Get Wet, and the first two tracks of The Wolf (Victory Strikes Again/I Wanna Have a Party, a Jersey-rock style epic)
4. Psycho by The Sonics – U.S. garage band The Sonics are easily one of the treasures of 1960s American music. These guys were punk before punk, metal before metal, heavy before heavy. The song Psycho is a high-energy rocker that grabs you from the first second and doesn’t let go until your mind is sufficiently blown and face sufficiently melted. It’s even more amazing to think it was recorded in the mid-60s.
5. Party and Bullshit by Notorious B.I.G. – Possibly the ultimate hip-hop party song, something about it just puts a smile on your face. People who aren’t 100% hip-hop fans might find the Ratatat remix of the song more appealing.
6. La Grange by ZZ Top – Nothing quite says ‘time to party’ like a song about a small brothel outside a small Texas town. Well, maybe that’s not true, but there are few things better to hear at parties than the blistering guitar work of Mr. Billy Gibbons.
7. Come Sail Away by Styx – Another party sing-along, Come Sail Away is a tune of which at least 70% of guests will know at least 70% of the words. Though it’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve seen this song greeted at parties with everything from cheers and applause to empty (or not-so-empty) cans being thrown at the stereo. Judge your partygoers accordingly.
8. KC Accidental by Broken Social Scene – The most indie of the songs on this list, KC Accidental might not be objectively the greatest party song in the world (or even a good one), but it has personal meaning to me and will forever be an excellent party song as far as I’m concerned. Centred on the juxtaposition of airy, dream-like sounds and frantic, driving energetic rock, KC Accidental is actually a pretty good sonic representation of what goes on in most people’s brains at a party.
9. Salty Dog by Flogging Molly – Punk rock is great party music. So is Celtic folk music. So of course I had to include a Celtic punk band on the list. Salty Dog is little more than a cover of the Kesh Jig with modern lyrics, but it is guaranteed to get you jumping (or possibly growing a handlebar moustache and entering an old-timey bout of fisticuffs)
52 weeks of the year and Marvel were determined to make the 52nd week count with the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man in stores on Boxing Day here in the UK delivering the Peter Parker’s final scene. This story line has made the headlines worldwide and sadden readers. Dan Slott the writer of Amazing Spider-Man even receiving death threats all of this has led to issue #700 selling out at distributor level and Marvel are bringing it back in stores on the in January 2013.
The 700th issue sees Doctor Octopus promising to continue the mantle of Spider-Man in Peter Parker’s body. As a long time Spider-Man fan I was incredibly disappointed to see Peter Parker die but I’m interested to see where the franchise goes from here. See you in 2013 Spider-Man. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 SECOND PRINTING VARIANT (NOV128135) Written by DAN SLOTT with JM DEMATTEIS & JEN VAN METER Art by HUMBERTO RAMOS with GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & STEPHANIE BUSCEMA Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS FOC – 1/7/13, ON SALE 1/30/13 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1 (NOV120633) Written by DAN SLOTT Art & Cover by RYAN STEGMAN ON SALE – 1/9/13
Towards the end of the year, everyone comes out with “best of” lists spouting off what they consider the best of the year. But what I consider the best is probably going to vary based on the age of the reader. I doubt my grandmother and niece would agree on any top ten list. If I told my 14 year-old niece that one of my all time favorite books was A Tale of Two Cities, I doubt that she’d ask to borrow my copy. I doubt it even more that if I asked my favorite Lit professor to read Fifty Shades of Grey that he would. I’ve done a good bit of research, and I’m afraid that I cannot honestly put together a list of what I consider the “best” books of 2012. I can, however, point out the books that made big waves this year. After cross referencing all the big “bestseller” lists (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly, Goodreads, New York Times), I have come up with this list. Some have literary merit, and I would recommend reading. Some of them, I would recommend waiting for it to become available at your local library.
10. Quiet I was quite surprised to see how well this book has done. And, honestly, I have not read it. But, I will tell you I intend to. I was raised in a world where the extrovert was praised. My mother was a very successful saleswoman when I was growing up, and I was her little protégé. It took me years to figure out that this was not who I was naturally. I’m a behind the scenes person. I prefer one on one to big crowds, and I am an introvert. Now, don’t think I added this book to this list for personal reasons. I had a hard time deciding between this book and Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.Quiet has been on the bestseller list for 20 weeks, and it approaches a subject that is something I would consider the opposite of American culture. We are all about outspoken and showy people, no matter the quality of their content. Don’t believe me? Folks, we are home to Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shore. Or take The Real Housewives shows. This is all about being completely out there and exposed. Susan Cain looks past this and looks at the sleeping giant in the world. She is brave enough to condemn the sales pitches we were fed growing up. But, it’s not just the content. It is the way in which she approaches the subject with outside and scientific view. Yes, this most certainly is a wave maker this year.
9. Shadow of Night
Deborah Harkness returns with the second book in the All Souls trilogy. Now, other than the big guns like Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, we don’t typically see subsequent books in series take off quite
so well. Of course, they are well received by their respective fan bases, but aside from that, they are seldom featured on the front tables. They might garnish a front spot within their own genre, but not in the store altogether. This book was a crowd favorite for Paranormal Fantasy and with all the new books that
come out every year, I was surprised to see the a #2 in a trilogy would grab this spot.
8. Killing Kennedy
Bill O’Reilly returns again after his explanation of the killing of Lincoln to approach the death of a man who could be considered the most loved president of our country. This man was truly out to set reforms into motion. This is why it is also most justly subtitled “The End of Camelot.” Just as the Knights of the Round Table sought to bring peace, Kennedy was our golden boy. So it should not surprise us to see this book top charts all over the place. It relives the pain of the day while retelling the story in a way that draws in and captivates its readers.
7. The Fault in Our Stars
If you read the blurb about this book, you might not be quite so tempted to pick it up. It’s about two young cancer patients who fall in love. But, this is very a la Romeo and Juliet. The story, while wrought with sadness, is about two young lovers and their perspective on life. This book has gotten rave reviews the world over. It’s not often you have so many people shouting the praises of a book about teenage cancer patients without a byline resembling “it’s so sad, I mean, it’s good though.” No, instead you’ll hear how wonderfully written this book was. It topped the YA fiction category for the Goodreads Choice awards, and for once, it seems like the literary critics were right along with the readers in saying that this book is
6. Beautiful Ruins
Set during the filming of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra, this book is the foray into the Greek isle and imaginary towns. It’s managed to garnish so much attention because of the wealth of the adventure. In
this, you enter others’ lives and become a part of their beautiful adventure. While Jess Walters has a number of accolades to set beside his name, this is certainly his best-selling.
5. The Orchardist
I was really happy to see this book do well. Here on the literary side of the writing world, you can’t get very far unless you have an MFA, Masters of Fine Arts. But, even an MFA doesn’t necessarily guarantee you gainful employment or anything of the like. It’s just ups your chances a bit. So, when Amanda Coplin writes a bestselling literary fiction, it kind of makes me swell with joy. See, this isn’t the kind of woman who had it easy. She worked shelving books for someone she knew. She even worked for a stint at Barnes and Noble. This was a true, loved-the-art-of-writing kind of woman who took her passion and made it into something noteworthy. As a debut novel for her, this could not have gone over any better. The novel itself has been heralded as the best historical fiction of the year. And don’t get all worried, this has nothing to do with kings and queens. This takes place in the rural country of the Northwest, US… and it manages to hold everyone’s attention. That, to me, is quite a feat.
4. Fifty Shades Freed
Like I said, this list is not about the best written book or even the most enjoyable book. This is about books that made waves. Fifty Shades of Grey hadn’t hit my little circle of non-internet/writer friends
until about the time that the third book was releasing. Still, it was a poorly written book that went on to top best seller lists from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to The NYT Lists. It’s rather scary to think that something written so poorly can garnish so much attention and money. I guess it’s true what they say…
anyone can be a writer. It takes some actual skill to be a good and respectable writer, though.
3. No Easy Day
The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden – This kicked up a lot of dirt, so they say. This book was released early because the Pentagon had a hissy fit that it hadn’t had the opportunity to review it prior to publication. Everyone was all up in a tizzy because the US Department of Defense was worried that Mark Owen (pen name) had revealed super secret military tactics. Is it just me or wouldn’t you really have to be off your rocker to write a book revealing compromising military intelligence and sharing it with the world? I’m sure his “tell all” had plenty of dirt in it; I just don’t think he leaked out info that was going to bring about the collapse of our nation. We seem to do that just fine on our own. To
me, I’m guessing that some Pentagon official was getting kickbacks for pretending to be upset over this release. I mean, it was the scandal that surrounded it that shot it to the top of the charts.
2. Gone Girl
This book topped all kinds of lists. It did especially well in the United States where psychological thrillers are almost always a shoo in for good sales. What sets this book apart is its transcendence beyond the typical genre ploys and into the ranks of literary fiction. This book gives long-term relationships a hard and cruel look, while weaving it among the heart dropping intensity of murder.
1. The Casual Vacancy
I debated putting this as number one. I don’t think it should be number one except on a disappointment list. Maybe that’s what makes it so noteworthy. The renowned author J K Rowling returns to the scene with her first book following the Harry Potter series. This fiction focuses on small time rural politics, and Rowling captures every nook and cranny of human nature. Perhaps that is her flaw. She’s good writer. Hell, she’s a great writer, but even the best of writers can get caught up in the whirlwind of their own prose.
Last month, Hellboy in Hell was a worthy winner of our ‘Comic of the Week’ accolade – the second issue, written and drawn by Mike Mignola, with colours by Dave Stewart, is scheduled for release this Wednesday, January 2nd and is published by Dark Horse Comics, who have kindly provided a 2 page preview.
Hellboy’s ultimate sacrifice has landed him in a spot of bother – hell to be exact. However, there’s many a familiar face to keep him company. In Pandemonium, Hellboy’s throne awaits but will be claim it?
The issue is, once again, wrapped in Mignola’s delicious pencils and Stewart’s magnificent colours.
2012 has been a triumph of a year for music, and not only because of PSY’s Gangnam Style. So plug in your headphones, put the volume up to 11 and warn the neighbours because here it is, the long-awaited Top Ten Albums of 2012. And it is a dandy, even if we say so ourselves.
A three part album, it had to be on there, even though it is yet another musical gimmick from this San Francisco outfit. Some of us argued that Green Day lost their way after Nimrod and had become an entirely different affair by the advent of American Idiot (and they had, namely self-serving political commentators shrouded in a cloud of smug). Now, they are entering the world of rock and roll symphonies by releasing an album in three parts. The first album was the strongest, and got progressively worse from there. Not the best thing we’ve heard all year, but the concept is admirable, if smug, and deserves the bottom place in our top ten.
At the outset, this is a very strong album characterised by excellent writing skills and interesting, creative songs. The only issue is that it is not readily accessible to all audiences. But for fans of metal, this might just be the band’s most dynamic album yet. Speed, thrash and doom metal fused into a stoner rock groove? Sounds just the ticket! In reality, few bands display such artistic growth in only four albums, and if The Sword continue on this trajectory, their fifth album, whatever and whenever that may be, will be a beezer.
Thank God for Northern Ireland. It gave us Tayto crisps, George Best and now… Beacon by Door Cinema Club. This album is an energetic and successful follow-up to Tourist History, and if their progress it to continue as it has from one to two, then I daresay we’ll be in for a treat come album three.
7. La Futura by ZZ Top
Somebody once called this album a, ‘cartoon characterisation and unpretentious realisation of what it means to be ZZ Top’, and they couldn’t be far wrong. After six decades of Texan beardy rock, these venerable figures of musical royalty have released yet another stomping album populated with uncompromising guitar-based headbangers. Keep your ears out got Gotsta Get Paid, just one of many crackers. Long may it continue!
Their debut album left little to be desired, and the prospect of a second had all the hallmarks of a forgettable flop. But surprise is one of life’s greatest treats, and where before we had lazy lyrics, aimless guitar work and frankly irritating themes, we now have riffs (yes! riffs in indie music!), pounding rhythms and intelligent wordplay. A fitting name, Come of Age is a step in the right direction.
5. No Regrets by Albert Cummings
Without a doubt, No Regrets is the best guitar blues album since the era of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. And I will stand by that until the day I die. Confident, competent and thrilling, this upbeat offering from one of the senior figures of Massachusetts blues is an essential collection for any fan of classic American blues.
Apparently this album was decades in the making and almost killed the lads in the process. Just as well then that this excellently produced album is not only a strange and fun racket from the boys from Boston, but also showcases each of their talents to the maximum. The only error was allowing Joe Perry to sing, but otherwise we’ll let them off. This time…
The curse of the second album has been the undoing of many a great band, and we need look no further than the flop follow-up to Permission to Land by The Darkness to prove this rule. But in Babel, not only has the Mumford wagon kept on rolling, but it has discovered a V8 engine in the process. Mature, considered and catchy, Babel might even be better than its predecessor Sigh No More.
Just pipped into second place following a lot of debate here at GU headquarters, Nightmare is another follow-up album that smashed all expectations to outdo Lizard’s debut, Viva La Decadence. The album is pure gold dust, packed full of catchy singalongs, snappy lead guitar riffs and pounding hard rock rhythms. Comparable to Appetite for Destruction (only, dare I say it, better) by Guns and Roses, Nightmare has the potential to become an all time great. All we have to hope for is that the Lizard lads quit their day jobs (literally) and make this a full-time, globe conquering conquest.
Muse have never been the ones to limit themselves in music. Released in October 2012 ‘The 2nd Law’ is their most innovative and unusual album to-date, a clear evidence of the band’s non-trivial approach to writing. Having the traditional Muse-style backbone based around intricate guitar patterns and thick bass lines, the entourage of this familiar backbone is very new: electronics, classical music, brass section and even dubstep! ‘The 2nd Law’ is the brainchild of one of the best rock bands of our times, the key that opens the gates to the new stage in Muse’s career. This kind of courage to voice the shift that’s occurred within the band and try out something completely new deserves total respect as making such a drastic switch does take a lot of guts. But Muse are not among the faint-hearted, which, together with the band’s creativity, has helped them to create one of the most striking records of the year.
Entries 10 to 2 by Amadeus Finlay and entry 1 by Olga Polomoshnova
Cinematically, 2012 has been a bit of a dud. Sure, there have been some amazing films come out, but they haven’t had the coverage they deserve. The big pillars of Geekdom, such as Avengers Assemble, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Skyfall all either didn’t fulfil their potential, or were downright terrible in the “oh god, rip out my eyeballs and perforate my eardrums now, CINEMA IS DEAD TO ME!!!” kind of way. That said, if you looked behind all of the shite, there were some gems to be discovered. Without wasting any more of your precious time, I present to you, faithful readers, the inaugural Reel Talk Top 10 Films of the Year. These are my choices alone, and I stand by them for reasons I hope Cineastes and Regular Joes alike will take into consideration when berating me in the comments section. Also remember one man can only watch so many films in a year (and I’ve only been doing this for 6 months), so if I’ve missed anything you feel deserves a place, let me know.
Not so much a movie, but a cinematic experience. It was hard to explain this experience at the time, and still defies analysis and categorisation. Joaquin Phoenix was born for this role, and no doubt is a dead cert for that Best Actor Baldy. It may not be for everyone (and I can’t lie, it was pretty unforgiving), but you won’t see much like it this year or next. To call it “the Scientology film” doesn’t do justice the film any justice, such is the scope of the movie on display.
A Pixar film is more often than not going to make my film of the year list. The animation studio consistently makes high quality films for children, whilst maintaining an ethical stance in terms of teaching kids valuable life lessons and morals. Brave is no different, giving us a historical epic and a strong feminist message at the same time. Merida doesn’t depend on men to get shit done and forges her own destiny, with touching and hilarious results. As always, the visuals are breathtaking and the story is smart enough for adults to enjoy (a Pixar hallmark).
8) Headhunters (Hodejegerne)
Headhunters is a typical Scandinavian thriller, focussing on art thief Roger Brown(Askel Hennie) and his deadly game of cat and mouse with latest target Clas Greve (Jaime Lannister). Headhunters doesn’t take itself too seriously, and although it is a bit silly in parts, the film is genuinely exciting and unpredictable. It also has that ice cold Scandinavian sheen which makes for a movie that’s very easy on the eye. The Nords are having a good run on the big and small screens at the moment and their popularity continues to grow. With films like Headhunters, it’s easy to see why.
7) The Raid: Redemption
The Raid is absolutely Guano Loco, and one of the most enjoyable movie experiences of the year. Plot is irrelevant in these East Asian action flicks, and The Raid is about as loosely framed as my Christmas Top 10 was. Instead, we get a badass one man SWAT team punching, kicking, throwing, shooting and cutting his way through a drug cartel’s fortified tower block. If that 24 word sentence didn’t excite you (possibly even sexually), then The Raid might not be for you. Forget The Expendables, and let The Raid show how it’s done. Yes, it might be mindless, but it isn’t stupid. The film is very well made and thought out, using traditional staging methods and eschewing CGI trickery, making the blows feel brutally real. Some inventive choreography and death scenes keep the relentless pace moving, leaving you breathless and giddy by the end. At one point I even giggled like a schoolgirl, and for that alone it could’ve made the list.
One of this year’s big ones and a very late entry onto the list, Life of Pi captures the magic and brutal realism of the source novel. It was great seeing Richard Parker realised on the screen in front of me, plus Ang Lee and the cast (for the most part) really nailed the tone of the novel.
5) Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson takes a stab at the coming of age first love story, but with a quirky blazer-wearing twist. Anderson films have always been a joy to watch, and once again his classic razor-sharp dialogue shines through, made even cooler by having acerbic kids give it a go. The usual dependable Anderson regulars complement the newcomers to create another classic to add to the Auteur’s smartly dressed collection. A few cynics out there say his films are style over substance, with too much snark and whimsy, but to that I say: “go fuck yourself”. Not exactly witty or original I know, but there you go.
The only ‘Chick Flick’ on the list, this fuzzy little Indie charmer sucker punched me on release, with some assured and mature performances from the young cast. It explored that difficult teenager phase with sympathy and genuine warmth, without steering into pretentious territory (too much). Nostalgia for the 90s doesn’t half make me feel old. See it with a new or established favourite member of the opposite sex for additional good guy/girl brownie points.
Played almost like a non-satirical, non-murdery American Psycho, Shame reunites director Steve McQueen (not that one) and Michael Fassbender, and is a dark, fascinating and uncomfortable study of sexuality. The film is beautifully shot and scored, leading to a mesmeric contrast with the smut occurring on screen. This is bold and cynical filmmaking from an exciting prospect that seems to get the very best out of The Fass (McQueen’s first feature, Hunger, stars Fassbender and is fantastic but not for the faint hearted), and uses the visual skills gained from his past career as an artist to the upmost.
For a while, this was my film of the year. As well as being a pretty solid crime drama, it also finds time to be a critique on corporate America and the country’s party political ‘democracy’. It’s gritty, brutal and uncompromising, with the film’s sparse style punctured every now and then by nauseating violence. This is real pessimistic and nihilistic filmmaking at its very best, with no happy endings for the majority of our lowlife scumbags. The cynical script is witty and bitter, and the cast (Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, and Richard Jenkins being the best of an amazing bunch) all bring their A games to create a powerful piece of affecting cinema, played hard and cold.
The best film of the year by a country mile. Sightseers is an unholy union of sex, murder and caravanning, and is laugh out loud hilarious. The kitchen sink realism and mundane reality of a caravanning tour of Britain is brought to life by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe (who play Chris and Tina, our midlands Bonnie and Clyde), under the superb direction of Ben Wheatley. It’s the blackest of comedies, but played deadpan straight. There is also a quirky warmth underneath that keeps you rooting for the two antiheroes. It is a truly British oddity, and a celebration of the things Little Englanders might get up to behind closed doors. If offbeat unusual comedy is your bag, then Sightseers is essential viewing, and the most fun I’ve had at the pictures this year. It deserves all of the plaudits and awards you could possibly throw at it, and shows just what genuine talent can do if given half the chance.
Honourable Mentions: Looper, The Hobbit, Reboot, Michael, Rust and Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Holy Motors, Dark Shadows.
Most Disappointing: The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers Assemble, P R O M E T H E U S, Lawless, Argo, Seven Psychopaths, Taken II, The Expendables II, Skyfall, Battleship,that last Twilight film.
The Massive is Brian Wood’s latest ongoing series for Dark Horse Comics. It is set in a not too distant future earth that has been ravaged by a cataclysmic environmental disaster referred to as the crash. The story focuses on environmental direct action group Ninth wave and their leader Callum Israel. The eponymous ship The Massive has gone missing and Callum and the crew of its sister ship The Kapital are searching the seas for it.
What we are introduced to in this comic book is a vastly different world than the one we are used to. Cities have been wiped out by rising oceans, new harbour communities are springing up, and money is now largely meaningless.
Brian Wood is an excellent writer and his intelligent, challenging ideas and concepts are present in this series. He is aided brilliantly by the artists on this series. Kristian Donaldson drew the first arc and his detailed landscapes really brought the sense of destruction to the page. The second arc was drawn by Garry Brown, another artist I was unfamiliar with. However after seeing his work here I will definitely keep an eye out for his work in future.
The Massive is one of several comics that have been released this year that are intelligent, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining. (SH)
Stephen Wacker has carved out his own magical little corner of the Marvel Universe. He is the editor of Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Superior Spiderman and Daredevil among others. His books seem to be set apart from the main Marvel books, except Superior Spiderman which is part of Marvel NOW, while still featuring well-known, mainstream characters. One such example is Daredevil, written by Mark Waid. Launched in 2011 Waid’s take on the character has been refreshing, inventive and a whole lot of fun. Helped in no small part by the two main artists on the title Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, Daredevil is an absolute joy to read each month. With a planned crossover featuring the new Spiderman in January, this title looks to be here for the long haul. (SH)
Matt Fraction cracks wise, frequently and often, and David Aja’s design and artwork shines. It’s reminiscent of both Mazzucchelli and Maleev. The synchronicity between the creators is epitomised by the incredible 24 panel page in issue 2. Hawkeye is in stark contrast to every other event-driven book hitting the shelves and I’ve no hesitation in recommending this title. The initial one-shot nature was a joy but ‘The Tape’ (with stand-in artist Javier Pulido) was sheer brilliance. If you aren’t already BUY BUY BUY, you’re missing one of Marvel’s best titles in a decade or more! (JL)
After a very noticeable absence from the comic world Brian K. Vaughan along with Fiona Staples returned with an explosion in this science fiction adventure. Both have made a great pairing in this Romeo and Juliet-esque tale. I’ve felt the book leaning towards a more Farscape type feel as they’re currently on board a spaceship which is a tree and the cast is becoming crazier by the issue but I love it. When 2012 started this was the book I was most looking forward to and I can remember how excited I was at reading that first issue back in May. Saga has won our Comic of the Week accolade four times out of eight issues (5, 6, 7 and 8), which is an amazing feat. (MB)
I’ve been a fan of the Batman character since as long as I can remember. When I moved on from The Dandy and The Beano, comic books featuring Batman is what I turned to. I read everything I could get my hands on. When DC announced the line-wide re-launch known as the New 52, I was really pleased that Scott Snyder was confirmed as the writer on the Batman monthly. His work on Detective Comics was fantastic and he really understood the character and was able to write interesting, exciting stories which felt fresh and new. He has continued that with Batman. He has already introduced an entirely new element to the Gotham City mythology in the form of The Court of Owls. Not only a terrifying, parasitic presence in Batman’s world, but a genuine threat to his existence, The Court of Owls is a brilliant invention, and formed the centre of a really successful storyline.
The art duties on Batman are handled brilliantly by Greg Capullo. Although I admired his work I wasn’t sure how his style would suit Batman. My fears were allayed when preview images started emerging, and were completely wiped out by the end of issue 1. Capullo’s Batman is awesome. He manages to convey the characters deeply flawed sense of self, which is always contradicted by his unimaginable strength in the face of extreme violence and threat.
What made Batman stand out this year, and probably aided its rise to number one spot in our Top Comics of 2012, is the stunning return of The Joker in the current ‘Death of the Family’ storyline. Snyder’s Joker is iconic, insane as ever, and truly terrifying.
I want Scott Snyder to always write Batman, because he is producing some of the best comic books that I have ever seen from the mainstream publishers. Batman is a deserved number one in our list, and I can’t wait to see where 2013 takes the character and the reader. (SH)