Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Best of 2016

Marvel’s Luke Cage

When I first heard of the slate of Marvel shows for Netflix, I was really excited for three of the five. Those were Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Defenders. Power Man and Iron Fist was one of the first comics that influenced me. I am sad that we will not get the buddy show, pairing Luke Cage and Iron Fist together before Defenders. That is just me. This show fuses 70’s African-American Action Films with New Jack films of the 90’s, while paying homage to the Harlem Renaissance. The show runners understood what needed to be done and said. The show was being filmed before the Black Lives Matter movement, but it reflects it in the tone and subject matter. This was my most favorite TV show of 2016.



DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Everyone who knows me knows I am more a DC guy that Marvel. This show is such a wild ride in the DC Universe. First, one of the main characters is the Silver Age Atom, Ray Palmer. It also has had versions of Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Black Canary, and the JSA (Justice Society of America). This show was seriously in my wheelhouse. Season two has been as good in my opinion. It seriously mines the deep end of the DC Universe. I love its rollercoaster/mad ride elements.



Star Trek: Beyond

I enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek reboot, but was severely disappointed in the 2013 follow-up Star Trek: Into Darkness. Both films seemed lacking in something. They were missing an inherent element that Star Trek: The Original Series had. I was nervous coming into Beyond, but all my fears were for naught. This film was everything the Original Series was and were many of the films based on it. The missing elements were the depth of relationships, and not relying on action and special effects for the storytelling. Simon Pegg was able to get the right tone in the script and Justin Lin was able to get it all correctly on the screen. Lin proved to be as much a Trek aficionado as his screenwriter. It also was a great homage to Leonard Nimoy who we lost in 2015. It also is the last we will see of Anton Yelchin as Chekov with him passing in 2016. With the success of the film both monetarily and artistically, there is hope for this film series.



Shambling Guide Series by Mur Lafferty

Both books in this series, A Shambling Guide to New York (2013) and The Ghost Train to New Orleans (2014), were released before 2016. I did not read them till 2016, so they are here. This is about how Zoe, a human travel guide editor, finds herself writing a travel guide for Coterie, AKA Monsters. It is sort of like an Urban Fantasy Horror Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Mur Lafferty combines horror, urban fantasy, and humor for a wonderfully fun read.



Moana

Disney had three entries in 2016, Zootopia, Pixar’s Finding Dory and Moana. I was anticipating Moana for multiple reasons. First, it is a Pacific Islander tale. Second, one of the voice Actors was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Third, it seemed to be giving us another strong female lead. It was as good if not better than I thought. For the music it paired Lin-Manuel Miranda from Broadway’s Hamilton with Pacific Islander Opetaia Foa'i and Hollywood composer Mark Mancina.  It was a wonderful fun ride.



A&A: The Adventures of Archer Armstrong

2016 saw the return of Archer and Armstrong at Valiant comics. The series starts with an adventure in Armstrong’s satchel, which is reminiscent of am AD&D Bag of Holding. It brought back the humor with the vast international historical conspiracies that are treated with the absurdity they deserve. It is everything that worked so well with the series’ previous incarnations.



Various Cooking Equipment

In 2016 I received an electric skillet, a tea infuser bottle, and a hand shredder. The skillet has been used on countless dishes since I got it. The tea infuser was received just before Christmas via a gift card from work. The infuser has made making tea easier, especially paired with the eclectic water kettle. The hand shredder is a hand held grater. The shredder was used in grating cheese, but also making noodles out of green papaya. The hand shredder makes longer shreds.



Elemental Masters Series by Mercedes Lackey

Back in the 1990’s, I read Mercedes Lackey’s Fire Rose. I have since learned she wrote more in that world with the series Elemental Masters. Fire Rose in not officially in the series, it is viewed as the first glimpse into the Edwardian world these books inhabit. I have completed the first three: The Serpent's Shadow, The Gates of Sleep, and Phoenix and Ashes. Each book including Fire Rose is based on a classic Fairy Tale: Fire Rose (Beauty and the Beast), The Serpent's Shadow (Snow White), The Gates of Sleep Sleeping Beauty), and Phoenix and Ashes (Cinderella). Lackey’s villains are so well written and are so evil. She explores the questions of equality in the regards of race, religion, gender and so on. I was glad to discover she continued to write in this setting.



Black Magick by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott

I discovered Greg Rucka, not through his Batman run or Batwoman runs. I discovered him through Whiteout, and Queen & Country. I again discovered him through his Image title Lazarus, a dystopian future series. Black Magic is a supernatural detective story. The tale is about Rowan Black, a witch and a detective. It is about a case in which the two halves of her life collide. This is just the beginning. The series is scheduled to return in 2017. I love both the mystical and police procedural in this book.



Doctor Strange

This was one of the Marvel Movies I was most looking forward to. For me Marvel has been the Mythic (Thor, Hercules, and so on), the Mutants (X-Men and related titles), and the Mystic (Doctor Strange, Blade, Brother Voodoo, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, and the like). We have seen the Mythic and Mutants; it was great to see the Mystic. There were a few things I was concerned about, the Ancient One as a European woman, a third tier villain, and how they would explore the psychedelic realms of magic, which Steve Ditko drew so amazingly in the introduction of the character in the 1960’s. They relieved most of those concerns with the execution. Their version of magic is similar to White Wolf’s Mage: The Ascension. Magic is the ability to change reality. It is kind of like being able to hack and mold reality to your needs. The villain seen in the trailers was just the tip of the iceberg. I loved this and I cannot wait for Stephen Strange’s return.



David Walker (Power Man & Iron Fist, Cyborg, Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, Shaft: Imitation of Life, Nighthawk, and Occupy Avengers)


David Walker started to gain momentum as a comic book writer in 2015. In 2106, he was hitting it like gangbusters. David has been a print film reviewer, an independent film maker (Macked, Hammered, Slaughtered, and Shafted/2004, Damaged Goods/2005, Uncle Tom's Apartment/ 2006, Black Santa's Revenge/ 2007, My Dinner with A.J./ 2011, The Day They Ran Out of Bullets/ 2012), a YA novelist (The Adventures of Darius Logan: Super Justice Force/ 2013), and recently a comics writer. His comic book writing credits include Number 13 (Dark Horse Comics/ 2012), Army of Doctor Moreau (Monekybrain Comics/ 2014), The Supernals Experiment (Canon Comics/ 2014), Shaft (Dynamite Entertainment/ 2014), and Cyborg (DC Comics/ 2015), and various one shots for various publishers. Cyborg in 2015 was his first on-going title. In 2016, he wrote Power Man and Iron first (Marvel Comics), Nighthawk (Marvel Comics), Occupy Avengers (Marvel Comics), Shaft: Imitation of Life (Dynamite Entertainment), Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes (Dark Horse Comics), and finished his run with Cyborg (DC Comics). I read all of his on-going and limited series works to the present. Mr. Walker is one very good author. He is a master at hitting one with the bigger issues without being preachy. He uses his knowledge of Blaxploitation films for works like Shaft and Power Man and Iron Fist. In Cyborg, he looked into what was machine and what was human when involving a hybrid of both. I cannot recommend his stuff enough. Try it folks, it is definitely worth the time.