The Best Of Times and The Worst of Times. (2016 Review)

2016 had a lot of great moments in fandom and a lot of moments that might not have been the best but I’m here to highlight the best shows, the best games, the best comics and the movie. So here we go!

 

Best Comic Run

Runner-up : Darth Vader(Jan. – Sept.)

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca ended their run on Darth Vader this year and although it’s sad that it’s over it was a truly incredible ride getting there.

Darth Vader is one of the main reasons that I love reading the latest Star Wars comics. If you’re going to do a comic based on a beloved series then you have to create a new story while also being able to add something new and fresh to the original. That’s exactly what this comic does.

The story-arc : “Vader Down” was the opening stanza of this final year and we got to see the Vader that we saw at the end of Rogue One : an utterly terrifying and destructive force that can’t be stopped. Their Vader is brilliantly well written and Larroca manages to make it feel like Star Wars without losing his style that we’ve fallen in love with from books like X-Men and Iron Man.

The single best issue of the series had to be #24 :

Long story short, Vader is going up against this cyborg scientist that helped create his suit and the scientist uses a killswitch which makes Vader shut down. While this is happening we see what’s going on in Vader’s head and That’s where this gets good.

We start off with the scene on Mustafar after Obi-Wan has defeated Anakin and says “You were my Brother, I loved you” and Anakin instead says “If you loved me, Obi-Wan, you would’ve killed me” Wow, see what makes this great is that means that Anakin truly hates what he has become. He wants nothing more than to go back and fix everything but he’s constantly torn between Anakin and Vader.

This issue has a few more surprises but I don’t want to go into everything and spoil it. I just love that an issue before the finale Gillen and Larroca give us the insight to Vader that we’d be waiting for.

Adding in characters like Dr Aphra, Triple-Zero and BeeTee only made this comic series even better especially towards the end. It’s a near perfect comic run that just needs to be read.

But why is this the runner-up?…

 

Winner : Scott Snyder on Batman(Batman #49-#51,[Jan. – March.] Batman Rebirth #1[June] and All-Star Batman.[August-Present])

This one is a bit of a cheat because it’s technically across multiple runs but I just couldn’t think of any run that was better. Scott Snyder managed to make us think about Batman and about Gotham in a brand new way in his run on Batman during the New 52 and his last few issues of that run were no different, in fact : you could even say that they were some of the best he did. If he had just written #49-51 this year then it would’ve still been a contender for run of the year because they’re that good. But I will discuss that after the next part.

In May, DC decided to relaunch all of their titles and switch to a Bi-Weekly publishing schedule for more than half of their comics. Snyder understood that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the bi-weekly schedule of DC Rebirth and still produce a story that was up to his standards. So, not wanting to turn away their best writer, DC decided to let him write All-Star Batman which would be a monthly title instead and it’s been a phenomenal run. The first arc involves Two-Face and Batman running across the country from basically every Batman villain you can think of, I’d offer more of the story but there’d be too many spoilers. Snyder gives us what is most likely my favorite interpretation of Two-Face in this story, he’s constantly switching back between Harvey Dent and Two-Face and is very vulnerable at certain times. Pardon the pun, but’s it’s a different side of him that we don’t really get to see as often as we should.

So why did I wait to mention the finale of the New 52 run? Because it’s one of my all time favorite comics. The ending of the Mr. Bloom/Jim Gordon arc is great, it has a perfect come-back for Bruce Wayne and just shows you that he will always watch out for Gotham no matter what he has to do…or give up.

But it’s his finale that gets me everytime because it works perfectly as a finale and a bridge to the future.

Best single issue : Batman #51

There’s a blackout in Gotham and Batman’s trying to figure out what or who caused it but he keeps going through his’s rogue’s gallery and can’t find out who did it. He finds a light on at the Gotham Gazette and thinks that they did it but it turns out that this guy is actually just a writer who used to be part of a gang until Batman stopped them. It shook him out of that life and he went back to school and became a writer 5 later. He was working on the “Gotham is…” column which is something that had been used throughout the entire run. The column was something that people would send in answers like “Gotham is hell” or “Gotham is damned” or even declare villains like “Gotham is Two-Face” or “Gotham is the Joker” but it was the writers job to write about the state of Gotham based on the answer. The writer tells Batman that he just wanted to finish his article during the Blackout because the answers were finally getting better. Batman leaves and then Alfred tells him that the blackout was a natural occurrence and the power would be coming back on. Batman responds with “Understood. Still watching. Just in case.” And the writer, who has been narrating the entire issue, ends the issue by finishing his letter to Batman like this : “and so really, in the end, the answer to the question the column poses is simple. It’s what we say to you, and what you say to us. Gotham…is you. Always.”

This is why I read comics and it’s why I love Batman. This comic tells you everything about him because it’s not that he needs to cope with his parents death and it’s not that he’s on some revenge quest. No, Batman is just purely altruistic in what he does. He loves this city and he believes in it and that’s why he’s still watching. Just in case.

 

Best Video Game

Runner-up : Titanfall 2

The first Titanfall basically came and went without me knowing anything about it. I didn’t have any of the next-gen consoles and I knew that it was just multiplayer which is something that I’m typically not a fan of. Well fast forward two years and my best friend is telling me that I have to try out the Titanfall 2. Like I said, I had heard some mixed reviews about the first but I figured I’d give it a shot. From the first time I played I was stunned and terrified, he threw me right into the multiplayer without any real warning of what I was getting into. It was fast paced, crazy and incredibly fun. Titanfall only gets better the more you play because you start getting better yourself. It’s an FPS but it plays like a mix between Mirrors Edge and Call Of Duty but it exceeds all expectations of those series and makes it even better. Double Jumps, Wall Runs and Powerslides make you a formidable foe that is almost impossible to stop.

The use of Titans is one of my favorite parts about the game because it’s never overused and it’s not overpowered which was something I was worried about when I first played the game. Each one has a different loadout and is really customizable for each different playstyle but they can be stopped by the different players that are out of their titans due to either anti-titan weapons or the highly satisfying hook.

The key to why Titanfall is one of my favorites is the Campaign. A campaign is something that a lot of games overlook instead of a better multiplayer and I understand that want. I love Star Wars : Battlefront but it’s only multiplayer and my Game of The Year is solely a multiplayer but I truly love a good campaign in a game and Titanfall 2 gave me exactly what I wanted from one. It has some fantastic platforming levels where the combat takes a bit of a backseat to, including the best time travel mechanic of any game that I’ve played. It also has a finale that I’ve already had to replay once and will most likely do again soon just because it is so much fun.┬áBut the best part of this campaign is the connection between you and your titan. It connects you with playing as him and caring about him like you do with Ellie in The Last Of Us or Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite.

Overall it’s a great game with around a 5-8 hour campaign and a multiplayer that only gets better as you play. I loved it and I can’t wait for Titanfall 3.

Winner : Overwatch

Yup, Overwatch had to win. Not since Gears of War, Borderlands or Super Smash Bros. have I had this much fun in a multiplayer. Blizzard has done something truly amazing here because Overwatch suceeds on every level that other games only hope to capitalize on. It builds a world around itself in the way that every multiplayer should. It gives us just enough to go on for the storyline of these multiple characters and builds the world around them. Each character has their set of skills for capturing objectives, you have offensive, defensive, tanks and support characters and what you and your team have to do is combine the best team-ups for attacking or defending an objective. It sounds simple but it honestly becomes incredibly strategic the more you play.

It never gets stale because even though there’s only three game modes they all play differently depending on who you’re playing as, who you’re playing with and who you’re playing against. Every game is different then the ones before and it’s always refreshing to try out new character combos. They’ve managed to keep changing things and adding just enough for us to keep playing the game without it becoming stale or dated.

The only issue isn’t even one with the game, it’s that sometimes teams just don’t work well together. They can do great plays by themselves but they can’t complete an objective cause they can’t work together but that’s where it works best is when you actually a full squad of 6 people that you can talk to and plan with.

Overwatch is just a phenomenal game that is best with friends online but it’s just very good overall. I love it and I’ll still be playing it for a long time.

Best Show

Runner-up : Daredevil

(Spoilers for Season 2!)

How do you follow up one of the greatest representations of a superhero of all time? You add Jon Bernthal as the Punisher.

Seriously though, Daredevil has had two phenomenal seasons that I honestly can’t say enough about. For me, these first two seasons have mastered the way we should do Superhero shows. They show just enough about the character and then we get into their backstory as we go on through the series. The fact that we’re still learning things about Matt’s past proves that you don’t have to throw everything in the first episode.

The returning characters are good except for Claire and Karen just being very poorly written. I’m not sure if they took a vacation that day while writing their lines but it just wasn’t the best they could do and I hate the stereotype of not wanting a hero around until you need them to save the day which happens at least twice in this season and possibly more.

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson do shine in the fact that both of thier characters have definitely grown since Season 1. The tension between the two that becomes the backdrop to the brotherly love they have is one of the things that make this season. Of course it does lead to a boiling point that leaves their relationship up in the air a bit but we’ll see what happens in Season 3.

The stars of this season, and the reason this beat out Stranger Things, were Bernthal as Punisher and Elodie Yung as Elektra. They basically split their storylines/screen time right down the middle in one of the most perfect ways that they could. The scene in the graveyard between Punisher and Daredevil basically could’ve worked as a season finale but instead we get to see even more of his character development over the next few episodes. We can truly feel the loss that he’s suffered and understand where he’s coming from, he’s not insane and he’s not psychotic, he’s just a man who wants revenge for his family. I’m curious how they’re going to handle an entire season with him but I can’t wait to see it.

Elodie Yung on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Elektra is wild, quick-witted and illusive throughout the entire season we get to see more of her effect on Matt through the progression of the season but they’re both so in love with each other even though they both know that they’re wrong for each other. Elektra wants Matt to loosen up and have fun and Matt wants her to become the person that he knows she can be. It’s a beautifully tragic tale of two lovers that only gets better as the season leads to a finale that will definitely have people talking.

Daredevil capitalized on everything I loved about the first season and did it even better. Bernthal and Yung are clearly the standouts here but it’s the fact that everything and everyone works so well together that makes this my runner-up.

Winner : Game Of Thrones

(Spoilers for Season 6!)

Now, Game Of Thrones will most likely win show of the year from me until they stop airing it and this season solidified why that is. This season had the very unenviable task of going beyond the book series entirely and it only strengthened it for me. While Martin still hasn’t even given us a release for his sixth book, Benioff and Weiss didn’t have any such luxury for the show which is still going full steam ahead with the last three seasons.

Season 6 had many amazing moments that were shocks like Cersei’s revenge in episode 10 and some that we saw coming a mile away like Jon’s resurrection in episode 2 but even those scenes that we saw coming were still beautifully well done like everything they’ve done before.

Everything was building towards the always epic episodes 9 and 10 and boy did they deliver. “Battle of the Bastards” might be my favorite hour of television of all time. It shows us why we love characters like Jon and Daenerys and it gave us one of the greatest battles ever waged on screen. The production value alone made this one of my favorite episodes but the fact that they managed to give us everything we wanted to see in one episode is what made this episode what it was.

The kings landing sequences over the last four episodes are some of the best that they’ve done because you can tell that it’s reaching a boiling point but you still have no idea exactly what’s coming until the explosion at the Sept of Baelor. I think my favorite part about this episode was the fact that, when Jaime returns, Cersei is basically an Aerys Targaryen copy. What decisions will he end up making in Season 7?

This season also ended two major events that haven’t happend in the books yet : The Tully resistance of The Blackfish VS. Jaime’s army and Arya turning into a deadly assassin. These were both great but bittersweet for the Blackfish’s finale, such a well done scene but a sad ending. Arya’s training was perfectly done over the season and her epic return to westeros gave us one of the best scenes of the series, I loved that she is becoming who we’ve wanted to see for a long time.

And of course, “The Door” gave us one of the most brilliant plot twists in any show while still being just incredibly depressing. So many good characters died in less than 10 minutes in that final sequence but this did give us more insight to the White Walkers and the Night’s King which is something that I’ve wanted for 5 seasons.

But the primary part of that episode was “Hold The Door” which was just brutal beyond all reasoning. I loved Hodor and he will be missed.

Overall, this season was one of my favorites and the show is only getting better. Game of Thrones has excelled at making us care about every character, even villains like Joffrey, Tywin or The Boltons were genuinely great villains that I wanted to see more of even though I basically hated them. Season 6 had many great character moments that I either loved or cried at. We’ll never hold the door for anyone without tearing up, we’ll never drink red wine without thinking of Cersei Lannister and anytime it gets colder we’ll be thinking of White Walkers and the Nights Watch. That’s the power of Game of Thrones and it’s why we’ll still be thinking about this show for years to come.

Best Movie

Runner-up : Rogue One

(Spoiler free due to how recent it is)

This should come as no surprise with me being such a big Star Wars fan. Rogue One was brilliantly well done and deserves all the recognition it’s been getting. It managed to solidify it’s place within the Star Wars franchise by having intense, fast paced action sequences complimented by characters that are well drawn out and easy to follow. It’s a great example of why Disney was the perfect choice to take the franchise into a new direction.

The action set pieces were done in a way that made the film feel very realistic, or at least as realistic as you can be for a space war film. Edwards managed to do really well with this by giving us exactly what we needed to know about these characters to make us root for them and hope that they could make it out alright.

The tone of the film is bleaker than I had originally anticipated but characters like K-2SO and Chirrut are constant beams of light throughout the film. There’s always this hint of hope that no matter what happens things will get better and it’s in part due to how well they’re setting up Episode IV.

 

Winner : Captain America : Civil War

Civil War was a genuine masterpiece. No other studio, no other directors and no other writers could’ve done it better. With 8 years of films leading up to it it was incredibly ambitious but it paid off so well. Civil War follows Avengers : Age Of Ultron and it opens with an action sequence that shows off four of the main Avengers and sets the stage well for the rest of this film while continuing these characters arcs from the previous films.

All the actors give phenomenal performances that we’ve come to expect of them and to choose a standout would be a disservice to any of the other actors and actresses. The fact that we basically have Oscar worthy performances in superheroes films is truly stunning to me. It’s the kind of thing that you only dream about seeing as a kid.

The reason this movie works is that it never feels one sided.(Which is something that the movie does better than the comics.) There was never a point where I got to say that Iron Man or Captain America were bad people for the decisions they were making. They’re both genuinely good people that are trying to handle a difficult situation in the best way possible.

The action sequences are probably the best that Marvel has done(only being rivaled by those in The Winter Soldier) and I know that a lot of people were worried that this was just going to be a lot of fight scenes and very little story but I thought that they managed to balance it very well to where we got to see a lot of the fights that we had been looking forward to without sacrificing the storyline that’s been lead up to for so long.

This film works because of this : Is it a phenomenal introduction to Black Panther, Spider-Man and Baron Zemo? Is it a great Captain America film? Is it a great Avengers film? Is it a perfect sequel to Age of Ultron and The Winter Soldier? The answer to all of those questions is YES!

This might be my favorite Marvel film of all time and that’s why it had to be my film of the year.

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