Michael, our representative on the FPI blog from Nostalgia & Comics Birmingham has come up with a wonderfully mixed-media best of list – from music to movies, comics to games – he’s got a top 3 for you…..
Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guerra
While this series is running I will be thoroughly surprised if it doesn’t make it into my top three comics of the year for as long as I’m reading comics. This is easily one of the best series on the shelves at the moment and there hasn’t been a weak issue to date. Jason Aaron loves these characters and this was the book he was made to write with an engaging story, realistic characters and some beautiful heavy lined artwork to go along with it.
Green Lantern by Geoff Johns
For the first time in a while DC actually gave us a fairly decent big event book with Blackest Night and that whole thing stemmed from Johns’ run on Green Lantern. A tough book to take on as this book is more than just Hal Jordan and now probably has a bigger roster of characters then the JSA and JLA put together but Johns’ seems to be able to provide different yet perfect voices for everybody in this book.
Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca
The previous two books I’ve chosen are perfect writers matched up to their perfect book and this is no exception. Matt Fraction just gets Tony Stark and writes him as well as Robert Downey Jnr plays him. Iron Man has had some of his best adventures in a long time under the careful supervision of Fraction and Salvador Larroca is yet to disappoint us as we’ve had nothing but amazing pencils and not a single fill in issue.
Darwyn Cooke – Parker: The Outfit
Parker: The Hunter was graphic novel perfection and Cooke’s follow up is nothing less than that again. Knowing how the book comes to an end doesn’t spoilt the experience in the slightest – after all the joy is in the journey and not the destination isn’t it? Cooke isn’t only one of the best cartoonists around today but one of the best artists full stop. His beautiful inks and washes work together brilliantly and he varies his style to keep the audience interested. The only bad thing about this is we have to wait a couple of years for the next one but at least we know we’re in for another treat if the first two are anything to go by.
Jason – Werewolves of Montpellier
Unusually for Jason this book is quite heavy in dialogue as a lot of his previous works have been about silent animals that act like humans. But as usual Jason’s art is beautiful in its very unusual style with super thick line work and flat and bright colouring. The story is more of a drama, which again is a change from the usual comedy route and the addition of a romance sub-plot makes this book one of Jason’s most complex and best.
INJ Culbard and H.P. Lovecraft – At The Mountains Of Madness
Ian Culbard has been providing the amazing pencils on the Sherlock Holmes books Ian Edginton has been writing but this time he takes on the task of drawing and writing this adaptation and it is fantastic. The book has a very quick pace but without losing any of the terror, awe and creepiness of perhaps Lovecraft’s most well known tale. But it’s Culbard’s incredible pencils, inks and colours that steal the show with this book. The towering mountain ranges are captured perfectly and add onto this the incredible shots of the hidden ancient city and this book leaves you wanting someone to ask Culbard to make the move back to animation so we can see these incredible pieces of art come to life completely.
Toy Story 3
The other two films in this list are very good examples of film making but Toy Story 3 was the only film this year that prompted a proper emotional response in me. I cried like a baby. Three times. Any film that does this to anybody let alone a 24-year-old man must be doing something right. I’ve grown up with the characters in this trilogy and to see them come to a perfect end such as this leaves me with faith in the movie business.
Ben Affleck’s second attempt in the feature film director’s chair and this time he also takes up the task of being one of the movies leading characters. Now Affleck has received a lot of criticism over the years for some of his film choices but personally I think this movie cements him as being one of the best actors Hollywood has to offer at the moment and the support cast of Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm and Rebecca Hall made this heist movie one of the best for a long time.
It was going to be one here somewhere wasn’t it? I’d be surprised if there is a top ten movie of 2010 list out there that doesn’t have this on. Yeah sure it looked beautiful, the action sequences were amazing and Leonardo DiCaprio was great (personally I think his performance in Shutter Island was his best of the year) but for me it was Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy that made this film such a brilliant piece. It’s about time JGL started to get recognized as a force to deal with in the movie business and it was so good to see Tom Hardy (one of the best young British actors on the circuit) steal every scene that he was in.
Dead Rising 2
It’s quite funny to see that all of the games in my top 3 of 2010 are sequels of other games but this one by far was my favourite of the year. As a huge fan of the zombie in any form of genre or media this game was bound to be for me. Take a city that massively resembles Las Vegas, throw in a couple of hundred thousand zombies, a bunch of people to be rescued and one hero trying to save his daughter and you’d probably have something good on your hands. If you add into that the fact that you can pretty much use anything as a weapon and combine two weapons to make something completely new and different and you have something special. My personal favourites are the Dynameat (a human hand and piece of TNT) and the Blambow (a bow and arrows combined with TNT).
Fallout: New Vegas
One of those games where if you’re not careful you can lose days at a time to it. This game fully immerses you in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, which is sometimes harrowing and sometimes absolutely hilarious at the same time. The great thing about this game is how open it actually is. I’ve heard people finishing the game in a few days but if you look for every little side quest and adventure this could easily last a couple of months. Not really a sequel though as it doesn’t graphically look any better than the last game its exciting to see what Fallout 4 will actually look like.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Easily the most obvious choice in my top games list but I’d be lying if I didn’t put it in here. This game makes the top three for one simple reason: the online multiplayer mode. This is where you can play with players from all around the world with one objective in mind and this objective is killing. I’ve now had this game for a good couple of weeks and I haven’t even started the single player campaign as I’m enjoying the multiplayer so much.
Whether it be the characters, the costumes, the sets or even the way it was shot every single thing about this show just oozed style. An absolute delight to watch from start to end no matter how nice it did look the show was about the people. Michael Pitt, Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald might be the main characters but support characters like Agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon), Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) round out this show meaning there isn’t a character you’re not interested in seeing more of. Michael K. Williams has a series stealing moment as Chalky White showing that the ripples of the best show ever, The Wire, still echo through television now that it’d dead and gone.
The Walking Dead
It’s hard to believe this comic that had a first issue printing of a thousand is now one of the most talked about things on TV. The ensemble cast is fantastic and the look and sound of the characters cannot be faulted, this is The Walking Dead. There have been a couple of weak scenes but by far the greatness of the show outweighs the slight little niggles that I might have. I’m so glad that even for veterans of the books we have new characters and situations to look forward to and let’s hope we get the ten seasons or more that have been talked up. If the Preacher show/film is as good as this I’ll be very happy indeed.
I thought the first season of Misfits was good, I wouldn’t say great but I definitely did enjoy it. The second season has been fantastic though most notably because of the evolution of its main cast of characters. I couldn’t stand Nathan in the first series but since his return in the second season I couldn’t love him enough due to the fact that he is absolutely hilarious and has the timing of some of the best stand up comedians out there. The season leaves us on a very interesting cliffhanger that makes me very exciting for the direction of the next season.
Stewart Lee – How I Escaped My Certain Fate
Stewart Lee has to be my favourite comedians of all time and I was lucky enough to see his Birmingham Town Hall show this year in October after which I got to pick up his book and get it signed. The book is an absolute joy to read and contains transcripts of his shows with notes on how he comes up with his dry and self-deprecating style of humor. Really helps if you know his work and can hear his voice as you read along what is some of the best stand up comedy coming out at the moment.
Twin Shadow – Forget
It’s hard to believe that Twin Shadow is actually one guy, George Lewis Junior from New York City. His keyboard and drum machine filled debut album takes us on a journey through time when it comes to synth pop. With subtle hints of the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen and Talking Heads amongst others thrown into the mixture of tunes it will be exciting to see what Twin Shadow comes up with next but one thing is for sure Lewis’ haunting vocals will stay with you for a while. New Wave seems to be making a return in the world of indie music but what we need is more albums like this and tracks like Tyrant Destroyed, Slow and the stand out track Castles in the Snow means this album will be getting played into 2011 and beyond.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
As I’ve been a fan of Kanye West since his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 I have to be honest and say I was terribly disappointed with his previous album 808s & Heartbreak in 2008. Thankfully this is more than a return to form and could be his best album yet. Gone is the heavily auto tuned singing and in place of it we have some of the most honest, innovative and bleak rapping to ever come out of this self declared genius’ mouth.
The National – High Violet
The National hail from Brooklyn in New York and have been around for a long time forever just bubbling under the surface waiting for that one album that makes them recognized for what they are, a wonderful band that should have made it big five years ago with Alligator. Haunting songs that stick with you for a long time after the first few listens fill this album and Berninger’s storytelling rivals some of the best and his melancholic tones result in an album that is simply beautiful.