My Favorite Comics of 2015

Every year, I reflect on what entertainment from the previous year I enjoyed the most. I do this so that others may find something they didn’t previous know about or wasn’t sure it would be worth their time. I, of course, didn’t see every movie, watch every TV show, or read every comic. What that disclaimer in mind, here are my favorite comics from 2015.

Alex + Ada (Image) – Wrapping up its 15 issue run in 2015, Alex + Ada tells a story of Alex, a young, lonely man, who was recently left by his girlfriend. His grandmother buys him a relationship droid to help make him happy.. The series delves human fear of technology but focuses on the relationship that develops between Alex and the droid, Ada. Beautifully drawn by Jonathan Luna, the art is detailed and more realistic than cartoonish. I love how he uses multiple panels without dialogue to display the emotion of the scene. You can pick up the entire series in three trade paperbacks.

Nailbiter (Image) – Nailbiter takes place in the town of Buckeroo, a small town in Oregon. An abnormal amount of gruesome serial killers come from Buckeroo. What is connection? Why this town? Written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Mike Henderson, Nailbiter feels like a mix between Twin Peaks and Hannibal. They both do a great job of making Buckeroo creepy and real. It is an ongoing series with the first three trade paperbacks available now.

Outcast (Image) – Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, started this new series in 2014 and continues its fantastic run. With artist Paul Azaceta using a dark, haunting style, Outcast has already left its mark and is about to get a bigger fan base as it’s being picked up as a TV show on Cinemax this spring. Nailbiter chronicles the story of Kyle Barnes, who has loved ones affected by demonic possession and Reverend Anderson, who seeks out Kyle’s help banishing these demons from his family and others. Barnes is also searching within himself to figure out why this is happening to him and why he has the ability to help Anderson. Outcast is an ongoing series with two trade paperbacks currently available.

Wytches (Image) – A new series in 2015, Wytches follows the Rook family, who has to move away from their hometown because their daughter Sailor was bullied and the bully mysteriously disappears. Sailor is suspected to be involved in the disappearance, so the Rook family moves in search of a fresh start only to find the new town has some supernatural secrets. Created by Scott Snyder, of Batman fame, and Jock, Wytches asks how far would you go to protect the ones you love? Jock’s style really lends itself to the horror genre. Wytches has also been optioned for a theatrical release, but no other information has been discussed. The first six issues are currently available in trade paperback.

Descender (Image) – A sci-fi tale about a young robot’s struggle to find his place and stay alive in the universe, Descender is a new series from famed writer Jeff Lemire and art by Dustin Nguyen. Nguyen is the standout with his beautiful watercolor and pencil style. Every time I read this book, I am astounded by how stunning the art looks. Lemire is able to focus the story on Tim-21, the young robot, while also feeling like the universe Descender takes place in is infinte. The first six issues are available in the first trade paperback and is an ongoing series.

Southern Bastards would be on this list as well, as it would be every year, since it is still my favorite comic; however, I wanted to highlight some new series that I started reading in 2015. This is the same reason why Saga isn’t on the list. As you can see, all these books are from Image Comics and therefore creator-owned. They are really bringing stories out that speak to me and are original and new. The big two, DC and Marvel, have some good books but nothing that I feel is as good as the series I highlighted.

Come back next week for the final best of list in which I feature video games from 2015.

Favorite Movies of 2015

Every year, I reflect on what entertainment from the previous year I enjoyed the most. I do this so that others may find something they didn’t previous know about or wasn’t sure it would be worth their time. I, of course, didn’t see every movie, watch every TV show, or read every comic. With that disclaimer in mind, here are my favorite movies from 2015.

(5) It Follows – I’m not a big horror movie fan. In fact, I see very few a year. I typically find them formulaic to a fault or just after shock value. It Follows is a movie that feels new and what the horror genre strives to become. It kept me guessing throughout and I never knew where it was going. More than anything, for me, horror movies need to leave a mark on the viewer. The most successful horror movies are ones that, after watching, make the viewer think about it long after the credits roll. It Follows made me look over my shoulder for days!

(4) Ex Machina–Half sci-fi and half horror, Ex Machina takes a look at the future of artificial intelligence technology and asks the question,“Are we going too far?” It examines what it really means to be human and the human trait of selfishness. Oscar Issac, who seems to play a role in all the top movies this year, stars as a Steve Jobs type who is pushing the limits of A.I. Alicia Vikander stars, in her breakout role, as Ava the A.I. droid. Both are fantastic along with Domhnall Gleeson (yes, Bill Weasley himself for you Potterheads...10 points to Gryffindor!), as Caleb, a young man who visits Issac’s character at his compound after winning a “contest.” Ex Machina is a visually remarkable movie for its low budget and one I would highly recommend checking out but don’t read too much about it prior.

(3) The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, The Hateful Eight, is one of his best. For this film, Tarantino used Panavision anamorphic lenses with an aspect ratio of 2.76:1, a very widescreen image that was used on some films in the 1950s and 1960s. The Hateful Eight was the first movie with a wide release on 70mm since 1992. This crates gorgeous, wider-than-normal shots. The visuals are not the real standout though; it’s the verbal sparring. Tarantino is known for his great use of dialogue and it is on full display here. I highly recommend checking this movie out in a theatre so you can get the full benefit of the visual format, as we may never see another release like it again.

(2) Inside Out – When I first heard about the concept for Inside Out, I didn’t think Pixar would be able to pull it off but, thankfully, I was so wrong. After Cars 2 and Brave, I was worried Pixar had lost its magic but they are back in full force. Inside Out was heartwarming, hilarious, and imaginative. It had the most adult underlying themes since Up. It really focuses on parents and the mark they leave on their kids. I was brought to tears multiple times and laughed out loud throughout. In my opinion, Inside Out is one of two masterpieces released this year.

(1) Mad Max: Fury Road – Mad Max: Fury Road is the other masterpiece. I was completely gob smacked and in awe throughout this film.  George Miller is one of the great directors of our time and Mad Max: Fury Road is a master class in how to make an action film. He used little dialogue and narrative to explain the world, but instead visually displays and explains the post-apocalyptic environment on the screen. Charlize Theron shines as Imperator Furiosa. It is a travesty she hasn’t received more accolades for her performance. Mad Max: Fury Road is one memorable scene after another. It set a new bar for action films and we will be referencing it for years to come.

You’ll notice there is no Star Wars on this list. I do think it was one of my top 5 movies of 2015; however, I didn’t put it on the list because all of the world has seen it already. I would rather highlight some films that didn’t get the same level of publicity.

Come back next week, as I turn my focus to comics from 2015.

Favorite TV shows of 2015

Every year, I reflect on what entertainment from the previous year I enjoyed the most. I do this so that others may find something they didn’t previous know about or wasn’t sure it would be worth their time. I, of course, didn’t see every movie, watch every TV show, or read every comic. With that disclaimer in mind, here are my favorite TV shows of 2015.

Master of None (Netflix) – I was a big fan of Parks and Recreation, so, when I heard Aziz Ansari was staring in a new show for Netflix, I was immediately intrigued. Master of None follows Dev, Ansari’s character, who is an actor trying to make it in New York. The show plays as a reflection on Ansari’s real life as  a struggling actor/comedian trying to find his place in the world. Also starring Noel Wells as Rachel as Dev’s girlfriend, Rachel and Dev’s relationship centers the show and is the strength of the story. Ansari’s real-life parents star as themselves, and Master of None dives into their struggle of coming to America and teaching Dev his cultural background. If you’re looking for something funny, yet heartwarming and real, I recommend giving Master of None a shot.

American Crime (ABC) – This new series on ABC, features some of the best acting on network television. American Crime is a raw look at racial tensions in America. The show pushes buttons and looks at how relationships between races are still very different, both literally and by perspective. The show illustrates the ripple affect that one decision can have on multiple families and lives and how race plays a part in those decisions. Some of the best acting is on display from actors such as Timothy Hutton, Felicity Huffman, and Caitlin Gerard. Regina King and Elvis Nolasco highlight the best of the group with truly powerful performances. American Crime is back for season two in 2016 with most of the same cast, but telling a completely different story. You can find it on ABC and ABC on demand.

The Leftovers (HBO) – The Leftovers was the show that displayed the biggest improvement from the previous season. I enjoyed season one but season two took what season one did well, focused it, and told a more concise story. Season two also made me care more deeply for the characters and want them to make it through the trying times. The Leftovers revolves around mysterious disappearances, world-wide, and specifically follows a group of people who are left behind in the suburban community of Mapleton. They must begin to rebuild their lives after the loss of their family members and friends and why some were taken and why they were left behind. I'm very interested to see where they take the storyline for season three, which will be the show’s final season.

Sense8 (Netflix) - Sense8 is the first TV show from the Wachowskis who are famous for The Matrix movies and Jupiter Ascending. It follows a group of people around the world who are mentally linked to each other, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat. The show’s strength is its character development and how the writing draws you into their lives. I watched it all the episodes in one day because it was so gripping. It definitely isn’t for everyone but the mix of great characters with a sci-fi overtone really appealed to me. I would recommend giving the first episode a chance and if it grabs you like it did me, you are in for treat.

The Affair (Showtime)–The Affair spread its wings in season two. Season one focused on an affair between two married people and how it affected the lives of their families. This is done through two different segments in each episode, each one from a different character's point of view. In season two, the writers expanded to show four points of view by adding the ex-spouses. By adding these views, it allowed for a better perspective of the collateral damage of the affair. Dominic West and Ruth Wilson give outstanding performances as the people in the affair and Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson give equally powerful performances as the ex-spouses.

Hannibal (NBC) – Hannibal is one of those special shows that comes along so rarely. So many times while watching this show, I couldn’t believe it existed and was on national television. Brian Fuller, who created another amazing, underappreciated show, Pushing Daisies, took the Hannibal Lector universe and created the best interpretation of Hannibal to date. So many times, what was on screen was both grotesque and beautiful at the same time. It was also the most beautiful cooking show on television. Mads Mikkelson as Dr. Lecter gave a layered performance and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham along with Lawrence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, show how difficult relationships with Dr. Lecter can be. Hannibal was not only my favorite show this year but also one of my favorites of all time. I cannot recommend it enough. Unfortunately, it isn’t available online but you can purchase the entire series on Blu-Ray for about $45.

That wraps up my best of 2015 list of TV shows. I, of course, love other popular shows like Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, but I wanted to highlight some shows that don’t have the popularity that I think they deserve.

Come back next week, as I turn my focus to movies from 2015.