Timely as Ever: A Look Back at 2013

Here I sit, in my b-boy stance Sith Lord robe, just about ready to get back to Modern Borefare!  I can hear you know, “Where’ve you been, Rex? We didn’t miss you and frankly don’t really care, but for conversation’s sake, what gives?” Thank you for the kind words, of course. Look, I’ve been around the wo-o-o-o-o-orld and I can’t find my baby, so ease up.

Besides, what better way to move forward in 2014 than to take a look back at all the things that were enjoyable/annoyable (sp?) in 2013. So first, the highlights:

HIGHLIGHTS (not for kids)

Comics

Nowhere Men – Shades of Planetary here and that is a very good thing, because Planetary is f’n amazing.

East of West –  Post apocalyptic America, spooky bible prophecies, the four horsemen…man.

Manhattan Projects – I don’t always know what’s happening, I have no idea where this is going and I love it.

Hawkeye – Hands down the best (bonus points for being the most coherent!) thing Marvel is putting out these days.

Wolverine and The X-Men – OK, I have to give Marvel its due for this book as well, which is consistently full of madcap adventure. Also, Bachalo’s art is gold. The Hellfire Arc was an example of superhero comics done right.

Saga – DUH. I wasn’t thrilled with the series at first but it’s completely won me over. When all’s said and done, this may end up in the pantheon with Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Dark Knight, etc…it’s that good.

Special mention for the continuing excellence of Mike Del Mundo on the covers to the otherwise hit-or-miss X-Men: Legacy. Check a few out:

X-MEN-LEGACY-6-CoverX-Men_Legacy_Vol_2_103063340-83063343-11x-men-legacy-2

Games

Bioshock Infinity – Since I’m a real Playstation guy from way back, I missed out on playing the first Bioshock for a few years, tumblr_mx4ug0DLb51t1poveo2_1280until it finally limped on the PS3. I dug it, but it had lost a large chunk of its power by the time I got my hands on it. Not so with B:I. The moment you, as Booker, burst through the clouds and see Columbia for the first time? Breath taking. I’m not saying this was a perfect game by any stretch; I actually feel that it would’ve been stronger without the gun combat but that’s just me. I just wanted to wander around Columbia and try to unravel the story without the annoyance of having to shotgun some old-timey chap in his facial.  Regardless, the promise of answers at the end had me charging through the game and when I finally got there, it left me in stunned disbelief. I may have broken into a slow clap, but only my cat can confirm.

Grand Theft Auto V – Look, it’s Grand Theft Auto. You know that going in.  But it’s the most fulfilled and realized version of Grand Theft Auto that is currently possible.  It’s a massive, fleshed out world with a
poster-art-wade-2cast of lunatics, three of whom you get to steer through any sort of nonsense you can think of (well, within the parameters that Rockstar has established, that is). The much ballyhooed torture scene was right up there with the infamous “No Russian”
portion of Modern Warfare 2 in terms of things I felt…icky about doing.  What does that mean about video games in general and me specifically?  I have zero idea, but at least I know that I should have conflicted feelings about it.  This game will most likely reign as the penultimate game that I bought for my much-loved Playstation 3. Anyway, in terms of characters I liked playing, it’s clearly Trevor, Franklin then Michael. Everything was vastly improved, but there’s still those niggling Rockstar quirks that they just can’t quite manage to excise completely. But look, can I drive around in rad cars and listen to amazing radio station? I can? SOLD.

Call of Duty: Ghosts – Introspection alert! What does it say about me that I HATED this game when I first bought it? Really, I was disgusted by it. The single player was garbage, the multiplayer was an unfathomable mess and ku-xlarge-2apparently everyone had figured out how to teleport except me. And yet slowly… it, like all previous iterations, sucked me in and now I’m obsessed. Not Fallout or Skyrim obsessed, where I’m making To Do lists, but y’know…obsessed to the level of completely ignoring certain websites **ahem**, I bought it for the PS3, then decided THAT wasn’t good enough and decided to hunt down a PS4 to play it on…three weeks before Christmas. Which will lead into:

Playstation 4 – Yeah, so I got a Playstation 4 the week before Christmas. Ok, ok, adam had the PS4 and I bought it off of him.  But not for lack of trying/employing various schemes to get my hands on one in other ways. All of which I will detail in Great Length in my review (coming soon! Soon soon, not Daikatana soon.) of the system.  Anyway, despite some initial rough going with the out of the box firmware update, it was lurve at first sight. Incredibly impressed with it and am anxious to see what comes next for Sony’s machine. Now if only there was a compelling reason to own the camera.

The Last of Us – Look, Naughty Dog makes Must Play games and post-apocalyptic zombie-but-not really games that they put out are Mandatory Take A Day Off Work to Play games. And while the gameplay wasn’t anything revelatory, the ending…wow, the ending. 2012 was seemingly overshadowed by the ending of Mass Effect 3; it definitely seems like 2013 was sandwiched the_last_of_us_fanart_by_piofoks-d6i2v6kbetween Bioshock:Infinite and The Last of Us. Really, when was the last time a game lead you towards believing that you’d be getting one kind of ending, leading you right up to it and then….swerve. And not just a, “ha ha ha, right, I SHOULD’VE looked under the lamp! You rascal” swerve either. I’m talking an ending full of ambiguity, doubt, shades of morality…basically, the things that ciritcs say that video games CAN’T do.  Also, now I hate plants even more. Also, kudos for some moments of jaw-dropping beauty, including Surprise Giraffe!

Films

ah fuckballs

ah fuckballs

Pacific Rim –  Uhh, I think you mean Pacific Nerd Boner. Guillermo Del Toro basically made a live action King of Monsters and Idon’t care what anyone says, it was rad as fuck. Yeah, the acting was dumb but if you went for the acting you went for the wrong reason. What was the right reason? A mech dragon-uppercuting a kaiju, that was the right reason. Oh, you didn’t like it? Well I’m sorry that you don’t like things that are awesome. You must be super fun to hang out with.

The World’s End:  I love Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. Iiiiiiiiiiiiii….didn’t LOVE The World’s End. But I did like it a whole bunch. I’ll give it another shot when it shows up on HBO GO Netflix Bittorrent Blu-ray at my local Best Buy.

Did I even see any other movies in 2013? Clearly none that made any impression whatsoever. I couldn’t even be arsed to watch Iron Man 3 and I though the first two Iron Man films were some of the better Marvel films in their rapidly growing canon.  Lazy man. Just…lazy.

Television

Breaking Bad – Ummm duh. Ozymandias, the antepenultimate episode of this masterful series, absolutely blew me away. I watched it three times over the course of two days. How Gilligan et al were going to top it, I had no idea and arguably, they didn’t. Some say the last three episodes each functioned as a series finale, depending on what kind of viewer you were and what kind of ending you foresaw for Walter White.  I can’t wait to give it a year or three and start the series over, hopefully rediscovering forgotten bits and trying to experience it for the first time, all over again.

The Sopranos – WHOA, timely is right! Yeah, yeah. So look, I finally got around to watching The Sopranos and while it’s not in my top 5 TV shows of all time (which is constantly shifting due to a variety of esoteric reasons, many beyond my ken) it was compelling television that had my & my wife churning through 6 seasons over the course of a month or two. Now that I’ve had a chance to digest everything, I can dig the ending. Would I dig it the most? Nah, not the most, but it accomplished what it needed to.

Speaking of Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, check out a book on the shows that have basically bracketed our current Golden Age of Television: Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

THE lowLIGHTS:

Age of Ultron – What, exactly, was the point of this? Beyond convoluted time travel nonsense that has had zero affect on the Marvel Universe. Was it to set the stage for next summer’s Avengers 2? Was it to palette swap a bunch of Marvel icons for a few issues? Oh right, Marvel heroes “broke the time stream”, leading to the monstrously confusing and borderline unreadable New Avengers.

Infinity – Soooo…is this about Thanos? Interstellar war? The Builders? The Architects? The Celestials?!  I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE AND FRANKLY I DON’T CARE!!!  I’m sick of these event comics where it’s status quo, status quo stat-HOLY SHIT SOMETHING IS HAPPENING OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD never mind we solved it status quo status quo repeat quarterly to bump sales numbers. This is killing my desire to even read superhero books (see the books that I chose as exemplary titles this year as proof). Speaking of:

Everything DC did in 2013 – What. The. Hell. Just…just quit. For real guys, it’s over. Forever Evil? Really? Batman: Year Zero? Even your reboots are convoluted messes. I will say though…the death of Damian Wayne was pretty brutal. Definitely tugged on the heartstrings there you guys. Animal Man and Swamp Thing still remain readable, though Animal Man less so.The rest of your stuff though…yeesh.

Saints Row IV – What’s it say when the sequel to my favorite game of 2012 barely holds my interest? Does it say, my gaming tastes are becoming refined? Does it say, I just don’t have the TIME I used to really dig into the funkiness of certain titles? Or does it say that this was basically some half-finished DLC from a resurrected-for-their-IP game company, Frankenstein’d onto a previous game engine & shoved out into the market a month before Grand Theft Auto V hit shelves?  Nah, definitely not that last one. It kind of felt like they’d glommed Prototype onto Saints Row the Third, then fucked up the graphics a bunch. I wanted to like this game so bad I was willing to overlook almost anything, which is why this was such a disappointment, because there was just too much anything to overlook.

Modern Borefare – My bad you guys. but MASSIVE props to adam & Kentucky Jay for propping this carcass up with their excellent and on time work.  Man, if I had money and paid you guys, I would totally give you raises.  3% raises. Which is apparently what corporate america hands out. 3%. Can you believe that shit?

Marvel: Avengers Alliance: Can you believe I’m still playing this? I can’t, and I’m the one doing it! I can’t stop. Seriously, help me.

My attention span – See the list of unfinished games from this year, my involvement with Modern Borefare over the past few months, this colu…..

Anything in particular you loved/hated/had feels for in 2013? What are you looking forward to in 2014? Leave a comment and let me know. Plus, for every comment you leave, I will eat one staple gummy bear. Hurry, operators (my stomach) are standing by (desperately in need of gummy).

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