My 6 Favorite Things of 2018
It’s that time of year again! My annual roundup of the pop culture I enjoyed, just like every other website and blog worth its salt. But unlike those fancy pants websites with their paid writers and access to advanced screenings, I’m just a schlub typing away at his computer, enjoying what sweet little things come my way!
2018 has been an OK year, I guess. I don’t have any major accomplishments to brag about. I’m still working on making my own comics, with more Gamer Girl & Vixen news to come in the new year. I haven’t lost any weight, but I remain confident that maybe I will someday. And I’m not dead yet! That always counts for something.
The following list is just my favorite, most memorable shows, movies, toys and whatnot I encountered in 2018. Some things, like movies, were released on 2018. Other things, like TV shows and comics, are often ongoing and extend beyond just 2018, but they were my favorites in 2018. It’s not that complicated. And, as always, I am wholly out of touch with new music, so that’s not a category.
Feel free to share your own favorite things from the past year in the comments!
6. Internet: Fantasy High
I got really into College Humor a few months ago, so much so that I’ve gladly subscribed to their new online service, Dropout.tv. Oddly, though, I never visit the College Humor website…I mostly just watch their videos on YouTube. I love the cast and I love the comedy. And then they really hit it out of the park by combining both of those things with a Dungeons & Dragons-style tabletop RPG! People have been making such videos for years, but I’ve never watched. Finally, with the great College Humor cast as the players, and the brilliant Brennan Lee Mulligan as the DM, I am hooked!
Fantasy High is a high school based fantasy game, where the players play classic races and classes as high school students, like the goth barbarian or the jock fighter or the rebel bard. Mulligan is an old school D&D fan, and he brings creativity, imagination and impeccable voice-acting to his Dungeon Master Role. And they’ve got all of the creative power of College Humor behind them in creating figurines and play sets, as well as art for each of the characters. The production values are top notch, the game is fun, the cast is hilarious and it makes me wish even more that I played D&D.
Runner Up: Tell It Animated
This animated video series detailing past appearances of classic movie monsters is super fun. There’s a lot of talent and energy put into these videos, making them a real treat. Hopefully the people behind it (or the one guy, I think?) branch out beyond movie monsters and slashers and do more superheroes. He’s really onto something nifty here!
Toy: LEGO Voltron
It’s real. I built it. And it’s amazing. After years of anticipation following the original announcement of LEGO Voltron, the massive set finally released this summer and it was everything I could have hoped! Gigantic and super fun to build, LEGO Voltron is the ultimate LEGO model, as far as I’m concerned. It taps into the very heart of my geeky nostalgia, while also being a really impressive build. Every other LEGO set pales in comparison as it stands proudly on my shelf. This definitely lived up to the hype. And the Voltron cartoon on Netflix was also really good this year, coming to a solid ending earlier this month. Good times all around!
Runner Up: Multiple Man action figure
Also after years of waiting and expecting, the Multiple Man Marvel Legends action figure actually came out! It’s a nice little figure, looks great, quality trench coat; maybe not my ideal costume, but it’s good enough. Now I just need to acquire a whole army of them!
Video Game: Red Dead Redemption 2
Good news, everybody! I finally got a new video game console this past year, after not using one for the longest time. I was a PC-only player for years, and I was perfectly content. But quality PC games dried up this past Spring, and Playstation 4 was coming up with some killer exclusives, so I took the plunge and haven’t looked back! I got to play some great video games this year, with more to come. And Red Dead Redemption 2 was the best. I’ve been playing it non-stop since its released at the end of October. I am a happy gamer.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is everything I want in video games these days: big, gorgeous open worlds that you can get lost in; seemingly pedantic role-playing stuff like eating, sleeping, shaving, putting together outfits, intricate hunting mechanics; deeply interesting characters and main story; great gameplay; and so much more. I spent entire weeks just putzing around mid-game, when the whole world was my oyster. It had to have been at least a month of just enjoying the world before I finally beat the game and ended the story, and I haven’t stopped since.
Now that I’m free roaming at the very end, I’ve gone back to find all the dinosaur bones, catch all the legendary fish, check off some more of the Challenges, and catch every single animal needed to buy every piece of trapper clothing; all because I still love just existing in this world. My Online character is also pretty awesome, so I’m excited for that to take off so I can really put her through some real adventures. This game has given me everything I want from modern video games.
Runner Up: Spider-Man
Speaking of Playstation 4 exclusives, how great is the Spider-Man game? It’s everything you could possibly want in a Spider-Man game. Great map, amazing web-swinging dynamics, fun fight system, a ton of alternate costumes, and one of the best, purest Spider-Man stories and casts imaginable. This game is a true fan-pleasing superhero video game adaptation experience. The only flaw in the game is that we know there’s going to be a sequel and we’re going to have to wait for it. But I’m not sure how they’re going to improve on what they already have.
3. TV Show: The Man in the High Castle
This is a little bit of a cheat. I really enjoyed the third season of The Man in the High Castle, but this should have been my favorite TV show from my 2016 list, back when the amazing second season came out — except, due to the nature of streaming, I didn’t catch up with the show until well after I wrote that list. So putting it at the top for 2018 is my way of preaching the greatness of this show. And hey, I really enjoyed season 3 a lot this year, so it’s not a total cheat. I loved seasons 1 and 2 so much I was nervous about even starting season 3, but I watched it and really enjoyed it.
The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history story where the Axis Powers won World War II, and America is split between the Nazis and the Japanese, with a small America resistance stuck in the middle. What’s so great about this show is that it’s not just the evil Nazis vs. the heroic Americans. The Man in the High Castle defies all expectations, with characters and storylines that defy standard storytelling tropes. This show just gets more complex, more dramatic and more enthralling. John Smith is the greatest Nazi on TV, for all the wrong reasons.
Runner Up: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
I was generally excited for the new She-Ra cartoon after the trailers started showing up online. I really enjoy the Voltron relaunch on Netflix, and I like cartoons in general. Little did I realize how great this show would be! Spear-headed by the brilliant Noelle Stevenson, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is everything I could want in these modern cartoon reboots. Not only is the show just generally good, with a complete story contained in the one season, with great characters. But the writing team clearly put in the time and effort to world and character-build, with plot lines, details and character beats that not only took me by surprise, but were welcomingly enjoyable! This show turned out to be a real gem.
Honorable Mentions: GLOW, BoJack Horseman, Lost in Space, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Voltron, Daredevil, The Americans, Better Call Saul and The Good Place.
2. Movie: Avengers: Infinity War
I bounced this one over and over again in my head, and settled on Avengers: Infinity War as my favorite movie of the year. I rated Black Panther as a better movie earlier this year, but after several re-watchings, Infinity War has grown on me into the more enjoyable and entertaining movie overall. Infinity War is simply epic. It’s got all of the Avengers action, humor and tragedy you could want, alongside the thrilling and fulfilling story of Thanos “saving” the universe. I love the idea of looking at Infinity War as Thanos’ movie, how he’s the protagonist with a goal, hardships to overcome and then victory in the end. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.
Avengers: Infinity War was great entertainment, and I have a feeling Avengers: Endgame will be my favorite movie for 2019. Sit tight.
Runner Up: The Death of Stalin
Every year, I like to put a smaller film in the Runner Up slot, because I could just as easily put any of the other superhero releases this year, and where’s the fun in my just ranking my top two favorite superhero movies? I saw The Death of Stalin early in the year and it easily held up as the funniest movie of the year. It’s a dark humor workplace comedy about the various generals and bureaucrats fumbling over the leadership of Russia following the death of the dictator Stalin. It is hilarious. It helps that I had a perfect audience in the theater, all of us there to laugh and enjoy the movie for what it was. And the really memorable thing about The Death of Stalin was that it was funny right up until it wasn’t, and the darkness of post-Stalin Russia finally pervaded the movie. Such a great film.
Honorable Mentions: Black Panther, Isle of Dogs, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Eighth Grade, Creed II and Aquaman.
1. Comic Book: Runaways
There were a lot of great comics this year, and a lot of continuing series with greatness. But I think the new Runaways was my favorite, one I looked forward to reading each and every month. Writer Rainbow Rowell could teach a master class in reviving an old series into a new reboot. She not only brought the gang back together, but did so in a way that respects and honors not only the original series, but everything that has happened since. Rowell smartly acknowledges that time has passed since the Runaways were just kids rebelling against the system. Now they’re young adults, with some real superheroics under their belts, and they’ve now got to worry about careers, colleges, real relationships and more. Not even the Runaways can stay kids forever, and Rowell uses that to make a great comic with a great cast.
Runner Up: Tony Stark – Iron Man
I was a big fan of Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man from the very beginning, but I was also ready for him to hang up his web-spinners and try something new. What a joy that turned out to be! Slott’s Tony Stark – Iron Man series has been nearly perfect since it launched, telling a series of somewhat standalone stories all building to a big, exciting major story. He injects real charisma into the main character and his fun supporting cast, giving Iron Man a new lease on comic book life. This comic is a real treat, and Slott’s Fantastic Four ain’t too shabby either.
Honorable Mentions: Mister Miracle, Iceman, Mr. & Mrs. X, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Go Go Power Rangers, Batman, Mighty Thor.