2006 has started with a bang for me, I finally have the Internet at home, wireless too so I can bring you comic news and pondering's from the bathroom if I so choose (I promise I won't). But before we go flying into 2006, I would like to take a look back at the year that was.
2005 was a fairly good year for me, for a start it was the year I started this blog (and in many ways it seems that I started this way earlier than that), my girlfriend moved in, my wrestling promotion opened its doors to the public with a fair degree of success, my Transformers collection grew larger, a new kitten joined my household, I started learning to drive, I met lot's of interesting people and started working on a few interesting projects. The main item on my agenda for the year was to get something published, and although that wasn't achieved, this website has been an excellent method of keeping myself in the writing mindset.
This one isn't just about comics people, so feel free to tune out now or skim through. If you do read it, then comments or recommendations are more than welcome, you might influence my 2006 list.
I don't think I have read a single book that was printed in this year, but in a year where the best selling books were "The Da Vinci Code" and "Suduko", I don't think I was missing out much. While I don't read loads of books (20 a year at most), the ones I did read this year were fantastic. Neverwhere, Fahrenheit 451, Hells Angels, The Old Man and the Sea were all highlights, but my three favourites were as follows:
Fight Club - I think the thing that impressed me most with this book was that everything they changed for the film made perfect sense, and both the novel and the film can stand up as their own product independent of the other. A fantastic (and easy) read, this novel makes me want to read more Chuck Palahniuk.
American Gods - Neil Gaiman is one of the nicest people on the planet. It's nice to meet someone and not be disappointed. Between my girlfriend and I we have pretty much everything Neil has ever written, and although this novel isn't as instantly accessible as works like Neverwhere, it is definitely better in the long run. Highly recommended along with everything Mr. Gaiman has written.
Brave New World - Easily my favourite novel set in a dystopian future. Brave New World is a timeless novel, as relevant an accurate today as it was when it was written (its so good, Iron Maiden wrote a song about it), warning of the dangers of an increasingly consumer driven society where the focus is on productivity and efficiency rather than freethinking individual betterment. A haunting cautionary tale.
Musically, this year was excellent for me as I managed to see a lot of decent bands. Nine Inch Nails (3 times), Mortiis, Megadeth, Maiden, Marilyn Manson and Fozzy. However, I found new music releases this year to be somewhat limited, finding the new Fear Factory and Queen Adreena albums somewhat lacking as well as the entire "metal" industry. I think its safe to say that with every year that passes I find the metal scene less and less interesting.
Nine Inch Nails: With Teeth - Easily the best album of the year for me, and one of about 3 albums I actually paid for this year, despite the fact I already had a pre-release pirate copy. "Bite the Hand that Feeds" is one of my favourite tracks of all time
Megadeth: The System has Failed - A powerful reminder why Megadeth are the best thrash metal band of all time, this album came two years after Doctors told Dave Mustaine that he would never play guitar again due to extensive ligament damage.
MP3s - I love downloading. Its easy and its cheap. No more filler tracks on an album. Custom playlists. Of course this was around before 2005, but I couldn't think of a third best album so this is my 3rd favourite thing about music this year.
As most of you know, I tend not to watch Television. However, I am a complete DVD whore, and I am not short of friends recommending me quality products. Batman Animated, Samurai Jack and South Park have all been welcomed on Region 1 import, Family Guy series 4 downloads, Star Wars Clone Wars and 24 season 4 have all been great, but they don't make my top three.
Mighty Boosh - One of the most innovative programs I have seen in years. Featuring the slapstick comedy of "The Goodies" with the off beat pacing of "The Adam and Joe" show, with a slice of "Monty Python" on the side. Although that description doesn't do this show justice, it never goes out to please a demographic it does it's own thing and if you like it, then great.
Nathan Barley - Clever show from Chris Morris (Jam, Day Today), showcasing the idiot culture dominating modern day style, trends and fashion. This show isn't for everyone, and yes, most of the characters are dicks. Witness the slow decline of Dan Ashcroft, anointed preacher-man to the fashionably inept and intellectually insipid crowd.
The Sopranos - Yeah, okay, technically not a 2005 release, but I did watch all five seasons this year and I have to say that I think this show overtakes even "Babylon 5" to claim its spot in my mind as greatest written TV show of all time. Do yourself a favour and check this show out.
What a fucking amazing year for movies this was. Finally the last Star Wars film was released (and it sucked balls, making Episode 1 and 2 look great, but at least it bought us the Clone Wars animated). Ong Bak blew everyone away on DVD with its breathtaking stunts and pain-inducing elbows and The Life Aquatic was a poignant reflection on life which put Bill Murray back on the map and Land of the Dead evolved zombies in this Eighties inspired action film. The next few years looks set to raise the bar even higher, with Superman, X-Men 3, Spider-man 3 and Sin City 2 all in production.
Batman Begins - What needs to be said about this film. The two Chris' (Bale and Nolan) reinvent the Batman film franchise for a more mature, less gay audience. A dark gritty comic book adaptation treated seriously, what more could you ask for?
Sin City - A dark gritty comic book adaptation treated seriously, what more could you want? Howsabout Rodriguez and Tarrantino? Two hours of pure joy, which used the comicbook as the story boards for the film. Violent and offensive. Further proof that comic book movies and Hollywood are a great blend, and a reminder that not all comic books have to be superhero based.
Serenity - Forget your preconceptions. From Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon comes the follow up to the prematurely cancelled "Firefly" TV series. Sci-fi done on a budget. Sounds like it would suck doesn't it? Arguably the best film of the year, and most people didn't see it due to a poor release date and lack of promotional support. Coming March on DVD.
Another media product which had an excellent year. From the release of a sequential "Sin City" tpb line, the "Complete Rising Stars HC", "Walking Dead" becoming a best selling tpb, the launch of the All-Star line at DC, the Luna Bros. at Marvel, one of the best selling summer crossovers of all time in "House of M" and the launch of Matt Boyces "Life is Humiliation", 2005 was fun year to be reading comics. It's not going to be easy to narrow it down the 3 best things about comics in 2005 but I will try.
Infinite Crisis Crossover - Everything about DC kicked ass in 2005, having already done so much groundwork and building in 2004 with ID Crisis. The continued excellence of execution of storylines set into motion 3 years previously was a joy to watch. Reading DC felt rewarding in a way that comics rarely do, in that the more you put into reading DC books, the more you got out of OMAC Project and Inifnite Crisis, yet both were thoroughly enjoyable for newcomers and novices. The storylines played into each other so well in Superman, Wonder Woman, Titans, Outsiders, Supergirl. No book felt superfluous, even the smallest actions and strings of dialogue were relevant. DC were stunning in 2005, and should continue to be in 2006 and 2007 with the 52 title and One Year later storyline. Make Mine DC.
The Ultimates - My favourite Marvel book, from the creative team of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. Sure, it might not ship often, but when it does it delivers more bang for its 3 bucks than any other comic on the market. A subtle blend of post September 11th paranoia, anti-Americanism and a slight poke at the entire 616 Marvel universe, Ultimates keeps you guessing from one issue to the next as the spiritual successor to the Authority.
Tpbs / Graphic Novels - The rise of the Tpb format continued throughout 2005, with several Tpbs outselling the periodical equivalent such as Fables, Y the Last Man, Walking Dead, Invincible and Sea of Red. An outstanding selection should await the reader in all the best comic shops and bookstores, a mixed genre representation of the medium; including manga, indies, franchises, super-hero, crime, horror, comedy and romance in a multitude of formats including; digests, tpbs, graphic novels, Softcovers and Hardcovers. The industry is looking more and more respectable as a media product and as such has lead to rave reviews on TV, newspapers and on the Time 100 Novel list.
Despite the usual tirade of EA production line FIFA / Tiger Woods / John Maddens 200X, the video game industry has still been quite good this year, although the grade of quality is levelling out and looking at a decline. The next generation of consoles have already crept into our high streets and only time will tell how the future of video gaming will fare. Will games be fully downloaded? Will Internet access be an inevitable necessity? Will video game stores be a thing of the past? This industry is poised on the verge of evolution, so expect the next few years to be nothing if not interesting.
God of War - Fuck you Prince of Persia 2. THIS is how you do an action adventure puzzle romp. Its sense of scale is on a par with Ico, the bosses are big, bad and old school in their attack patterns. How many video games end with you fighting the Greek God of War Ares?
Metal Gear 3: Snake Eater - The first 15 minutes of this game served to put a lot of people off as they quickly realised this isn't the Metal Gear Solid they know and love. What a lot of people didn't put the effort in to discover was that was this games greatest asset. From a kick ass Bond-esque theme tune to the greatest video game ending ever, this game evolved the franchise past its linear corridors and boxes roots, as you deftly manoeuvre a carefully camouflaged Snake through enemy territory.
Resident Evil 4 - Jim and Andi were right when they recommended me this game (as they oft are with TV, films, video games and books). Resident Evil 4 exposes the other games as the lifeless, third person bland romps they were, as Leon Carver clocks up a healthy kill count in his bid to rescue the Presidents daughter. Zombies!!! Knee shots are the new head shots.
What would the best of 2005 be without me talking about Transformers? Here are the best TF highlights of 2005.
Supreme Starscream - He's huge, a good 17 inches of molded plastic. Starscream with a crown based on his Galaxy Force mold, all he needed to make him perfect was a red velvet cape.
The Binaltech Line - Easily the best line of TF's toys ever produced, the line keeps getting better and better. Some people complain that the line suffers from to many repaints, but most of them make sense (like Sunstreaker and Blue Tracks) and at the end of the day, you don't have to buy them. Prowl and Shockwave stand out as the best this line has to offer.
Galaxy Force Convoy - After the disappointment of Energon Optimus Prime, the Galaxy Force offering more than made up for it. Convoy (or Optimus Prime in the UK / US) looks like he is equipped for a fight with a don't fuck with me look, big guns and an excellent transformation. Awesome, just awesome.
Not everything about 2005 was fun, games and zombies though. 2005 had more than its fair share of deaths, not just to mention George Best finally killed himself. With the fallout from the Tsunamis, the Kyoto karma of the US Hurricanes and the submerging of New Orleans the count was high (but don't worry, here comes Bono with a dove!). Other notable deaths included John Peel, Richard Pryor, Comedian Dave Allen, John Delorean, Frank Gorshin (The Riddler), Rosa Park, Richard Whiteley and Star Treks Jimmy Doohan.
Hunter S Thompson - The innovator of Gonzo journalism, Raoul Duke himself. The writer of the Fear and Loathing series who wrote a scathing analysis of US politics, an expose of the Hells Angels and who took a lot of drugs. The verdict recorded his death as suicide.
Will Eisner - Clean living and healthy, the grandfather of the graphic novel died just a few years short of turning 90. Son of a Jewish settler, Will Eisner threw himself into the sequential art medium and did more for the comic industry than anyone. Always striving towards the perfect body of art, always learning and creating, Eisner never retired working upto his death. This guy didn't win awards, he has awards named after him.
Eddie Geurrero - Just 38 years of age, he died due to an enlarged heart from previous drug abuse. Few people pass through the rubicon like this guy did, but he came out of it a better person. One of the most influential wrestlers of our time thanks to his successful blend of anglo / luchadore styles, he was as good on the mic or filming as he was flying through the air or mat wrestling. He had a fleeting reign as WWE champion, but his biggest success was overcoming his personal demons and remaining clean. He died before his peak, but at the top of his game. Viva La Raza!
Things that should die with 2005, but probably won't.
Not everything about 2005 was peachy, the X-Box 360 line up sucked balls, Ken Kennedy got injured, Kate Moss got too many column inches and Spider-man The Other won't finish.
Wristbands - just die.
The Crazy Frog - please, just die.
Christian in TNA / The Pounce - We don't talk about Christian in TNA, or the Pounce.