Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back at 2013 in Geek

Sadly, this year marks my first full year of not picking up weekly floppies. But, I still collected hardcovers like the Marvel Masterworks and Omnibus. 

Highlights from those include the Fantastic Four Omnibus Volumes 1 & 2 and the West Coast Avengers. DC Comics did a decent job reprinting several writer/artist runs in their Batman The Dark Knight collection.

I kicked off the year reading Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself which proved to be a worthy successor to G.R.R. Martin with its complex, grey characters. While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t really feel compelled to continue the trilogy. And speaking of Mr. Martin, I read his 1980s vampire novel, Fevre Dream, and really enjoyed his twist on the vampire genre.

I caught up on Dresden Files Blood Rites (#6) and Dead Beat (#7) and enjoyed Harry’s adventures. On the urban fantasy front, I read Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and enjoyed it, but found his present tense and lack of chapters distracting.

I finished Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy and while it wrapped up a little too neatly, I liked the world and the magic system he built.

I closed out the year re-reading the Shining and was really surprised at how different and better the novel was than the book. While Kuberick’s The Shining will always stand as a one of my favourite horror movies, the novel was really enjoyable once I got beyond the imagery of the movie and allow King’s characters to take over.

I didn’t get out to see many movies this year. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but the theatre experience doesn’t do much for me any more. Tired of people on their cell phones throughout the movie. Nothing pulls me out of the movie experience like a flash from someone’s cell phone screen as they feel the need to check their email. See I am getting old and grumpy.

I thought Iron Man 3 was a big letdown and really added nothing to the Avengers movie franchise. Thor 2 – The Dark World was a pleasant surprise as it was a fun, super hero flick.

Man of Steel, Wolverine, and Star Trek Into Darkness were also big disappointments for me. Man of Steel was lifeless with a terribly weak protagonist despite amazing casting. Wolverine had all the ingredients to be a great story, but the movie veered in a terrible direction in the last half. With such great source material from the Wolverine limited series in 1982, I had high hopes, but the movie disappointed as it conveniently forgot the character’s roots. And lastly, I found Star Trek Into Darkness self indulgent in that all it did was rehash the original series and the Star Trek Wrath of Khan and did nothing to boldly go beyond its source genre.

I fell in love with Hannibal as I was consistently entertained and blow away with how the show got away with getting its content out in prime time. Hannibal featured some of the most horrific and clever writing on TV. Breaking Bad came to a lovely conclusion, unlike Dexter’s finale which tarnished the entire series.

American Horror Story – Coven had a spectacular start and continues to deliver. I finally caught up on The Blacklist, I found it a great show, falling in behind Hannibal and American Horror Story. While he may have started as a derivative of Hannibal Lector, Red Reddington has weasel his way in our hearts and I’m really looking forward to see what the second half of the season has to offer.

Supernatural ran out of steam and story ideas for the first half of season 9. Although the mid-season finale was quite good, it didn’t redeem a weaker than average season start. And speaking of weak, I’ve finally given up on Walking Dead. I tried, I really tried, but I simply can’t watch the show. I don’t care about the characters, I don’t understand them or what they do, and I don’t find them interesting.

Our gaming group discovered Twilight Imperium this year and spent the better part of a day on Father’s Day weekend playing this game. It’s not simply a game, but rather a gaming experience that allows you to play one of the alien races that is attempting to seize control of the Empire. It’s an impressive game that really allows players to role play their races and a lot of opportunity through trade and politics to interact.

The Resistance was a surprise hit with our group. While its traitor-from-within setup is simple, the variations are a lot of fun and the accusations that fly are a lot of fun. The game takes about fifteen minutes to play, but it’s an intense fifteen minutes.

We had a lot of fun with Lords of Waterdeep and A Game of Thrones. We also kicked off the legendary Call of Cthulhu campaign, Beyond the Mountains of Madness.

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