Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Countdown List of Countdown Lists

I've been meaning to make a "best of 2012" list for a while, but not in the way you might think. Instead of giving out a blow-by-blow description of the absolute greatest everything of the year, period, I simply wish to relay what has impressed me in the past 366 days (count them). This all comes from one idea: my opinions don't count for anything. Now, when I came to a good friend of mine with this concept, he said only this: "I hate countdown lists." A month ago, I would have walked away with my vestigial tail between my legs. But not now. Now I have words. Words on the Internet. That some people occasionally read. So here I am, with a countdown list to end all countdown lists. It also counts down those countdown lists.

Just keep in mind, the items I discuss are simply those that stood out to me. Since I'm self funded (by money I find in cards from my grandparents), I don't get to experience everything that comes out ever. But I try my damnedest to, and I hope that shows. Without further ado, here is my countdown list of countdown lists.

4. Television

3. Arrow - By no means will this new series end up at the Emmys. Nevertheless, in terms of small screen adaptations, we could do much worse than The CW's Arrow (see: Smallville). The show is grounded enough while still maintaining a sense of respect for the DC Comics characters. At times, the shifts in tone can be a little weird, such as the transition of Oliver Queen from a devil-may-care freedom fighter to one who suddenly cares about the lives of henchmen. Even so, if you have a free afternoon, this series is worth getting caught up on.

2. Game of Thrones - I like to call Game of Thrones "the best show where I don't know what the balls is going on." Don't get me wrong, I've been watching since the beginning, and I know the basics: Sean Bean dies in everything, the South Pole Elf is a monumental badass, and Daenerys is the least interesting individual to show up on a television set. What the series lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in brilliant characters. I found myself driven to watch by a desire to see what the characters would do next. Actually, in all honesty, I follow the series to make sure Joffrey gets killed on.

1. Breaking Bad - Oh. My. Jesus. Breaking Bad. As much as I'd love to mention the incredible season finale of season four, I shouldn't, because it didn't air in 2012. I'll stick to the in-progress fifth season that's just as impressive. Few of the shows I've witnessed in my short lifespan have grabbed me and refused to let go as much as this one. If this series isn't on your radar, go ahead and rethink your life choices.

3. Video Games

3. Far Cry 3 - This one's a late entry, but seeing as you probably will have forgotten about my other two picks, I'll keep it. Furthermore, I didn't get a huge amount of time with this one; but the time I put into it was very well spent. What I thought Far Cry 3 did best was how it plays with the balance of power. You begin as some rich douchebag nobody on the run from a slaver named Vaas, a guy who tends to dabble in the crazy department. By the halfway point, you've become strong enough that you get that feeling of "let's take this dickhead out, let's do this." And yet, despite this feeling of invincibility, you still know that Komodo dragons are the scariest gosh darn things in the game.

2. Max Payne 3 - Remember this one? Max Payne 3 released all the way back in the spring, but it's still fresh in my mind. It plays like a dream and looks even better. I'm going to be honest here: I'm trying to come up with a collection of b.s. reasons why this game is "gritty yet refined," but all I can do is remember the slow motion dives, massive set pieces, and the beautifully orchestrated kills. Max Payne 3 is that awesome. It's a shame the series is done; sniping in games without bullet-cam just won't be the same.

1. Mass Effect 3 - I'm not going to talk out of my butt and say how the ending "wasn't that bad" and how "fans just didn't understand BioWare's intentions." Nope, that ending was dumb as poop. Even so, the rest of the game was fun and crafted well enough that I'm willing to overlook it. Things blew up, people died, and Shepard got his way with the ladies (and that one dude that one time); if I recall correctly, that's kind of what we expected from this series anyway.

2. Comics

3. All New X-Men - Yes, this is a very late entry, and no, it's not going to be the best book you've ever read. Even so, I love this book for my own reasons. To start, this book is fun; the concept of Hank McCoy traveling back in time to have First Class Cyclops talk some sense into present douchebag Cyclops is crazy enough to work. However, the main, more personal reason I love All New X-Men comes from the creative team. You see, as a kid, I was raised on the Ultimate Spider-Man series. After Mark Bagley left, Stuart Immonen joined Brian Michael Bendis to put out an amazing series. I cannot wait to see where this duo takes the property.

2. Hawkeye - When I first picked up Matt Fraction's Hawkeye, I hated it. I wanted a sprawling superhero epic with a focus on Marvel's star archer. Instead, I received a story and art that were both toned down yet simultaneously beautiful. It took some work, but I came around. Now, I see this book for the sheer awesomeness it is. If you or anyone you know needs evidence of how compelling and accessible comics can be, throw a copy of Hawkeye #3 at them. I mean it. Throw it.

1. Saga - It's not very often that I pick up every issue of an ongoing series because a stranger in the comic book store seemed really passionate about it. Yet, that's what I did, and I couldn't be happier. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples' Saga isn't only the best book I've read all year, it's also one of the best books I've read in my short time on this earth. Saga is crass but not immature, funny but not strictly a comedy. Not to mention, it's downright beautiful and always interesting. Just...just read it.

1. Movies

3. Looper - I went absolutely bonkers when I saw Looper for the first time. It was edgy, exciting, fascinating, and my friends and I talked about it for days. In a year muddled with sequels, reboots, and franchise entries, Looper was an original concept that was out there and just so freaking awesome. I'm also a sucker for anything with unspoken mythology behind it, and this film doesn't disappoint on that front. Now that it's been released on DVD, you don't really have a reason not to give Looper a try.

2. Django Unchained - Yeah. You guys already know how obsessed I am with Django Unchained. If not, you could scroll down or click this line of text. And you should, because I'm getting tired of typing all this.

1. The Avengers - Could it have been anything else? The Avengers was the perfect storm of geekdom, and I couldn't have been happier to be caught up in it. If this Whedon-directed culmination of four different superhero film franchises that actually took continuity into account wasn't enough to drive any fan insane, the fact that the film was actually good drove everything over the edge. Now, a sequel is on the way, and DC is desperately playing catch-up; this will either lead to greatness or a train wreck, and I'm looking forward to it either way.

So, that's what I think. What did you guys love about 2012? What totally sucked butt and disappointed you? Leave some comments below (you should be able to with a YouTube/Google+ account), and let's talk. Until next time, stay awesome.

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