By Todd Matthy
It’s the end of the year and a time for reflection. Since everybody’s doing a best of list, I decided to throw in my two cents, so here’s my best of 2011.
Note: If you’re looking for Year in Music, click here.
Company of the Year: Marvel Comics- While DC maybe enjoying the spotlight now, they only got the ball rolling in September, Marvel has been on solid footing all year. From the success of three movies to events like Fear Itself, Schism, and Spider-Island, revitalizing the X-Men line to the controversial move of killing off and replacing ULTIMATE (not regular) Peter Parker, Marvel continues to show why they are the top dog in comics.
Movie of the Year: Captain America- While it didn’t get the Thor treatment in the hype department, Captain America won me over with it’s likeable characters, celebration of the little guy, and period piece setting. Plus you can’t hate the “Star Spangled Man with the Plan” musical number.
Comic Book of the Year: Uncanny X-Force- For the past couple of years Captain America has been my favorite comic, this year the X-Men reclaimed their crown with Uncanny X-Force. Written by Rick Remender with art by Jerome Opena and colors by Dean White, X-Force is a take no prisoners, balls-to-the wall action packed book the X-Men’s equivalent of CIA assassins. Led by Wolverine, X-Force does the dirty work the X-Men can never do. Don’t believe me? In the first six issues assassinated a child who is the reincarnation of Apocalypse. But action and shocking twists aside, writer Rick Remender keeps the book grounded with characterization that reminds us why we love the X-Men. From the team dealing with assassinating a child to trips to the doomed romance between Archangel and Betsy “Psyloche” Braddock, to Deadpool’s one liners, Remender’s characterization keeps me coming back month after month. But Remender is not alone, the unsung hero of X-Force is colorist Dean White whose palette makes Uncanny X-Force one of the most unique looking and beautiful books on the racks.
Comeback of the Year: DC Comics- As much as I love Beavis and Butthead, DC Comics takes this one home due the success of the “New 52.” A bold move, many (myself included) questioned the wisdom of DC cancelling their entire line of comics and starting over with all new number ones while revamping the history of their universe. The result is a DC Universe that is fresher and most exciting in years. Batman remains the same but Superman has become a super powered rebel in the pages of Action Comics while Wonder Woman has discovered her origin was a lie in the pages of her book. At the same time, second-tier characters like Aquaman and Swamp Thing have been given a shot in the arm thanks to both established and up and coming talent. Then there are titles like Batwoman and Animal Man that shatter the conventions of the comic books form. Even more exciting is that retailers have reported seeing both returning and brand new faces at their stores eager to see what the “New 52” is all about. Whether these readers stay or not is something only time will tell, but for now the “New 52” has made DC Comics to company to watch in 2012. I’ll have my slice of humble pie now.
TV Show of the Year: Game of Thrones- What can I say about Game of Thrones that hasn’t been said? How about that it perfectly brought author George R.R. Martin’s world to life? Or that it’s given us most unique and memorable characters on television today portrayed by some of the finest actors out there? How about that it broke television’s golden rule by killing off the main character? There are other reasons, but it’s impossible to list them all. Trust me, if you haven’t checked out HBO’s Game of Thrones, you don’t know what you’re missing. I suggest you start watching it on demand right now! (And if you like the show and can’t wait until March, start reading the books)
Villain of the Year: Joffrey Baratheon- If you looked up the word ‘bastard’ in the dictionary you’d find a picture of Joffrey Baratheon. When Game of Thrones began Joffrey was a cowardly, spoiled, brat with a punchable face. Then he’s crowned King. Now imagine a cowardly, spoiled, brat with absolute power. Immediately, Joffrey not only orders lead character Ned Stark beheaded but does it with a smile in front of the man’s daughter (and his betrothed), Sansa. Driving the knife even further, he taunts Sansa by forcing to gaze upon her father’s severed head and has her beaten by his guards. George R.R. Martin’s world maybe filled with shades of grey but he reminds us that absolute evil exists and does it through a thirteen year old boy.
Hero of the Year: Arya Stark-“I don’t want to be a lady.” I can’t think of a better way to sum up Game of Thrones’ little firecracker. Where her older sister Sansa dreams of being a Princess (boy does that turn into a nightmare) Arya would rather play in the mud and sword fight with the boys, much to her parents dismay. When in King’s Landing, her father sets her up Syrio Forel, who teaches her how to fight and how to survive. While she may not have accomplished a grand heroic feat (yet), Arya is the hero of the year not only because she stands up for the defenseless (whacking Joffrey when he tried to cut her friends face) and her ability to survive (escaping the Lannister’s coup de’tat). That and her ability to torment her sister.
Wrestler of the Year: CM Punk- This was a no brainer. In the world of professional wrestling, CM Punk had by far the best year by becoming the wrestling fan who achieved his dream, only to be held back because Vince McMahon didn’t see him as “Superstar” material. So, what did he do? Two weeks before his contract expired he cut the most significant promo since Steve Austin declared “Austin 3:16 says I whipped your ass,” defeated John Cena to the win the WWE title, left the company and showed up on independent shows with the belt, became the face of a campaign to bring back WWE Ice Cream Bars, and wad the first wrestler to be spotlighted by GQ since the Rock. So what does WWE now that they have lightning in a bottle? They break it. Punk signed a new contract and instead of him reigning as a dominant rebellious champion, they take the belt off of him and have him feud with Kevin Nash and Triple H. Normally, this is the death kneel of a push, but thanks to his in ring and microphone work, Punk returned to the top defeating Alberto Del Rio in Madison Square Garden and regaining the title. I guess the company finally took notice.
Tag Team of the Year: The Kings of Wrestling- While you may not have heard of them…yet, Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are not only the top tag team in Ring Of Honor Wrestling, they are the top tag team in all of professional wrestling. Aided by “the Queen” Sara Del Rey, the Kings put on exceptional matches, have unique personalities, and beaten every team put in front of them this year. Oh, and how many tag teams do you know of have the fans singing their entrance music during the show? Only one, the Kings. Claudio was just signed to the WWE. Hopefully hero will follow. WWE, if you are serious about bringing back Tag Team wrestling, forget Airboom, this the team you build the division around.
Match of the Year: Triple H vs. the Undertaker, Wrestlemania 27– Everything came together for this match. The promos, the entrances, the intensity of the participants, Triple H and the Undertaker wrestled a hard-hitting, physical, match that left put one participant on the shelf until next years Wrestlemania.
Sitcom of the Year: Tie-The League and The Big Bang Theory–
The League: FX’s hilarious send up of fantasy football culture is not only one of the funniest shows out there, it gets extra points for showing us how nerdy Fantasy Football really is.
The Big Bang Theory: Bazinga! As if a show about socially awkward physicists at Caltech and their hot aspiring actress of a neighbor wasn’t enough, the one-liners, antics, and quirks of one Sheldon Cooper catapult this show into must see TV.
Cartoon of the Year: Beavis and Butthead- They’re back and *gasp* smarter. While everyone favorite bungholes are stupid as ever during their adventures when they watch music videos and MTV’s reality shows, their commentary is sharper and more insightful then it ever was in their heyday. Jersey Shore actually did something good, it inspired Mike Judge to bring B&B out of retirement. And what did we learn? Beavis is smarter then the situation.
Reality Show of the Year: Not applicable. I don’t watch “reality” TV.
Book of the Year: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin- Six years in the making and over one thousand pages, George R.R. Martin is still able capture our attention with the fifth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (of which Game of Thrones is the first book). I’ll say no more so as not to spoil anything.
To all my readers have a wonderful New Year!