The Best of 2014
As 2014 comes to an end, we are left to reflect on the things that made this year so special: new relationships, new opportunities in life, and most importantly, all the new video games and comic books that were released this year. So now, my friends, I give you my “Best of 2014” list.
Guardians of the Galaxy
This was, without a doubt, my favorite movie of the year (and quite possibly my favorite Marvel movie so far). This was another big team Marvel superhero movie in the same vein as “The Avengers,” and although you could compare the casts of both films and find similarities (thanks Honest Trailers), I think there’s a big difference between the two films. With “The Avengers,” you find yourself with a bunch of heroes who alone cannot defeat the looming threat of Loki and his army, but together can accomplish anything. With the Guardians, you have a ragtag group of losers who aren’t much to look at on their own but when they all work together they are shown to be a formidable force. Another key point of note is that this movie was hilarious; the main cast has such a dysfunctional dynamic for the majority of the movie, which gives for great moments of humor that will leave your sides aching. But the movie wasn’t too funny for its own good; it still had loads of action, a compelling plot, and very heartwarming moments. All in all, I’d say it was the best movie this year, and if you haven’t’ seen it already then you need to make it a priority.
Big Hero 6
Disney’s big release of the year is the story of Hiro Hamada, his robot companion, Baymax, and their four friends as they form a superhero group to try and defeat “Yokai,” the masked man responsible for Hiro’s brother’s death. This movie is Disney’s first adaptation of a Marvel Comics franchise, and while a lot of the characters/plot was changed to better fit a children’s movie, I found it to be a refreshing revision that worked really well. In fact, I could see Disney doing this for a lot of the lesser-known superheroes in the Marvel Universe now that they own the rights and it working out well (Runaways, anyone?). “Big Hero 6” had an interesting plot, whimsical and compelling characters, and stunning animation. A great movie to take kids to, or for anyone who enjoys a good flick.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Alright, so maybe I like Marvel movies… Is that so wrong? Anyway, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the second installment in the Cap trilogy, and is profoundly better than the first Cap movie (which was more of a war film than a superhero one). While I’d probably rank the first Cap movie as one of my least favorite Marvel movies, I’d say that TWS is my favorite Marvel movie that isn’t about a team (Guardians, Avengers, X-Men). In this movie, we find our hero Steve Rogers working for S.H.I.E.L.D. alongside Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow until an incident in which we learn that the terrorist group Hydra (see first Cap movie) has infiltrated and taken over the agency. This movie explored conspiracy ideas and, similarly to the first Cap movies, felt more like a military or government fiction than a superhero one. However, this film was a lot more interesting with a cool and mysterious (if you didn’t read the comics) villain, many scenes of Cap and Black Widow kicking tail, as well as a more compelling plot than another recycled WWII story. An overall theme to this movie, like many conspiracy stories, was to question authority and yourself, and to see characters like Steve, Black Widow, and even Nick Fury deal with this was very interesting.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U
If you’re not already familiar with the “Smash Bros” franchise, imagine all your favorite Nintendo characters battling it out to see who is the very best. For the Wii U version, add Sonic, Pac-Man, and Mega-Man, and you’ve got yourself one of the best fighting games ever released. While many (myself included) will argue that “Super Smash Bros Melee” was the best Smash Bros game released for a long time, “Super Smash Bros for Wii U” redefined the genre and once again gave us a wonderful experience that “Super Smash Bros Brawl” fell short of. With a roster boasting 50 characters (52 if you count all the different Mii Fighters), 46 stages, and a myriad of single-player, cooperative, and competitive modes (including the new and unprecedented 8-Player Smash that is surprisingly effective and fun) to choose from this game provides hours upon hours of entertainment. This was, for me, Game of the Year.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle (PS3)
Based off the long-running manga series, “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle” is a fighting game that is enjoyable for both fans of the series as well as fans of fighting games in general. With an impressive roster of 32 characters unique characters (41 with DLC), this game provides many hours of entertainment. The game plays a lot like Street Fighter with stick-based combos and outlandish specials moves, and fans of the manga series can geek out seeing their favorite characters perform their signature attacks onscreen. This is one of the better fighting games I’ve played in a while, and I would recommend it to anyone.
The Last of Us Remastered (PS4)
Alright, I get that this is probably cheating. The Last of Us for Playstation 3 was released last year, and this game doesn’t change the story from that version at all. What it does do is improve upon an already perfect game with even better visuals than the gorgeous ones the PS3 offered. For those who haven’t played either version, the story takes place in an apocalyptic America in which deadly mushroom spores that infiltrate the brain and create killer zombies have wiped out most of civilization. Joel, our protagonist, meets the young Ellie and after discovering she is immune to the spores decided to take her across the country in search of people who can find a cure. It’s a very well done game, with an excellent plot, beautifully developed characters, and graphics that will put most other games to shame. If you haven’t yet played this game, pick up the remastered version and enjoy yourself. And if you’ve played the PS3 version, go ahead and replay the remastered version. You won’t regret it.
This was a toss-up between the PS4 and the 3DS for me, but in the end I feel that the 3DS offered more good games this year. PS4’s freshman year was a solid one, but it fell short in the exclusive department with only 7 being released. 3DS, on the other hand, had a myriad of great releases, including “Persona Q,” “Pokemon ORAS,” “Super Smash Bros,” “Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney,” “Kirby: Triple Deluxe,” and “Bravely Default.” I’m sure PS4 will have a stellar year in 2015 with releases like “Bloodborne,” “Witcher 3,”and “No Man’s Sky,” but for now the Nintendo 3DS is top dog in my eyes.
Best Comic Series
What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said yet? Brian K. Vaughan, creator of Y: The Last Man and Runaways, brings us yet another amazing story, full of robots, magic, and sex. Our heroes Marco and Alana, along with their baby Hazel, are starcrossed lovers in the midst of a galactic war. Their forbidden love While not a read for the younger audience, this is a book that anyone who calls themselves a fan of comics should at least take a look at. With brilliant writing by Vaughan and gorgeous art by Fiona Staples this is a masterpiece of a comic.
Honorable Mention: Chew
Before reading Chew, I was the guy who only read comic books about superheroes. But something about this weird book, whether it was the cover art or the premise, made me want to check it out. What a great decision that was. Chew might be my favorite comic book out right now. Tony Chu is a man who can tell the history of anything by ingesting it. With this ability, he solves crimes as a cop. Eventually, he’s recruited by the FDA and he finds out that there are others like him with food-based abilities. The comic’s hilarious, has a great story, and the characters are both loveable and ridiculous. The only reason it’s not the Best Comic Series of 2014 for me is because, in my opinion, Saga outdid it this year. While both Saga and Chew’s recent arcs have been going at a slower pace than usual for each book, Saga’s story has been much more interesting, and the new villain Dengo has been incredibly interesting to read.
Best New Comic Series
Marvel NOW! brings us the newest iteration of Moon Knight, known to some as “Marvel’s Batman.” With two excellent creative teams having worked on it so far (Warren Ellis/Declan Shalvey and Brian Wood/Greg Smallwood) this book may have gone through a slight stylistic change, but I can assure you that each team’s run has been incredibly enjoyable to read. Old fans of Moon Knight as well as people who are unfamiliar with the character can appreciate his new story, which has him reappear in New York crazier than ever before. If you ask me, he’s more like Marvel’s Rorschach with his crazy attitude and brutal handling of criminals. “Moon Knight” is one of the best comics I’ve read in a while, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a gritty superhero story.
Best Single Issue
Moon Knight #5