Wanna know how long 2018 was?
Avengers: Infinity War was in 2018. Black Panther was in 2018. Last January we looked forward to checking out the news, now most of us view it as a chore, or as outright painful.
I honestly experienced 2018 as a decade. Gawd it was a long trek.
But let’s rise above the tsunami of suck that was this year and look at some highlights. These will be mine and I truly hope you add yours in the comments below.
Look, no matter your politics, 2018 has had so much darkness that if you are clear thinking at all you came out of this year more wary of blindly believing elected leaders or journalists, and, hopefully, had a moment of clarity during which the list of those you could trust at all shrank to a precious few. My hopes for all is that you a blessed with the ability to step away from getting absorbed in the 24-hour news cycle and lock step allegiance to any organized movement. The key is educating yourself broadly and thinking for yourself, and that key has been burnished in 2018. See? Blessings!
I am impressed with the enormous scope of what the Creators behind Marvel Cinematic Universe are attempting. We are over 20 interconnected films that tell separate stories that weave together to tell arguably the grandest tale ever told in cinema.
This has been well worth experiencing, and I acknowledge here that 2019 is their greatest challenge; bringing the overall tale to a satisfying ending with Captain Marvel and Avengers Endgame is going to be an enormous task. I wish them well in accomplishing that goal, for all of our sakes.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse was a surprisingly excellent and smart joy of a movie. First, it introduced Miles Morales, the other great Spider-Man. Second, it showed how great Spider-Gwen is as a character. Third it demonstrated how strong the basic original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko ideas were. Miles uses almost the same origin story with a different character. Spider-Gwen took the original cast and just moved the radioactive spider over one person. Both minor changes exploded the possibilities of story while demonstrating the strength of the original idea. The extended message drives the concept that anyone can wear the mask and further universalizes Spider-Man as a character that belongs to all of us. There are so many other great aspects of the film that the creators got right – dialogue, visuals, humor, characterization, casting, pacing, but most impressive is how this film introduces the concept of multi-verse. I suspect this will pay dividends during Avengers: Endgame and seeing the concept first in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is genius.
The flip side is The Muppet Murders is such a misfire that it is worth watching to see what not to do. I respect those creators and Melissa McCarthy is credible amid the sixth grade humor, but so much of it tosses viewers out of the story consistently.
HBO’s Game of Thrones (that was 2018, wasn’t it? Gawd, this has been an endless year) took televised story telling to new levels, as did Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime, as well as Black Mirror on Netflix, and Castle Rock on Hulu. Bravo to each of them. In a completely different genre, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime is a brilliantly written, acted, and shot comedy.
All the above are highly recommended.
I loved a lot of what I read this year, not all were novels.
November Road by Lou Berney really engaged me as a fiction fan and author at the same time. He uses the Kennedy assassination as the backdrop for a story about Americans running from their lives as a direct result of that historic event. One is a mob figure, the other a housewife with two daughters, the flight toward freedom is fraught with many metaphoric American horrors. Really well done. Highly recommended.
Stephen King continues to write in a widening range of genres, this year offering The Outsider, a police procedural with one element of the supernatural which turns the investigation and an entire town, upside down. The horrors are more grounded and that is very satisfying. Toilet moments aside, this book is gripping. Additionally, King offered Elevation, a wondrously positive story which uses a potentially horrifying occurrence being turned positive and, excuse the pun, uplifting. Both are very satisfying and highly recommended.
TOUGH CRIME STORIES is a collection of exactly the genre suggested in the title. Rusty Barnes adds a dynamic, consistently intriguing set of tales that deserves a wide readership. This title adds to a pile of great pulp magazines out there (a subject for another blog) but has impressed. Highly recommended.
There are so many other great works that came out in 2018. What were some of yours? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
All the best to all of you in 2019.
Christopher Ryan is an author, teacher, re-emerging public speaker, and continually inspired family dude. (Yes, dude. Not pirate angel.) fore more on him and his work, check out http://chrisryanwrites.com