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Reading and watching in 2018 – Part 1

I want to keep track of the things I am reading and watching this year. Not sure if I will make separate posts for each or just use one place to keep track of it all. For now, here are some notes:

Read in 2018:

  1. Outcast vol 1 from Robert Kirkman (good ending but not enough to keep me reading).
  2. Self-obsessed from Sina Grace (ok)
  3. Sunstone from Stjepan Sejic (not what I expected, but not bad)
  4. Day Men by Matt Gagnon at Boom Studios; very good 10 issue series
  5. Alias vol 1 by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Michael Gaydos. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art style or the panel layouts but I found the book engaging; the Netflix show does a good job at capturing the Jessica Jones vibe of this book
  6. Sink issue 5. This has been a good mini series by John Lees and Alex Cormack
  7. Baltimore volume 3: A Passing Stranger. This comic by Mike Mignola continues to be well written and drawn (art by Ben Stenbeck who also worked with Mignola on Hellboy). I’m really enjoying reading this series.
  8. The Caped Crusade: Batman and the rise of nerd culture by Glen Weldon. This book was great; I’m not a huge Batman fan but this book was very enjoyable.
  9. Black Panther volume 1: A Nation Under our Feet. Preparation for seeing the new movie this month (I hope). This first volume written by Ta-Nehisi Coates with art by Brian Stelfreeze tells a powerful story that takes a little time to get going but that pulls in a wide set of characters. Worth reading even if (like me) you aren’t particularly up to date on the Marvel comics universe.
  10. Vision by Tom King. This was a fantastic series with depth, humor, sorrow and (maybe) just a touch of redemption and hope. The art was great and the story outstanding.
  11. Volume 10 of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Entitled The Wake, this marks the end of Gaiman’s Sandman series. I started reading these volumes maybe 5 or 6 years ago and now that I’m finished I want to go back and read them again in quicker succession.
  12. Volume 1 of Pluto by Urasawa, Tezuka, and Nagasaki. This is the first manga I’ve read (believe it or not) and it was outstanding. I planned to read this volume over the next week or two but couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. I have volume two on my shelf at home and will dig into that soon.
  13. Volume 3 of Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows. I haven’t read many truly scary comic books, but Locke & Key by Joe Hill is genuinely frightening; at several points reading this volume I found myself on the edge of my seat fearfully wondering what would happen next. Well written.
  14. Volume 4: Flambe of Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. This continues to be a funny and well-written story with over-the-top art. I enjoy knowing as I read it that the story is complete and I’m just catching up to where it goes.
  15. Volume 3: Far Faraway of Archer and Armstrong. I continue to enjoy this series from Valiant by Fred Van Lente. There is a bit of reference in this volume to other Valiant properties and a few heart-breaking moments, but the story and art continue to be engaging.
  16. View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. This is a collection of essays and short non-fiction pieces from a number of years. There were several in here I really liked and if you’re interested in knowing how Gaiman thinks about the world you’ll enjoy this book.
  17. Letter 44 volume one by Charles Soule with art by Alberto Alburquerque. Very engaging story though I just couldn’t get into the artwork; something about the shape of people’s faces just didn’t work for me. Still engaging enough that I will likely read volume 2 (especially because it’s available on Comixology Unlimited).
  18. Mind MGMT volume 1: The Manager. Written and drawn by Matt Kindt. This is the kind of book that makes me glad I’m a ComiXology Unlimited subscriber.  The art style perfectly matches the bizarre conspiracy theory about a group of people with amazing mental abilities and one woman’s quest to expose them. I would never have read this without Comixology Unlimited even though I’ve heard good things about it; there are just too many great comics out there for me to get to all of them. But I’m glad I had the chance to read this one and  I look forward to reading more in the future.
  19. Volume 2 of Pluto. This continues the great story begun in the first volume of this 8 volume series. Story continues to deepen. I’ll have to get the next six parts soon.
  20. Volume 6 of The Wicked + The Divine: Imperial Phase part two. Another great arc from Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles. Really enjoying the way this story evolves.
  21. Alias volume two.  Actually I like this one better than the first volume. The art style worked better for me and I enjoyed the mix of panel layouts and splash pages. I continue to enjoy the feel of this character.
  22. Low volume four:  Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes. Rick Remender is one of my favorite comic book writers and Low is one of my favorite series. The art is great, the story continues to be compelling. This is a story about the power of hope. Can’t wait for volume five.
  23. Inspired (second edition) by Marty Cagan. One of my favorite books about product development and the culture required for product companies to consistently excel at innovation and execution. Even if you read the first edition this update is worth reading.
  24. Black Hammer volume 1: Secret Origins. This was a really good book by Jeff Lemire with art from Dean Ormston. I’d heard great things about this book and volume one at least live up to the hype. Can’t wait to read volume 2.
  25. Truth is Stranger than it Used to be by Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh. This book, written in the mid 1990s, tackles topics of profound personal interest for me. The writing is generally good and the conclusions compelling.
  26. Pluto volume 3. This manga just continues to get better. It’s the first manga I’ve read but it won’t be the last for sure.
  27. Wayward deluxe book 1 (issues 1-10 plus tons of back matter and alternate cover art). This book by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings was a revelation to me; I’d never heard of it before and reading it I loved it. It’s manga-inspired (I guess) and set in Japan; I will have to read more of this in the future.
  28. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man volume 1: Into the Twilight. Written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Adam Kubert. This book was a lot of fun (thanks as always Comixology Unlimited); it has the story telling beats and the kind of art I remember loving as a kid reading Spider-Man.
  29. Deadly Class volume 5: Carousel by Rick Remender and Wes Craig. I continue to find this a very enjoyable series, and the set of characters in this volume (both old and new) were well developed.
  30. Black, written by Kwanza Osajyefo with art by Jamal Igle. The concept is fascinating and challenging: what if only Black people had superpowers? How would the (white) world react and how would different groups of Black people react both to having powers and to knowing that only Black people were empowered? The art is very well done and fits the story and action well. Osajyefo packs a lot of world building and a large and varied set of characters into just 6 issues of this comic book. The story comes together in the end but there were a number of places in the middle where the idea outpaced the execution. Still worth reading if you can get your hands on it.
  31. Chew volume 4: Major League Chew by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory. This continues to be an enjoyable series. This volume didn’t do much to advance the wider story line but it was very fun to read. Looking forward to the next volume.
  32. Lone Wolf and Cub volume 3: The Flute of the Fallen Tiger. Written by Kazuo Koike with art by Goseki Kojima. I enjoy the art style and the story telling of these books (though at times the art during the fight scenes is a bit touch to follow in digital form). This volume both advances the broader story and fills in background on the main characters.
  33. Deadly Class volume 6: This is Not the End. Another great collection from Rick Remender with art by Wes Craig. The writing is excellent, the story complex, the characters unique, and the themes deep. Plus each volume ends with such a cliff-hanger that I find it hard to trade wait.
  34. Super Freaks. This five-part comic book on Comixology Unlimited was fun to read and has an engaging art style. The story is complete after 5 issues but hopefully the creative team keeps making good books.
  35. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I have these on audio books and every few years I go through them again. I love the stories.
  36. Volume 4 of Pluto. I’m now half way through this series and it continues to be very interesting and intricate. I’ll need to get and read the last 4 volumes soon.

Watched in 2018:

  1. Micmacs (interesting French movie)
  2. Hitchcock/Truffaut – a very interesting documentary about the influence of Hitchcock as a director
  3. The End of the Fxxxing World (8 episode series on Netflix based on the graphic novel TEOTFW by Charles Forsman). While the show does not track directly with the book both are excellent.
  4. Black Mirror season 4. Another solid season with some very good episodes
  5. Atomic Blond (the version for airplanes). Loved the music and in general found this an interesting way to spend 2 hours on my flight. Now I want to read the graphic novel it’s based on
  6. Baby Driver (the airplane version again). Ending was a bit hard to believe but mostly I enjoyed the movie. The title sequence was outstanding.
  7. Season 6 of Game of Thrones. This season was well done I thought, with the end wrapping up the current situation for all the major characters and setting up big battles to come.
  8. The Lost Honor of Christopher Jefferies. This quiet movie tells the tale of a man whose life is disrupted by an accusation that he committed a crime – an accusation that seemingly stems more from his odd appearance and mannerisms than from concrete evidence. Well done story telling.
  9. The Fellowship of the Ring. In many ways I view the books and the movies as telling two related but different stories. I love both, especially the first installment of this trilogy. Happy to have watched it this time with my daughter; maybe we will watch the other two later this year.
  10. Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix. I may have liked this even less than Iron Fist. The dialogue was often stilted, and the main story was only mildly interesting. And especially at this point in time I am not impressed with a “hero” who solves problems by shooting people.
  11. Black Panther. Overall a great movie – with refreshing political themes that resonate with our time. Unfortunately two things pulled me out of thoroughly enjoying the mix of action, humor and politics: the violence against women (sure they are warriors but still it was tough watching them attacked by armed men) and the overall black-on-black violence of the movie. Was there really no way for people to disagree and discuss without killing each other? I know perhaps I ask too much of a comic book movie but still; the world is already too violent.
  12. Blade Runner 2049. I liked this better than the original (maybe because I think I understood it better) but still found it a bit over-long and ponderous in places as well as unnecessarily opaque (better than the original but still).
  13. Elvis and Nixon. Michael Shannon did a decent Elvis and Kevin Spacey was just tough to watch – his Nixon was good but then again his personal character is so disreputable at this point that seeing him on screen is challenging. An interesting movie nonetheless.
  14. Justice League (the airplane version). I’d have to say I think being stuck on an airplane is the best venue for watching DC comics movies; last year I saw Suicide Squad and Barman v Superman on planes and now I’ve seen this ok film. Expectations are appropriately lowered when I’m killing time on a trans-atlantic flight. I’m glad I watched this and glad this was the situation when I did.
  15. Coco (on a plane). This was a sweet and fun movie, culturally sensitive and enjoyable to watch.
  16. Battle of the Sexes (on a plane). Very well done and enjoyable to watch; I’m sorry they tried to make Bobby Riggs seem sympathetic but still liked the movie.
  17. American Made (on a plane). I feel like I’ve seen this story before (because I have) but still it was a fine way to pass two hours on a long flight.
  18. The Crown season one. My wife and I are watching this together (her for the third time me for the first). I find it interesting and enjoyable in its portrayal of the challenges Elizabeth faced.
  19. Jessica Jones season 2 – there were a few moments when the season seemed to drag a bit, but unlike seemingly most critics I liked this season a lot. And it left Jessica wonderfully broken and alone.
  20. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – I’ve seen this before but my family watched it again this past weekend; an enjoyable version of the story even though I prefer the book.
  21. Arrival. I was disappointed by this one. No spoilers here but there is a moment about 3/4th of the way through where there is a key “reveal” and, initially I found this very interesting and it made me want to rewatch the film. But as it sank in and I saw what they were going to do with the reveal it suddenly lost its appeal. I just couldn’t get excited about how the movie ended.
  22. Stoker. An interesting movie though it didn’t make a lasting impression.
  23. Train wreck.  I think the title is a great way to summarize the movie. I know some people liked it but I found none of the characters particularly sympathetic and in the end I felt bad that the doctor ended up with this woman.
  24. Better Call Saul season 3 on Netflix. This show just keeps getting better. I know it has a limited future before it catches up to Breaking Bad but for now I am really enjoying it.
  25. Avengers: Infinity War. Good not great. Glad I watched it of course since the past years have been building to this point, but it is not (in my opinion) one of the 5 best Marvel movies. Hard to live up to all the expectations of the entire franchise. No spoilers from me.
  26. The Crown season 2. Second season was also very good; deep character development and interesting view behind history.
  27. Hateful Eight. I think I might be done with Tarantino films. He loves brutal and gory violence, abuse to female characters and – especially – the N word. Enough already. This isn’t “edgy” it’s just disturbed.
  28. Confidence. This is the genre of movie I enjoy: noir double-cross movies with witty dialog and fun reveals at the end. This isn’t a great example of the genre but my basic appreciation for this type of movie carried it for me.
  29. Deadpool. With the sequel just out I thought I would go back and watch the first one. Funny, raunchy, high energy. Entertaining but not a lot to it. Great love story at the core.
  30. Deadpool 2. Good as far as sequels to raunchy funny movies go. About as satisfying as the first one was.
  31. Clone Wars season one. I’m not a super Star Wars nerd, but I have been enjoying this animated series available on Netflix.
  32. Stories We Tell. This memoir/documentary about one woman’s search for the truth about her father was, in the end, only so so as a movie.
  33. Skyfall. I think this might be my favorite James Bond film.
  34. The Usual Suspects. Rewatched this movie this week. Kevin Spacey as a deceitful and manipulative conman? Who would guess. Still and all it’s a well done film. Almost made me want to rewatch Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies (almost).
  35. Solo. Maybe it was going in with low expectations and maybe it was the place where I watched this (Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn) and maybe this movie was just targeted at fans like me, but I enjoyed this fun film.
  36. Happy Valley season one on Netflix. A very satisfying 6-episode series. Looking forward to watching season 2 as well.
  37. Ladybird. For me this lived up to the hype. Well-told coming of age tale for the modern world.
  38. Side Effects. A movie that flirts with being deep only to swerve back to mediocrity. Is the villain here Big Pharma, Financial Derivatives, or Murderous Lesbians? Or maybe it’s the need to send your kids to private school.
  39. Phantom Thread. I’m not sure about this movie. Some critics called it a dark comedy (didn’t see that myself) but I found it more a disturbing tale of a driven man and the women who in some ways enable and resist him. It was more engaging than I expected it to be but in the end I found the story and the central character unsympathetic.
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