Five Best Things of 2018

Age of the Geek Column: Christmas has come and gone and the New Year is rapidly approaching!

That can only mean one thing: Lists!

As 2018 comes to end and media content producers struggle against the double-whammy of nothing happening and really wanting to phone it in until January anyway, it's the perfect time to break out a nice easy list. You'll be seeing them everywhere this week, so why not start here with my list of the five best things of 2018.

Deadpool 2

Ryan Reynolds struck gold with his first attempt at bringing the Merc with a Mouth to the big screen (well… second attempt, technically. But we don't like to talk about that) but there was a lingering question of whether or not he could do it again.

Turns out he could.

Much like the first movie, "Deadpool 2" has a surprisingly well developed emotional core behind the onslaught of obscene jokes and gratuitous violence. At its heart, it's a movie about family.

Family and dismemberment. But mostly family.

DuckTales

I know I'm cheating because this was on last year's list, but I don't care. It's my list. I'll do what I want.

The rebooted "DuckTales" may have premiered last year, but it wasn't until this August that the first season fully concluded. It pleases me to say that the first season ended as strongly as it started and the second season so far has been just as great.

With stylish animation, a top-notch voice cast, and no end of clever adventures, the reboot is one of those rare gems that you could argue definitively and completely surpasses the original. I even prefer the revamped theme.

Netflix

Netflix originals are often held in high regard, but this year seems to have been a particularly successful year for the streaming service as they lean even further away from licensing movies in favor of producing original content.

Notable new shows for 2018 included "Lost In Space," a well done reboot of the classic sci-fi series; "The Good Cop," a charming police procedural starring Tony Danza; "The Haunting of Hill House," a legitimately spooky look at how families can be haunted by ghosts both metaphorically and literally; and "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," an astoundingly well produced adaptation of everybody's favorite teenage witch.

And that's just the new stuff. 2018 was also a banner year for Netflix's Marvel offerings, presenting a much improved second season for "Iron Fist" and the triumphant return of "Daredevil" with what may be his best season yet. Sadly, this year also largely marks the end of the Marvel/Netflix partnership as "Daredevil," "Luke Cage," and "Iron Fist" have all been canceled while "Jessica Jones" and "The Punisher" are sure to be close behind once their upcoming seasons come out in 2019.

Still, over all, this has been a banner year for Netflix, which is good because they're going to need all the momentum they can get next year as Disney muscles their way into the streaming service market.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Though I'm loathe to admit it, I regret the amount of money I spent on "Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U." I bought the game, the GameCube controller adaptor, new controllers, all of the DLC, and a fair number of Amiibo figures. But after all that, it's difficult to say that I really got my money's worth out of the investment.

There was a lot of content to the game. Just not a lot to do with it when you don't have people over to play. Having 55 stages doesn't mean much when the competitive online mode only uses Final Destination and there was little to do when it came to solo content.

Fortunately, SSBU seems to have resolved the bulk of these issues. Online matchmaking has a much more in-depth system for customizable rules and, even more importantly, the ability to blacklist stages and turn off stage hazards has vastly expanded on the number of competitive playing fields.

Meanwhile, the single player "spirits" campaign is the most in-depth solo mode that the series has ever offered and after 30 hours of playtime (a fair amount of which has been spent tweaking playlists of the games absurd amount of music), I've still yet to unlock all 74 characters.

Time will only tell how things will ultimately play out, but so far it seems that SSBU is shaping up to be everything I wanted out of the previous iteration and then some.

Spider-Man: Into of the Spider-Verse

In the last sixteen years, Sony has released six live-action Spider-Man movies that range from "terrible" to "okay." People may argue about which Spider-Man movie is the best, but really it's an argument over which one is the least bad. As much as I want there to be a good Spider-Man movie, there isn't a one of them that isn't held back by one issue or another.

So when Sony announced that they were making an animated movie centered around Miles Morales, better known as the Ultimate Spider-Man, my expectations were well tempered. This could have very easily been just another of Sony's flailing attempts at trying to make something worthwhile out of their most valuable property.

Fortunately, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" ended up being so much more.

This is not only, by a wide margin, the best Spider-Man movie ever made. It's potentially the best super-hero movie of the year. (Yes, including "Avengers: Infinity War," which is absent from this year's list because I'm withholding all my judgment until next year's conclusion.)

Visually, the movie is a marvel (no pun intended) to look at. The low framerate takes a little time to get used to, but it helps make every second of the movie look amazing.

Story wise, the movie exceeded my expectations. It's funny when it needs to be, emotional when it needs to be, doesn't shy away from crazy comic book concepts, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to dramatic events.

There's already talk of sequels and spin-offs and, with a whole multi-verse of characters at their disposal, there are few limits to what Sony could do next. Whatever it is, I can't wait.

Honorable Mention

Due out in roughly a month, "Resident Evil 2" is the remake I never imagined I'd get. Once one of my favorite video game franchises, the Resident Evil series has been one disappointment after the next since 2004. However, with the announcement of "RE2make," my interest in the franchise has been rekindled.

Inspired to dive back in to the world of survival horror, this year I've discovered the joys of Benn Powell's "Resident Evil Randomizer" mod and finally gotten around to playing "Resident Evil VII," a game that returns the franchise to its roots so well that it would have made last year's list had I played it when it came out.

And that's that. The five things I enjoyed the most last year. Here's hoping 2019 is even better.

Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and already has a solid idea of what three of next year's spots are going to be.