Comics Update: My Current Lineup and 2019 Pros and Cons

Comics 2019!

Nearly all my 2019 purchases, sorted in alphabetical piles from A to Y.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My comics-judging criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences. Whenever a larger company axes titles for the sake of their bottom line or internal politics, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s really the best possible place for me to talk about comics unharmed, albeit all to myself. Whee.

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Old Guy with a PS3: Year 5 Results

Borderlands Handsome Jack!

One day I’ll have to murder Handsome Jack after he turns into an intergalactic madman, but in our shared past he’s just tipped me $22 for saving his life. What a guy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. Last year’s entry covered a banner year in which I made time during my limited gaming sessions (three times a week at most, 90-120 minutes/sesh) to plow through five different games, winning four of them and infuriated at the other one. In 2019, I managed…um, not many. Very, very not-many. But I have excuses!

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Best CDs of 2019 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 4

2019 compact discs!

Biggest trends of 2019 in album covers in my outlier dimension: no names, no faces, and lots of black.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of six people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance.

I’m also not among the trendier listeners collecting vinyl…yet. One of my most underrated achievements in 2019 was acquiring my first new record player in over twenty years. I haven’t rushed out to stock up on new LPs yet because, honestly, I have a large stack of oldies and accumulated oddities I’d rather go through first before I go overboard. We’ll see where the future takes me. For now, it’s CDs all the way.

Well…not counting the two cassettes I bought this year. Talk about unexpected. Alas, both are disqualified from inclusion here because neither was a 2019 release.

The following list, then, comprises all the CDs — and only the CDs — that I acquired last year that were 2019 releases. None were bad, but we’re not into 4-way ties here on MCC, so somebody has to give. On with the countdown:

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Top Ten

The Farewell!

Okay, who wants to tell Grandma that Awkwafina won a Golden Globe and she didn’t?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2019 I made 28 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the majority from pretty-keen to The Worst. And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome:

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: Everything Below the Top Ten

James McAvoy!

James McAvoy gave his all for three different movies, all sunken into this list’s bottom half. Better luck next year, my dude.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw 32 films in theaters in 2019 — another new personal record, beating last year’s record-breaking — but four were Best Picture nominees officially released in 2018 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. Ranking those four from Best to Least Best:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Vice
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody
  4. Green Book

Of the remaining 28 contenders that I saw in theaters, we had seven super-hero films; three animated films; nine non-superhero sequels, two of those animated; just one prequel; and four book adaptations. Obviously you’ll note the following list is far from comprehensive in covering 2019’s release slate. Once again this was a busy year during which I failed to spend gas money on every film that caught my attention.

Here’s the rundown of what I didn’t miss in theaters in 2019, for better or worst-of-the-worst. Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the bottom half of the countdown:

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2019 in Review: The Hermit’s Hunt for Happiness in Hiding

CNN Tour 2!

8/26: An unused souvenir photo from our tour of CNN Studios in Atlanta. The rain is fake. The 2019 mood is real.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the eighth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This virtual cubicle was slapped together on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and hoping all those wandering strangers might make for sufficiently provocative brain engagement. Often it’s been a fulfilling platform to share galleries, memories, Grandpa Simpson-style rambling jags, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less satisfying, but I keep whiling away at one of my most time-consuming hobbies anyway. When my head is in the right space, I still enjoy the process in and of itself. Often I still enjoy the results. On rarer occasions, I’m also privileged and honored to enjoy any and every external response received from outside my own head.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 5 of 5: And the Rest

Comics Finale!

Hey, kids! There’s more to comics life than Marvel or DC! Art by (clockwise from top left) Joe Quinones; David Aja,; Andy Clarke and Dan Brown; Jock; Geoff Shaw and Gabe Eltaeb; and Scott Wegener and Anthony Clark.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

The miniseries concludes at last! I’m happier when my weekly reading pile covers a gamut of publishers, genres, and voices, not just Big Two superheroes. In some respects I wish this section were a little longer, but for now this’ll do.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 4 of 5: My Year in Image

Image Comics 2018!

Cool covers from the past 15 months. Art by (clockwise from top left) Bill Sienkiewicz; Jason Howard; Nick Pitarra and Michael Garland; Alex Ross; Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez; and Jeff Lemire.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

Image Comics has come a long way since the days of the original seven founders. Though most of them don’t keep their hand in the medium on anything approaching a monthly basis anymore, other creators continue to flourish under their aegis, happy to have a publishing home that lets them prove there’s more to comics than superheroes and movies.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 3 of 5: My Year in DC

Darkseid Eats!

DARKSEID EATS. From Mister Miracle #11; art by Mitch Gerads.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

Years after the New 52 soured my status as a full-time DC Comics fan, I’m still creeping my way back into their universe, inch by inch. I’m in no hurry, particularly with my aforementioned rules against team books and crossovers in effect. With the help of “Rebirth” and a few bright spots from the Vertigo and Young Animal imprints, DC got my attention a bit more this year than the past few years. We’re getting there.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 2 of 5: My Year in Marvel

Spider-Ham & Lockjaw!

Don’t mind me, just pandering to fellow Spider-Verse fans out there.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

In tallying the figures, I was a little surprised to discover I’d tried more projects from merry Marvel than from any other company. That doesn’t mean I loved them all unconditionally, merely that so far they’ve held my attention even though I loathe crossovers and avoid team books, which tend to be their bestsellers and constitute some 80% of their lineup nowadays. With the size advantage and with Captain Marvel hitting theaters this Friday, why not let them go first.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 1 of 5: A Prologue Pondering Prodigious Piles of Printed Pulp

Comics 2018!

Nearly all the single issues I bought in 2018, sorted into alphabetical piles for better boxing, from Action Comics #1000 to X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis #2.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My comics-judging criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences. Whenever the larger companies need to save a buck, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s really the best possible place for me to talk about comics unharmed, albeit all to myself. Whee.

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Old Guy with a PS3: Year 4 Results

Red Dead Redemption!

This throwaway exchange in the original Red Dead Redemption turned into foreshadowing for me. I see what you did there, grizzled frontier helper guy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. Last year’s entry covered how I spent literally all my gaming time in 2017 on Borderlands 2, which fascinated me on all the right guilty-pleasure levels. 2018 was a bit more varied, though not vastly so. I found myself skipping more gaming sessions than usual as other hobbies, responsibilities, and conventions overtook my schedule and kept the ol’ PS3 waiting. The following is a rundown of my retro gaming in that busy year, in two or three short sessions per week, in the order played and with my trophy percentages included to reinforce the fact that I’m neither a gaming wizard nor a helpless grandpa:

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Best CDs of 2018 According to an Old Guy Who Bought 6

2018 cds!

Pretty sure that paltry number still puts me in the upper 10% of American physical media shoppers.

It’s that time again! The annual entry where I look back at the previous year as one of seven people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I’d probably also count myself among the trendier listeners still collecting vinyl if my last record player hadn’t given up the ghost about twenty years ago. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance.

The following list, then, comprises every CD I acquired in 2018 that was also released in 2018. On with the countdown in all its lack of diversity, from the kinda-not-for-me to the unexpectedly inspirational.

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Our 2018 in Jazz Hands: Yet Another MCC Convention Photo-Op Gallery

Tom Hiddlest

Of all the pics to lead with, of course I’m going with the one Instagram loved most, apparently one of the year’s best Tom Hiddleston photos judging by their reactions. Big thanks to Ace Comic Con Midwest for making this magically possible.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I are big fans of geek/comic/entertainment conventions. Sometimes we shell out for photo ops with actors from our favorite movies and TV shows. If they’re amenable and don’t mind taking posing suggestions from a pair of eccentric fortysomethings shaped like two lumpy bags of potatoes, our favorite theme is jazz hands. We’re not dancers and we’ve only attended two Broadway shows so far, but we love the idea of sharing a moment of unbridled joie de vivre with anyone who’s game. We can’t remember which of us had the idea first, though the inspiration surely came from a few different possible sources we share. So it’s our thing now.

We previously compiled collections of our first three years of jazz-hands photos (including one that was once used in Wizard World Chicago advertising materials), followed by a complete roundup of our 2017, the year we attended way too many cons for our own good. We didn’t expect 2018 to resemble 2017, but in tallying up the results it struck me that we had a pretty decent — and, if I may say, jazzy — year after all.

After the way our past two months have gone off the rails, we’re confident 2019 will be dramatically scaled back whether we like it or not. While we’re working on finding ways to make austerity measures entertaining, please enjoy the following clipfest starring a plethora of talented folks who have impressed us in movies or on TV who were willing to play along with all that jazz.

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My 2018 in Books and Graphic Novels, Part 3 of 3

Best Books of 2018!

I didn’t rank all 62 books in order, but here’s my Top 6 of the year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Time again for the annual entry in which I remind myself how much I like reading things besides monthly comics, magazines, and self-promotion from internet users who have me muted. Despite the lack of MCC entries about my reading matter, I’m always working on at least two books at a time in my ever-diminishing reading time. I refrain from full-on book reviews because nine times out of ten I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. I don’t always care about site traffic, but when I do, it usually means leaving some extended thoughts and opinions unwritten due to non-timeliness.

Presented over this entry and the next two is my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections that I finished reading in 2018, partly but not entirely in order of completion. As I whittle down the never-ending stack I’ve been stockpiling for literal decades, my long-term hope before I turn 80 is to get to the point where my reading list is more than, say, 30% new releases every year. That’s a lofty goal, but I can dream.

As with last year’s experiment, every book gets a full capsule summary apiece, because 29 years of reading Entertainment Weekly have gotten me addicted to the capsule format. The list is divided into a three-part miniseries to post on back-to-back evenings in order to ease up on the word count for busier readers. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we attended over the past few years.

Part One is linked above. Part Two contained a bunch more. And now: the other part. Onward! One last time! For the trilogy!

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My 2018 in Books and Graphic Novels, Part 2 of 3

Library books!

We’ll not be covering the 108 books that my wife read in 2018, but you can glimpse a few of them in this library haul. Guess which one of these four was my selection and win no prizes!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Time again for the annual entry in which I remind myself how much I like reading things besides monthly comics, magazines, and self-promotion from internet users who have me muted. Despite the lack of MCC entries about my reading matter, I’m always working on at least two books at a time in my ever-diminishing reading time. I refrain from full-on book reviews because nine times out of ten I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. I don’t always care about site traffic, but when I do, it usually means leaving some extended thoughts and opinions unwritten due to non-timeliness.

Presented over this entry and the next two is my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections that I finished reading in 2018, partly but not entirely in order of completion. As I whittle down the never-ending stack I’ve been stockpiling for literal decades, my long-term hope before I turn 80 is to get to the point where my reading list is more than, say, 30% new releases every year. That’s a lofty goal, but I can dream.

As with last year’s experiment, every book gets a full capsule summary apiece, because 29 years of reading Entertainment Weekly have gotten me addicted to the capsule format. The list is divided into a three-part miniseries to post on back-to-back evenings in order to ease up on the word count for busier readers. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we attended over the past few years.

Special shout-out to our local library, source of a few of the books in this section. Also, please note the numbers don’t represent rankings. They were merely to help me count toward my grand total. On with the countdown! Some more!

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My 2018 in Books and Graphic Novels, Part 1 of 3

books 2018!

Other than a handful of library selections not pictured, this is the complete 2018 reading list.

Time again for the annual entry in which I remind myself how much I like reading things besides monthly comics, magazines, and self-promotion from internet users who have me muted. Despite the lack of MCC entries about my reading matter, I’m always working on at least two books at a time in my ever-diminishing reading time. I refrain from full-on book reviews because nine times out of ten I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. I don’t always care about site traffic, but when I do, it usually means leaving some extended thoughts and opinions unwritten due to non-timeliness.

Presented over this entry and the next two is my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections that I finished reading in 2018, partly but not entirely in order of completion. As I whittle down the never-ending stack I’ve been stockpiling for literal decades, my long-term hope before I turn 80 is to get to the point where my reading list is more than, say, 30% new releases every year. That’s a lofty goal, but I can dream.

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

mary poppins returns!

Off we go!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2018 I made 24 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom twelve. And now, the countdown concludes with the twelve most relatively awesome:

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

pacific rim uprising!

We live in topsy-turvy times when Transformers don’t star in the worst robot film of the year.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

Continue reading

Midlife Crisis Crossover 2018 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Blogly

me at club!

4/23: Me at a business lunch, which are two words I haven’t strung together in over a decade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the seventh annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This tiny sandbox was formed on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and waiting for excuses to reply to strangers who didn’t ask my opinion. Often it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries, memories, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less fulfilling, but something I continue cobbling together anyway, as long as I can keep the fires of motivation stoked.

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