To celebrate the end of the year, the staff of Sequential Planet will be listing their favorite things from 2018! Below are some of Alex’s favorite picks. Click here to see everyone else’s picks!
Series of the Year: Isola
Isola gets a ton of acclaim. It’s not an accident. Brendan Fletcher (creator, writer) and Karl Kerschl (creator, writer, artist) have struck a chord with a piece that is adventurous, ambiguous, and moving all at once. As seems to be protocol at Image Comics these days, they’ve found another fantastic story. The first chapter of the series, 1-5, is over, but Isola is slated for a much-anticipated return in mid-January 2019. Readers are hoping for some flesh on the bones of a fantastical world we’ve barely come to know. It will be exciting to see how expansive the world, plot, and cast of characters becomes when this hit series continues.
Best Writer: Saladin Ahmed
The best comic book writer, in this reader’s opinion anyway, was just a fraction off creating my pick for Series of the Year. Saladin Ahmed authored the awesome 70s supernatural expose, Abbott, from BOOM! Studios. While the plot retreads some fantasy tropes, it didn’t seem to matter, as the dialogue, the era, the people in this limited five issue series, were all so real. Sadly, the series ends with so much potential still to tap. Hopefully BOOM! Studio recognizes the potential in everything left unsaid in that final issue because this reader, at least, would like to see more of the mysteries Abbott uncovers.
Best Artist: Karl Kerschl
Art sells comics. When I see a stunning cover, it makes me want to flip through the pages. That’s exactly what happened the first time I saw Isola on the shelves. I know, I know, it’s a bit boring to recommend the same comic twice, but Karl Kerschl should get massive props for what he’s done with Isola. The art stands out from the crowd more than any other aspect of this series. It’s a huge part of why I kept reading. The best part about it (I mean besides all the creepy creatures) is the colorful tones Kerschl uses to create an atmosphere. Each scene has with an immersive tone that draws readers in and made me feel like part of the world.
Movie of The Year: Annihilation
One of the most underrated and overlooked films of the year is also one of the best. Annihilation written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the book of the same name by Jeff Vandermeer, was quietly released in theaters in early 2018 after it’s marketing budget was cut. The reason for Paramount’s cut-the-losses policy was due to a fight over whether the movie was “too intellectual” and “complicated” for a general audience. Rather than trust moviegoers, Paramount did everything to cut their losses.
Annihilation is more intellectual and complicated than your average Hollywood flick. It features time jumps as the main character, Lena, played by Natalie Portman, experiences memory loss. The plot between Lena and her husband, Kane, (Oscar Isaacs) leaves viewers to work out what the film means on their own. The ambiguity of this film is what makes it so good. If I wanted an ending everyone understood I’d watch a rom-com. I rarely watch rom-coms.
In the end, Annihilation is best when watched multiple times. You’ll see details and hints you didn’t notice on the first viewing which is often what makes a movie great. While it isn’t on Netflix in the US, it can be found for rent on Amazon and other streaming marketplaces.
Best Director: Spike Lee
Spike Lee has ever been a visionary. It’s no surprise he made a film that’s at once history and reflection of our current political world. BlacKkKlansman is at once thrilling, funny, disturbing, and an untold story of both black and white America. While Lee fabricated some of the events for dramatic effect, the real Ron Stallworth did make contact with the KKK in order infiltrate their organization in 1972. A white detective infiltrated the klan in person, while Stallworth was the over-phone agent. These two, played by John David Washington and Adam Driver, are perfect for the roles they play. Their chemistry is evident from their first meeting. With a strong plot and able actors, Lee knits together a plot that is at once terrifying, humorous, and relevant.