The New Year has passed, we’re all back to work, and we’re stuck in the dead of winter for the next several months with nothing but bleakness and cold to look forward to as our lives blend into a numb, senseless gray. The energy will flee our bodies as the world is dark when we wake and even darker when we return home, and both sun and joy evade us in this, the worst time of the year with all the celebrations of the holiday season in our rear-view mirror. Unless you are a fan in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, enjoy the rest of your summer! Hey, did you have New Year’s, too? Or was yours in, like, July? Ha, so weird, the whole “Earth” thing!
Whatever the case of your weather and calendar, 2018 has passed into the void, cruelly taking so many of our beloved comic book legends with it. And while there was great loss in the last twelve months, there was a lot of joy, too! And that’s what we are here to celebrate and remember.
The Ghosts mulled this matter over when it was first decided we should offer our definitive Best Of lists for 2018. Should it be an episode of our glorious show? Or should we write it for our marvelous website? And if the latter, should it be a team effort or several smaller works?
We ultimately decided that a group article where all the Ghosts could come together to dole out the praise that 2018 deserves would be the way to go. It seemed to be the most bang for your buck, and the most clean and coherent way to break down categories.
But what would those categories be? Well that’s where we decided to mix it up a bit! Instead of the old formula of just just going one-by-one through the stand-by’s “Best Movie“, “Best Actress“, “Best Actor“, “Best Song“, etc, we decided to let the Ghosts decide individually on which topic to shine his or her own light! We’re doing things a bit differently for you here, and going Ghost-by-Ghost, with each coming up with their own list of awards! And you gets a little bit of each Ghost’s flavor along the way!
Well, I had the honor of bringing you this far… it’s only fitting I kick this off!
BEST WRESTLING MATCH OF 2018
Tommaso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano (NXT Takeover: Chicago II) /
Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (NJPW: Dominion) (tie)
Well, this is awkward. The very first item on any of our lists, and it’s a tie. But these matches, which were both lengthy, brutal encounters that carried on from extended storylines, both occurred within a week of each other, and both cracked my Top 5 (… maybe Top 3… maybe Top 2) matches of, well, EVER.
BEST WRESTLER OF 2018
For almost two full years, Becky Lynch was treading water as just another talented, but underutilized WWE talent, and as recently as June, it was unthinkable she would end up as Wrestler Of The Year. But SummerSlam 2018 was the catalyst for massive change, and The Man spent the rest of 2018 as the most talked about figure in the wrestling world. Deservedly so.
BEST MOVIE OF 2018
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
We have a super case of recency bias on this one, as this movie just came out in the second half of December, but I have no regrets! Spider-Verse was charming, heartfelt, unique, beautiful, and beautifully produced. It’s the best animated film of all time for my money, and holds up to anything else of any status from the past year.
BEST SURPRISE COMIC OF 2018
Mr. & Mrs. X
I’m not saying it’s the best comic overall from 2018 (I still have so much piled up on my spare bed to read), but I bought this mostly because I believe if I buy enough Terry Dodson covers, I’ll get more Dodson interiors somehow. Turns out, this book is cheeky and funny and has really fun action sequences, at least for the first five issues. I dug it much more than I thought I would.
BEST ANIME THING OF 2018
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is Coming To America in 2019
I have not been a huge fan of DB Super since it picked up where Dragon Ball Z left off about two decades ago. That said, it has had its fun moments in between all the weirdness. But DBS finally did in 2018 what fans have wanted for ages, and that is make BROLY, the legendary Saiyan, a canonical character! And they are releasing the film in American theaters in January 2019, and I am excited to check it out!
BEST SURPRISE SINGLE ISSUE COMIC OF 2018
The Amazing Spider-man Annual #43
Let’s be honest. Comic Book Annuals are typically throw away stories that aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. I mean there are a handful of good ones mostly tied to crossovers and the like but the rest are largely forgettable. But to retell the saga of Spider-man’s Black Suit Symbiote from the perspective of the actual Symbiote was incredibly original and worked on so many levels that it made me sit up and say:
“Bravo, Annual! This is how you tell relevant self contained stories in the modern era!”
It didn’t hurt that Black Suit Spider-man is also my favorite so revisiting this era of Spider-man History is always a good thing.
BIGGEST NERD KERFLUFFLE THAT DIDN’T NEED TO BE ONE OF 2018
She-Ra & The Princesses of Power
Okay, gang. As a lifelong MOTU fan and someone that’s been dying to see this franchise finally get some sort of mainstream attention for the first time in years, you bet your sweet boots that I was all in on this retelling of the She-ra story. And after watching it with my 4 year old daughter, I can say that it was totally the right call.
It’s more modern, stylish, inclusive, and most of all fun, without sacrificing good storytelling and characterization. So for those fan boys that wanted to drool over some unrealistic Double D Knocker Barbie Doll interpretation of the character as we used to have in the 80s, grow up. Move out of your mom’s basement and get a girlfriend.
She-Ra is a kids show, let it be a kids show.
BEST CARTOON SHOW OF 2018
The Venture Brothers Season 7
In a year that had some damn fine cartoon series, like Disenchanted, the end of Adventure Time, Duck Tales, the aforementioned She-Ra, there was one that stood head and shoulders above the rest as a show that just keeps getting better with age: The Venture Brothers.
Despite having to wait 2 and a half years for another season of episodes, it was well worth it as this is a show that rewards the loyalty of its viewers that have stuck with it over the many years since it’s inception. But this season, with it’s focus on peeling back the onion layers on the relationship between Dr. Venture and his arch enemy, The Monarch, was of the tightest, most emotional, and downright clever writing this series has ever seen. If Season 7 was this good, I can only imagine what season 8 has in store…whenever they get around to finishing it…I can wait… I guess.
BEST KICKSTARTER BOARD GAME COMPANY OF 2018
I know this is an weird award to give, but Kickstarter is a great place to buy a ton of obscure yet awesome board games for you and your friends to enjoy. And it seems year after year, I can always trust that Keymaster Games will put out another quality game that I’ll end up shelling out my hard earned cash to pick up.
Whether it was the original Campy Creatures game which first got me interested, last years’ Space Park, or their recent decision to come out with the Campy Creatures expansion packs, I definitely want to give this company a shout out and say that they have been completely killing it with “retro”tastic card/board games as of late. If you haven’t become a supporter yet, trust me, they are one company to follow!
BEST MUSIC VIDEO OF 2018
Childish Gambino: Feels Like Summer
What makes a great music video is first and foremost it has to be a fantastic song which this is…one of his best. But then to marry it with a specific graphically vision like this animation provides is the real kicker that puts it over the top. Not only that but to weave so many famous rappers and modern black figures as easter eggs scattered through out makes you want to rewatch it again and again. I mean where else are you going to find 70s Michael Jackson in the same neighborhood as Beyoncé wearing a shirt paying tribute to Fredo Santana while Will Smith washes his car. Great stuff.
What can’t Donald Glover do?!? Seriously?!? The Perfect Lando re-imaging and the perfect summer time jam both in the same year.
Ok, my chubby checkers, it’s my time, so let’s do some twists! C’mon baby!
Best Twist I Wasn’t Expecting
DC is Good Again!!!
After the clusterbomb that was the new 52, I dropped off of practically all Detective Comics Comic books. In my defense, they were mostly bad, almost as bad as naming your company Detective Comics Comics. Smooth move, detectives. This year, however, Brian Bendis jumped ship to DC and got me picking up Superman books. Then, I dove into that really good Tom King Batman run. Finally, they keep putting out these 80 page giants via Walmart that keep me coming back for the holiday specials and the Bendis/King stuff. I still have some qualms about DC in general–they need to figure out the digital code thing and their movies aren’t quite there yet, but it was really nice to read some quality content from the Distinguished Competition of my usual faves.
Best Twist I Was Expecting
(a.k.a. The So Long Mr. Slott Award)
Spider-man Is Good Again!!!
Coming out of Brand New Day, Dan Slott won the coveted position of Amazing Spider-man writer, and he held onto that position for 8 freaking years. Not to hate on the person, he just had a different Peter Parker in his head than I had in mine. This year, not only did I get new writers on Spidey, but I had two of my personal favorites: Chip Zdarsky and Nick Spencer take over the Spider-man books. Chip has since shuffled off to do Daredevil and a host of other books, but Spencer has been tearing it up on Amazing. His Peter Parker is my Peter Parker, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Best Twist I Never Saw Coming
Really Good Animated Movies Got My Kiddo (and Maybe Others) Into Super Hero Comics!!!
This year saw the release of two high quality animated experiences: Teen Titans Go! to the Movies and Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse. Prior to this year, my kiddo would read comic books, but he stuck to animated and video game characters like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic the Hedgehog, or Skylanders. He would humor me when I would read him some of the super hero stuff, but he was never into it. Then, after Teen Titans Go! this summer, he started reading the Titans Go! book and dipping his toe in with books like Bizarro, etc. Our Alexa blasted the Titans soundtrack on repeat for a long time.
Then, a few weeks ago, after Spider-Verse, he’s asking me for books with Spidey, Miles, Spider-Gwen, etc. Check out this picture he was drawing the other day.
Without those great entry points, I don’t think he’d be nearly as into sharing the super hero experience and I’d still be reading about Spyro having another pie eating contest. I’ll gladly read those, too, but it’s real nice to mix in some super heroes now. Heck, I even saw at my local shop on multiple occasions, kids–yes kids–looking for comic books. It’s a crazy thought that there might be comics out there for kids, too!
Best Twist Santa Didn’t Expect
ARMS is the Smith Family Favorite Game for the Switch!!!
This Christmas, Santa left a Nintendo for the kiddo (a Switch) and a Nintendo for dad (the NES Classic). Both systems have their moments, and the kiddo and I have had great fun with both. We may never willingly leave the house again until summer. The surprising part, though, is that our favorite game isn’t the new Pokemon game, nor is it the Ultimate Super Smash Brothers, neither is it Super Mario 3–they’re all fun games and quality experiences in their own right, but the current reigning champ is a robot/cyborg boxing game called Arms!
It reminds me just enough of the fun aerobic arm flapping silliness of the Wii-Sports boxing with the animated anything can happen craziness of any good combat game. It’s been a ton of fun bouncing around the living room with the family trying to out-box each other. My son is getting scary good at trash talking, too, so look out!
Best Twist for Dealing with a Toy Industry That Has All But Abandoned My Favorite Scale of Action Figures–Not That I’m Bitter I’ll Just Wait It Out Until They Start Making Joes Again And All The Toy Stores Come Back Award
Bandai and Funko Figures Aren’t Terrible
So it turns out that finding Japanese figures from Bandai isn’t all that hard. Ultraman Shodo Vs., Kamen Rider, and Godzilla lines are cool.
Hasbro and Mattel mostly forgetting about 4 inch figures is not. Whatevs. I hear the new Bumblebee movie is solid. Maybe that’ll inspire Hasbro to reboot GI Joe and do it better this time with the toys to go with it. I can dream. Until then, Bandai will keep my action figure addiction going, and Funko will continue to add fun pop culture pieces like this year’s Married with Children or It Movie sets. Stay strong, fellow figure collectors.
Best thing I’ve seen on the Big Screen
With the creation of this podcast/blog came the need to actually see movies in a timely fashion to bless all of you out there with our very important reviews–in essence we actually had to go to the movie theater! We saw a lot of great movies–Into the Spider-verse, Incredibles 2 Ralph Wrecks the Internet and most recently Mary Poppins Returns. But when I look back at it all I have to give it to…Black Panther. I loved this movie and I fully appreciate all the barriers it begins to breakdown.
Plus give me Chadwick Boseman AND Michael B. Jordan for 2+ hours anytime!
Best thing I’ve seen on the small screen
Daredevil Season 3
Most of the TV I see is kids cartoons and Dino Dan (please Johanna grow out of this show!) and the adult fare we do watch is all streaming, so we don’t even access much of the network TV series. That said, PBS, Netflix and Prime streaming continue to give us great shows, so who needs anything else. Some of the favorites this year included the most recent season of The Great British Baking Show (PBS/Netflix), Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (prime) and Victoria (PBS). But I digress that my favorite show of the year is actually…comic related!!!
Daredevil Season 3 provoked so much deep rooted anxiety that there was no way they could overcome Kingpin–he was too many steps ahead of our trio of justice seekers. I still have palpitations!
Best thing I’ve heard
Kacey Musgraves: Slow Burn
Again, my sample size may be small as the only music I really get to listen to is during my 30 minute commutes to and from work but I think my favorite new song this year comes from the country-crossover world of Kacey Musgraves. I was a big fan of her hit “Biscuits” off her 2015 album Pageant Material. This year she released Golden Hour and there are so many good songs–“Space Cowboy” and “High Horse” to name a few. But the award goes to the single “Slow Burn” which I just can’t turn off whenever it starts playing through my speakers!
Best thing I’ve read
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
This year I stumbled upon a little book in the bring one/take one bin at the clinic I work at. When I was laid up with my crazy infected leg I finally had time to read it. This book was simple but so moving. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford tells the story of a Chinese-American boy and Japanese-American girl who find their world turned upside down by the internment of Japanese during WWWII. Trust me, read it.
Best Male Wrestler
PWI’s #1; no one had a bigger year than the Cleaner. Starting the year with an exceptional feud with Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 to the first ever 7-star match with Okada to win the NJPW Heavyweight Title at Dominion, Kenny Omega was pound-for-pound the best male wrestler in the world in 2018. Omega is poised for great things in 2019, and even if WWE pulls the BRINKS truck up to his house in Japan, he will continue to be one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling today.
(Runner’s Up: Tommaso Ciampa, Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins)
Best Female Wrestler
Was there really any doubt? There’s an argument to be made that “Stone Cold” Becky Lynch was the best wrestler plain and simple in 2018, regardless of gender. That’s high praise, but like a fine stew her work steadily simmered until it boiled over with a fantastic feud with Charlotte over the WWE Women’s Championship. The moment that sealed it, however? Her crimson masked face, leading a Smackdown invasion on the RAW before Survivor Series, arms extended to the heavens basking in the revelry.
Heading into 2019, there’s no doubt: Becky Lynch is WWE’s biggest star. Are you not entertained??
(Runner’s Up: Ronda Rousey, Charlotte, Sumie Sukai)
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano
The feud that captivated NXT over a two year span had its best, most inspired moments in 2018. Johnny Gargano was literally brought to madness over his hatred and disdain of Ciampa, proving to be his downfall in their epic Chicago Street Fight at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II. This passion in this feud was born from the ashes of territorial blood feuds from the 70s, a by-gone era in the days of hot shot, three TV-tapings a week storytelling. Ciampa vs. Gargano encapsulated this to a tee, including a modern-day story telling twist (the overzealous hero being TOO overzealous) that resulted in an equally great Gargano heel turn later that year. Stan Hansen and Bob Backlund would be proud.
(Runner’s Up: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte, Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callahan)
Kenny Omega vs. Okada
The first ever 7-star match in pro wrestling history, Omega and Okada brought the house down in a grueling, 60+ minute, three fall match up. Even the announcers were exhausted after this one!
JA SCOTT’S PICKS
Best Toy Line Decision of 2018
Star Wars’ Solo: A Star Wars Story Line
The glorious Solo: A Star Wars Story 3.75-inch action figures are both a throwback to the original Kenner toys and modern at the same time. Say what you want about undersized Falcons and limited movement, these toys have it where is counts, in play-ability. And for the first time in years, Hasbro is rolling out playsets.
Best Comic Book Related Movie
Marvel’s Black Panther was not just a hit, it was a worldwide phenomenon. What more is there to say but “Wakada Forever!”
Best Random News Related Item
In June, Rocket Raccoon decided to scale a building – obviously auditioning for the next Spider-Man movie.
Best Meme of 2018
Neymar Rolling Meme
The World Cup was also held this year. France won the trophy, but Neymar won the Internet.
Best “I Don’t Really Know What to call This”
Avengers: Infinity War
By far the best movie this year. I even went out and bought the physical 4K disc. Now THAT’S true love!
BEST COMIC BOOK
Ashe, Warmother #1
What do you get when League of Legends teams up with Marvel? An awesome new series! I’ve been playing this game for, like, 8 years and it has some incredibly rich lore. Now they’ve gone and made a comic book series following the origins of one of the core characters, Ashe. So far there is only 1 issue, but it’s pretty good, and my love of League only helps to bolster my love for this new comic. Trade paperback to release in May… Read Pile anyone?!
BEST ROCKET LAUNCH
Watching the most powerful operational rocket in the world launch live, followed by a side-by-side twin landing of the side boosters, who’s mission is to send Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster to Mars, driven by “Starman” wearing the new SpaceX suit, WHILST LISTENING TO SPACE ODDITY BY DAVID BOWIE! Who can top that??
Some fish dish I had in Bermuda!
Ok, so we went on our honeymoon in Bermuda, and the resort we stayed at was amazing. All the food was incredible, but they had this one dish that was some sort of local fish, wasabi mashed potatoes, what looked like little ocean mushroom sprouts, and sea foam… whatever that is. The short of it is, it was excellent, and very unique.
We went to 7 weddings this year. Literally, 7, in like a 10 week span. And some famous British couple got hitched, too. It was nuts. Now I might be a little biased here, but mine was definitely the best.
Hey, it’s me (Stew) again! Hot dog, I actually coordinated everyone to get their list in on time! It was touch-and-go for a while there, but there you have it: 2018, as presented by The Ghosts!
We hope you enjoyed this bit of self-indulgence on our part, and we wish you a wonderful 2019 full of more amazing pop culture experiences!
Except for maybe Gritty. No, I don’t like that thing at all.
Until next time… take care!