The Siskoid Awards 2013

Another year, another awards gala. But not a real one! Don't try to collect your Golden Typewriter Monkeys, they don't physically exist! But the honor is still real, marking excellence is what I've read, seen or heard in 2013, regardless of when it was originally released (the oldest nominee is from 1960!). As usual, only newly experienced material will be up for consideration. For television episodes, no more than one per show can be put up for nomination. Other limits may apply. Write-in votes in the comments section.

Best Book of 2013 - The runners up are...
5. About Time 8 (Tat Wood; I'm almost finished with it, proper review yet to come)
4. A Dance with Dragons (George R.R. Martin)
3. Chicks Unravel Time (Mad Norwegian)
2. Chicks Dig Comics (Mad Norwegian)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Outside-in (edited by Robert Smith?) - I read a lot of books about Doctor Who in this, its 50th year, but the one I frankly most enjoyed has to be Outside-In, a book I did not review on this here blog on account of having covered it for Enlightenment magazine. I guess I wanted to keep it exclusive. Basically, it features one essay per classic story, and each essay aims for diversity and originality. Opinions not commonly held, clever and unusual formats, new ideas, that's what it's all about. And I'm not just sucking up because I got a chance to write one for the second volume, covering New Who, out in the Spring. Here's how you get a copy, from ATB Publishing.

Best Comic of 2013 - The runners up are...
5. Quantum & Woody (Asmus and Doyle)
4. Superman Family Adventures (Baltazar and Franco)
3. Polarity (Bemis and Coehlo)
2. Daredevil (Waid and various excellent artists)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Archer & Armstrong (Van Lente and Luppacchino et al.) - I've been enjoying the new Valiant's output quite a lot, but Archer & Armstrong remains my favorite of the relaunched series. Van Lente is the perfect writer to bring various insane secret societies to bear in this buddy comedy starring an immortal party animal and a super-skilled assassin bred by a cult.. The book has been consistently funny, exciting and original since the first issue. Been waiting to see if the quality would drop, knowing in my heart of hearts it never would.

Best Film of 2013 - The runners up are...
5. The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa)
4. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
3. Liberal Arts (Josh Radnor)
2. Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Detachment (Tony Kaye) - While all the movies on the list struck a deep chord with me, Detachment struck one hardest. Here's my original review: "Detachment tells the story of a long-term substitute teacher who spends a month in a school with more than its fair share of problem kids. But this isn't Dangerous Minds. The kids won't be saved by discovering dance or something. No, this is the opposite picture. There's a bleakness to Detachment that's rather poignant, and you'll only find hope in small, fleeting, even ambiguous moments. Though sometimes openly 'art house', most of the film is in a 'cinema vérité' style that's only broken by the fact we can pretty much recognize the school's entire staff - Andrien Brody (amazing performance), Christina Hendricks, James Caan, Lucy Liu, etc. - not that I'd get rid of any of them. The kids aren't just unknowns, they're somehow unknowable. Detachment is told from the teachers' perspective, and addresses the educational system's many problems. I have a number of friends who are high school teachers, and though Detachment seemingly presents an extreme, these problems have come up in conversation. No easy answers in this, and I'm not even sure I agree with its representation of the modern classroom, but I think what it does best is open these questions up for debate. I recommend this film to any teacher OR parent without any reserve. I think it should be part of the conversation many of our countries should have about education."

Best TV Series of 2013 - The runners up are...
5. Being Human Series 4-5
4. Homeland Seasons 1-2
3. Justified Season 3
2. The Thick of It Series 1-4
...and the Siskoid goes to: Luther Series 1 - From my original review: "John Luther is a maverick cop that's both a Sherlock-type genius and a Marlowe-type man on the edge, a combination that works so well (wouldn't a man who thinks too much be haunted by the evil he sees men do?), I can't believe it hasn't been successfully done for television before. That Luther is played by Idris Elba and created/written by Neil Cross aren't exactly strikes against it either! As with most police shows, there is a case-of-the-week, but this is a world with more far-reaching consequences. Some cases aren't put to rest so easily. Indeed, the first episode's villain becomes a regular character, a genius criminal who might as well be the devil on Luther's shoulder. Add a cast of actors I really want to watch - Indira Varma, Paul McGann, Saskia Reeves - and I was left feeling those 6 episodes flew by too fast. Guess what I immediately ordered?" The answer was the next series, though neither 2 nor 3 quite achieved the first's power.

Best TV Episode of 2013 - The runners up are...
5. Basic Human Anatomy (Community Season 4)
4. The Final Broadcast (Being Human Series 5)
3. Misfits episode 1.4
2. One Man's Trash (Girls Season 2)
...and the Siskoid goes to: The Day of the Doctor (Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special) - Though not perfect, the long-awaited special still brought the awesome, managing lots of little (and big!) tributes to the past, AND tying off loose ends that have been with the series since its restart in 2005, AND YET completely retconning what had gone before. It's in fact surprising how cool this was given the convoluted quagmire the rest of the series sank into over the last couple years.

Best CD of 2013 - The runners up are...
Legend of the Cybermen (Big Finish's Mike Maddox)
The Rocket Men (Big Finish's John Dorney)
The Mahogany Murders (Big Finish's Andy Lane)
The Renaissance Man (Big Finish's Justin Richards)
...and the Siskoid goes to: Home Truths (Big Finish's Simon Guerrier) - I listened to a lot of Big Finish Doctor Who adventures this year, but the best was Home Truths, the first of many, many Simon Guerrier stories that made me proclaim him the Companion Chronicles' MVP. From my original review: "Simon Guerrier finds a way to bring back Sara Kingdom from the dead so she can tell stories in this format. There was certainly a motivation to do so. Jean Marsh is an incredible actress who lends the story an amazing amount of naturalism, more I think than anyone has yet managed to. There are two mysteries jockeying for attention in Home Truths, a haunted(?) house visited by Sara, Steven and the Doctor sometime during The Daleks' Master Plan, and the how and why Sara is seemingly alive to tell the story to a visiting constable. But as intriguing as both of these are, they take second place to Sara's introspection throughout the play. Here is a character who, though she traveled with the Doctor for a short time, shot and killed her own brother. In a sense, she still needs to redeem herself in the eyes of the Doctor Who audience, and by entering this world through her eyes, I think that's exactly what happens. One of my favorites in the range for sure, and I can't wait to listen to the next Guerrier/Marsh collaboration." The whole arc was great, well-written and well-acted. Then Guerrier did it again by introducing new companion Oliver Harper. That was a memorable arc as well.

Stupidest Move in the Geekaverse 2013 - The runners up are...
5. AoL shuts down Comics Alliance (AoL still EXISTS!?)
4. Pat Roberston vs. D&D - how quaint (Robertson)
3. Superman, now with neck-snapping action (Zack Snyder)
2. Icons script (Rob Liefeld)
...and the Siskoid goes to: DC Comics for, well, name it - I tried hard not to give this award to DC for the third year running, but this was yet another year DC couldn't get out of controversy. Well-connected homophobe Orson Scott Card tapped to write a Superman story, which infuriated the LGBT community (among others) and forced DC to shelve it, and yet keep saying it was only postponed. Gail Simone fired from Batgirl via email, a decision reversed after Twitter caught on fire. 3D covers that had problems with production quality, cost overrun, and impossible-to-meet orders. A sexist Harley Quinn art contest that asked fans to draw Harley attempting funny suicide in the nude. Not sending an over-sized issue of Detective Comics to subscribers, just a note telling them they couldn't get it at subscription price. Creators walking off Batwoman because editorial wouldn't let her get married to Maggie Sawyer. Blacklisting comics journalists (read: bloggers) who are openly critical of DC (oops!). DC star/editorial slave Scott Lobdell copping to accidentally sexually harassing a feamle comics pro during a round table. That's not to mention various controversial stories, like the Superman/Wonder Woman romance, Forever Evil with its complete hijack of hero books so Geoff Johns and friends can write villains instead, Red Lantern Supergirl, or even the WB's neck-snapping, let's not give him a second solo film mishandling of the Superman franchise. And there's always more where that came from with satirical site The Outhousers running a counter to track the last time DC did something stupid.

Time for YOUR picks now. Tomorrow: The Technical Awards as given in a ceremony prior to this one, just like with the Oscars!


Anonymous said…
Man, DC can be a depressingly bad place, can't it? And yet a lot of its material is better than ever. There are at least three very good Batman-oriented titles right now, "Wonder Woman" has been consistently stellar, even "Green Arrow" has rounded the corner from complete garbage to top-of-the-reading-list.

I wonder if "Forever Evil" exists simply because Geoff Johns wanted a venue to write Sinestro again. That is seriously completely possible. I can't begrudge him Geoff too much because even his self-indulgent moments are better than many other writers can accomplish on their best day, but still.

I'm still amused that an eclipse covers a spot maybe 250 miles across, yet somehow the Crime Syndicate has blacked out the entire world. Also, blacking out the entire world would cause temperatures to plummet. (Solution: the Outsider is using his freaky powers to make it eclipse everywhere without depriving the world of heat -- I don't think the Earth-3 Alfred has any powers, but this would be grounds to give him some.)
Siskoid said…
You've put more thought into Forever Evil than I have. I've been avoiding it like the plague. And yes, DC's mishandling of their communications, properties and personnel doesn't invalidate the good work many people making comics for them have done. I've dropped almost all the Batman books despite acknowledging their quality (only ready Batwoman and Nightwing at this point), and like you, enjoy Wonder Woman and Green Arrow. Also, All Star Western, The Movement, Swamp Thing and Animal Man. Greg Pak's Action Comics has promise though the Superman franchise is in deep deep trouble otherwise. I'm gonna check out Parker's Aquaman this week to see if he can save the book for me. Don't know how long I can stay interested in World's Finest and Earth 2 (probably dropping the latter), but I'm still reading them.

And of course, there's non-New52 stuff, like Smallville which is excellent, Batman '66 which I'm not reading anymore, but still looks like fun, and some interesting new Vertigo titles.
Anonymous said…
I've put a lot less thought into "Forever Evil" than you might imagine. But I saw that Sinestro appeared on the last page of one of the comics, and I said to myself, "okay, now I know why Geoff wanted to write this".

As for the Outsider, I remember him from the 70s, yeah that's how old I am. I remember he could do freaky stuff like grab the moon (which, you may notice, is small enough to fit in your hand) and shove it in Man-Bat's face to split into good and evil halves, or something. I forget the details, but he totally grabbed the moon, and concepts like "perspective" and "science" simply weren't a thing in his world. Which makes him ideally suited to make an eclipse that happens everywhere yet doesn't have any physics-y side effects.
Unknown said…
I think there was a throwaway line early on that Ultraman not only "fixed" the moon in place somehow, but moved it closer to the Earth. 'Course now Alfred/Outsider needs to use his powers to stop both planets from tearing themselves apart. (For those who care, Earth would be wracked by tsunamis, monster tides and seismological damage. And the tidal effect on the Moon - it goes both ways! - would tear it apart if it were that close, raining extinction-level destruction on the planet.)
Doc Savage said…
Sadly can't vote as I haven't seen or heard any of these things aside from Daredevil by Waid, which is just okay but seems amazing simply because everything else by Marvel and DC is so awful.

I vote DC just cancels everything and shutters its doors and stops lobbying to extend copyrights so we can soon all publish our own Superman, Batman, et al. comics and show them how to do it properly.
Siskoid said…
Some versions might be good, others pretty bad, I suppose!
Doc Savage said…
Still better than DC's miss-to-worse-miss ratio, I reckon!