Top 20 of 2016, Part Four

First I have to pour one out for the world’s best space mom Carrie Fisher, who died today drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra. Truly, she was a peerless stone-cold badass who showed multiple generations of women that we could be both princesses and war heroes.

Second, let’s get into it: my Top Five Things I was all about in 2016. Read Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here.

5. The many comic stylings of Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh
They have brought us the delightful auto-bio comic Johnny Wander since 2008, during which they also introduced us to Cecilia (with her skeleton hand), the whimsical Death, Delilah and her friendly basilisk, and their wonderful cast of real-life friends. This year, not only did they publish their first (pretty sure this is true?) Kickstarted comic Lucky Penny, about a woman super into romance novels who makes her own luck, but also started two more projects that I can’t wait to invest in: Barbarous, starring a tiny angry girl and a large shy monster boy, and Is This What You Wanted?, a richly colored story about the dangers of summoning demons. If you know me, you know that I just gave you a checklist of things I am super all about.

4. Subversive social commentary in Zootopia
Let’s all agree that Zootopia has a bad name, and that the first trailers for it were dumb. Anthropomorphized animals do not usually scream “incredibly relevant social commentary” to me, so honestly, I’d written this movie off well before it hit theaters. Until the reviews started rolling in, and Twitter kicked up a storm about it, and I decided what the hey, I like going to movies! Let’s go check it out.

Zootopia was a game changer.

Not only was it breathtakingly beautiful in a way I had not expected, and not only were all the details utterly delightful (I deeply loved the fact that all the animals kept their own scale), but it was a commentary on internalized bias in society and the workplace that I don’t know has been braved in an animated movie directly marketed to children before. There is no way you can claim that Zootopia is an animated film geared to adults; and yet, Judy, Nick and the rest of the cast deal with “speciesism” in incredibly deft and sophisticated ways. What a wonderful message to leave children with.

3. “We Know the Way” from Moana
I truly did not know that Lin-Manual Miranda would be on the soundtrack for Moana – I knew he had helped score it, but when I heard his voice during the sweeping, uplifting voyager’s anthem I almost cried. I DID cry when I watched these sequences in the film (that I loved dearly and would have made a Top Ten Movies of 2016 list with no effort at all, had I deigned to make one). The music is expansive and joyful, and Miranda’s voice has a slightly scratchy quality that makes it feel a little rough-and-tumble; totally appropriate for travelers guiding by starlight. I have listened to this song about 187 times and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

2. Pokemon forging a new identity for itself
Not only is 2016 the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, but it was the year that Nintendo decided to completely redesign everything about the franchise – and made it into its greatest incarnation ever. Pokemon Go got gamers up and out of the house, and provided us the closest to a Pokemon MMO I think we’re ever likely to see. Not only that, but every update it goes through makes the game better, more immersive, and more fun.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, we got Pokemon Sun & Moon, where Nintendo threw the book out on what we’d all come to expect from our Pokemon games. No more gyms full of trainers to grind through; a more dynamic and easier to navigate world map; and no more juggling of HM workhorses with the monsters you actually wanted to be fielding, to name the most obvious changes. Other streamlined features have cropped up the longer I play, and the more I play the more I realize that we have something now that is truly unlike anything else Pokemon has ever offered us: a truly new game experience. The story mode has been the same for so long (a mode that has always been fun, I have played every one, don’t get me wrong), that getting something this new and this successful feels like the very first Red and Blue generation: utterly groundbreaking.

1. Women making horror comics (and women making comics in general)
In lieu of any coherent analysis, I’m going to assign you all reading homework.

Animosity by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre
Clean Room by Gail Simone, John Davis-Hunt and Quinton Winter
Constantine: The Hellblazer by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV
Harrow County by Cullen Bunn, Carla Speed McNeil, and Tyler Crook
InSEXts by Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina
Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

It was a great year for comics. Particularly horror comics. Particularly horror comics by women. Check them out.

Honorable Mention: Tracer is a lesbian 
This snuck in under the wire as I was working on these entries, and I was too lazy to try and rework the whole list, but it’s 100% worth mentioning that Blizzard, a gigantic video game company, made the character who is the face of one of their largest console game and straight up said “Yup, she’s gay.” Not only did they publish a comic that shows the delightful, elfin Tracer macking on her super cute girlfriend, but they issued official statements confirming that yes, she is gay, no, that’s not just a very close friend, and guess what? Other members of the Overwatch cast are ALSO gay, so BUCKLE UP, NERDS.

Also I made a comment on Twitter about how I’ve made a hobby out of bathing in nerdboy tears, and a white knighter rose up from the ether to call me an SJW and make sure I knew that #notallmen where like that. I’d never been #notallmen’d before and I’d never blocked someone on Twitter before, so it truly turned into a wonderful learning experience.

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