Every year, we struggle to compile the lists of the things we loved over the course of the year. There are so many of them, the movies, the games, the stories. We debate and vote and hem and haw for the entire month of December, trying to distill them perfectly.
The same can not be said of the things we hate. The worst of 2012 – that’s easy to see…
The Walking Dead #100
Fans of Robert Kirkman’s zombie opus are used to having some of their favorite characters die horrible deaths – Lori getting gunned down holding her baby, Tyrese getting his head lopped off by the Governor, Abraham getting an arrow through his eye. And when #100 was shipping, it was already being touted for its shocking twist. Well, you know what? Having Glenn’s brains bashed out over several gory panels by a bat-wielding Governor knockoff (does anyone find Negan that interesting?) is more disappointing than horrifying. With the possible exception of little one-eyed Carl, there’s no one left to feel any empathy for in the books, and Glenn also provided the limited comic relief that undercut the tension. Sure, I’ll shuffled off to the comic store every month like a brain-dead walker to buy the next copy, but some part of the comic book lover me died along with Glenn.
– Ethan Sacks
If you wanted, you could paint a picture of Lollipop Chainsaw as doing for hypersexualized female characters what Spec Ops: The Line does for violent, unsympathetic killer protagonists. Theoretically, it’s meant to expose a videogame trope and undermine it. But while Spec Ops goes out of its way to make us uncomfortable with the typical war-game tropes, Lollipop Chainsaw does all it can to make us fall in love with them. Through self-aware humor, a protagonist who comes across as above the fray and unmoved by sexual innuendo and gender insults, and a series of oversimplified and incredibly mean spirited enemies, the game adds up to nothing more than a masterfully executed exploitation of its lead protagonist.
Juliet is a strong woman lead, the kind of post-feminist that uses her good looks to her advantage. But it all feels just a little too convenient, a knowing and pandering creation that caters to the male gaze while paying lip service to the female predicament. By the end of the game, the player is all too familiar with Juliet’s underwear, but none the wiser about the way an average female might feel when they are called “bitch” or “slut” by an actual stranger in real life.
Some will say the game is just stupid fun. Okay, fine. But at what cost?
– Richard Clark
There is incompetent game design, and then there’s Amy. Ostensibly a survival horror title with its own take on Clock Tower-style mechanics and puzzle solving, it’s actually closer to a poor man’s Ico, if Ueda’s atmospheric adventure game was actually an hours-long escort mission guiding a mentally-challenged Yorda. To survive, Amy and her caretaker Lana must sneak around monster-infested areas, hiding from mutants and soldiers and solving tandem puzzles that take advantage of Amy’s latent psychokinetic power, which often involves, in traditional genre fashion, being separated for some time.
Even if Amy herself weren’t utterly helpless (and your commands shrilly ignored by the girl’s AI), this would still be an unbelievably stupid idea. The longer you’re physically away from Amy, the less time you have to avoid contracting the same plague that’s ravaged this forgettable post-apocalypse, resulting in instant death and a forced restart from the game’s last comically unforgiving checkpoint. That’s right – attempting to make progress and keeping your charge out of harm’s way actively hurts you, heaping insult to Amy’s injuriously crawling pace (itself a product of infuriatingly tedious stealth and a severe lack of health). Any more than a few minutes of this train wreck and you’ll start to think it would probably be more of a relief to just jump off a bridge.
– Steve Haske
Nothing is sadder than an adaptation in name only, especially something as superficial as Battleship. This is an idea that sounded terrible from the get go, but you know what? It would have been at least worth it for the line “You sunk my battleship!” to have been uttered at ANY point in the movie. Instead we got a weird Transformers knockoff that was simply dull.
– Michael Edwards
Sure, we beat SOPA. The internet rallied together, blacked out and showed the world what the web would be like under the oppressive thumb of government censorship.That’s great and all, but the fact that it came to such a protest at all was sobering. How could the government of the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave, have considered legislation that would strangle that freedom at the whim of select and private interests?
The math is simple: in America, we are allowed to speak our minds without fear of reprisal or imprisonment. This is a line in the sand. Commercial interests don’t enter into it. That this was ever up for debate is shameful beyond words.
– Stu Horvath
Disney’s John Carter was an all-around disaster; that is, except for the film itself. I am an unabashedly biased Disney fanboy, but it doesn’t take a doctorate in marketing to realize the immensity of the mistake made by the House of Mouse’s ad team. First and foremost, why the hell did the “of Mars” need to be cut loose? When did outer space and interplanetary travel become so unsavory? I mean, just because Mars Needs Moms was actually horrible and featured the word in question doesn’t warrant it being struck from all human record! When you’re making a science fiction film based on a classic science fiction novel, there’s no reason to hide that. They spent all that money and made a pretty damn good product, and then inexplicably shit the bed with the easy part. Disney knows how to sell their products; in fact, there probably isn’t anyone better. John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) was one of my favorite films of the year, but the combination of people not giving two shits and the lack of advertising was astounding. I still have a hard time processing it when I read that Disney lost money on this movie. Next time you see Andrew Stanton, give him a big hug.
– Erik Weinbrecht
A lot of disappointing and cynical stories came out of DC Entertainment in 2012. I’m just going to list them.
Someone at the company decided to post an “obituary” for industry legend, Joe Kubert. The only problem was that it was thinly veiled hype copy for a book that Mr. Kubert was inking. Thankfully, someone at DC took it down and replaced it with something far more appropriate and respectful.
There is a certain prequel that’s being published right now. It’s very existence is, at best, cynical and at worst, reprehensible.
The Gail Simone Batgirl kerfuffle.
The original graphic novel, Batman: Earth One, ends with Batman losing a fight to the Penguin, only to be saved when Alfred busts down the door brandishing a shotgun. Alfred proceeds to fire the shotgun, blasting the antagonist in the chest. The resultant power of the shotgun blast propels the dastardly corpse through a plate glass window. A gun-wielding ally saved Batman. Yeah, OK. That stunk up Dark Knight Rises too.
Superman, Green Arrow and Savage Hawkman are on their, what, third creative switch ups in a year?
Karen Berger is leaving the company.
On the plus side though, Spaceman and Animal Man were consistently good comics. Wesley Willis popped up in Wonder Woman. The powers that be at DC listened to the fans and put Gail Simone back on Batgirl. Grant Morrison is still on Batman Inc. for a few more issues. Shelly Bond was promoted to Executive Editor at Vertigo and 2013 will see Scott Snyder and Jim Lee on a Superman comic. So, it’s not all doom and gloom. The good is good, the mediocre is thoroughly so and the bad is baaaaaaad. Hopefully, 2013 will be a better year for DC Entertainment.
– Ian Gonzales
It all started with 14% less hockey-related revenue for National Hockey League (NHL) players and now it’s come to class action lawsuits. As current labor rules expired this year, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) just couldn’t come to an agreement on renewed terms, particularly on the issue of a decrease for players’ revenue cut from 57% to, originally, 43%. Hockey fans across North America have had their moments of hope, the potential renegotiation meetings, then the subsequent setbacks, and now a gloves-down courtroom brawl. Daly of the NHL says that the player contract cap is the “hill we’ll die on”, an encouraging note for all the would-be Malkins and Crosbys who just want the meetings to end.
– Dan Crabtree
The Shitty Things Nature Does
Mother Nature did her worst this year when she ravaged the U.S. Northeast coastline with Hurricane Sandy. The financial cost of rebuilding public transit systems, rebuilding homes and reinstalling basic infrastructure in neighborhoods in New York alone totals $42 billion according to New York Governor Cuomo. More than 100 people lost their lives to the storm as well. It’s not that America is any stranger to natural disaster on this scale, but the long process of rebuilding ahead that makes this one of the worst events in 2012.
– Dan Crabtree
The Shitty Things We Do to Each Other
The shootings in Aurora and Newtown weren’t the first mass shootings in this country and, sadly, they probably won’t be the last. In the aftermath of each, we as a people have struggled to come to grips with the loss of human life. We endure the endless debates about gun control and mental health counseling on the news – and see our friends tear into each other over the same topics on Facebook. And we hear pundits attempt to blame it all on the violence in movies, videogames and comics. All the things we here at Unwinnable hold dear. All the things we turn to when the real world doesn’t make much sense to us. There are times when those things fail us, but never that horribly, no matter what the talking heads want to believe.
– Don Becker