From the peerless Stephen Colbert to the fractal Grant Morrison, there were stellar reasons to celebrate 2009. I compiled a bunch for Wired over the holiday. Eat up!
Stephen Colbert, hyper-real genius
Is there a braver comedian, or journalist, on television? Stephen Colbert’s nightly merge of news, hilarity, social commentary, wit and shameless plugs for everything from his painting in the Smithsonian to his marketable man-seed have fully turned the pop-culture’s self-obsessed mirror upon itself. In 2009, he successfully invaded Iraq, the International Space Station, the iPhone and much more. But The Colbert Report has yet to unseat The Daily Show for an Emmy? Prankster, please! A postmodern personality with two separate Wikipedia entries for the same name, Colbert is Earth’s most relevant living cultural critic, and deserves his own network.
One of the most dizzying comics narratives ever, cerebral comics prankster Grant Morrison’s sprawling 2008 apocalypse was finally collected and released in hardcover this June for those of us who like to read tomes from beginning to end without waiting for the industry’s next monthly pamphlet. Exploding into strands that touch esoteric comics history, as well as astronomical mind-benders like M-theory and brane cosmology, Final Crisis killed Batman and other heroes, while upping the narrative ante in pure Morrison style. Rather than having villains assault cities or planets, the Scottish auteur has them destroy reality itself using Wi-Fi, laptops and other ubiquitous technology. Reading Final Crisis from cover to cover packs so much creative stuffing into your brain that it might feel as if it’s going to explode.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Mayhem of the Music Meister”
After decades of taking the animated Dark Knight deeper into the shadows, Warner Bros. lightened things up with this bright series, which is resiliently clever. Nowhere is its broad, demographic-crushing appeal more brilliant than in this musical episode, which features the vocal acrobatics of the resurgent Neil Patrick Harris as the Music Meister, a villain who can send humanity into a trance by singing (mostly about himself). Ranging from outright cheese to subversive comedy, “Mayhem of the Music Meister” found Batman hitting the high notes, literally, while beating back a horde of ballet-dancing supervillains and superheroes, all while sampling iconography from Milos Forman’s Amadeus to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Best animated hero worship of the year, hands-down.
This article appeared at WIRED