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Top 13 of 2013

Posted by The Daily Zombies

The End (of the year) is upon us. As 2013 rapidly races to a close, brace yourself as The Daily Zombies celebrate the very best and most memorable of the year in our final article of the year. 

And so the story went on. 

As the 13th year of both the 21st century and 3rd millennium comes to a close, 'tis the time to take a good look at yourself and what have you done for the past year. For to lament in retrospection is only human, and once you have come to the inevitable conclusion that you have not done anything quite noteworthy, hold that potentially destructive (or rather, self-destructive) thought as we here at The Daily Zombies present to you our mostly annual (the fact that we missed out 2011's due to some editorial predicament remains to be somewhat mawkishly sore here) tradition of honoring some of the best and most memorable of the year. So this is it: The Top 13 of 2013.

A culmination of our constant observation of the multiple facets of pop culture from Comics, Gaming, Gadgets, Movies, Television Series, to Professional Wrestling, and more, these are what made 2013, a mostly eventful first post-apocalyptic year, one to truly remember especially when compared to the over-bloated hoax that is 2012. 

As always, the process in our selection of the respective top in the thirteen categories of pop culture continues to be as daunting as ever. But as a standard issue disclaimer: This is The Daily Zombies and these are our undead opinions so if you have an issue with these opinions, feel free to comment like we actually care.

So now, with no further ado, let's get on with the show. 

1. Animation/Anime Of The Year: Frozen/The Wind Rises

Continuing our renewed initiative of revising the playing field of this category by further segregating the animated feature film market into one for Anime as well as one for Animation, representing animation by and large, let's take a closer look at the respective recipient of the honor.

Animation: Frozen

We open our Top 13 of 2013 with a somewhat surprising choice for the Animated Film of the Year. First and foremost, we feel obliged to clear the air on one point: In an unexpectedly positive development, the fact that Pixar Animation Studio did not win the big one this year does not in any ways indicate that the highly-regarded animation studio has screwed up their annual product this year. In fact, Monsters University, the prequel to the much-beloved 2001's Monsters, Inc., is every bit as good or even better than last year's Brave (incidentally the winner of the Animation of Year in 2012). So what actually happened here that we allow an animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios to take over one from Pixar? Well, for the simple reason that this particular animated film is that very good.

An excellent throwback to what has come to be recognised as Walt Disney Animation Studio's Renaissance Era back in the 90s, Frozen, a 3D computed animated musical fantasy film, is a, for lack of a better description, magically conjured animated film destined to be a future classic alongside heavy hitters such as The Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Beauty and The Beast. With an astounding wealth of captivating musical numbers, endearing characters, and unconventional plot development, Frozen is reminiscent of a time in animation history where Disney can do no wrong. The animation is state-of-the-art (the character's expressions are near flawless), the writing is deftly pulled off (complete with a twist few saw coming), and the songwriting containing mostly consisting kid-friendly sing-along tracks is Disney at its very best.

For a good sample of the film's upbeat entertainment, hit the jump for Josh Gad's awesome performance as Olaf the Snowman in his incredible show-stopping piece, "In Summer".

Some might point to our choice for Frozen a slanted one as a result of our personal encounters with children who are enchanted by the easily kid-friendly animated film, we opine that at this time and age, for an unconventional animated film that captivate both adults and children, this ain't no easy feat and as such, we are more than delighted to honor Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck for their impeccable efforts in adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” into an often heartbreaking and eventually encouraging modern fable.

Anime: The Wind Rises

Perhaps what most people have in mind for The Wind Rises is the fact that the animated film has been officially announced as the final film for acclaimed animation master Hayao Miyazaki before he retires as a feature director. And to most people, that particular fact itself would be reason enough to thrust this film into any hall of fame of animation by any standards.

Not this one here at The Daily Zombies.

Being the anti-war film that have ironically attracted controversies from both the political left and right, The Wind Rises is based on Miyazaki's own manga which is incidentally based on renowned writer and poet Tatsuo Hori's classic short novel during the 30s and mixed with the real-life story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft that famously served in World War II. So, why yes, the film is about the creator of machines that slaughtered an unimaginable number during the war and yet it is deeply anti-war and the gradually evolving stance of the current administration inclining to a more militaristic movement of Japan's armed forces.

Apart from the real-life issues, The Wind Rises is a moving portrayal of childhood dreams and passion as it gets eventually corrupted by capitalism and imperialism. Easily one of the most poignant films in recent memory, The Wind Rises, bar none, is an exhibition of the pinnacle of animation excellence.

2. Book Of The Year: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It is no secret that we here at The Daily Zombies are big fans of Neil Gaiman. Which explained why we are only too happy that the prolific writer released his much-anticipated novel this year. But this is certainly no obligatory honor for one of our favorite authors. 

A deeply personal novel to Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells the story of a little boy in an unspecified time period in Britain who is accidentally pulled into the eternal struggle between an all-consuming evil entity and his neighbors, the Hempstocks. As for the rest of the tale, the lesser told the better.

A rather short novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is typically Gaiman: An arresting tale that is stunningly strange and immense enticing. As much of an awesome read that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, its biographical nature further enhances the experience, and this is without a doubt one of our best reads in some time.

3. Comic Book Series Of The Year: Batman: Zero Year, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo

And for the fourth consecutive year (20092010, and 2012 as we have missed out 2011), we here at The Daily Zombies honors the iconic Dark Knight in the face of the unbelievable resurrection and reimagining of Rob Liefield's Prophet by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, and Giannis Milonogiannis, Matt Fraction and David Aja's awe-inspiring adventures of Clint Barton in his very own title, Hawkeye, the game-changing events in Hellboy, The Walking Dead and Judge Dredd, the swinging pop art-loving and downright fun romps of the Dynamic Duo circa 1966 (more on that fun chapter later), the hilarious gonzo satire in Planet Zombo, the triumphant return of Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, and Brent Anderson's Astro City, the pleasantly surprising underwater tales in Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy's The Wake, the glorious sci-fi space opera in Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples' new masterpiece, Saga, the unlikely awesome zombie misadventure in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla's Afterlife With Archie, the consistently astonishing take on the Man Without Fear in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil,  U.S. Rep. John Lewis' powerful historical narrative in March, and last but certainly not the least, the bold stories in Matt Fraction' Sex Criminals and Joe Casey' Sex. 

Phew. What an astoundingly lengthy sentence and what an astoundingly great year in comics. 2013 saw a bold propulsity of creativity in sequential art, and we are expecting an even bigger year 2014. With that said, our favorite comic book series of the year continues to be that of Batman. 

With all due respect to DC Comics, who have really fucked up pretty badly in a couple of issues (everything from tip-toeing on Orson Scott Card's issue to forbiding Batwoman's inevitable gay marriage thereby causing the walk-out of creators J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman on the series), they have done a good job in leaving the iconic Dark Knight in capable hands. Despite the fact that we are not a big fan of the "New 52" relaunch (years in and we still felt the same), the conclusion of Grant Morrison's Batman, Inc., the arrival of the fun romps of Batman '66, and this: the bold (and soft) reboot of easily one of the most well-known superhero origin story in Zero Year.

From "The Court of Owls" to last year's "Death of the Family", the talented team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo has really taken the ball and run with no intentions of looking back. On the strength of the epic arc featuring one of the creepiest depiction of the Clown Prince of Crime, Batman was the recipient of our Top Comics of 2013. With Zero Year, Snyder boldly take on the unenviable task of soft-rebooting the origins of Batman, a task previously thought unthinkable thanks to the genre-defining work of Frank Miller and David Mazzuccheli in Batman: Year One back in the 80s. Even longtime readers such as us were sceptical of the notion. 

Obviously the most challenging reboot out of the pantheon of superheroes, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo got the job done by adding interesting new layers to the origins that we are familiar with, thereby causing an intriguing effect of further mythologizing the legend of the Dark Knight. Combining the modernized concepts of the Batman myth from every existing versions from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy to other mainstream renditions of the Caped Crusader, we finally saw a great arc featuring the Riddler, the legendary inspiring moment of Bruce Wayne given a new meaning, and a vaguely hinted new take of The Joker's likely origins.

It is true that a contemporary Batman thrives on updated strategies in today's world with the face of evil taking on new meaning from terrorism to societal crises. Zero Year wisely and boldly reinvents the origins of Batman to more accurately embody the different times we are in. And for that, we applause the amazing works of Snyder and Capullo.

4. Film Of The Year: Gravity

2013 continues to be a stellar year in cinema as we witness active efforts from film-makers in producing both bold, unconventional films as well as the standard issue tentpole films from the Hollywood machines. 

From Joshua Oppenhimer‘s mind-blowing documentary The Act of Killing, the romance that defined the terms "unconventional" in Spike Jonze's Her, Marvel Studios' continued conquers at the box office with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, the returning appointment to Peter Jackson's Middle-earth with the second instalment of the tremendously-extended prequel trilogy, The Hobbit, the emotionally crushing tale in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Edgar Wright and Richard Linklater's respective conclusion to their very own unlikely cinematic trilogies, animated goodness in Disney's Frozen and Pixar's Monster University, we can rest our case that this has been a very good year in film. 

But none of the above has delivered us the overpowering cinematic experience that by Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity did. 

James Cameron, a name that needs no introduction in both sci-fi and the film industry, has this to say in an interview with Variety after checking out the film:

“I was stunned, absolutely floored. I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time.

What is interesting is the human dimension. Alfonso and Sandra working together to create an absolutely seamless portrayal of a woman fighting for her life in zero gravity.”

While Gravity has expectedly found its way on the top ten list of every notable film critics, one might still pondered what truly lifted the film to such universally acclaimed status? There are many answers to the question but to summarize everything in a nutshell, Gravity is the reason why we go to the movies. For an astonishing visual spectacle. For powerful human drama. And Gravity almost effortlessly combined the two most basic element of modern day movies and crafted an unabashedly honest and forceful story of two astronauts adrift in space. 

Like many other cinematic masterpieces, Gravity transcends genres in a way that some found the film hard to describe. Is it still a science fiction film as we don't see any time machines, aliens, or crazy A.I.? It doesn't matter when we are dumbfounded and stunned by the unrelenting visual, testament to the overwhelming sense of helplessness conjured by Cuarón. While George Clooney provided a well-rounded depiction of Lieutenant Matt Kowalski, the voice of reason, Sandra Bullock absolutely owned the character of Dr. Ryan Stone with her moving portrayal of the good doctor.

Gravity is an absolute spectacle that has to be witnessed in IMAX 3D no less in order to deliver the movie magic that its stratospheric hype. It is not a great film but also a great source of science fiction of our time. 

For a closer look into how the hyper-realistic space sequences from the film were conjured, look no further than the below behind-the-scenes featurette that has been recently unveiled.

5. Film Poster Of The Year (Official/Alternate): The Hunger Games: Catching Fire/Shaun of the Dead by Tyler Stout & Mondo

And along came this new category that we have included which in retrospect is a no-brainer given our incessant coverage on the subject. With the rapidly-growing industry for art galleries where alternate graphic renditions on established licenced properties of pop culture are produced and made available, we shall further segregate this particular category into official film posters released by the marketing departments of the film studios and the alternate posters both authorized and not. 

Official Film Poster: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

While it is true that a sizable lot found Catching Fire, Lionsgate's second instalment of the Hollywood adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy, overtly-lengthy and hurt by the somewhat abrupt conclusion, we here at The Daily Zombies find it to be a substantial improvement over the first film with smoother exploration of the bigger themes (both the obvioys and underlying ones), compelling characterization and plot, complete with some pulse-pounding action sequences. 

There might opposing views over the film but when it comes to the IMAX poster for the film, we are certainly everyone will agree that the awe-inspiring, lushingly conjured piece by artist Kris Kuksi is truly a practice in fascinating graphic take on cinematic works. Interestingly enough, the piece is closer to an alternate poster as opposed to the mainstream film studio type but we are counting this one as an official poster since they were produced for the IMAX release of the film.

With the boom in film poster galleries, this particular niche industry of which alternate graphic renditions on established licensed properties of po p culture has also see many new entrants making their presence felt. Nevertheless, Mondo, the collectible art division of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is still the kind of the mountain while up-and-coming galleries such as Gallery1988Hero Complex GalleryBottleneck GalleryOdd City Entertainment, as well as the the talented folks from the Print Posse continue to impress.

During the Oscar season of 2013, we were first captivated by “For Your Consideration,” the first collaborative exhibition between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Gallery1988 featuring art inspired by the 2012 Best Picture Oscar® nominees. Then we were intrigued by the impeccable Olly Moss with his stunning masterpiece comprising 85 Oscar statue relating to the 85 Best Picture winners from 1927 to 2012. Next, we have Hero Complex Gallery joining in the fun with their very own exhibition featuring both their artistic take on some of the greatest Oscar-winning films in history. Mondo, being the industry giant that they are, entered the fray with their renditions of the nominees with awe-inspiring results. 

Following which, we marvelled at the truly stunning vinyl designs by the dynamic duo of Australian illustrators Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney, collectively (and better-known) to most as We Buy Your Kids, for the cover of the re-release of the limited edition vinyl of Jerry Goldsmith’s Academy Award-nominated score for the 1982 horror classic, Poltergeist.  Martin Ansin impressed us further with his tribute to Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver by imbuing the dark, brooding ambience of the seedy slum visions of New York presented in the film. Speaking of Scorsese, the legendary film-maker was also honored by Spoke Art Gallery with their "Scorsese: An Art Show Tribute" gallery show. Making their presence felt, Los Angeles' Hero Complex Gallery embarked on their biggest gallery show to pay tribute to AMC's The Walking Dead with "HCG Celebrates AMC's The Walking Dead".

In June, we were spellbinded by Alice X. Zhang's first exhibition, "Moments," courtesy of New York City's Bottleneck GalleryAustralian artist Ken Taylor and Martin Ansin later collided to bring us the "Stout & Taylor" show at the Mondo Gallery while new entrant in the industry Odd City Entertainment found its footing with both Austin-based artist NE's creepily awesome rendition of The Amityville Horror and Polish artist Gabz's cool take on Pacific Rim. Los Angeles-based artist Mike Mitchell kicked off his first solo gallery show at the Mondo Gallery with great results. Courtesy of Blurrpy, we were astounded by the works of The Print Posse, a collective ensemble of rotating groups of talented artists providing their alternate (and unauthorized) take of recent films with World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Pacific Rim.

It would be foolhardy to think that we can cover all the great works contributed by the artists in 2013 and I am dead certain that we are missing out more than I can imagine but it is still with much certainty that in our undead opinions, that Tyler Stout's awesome take on Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead takes the cake as our Top Alternate Film Poster of 2013.

Being aficionados of zombies and awesome alternate visions of established licensed properties of pop culture, we here at The Daily Zombies are big fans of Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead and Tyler Stout. And nothing collide quite like this particular lightning in the bottle for us when the two forces of nature to bring us this delicious representation of the seminal 2004 British zombie comedy.

6. Gadget Of The Year: Sony PlayStation 4

First and foremost, we have to confessed that here at The Daily Zombies, we are longtime aficionados of video gaming on consoles and big fans of Sony's PlayStation 4. But before we move on to the subject at hand, is it necessary for us to address the point if video games console can be categorized as a gadget? In our undead dictionary, yes with an ear-to-ear grin.

So now that we have established the fact that we considered consoles as gadgets, it is inevitable that 2013 is an all-out war between Sony and Microsoft with the battle for the throne of the kind of next-gen video game console kicking off in all its glory. And our choice of the winner thus far would have to be PlayStation 4. 

From the gorgeous design of the sleek black exterior that exudes a more classy and mature look and feel, the silent powerhouse lying within the console, the improved and more ergonomic DualShock controllers, and the user-friendly interface of the enhanced operating system, everything about PlayStation 4 is improvement and expansion over all the negative elements of PlayStation 3. Most important of all, it is Sony's undeniable respect and acknowledgement of their greatest critic, the consumers, that won the race (for now). While there is no doubt that Xbox One boasts greater ambition in capturing the future with the progressive Kinect voice control and robust media switching features, it is hard for most consumers to look the more hefty price tag for what is ultimately a gaming console. 

In the long run, we might yet see Xbox One emerging triumphant but for now Sony continues to capture our undead beating hearts with PlayStation 4.

7. Game Of The Year: Grand Theft Auto V

Since The Daily Zombies' inauguration of annual Top 13 back in 2009, the Batman: Arkham video game series have been taking over our video gaming world everytime a new release come out. Not this year, unfortunately. And as a testament to the remarkable performance of our Game of the Year, Batman: Arkham Origins is an outstanding action/adventure game that once again provided us the kick-ass experience of being Batman in a further expanded Gotham City despite our initial disdain with the prequel title with Warner Bros. Games Montreal taking over from Rocksteady Studios. And Naughty Dog's The Last of Us is the single best piece of survival horror game that we have played in years. And in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the much-beloved Nintendo exclusive franchise hit its pinnacle by capturing the spirit of its original while providing an excellent contemporary update to the format. 

But to all of the above titles and many other awesome video games released in 2013, it is most unfortunate that they have to be out in the same year as Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V.

It is pretty silly for us to call ourselves prophets by living up to our own prophecy to honor GTA V as the Game of the Year but we did told you so by calling it "easily the single most anticipated video game of 2013" and "bar none, the undisputed Game of the Year". 

An exceedingly huge game that once again redefine the "open world" genre single-handedly created by the series, GTA V managed to even surpass 2008's GTA IV in its expansiveness. While there is no doubt that an alive and kicking massive world awaits, Rockstar has spare no efforts to ensure that no details are lost in the tremendous scope while offering an insane number of fun (and at times, depraved) activities to engage in, making GTA V an incredible playground where everything goes.

With the unprecedented utilization of three player controlled protagonists (namely, Michael, Trevor and Franklin), we get to put ourselves into the shoes of all three characters with distinctly different attitude and differing level of sanity. This in fact lent weight to the narration by having the player conveniently shift their moral center from a cool and collected player executing precise missions to a maniacal player out for a senseless massacre with good reasons. Amazingly, all respective story arcs of the three lovable criminals interconnected seamlessly into a single cohesive story with three of them completing missions as a team. Which brings us to the well-orchestrated heist mission of the title that we simply can't elaborate further for the hell of it. 

Most important of all, GTA V comes with amazing writing with a pointy satire to the "American Dream" and an epic story arc that paid off tremendously. GTA V is truly an appropriate title to cap off the current generation as we proudly marches on to the next knowing that Rockstar will be there next time to astound us once more.

Here's the "Official Trailer" for those who have yet to lay their hands on this one.

8. Metal Album Of The Year: 武德 (Bú-Tik) by 閃靈 (Chthonic)

Here at The Daily Zombies, it is no secret that we are big fans of 閃靈 (Chthonic), the premier Black Metal band in Taiwan, with our coverage on their last Asia tour and preview of their 2011 (incidentally their sixth full-length) album, 高砂軍 (Takasago Army)

Born and bred in Taiwan where Mandopop ballads continue to reign with an iron fist for decades, Chthonic has remarkably been the recipient of numerous accolades worldwide and has only recently ended their trailblazing tour in Europe. Equally notable would be the band's continued stance in various facets of activism. Band frontman Freddy Lim has been particular well-known for his staunch support for Taiwan Independence, resulting in an unspoken ban of the band in mainland China, a move that many perceived to be commercial suicide for any performing artists both in China and Taiwan.

In line with the band's heightened sense of identity politically-wise, the musical theme throughout the band's existence has been consistent, raising awareness on the internationally lesser-known historical events in Taiwan such as the Wushe Incident, the issue surrounding the Takasago Volunteers in the last album, and in this most recent album, the 228 Incident that ignited the infamous "White Terror" period in Taiwan history of which an unaccountable number of lives perished.

In 武德 (Bú-Tik), the band's seventh studio album released by Spinefarm Records, Chthonic continue their signature musical style of East-meets-West fusion by unleashing pulse-pounding symphonic black metal beats to the tune of oriental with the lyrics written and sung in native Taiwanese. With each albums, the band has perfected their truly unique sound that merges brutal, pummelling riff with melodic ambience. The result is an overpowering experience that is truly a sonic spectacle. 

For starters, look no further than 共和 (Next Republic) and 暮沉武德殿 (Defenders of Butik Palace, which fortunately for those who don't understand native Taiwanese tongue, has an English version out there) for an exhilarating mix of ferocious intensity and zen-like tranquility.

Hit the jump to have a taste of the majesty with the video clip of the aforementioned 暮沉武德殿 (Defenders of Butik Palace).

9. Headline Of The Year: Hell Freezes Over, So Dictates Snowden

As always, a quick disclaimer on this category: This ain't no actual headline but is rather a fabricated one meant as a more interesting way of calling out our top news stories of the year. Nevertheless, our choice is laced with our usual cynicism and by no means bear any derogatory or mean-spirited digs at actual world events with life and death hanging in the balance. 

This year, we witnessed the breathtaking, ultimate pinnace in whistleblowing. To the point that till now, even that title is a potential source of argument in every government in every single country on Mother Earth. An absolute PR disaster the likes unseen since WikiLeaks went amok in 2010 (and incidentally scoring this very category in our yearly round-up). 

For those who have been happily living secluded in some god forsaken hellholes and have no idea whatsoever who Edward Snowden is, here's the story in a nutshell: Edward Joseph Snowden, a 30-year-old American computer specialist who formerly worked at the CIA as an employee and the NSA as a contractor, flee to Hong Kong to reveal operational details of an ominous global surveillance project run by the NSA in conjunction with their Five Eyes partners across the globe. In summary, Big Brother existed and has been eyeing everyone in the world from meek geeks spending their life playing Second Life and World of Warcraft  to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Voila.

Some called Snowden a hero, a true patriot for giving away his good life in Hawaii and his drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend (a favorite subject for tabloids this year that we are not going to give away here but just google Snowden girlfriend if you so insist) for the good ol' Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Some called Snowden a treacherous traitor, an attention-grabbing wannabe, who has made some intriguing news stories with his predicament stranding in airports and causing international incidents (we truly sympathized with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff) but now safely tucked away in America's favorite ex-archenemy, Mother Russia.

Well, for now, we can only highlight how important it is for us to hire the right people and understanding your risk appetite if you are hard up with your annual budget and can only hire a contractor. Eat yer heart out, NSA.

10. Toy Of The Year: Hot Toys Batman and Robin (1966) 1/6 Scale Collectible Figure

Holy Sh!t Déjà Vu, Batman! Hot Toys has done it again! And once again with a Batman Collectible Figure!* 

*For the uninformed, Hot Toys' MMS DX01 The Joker Collectible Figure was our Toy of the Year 2010 while Hot Toys's Joker DX 2.0 Sixth Scale Collectible Figure was our choice for 2012.

But this is no mere Batman Collectible Figure. Hot Toys can continue with their money-printing license in every Iron Man for Tony Stark's "House Party Protocol" but it is their rendition for Adam West and Burt Ward's Dynamic Duo (Batman and Robin respectively) from the swinging 60s that had us bowed down in absolute fandom. 

Thanks to the long awaited settlement of copyrights dispute between Warner Bros. and Fox over the classic Batman TV series that ran from 1966 to 1968, we have witnessed an avalanche of merchandise celebrating the ultimate in camp sensation with an utterly entertaining weekly digital comic series from Jeff Parker to Barbie dolls for the 66' Catwoman. And it is with absolute joy to see Hot Toys bringing their A-game to this iconic franchise that is truly a Pop Art sensation.

The Hong Kong-based premium collectible toys and figure maker have astounded us numerous times and we are still in feverish anticipation for their upcoming products such as Brandon Lee's The Crow: Eric Draven Collectible Figure as well as The Dark Knight: Batman Armory with Bruce Wayne & Alfred. But for now, we are more than excited to have the Dynamic Duo, complete with Shark Repellant, with us for 2013.

For more unbelievable awesomeness (and campiness), hit the jump to check out the photographs.

11. TV Series Of The Year: Breaking Bad Final Season

More often than not, the TV Series of the Year tends to be one of the hardest categories for us given the obvious fact that we can't possibly be watching every single episode of every TV series released for the year. Not this year. Our choice this year is unwavering and relentlessly so. Not even in the face of the unique delicious and macabre experience from our favorite new TV series of the year, Hannibal. Not even when The Governor finally unleashing the tank to decimate the prison in one of the most memorable (and much-delayed) battles in AMC's The Walking Dead. 

To nobody' surprise, AMC's Breaking Bad is our undisputed TV Series of the Year.

A populist decision nonetheless. But in all honesty, the epic crime drama created by Vince Gilligan spanning five seasons has finally come to its mind-blowing conclusion as we witnessed the final chapter of the fall of Walter White. The gripping tale of an unsuccesssful high school chemistry teacher who turns to produce methamphetamine to ensure his family's future after being diagnosed with lung cancer finally came to its end after the numerous twists and turns that we have come to expect from what has eventually been hailed as one of the very best television series of all time. Well, they do have the Guinness World Records to prove that very point (citing the MetaCritic score of 99/100.)

From a mere meth producer to distributer to the notorious crime lord known as "Heisenberg", the one question that many have in their mind is what truly drives Walter in his soul-searing saga to secure the financial future of his family foloowing his impending demise from cancer. Most probably than not, everyone has got this figured out but it still does not lessen the tremendous impact when the man finally admitted it:

"I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really -- I was alive."

While we all expect nothing short of the dramatic intensity and closure that we got in the series' finale, "Felina", the Rian Johnston-directed"Ozymandias" was truly a lesson in television-making with its devastating display of well-plotted gut-wrenching 47 minutes.

As we stand atop the peak of what many has called the golden age of television, like The Sopranos and The Wire before it, we are certain that the legacy of Breaking Bad will remain in the stream of pop culture forever.

For those who just can't shake off the dark ending of the finale, hit the jump to check out the special feature of the Blu-ray collection for the final season where Bryan Cranston reprised his role as the goofy dad from the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle with co-star Jane Kaczmarek to have a dream sequence direct from Breaking Bad. Hilarious stuff that will certainly lighten up your day especially if you are familiar with both series and the particular television history of Newhart.

12. Wrestling Match Of The Year: 
John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - WWE Championship Match, (with special referee Triple H) at WWE SummerSlam 2013

Yes. Yes. Yes. In 2013, no other chants in every wrestling arenas were louder than the thunderous cheer now synonymous with one individual who is by now, without a shadow of a doubt, the hottest act in professional wrestling today: Daniel Bryan.

Yes. The renegade son that got us here at The Daily Zombies all worried back in 2010 when he was legitimately released by WWE for reportedly spitting on John Cena and choking out Justin Roberts during the infamous Nexus attack on John Cena during the main event on Raw when Cena was squaring off against CM Punk, then the leader of the Straight Edge Society.

Yes. That Daniel Bryan who singlehandedly made the SummerSlam 2010's seven-on-seven main event pitting Team WWE against The Nexus so much better by making his surprise return to WWE as the "Seventh Participant".

Yes. Obviously, 2013 is the year of Daniel Bryan, a fact that even WWE has to acknowledge by honoring him with the Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year 2013. But how about the rest? Here's a brief recap on the potential Match of the Year contenders.

Interestingly, Punk and Cena (who we just talked about having their 2010 main event interrupted by The Nexus) had one of the best matches of the year when they tussle on the 25th February edition Monday Night Raw for the rights to take on The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29. Both Superstars have had history of good to great matches between them and on this particular main event, Punk and Cena gave their all with Cena hitting Punk with a hurracarana while Punk dished out an unexpected piledriver on Cena. Nevertheless, the good action was handicapped by the predictable results since we all know deep down that Punk vs. Rock is not exactly the likely main event that Vince have in mind for WrestleMania 29.

At WrestleMania 29, despite a dreadful set-up (involving a Fatal Four-Way match that was hastily put together between Punk, Randy Orton, Big Show, and Sheamus on Raw with Punk emerging as the eventual winner just weeks before WrestleMania 29) and a disturbing story arc (arguably so as it involved the then-recently diseased Paul Bearer), Undertaker vs. Punk delivered in a big way with Punk giving one of his career best performance to provide The Undertaker another storybook ending with a 21-0 score.

Speaking of career best performances, Punk outdone himself once again by taking on Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam in a match with one hell of a tagline, "The Best vs. The Beast". Voted by many as the Match of the Year (including the WWE.com staff), the Second City Saint managed to bring out the best match from Lesnar since his return.

But for us here at The Daily Zombies, we decided to pass the honor to the main event of the very same show. Daniel Bryan taking on John Cena, the reigning WWE Champion for the WWE Championship at WWE SummerSlam 2013.

While we do agree that in terms of match quality, the match is not as good as the above two examples involving Punk, it is the dramatic road to WWE Championship for Daniel Bryan that got the attention of every WWE fans. The WWE universe was literally waiting for the magical moment where the ultimate fan-favorite underdog defeat the much-hated (actual) face of the company. In a previously unthinkable situation, Cena was defeated... cleanly. And to top it all, Cena was defeated by an awesome new finisher by Bryan.

The crowd at the Staples Center went nuts with excitement at the historic moment until Triple H, the special referee who has called the game right down the middle throughout the match, turned on Bryan to allow Randy Orton to cash out his Money in the Bank contract. 

And so begins the Dark Ages of WWE and professional wrestling as a whole (given how WWE dominates the market of the niche sports entertainment). Triple H and Stephanie McMahon fulfilled their own prophecies with the actual McMahon/Helmsley era kicking off more than a decade later as The Authority is formed to screw Bryan out of every opportunities to regain the championship. With that, ratings and PPV sales dwindled and the impressive series of good to great PPVs since WrestleMania 29 halt to a screech with a series of back-to-back poor to really poor PPVs following SummerSlam 2013.

So the irony in honoring the moment that should herald the new age in WWE turned out to be an omen of everything going south. With Daniel Bryan now a part of the Wyatt Family, we can't say for sure if this story arc will pay off in a right way that will see Bryan winning the Royal Rumble and taking on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX or Bryan figuring out the Devil described by Bray Wyatt to be The Undertaker himself and take on the Deadman at the Showcase of the Immortal. As of now, we are all stuck right smack in the middle of the road having no faith in WWE successfully pulling off whatever it is they are trying to accomplished while remaining hopeful that someone in the Management is sensible enough to point out to Vince McMahon and Triple who is the most over Superstar right now and how this is the perfect opportunity to build the WWE Superstar of the next generation.

The future is cloudy and absolutely uncertain but at least we can be sure that the most exhilarating wrestling match of 2013 is the WWE Championship bout between Cena and Bryan at SummerSlam.

13. Zombie Of The Year: Cargo

Some people might called 2013 the "Year of the Zombie". To us here at The Daily Zombies, this is just another year as we honor a particular member of the undead who have, "for better or for worse, ...done the most to influence the events of the year" with the prestigious Zombie of the Year. But first, let us have a brief recap of the year in zombie culture.

At the cinemas, we find Warm Bodiesdirector Jonathan Levine's cinematic adaptation of Isaac Marion's popular novel of the same name, to be appropriately entertaining (being the crowd-pleasing zom-rom-com, Zombie Romantic Comedy) while subtly kicking off a trend of dissecting the zombie as a genre or sub-genre (pardon the pun) by demonstrating on how zombies, as a lifeform, can be depicted differently. 

Meanwhile, our most anticipated zombie film of the year, World War Z, was however somewhat underwhelming. While one might argue that German-Swiss film-maker Marc Forster's live action adaptation of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is set up to fail no matter how you cut it since the unique narrative of the critically acclaimed 2006 horror novel by American author Max Brooks is almost impossible to translate onscreen properly, the final product still stopped short of being compelling enough for what has been positioned to be the zombie film with the biggest budget ever.

On the gaming front, Naughty Dog's The Last of Us provided an all-new, all-awesome take on zombie lifeforms by introducing a new type of zombie in the critically acclaimed video game. Infected by some kind of a zombie fungus, the "infected" is turned into a horrific half-plant, half-zombie lifeform that sounded like good material for the next instalment of Plants vs. Zombies.

The winner of numerous accolades last year (among them, our very own App of the Year 2013), Telltale Games released a worthy follow-up to their Walking Dead game, The Walking Dead: 400 Days, as a companion to the original. More importantly, an official sequel has been announced with Clementine as the protagonist. All we can say is: expect more bleak-as-hell heartbreaking gaming experience.

Speaking of The Walking Dead, the landmark #115 issue of the original comic book series created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard outsold DC Comics' Justice League #1 (308,000 copies sold) to become the top selling comic book of 2013 with more than 352,000 sold to the direct market. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of its inception, the issue also mark the start of an important storyline, "All Out War", that promised to be a gamechanger.

Over at the television department, the last stand at the prison finally took place in AMC's The Walking Dead. While we don't necessarily find it satisfying since this is meant to happened in the finale of last season, it was still an emotional mid-season finale as we bid farewell with some characters that have connected to us. 

Meanwhile, BBC's In The Flesh boldly brought the zombie sub-culture to a bold new realm by exploring the aftermath of an actual catastrophic Zombie Apocalypse when a cure has been found and recovering zombies are facing discrimination. Likewise, The Returned (Les Revenants), a French series
exploring similar theme with a decidedly different scope and scale, has been a revelation with its moving take on the concept.

And speaking of concept, we move on to our Zombie of the Year.

Zombie, as a sub-genre of horror and science fiction, has been sitting comfortably numb at the very pinnacle of pop culture thanks to The Walking Dead (both the critically acclaimed comic book series , as well as AMC's live-action television adaptation). Which is all the more reason why we have to applaud Australian film-makers Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke for their awesome short film, Cargo, for thinking out of the box to transform a concept that might be too cute or gimmicky in its raw form into an affecting narrative that can touch the heart of those who remained skeptical of the zombie genre.

An awesome short film with a most heartwarmingly intriguing (and emotion-wrecking) take on the undead in the face of a Zombie Apocalypse, this is six minutes of an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Which brings us to our point behind our choice: It's not the budget or even how real the zombie are but rather the concept and execution that matters. 

For those who missed out the short film, hit the jump to check out this amazing short film. A disclaimer that also serves as a kind warning from us: It is totally capable of turning you into an emotional wreck. 

With that, we wrap up our annual review for 2013. For more daily brain juices in the new year, do head back to The Daily Zombies for more psychosexual surreal undead misadventures in pop culture.

A summary of the Top 13 list for your easy reference. 

1. Animation/Anime Of The Year: Frozen/The Wind Rises

2. Book Of The Year: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

3. Comic Book Series Of The Year: Batman: Zero Year, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo

4. Film Of The Year: Gravity

5. Film Poster Of The Year (Official/Alternate): The Hunger Games: Catching Fire/Shaun of the Dead by Tyler Stout & Mondo

6. Gadget Of The Year: Sony PlayStation 4

7. Game Of The Year: Grand Theft Auto V

8. Metal Album Of The Year: 武德 (Bú-Tik) by 閃靈 (Chthonic)

9. Headline Of The Year: Hell Freezes Over, So Dictates Snowden

10. Toy Of The Year: Hot Toys Batman and Robin (1966) 1/6 Scale Collectible Figure

11. TV Series Of The Year: Breaking Bad Final Season

12. Wrestling Match Of The Year: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - WWE Championship Match, (with special referee Triple H) at WWE SummerSlam 2013

13. Zombie Of The Year: 

WATCH Final Cut 2013 - A Cinema Tribute

Posted by The Daily Zombies

As the year draws to a close, Joblo.com celebrated 2013 in cinema by rolling out an awesome clip mashing up 283 films of the year. 

With 2013 coming to a close soon enough, we knew we are in for a series of intriguing retrospectives and Top 10 list of pop culture. Hitting our collective undead psyche first is this awesome tribute to cinema of 2013 from Joblo.com. Paying tribute to this wonderful year in films, editor Nick Bosworth and crew assembled a near-nine minute clip aptly entitled "Final Cut 2013". 

Running at 8-minute and 30-second, the clip is an all-compassing look at all notable films in 2013. From the box office-smashing blockbusters to the film festivals-roaming indies, hit the jump to reminisce all the laughter, fear, and excitement that you have for this year's films.

The Order of X by Nate Hallinan

Posted by The Daily Zombies

Marvel's merry mutants find themselves in the Medieval Age in The Order of X, a series of prints conjured by artist Nate Hallinan

Ever wonder how Marvel's X-Men would fare if they were set in the Medieval Ages? Neil Gaiman's 1602 has given us a good look at that concept, but in The Order of X, the concept is further fleshed out thanks to artist Nate Hallinan

Here's how Hallinan describe the project:

The Order of X is a group of ‘gifted’ individuals in the service of Lord Charles Xavier. The Order provides sanctuary and protection to individuals outcast by society due to their innate abnormalities. These people are often misidentified as monsters, demons, warlocks and witches. Only those who are accepting of the ‘gifted’ are welcome in the realm of Lord Xavier.

Hit the jump to check out these cool prints that are now available from INPRNT and also check out the link for Hallinan's background story and concept art behind each pieces.



Lady Grey

Lord Xavier 



Wolve’rune (sans mask)



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decaying walking corpses, compelled by their unshakably irresistible hunger for human flesh, had gotten their daily fix of brain tissue. Want some?

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