As comic book television shows keep dominating the airwaves, names like Rick Grimes and Barry Allen are having an increasing presence at the water cooler. But when you’re chatting with your friends about last night’s episode of Arrow, you want someone who can go tit-for-tat on how the producers altered Black Canary’s costume, or why there should be more boxing glove arrows (let’s be honest, there should always be more boxing glove arrows).
Regardless of your pal’s poison, there are tons of great gifts to complement every four-color tv show out there. From Walking Dead-Heads to DC Diehards, here are the best bets for the comic book TV viewers in your life.
As the ratings numbers show, people are starving for more Walking Dead stories. But fans of Robert Kirkman’s Zombie Apocalypse don’t have to wait seven grueling days for their next fix. The Walking Dead Season 1 and Season 2 video games from Telltale Games expands on The Walking Dead Universe with an entirely new, and playable, cast of characters.
Instead of simply watching the fight for humanity, your friends can live it. As you take control of a new band of survivors, you can make all the decisions and moves you wish Rick Grimes would. And the games are called “Season 1” and “Season 2” for good reason. Each games is paced out like a season of television, with each level acting as “an episode.” It makes for a gaming experience that’s easy to pace out and enjoy as a serialized story. Just don’t have them run through the Season too quickly—they do have to last until next Sunday, after all.
If people love the new "Flash" series on the CW, they have a lot of comics creators to thank. But the one man they owe their gratitude the most is Geoff Johns. As one of the producers on The Flash and the creative glue between The CW and DC Comics, Johns makes sure that the Flash remains fun, accessible, and loyal to its source material. But what makes Johns such a Flash authority? Well, he penned one of the most beloved Flash runs of the 20th and 21st century.
John’s Flash saga spanned dozens and dozens of issues, introducing plenty of characters and concepts that The Flash currently employs every Tuesday night. DC has collected Johns’ massive saga into a series of oversized omnibi, giving your friends the perfect source material to mine through after they tune in. And while the series follow’s Barry’s successor in the comics, Wally West, the characters are pretty interchangeable. What really carries over is the charm, light-heartened tone, and ability to have fun with the Scarlet Speedster.
If people just caught on to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, you owe it to them to take them back and show where the adventures of Agent Coulson and his gang all began. The Season One Blu-Ray has every pulse-pounding episode from S.H.I.E.LD.’S maiden adventures, plus a slew of great bonus content that contextualizes all those cryptic Marvel Easter Eggs.
But Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Season One doesn’t just work for fans of the television show. It’s also a great place to send fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the de-facto place to see how Winter Soldier’s Hydra bombshell plays out, showing just how connected Marvel Studios’ television programs and films are. Plus, when you yell “Hail Hydra!” across the office, you’ll hopefully get a salute instead of vacant stares.
While the current offering of comic book television shows are great and all, they still pale in comparison to a cartoon that's over 20 years old, Batman: The Animated Series. The #1 TV choice for any self-respecting comic book fan, Batman: The Animated Series offers a mature, nuanced, and accessible voyage into Gotham City. And yeah, it even managed to pick up a few Emmy Awards on the way.
There’s four DVD volumes available, but Vol. 2 is where the show really hit its peak. It’s filled with classic episodes like “Almost Got ‘Em,” “Robin’s Reckoning,” and what might be the best Riddler story in any medium, “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” Voice actor Kevin Conroy delivers the best Batman performance we’ve heard so far, and Luke freaking Skywalker’s Mark Hammill follows close behind with an iconic performance as the Joker. Each story is dark (but not too dark), sharply written, contained to a single episode (with the exception of a few two-parters). Don’t let your friends misjudge the show just because it’s a cartoon. If they’re friends are looking for another Gotham-based show a little more—y’know—Batman in it, this is the place to send them.
One of Image’s best comics around, "Saga" has the epic feel and scope of a television show, making it the perfect comic to read during the dreaded mid-season break. Saga follows two literally star-crossed lovers, as they flee across the galaxy from their warring home planets. But that’s really the series’ most boring part. Each page is a new idea, stuffed with original characters, planets, and concepts that one could never find on a television set. Simply put, it’s a story made for comics.
But what makes it right for a television viewer? Writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples construct each act in their epic story as a “season.” After the team publishes around five or six individual chapters in single issue format, they then collect those chapters in trade paperbacks. Each paperback reads like a season of television, telling a complete story beat, but keeping enough off the table to keep readers drooling for more. And just like television, Saga makes it followers endure a grueling set of “off” months in between seasons. The first four volumes are currently on shelves now while the team works on the fifth season, giving your friends ample time to binge-read before the new season starts. It’s like watching Netflix, but way better.