Thursday was Thanksgiving, so as everyone in the media has already told us, that made yesterday "Black Friday" and the semiofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season. We here at ComicBook.com are committed to a culture of public service, and so decided that we would share with you a number of lists in the next couple of weeks that will give gift ideas for comic book and movie fans, gamers and maybe that special entertainment journalist on your list.
We start today with comic book fans because, well, that's right there in the name.
For the fan who has everything...
DC's New 52 initiative is about the most ambitious and exciting thing that's happened in the comics industry in the last 20 years, and the fact that the publisher elected to release an omnibus hardcover collecting all 52 #1 issues and more than 1,000 pages of story is just awesome.This is part of a flood of omnibus hardcovers that's hitting the market in late 2011 and early 2012 collecting everything from the classic Marv Wolfman/George Pérez
run to The Age of Apocalypse, and for hardcore collectors and those of us who really like the way deluxe edition hardcovers and other well-done collected editions look on our shelves, it's a terrific time to be shopping for comics--if you can afford them. Since most of us can't afford more than one or two of these types of books, and since DC went to all the trouble of releasing this one just prior to Christmas, it's the logical starting point for any DC fan's Christmas list.
But don't worry about me--I already ordered mine.
The Rising Stars Compendium
Another of the huge hardcovers making their way to market this year, the Rising Stars Compendium, Volume 1 collects about half of the popular creator-owned series by J. Michael Straczynski. Featuring not only the ongoing series but several of the one-shots, tie-ins and the like, it has art from Keu Cha, Fiona Avery, Brent Anderson, Dan Jurgens and more.
This book probably should have been released a couple of years ago, of course--a lot of people have forgotten how much they loved Rising Stars, after all. And Heroes, the NBC series that started as one of the most popular shows on TV before flaming out a year or two later, was essentially an unapologetic ripoff of Rising Stars's core concept, minus the small town.
That said, this is probably the most consistently impressive series that Top Cow has ever published, with a roster of A-list creators led by superstar writer JMS, and those people who have forgotten how much they loved it? What better way to remind them?
These souped-up e-readers are the things to get this year, whether you're talking about comics fans or not, but each one of them has something going for it that will appeal to comic readers. The Nook Tablet has Marvel graphic novels on it that haven't yet gone to any other electronic distributor, as well as integrated Netflix, allowing readers to stream episodes of the X-Men cartoon from the '90s and motion comics like Spider-Woman and Iron Man. Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire offers 100 exclusive DC Comics graphic novels that are not only unavailable in any other digital marketplace but not even all that easy to find in stores anymore, since Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million stopped carrying them in brick-and-mortar stores after the announcement that DC was going to give Amazon the exclusive.
Hey, kids! Comics!
There's a bunch of collected editions out there for this fantastic all-ages by book Art Baltazar and Franco, as well as a subscription that you can get not only through DC Comics's website but through Barnes & Noble as well.
There are a lot of all-ages books out there, but many of them are still really aimed at the 10-14 set, with a lot of the violence and explosions that superhero comics tend to have, but less mature themes. Tiny Titans does a great job of bringing the philosophy of Marvel's Super Hero Squad properties--no violence, and even the bad guys are really just naughty--into comics proper, presenting the kind of thing I can read to my toddler, but which is still funny, clever and entertaining for kids of all ages.
It's also a great primer to get kids who like Batman and Robin but don't know anybody else in the DC Universe into comics. With a sprawling cast and frequent guest-stars (as well as in-jokey references to DC events from Blackest Night to Flashpoint), Tiny Titans manages to retain what many comic book fans consider to be the cornerstone of any good superhero universe--the "universe" part and the interconnectedness that it implies.
Artist Chris Giarrusso (who used to work at a comic book store about 15 miles from my glamorous Panel Discussions studios in sun-drenched Endicott, New York) has been at the all-ages game for a while now. Aside from G-Man, his creator-owned, all-ages superhero book, he also has worked on Mini-Marvels, establishing himself a huge fanbase of older readers who may not have given G-Man a chance if they didn't know ahead of time how terrific Chris's work can be.
Giarrusso discussed his work with Nick Winstead here at ComicBook.com just a few months ago, and you can read that to get a feel for what the book is all about, but the bottom line is that it's a fun and engaging read with dynamic visual storytelling and a terrific sense of what makes comics fun.
As Marty McFly would say, "your kids are gonna love it."
The gift that keeps on giving...
This is new! DC Comics has recently reintroduced a subscription-by-mail service, available through their New 52 retail site. With a 30% discount, it's probably a better deal than your favorite comic reader is going to get at their local retailer, so if there's a title you know they're going to be reading in a year (like, for example, the overpriced-but-still-great Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee), it's a great way to get it, it's not too much money, and they'll be reminded 12 times this year that you did it for them. They also offer a quantity discount, in case you want to order five or more subscriptions (for yourself or as a gift), you'll get 20% off the entire transaction. That means that if you buy four, you'll get the fifth for free, and save even more if you're crazy enough to modify your entire pull list to be received this way.
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited
Starting at just $4.99 a month if you pay for a full year at once, or $9.99 if you pay full price for the monthly rate, you get access to thousands of Marvel titles from recent releases all the way back to the Golden Age. For new readers who need a primer or older readers who are just now getting used to the idea of digital comics, there isn't any better way to do it. With a little luck, at this time next year DC might have something comparable in place.
Just plain good reading
Sure, it won't hit Amazon and Barnes & Noble until the week after Christmas, but that should put it in direct market stores just before the big day. And even if it doesn't? This fantastic book by J.H. Williams III and Dan Curtis Johnson is worth the wait. How can you be sure? Well, readers of this cult favorite series have been waiting on a collected edition of this short-lived book featuring Cameron Chase (of Batwoman fame) since it was on the shelves in the 1990s.
Of course, there's some irony to this book finally being released now in that the events of Chase's stories--mired in '90s DC continuity and history in a way that few other books are and reliant on the idea that there were superheroes who predated Superman by at least 20 years--pretty much can't have happened in the world of the New 52. Still, this is one of the strongest arguments to be made for why continuity matters less than storytelling. Even if these events didn't really "happen," they fall under the classic motto of Alan Moore's classic Superman swan song, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?--"This is an imaginary story--aren't they all?"The Complete Major Bummer Slacktacular
John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke's Major Bummer was one of the other truly great and underrated DC titles of the late '90s which, along with Chase, never got a trade release until recently. For whatever reason, DC still has elected not to collect it themselves, instead handing the project off to Dark Horse Comics who are presenting it in a complete omnibus edition in much the same way that IDW has been doing feature-rich hardcover editions of classic Marvel titles like the Artist's Editions of Walt Simonson's Thor and John Romita's Spider-Man.
This'll be a great gift for that special somebody who maybe is a little tired of standard superhero fare and who's looking for a comic they can connect with for a good bit of light entertainment. Despite the fact that it's a DC book, it was never too bogged down in the continuity of the DC Universe and should be accessible for anyone who just picks up the trade to meet Major Bummer for the first time.
This is new, and unproven, but what the heck is there not to like? Young Liars and Stray Bullets writer David Lapham is about the best writer in the business when it comes to strange and twisted stories that are nevertheless full of humor and cleverness. Like the Keith Giffens and Alan Grants who came before, he can take a grossly inappropriate story of yuletide bloodshed and make it a must-read if anybody can. And it's coming out in just two weeks!
Yeah, you can get me that one.