The hardest part about putting together a gift guided for me is not starting it off in a way I consider “hack-y.” That is to say, I don’t want to launch into a tirade along the lines of “Boy, the malls are SO crowded! Shopping is the WORST. Guess the holidays are here again, right guys?”
Amazon just had their biggest Cyber Week in their history. I’ve been to the mall twice since Black Friday and one of those times I saw an actual tumbleweed. During both of those trips I desperately wanted to do all my shopping at my local comic shop. Graphic novels, not Isotoners.
What if I told you it was possible? That you could indeed find something for almost everyone at your comic shop. Well, you can find out after the jump!
Shopping For: That weird (but cool!) cousin that’s into bands you’ve never even heard of, man.
The Book: Doom Patrol Vol. 1 Brick by Brick by Gerard Way and Nick Derington
Last year Gerard Way (yes, the same guy from My Chemical Romance) launched his own DC imprint called Young Animal. The imprint harkens back to the very early days of DC’s Vertigo imprint and is a boon for those among you that are looking for something other than super heroics.
Doom Patrol were classically dubbed the “World’s Strangest Superheroes” and this book definitely supports that claim. The book is fun, bizarre, and completely engrossing. The thing I love the most about Doom Patrol (and the other Young Animal) books is that they just feel cool. It’s a good starter book for someone who this time next year will be telling you how “Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles changed my life, man.”
Shopping For: That relative who is REALLY into Stranger Things
The Book: Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
I would encourage you to read the publisher’s blurb for this book prior to actually reading the book. It’s something of an understatement to say that the synopsis gets completely blown out of the water by the end of the first issue/chapter.
Brian K Vaughan has always wrote in a way that makes it agony for a monthly comic book reader. Every issue ends with a revelation or cliffhanger that makes the 30 day wait for the next issue unbearable. Getting someone on your list the first volume of this 1988-set book about paper delivery girls (and…other stuff) is a kindness because it’s certainly conducive to “binge reading.” But don’t be surprised if they’re angry you didn’t get them Volume 2 once they’ve blown through this one by Christmas dinner.
Shopping For: That friend who plans on seeing The Last Jedi five times in ten days.
The Book: Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday
Can you believe there was a time after 2005 when there were no new Star Wars movies on the horizon? Thank the maker Disney stepped up to become the “custodians of modern myth” and give us new Star Wars 24/7. Well, as part of that is that Disney just so happens to own Marvel comics (again, custodians of modern myth) and how could they NOT do a Star Wars comic?
Marvel famously published Star Wars comics from the late 70’s to the mid 80’s and put out some of the weirdest stuff ever committed to the printed page (giant green space rabbit). These days Lucasfilm has an entire department devoted to continuity in published works so with Marvel’s re-launch of the Star Wars title you can be assured it’s all “in canon.”
This book picks up almost immediately after A New Hope and answers the question, “Why wasn’t Luke wearing that super sweet yellow jacket in Empire?” All kidding aside, this book fills in the gaps between Episodes IV and V in away that feels like it could be a film all on its own.
Shopping For: “I just want comics that are as great as I remember them being in the 90’s!”
The Book: Batman Detective Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, and more
Remember the comics boom of the 90’s? Remember how every storyline was pretty much a thinly veiled attempt to get national media attention? How about all the great characters that sprung from that new Golden Age like Bloodwynd and Geist? What a wonderful time to have been alive and collecting comics.
The Detective Comics relaunch which spun out of DC’s Rebirth event (a course correction of the New 52 relaunch) served to bring a lot of story aspects previously wiped from continuity back into being.
For my money, Detective Comics is probably one of the best Bat-books being published right now. The way Tynion seamlessly folds in old plot threads in to the current narrative is nothing short of masterful and it speaks to a deep affection for the original works. So if you’ve got someone in mind who’s always talking about how great thing used to be, this is the book to bring them into the here and now.
Shopping For: “I like my Adventures of Pete and Pete with a side of Baby Driver.”
The Book: 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Thomas Mauer
This book was excellent. I can’t say it any more plainly than that. I’m tempted to just buy a dozen copies of this to give away to everyone this year.
The book focuses on a small group of friends as they plot to rob a bank so one of their parents doesn’t have to. That’s right. Kids robbing a bank. If you’re having a hard time suspending your disbelief, just remember that you’ve probably seen and loved a movie where kids go underground looking for pirate treasure and running from criminals.
A couple of things really struck me as wonderful in 4 Kids. First, the interaction between the core group of friends. Each of them seems to have found their assigned role within the group and the characters play off each other in a way that’s completely believable. Secondly, each chapter begins with the characters appearing as whatever they’re currently playing with. Tabletop gaming, action figures, video games. The artwork takes on a fanatical quality lending an epic scope to what is otherwise a straightforward heist story.
This book is genre blending in the best possible way. It tells a very small story that for the kids experience it is anything but.
And that’s this year’s list! Get out to your local shop and get these books!